Tag Archives: professor

A set of podcasts is 21st-century equivalent of a textbook, not a teacher

An intelligent essay from Pamela Hieronymi, professor of philosophy at UCLA, discussing the impact of technology on education:

A set of podcasts is the 21st-century equivalent of a textbook, not the 21st-century equivalent of a teacher. Every age has its autodidacts, gifted people able to teach themselves with only their books. Woe unto us if we require all citizens to manifest that ability.

Brilliantly put.

Educators are coaches, personal trainers in intellectual fitness. The value we add to the media extravaganza is like the value the trainer adds to the gym or the coach adds to the equipment.

Just as coaching requires individual attention, education, at its core, requires one mind engaging with another, in real time: listening, understanding, correcting, modeling, suggesting, prodding, denying, affirming, and critiquing thoughts and their expression.

 

Well worth reading - Don’t confuse technology with college teaching

 

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Prison inmates at San Quentin get contract to build satellite parts for NASA

The NASA Ames Research Center is known for establishing innovative partnerships and Pete Worden, the former Air Force general who serves as the Center’s director, is known as a maverick. Still, the latest joint venture to come to light has caught even some longtime NASA observers by surprise.

Under supervision from NASA Ames, inmates working in the machine shop at California’s San Quentin State Prison are building Poly Picosatellite Orbital Deployers (PPODs), the standard mechanism used to mount tiny satellites called cubesats on a variety of launch vehicles and then, at the appropriate time, fling them into orbit.

Worden got the idea for the partnership with San Quentin while he was at a party, talking to the spouse of a NASA employee who happened to work as a guard on the prison’s death row. When the guard mentioned the prison’s critical need to establish innovative education and training programs, Worden, a former University of Arizona professor, said, “How about building small satellites?”

 

Keep reading: Space.com - San Quentin Prison Inmates Build Tiny Satellite Parts for NASA

 

 

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The 7 best books on the science of happiness

1. In The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom, psychology professor Jonathan Haidt unearths ten great theories of happiness discovered by the thinkers of the past, from Plato to Jesus to Buddha, to reveal a surprising abundance of common tangents.

 

 

 

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Albert Einstein’s letter to a little girl who wanted be a scientist

From the delightful Dear Professor Einstein: Albert Einstein’s Letters to and from Children comes the following exchange between Einstein and a bright, witty South African girl named Tyfanny, who reminded Einstein of his own granddaughter and with whom he exchanged several letters despite being at the height of his career and cultural prominence.

In a letter dated September 19, 1946, Tyfanny writes:

I forgot to tell you, in my last letter, that I was a girl. I mean I am a girl. I have always regretted this a great deal, but by now I have become more or less resigned to the fact. Anyway, I hate dresses and dances and all the kind of rot girls usually like. I much prefer horses and riding. Long ago, before I wanted to become a scientist, I wanted to be a jockey and ride horses in races. But that was ages ago, now. I hope you will not think any the less of me for being a girl!

Sometime between September and October 1946 — a snappy response time by the day’s standards — Einstein replies:

I do not mind that you are a girl, but the main thing is that you yourself do not mind. There is no reason for it.

 

Source: Brain Pickings - Women in Science: Einstein’s Advice to a Little Girl Who Wants to Be a Scientist

 

 

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Jesus saves, Moses lends, Muhammad invests – Islamic finance accounts for 1 trillion in banking

“The interesting thing about Islam,” says Professor Constant Mews, “is that it was a much more commercial culture from the outset than Christianity.”

And from around the middle of the eighth century to the middle of the 13th, while European Christians were struggling through the Dark Ages, the Islamic world enjoyed a golden age.

Arab merchants had a lot to do with it.

“They developed alternative ways of regulating funds,” says Mews.

“In particular the core Islamic principle is simply one of sharing profit and loss. The desire is to promote investment by taking commercial risk.

“Risk, incidentally, is an Arabic word, referring to where you lend money to others without requiring a return unless there is profitable growth.”

And for some 500 years, this financial model underpinned advances in science, the arts, architecture, and innovation generally. Then came the Crusades and the Mongol hordes, and the Islamic model of finance declined, the space becoming filled by that other model.

Islamic finance, however, is undergoing something of a renaissance.

It is now a USD1 trillion industry…Mohamed Ariff continues the litany of statistical growth: there are 57 majority-Muslim nations, 76 countries which already practice Islamic banking, 350 banks, 15 insurance companies and about 1,200 mutual funds.

Keep readingJesus saves, Moses lends, Muhammad invests

 

 

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This is what Global Warming looks like

“This is what global warming looks like at the regional or personal level,” said Jonathan Overpeck, professor of geosciences and atmospheric sciences at the University of Arizona. “The extra heat increases the odds of worse heat waves, droughts, storms and wildfire. This is certainly what I and many other climate scientists have been warning about.”

