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Jane Shevtsov has been at 2 events

HostFollowersTitleDateGuestsLinks
Science on Google+595,755Join us for a @105917944266111687812  Hangout on Air as we speak to Professor @116255230904882614629 and Dr @107413067341871105647 about the recent Ebola outbreak. We will discuss the basics of Ebola, why the epidemic has spread, how it might be curtailed, and debunk some of the myths surrounding this outbreak. Please leave your questions on the Event page. Vincent is a professor of virology at the University of Columbia and is a fantastic science communicator. Tara is an epidemiologist at Kent State University who has written numerous articles debunking some of the myths surrounding Ebola. This HOA will be hosted by Dr @108510686109338749229  and Dr @110756968351492254645. You can tune in on *Sunday August 10th at 2.30 PM Pacific, 5.30 PM Eastern*. The hangout will be available for viewing on our YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/ScienceHangouts) after the event.Science HOAs2014-08-10 23:30:0085  
Dawn Mission Education and Communications (E/C)1,795Update: Video here! http://www.youtube.com/user/NoisyAstronomer?v=SqIszii4H0c and here: https://plus.google.com/b/114633249213698877766/114633249213698877766/posts/Qq2jowbYN5h After an awesome year exploring asteroid Vesta, NASA’s Dawn Mission cruises on to Ceres 2015! Celebrate at a Dawn Mission Team Hangout!. Moderated by Dawn’s education and public outreach (E/PO) liaison, Dr. Britney Schmidt, and CosmoQuest, we'll talk about the results, the spacecraft, and our hopes for Ceres in 2015. You'll have a chance to ask questions and get involved. Stars of the show so far?  • Dr. Tom Prettyman, Science Team and GRaND lead, Planetary Science Institute • Drs. Tim Weise and Charles Gardner, NASA JPL Flight Operations Team • Drs. Lucille Le Corre and Vishnu Reddy, Framing Camera Team, Max Plank       Institute for Solar System Research • Dr. Debra Buczkowski, Participating Scientist, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory Submit your questions for the Dawn team by leaving them in the comments section below, on Dawn’s Facebook page, or by using the hashtag #HastaLaVesta on Twitter. Visit this event page on September 8, 2012 to watch the _Hangout On Air_, and to chime in on the conversation. Official website: http://dawn.jpl.nasa.gov/news/hasta_la_vesta.asp Twitter: https://twitter.com/nasa_dawn Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dawn.mission As the schedule and guest list is secured, we'll continue updating this page. Stay tuned for additional details.Dawn Mission Google+ Hangout with CosmoQuest2012-09-08 21:00:00112  

Shared Circles including Jane Shevtsov

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Average numbers for the latest posts (max. 50 posts, posted within the last 4 weeks)

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745
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Top posts in the last 50 posts

Most comments: 9

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2015-06-15 03:32:02 (9 comments, 0 reshares, 12 +1s)Open 

Esperanto taking off thanks to DuoLingo support.  Will Ido follow?

The artificial language Esperanto was constructed almost 130 years ago to be a universal language, taking bits from various common natural languages and presenting them in a regular, easy-to-learn form.  Various offshoots formed shortly after, including Ido, though none of them enjoyed the success that Esperanto had - little though even that was.

Many artificial languages have enjoyed something of a resurgence in recent years thanks to the internet, and Arika Okrent covered a number of them in her book "In the Land of Invented Languages" just a few years ago. 

I'd rather Ido got a bit of a step up than Esperanto to be honest.  They're both very similar, but Ido dropped the diacritics - having accents on letters can be useful, I admit, in getting regular sounds out of them (aswei... more »

Most reshares: 9

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2015-06-21 21:51:07 (2 comments, 9 reshares, 29 +1s)Open 

Most plusones: 36

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2015-06-28 00:31:04 (4 comments, 3 reshares, 36 +1s)Open 

Latest 50 posts

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2015-07-01 21:24:32 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 6 +1s)Open 

Mangroves provide protection from hurricanes.

Let's do this together. Give $1 and I will match it for 'Mangrove reforestation in Haiti'. https://onetoday.google.com/m/l-iihrmy

Mangroves provide protection from hurricanes.

Let's do this together. Give $1 and I will match it for 'Mangrove reforestation in Haiti'. https://onetoday.google.com/m/l-iihrmy___

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2015-06-29 18:43:40 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 9 +1s)Open 

Let's do this together. Give $1 and I will match it for 'Reforesting Costa Rica'. https://onetoday.google.com/m/wka-haqc

Let's do this together. Give $1 and I will match it for 'Reforesting Costa Rica'. https://onetoday.google.com/m/wka-haqc___

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2015-06-29 06:05:12 (0 comments, 2 reshares, 32 +1s)Open 

Ah, the Valley.

___Ah, the Valley.

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2015-06-28 01:00:46 (1 comments, 3 reshares, 23 +1s)Open 

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2015-06-28 00:31:04 (4 comments, 3 reshares, 36 +1s)Open 

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2015-06-28 00:29:35 (3 comments, 0 reshares, 0 +1s)Open 

Can anyone help me out here?

Can anyone help me out here?___

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2015-06-28 00:09:23 (0 comments, 6 reshares, 31 +1s)Open 

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2015-06-27 23:35:55 (0 comments, 1 reshares, 8 +1s)Open 

An interesting approach, albeit one more likely to help with adaptation than emission reductions. (We need both.)

For the first time a court has ordered the government to protect its citizens from climate change.

An interesting approach, albeit one more likely to help with adaptation than emission reductions. (We need both.)

