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Submission + - Apple to list companies that build its products an (

mathfeel writes: Indulge me in some post hoc reasoning here: After last week's episode of This American Life "Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory", a very interesting show, Apple announced that "For the first time, Apple has released a list of companies that build its products around the world. In another first, the company also announced that it will allow an independent third party to check on working conditions at those factories, and to make its findings public." But before you celebrate Apple's gesture (or complain about the potential increase in electronic price): "It doesn’t appear that Apple’s partnership with the FLA will increase transparency in this regard either. The FLA will audit 5% of the factories that make Apple products, but like Apple, it will not name which ones it checks or where it finds violations."

Submission + - China now has the fastest supercomputer (

mathfeel writes: NYT is reporting that China will take the top crown when Top 500 is released next month. Before one comments that the major components are still designed by US firms like Intel and Nvidia, FTA:

Modern supercomputers are built by combining thousands of small computer servers and using software to turn them into a single entity. In that sense, any organization with enough money and expertise can buy what amount to off-the-shelf components and create a fast machine. The Chinese system follows that model by linking thousands upon thousands of chips made by the American companies Intel and Nvidia. But the secret sauce behind the system--and the technological achievement--is the interconnect, or networking technology, developed by Chinese researchers that shuttles data back and forth across the smaller computers at breakneck rates, Mr. Dongarra said. "That technology was built by them," Mr. Dongarra said. "They are taking supercomputing very seriously and making a deep commitment."

The said interconnect designed by the Chinese are shown to be faster than the InfiniBand used in many supercomputer. In the current wave of shouting "Cut, Baby Cut" from the most vocal segment of the US's political class, will the PRC, with its endless ambition and recent acquired cash (when they are not busy loaning it to the US), catches up or even surpass the US in doing fundamental research that is the long term foundation of an economy?

Submission + - Study of homework copying in MIT (

mathfeel writes: A statistical study by MIT professors of their calculus-based introductory physics courses (Journal version here: for those who have access.) has a few interesting conclusions, not the least of which is "repetitive copiers have approximately three times the chance of failing":

Equating speedy answers with copying, the team concluded that about 10 percent of the students copied more than half of their homework, about 40 percent copied 10 to 50 percent of their homework, and about half the students copied less than 10 percent of their homework. By the end of the semester, students who copied 50 percent or more homework earned almost two letter grades below students who didn't copy very much, the team found. Heavy copiers were also three times more likely to fail the course.

They also report that certain change in course formatting and self-reporting academic dishonesty survey has reduced copying by factor of 4.

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