Sunday, August 24, 2014

Maryam Mirzakhani Becomes First Woman To Win Prestigious Fields Medal

Huffington Post

The International Mathematical Union (IMU) has revealed on its website the winners of the 2014 Fields medals, considered the highest honor in mathematics. The four young medallists — including Maryam Mirzakhani, the first female winner since the prizes were established in 1936 — have been selected for their contributions to topics ranging from dynamical systems to the geometry of numbers and the solution of equations of the type that describe many physical phenomena.


The IMU had planned to publicly announce the names on 13 August in Seoul at the International Congress of Mathematicians, but — owing presumably to a technical glitch — the page with the announcement was already live on the organization's website in 12 August. The Wikipedia pages for the winners appeared to have been updated anonymously on the same day after 18:00 London time.


Ten Tips on Organizing Your Mind, from Dr. Daniel Levitin

Wall Street Journal

Here are ten tips on organization from Dr. Levitin based on his book, which will be released by Dutton tomorrow.


1. Take breaks.

2. Set up different computer monitors for different activities.

3. Embrace a (modified) paper to-do list.

4. File correspondence in multiple ways.

5. Purge, when needed.

6. Designate time for short tasks and longer projects.

7. Don’t spend more time on a decision than it’s worth.

8. Sleep, and nap on the job.

9. Don’t over-organize.

10. Leave work at work.


Man And Machine: Facial Recognition System Improves Malaria Diagnostics

Science 2.0

A method based on computer vision algorithms similar to those used in facial recognition systems combined with visualization of only the diagnostically most relevant areas can mean a big breakthrough in malaria diagnostics, according to a new paper. Tablet computers can be utilized in viewing the images.

In this new method, a thin layer of blood smeared on a microscope slide is first digitized. The algorithm analyzes more than 50,000 red blood cells per sample and ranks them according to the probability of infection. Then the program creates a panel containing images of more than a hundred most likely infected cells and presents that panel to the user. The final diagnosis is done by a health-care professional based on the visualized images.


The Morning Routines Of The Most Successful People

Content Loop and Fast Company

Whether you're a morning person or a night owl, we all start our day at some point. And we all seem to start it differently.  Some of us hop online to check social media, others dive in to email, still others eat breakfast, exercise, or pack lunches for the kids. There're a million different ways a morning could go.

Which morning routine might be best?


Zappos builds loyalty with doggie treats

Democrat and Chronicle

At Zappos, building a personal emotional connection with the customer is a key initiative. This metric is tracked and measured. Employees are rewarded for how well and how often they demonstrate these connections.

Most customers buy from you because they are also emotionally connected. Emotions shape the attitudes that drive decisions and behaviors. This is also true when it comes to keeping a client.

Client loyalty stems from the emotional connection you have built with them. If there is no emotional connection with the company or brand then it might be in jeopardy of losing clients to a competitor.

Emotional connections can determine the length of a relationship. Without an emotional bond, customers can be easily swayed to try a competitor's service or product.


NASA Selects Proposals to Increase STEM Education at Community and Technical Colleges


The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Office of Education will award 35 grants totaling $17.3 million through the National Space Grant and Fellowship Program to increase student and faculty engagement in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) at U.S. community colleges and technical schools. Each award has a two-year performance period and a maximum value of $500,000. The winning proposals focused on ways to attract and retain more students from community and technical colleges in STEM curricula, develop stronger collaborations to increase student access to NASA's STEM education content, and increase the number of students who advance from an associate to a bachelor's degree. For example, the California Space Grant Consortium proposes to enhance STEM preparation at 12 state community colleges and improve opportunities for approximately 300 students to transfer to either the University of California or the California State University system. Meanwhile, the Colorado Space Grant Consortium proposes to add four new community college campuses as affiliates to the consortium. NASA notes its grant program continues the agency's tradition of investing in the U.S. education infrastructure with the goal of developing STEM skills and capabilities.


Asking for Advice Makes You Seem More Competent, Not Less

Science of Us

You hear a lot about fears of heights or spiders or clowns, but down deep, most people are most afraid of this one thing: sounding dumb. New research shows that people shy away from asking for help for fear of appearing less competent, but that this is an unfounded fear: Asking for advice actually makes you seem more capable.

Across five studies, a research team led by Harvard Business School’s Alison Wood Brooks finds that people think better of others when they ask for advice — mostly because people really love to give advice. Being asked for advice seems to give us a self-confidence boost, which in turn enhances our opinion of the advice-seeker, Brooks and colleagues write in the paper, which will be published in an upcoming issue of Management Science.