For the first time a court has ordered the government to protect its citizens from climate change.___

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2015-06-27 22:53:36 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 1 +1s)Open 

Oh, this is great: +Susan Strickland and I just connected here at Google+... Susan, I was going to send you an email tonight! You really got me thinking about growth mindset cats!!! Do you think your students will make some growth cats in Latin??? Here's one I just made using a motto I saw go by in the #growthmindset  stream at Twitter! :-)
http://growthmindsetmemes.blogspot.com/2015/06/english-sometimes-you-win-sometimes-you.html

Oh, this is great: +Susan Strickland and I just connected here at Google+... Susan, I was going to send you an email tonight! You really got me thinking about growth mindset cats!!! Do you think your students will make some growth cats in Latin??? Here's one I just made using a motto I saw go by in the #growthmindset  stream at Twitter! :-)
http://growthmindsetmemes.blogspot.com/2015/06/english-sometimes-you-win-sometimes-you.html___

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2015-06-27 21:31:19 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 8 +1s)Open 

The time in college spent learning the practical knowledge that might lead to a first job, such as the latest health-care regulations, comes at the expense of learning other things that have a much longer shelf life. How do we get the knowledge or ability to reinvent ourselves or even change fields if all we've ever been taught is the practical skills in one field? Interesting evidence from the UK compares Scottish graduates, who typically have a broad education, to English graduates, who specialize in one field. They found that the former seem to do better making transitions in careers later in life.

The time in college spent learning the practical knowledge that might lead to a first job, such as the latest health-care regulations, comes at the expense of learning other things that have a much longer shelf life. How do we get the knowledge or ability to reinvent ourselves or even change fields if all we've ever been taught is the practical skills in one field? Interesting evidence from the UK compares Scottish graduates, who typically have a broad education, to English graduates, who specialize in one field. They found that the former seem to do better making transitions in careers later in life.___

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2015-06-27 21:16:19 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 2 +1s)Open 

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2015-06-26 18:40:31 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 5 +1s)Open 

Let's do this together. Give $1 and I will match it for 'Radio Telemetry Kit - Anti-Poaching'. https://onetoday.google.com/m/r9cqfuhe

Let's do this together. Give $1 and I will match it for 'Radio Telemetry Kit - Anti-Poaching'. https://onetoday.google.com/m/r9cqfuhe___

2015-06-26 17:27:22 (1 comments, 0 reshares, 5 +1s)Open 

via +Andreas Schou 

Immediately after the Civil War, slavery was held, by the South, to have been peripheral to the conflict. Remember, slavery actually was the central question, appearing repeatedly in articles of secession and writings by Confederate officials. Slavery had been consolidating from 1840 on, transitioning from practicality to ideology. The 18th century had found it difficult to justify philosophically except as some kind of transitional state and even that seemed tenuous. The innovation in the mid-19th century was white supremacy: the idea that blacks were inherently inferior coupled with the notion that domination of them was the rightful order of the world. You can detect in it traces of many different ideologies agglomerating into it and perhaps someone will lay those out elsewhere. But shortly after the Civil War ended, slavery was abandoned as a justification, replaced with comparatively minor political and economic disputes.

This wasn't a churn, either, with slavery's defenders retreating from view while those who'd never seen slavery as central becoming more prominent. It was a widespread, nearly uniform revision of history throughout the South. Even Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens, who'd said in 1861 that "[o]ur new Government is founded ... upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition" would later argue that this wasn't the case. Rather, the Civil War was held to be about personal and local interests in the face of depersonalizing industrialization and national centralization. It's a powerful theme which draws on a deeper, older tension in American life developed by Thoreau and the other transcendentalists. It was genuinely difficult for America to industrialize and the reimagination of the Republic in its face was a leading concern until it was finally overtaken by imperial* questions after World War II.

What motivated Southern revision of Civil War history was the genuine shock of their loss. As the ideology of slavery was consolidating, it was held to be a great strength of the South. While the laws passed suggest, rather, that it presented a constant risk of insurrection and was a source of existential fear, within the ideology of slavery it was an expression of natural order which ensured white equality and civilization. That was coupled to the notion of aristocracy and feudalism. For the South, their military leaders were men of immense virtue, modern knights whose command of battle and sense of honor fated them for victory.

But they lost and they lost badly. After the Civil War, the South was a smoking ruin under occupation. How to explain this defeat? Quickly, an interlocking narrative developed: Northern industrial might coupled with local backstabbing destroyed the Confederate cause of states rights. In this narrative, the Union represented the depersonalizing and centralizing forces of 19th century America pitted against the personal and local. To put the full rhetorical flourish on it, to give insight into the power of this mythology, I would say "it was a war of steel and steam against blood and bravery". That phrasing conjures well the romance of this narrative, even though it was entirely false. For the revisionist South, the Confederacy faced off against implacable, inhuman forces and lost.**

There are other elements as well, like downplaying the cruelty of slavery and characterizing Jim Crow as a solution to racial tension rather than a systematic oppression, which add up to a myth known as the Lost Cause. That myth would become central to the great disappointment of the 19th century, the end of Reconstruction to facilitate white reconciliation. As I demonstrated before, it's a narrative with power. If you can sweep aside the question of slavery, you can frame the Civil War in way sympathetic to the Confederacy. As it happens, this is what education in the South tends to do, presenting the Civil War as arising from complex economic, cultural, and political causes in which slavery is only just one issue. Other components make their appearances as well, like the idea that Southern generals were superior and Grant simply fought a war of attrition.

