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Math

How Much Math Do We Really Need? 1153

Pickens writes "G.V. Ramanathan, a professor emeritus of mathematics, statistics and computer science at the University of Illinois at Chicago, writes in the Washington Post that although a lot of effort and money has been spent to make mathematics seem essential, unlike literature, history, politics and music, math has little relevance to everybody's daily life. 'All the mathematics one needs in real life can be learned in early years without much fuss,' writes Ramanathan. 'Most adults have no contact with math at work, nor do they curl up with an algebra book for relaxation.' Ramanathan says that the marketing of math has become similar to the marketing of creams to whiten teeth, gels to grow hair and regimens to build a beautiful body, but even with generous government grants over the past 25 years, countless courses, conferences, and books written on how to teach teachers to teach, where is the evidence that these efforts have helped students? A 2008 review by the Education Department found that the nation is at 'greater risk now' than it was in 1983, and the National Assessment of Educational Progress math scores for 17-year-olds have remained stagnant since the 1980s (PDF). Meanwhile those who do love math and science have been doing very well and our graduate schools are the best in the world. 'As for the rest, there is no obligation to love math any more than grammar, composition, curfew or washing up after dinner. Why create a need to make it palatable to all and spend taxpayers' money on pointless endeavors without demonstrable results or accountability?'"
Transportation

TSA To Make Pat-Downs More Embarrassing To Encourage Scanner Use 642

Jeffrey Goldberg writes for the Atlantic about his recent experiences with opting out of the back-scatter full-body scanners now being used to screen airport travelers. Passengers can choose to submit to a pat-down instead of going through the scanners, but according to one of the TSA employees Goldberg talked to, the rules for those are soon changing to make things more uncomfortable for opt-outs, while not doing much for actual security. He writes, 'The pat-down, while more effective than previous pat-downs, will not stop dedicated and clever terrorists from smuggling on board small weapons or explosives. When I served as a military policeman in an Israeli army prison, many of the prisoners 'bangled' contraband up their a**es. I know this not because I checked, but because eventually they told me this when I asked. ... the effectiveness of pat-downs does not matter very much, because the obvious goal of the TSA is to make the pat-down embarrassing enough for the average passenger that the vast majority of people will choose high-tech humiliation over the low-tech ball check."
Government

FBI May Get Easier Access To Internet Activity 276

olsmeister writes "It appears the White House would like to make it easier for the FBI to obtain records of a person's internet activities without a court order to do so, via the use of an NSL. While they have been able to do this for a long time, it may expand the type of information able to be gathered without a court order to include things like web browsing histories."
Data Storage

Why SSDs Won't Replace Hard Drives 315

storagedude writes "Flash drive capacities have been expanding dramatically in recent years, but this article says that's about to change, in part because of the limits of current lithography technology. Meanwhile, disk drive densities will continue to grow, which the author says will mean many years before solid state drives replace hard drives — if they ever do. From the article: 'The bottom line is that there are limits to how small things can get with current technology. Flash densities are going to have data density growth problems, just as other storage technologies have had over the last 30 years. This should surprise no one. And the lithography problem for flash doesn't end there. Jeff Layton, Enterprise Technologist for HPC at Dell, notes that as lithography gets smaller, NAND has more and more troubles — the voltages don't decrease, so the probability of causing an accidental data corruption of a neighboring NAND goes up. "So at some point, you just can't reduce the size and hope to not have data corruption," notes Layton.'"
NASA

Russia's Unmanned Capsule Misses Space Station 224

mikesd81 writes "Russia's unmanned cargo ship Progress 38 missed docking with the ISS and sailed right on by it instead of docking on autopilot. A telemetry lock between the Russian-made Progress module and the space station was lost and the module flew past at a safe distance. NASA said the crew was never in danger and that the supplies are not critical and will not affect station operations. There will be no other attempts at docking today, and the orbit of the module raises questions of any other attempts again. Packed aboard the spacecraft are 1,918 pounds of propellant for the station, 110 pounds of oxygen, 220 pounds of water and 2,667 pounds of dry cargo — which includes spare parts, science equipment and other supplies."
Privacy

Indian Government Threatens RIM, Skype With Ban 281

gauharjk writes "India's Department of Telecommunications has been asked by the government to serve a notice to Skype and Research In Motion to ensure that their email and other data services comply with formats that can be read by security and intelligence agencies, or face a ban in India if they do not comply within 15 days. A similar notice is also being sent to Google, asking it to provide access to content on Gmail in a readable format."
Data Storage

