Monday, December 16, 2013

Week-Long 'Hour of Code' Campaign Lures Millions of U.S. Students to Computer Coding

Washington Post

More than 11 million students in 167 countries this week have taken a free programming tutorial as part of the "Hour of Code" initiative, a worldwide campaign to encourage computer science in education, according to founder Hadi Partovi. The initiative, which has received the support of President Barack Obama and features free tutorials by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft founder Bill Gates, is part of Computer Science Education Week. The Hour of Code offers lessons in computer coding that are aimed at every age group and accessible on a range of devices, from tablets to desktops. "We know that deep in their heart, Americans feel that technology is moving super fast, and they're afraid their kids are going to get left behind," Partovi says. "It's important to keep teaching biology and chemistry. But in this century, learning how the Internet works, what an algorithm does, is as foundational as those other subjects." He notes that more than half of the participating students have been girls. Partovi says the tutorials will remain available to the public after this week. "If you did the first hour, there are 20 more hours of tutorials you can do," he says.


New Grants to Help More Students Pursue STEM Careers

National Law Review

President Barack Obama recently announced Youth CareerConnect, a $100-million competition to help American high schools prepare students for college and for careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. As part of Youth CareerConnect, up to 40 grants will be awarded to partnerships between local school systems, employers, community colleges, or universities, as well as others that are committed to strengthening the U.S.'s STEM talent pipeline and providing students with industry-relevant education to prepare them for college and careers. Applicants will be judged on their efforts to serve a diverse student population, which will ensure access to preparation and training in STEM fields for girls and minority groups. In addition, the competition builds on the strong focus of the U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy and the White House Council on Women and Girls on increasing female access to STEM fields. The competition will require businesses and higher-education institutions to partner with school districts to develop proposals to improve college and career readiness for more high school


Big Data May Mimic, Replace Brain

EE Times

Big data analytics may both mimic the human brain and eventually replace it, according to researchers speaking at a recent IBM symposium. Venture capitalist Vinod Khosla called for advances that reduce human error by putting more healthcare decisions into the hands of smart systems, while cognitive computing researcher Jeff Hawkins showed advances in applying techniques used in the neocortex to sorting large datasets. "Data science will do more for medicine in the next 10 years than biological science," Khosla says. Hawkins focused on Grok, an open source SDR algorithm that uses a technique employed in the neocortex to track large datasets by creating so-called sparse distributed representations. "We don't know how to characterize it mathematically, but I'd argue this is a basic building block of cognitive computing," Hawkins says. He says Grok is a powerful tool that could be applied broadly to big data analytics problems in areas as diverse as finance, Web sales, and manufacturing.


Brain Test


About the brain test: Is the SOMMER+SOMMER brain test also a knowledge game?

The game doesn't test knowledge like a brain training game does. But it does tell us a lot about our brains. The result tells users how they use their brain's hemispheres. It's a fun and insightful game that helps us learn more about ourselves and the way we think. There are no right or wrong answers, it merely tests the balance between the hemispheres. The user completes the quiz to get the result. Have fun!


40 must-see videos about data visualization and infographics *

Visual Loop

After the success of our collection of data visualization presentations a few weeks ago, we decided to push even further our research of multimedia resources and take the risk of selecting some videos. And we say risk, because the abundance of data visualization videos on the Internet is simply mind-blowing. Just think about it: How many events are there about information visualization? Dozens, maybe hundreds every year. Then, add the documentaries, interviews and educational videos, and soon you’ll realize, like we did, that this list could easily be up to one hundred or more. - See more at:


Twitter Pattern: Those Who Don't Know You Well Are More Likely to Retweet

ASU News

Arizona State University (ASU) researchers recently conducted a study involving the likelihood that a tweet will get retweeted. The study found that strangers are more likely to retweet a message than acquaintances of the original user. "We found that people with weak ties, such as those who only have a one-way relationship on Twitter--who don't both follow each other--are more likely to retweet," says ASU professor Zhan Michael Shi. The researchers hypothesize that users with weak ties retweet more often because they believe they are providing new information to their followers. As part of the study, the researchers developed a program that used 20 computers over 140 days, which enabled them to follow the progress of certain tweets for five-day periods and see whether the Twitter relationships between the author and retweeters were strong or weak. "We think the new information is going to be very useful to people like social-media managers and marketers trying to understand how information is spread via social-broadcasting networks like Twitter," Shi says.


