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Soda Pop Damages Your Cells' Telomeres 385

Posted by timothy
from the you-can't-just-stretch-them-back-into-place? dept.
BarbaraHudson writes Those free soft drinks at your last start-up may come with a huge hidden price tag. The Toronto Sun reports that researchers at the University of California — San Francisco found study participants who drank pop daily had shorter telomeres — the protective units of DNA that cap the ends of chromosomes in cells — in white blood cells. Short telomeres have been associated with chronic aging diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and some forms of cancer. The researchers calculated daily consumption of a 20-ounce pop is associated with 4.6 years of additional biological aging. The effect on telomere length is comparable to that of smoking, they said. "This finding held regardless of age, race, income and education level," researcher Elissa Epel said in a press release.

Be True To Your CS School: LinkedIn Ranks US Schools For Job-Seeking Programmers 124

Posted by timothy
from the needs-internationalizing dept.
theodp writes "The Motley Fool reports that the Data Scientists at LinkedIn have been playing with their Big Data, ranking schools based on how successful recent grads have been at landing desirable software development jobs. Here's their Top 25: CMU, Caltech, Cornell, MIT, Princeton, Berkeley, Univ. of Washington, Duke, Michigan, Stanford, UCLA, Illinois, UT Austin, Brown, UCSD, Harvard, Rice, Penn, Univ. of Arizona, Harvey Mudd, UT Dallas, San Jose State, USC, Washington University, RIT. There's also a shorter list for the best schools for software developers at startups, which draws a dozen schools from the previously mentioned schools, and adds Columbia, Univ. of Virginia, and Univ. of Maryland College Park. If you're in a position to actually hire new graduates, how much do you care about applicants' alma maters?

Microsoft, Facebook Declare European Kids Clueless About Coding, Too 212

Posted by Soulskill
from the at-least-they're-consistent dept.
theodp writes: Having declared U.S. kids clueless about coding, Facebook and Microsoft are now turning their attention to Europe's young 'uns. "As stewards of Europe's future generations," begins the Open Letter to the European Union Ministers for Education signed by Facebook and Microsoft, "you will be all too aware that as early as the age of 7, children reach a critical juncture, when they are learning the core life skills of reading, writing and basic maths. However, to flourish in tomorrow's digital economy and society, they should also be learning to code. And many, sadly, are not." Released at the launch of the European Coding Initiative — aka All You Need is Code! (video) — in conjunction with the EU's Code Week, the letter closes, "As experts in our field, we owe it to Europe's youth to help equip them with the skills they will need to succeed — regardless of where life takes them."

Oracle Database Certifications Are No Longer Permanent 108

Posted by Soulskill
from the you're-now-allowed-to-forget-things dept.
jfruh writes: It used to be that you could get an Oracle database certification and declare yourself Oracle-certified for the rest of your career. That time is now over, causing a certain amount of consternation among DBAs. On the one hand, it makes sense that someone who's only been certified on a decade-old version of the product should need to prove they've updated their skills. On the other, Oracle charges for certification and will definitely profit from this shift."

Raspberry Pi Sales Approach 4 Million 146

Posted by timothy
from the just-a-small-hobby dept.
Eben Upton's reboot of the spirit of the BBC Micro in the form of the Raspberry Pi would have been an interesting project even if it had only been useful in the world of education. Upton wanted, after all, to give the kind of hands-on, low-level interaction with computing devices that he saw had gone missing in schools. Plenty of rPis are now in that educational, inspirational role, but it turns out that the world was waiting (or at least ready) for a readily usable, cheap, all-in-one computer, and the Raspberry Pi arrived near the front of a wave that now includes many other options. Sales boomed, and we've mentioned a few of the interesting milestones, like the millionth unit made in the UK and the two-millionth unit overall. Now, according to TechCrunch the Raspberry Pi is getting close to 4 million units sold, having just passed 3.8 million, as reported in a tweet. If you have a Raspberry Pi, what are you using it for now, and what would you like to see tweaked in future versions?

