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January 05, 2011

Why does mathematics education have to suck? The Mathemetician's Lament

maa.org | A Mathematician’s Lament | by Paul Lockhart
... if I had to design a mechanism for the express purpose of destroying a child’s natural curiosity and love of pattern-making, I couldn’t possibly do as good a job as is currently being done— I simply wouldn’t have the imagination to come up with the kind of senseless, soul crushing ideas that constitute contemporary mathematics education. Everyone knows that something is wrong. The politicians say, “we need higher standards.” The schools say, “we need more money and equipment.” Educators say one thing, and teachers say another. They are all wrong. The only people who understand what is going on are the ones most often blamed and least often heard: the students. They say, “math class is stupid and boring,” and they are right. The first thing to understand is that mathematics is an art. The difference between math and the other arts, such as music and painting, is that our culture does not recognize it as such. Everyone understands that poets, painters, and musicians create works of art, and are expressing themselves in word, image, and sound. In fact, our society is rather generous when it comes to creative expression; architects, chefs, and even television directors are considered to be working artists. So why not mathematicians? Part of the problem is that nobody has the faintest idea what it is that mathematicians do. The common perception seems to be that mathematicians are somehow connected with science— perhaps they help the scientists with their formulas, or feed big numbers into computers for some reason or other. There is no question that if the world had to be divided into the “poetic dreamers” and the “rational thinkers” most people would place mathematicians in the latter category. Nevertheless, the fact is that there is nothing as dreamy and poetic, nothing as radical, subversive, and psychedelic, as mathematics. It is every bit as mind blowing as cosmology or physics (mathematicians conceived of black holes long before astronomers actually found any), and allows more freedom of expression than poetry, art, or music (which depend heavily on properties of the physical universe). Mathematics is the purest of the arts, as well as the most misunderstood.

January 04, 2011

Air Force reveals new Gorgon Stare drones

Could they have picked a creepier name? Air Force's New Gorgon Stare Drones Will 'See Everything' | TPMMuckraker
In a matter of months, the Air Force hopes to start using a new airborne surveillance system called Gorgon Stare, which officials say will give soldiers the ability to monitor activity in real time across an entire city. "Gorgon Stare will be looking at a whole city, so there will be no way for the adversary to know what we're looking at, and we can see everything," Maj. Gen. James O. Poss, the Air Force's assistant deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, told The Washington Post. While drones currently in use employ a single camera, the Gorgon Drone system will use nine cameras, shooting film at a slower speed, but able to stitch all the images together. According to the Post, the upshot is that a soldier on the ground will be able "to receive any portion of a panoramic view in real time, streamed to a portable device about the size of an iPad." Up to 65 different images will be able to be sent to different users. Each "pod" will cost $17.5 million and weigh 1,100 pounds, and it appears that some of the technology used was inspired by television: [The Air Force] is working with Harris Corp. to adapt ESPN's technique of tagging key moments in National Football League videotape to the war zone. Just as a sportscaster can call up a series of archived quarterback blitzes as soon as a player is sacked on the field, an analyst in Afghanistan can retrieve the last month's worth of bombings in a particular stretch of road with the push of a button, officials said.

January 02, 2011

New Nintendo 3D game system can damage children's eyes permanently

Nintendo warns against youngsters playing its upcoming 3-D system - CNN.com
(CNN) -- Nintendo is warning young children against playing 3-D video games on its upcoming handheld gaming system, the Nintendo 3DS. Kids younger than 6 who play the 3-D games may have the growth of their eyes stunted, the company said in a statement on its Japanese website. The warning notes that parents can turn off the 3-D functionality of the handheld 3DS. They can also set passwords that keep kids from using that feature. The statement also asks everyone who plays the 3-D gaming system to take periodic breaks from the games as often as every hour or 30 minutes.

December 31, 2010

iPhone turned into portable ECG

grinding.be -- iPhone ECG