Horrendous wildfires. Oppressive heat waves. Devastating droughts. Flooding from giant deluges. And a powerful freak wind storm called a derecho.

These are the kinds of extremes experts have predicted will come with climate change, although it’s far too early to say that is the cause. Nor will they say global warming is the reason 3,215 daily high temperature records were set in the month of June.

Scientifically linking individual weather events to climate change takes intensive study, complicated mathematics, computer models and lots of time. Sometimes it isn’t caused by global warming. Weather is always variable; freak things happen.

 

Keep readingThis Summer Is ‘What Global Warming Looks Like’

 

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The Center for Human Imagination – new research institution from the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation

Imagination — one of the least understood but most cherished products of the mind and brain — will become the focus of wide-ranging study at a new center jointly founded by UC San Diego and the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation.

The two institutions have created the UCSD-based Center for Human Imagination, which will involve thinkers from fields as different as technology, sociology, politics, medicine and literature, especially science fiction.

“We are changing the world so fast right now and the level of transformation is profound,” said Sheldon Brown, the UCSD media arts professor who was named director of the center. “This is the outcome of imagination. We need a more thoughtful, deliberative approach to understanding how it works.”

The perils and positives of imagination were a defining theme for Clarke, the British futurist and science fiction author who wrote such acclaimed books as “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “Rendezvous with Rama.”

“Every couple of years, we are literally doubling our understanding of how the brain functions,” Brown said. “We can ask specific questions about how imagination works.

 

Keep readingUCSD creates Center for Human Imagination

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Mexico awards its highest honor for foreigners to three Americans

Two San Diegans — a scholar who found fulfillment studying Mexican migrants and a refugee who built a successful spa in Baja California — are receiving Mexico’s highest honor for foreigners, it was announced Wednesday.

Wayne Cornelius, 66, a longtime professor at the University of California San Diego, was selected “for his work of more than five decades to achieve greater and better understanding of Mexico in the United States,” according to a statement by President Felipe Calderón.

Deborah Szekely, the 90-year-old founder of the internationally known Rancho La Puerta in Tecate, was praised for contributions “oriented to preserving the environmental, social and cultural heritage over the past seven decades.”

A third American recognized with the distinction — called the Order of the Aztec Eagle — is Rick Bayless, a chef who specializes in Mexican cuisine. He hosts the PBS television series “Mexico: One Plate at a Time,” which recently aired a segment on Baja California cuisine.

via U-T San Diego

 

Additionally, both Deborah Sezekely and Rick Bayless are receiving their honor, in part, due to their environmental and sustainable efforts.

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Professors fight crime with math – using data to predict crime ‘hot spots’

I love this story on ‘predictive policing’. Researchers use data to predict “hot spots” for crime and then send it over to the police. The cops on the beat patrol those areas more often and crime drops.

Math for the win.

The best way to fight crime is to keep it from happening in the first place. And while they don’t wield guns or carry badges, three UCLA faculty members are helping the Los Angeles Police Department do just that.

The scholars bring cold, hard science to predicting where certain crimes are most likely to be committed, a practice that, until now, relied largely on cops’ experience and intuition. In development for six years, the “predictive policing” software helps cops identify potential crime hotspots and stop illegal activity before it takes place.

The program generates color-coded "heat maps" that indicate the "highest probability areas for where crime will occur that day," says math professor Martin Short.

In its initial test, the software did a great job of befuddling bad guys. During one five-week period last fall, police recorded about 100 fewer burglaries and motor vehicle thefts than they had during the same timeframe in 2010.

At the heart of the work is the premise that certain crimes—home invasion, burglary and grand theft auto are prime examples—are more likely to occur in rapid succession and close proximity to one another, which Anthropology Professor Jeffrey Brantingham calls a “self-exciting process.”

via - UCLA Magazine

 

Why is Cinco De Mayo not celebrated in Mexico, only the U.S.?

UCLA professor David Hayes-Bautista stumbled upon the answer to a question that for years had puzzled scholars and amateur historians alike:

Why is Cinco de Mayo so widely celebrated in California and the United States, when it is scarcely observed in Mexico?

As Hayes-Bautista explains in “El Cinco de Mayo: An American Tradition,” his new book on the origins of the holiday, Cinco de Mayo isn’t Mexican at all.

Rather, it is an American holiday, rooted in the Civil War and commemorated today because a network of Latino groups in California known as the juntas patrióticas mejicanas (Mexican patriotic assemblies) deliberately created a public memory of it.

“We have had a lot of conjecture, a lot of guessing, but no one actually really knew,” he said. “Now we know why it’s celebrated.”

 

Keep reading – to learn how France invaded Mexico, for slavery and the Confederacy, only to be defeated on May 5, 1862.

Or, listen to Professor Hayes-Bautista explain it himself:

Spanish version of the talk