While the Confederate battle flag at South Carolina's state capitol went up specifically as a response to the civil rights movement, it had been used prior mostly for honoring Confederate veterans. Within the history, this seems as fraught and perverse as honoring German soldiers in World War II. While it is true that many acted bravely and sought only to serve their country or were simply conscripted and had no choice, the manifest evil of the enterprise they fought for corrupts any virtues they might possess. That is in the nature of evil, under its banner our saving graces become our damning faults. But within the revisionist history advanced immediately after the Civil War, it makes sense. Within it, the Civil War was stupid and should never have been fought. In the coloring most favorable to the Union, Southerners were hot-headed rebels who should have thought it through a little better. The trope "brother against brother" carries, through this revision, the implication that they remain brothers at the end.

But why downplay slavery specifically? Because it was a manifest evil. Downplaying slavery creates a sense of moral equivalence. Even if you thought slavery was right, decentralizing slavery halted the great question and tossed the war's causes into murkier details, robbing the North of moral ammunition. Thus, over time, the Confederate flag was sapped of its original meaning in the eyes of whites throughout the country. The Lost Cause became America's main structural idea of the Civil War, facilitating white reconciliation even as newly freed Americans were crushed under an essentially totalitarian state.

For the current debate, the relevant effect is smaller: the deracialization of the Confederate battle flag. Think back to the revisionist narrative and ask what, to a person believing it, that flag represents. It's obvious that, for them, it represents what they earnestly say it does: heritage, history, a sense of old-fashioned rebellion. And its use, in context, bears that out. It's largely used as a sort of rural punk emblem, as if to say "fuck y'all, I'm going to have my own fun". A look through the most common representations shows that side every time it's not about an Arcadian idyl. When people say that whites using the Confederate battle flag are being disingenuous or dissembling, I cringe. I come from a place where it was common growing up and I rarely saw it used as a consciously racial symbol; it was about rural pride, localism and naturalism against the great forces set against them. Perhaps one time in a hundred was someone intending a racial message and that person never got any acceptance. For whites, the deracialization of the Confederate battle flag was all but total, the symbol of a New South, rural and industrial, authentic and modern.

That totality is recent, however. The current plethora of Confederate flags in the South actually dates to the Civil Rights Movement. They're explicit protests of black equality. You could be forgiven, thanks to the revision, if you didn't realize that, however. After all, if you are not old enough to remember the Movement or the fights following the Civil Rights Act well, the revision is all you really know about it as a white Southerner. Thus my sympathy for the flag's defenders declines as they come from ever elder generations; they know better, they quite likely waved that flag as an explicit symbol of white supremacy.

That totality arises from a new revision, that racism was defeated with the Civil Rights Act. Contrary to the view advanced so often, the Civil Rights Act was extremely controversial. The mobilization of segregationists wasn't simply a last ditch effort, it was a massive movement throughout the South. So hot was Southern fury that they kept supporters of the Act off ballots and five states went for George Wallace in 1968.† This opposition has not yet totally played out, but it's not my focus here. Just as there was a seed of disingenuousness which kicked off the Lost Cause and the New South, so too is there one for the new mythology in which the Civil Rights Act ended racism. It is often presented as dying of natural causes or, by my school years, as if it were something whites hadn't really given a lot of thought to imposed by unknown actors in government or, perhaps, nefarious actual racists who held everyone in terror, black and white alike. That sounds nearly insane, but less so when the alternative is to admit complicity in the nation's gravest evils. Deracialized and desegregated, the South stands for its noblest ideals of courage, independence, loyalty, and honor. That's still not quite true, but the steady stripping of racial components is a good thing.

I've been writing about all this because I'm surprised by the speed at which opinion has shifted against the Confederate battle flag. Stores are pulling it from shelves and governments are pulling it from state houses. The flag's remaining defenders seem largely exhausted rather than adamant, resigned to the reality of the flag's meaning for the nation's 42 million black people and a growing number of its whites. I read in so many defenses of the flag simply defenses of what they had wanted it to mean. There is nothing wrong in the desired meaning, it would have been a far better reality if slavery had been a dying and largely benign institution, Jim Crow some mutual oppression imposed by racial busybodies, and the cause of the Confederacy as home-and-hearth against implacable economic forces. It would be, as I take pains to conjure, authentic, meaningful, and ennobling. It would be, it simply wasn't.

But gripping the truth firmly can be hard. There's always an undercurrent of disgust when the rest of the nation discusses the South. A characterization of its people as rednecks and yokels. Certainly, there have always been a few in the South as everywhere and we each have occasionally donned that identity in rebellion or fun. However, as it plays out in the real world we often feel put upon. Years ago a professor of mine from Louisiana and I were discussing how people immediately perceived us differently, how to be taken seriously we often had to take care and cover accents or avoid certain turns of phrase. That sense of being a second class citizen is profound and depends on a mischaracterization of how white Southerners perceive themselves and their heritage. I grew up in the foothills of the Ozarks, my father's family come that generation from Arkansas. I carried my gun down through the bottoms and have been to Branson more times than I care to recount -- or, in certain company, even admit. I've unloaded on people for calling my home state flyover country or disparaging the South. I feel I can do that, and they can't, irrational as that sounds. There's nothing up my sleeve, no secret coastal liberal condescension.††

I've taken pains here to balance reality with myth, to give my historical and visceral insight into this debate. So I arrive at my hoped explanation for this sudden turn: the realization that the truth  never lived up to the revision, a desire to live out the nobler ideals in Southern heritage under a banner they deserve.