Ask Slashdot: Best Books On the Life and Work of Nikola Tesla? 140

Posted by timothy
from the you-mean-the-ones-they-haven't-hidden-from-you dept.
An anonymous reader writes The internet is full of interesting nuggets of info about Nikola Tesla's life and scientific exploits: The time a young Tesla improved an electric motor for Edison, and Edison simply would not pay Tesla the monetary reward he had promised him earlier. The friction between Tesla and wealthy industrialist J.P. Morgan, and Tesla's friendship with (kinder) industrialist George Westinghouse. The 2 different times Tesla's main laboratory burned to the ground. The time a Tesla lab experiment reportedly caused a small earthquake to trigger in lower Manhattan. Tesla's (never quite fulfilled) dream of transmitting electricity across great distances without using wires or cables, etc. All this fascinating stuff, and more, about Tesla's life is out there, mostly in shortish snippets — and sometimes woven into outright conspiracy theories — on the internet for anyone to examine. Now to my question: What are the best books to read to get a fuller picture of Nikola Tesla's life and work? Preferably something well researched and factually accurate. Are there any good documentaries or movies (apart from David Bowie playing a wizard-like Tesla in "The Prestige")? Why is Thomas Edison so well known and covered in education/popular culture, and the equally prolific and ingenious Tesla a "mysterious and ghostly figure" by comparison?

Despite Push From Tech Giants, AP CS Exam Counts Don't Budge Much In Most States 144

Posted by timothy
from the can't-argue-with-a-pig dept.
theodp (442580) writes "Well, the College Board has posted the 2014 AP Computer Science Test scores. So, before the press rushes out another set of Not-One-Girl-In-Wyoming-Took-an-AP-CS-Exam stories, let's point out that no Wyoming students of either gender took an AP CS exam again in 2014 (.xlsx). At the overall level, the final numbers have changed somewhat (back-of-the-Excel-envelope calculations, no warranty expressed or implied!), but tell pretty much the same story as the preliminary figures — the number of overall AP CS test takers increased, while pass rates decreased despite efforts to cherry pick students with a high likelihood of success. What is kind of surprising is how little the test numbers budged for most states — only 8 states managed to add more than 100 girls to the AP CS test taker rolls — despite the PR push by the tech giants, including Microsoft, Google, and, Facebook. Also worth noting are some big percentage decreases at the top end of the score segments (5 and 4), and still-way-too-wide gaps that exist between the score distributions of the College Board's various ethnic segments (more back of the envelope calcs). If there's a Data Scientist in the house, AP CS exam figures grabbed from the College Board's Excel 2013 and 2014 worksheets can be found here (Google Sheets) together with the (unwalkedthrough) VBA code that was used to collect it. Post your insight (and code/data fixes) in the comments!"

AnandTech's Intro To Semiconductor Tech 21

Posted by Soulskill
from the absolutely-fab dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Computer hardware site AnandTech has posted a detailed introduction to semiconductor technology. It's deep enough to be insightful for understanding the chips that run your devices and the industry that built them, but also short enough that your eyes won't start bleeding in the process. The article starts by explaining why silicon is so important, and how a board is set up, structurally. Then it walks through transistor design and construction, and the underpinnings of CMOS logic. Finally, the article describes the manufacturing steps, including wafer creation, photolithography, and how metal is added/shaped at the end. They then go into the physics behind improving these components. It's a geeky and informative read.

2014 Nobel Peace Prize Awarded To Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzay 144

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-guess-somebody-thought-of-the-children dept.
An anonymous reader writes: This year's Nobel Peace Prize has been given to Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzay for fighting to protect the rights of children and further their education. Yousafzay, at the age of 17, is the youngest recipient of the Peace Prize. Born and raised in Pakistan, she actively campaigned for girls' rights to education. In 2012, the Taliban shot her in the head, but she survived and continued her struggle. Satyarthi, a 60-year-old from India, has led many peaceful protests to fight against child slavery and illiteracy. "Satyarthi estimates that 60 million children in India, or 6 percent of the population, are forced into work. This, he believes, has nothing to do with parental poverty, illiteracy or ignorance. Above all, children are enslaved because employers benefit by getting their labour for free or for a pittance." This year's Nobel Peace Prize awards are also notable for bringing together an Indian and a Pakistani while their respective governments sustain a military conflict along a stretch of border between their countries.

Ask Slashdot: Capture the Flag Training 102

Posted by samzenpus
from the best-practices dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I'm a computer science professor and a group of students want me to help them train for a capture the flag competition. I am interested in this and I'm familiar with security in general, but I've never been involved in one of these competitions. Does anyone know of any resources which would be useful to train for this?"

