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Comment Re:Doors closed to stupid people (Score 1) 1010

Hmm... I was focused more on the idea of not teaching it in high school. I can see your point. My counterargument is that a Bachelor's of Arts/Science should connote some base level of proficiency in all basic fields, as well as deeper study in the area of concentration. I concede that my viewpoint is not universally accepted, though.

Comment Closing doors (Score 1) 1010

If we stop teaching algebra to all students at the high school or early college level, we are closing certain doors to them. You simply cannot master an entry-level, algebra-based Physics course without geometry and a lot of algebra work. If you can't do that, you cannot major in physics, most engineering subjects, nor math itself. I think economics would be a stretch as well.

If students (or parents) can choose to not take algebra at the 9th grade level, they are making a de facto decision that they will not study nor work in a STEM field later in life. Age 13 is awfully early to make that choice. They have not even attempted the challenge yet -- they do not know their abilities.

Even if they do continue in their studies and gain admittance to college, it will almost be a moot point. Their opportunities will have long since been limited.

Comment Option 3 - Craigslist (Score 1) 530

When I moved recently, I decided to make the jump to an HTPC setup. Therefore, I was suddenly in the market for 3-4 Xbox 360's to act at Media Center extenders.

The going rate for a used Xbox at a retail store was around $179 at the time. However, searching in my local area on Craigslist, there were plenty listed in the $70 range, and I was able to negotiate down to an average price of $40 per Xbox 360.

Unless the Xbox 360 were a gift, you could save a ton of money going this route. I was even able to make sellers show me the Xbox plugged in, working, and able to login to Xbox live.

I did observe that most of the folks that were selling their Xbox 360's for pennies on the dollar were folks that probably shouldn't have bought them in the first place. In at least one case, I didn't drive nearly as hard of a bargain as I could have.

Submission + - Improving Disaster Response With Dedicated Ships (

nido writes: "When the Deepwater Horizon blew last summer I posted a couple comments here about my idea for helping the Gulf of Mexico clean itself. To Save the Gulf, Send the Enterprise called for using the U.S. Navy's portable nuclear power plants to oxygenate ocean water, thereby feeding the bacteria that consume crude oil.

After BP's Macondo Prospect well was plugged, I generalized my proposal to dedicate the almost-retired USS Enterprise to disaster relief.

You know an idea's time has come when you read it somewhere else. This is sort of like how multiple people have independently discover scientific principles at about the same time. A new article on The American Spectator, A Great White Fleet for the 21st Century, advocates converting the Navy's retired aircraft carriers to disaster relief ships, just like my piece from last summer. It seems like I should get credit, but the idea is what's important.

Last night I read out that the Amphibious Assault Ship USS Nassau is being decommissioned on March 31st. Rather than letting the ship rust in a Ghost fleet, this would be the perfect first ship to dedicate to disaster response.

My idea was birthed on, and encouraged by visitors from slashdot. Thanks for all the clicks!"

Comment Fooling the central HVAC (Score 1) 402

My military unit moved into a newly renovated building a couple years ago. In order to save energy, it had one of them new-fangled centralized-controlled HVAC systems.
Each office had a temperature sensor but no thermostat that could be set. The usual 'heat on way too early in the fall' stuff, as well as the 'indoor temp set to 80F in the summer' applied.
As the commo guy for the unit, I took it upon myself to open up one of these sensor, and found it contained a simple, exposed thermal resistor. I figured out that hotter temperatures lowered the resistance, and quickly tested my theory by shorting the circuit to kick on the AC.
But, a long term solution needed to be non-obvious, and a 100% temperature reading was going to be obvious. So I did the math, and added a small resistor in parallel to the circuit, basically convincing the central computer that it was always 10 deg F hotter in my office than it really was.
I had the coolest office in the building, until my bosses figured out that I had done something; I then I had to replicate my efforts in their offices.
This would make an excellent bonus question on an EE101 exam.


NASA Probe Validates Einstein Within 1% 188

An anonymous reader writes "Gravity Probe B uses four ultra-precise gyroscopes to measure two effects of Einstein's general relativity theory — the geodetic effect and frame dragging. According to the mission's principal investigator, the data from Gravity Probe B's gyroscopes confirm the Einstein theory's value for the geodetic effect to better than 1%. In a common analogy, the geodetic effect is similar to the shape of the dip created when the ball is placed on to a rubber sheet. If the ball is then rotated, it will start to drag the rubber sheet around with it. In a similar way, the Earth drags local space and time around with it — ever so slightly — as it rotates. Over time, these effects cause the angle of spin of the satellite's gyroscopes to shift by tiny amounts." The investigators will be doing further data analysis over the coming months and expect to release final results late this year.

Feed Intel shows off "metro notebook" concept (

Filed under: Laptops

It looks like Intel has more than just wearable computers and newfangled UMPCs in mind for our future, with the company also recently showing off this slightly less far fetched "metro notebook," apparently aimed primarily at women. One of the most most conceptey elements here is the SideShow-esque e-ink display embedded in the laptop's lid, which promises to let you view your email, calendar, and other information even when the laptop's powered down. What's more, Intel also sees the entire laptop acting as a charging pad for your other gadgets, though it seems you'll still have to charge the laptop itself the old fashioned way. Even without those less-than-imminent additions, however, the laptop appears to be a pretty decent unit, measuing just 0.7 inches thick and packing a Core 2 Duo processor, along with Bluetooth, WiFi, and WiMAX connectivity.

[Via Tech Ticker, thanks Benaam]

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Thus mathematics may be defined as the subject in which we never know what we are talking about, nor whether what we are saying is true. -- Bertrand Russell