*Whether this was the right empire or the wrong one is not an opinion I've been able to keep for long on either side.

**And who can't sympathize with that narrative after losing out to an enemy zerg? Don't you feel like the noble player who did everything right only to be overwhelmed by mistakes of game design?

†Of "segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever" fame.

††Or wider audience, as some may have figured out, that my journal entries are often essays doesn't actually make them anything other than journal entries.___via +Andreas Schou 

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2015-06-26 06:59:40 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 5 +1s)Open 

Junonium, Victorium, Occultum, Hibernium, etc. 

"In the popular imagination, science proceeds with great leaps of discovery — new planets, new cures, new elements. In reality, though, science is a long, grueling process of trial and error, in which tantalizing false discoveries constantly arise and vanish on further examination. These failures can teach us as much — or more — than its successes. The field of chemistry is littered with them. Today only 118 elements have been documented, but hundreds more have been “discovered” over the years — named, publicly trumpeted, and sometimes even included in textbooks — only to be exposed as bogus with better tools, or when a fraud was sniffed out. Their stories, sprinkled with stubborn pride, analytical incompetency, precipitate haste, amateurish error, and even practical joking, read like a catalog of the ways science can goawry, and how it... more »

Junonium, Victorium, Occultum, Hibernium, etc. 

"In the popular imagination, science proceeds with great leaps of discovery — new planets, new cures, new elements. In reality, though, science is a long, grueling process of trial and error, in which tantalizing false discoveries constantly arise and vanish on further examination. These failures can teach us as much — or more — than its successes. The field of chemistry is littered with them. Today only 118 elements have been documented, but hundreds more have been “discovered” over the years — named, publicly trumpeted, and sometimes even included in textbooks — only to be exposed as bogus with better tools, or when a fraud was sniffed out. Their stories, sprinkled with stubborn pride, analytical incompetency, precipitate haste, amateurish error, and even practical joking, read like a catalog of the ways science can go awry, and how it moves forward nonetheless. Here are some illustrative “lost element” stories and their discoverers — and what we can learn in spite of them"

See more at: http://blog.oup.com/2015/03/false-discoveries-chemistry-progress-science/#sthash.Qa3ii68v.dpuf___

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2015-06-26 06:15:45 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 5 +1s)Open 

Thinking about food as a way of thinking about nature.

My hunch is that you see in these young chefs a reflection of your own philosophy. They show that it’s possible to be in love with wilderness and awestruck by non-human life while physically playing with it, rather than taking only memories and leaving only footprints. For me that’s the most exciting idea — that we could maintain the romantic relationship with nature, while also engaging it practically.

Side note: I do wish the author hadn't applied the word "mansplaining" to himself.

Thinking about food as a way of thinking about nature.

My hunch is that you see in these young chefs a reflection of your own philosophy. They show that it’s possible to be in love with wilderness and awestruck by non-human life while physically playing with it, rather than taking only memories and leaving only footprints. For me that’s the most exciting idea — that we could maintain the romantic relationship with nature, while also engaging it practically.

Side note: I do wish the author hadn't applied the word "mansplaining" to himself.___

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2015-06-26 06:08:02 (0 comments, 1 reshares, 6 +1s)Open 

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2015-06-26 05:29:41 (1 comments, 0 reshares, 11 +1s)Open 

In ... countries where governments have mapped, demarcated, and titled community forests, helped communities stop encroachment, and provided traditional communities with funds and training, the results have been remarkable. Guatemala’s community forest concessions have much less deforestation than nearby national parks. The woodlands of Nepal and Niger regenerated after communities gained greater control. Bolivian indigenous territories with titles have only a fraction of the forest loss of other Amazon forests. Tanzania’s villagers manage their forests better than the national government.

In ... countries where governments have mapped, demarcated, and titled community forests, helped communities stop encroachment, and provided traditional communities with funds and training, the results have been remarkable. Guatemala’s community forest concessions have much less deforestation than nearby national parks. The woodlands of Nepal and Niger regenerated after communities gained greater control. Bolivian indigenous territories with titles have only a fraction of the forest loss of other Amazon forests. Tanzania’s villagers manage their forests better than the national government.___

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2015-06-25 17:39:18 (1 comments, 0 reshares, 3 +1s)Open 

Good description of the Gaia hypothesis by +Andreas Schou.

As articulated by Lovelock, the Gaia Hypothesis oversells the self-regulatory functions of the biosphere. But it's not pure crankery, and it's certainly not "scientific pantheism."

As is plainly obvious to anyone, the Earth is in a metastable state which wouldn't be sustainable without biology. We have an atmosphere full of free oxygen and the lowest diurnal, seasonal, and regional temperature variation in the solar system. This is incredibly rare.

The former fact -- that the atmosphere is full of a corrosive gas which would much prefer to be bound to our crust's very abundant silicon or carbon -- is explicitly because of the aggregate effect of the biosphere. No plants, no free oxygen. No free methane, either. No carbon monoxide, et cetera, et cetera. 

The latter fact is also caused by the biosphere. Carbon dioxide has a relatively small effect on the climate. It is, however, the only unconstrained variable in the mix. Unlike methane (a much more powerful greenhouse gas), it's environmentally persistent unless plants remove it from the atmosphere. Unlike water vapor, which is also a powerful greenhouse gas, it's a gas at all noncatastrophic temperatures. 

Most free carbon on Earth is in one of two states: in the atmosphere, where it's a greenhouse gas, or in organic waste, where it's not. Taking things out of the second state and putting it in the first does four things: (a) warms the climate, (b) increases the amount of second-order greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, (c) decreases the albedo of the Earth, and (d) reduces the capacity of the ocean as a heat-and-carbon sink. 

