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Comment Original Sunday Times Article (Score 1) 820

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/science/article6936352.ece?print=yes

"The cells were then incubated in a solution containing nutrients to encourage them to multiply indefinitely. This nutritious “broth” is derived from the blood products of animal foetuses, although the intention is to come up with a synthetic solution."

Comment Article Abstract (Score 5, Informative) 249

Abstract from the actual paper:
"Electrically charged particles, such as the electron, are ubiquitous. In contrast, no elementary particles with a net magnetic charge have ever been observed, despite intensive and prolonged searches (see ref. 1 for example). We pursue an alternative strategy, namely that of realizing them not as elementary but rather as emergent particles—that is, as manifestations of the correlations present in a strongly interacting many-body system. The most prominent examples of emergent quasiparticles are the ones with fractional electric charge e/3 in quantum Hall physics. Here we propose that magnetic monopoles emerge in a class of exotic magnets known collectively as spin ice: the dipole moment of the underlying electronic degrees of freedom fractionalises into monopoles. This would account for a mysterious phase transition observed experimentally in spin ice in a magnetic field, which is a liquid–gas transition of the magnetic monopoles. These monopoles can also be detected by other means, for example, in an experiment modelled after the Stanford magnetic monopole search."

Comment Re:tests? (Score 1) 165

There are at least 400 students (2 big lectures' worth) that can come to my office hours, and of the 8 or so TAs, I'm one of two or three that are 100% fluent in English. There's also the issue that calc 3 is just hard the first time you see it, so even 5 hours of lecture/discussion a week might not address the specific questions and misunderstandings a student has. I'd say about 10 students come through my two office hours each week, and that's not that big a percentage.

And you're probably right, there's bound to be some ineffective teaching going on with that many teachers involved and some teaching for the first time.

Comment Re:tests? (Score 1) 165

I'm proctoring a test a week from now. We will check every student's ID. It's not quite common practice, but some instructors do insist on it.

The previous university I taught at provided a photo roster for each course. As a TA, I would go through this roster and make sure I recognized the students in my class.

Other people have mentioned actual in-class instruction being useless. As my students are getting ready to take their test, one of the main things I'm noticing is that I can't provide enough one-on-one instruction. At best, I have 5 people in office hours I'm trying to help at the same time. And that's still not personalized enough.

The internet is a great resource, but it's as good for undergraduate education as an encyclopedia. The biggest thing I learned in undergrad is _how_ to think about various concepts, not the concepts themselves - and you get that by talking to people.

"An education is what remains after you've forgotten everything you've learned".

Comment What are the benefits? (Score 1) 371

There have been a few articles on manned space exploration recently, and it seems that the main issue never seems to be addressed: what's the point of sending humans to space? Can someone explain to me why, at this point in history, we need to send humans out into space - along with the food and water and oxygen and extra safety measures they need to survive? The data collection, analysis, and transmission will be conducted by robots whether the mission involves humans or not. What sorts of decisions can they make on-site that won't be made from the control center, and what skills can they contribute that a robot can't match?
The Internet

Internet Users Not Updating Browser 409

Jackson writes "Security researchers from ETH Zurich, Google, and IBM Internet Security Systems have shown that more than 600 million Internet users don't use the latest version of their browser. The researchers' paper, shows that as of June 2008, only 59.1 percent of Internet users worldwide use the latest major version of their preferred web browser. Suggestions have also been made to inform users that their browser is out of date."
The Courts

Facebook Sues German Company, Claims Ripoff 244

azuredrake writes "Facebook, the largest social networking site in the US, has sued German social networking site studiVZ on the grounds that studiVZ has copied the look and feel of Facebook in order to piggyback off their success. According to the article, 'The German company sued by Facebook for running a "knockoff" of the social networking Web site said on Sunday it asked a German court to declare that Facebook's claims are without merit.' However, a simple glance at the two sites' homepages seems to tell a different story — studiVZ copies many things from Facebook, from their button layout down to the font they're using."
Space

One of the Coolest Places In the Universe 338

phantomflanflinger writes "The Cern Laboratory, home of the Large Hadron Collider, is fast becoming one of the coolest places in the Universe. According to news.bbc.co.uk, the Large Hadron Collider is entering the final stages of being lowered to a temperature of 1.9 Kelvin (-271C; -456F) — colder than deep space. The LHC aims to re-create the conditions just after the Big Bang and continue the search for the Higgs boson."

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