Why are Children More Creative than Adults?


I came across an interesting article entitled 10 Great Inventions Dreamt up by Children.  They range from earmuffs to crayon holders to an underwater talking device.  The stories of their young creators are inspiring for anyone interested in innovation and entrepreneurship.     The article begs some questions.  Why are children so much more creative than adults?  How does that creativity get crushed?  What other great ideas do children have that are ignored?

Children have the benefit of not knowing what is not possible.  For them everything is feasible. What’s more young children get praise and encouragement from their parents and teachers for almost any work they do – particularly for imaginative stories or weird pieces of art.  They have heard tales of magic and they see around them technology doing all sorts of amazing things.  As far as they are concerned every problem can be solved.  Adults on the the other hand are only too well versed in what they cannot achieve and what cannot be done.  They are surrounded by rules, regulations, laws and compliance.  They have experienced rejections, failures and humiliations.  At some stage they have worked for a difficult boss who was not interested in their ideas – just in getting the job done on time.


The 100+ most followed psychologists and neuroscientists on Twitter

BPS Research

Here are the 100+ most followed psychologists and neuroscientists on Twitter based on follower counts recorded over the last few weeks. If we've missed anyone who should be here, please let us know via comments and we'll add them in. This is an update to our September 2011 post "Psychologists who Tweet". Check the comments to that earlier post for even more psychologists on Twitter than we were able to include here.


Choose Optimism


“I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one's head pointed toward the sun, one's feet moving forward. Nelson Mandela, 1918-2013

Last week, the human race lost one of its greatest leaders of all time. Almost every country around the world flew their flags at half-mast in remembrance of Nelson Mandela.

To see the global impact of one single person should be inspiring to us all. In his lifelong journey for peace, freedom, and equality, Nelson Mandela captured the essence of the human spirit and, illustrates to all of us, why, as a species, our predilection for optimism is so critical to our success.


Hi-Tech Sensors Aim to Help Prevent Obesity

BBC News

The European Union is funding a project that intends to use high-tech sensors to get young people to adopt healthy lifestyles. The Splendid project is developing a system to record how fast food is eaten and how food is chewed, as well as activity levels during exercise. A mandometer will be used to measure the speed at which food is eaten. A plate of food will be placed on the sensor's scale and it will measure the rate at which the food leaves the plate. Another firm will develop a wearable microphone to measure how food is chewed, as well as a wearable sensor to track heart rate and activity levels during workouts. The data will be fed to algorithms to assess risks for obesity and eating disorders, and the system will eventually be used to chart more personalized goals for modifying individual eating and exercise habits. Splendid plans to test the system on secondary school students in Sweden and the Netherlands. "The idea is that we try to investigate ways to prevent obesity and eating disorders," says Aristotle University of Thessaloniki professor Anastasios Delopoulos, the project's coordinator. "The goal is to modify eating and activity behavior of individuals in a personalized way."


Google’s Road Map to Global Domination *

NY Times

Where-type questions — the kind that result in a little map popping up on the search-results page — account for some 20 percent of all Google queries done from the desktop. But ultimately more important by far is location-awareness, the sort of geographical information that our phones and other mobile devices already require in order to function. In the future, such location-awareness will be built into more than just phones. All of our stuff will know where it is — and that awareness will imbue the real world with some of the power of the virtual. Your house keys will tell you that they’re still on your desk at work. Your tools will remind you that they were lent to a friend. And your car will be able to drive itself on an errand to retrieve both your keys and your tools.


While no one can say exactly how we will get from the current moment to that Jetsonian future, one thing for sure can be said about location-awareness: maps are required. Tomorrow’s map, integrally connected to everything that moves (the keys, the tools, the car), will be so fundamental to their operation that the map will, in effect, be their operating system.