Frankly, this whole issue would be much easier to describe to conservatives if we called it "ecoeconomics," because that's the fundamental underlying math, but I guess the hippie-bullshit framing is already set.___Good description of the Gaia hypothesis by +Andreas Schou.

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2015-06-24 17:04:32 (4 comments, 0 reshares, 7 +1s)Open 

How evil do you have to be to give chemotherapy to people who don't have cancer?

How evil do you have to be to give chemotherapy to people who don't have cancer?___

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2015-06-23 21:50:08 (0 comments, 2 reshares, 11 +1s)Open 

What happens if high school students get administrator privileges on their laptops?  They could become self-sufficient rather than being depending on programmers.  

> The [Penn Manor School District] gave all 1,700 high school students laptops running Ubuntu operating systems, an easy-to-use version of the open source product Linux. [....]  
> “The difference is with a device such as this, it’s unlocked and kids have administrative level accounts on their laptops,” +Charlie Reisinger said. “So where our formal instruction ends, their new learning can begin because they have control over the device.” Students can download and load anything they want — and Reisinger even encourages them to do so. He’s not worried about them breaking the system because of its flexibility and wants them to learn from mistakes, if they do.  
> Reisinger is baffled by the behaviorof districts like ... more »

What happens if high school students get administrator privileges on their laptops?  They could become self-sufficient rather than being depending on programmers.  

> The [Penn Manor School District] gave all 1,700 high school students laptops running Ubuntu operating systems, an easy-to-use version of the open source product Linux. [....]  
> “The difference is with a device such as this, it’s unlocked and kids have administrative level accounts on their laptops,” +Charlie Reisinger said. “So where our formal instruction ends, their new learning can begin because they have control over the device.” Students can download and load anything they want — and Reisinger even encourages them to do so. He’s not worried about them breaking the system because of its flexibility and wants them to learn from mistakes, if they do.  
> Reisinger is baffled by the behavior of districts like Los Angeles, which rolled out a one-to-one iPad program and then revoked student privileges when kids figured out how to navigate around district filters. “On the one hand we’re handing kids amazing learning devices, perhaps one of the most amazing inventions of the past 100 years, but yet we’re saying don’t learn about it, we don’t want you to understand how it works,” Reisinger said.  
> Treating devices that way makes students and teachers dependent on programmers for their needs, rather than letting them learn what’s under the hood. Penn Manor teachers assign work on devices to help kids meet learning standards just like teachers everywhere else, but they also have more options to let the kids explore safely.  
> “While we have the ‘must do’ layer, there’s also that little bit of subversion here, giving kids that little bit of creativity and maybe a ray of hope,” Reisinger said. “I want them to learn that learning is not all about what someone else preordains for you. It’s OK to tinker and play with things.” Penn Manor is as beholden to performing well on state tests as any other school district and its teachers make sure to cover curriculum, even using a few third party software programs to provide remedial help.  

"Why Aren’t More Schools Using Free, Open Tools?" | Katrina Schwartz | June 9, 2014 | Mind/Shift, KQED News at http://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2014/06/09/why-arent-more-schools-using-free-open-education-resources/___

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2015-06-23 05:21:51 (0 comments, 3 reshares, 24 +1s)Open 

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2015-06-23 05:06:33 (2 comments, 0 reshares, 4 +1s)Open 

Presumably, this method is aimed at a task like picking up a rock on Mars and seeing if it has life. All the methods for detecting life from a distance (that I've heard of) are variations on what Jim Lovelock came up with in the 60s. This is not intended as criticism, as what he came up with (looking for an atmosphere or, presumably, ocean out of chemical equilibrium) was really good.

Presumably, this method is aimed at a task like picking up a rock on Mars and seeing if it has life. All the methods for detecting life from a distance (that I've heard of) are variations on what Jim Lovelock came up with in the 60s. This is not intended as criticism, as what he came up with (looking for an atmosphere or, presumably, ocean out of chemical equilibrium) was really good.___

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2015-06-23 03:40:31 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 10 +1s)Open 

How Brazil cut deforestation by 75% and what that experience implies for fighting climate change.

How Brazil cut deforestation by 75% and what that experience implies for fighting climate change.___

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2015-06-22 20:33:03 (2 comments, 0 reshares, 5 +1s)Open 

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2015-06-22 18:27:06 (8 comments, 3 reshares, 21 +1s)Open 

The DART and AIM missions will determine how much force is needed to shift the orbit of an oncoming asteroid, helping astronomers understand the best strategy for a planetary defense system, ESA officials said.

The DART and AIM missions will determine how much force is needed to shift the orbit of an oncoming asteroid, helping astronomers understand the best strategy for a planetary defense system, ESA officials said.___

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2015-06-22 02:25:12 (2 comments, 1 reshares, 9 +1s)Open 

This is beyond terrible.
quote if you work hard and show administrators how much better our schools could be if they took their responsibilities seriously, you are going to become a target for abuse.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/the-outrageous-treatment-of-one-of-the-nations-most-outstanding-teachers/2015/06/19/e87f67e0-16bb-11e5-9518-f9e0a8959f32_story.html?postshare=1741434810207777

This is beyond terrible.
quote if you work hard and show administrators how much better our schools could be if they took their responsibilities seriously, you are going to become a target for abuse.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/the-outrageous-treatment-of-one-of-the-nations-most-outstanding-teachers/2015/06/19/e87f67e0-16bb-11e5-9518-f9e0a8959f32_story.html?postshare=1741434810207777___

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2015-06-21 21:51:07 (2 comments, 9 reshares, 29 +1s)Open 

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2015-06-17 03:32:29 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 6 +1s)Open 

An interesting analysis. 

