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Comment More? (Score 5, Insightful) 592

A relatively interesting experiment, no doubt, but the article didn't answer a lot of obvious and relevant questions.

First, how big was the sample size? Everything is given as percentages and we all know how meaningless they can be if the number of people tested is small.

Second, what is the racial demographic of the users on There are plenty of parts of the world, e.g. Russia, where racism (in particular against black people) would not come as a surprise to anyone. If the demographic is primarily American or European then it would be slightly more surprising.

Third, and this is just curiosity, how many people actually complied with the first (totally unreasonable) request in the DITF experiment?


Submission + - Cambridge Uni "desperate" for computer sci (

mistersooreams writes: "Computer Science professors at Cambridge University have expressed worries about the falling number of applicants for the subject. To make up the numbers, 1 in 3 applicants is now accepted — less than ten years ago, it was lower than 1 in 5. Jack Lang, millionaire businessman and lecturer in the department, said "People seem to think computer science is just for nerds — it's not." It remains to be seen whether the department can recover its high numbers of applicants following the dot com burst."
Puzzle Games (Games)

Submission + - New Scrabble world champion declared (

mistersooreams writes: "In the early hours of this morning, Nigel Richards was crowned the new World Scrabble Champion after beating Malaysian hopeful Ganesh Asirvatham. Internet coverage had been greatly increased for this year's tournament, held in Mumbai, with many games and all results being relayed live to fans around the world. In the decisive final game, Asirvatham scored 122 for the word TAILLEURS played accross two triple word scores, but Richards was able to hang on for the win. Scrabble is one of many games that has enjoyed a renewed success with the new opportunities to meet and compete over the Internet, and Facebook's Scrabble application Scrabulous is among the most popular features of the site."

Submission + - Sex-ed the Tex-ed way

zoltamatron writes: The SF Chronicle is running a story about the Bush administration's abstinence only sex-ed program and how there is no evidence to show that it works any better than the comprehensive education it replaces. Still, California is one of only three states that does not participate in the program that pushes the Texas born curriculum. From the article:

"California took a very progressive approach," [Douglas Kirby] said. "Texas pushed abstinence and made it a little more difficult for teens to receive contraceptives. Pregnancy did go down between 1991 and 2004, but Texas had the second-lowest decline of all states, 19 percent. California had the second-greatest decrease, 46 percent."
The article says there is more than $1 billion in federal money going to these programs.

Submission + - World's first Quantum Computer to be demoed

Leemeng writes: "EE Times reports that D-Wave will demonstrate the world's first commercial quantum computer on Tuesday (Feb 13) at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif. If it works, that means it can solve some of the most difficult problems, called NP-complete problems, thousands of times faster than current supercomputers. Initially, D-Wave (Vancouver, B.C.) will lease time on its quantum computer, which will be accessed over a secure Internet connection. Eventually, the company plans to sell quantum computer systems.

Being able to quickly solve NP-complete problems has enormous consequences. A fairly well-known NP-complete problem is the travelling salesman problem, which has real-world implications for logistics. NP-complete problems are present in such diverse fields as medicine, biology, computing, mathematics, and finance. Of immediate concern is quantum computers' potential for cryptanalysis (codebreaking). Specifically, a quantum computer could factor very large numbers in a fraction of the time needed by current computers. That BTW, is just what you need for cracking the RSA cipher and other widely-used ciphers that depend on one-way mathematical functions. Perhaps this will light a fire under quantum cryptography efforts."

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