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Comment Yet "intelligence" genes have little effect (Score 4, Insightful) 154

Please keep in mind something from a couple of days ago...

"'Smart genes' prove elusive - Study of more than 100,000 people finds three genetic variants for IQ — but their effects are maddeningly small." http://www.nature.com/news/sma...

This twins study shows that general intelligence and academic achievement are affected by many different "aptitudes", not just "smart." Taken together with the Nature commentary, suggests that intelligence is just a part, maybe even a small part, of achievement.

If only this could seep into the general consciousness of the masses, then we might not have so many students think they cannot do something because they are not "smart enough."

Comment Re:Ditch the smartboard (Score 1) 96

Add another vote for using a tablet! I use a Win8 tablet (Dell Venue 11 Pro 5130 BayTrail) with digitizer. I can write directly on PowerPoint without having my back to the classroom. The software and hardware for smartboards and other edutech peripherals like mobis are clunky and out of date. Game level editors are easier and more intuitive to use than the software that is provided.

I run my tablet through Air Parrot and Reflector running on an ancient desktop hooked up to the projector. This implements AirPlay (wireless mirroring) and allows me to unplug and walk through the class. Due to the Bay Trail CPU and the ancient desktop (AMD 3800+ X2), my framerate is pretty low (5-10 fps). It's good enough for PowerPoint, but I have to go to the desktop to run videos. If needed, I can use miniHDMI out and output directly to the projector through VGA/DVI/HDMI. I can even replace an ELMO since the tablet has cameras. I just place my tablet on a stand and switch to the camera app.

Tablets are SO much more versatile than a smartboard, and way easier to use.

Comment Private Data Walls Work (Score 3, Informative) 110

FWIW, I am a public high school physics teacher who has taught physics to the bottom half and top half of the student population. The school I teach at is majority minority with a population that identifies as Caucasian at around 30% and African-American around 40%.

Nearly ALL students (and teachers for that matter) would like to see how they rank against others. Nearly all students also want their exact rank to be a secret. Highest grade, lowest grade, highest average or lowest average does not matter. One of the skills I had to learn was how to DISCRETELY pull struggling students aside to give them pep talks and advice on what they could do to improve their grades.

The struggling kids are shamed even if they publicly tell everyone they are ranked 99 out of 100. Adding another bad grade is just another poke at an open wound. ACTING stupid is okay if everyone thinks you are smarter than you look. No one wants to BE stupid. By being discrete, I've gotten quite a few that would do work for me.

I've also had to learn when and how to give kudos to the top achievers. For honor students, its a competition. Unless you are in the top 3, there is some shame associated to being "only" 5th. Knowing someone's rank is a little bit like knowing someone's true name in fantasy universes: there is some power in that knowledge.

Dealing with teenagers is like the super-position principle: it works until it doesn't.

Submission + - Why Standard Deviation Should Be Retired From Scientific Use (edge.org) 1

An anonymous reader writes: Statistician and author Nassim Taleb has a suggestion for scientific researchers: stop trying to use standard deviations in your work. He says it's misunderstood more often than not and also not the best tool for its purpose. 'It is all due to a historical accident: in 1893, the great Karl Pearson introduced the term "standard deviation" for what had been known as "root mean square error." The confusion started then: people thought it meant mean deviation. The idea stuck: every time a newspaper has attempted to clarify the concept of market "volatility", it defined it verbally as mean deviation yet produced the numerical measure of the (higher) standard deviation. But it is not just journalists who fall for the mistake: I recall seeing official documents from the department of commerce and the Federal Reserve partaking of the conflation, even regulators in statements on market volatility. What is worse, Goldstein and I found that a high number of data scientists (many with PhDs) also get confused in real life.'

Comment Re:Casio fx-115ES Plus (Score 1) 328

I like this calculator (I have the plus variant), too. It's a great scientific calculator and can do integrals, too. It has a constants library as requested by the OP and a conversion library. It does stats.

The package says: AP, SAT I/II, PSAT, NMSQT, ACT, and is listed on the NCEES website as acceptable.