An interesting analysis. ___

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2015-06-15 04:07:04 (2 comments, 3 reshares, 24 +1s)Open 

"Unless the rest of the automotive industry does a dramatic bit of catching up, Tesla is set to sell absurd quantities of Model 3s."

Indeed.

"Unless the rest of the automotive industry does a dramatic bit of catching up, Tesla is set to sell absurd quantities of Model 3s."

Indeed.___

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2015-06-15 03:56:32 (4 comments, 0 reshares, 5 +1s)Open 

An excellent profile of Richard Dawkins.

An excellent profile of Richard Dawkins.___

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2015-06-15 03:32:02 (9 comments, 0 reshares, 12 +1s)Open 

I learned some Esperanto years ago but stopped because, as an undergrad, I just didn't have much time. Today I found out that it's available on DuoLingo and immediately started studying it. It's really fun!

For anyone who programs, Esperanto reminds me of Python. Things generally work the way you think they should.

Esperanto taking off thanks to DuoLingo support.  Will Ido follow?

The artificial language Esperanto was constructed almost 130 years ago to be a universal language, taking bits from various common natural languages and presenting them in a regular, easy-to-learn form.  Various offshoots formed shortly after, including Ido, though none of them enjoyed the success that Esperanto had - little though even that was.

Many artificial languages have enjoyed something of a resurgence in recent years thanks to the internet, and Arika Okrent covered a number of them in her book "In the Land of Invented Languages" just a few years ago. 

I'd rather Ido got a bit of a step up than Esperanto to be honest.  They're both very similar, but Ido dropped the diacritics - having accents on letters can be useful, I admit, in getting regular sounds out of them (as weird as it might be for a native English speaker) but in the computer age it's just a hassle. 
There are various other reasonably minor changes between the two, but a second point worth pointing out is that "Ido, unlike Esperanto, does not assume the male sex in roots such us for family. For example, Ido does not derive the word for waitress by adding a feminine suffix to waiter" from wikipedia's comparison between the two.

There's a wikipedia page for Ido, naturally (no pun intended) with 20k+ articles, which is about an order of magnitude below Esperanto.___I learned some Esperanto years ago but stopped because, as an undergrad, I just didn't have much time. Today I found out that it's available on DuoLingo and immediately started studying it. It's really fun!

For anyone who programs, Esperanto reminds me of Python. Things generally work the way you think they should.

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2015-06-14 20:26:43 (3 comments, 3 reshares, 8 +1s)Open 

This guy nails it. Yes, this is how science actually works.

This guy nails it. Yes, this is how science actually works.___

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2015-06-14 07:11:26 (1 comments, 0 reshares, 11 +1s)Open 

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2015-06-14 06:42:11 (3 comments, 1 reshares, 8 +1s)Open 

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2015-06-13 04:36:36 (3 comments, 0 reshares, 4 +1s)Open 

Does anyone know why Google Inbox isn't working on Firefox? (Yes, it's supported now.) I'm running Firefox 38 on Ubuntu 14.04. I disabled my ad blocker and pop-up blocker, just in case, but still get the white screen below.

Does anyone know why Google Inbox isn't working on Firefox? (Yes, it's supported now.) I'm running Firefox 38 on Ubuntu 14.04. I disabled my ad blocker and pop-up blocker, just in case, but still get the white screen below.___

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2015-06-12 16:33:05 (0 comments, 1 reshares, 22 +1s)Open 

If this turns out to work and doesn't come to involve the kind of abuse all too many US outdoor programs do, it will be awesome.

If this turns out to work and doesn't come to involve the kind of abuse all too many US outdoor programs do, it will be awesome.___

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2015-06-12 06:02:16 (1 comments, 0 reshares, 14 +1s)Open 

It's good to know that I'm smarter than at least one Nobel Prize winner. (Well, two if you count James Watson.) And #distractinglysexy to boot!

It's good to know that I'm smarter than at least one Nobel Prize winner. (Well, two if you count James Watson.) And #distractinglysexy to boot!___

2015-06-10 17:49:31 (1 comments, 1 reshares, 4 +1s)Open 

+The New York Times​ When I said I wanted breaking news alerts on my phone, the approval of a new cholesterol drug wasn't what I had in mind. 

+The New York Times​ When I said I wanted breaking news alerts on my phone, the approval of a new cholesterol drug wasn't what I had in mind. ___

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2015-06-10 06:26:42 (5 comments, 4 reshares, 13 +1s)Open 

Heating and driving are more important than lights and computers.

Heating and driving are more important than lights and computers.___

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2015-06-09 17:46:52 (0 comments, 1 reshares, 6 +1s)Open 

An interesting piece comparing dissertation defenses in Sweden and the US.

An interesting piece comparing dissertation defenses in Sweden and the US.___

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2015-06-09 07:06:46 (7 comments, 0 reshares, 12 +1s)Open 

#idonteven   Would now be a good time to mention I'm one of those naturalized citizens in wheelchairs?

#idonteven   Would now be a good time to mention I'm one of those naturalized citizens in wheelchairs?___

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2015-06-09 05:43:05 (0 comments, 1 reshares, 12 +1s)Open 

Success...after a series of worrisome setbacks and silences! The Planetary Society's LightSail deploys its Solar Sails in space! Something that should have been done at the very dawn of the Space Era, almost a lifetime ago… developing useful, reliable, deployable light sails (or “solar sails”) to send small craft cheaply across the community of planets.