Most Console Gamers Still Prefer Physical Media 232

arcticstoat writes "Despite the advent of online game stores on all three major consoles, most console gamers apparently still prefer hoarding collections of gaming discs to downloading games. A recent survey conducted by Ipsos in the UK revealed that 64 per cent of the 1,000 users polled would rather have games on physical discs, while only 25 per cent would prefer digital copies. In the survey, 55 per cent of those polled said price was the key factor in determining their interest in downloading games, while 27 per cent said they wanted games available online before they were in the shops. Ipsos' director Ian Bramley explained, 'Interest absolutely drops away when you get to the types of pricing that you might charge for a new physical disc. People's perceptions are that they're not prepared to pay as much for digital content — they make the connection that it's not a physical disc and therefore it should be cheaper.'"
Networking

New US Broadband Projects Get $795 Million In Funding 174

snydeq writes "The Obama administration has announced nearly $795 million in grants and loans to 66 new broadband projects across the nation. The subsidies — to be doled out by the US NTIA and the US Rural Utilities Service — will bring broadband service to 685,000 businesses, 900 health-care facilities, and 2,400 schools, according to officials. The NTIA will award $404 million to 29 projects, and the grants will finance 6,000 miles of new fiber-optic lines. Most of the money will finance middle-mile broadband network projects. The RUS will award $390.9 million, with $163 million in loans and the rest in grants. Most of the RUS money is focused on last-mile broadband projects."

Submission + - Are There More Girl Geniuses? (american.com) 1

airjrdn writes: From the article, "In fact, males and females appear equally intelligent, on average. But on standardized intelligence tests, more males than females get off-the-chart test scores—in both directions." Is it just the nature of males to care less (do poorly) and to "live their work" (do extremely well)?
Google

Submission + - Google to Add Pay to Cover a Tax for Gays (nytimes.com)

GrApHiX42 writes: Starting on Thursday, Google is going to increase the salaries of gay and lesbian employees whose partners receive domestic partner health benefits, largely to compensate them for an extra tax they must pay that heterosexual married couples do not. Google is not the first company to make up for the extra tax. At least a few large employers already do. But benefits experts say Google’s move could inspire its Silicon Valley competitors to follow suit, because they compete for the same talent....Read More
It's funny.  Laugh.

Fark Creator Slams 'the Wisdom of Crowds' 507

GovTechGuy writes with some harsh words from Fark.com founder Drew Curtis, speaking at a conference Tuesday in Washington, DC: "'The "wisdom of the crowds" is the most ridiculous statement I've heard in my life. Crowds are dumb,' Curtis said. 'It takes people to move crowds in the right direction, crowds by themselves just stand around and mutter.' Curtis pointed to his own experience moderating comments on Fark, which allows users to give their often humorous take on the news of the day. He said only one percent of Web comments have any value and called the rest 'garbage.' Another example Curtis pointed to is the America Speaking Out website recently launched by House Republicans to allow the public to weigh in on the issues and vote for policy positions they support. Curtis called the site an 'absolute train wreck.' 'It's an absolute disaster. It's impossible to tell who was kidding and who wasn't,' Curtis said."
Democrats

Liberal Watchdog Questions White House Gmail Use 283

MexiCali59 writes "Liberal watchdog CREW has joined Republican Congressman Darrell Issa in calling for an investigation into whether White House staffers regularly use private email accounts to communicate with lobbyists. The allegations, first reported last week by the New York Times, would likely constitute a violation of federal law as well as an ethics pledge created by Obama upon taking office last year."
Security

Regular Domains Have More Malware Than Porn Sites 122

SnugglesTheBear writes "New research pours scorn on the comforting but erroneous belief that Windows surfers who avoid smut and wares on the Web are likely to avoid exposure to malware. A study by free anti-virus firm Avast found 99 infected legitimate domains for every infected adult website. In the UK, Avast found that more infected domains contained the word 'London' than the word 'sex.' Among the domains labeled as infected by Avast was the smartphones section of the Vodafone UK website. The mobile phone operator's site contained a malicious JavaScript redirect script that attempted to take advantage of an unpatched Windows Help and Support Centre flaw (CVE-2010-1885) to infect the machines of visiting surfers."
Government

Sen. Bond Disses Internet 'Kill Switch' Bill 171

GovTechGuy writes "Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) has introduced his own cybersecurity legislation with Sen. Orrin Hatch, and he had some harsh words for a competing bill sponsored by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security. Bond said that bill, which has been criticized for allegedly giving the president a 'kill switch' over the Internet, weighs down the private sector with mandates and puts too much on the plate of the already overburdened Department of Homeland Security. Sen. Bond's bill would create a new position in the Pentagon, reporting directly to the president, in charge of coordinating all civilian cybersecurity. Any private-sector involvement would be voluntary and free from legal challenge, rather than mandated."

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