Glut of Postdoc Researchers Stirs Quiet Crisis In Science 283

Posted by Soulskill
from the opportunity-cost dept. writes: Carolyn Johnson reports in the Boston Globe that in recent years, the position of postdoctoral researcher has become less a stepping stone and more of a holding tank. Postdocs are caught up in an all-but-invisible crisis, mired in an underclass as federal funding for research has leveled off, leaving the supply of well-trained scientists outstripping demand. "It's sunk in that it's by no means guaranteed — for anyone, really — that an academic position is possible," says Gary McDowell, a 29-year old biologist doing his second postdoc. "There's this huge labor force here to do the bench work, the grunt work of science. But then there's nowhere for them to go; this massive pool of postdocs that accumulates and keeps growing." The problem is that any researcher running a lab today is training far more people than there will ever be labs to run. Often these supremely well-educated trainees are simply cheap laborers, not learning skills for the careers where they are more likely to find jobs. This wasn't such an issue decades ago, but universities have expanded the number of PhD students they train from about 30,000 biomedical graduate students in 1979 to 56,800 in 2009, flooding the system with trainees and drawing out the training period.

Possible solutions span a wide gamut, from halving the number of postdocs over time, to creating a new tier of staff scientists that would be better paid. One thing people seem to agree on is that simply adding more money to the pot will not by itself solve the oversupply. Facing these stark statistics, postdocs are taking matters into their own hands, recently organizing a Future of Research conference in Boston that they hoped would give voice to their frustrations and hopes and help shape change. They ask, "How can we, as the next generation, run the system?"

Send Your Own Radiosonde 90,000 Feet Into the Sky (Video) 48

Posted by Roblimo
from the gonna-take-you-higher dept.
Radiosonde, weather balloon, near-space exploration package... call it what you will, but today's interviewee, Jamel Tayeb, is hanging instrument packages and cameras below balloons and sending them up to 97,000 feet (his highest so far), then recovering them 50 or 60 miles away from their liftoff points with help from a locator beacon -- and not just any locator beacon, mind you, but a special one from a company called High Altitude Science with "unlocked" firmware that allows it to work with GPS satellites from altitudes greater than 60,000 feet, which typical, off-the-shelf GPS units can't do.

Here's a balloon launch video from Instructure, a company that helps create open source education systems. The point of their balloon work (and Jamel's) is not that they get to boast about what they're doing, but so you and people like you say, "I can make a functioning high altitude weather balloon system with instrumentation and a decent camera for only $1000?" This is a lot of money for an individual, but for a high school science program it's not an impossible amount. And who knows? You might break the current high-altitude balloon record of 173,900 feet. Another, perhaps more attainable record is PARIS (Paper Aircraft Released Into Space) which is currently 96,563 feet. Beyond that? Perhaps you'll want to take a crack at beating Felix Baumgartner's high altitude skydiving and free fall records. And once you are comfortable working with near space launches, perhaps you'll move on to outer space work, where you'll join Elon Musk and other space transportation entrepreneurs. (Alternate Video Link)

Genes Don't Just Predict Intelligence, But Also How Well You Do In School 154

Posted by Soulskill
from the banking-on-my-extra-credit-genes dept.
sciencehabit writes: If you sailed through school with high grades and perfect test scores, you probably did it with traits beyond sheer smarts. A new study of more than 6000 pairs of twins finds that academic achievement is influenced by genes affecting motivation, personality, confidence, and dozens of other traits, in addition to those that shape intelligence (abstract). The results may lead to new ways to improve childhood education.

Google Code-In 2014 and Google Summer of Code 2015 Announced 15

Posted by samzenpus
from the all-things-google dept.
d33tah notes the announcement of Google Code-In 2014 and Google Summer of Code 2015. A call to all students: if you have ever thought it would be cool to write code and see it make a difference in the world, then please keep reading. We are excited to announce the next editions of two programs designed to introduce students to open source software development, Google Summer of Code for university students and Google Code-in for 13-17 year old students.