Support the worthy efforts of The Planetary Society and Bill Nye to keep our eyes on space:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/theplanetarysociety/lightsail-a-revolutionary-solar-sailing-spacecraft

Success...after a series of worrisome setbacks and silences! The Planetary Society's LightSail deploys its Solar Sails in space! Something that should have been done at the very dawn of the Space Era, almost a lifetime ago… developing useful, reliable, deployable light sails (or “solar sails”) to send small craft cheaply across the community of planets.

Support the worthy efforts of The Planetary Society and Bill Nye to keep our eyes on space:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/theplanetarysociety/lightsail-a-revolutionary-solar-sailing-spacecraft___

2015-06-09 05:39:53 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 7 +1s)Open 

Sometimes, the StackExchange answer with a - 20 rating is exactly the one you need. 

Sometimes, the StackExchange answer with a - 20 rating is exactly the one you need. ___

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2015-06-08 20:00:24 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 5 +1s)Open 

While we are likely overestimating how dangerous this virus is (people who aren't severely ill won't be tested), it's certainly important for public health authorities to keep an eye on. 

While we are likely overestimating how dangerous this virus is (people who aren't severely ill won't be tested), it's certainly important for public health authorities to keep an eye on. ___

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2015-06-08 03:09:22 (0 comments, 1 reshares, 17 +1s)Open 

Living Stones

Native to the dry, southern regions of Africa, Lithops is a genus of succulent that has taken a lesser known defense against herbivores: fading into the background. These plants are also known as Living Stones for their ability to blend in to their environment. Their appeal is heightened for herbivores during the long, dry season as the leaves of Lithops and others in the family Aizoaceae are adapted to hold water. With only two very succulent leaves, it is of greater important to prevent predation.

The particular species Lithops was first discovered in 1811 by Thomas Burchell. Its ability to blend in almost fooled Burchell who originally thought the plant a curiously shaped pebble. No other part of the plant is exposed to the surface.

The peculiarity of the leaves goes beyond appearance. The actual photosynthetic tissue is... more »

Living Stones

Native to the dry, southern regions of Africa, Lithops is a genus of succulent that has taken a lesser known defense against herbivores: fading into the background. These plants are also known as Living Stones for their ability to blend in to their environment. Their appeal is heightened for herbivores during the long, dry season as the leaves of Lithops and others in the family Aizoaceae are adapted to hold water. With only two very succulent leaves, it is of greater important to prevent predation.

The particular species Lithops was first discovered in 1811 by Thomas Burchell. Its ability to blend in almost fooled Burchell who originally thought the plant a curiously shaped pebble. No other part of the plant is exposed to the surface.

The peculiarity of the leaves goes beyond appearance. The actual photosynthetic tissue is located on the inner surface of the leaf. In order to reach the tissue, the sunlight travels through what is known as windows. These transparent sections allow light striking it to be diffused by crystals of calcium oxalate to allow maximum exposure to the photosynthetic tissue. The gas exchange of the plant occurs underground so the stomates are not exposed to wind or sun allowing minimal water loss.

Unfortunately, the bizarre appearance and unique characteristics of Living Stones has made them popular with collectors. Many species have been driven to the verge of extinction by collectors. They are now protect by law, but ones grown from seed or other lawful means are available in nursery and gardening centers.

A little something for your #ScienceSunday !

Sources and Further Reading
Living Stones | UCC
http://goo.gl/Om3NxS (website)
The "Living Stone" Plants | Botanical Society
http://goo.gl/aEgvFs (website)___

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2015-06-08 03:01:58 (2 comments, 2 reshares, 21 +1s)Open 

___

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2015-06-07 21:20:49 (2 comments, 0 reshares, 5 +1s)Open 

Packaging can actually be eco-friendly when it prevents food waste. But the packaging needs to be recyclable or biodegradable. Also, 3 days for a cucumber? What?

Packaging can actually be eco-friendly when it prevents food waste. But the packaging needs to be recyclable or biodegradable. Also, 3 days for a cucumber? What?___

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2015-06-06 18:53:22 (1 comments, 0 reshares, 8 +1s)Open 

"Cinnamon" Chanterelle (Cantharellus cinnabarinus)

Did you know these little neon orange numbers are sisters in the Chanterelle family and therefore edible? In fact, the fungi specialist on this hike said you can eat them raw! I probably won't try that, but... next time I see them I'm going to have a collecting bag with me. BTW, processing this photo left me with orange spots lingering in my eyes. I DID NOT mess with any sliders!

In the #KisatchieNationalForest for #shroomshotsaturday +ShroomshotSaturday, curated by +Sabeena LoBello,   +Michael Albrecht, +Patricia A & +Keith Elliott.

"Cinnamon" Chanterelle (Cantharellus cinnabarinus)

Did you know these little neon orange numbers are sisters in the Chanterelle family and therefore edible? In fact, the fungi specialist on this hike said you can eat them raw! I probably won't try that, but... next time I see them I'm going to have a collecting bag with me. BTW, processing this photo left me with orange spots lingering in my eyes. I DID NOT mess with any sliders!

In the #KisatchieNationalForest for #shroomshotsaturday +ShroomshotSaturday, curated by +Sabeena LoBello,   +Michael Albrecht, +Patricia A & +Keith Elliott.___

2015-06-05 16:48:47 (1 comments, 0 reshares, 4 +1s)Open 

Suppose Nepal’s government could have gone shopping for earthquake insurance to cover the large-scale losses and public-sector response after a disaster. Potential underwriters would examine the probabilities of earthquakes at various magnitudes, using the historical record, seismic modeling and assessments of the vulnerabilities of the buildings.

The leading insurer, generally a reinsurance company, would then sell off its excess exposure to Nepal’s earthquake risk to other insurance companies, or even capital markets around the world via so-called catastrophe bonds and similar instruments. These risk carriers would receive part of Nepal’s premium payments, and be required to pay out to Nepal in the event of an earthquake. Nepal would be financially protected, and insurers would diversify the risk.

Suppose Nepal’s government could have gone shopping for earthquake insurance to cover the large-scale losses and public-sector response after a disaster. Potential underwriters would examine the probabilities of earthquakes at various magnitudes, using the historical record, seismic modeling and assessments of the vulnerabilities of the buildings.

The leading insurer, generally a reinsurance company, would then sell off its excess exposure to Nepal’s earthquake risk to other insurance companies, or even capital markets around the world via so-called catastrophe bonds and similar instruments. These risk carriers would receive part of Nepal’s premium payments, and be required to pay out to Nepal in the event of an earthquake. Nepal would be financially protected, and insurers would diversify the risk.___

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2015-06-05 16:46:24 (4 comments, 0 reshares, 3 +1s)Open 

Wacky algebra

In math you get to make up the rules of the game... but then you have to follow them with utmost precision.  You can change the rules... but then you're playing a different game.  You can play any game you want... but some games are more worthwhile than others. 

If you play one of these games long enough, it doesn't feel like a game - it feels like "reality", especially if it matches up to the real world in some way.  But that's how games are.

Unfortunately, most kids learn math by being taught the rules for a just a few games - and the teacher acts like the rules are "true".  Where did the rules come from?  That's not explained.  The students are never encouraged to make up their own rules.

In fact, mathematicians spend a lot of time making up new rules.  For example, my grad student Alissa Cransmade up... more »

Wacky algebra

In math you get to make up the rules of the game... but then you have to follow them with utmost precision.  You can change the rules... but then you're playing a different game.  You can play any game you want... but some games are more worthwhile than others. 

If you play one of these games long enough, it doesn't feel like a game - it feels like "reality", especially if it matches up to the real world in some way.  But that's how games are.

Unfortunately, most kids learn math by being taught the rules for a just a few games - and the teacher acts like the rules are "true".  Where did the rules come from?  That's not explained.  The students are never encouraged to make up their own rules.

In fact, mathematicians spend a lot of time making up new rules.  For example, my grad student Alissa Crans made up a thing called a shelf.  It wasn't completely new: it was a lot like something mathematicians already studied, called a 'rack', but simpler - hence the name 'shelf'.  (Mathematician need lots of names for things, so we sometimes run out of serious-sounding names and use silly names.)

What's a shelf?

It's a set where you can multiply two elements a and b and get a new element a · b.  That's not new... but this multiplication obeys a funny rule:

a · (b · c) = (a · b) · (a · c)

That should remind you of this rule:

a · (b + c) = (a · b) + (a · c)

But in a shelf, we don't have addition, just multiplication... and the only rule it obeys is

a · (b · c) = (a · b) · (a · c)

There turn out to be lots of interesting examples, which come from knot theory, and group theory.  I could talk about this stuff for hours.  But never mind!   A couple days ago I learned something surprising.  Suppose you have a unital shelf, meaning one that has an element called 1 that obeys these rules:

a · 1 = a
1 · a = a

Then multiplication has to be associative!  In other words, it obeys this familiar rule:

a · (b · c) = (a · b) · c

The proof is in the picture. 

A guy who calls himself "Sam C" put this proof on a blog of mine.  I was shocked when I saw it.

Why?   First, I've studied shelves quite a lot, and they're hardly ever associative.   I thought I understood this game, and many related games - about things called 'racks' and 'quandles' and 'involutory quandles' and so on.  But adding this particular extra rule changed the game a lot. 

Second, it's a very sneaky proof - I have no idea how Sam C came up with it.

Luckily, a mathematician named Andrew Hubery showed me how to break the proof down into smaller, more digestible pieces.  And now I think I understand this game quite well.   It's not a hugely important game, as far as I can tell, but it's cute. 

It turns out that these gadgets - shelves with an element 1 obeying a · 1 = 1 · a = a - are the same as something the famous category theorist William Lawvere had invented under the name of graphic monoids.  The rules for a monoid are that we have a set with a way to multiply elements and an element 1, obeying these familiar rules:

1 · a = 1 · a = a

a · (b · c) = (a · b) · c

Monoids are incredibly important because they show up all over.  But a graphic monoid also obeys one extra rule:

a · (b · a) = a · b

This is a weird rule... but graphic monoids show up when you're studying bunches of dots connected by edges, which mathematicians call graphs... so it's not a silly rule: this game helps us understand the world.

Puzzle 1: take the rules of a graphic monoid and use them to derive the rules of a unital shelf.

Puzzle 2: take the rules of a unital shelf and use them to derive the rules of a graphic monoid.

So, they're really the same thing.

By the way, most math is a lot more involved than this.  Usually we take rules we already like a lot, and keep developing the consequences further and further, and introducing new concepts, until we build enormous castles - which in the best cases help us understand the universe in amazing new ways.  But this particular game is more like building a tiny dollhouse.  At least so far.  That's why it feels more like a "game", less like "serious work".___

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