The only issue I've had is that you never know when the battery has died on the thing until the lights get too dim and it shuts down.

Comment Re:many answers, but so many questions (Score 1) 138

so is there another clock that turns on this clock?

My guess is yes, there is something else. It may not be a protein but a small nuclear RNA.

but when new cells form in that area weeks later, how do they know their place?

Molecular landmarks sort of like what makes one intersection different from another even if both have a coffee shop, a fast food place, and a gas station. The landmarks could be on the cells, on the extracellular matrix, a diffusable protein gradient, or some other way to differentiate an environment.

Is the HOX system reused to control the layout of my arm down to five jointed fingers? If not, what takes its place at lower levels?

Actually, they are. Nature likes to re-purpose genes temporally and spacially to do more than 1 thing when in the correct environment. Scientists have a decent understanding of how fingers in a mouse and a rat are made. It's quite interesting how expression of one Hox gene creates fingers while the another one is required to create the space between our fingers.

Comment Re:It's in Science 'cuz now we can SEE it? (Score 1) 138

Precisely. From the abstract and press release, the authors imply that the opening of the super-coiled DNA is necessary and sufficient for the HOX genes to be temporally regulated. Now parsimony and K.I.S.S. usually are the correct ways of thinking about things, but based on what we already know from 10 years ago, simple unwinding can not be the temporal mechanism.

tl;dr summary: We still don't know what starts the cascade of temporal regulation. I don't think this work moves us very far upstream in the regulatory chain.

Comment It's in Science 'cuz now we can SEE it? (Score 4, Interesting) 138

A caveat as I write this critique, I have only read the linked article and the abstract of the original scientific article, not the full Science article.
Also, I'm a Ph.D. in Developmental Biology from 2000.

If unwinding the super-coiled DNA is considered the chronometer for embryonic segmentation, what makes the DNA unwind at such a specific time? I'm not sure how much new light is shed by this work. We've known for >20 years that transcription factors help "open" DNA for the transcription process. We've also known for >20 years that HOX genes in their clusters are the masters of structural differentiation. Put these two facts together and we can see it should be obvious that the HOX genes need to be "opened" sequentially.

  In the end, we are left with the still burning question of "What controls the HOX genes and their clusters?"

Comment Fitting the Data to the Question (Score 2) 118

A single game drought in early 2002 is somehow strong enough evidence for the author to verify his hypothesis. There is no pattern since the data analysis only began using information from 2001, and there is only a single gap. Not only that, the Wii was released a full 4 years later. If you believe his guess, then Nintendo started making Wii exclusive games approximately 3 months after releasing the Gamecube.

Due to the known lack of software support for the Gamecube, a more likely scenario is that lack of interest in the Gamecube prior to its release is a main component of the game release gap.

Comment Re:Too Much Imagination Required? (Score 1) 429

Completely agree with the parent. Tron was a movie that showed imagination about the inner workings of computers and networks. Tron Legacy grounded too much of the inner workings with the Real World. That is my main problem with the movie. The plot devices used to ramp up tension were mostly problems that exist in the Real World, but shouldn't in The Grid (e.g. the crash landing). The original movie got away with it, since Kevin Flynn had to learn how to be a User. In Tron Legacy, Kevin Flynn has been a User in The Grid for over 20 years. He should know how to make things in The Grid. Sam Flynn is part of the computer generation. He should have been experimenting with being a User from the get-go, but he does nothing User-like in the whole film. The is especially galling since he grew up listening to User stories from his dad.

Another weakness with the movie was the dialogue, but the original Tron's dialogue was just as bad. In addition, the big plot hole of "why" reintegration was bad. That plot device came out of nowhere with a single throw away line midway through the movie. Finally, I found Olivia Wilde was horribly miscast for the role of Quorra, and/or the writers couldn't figure out whether Quorra should be a sex symbol, an innocent, a little girl, a world-weary survivor, or all of the above. I guess Quorra was just a poorly conceived character.

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