Is It Time To Throw Out the College Application System? 389

Posted by samzenpus
from the trying-something-else dept.
An anonymous reader points out this opinion piece by professor Adam Grant that questions how useful the current college application system is and suggests some alternate methods to gather information about candidates. The college admissions system is broken. When students submit applications, colleges learn a great deal about their competence from grades and test scores, but remain in the dark about their creativity and character. Essays, recommendation letters and alumni interviews provide incomplete information about students' values, social and emotional skills, and capacities for developing and discovering new ideas. This leaves many colleges favoring achievement robots who excel at the memorization of rote knowledge, and overlooking talented C students. Those with less than perfect grades might go on to dream up blockbuster films like George Lucas and Steven Spielberg or become entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs.
United States

Obama Names National Medal of Science, Technology & Innovation Winners 53

Posted by samzenpus
from the have-a-medal dept.
alphadogg writes Computer scientists who made breakthroughs in areas such as software architectures and database management systems were among those named National Medal of Technology and Innovation winners by President Barack Obama. These awards, along with the National Medal of Science, are the nation's highest honors for achievement and leadership in advancing the fields of science and technology. Overall, 18 medalists were named.

Only Two States Have Rules To Prevent Cheating On Computerized Tests 95

Posted by Soulskill
from the eyes-on-your-test-no-keyloggers-keep-your-botnet-to-yourself dept.
New submitter Williamcole sends news that in many U.S. states, educators will begin administering standardized tests on school computers this school year. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately, for the sneakier kids), only two states have codified regulations to prevent cheating and make sure the tests are secure: Oregon and Delaware. According to a new report (PDF) from American College Testing (ACT), the other states aren't doing enough to prevent keyloggers, transmission of test materials, or even teachers going in afterward to change a student's responses. They also warn that the kids will likely find ways to access the internet while taking the test, letting them look up answers as needed. Even the rules in Oregon and Delaware have weaknesses ACT recommends strengthening before testing begins.
Businesses Blame Tech Diversity On Culture, Not Pipeline 342

Posted by Soulskill
from the opposing-view dept.
FrnkMit writes: Challenging a previous story on tech diversity, a writer interviewed 716 women who left the technology field. Her conclusion: corporate culture, and the larger social structure, is the primary cause for these women leaving the industry and never looking back. Specific issues include a lack of maternity policies in small companies, low pay which barely covers day care, "jokes" from male coworkers, and always feeling like the "odd duck." In reality, there are probably many intertwined causes: peer pressure at the high-school and college level, female-unfriendly geek culture, low pay, a lack of accommodations for pregnant/nursing mothers, the myth of "having it all," stereotype threat, and repeated assertions that women aren't biologically suited to writing software and therefore there's no problem at all.
Programming Blame Tech Diversity On Education Pipeline, Not Hiring Discrimination 227

Posted by Soulskill
from the maybe-fix-both dept.
theodp writes: "The biggest reason for a lack of diversity in tech," says's Hadi Partovi in a featured Re/code story, "isn't discrimination in hiring or retention. It's the education pipeline." ( just disclosed "we have no African Americans or Hispanics on our team of 30.") Supporting his argument, Partovi added: "In 2013, not one female student took the AP computer science exam in Mississippi." (Left unsaid is that only one male student took the exam in Mississippi). Microsoft earlier vilified the CS education pipeline in its U.S. Talent Strategy as it sought "targeted, short-term, high-skilled immigration reforms" from lawmakers. And Facebook COO and "Lean In" author Sheryl Sandberg recently suggested the pipeline is to blame for Facebook's lack of diversity. "Girls are at 18% of computer science college majors," Sandberg told USA Today in August. "We can't go much above 18% in our coders [Facebook has 7,185 total employees] if there's only 18% coming into the workplace."
United States

Laying the Groundwork For Data-Driven Science 55

Posted by samzenpus
from the collecting-the-numbers dept.
aarondubrow writes The ability to collect and analyze massive amounts of data is transforming science, industry and everyday life. But what we've seen so far is likely just the tip of the iceberg. As part of an effort to improve the nation's capacity in data science, NSF today announced $31 million in new funding to support 17 innovative projects under the Data Infrastructure Building Blocks (DIBBs) program, including data infrastructure for education, ecology and geophysics. "Each project tests a critical component in a future data ecosystem in conjunction with a research community of users," said said Irene Qualters, division director for Advanced Cyberinfrastructure at NSF. "This assures that solutions will be applied and use-inspired."

What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the will to find out, which is the exact opposite. -- Bertrand Russell, "Skeptical Essays", 1928