In one study, the researchers asked participants to imagine that they were stuck on a problem at work; some were told that they ultimately decided to ask a co-worker for advice, and others were told that their hypothetical selves had decided against doing so. They were then asked to rate how competent they believed their co-worker would view them, and the people who’d been told to imagine asking for help expected their co-workers to think less of them than those who’d been told to envision going it alone. We’re even reluctant to look hypothetically dumb.


How Kids are Learning to Code while Playing MineCraft Wired and KQED

Like many nine-year-olds, Stanley Strum spends a lot of time building things in Minecraft, the immersive game that lets your create your own mini-universe. The game has many tools. But Stanley is one of many players taking the game a step further by building entirely new features into the game. And, more than that, he’s also learning how to code.


He’s doing this with a tweak to the Minecraft game, called LearnToMod. Modifications like this, called “mods,” are a big part of the game’s runaway success. But this particular mod helps kids learn to create their own mods. For example, Strum built a teleporter that whisks him to a random location within the game world. Another lesson teaches kids to write the code to create a special bow that shoots arrows that become “portals” between different locations in the game, allowing them to reach spaces that would otherwise be quite difficult to access. It’s like being able to create your own cheat codes.


Strum is one of 150 students who are now tinkering with LearnToMod, an educational add-on teaches you the basics of programming while creating tricks and tools that you can use within the Minecraft. The mod will be available to the general public in October, and its creators hope it will help turn Minecraft into a kind of gateway drug for computer programming.


“Kids are already spending ridiculous amounts of hours on Minecraft,” says Stephen Foster, the co-founder of ThoughtSTEM, the company that’s built the LearnToMod module. “So we thought this would be a good way to help them learn skills.”


Love Project Prints Feelings in 3D


Brazilian architect Guto Requena turns personal love stories into unique design objects

Want to show someone how you feel? A project from Brazil lets you do this literally by turning your emotions into physical objects. Love Project captures people’s data as they describe personal love stories and converts this into tangible items with a 3D printer.

The project, which was unveiled at Design Weekend São Paulo, was created by Brazilian architect Guto Requena with the help of D3 Studio.

Participants were asked to tell the defining love story of their own lives while covered in emotion-monitoring sensors. This may sound daunting, but each person did this in isolation so that felt comfortable and relaxed. While they narrated their stories, the sensors gathered data on their changing emotions through brain activity, voice and heart rate.


What We Can Learn About Business Collaboration From Famous Creative Pairs

The Creativity Post

We’re individuals, but only to the extent that individuality is, paradoxically, the sum of our social interactions.

The idea of the lone genius makes for a good story. Van Gogh locked away in his studio, Freud in his study, Jobs tinkering in the garage. Like Rodin’s The Thinker, our mental picture of creativity is that of the solitary creator, hunched over in thought.

Today, the idea of the lone genius is unraveling. The study of networks shows that we are small units embedded in, and influenced by, sprawling social webs. Van Gogh, born in 1853, emerged with the rise of modernism. His contemporaries were Monet and Degas, Pissarro and Cezanne. Freud lived in fin de siècle Vienna, alongside Gustav Klimt, Arthur Schnitzler, and Carl von Rokitansky. Jobs grew up in Silicon Valley, perhaps the most innovative hub in human history.

In Where Good Ideas Come From, Steven Johnson advances the idea that milieu plays an overlooked role in individual creation. The English coffee house not only replaced a depressant (alcohol) with a stimulant (coffee), it encouraged collaboration, which jump-started the English Enlightenment. We’re individuals, but only to the extent that individuality is, paradoxically, the sum of our social interactions.

Yet each perspective—the individual genius and the creative network—miss a primary component of creative output: the dyad.

Yesterday, Joshua Wolf Shenk published Powers of Two: Finding the Essence of Innovation in Creative Pairs*, a portrait of famous creative pairs and an investigation into the psychology of collaboration.

Vincent van Gogh relied on his brother, Theo. “Though Theo never picked up a brush,” Shenk writes, “it’s fair to identify him—as Vincent did—as the co-creator of the drawings and paintings that are among the most significant in history.” Freud famously bonded with Wilhelm Fliess and Carl Jung. Steve Jobs accomplished his greatest work with Steve Wozniak and, two decades later, Jonathan Ive, Apple’s design guru. Silicon Valley is filled with creative pairs: Sergey Brin and Larry Page, Paul Allen and Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg.