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Monday, June 18, 2018

In her short life, mathematician Emmy Noether changed the face of physics | Physics - Science News

Photo: Emily Conover
"Noether linked two important concepts in physics: conservation laws and symmetries" argues Emily Conover, Physics Writer.

THE BEAUTY OF SYMMETRY  Emmy Noether had a lasting impact on her colleagues and students, and on the fields of mathematics and physics.

On a warm summer evening, a visitor to 1920s Göttingen, Germany, might have heard the hubbub of a party from an apartment on Friedländer Way. A glimpse through the window would reveal a gathering of scholars. The wine would be flowing and the air buzzing with conversations centered on mathematical problems of the day. The eavesdropper might eventually pick up a woman’s laugh cutting through the din: the hostess, Emmy Noether, a creative genius of mathematics.

At a time when women were considered intellectually inferior to men, Noether (pronounced NUR-ter) won the admiration of her male colleagues. She resolved a nagging puzzle in Albert Einstein’s newfound theory of gravity, the general theory of relativity. And in the process, she proved a revolutionary mathematical theorem that changed the way physicists study the universe.

It’s been a century since the July 23, 1918, unveiling of Noether’s famous theorem. Yet its importance persists today. “That theorem has been a guiding star to 20th and 21st century physics,” says theoretical physicist Frank Wilczek of MIT.

Noether was a leading mathematician of her day. In addition to her theorem, now simply called “Noether’s theorem,” she kick-started an entire discipline of mathematics called abstract algebra.

But in her career, Noether couldn’t catch a break. She labored unpaid for years after earning her Ph.D. Although she started working at the University of Göttingen in 1915, she was at first permitted to lecture only as an “assistant” under a male colleague’s name. She didn’t receive a salary until 1923. Ten years later, Noether was forced out of the job by the Nazi-led government: She was Jewish and was suspected of holding leftist political beliefs. Noether’s joyful mathematical soirees were extinguished.

She left for the United States to work at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania. Less than two years later, she died of complications from surgery — before the importance of her theorem was fully recognized. She was 53.

Although most people have never heard of Noether, physicists sing her theorem’s praises. The theorem is “pervasive in everything we do,” says theoretical physicist Ruth Gregory of Durham University in England. Gregory, who has lectured on the importance of Noether’s work, studies gravity, a field in which Noether’s legacy looms large.

Making connections 
Noether divined a link between two important concepts in physics: conservation laws and symmetries. A conservation law — conservation of energy, for example — states that a particular quantity must remain constant. No matter how hard we try, energy can’t be created or destroyed. The certainty of energy conservation helps physicists solve many problems, from calculating the speed of a ball rolling down a hill to understanding the processes of nuclear fusion.

Symmetries describe changes that can be made without altering how an object looks or acts. A sphere is perfectly symmetric: Rotate it any direction and it appears the same. Likewise, symmetries pervade the laws of physics: Equations don’t change in different places in time or space.
Read more... 

Recommended Reading  
Weird Math: A Teenage Genius and His
Teacher Reveal the Strange Connections
Between Math and Everyday Life

‘Weird Math’ aims to connect numbers and equations to the real world by Diana Steele, Freelance Science Writer, Science News.
"A new book tackles the mysteries of chaos theory, higher dimensions and more."

Source: Science News

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Digital and science engineering to be taught at new college | GOV.UK

New University Technical College to create 750 new school places in Doncaster to meet local demand for world-class engineering and design skills, as GOV.UK reports.

Photo: GOV.UK
Hundreds of students will be trained to become experts in engineering and digital technology to help deliver the skilled workers local businesses need at a state-of-the art new college in Doncaster announced today (Monday 18 June).

Doncaster University Technical College will train up to 750 13 to 19-year-olds in the latest rail engineering techniques, as well as coding and 3-D design skills when it opens its doors in September 2020, helping to meet the needs of the local economy.

Plans for the college have been led by the Doncaster Chamber of Commerce and Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council, working with both the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University alongside leading businesses from across South Yorkshire, including Volker Rail and Keepmoat.

Today’s announcement is part of a wider government drive to deliver a world-class technical education system that rivals the best performing countries, giving young people genuine choice about their future and developing the skills that are truly valued by employers.

This announcement follows the recent unveiling of the first providers selected to teach new T Levels from 2020 by Education Secretary Damian Hinds. T levels will provide a high-quality, technical alternative to A levels and is part of a £500 million a year programme to ensure people across the country have the skills we need to compete globally.

Source: GOV.UK

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SUTD Academy offers cybersecurity course for adult learners | The Straits Times

"Adult learners wanting to get a leg up in the burgeoning cybersecurity sector are being offered a new course launched by Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) Academy on Monday" (June 18) inform Jasia Shamdasani, Straits Times Journalist.

The Modular Masters (MM) programme in cybersecurity consists of skills-based modular courses that take between one and four days, each of which carries credits which can be accumulated for an MM certificate.
Photo: Lianhe Zaobao file.

The ModularMasters (MM) programme in cybersecurity consists of skills-based modular courses  that take between one and four days, each of which carries credits which can be accumulated for an MM certificate.
Students who gain this certificate can then choose to take up the SUTD's existing Master of Science in Security by Design degree, and use the certificate to offset subject credits in the degree course.

"SUTD Academy wanted to provide more flexible options and opportunities for working individuals and adults to upskill or reskill themselves," said Professor Pey Kin Leong, SUTD's associate provost of education at SUTD Academy and Digital Learning...

Other new MM programmes in the pipeline at the SUTD include data analytics, artificial intelligence and design innovations.
Read more... 

Source: The Straits Times

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Summer Reading: Strategies to boost online learning programs | Higher Ed - Education Dive

Jean Dimeo, Managing Editor notes, "This summer, Education Dive is providing readers with compilations of stories on a variety of topics that we've published during the past year that provide solutions to challenges facing colleges and universities nationwide."
Next up — online learning.

Photo: Education Dive

Colleges should consider integrating bootcamps, not view them as threats
Rather than be threatened by bootcamp models, colleges should learn from them and integrate them into their core to better prepare their graduates for a wide variety of jobs, according to Matthew Rascoff, associate vice provost for digital education and innovation at Duke University. He argues that institutions should view bootcamps as programs to even better prepare students for the job market. Read more

Study: Online learning improves retention, graduation rates A study from Arizona State University suggests that online courses may be better equipped to help retain students and to keep them on the path to graduation.The university examined digital learning trends and outcomes from two public universities, two community colleges and a community college system. It found that three out of four institutions that offered in-person and online courses had higher retention and graduation rates for students who at least enrolled in some digital learning classes. Read more

Personalized learning is for online courses, too
eCornell CEO Paul Krause said his organization, which provides much of Cornell Univerity's online infrastructure and marketing, has laid out a model for massive open online course (MOOCs) providers to look to as an example for monetization. Personalization is important; even in an online or blended space, he said, offering relevant, engaging experiences is the best way to get the desired outcomes for the average students. Read more

How to effectively scale a digital learning model Several online leaders, during the Council for Higher Education Accreditation's annual conference​, noted four conclusions of an extensive research project on online learning: Take a strategic portfolio approach to digital learning; build capabilities and expertise to design for quality in the digital realm; provide the differential student support to succeed in fully online learning; and engage faculty as true partners, equipping them for success. Read more
Read more... 

Recommended Reading  

Photo: Education Dive
Despite overall setbacks, one MOOC on AI gains ground by James Paterson.
"A massive open online course series about artificial intelligence produced by a private firm boasts 250,000 registrants."

Source: Education Dive

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How to ‘sharpen the saw’ in a digital era? | People Matters

Photo: Parag Mehra
Here are a few helpful tips to navigate learning in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous business world, according to Parag Mehra, Sr. Director – Learning & Development working with an American Multi-National Corporation.

Photo: People Matters

A story of two workers cutting wood while working at the same place is one that most of us are familiar with. The words ‘same place’ is a reference to an economics axiom ‘other things are being equal’ meaning same working hours and conditions. Yet, one produces better results compared to the other. 

What is the cause of this difference in performance? 
If you don’t know the answer already, it is – the ability to sharpen the saw! 

Today, ‘Sharpening the Saw’ is more relevant than ever before. While many of us can put into practice what we have seen and done in the past and apply solutions that have worked for us before, we are stuck to the past. Our learning architecture involves learning based on our enterprise experience, intelligence on market practices, leadership & skill attributes, academic wisdom & past experiences. 

However, businesses today operate in a VUCA environment, and technology integrated solutions have become a new normal along with demographic shift with the influx of millennial population in the workforce. This creates a compelling need to change; a change in the existing learning architecture and engaging in new & innovative methods of learning to meet the ever-expanding demands of the evolving workplace. Our learning patterns need to evolve and enable us to acquire niche skills in multiple areas to remain relevant.

There is a need to invest in sharpening our saw with an enhanced variation. This means leveraging the power of ‘digital’ to multiplying the impact and to produce transformational results. Our traditional patterns of learning need to change significantly. Just as the tree cutting axe has changed over the years (nowadays there are over 30+ variation of axes for cutting specific trees), there’s a need to being in enhanced variation in our own development. Here are a few attributes that will help you in the process:

Source: People Matters

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Lakota Schools to lead national digital learning experiments | Hamilton Journal News

Michael D. Clark, Staff Writer reports, "Lakota Local Schools is now among a half-dozen districts nationwide picked to help lead all schools toward better digital learning."

Lakota Local Schools are now among a half-dozen districts nationwide picked to help lead all schools toward better digital learning. Lakota was recently chosen as one of six districts across the country to lead the Real World Learning Challenge Collaborative through Digital Promise s League of Innovative Schools, which the district joined last fall.
Photo: Michael D. Clark/Staff

Lakota was recently chosen as one of six districts across the country to lead the “Real World Learning Challenge Collaborative” through Digital Promise’s League of Innovative Schools, which the district joined last fall.

The goal of the Challenge Collaborative is to develop practices that have been tested in member districts and validated through research to enhance the real-world student experience in secondary education.

The appointment means Lakota will have first access to shared digital experimentation in other districts and in turn will be sharing its own innovations.

“Our district leaders have already begun working on a plan that will re-imagine the secondary-student experience, including real-world learning,” said Lakota Superintendent Matt Miller.

Miller said being chosen by the national league “reiterates the importance of this work.”

It’s the latest national honor for the increasingly digitalized school system of 16,500 students, spurred on by Miller, who was hired in part because of his wide reputation for modernizing traditional learning.

Source: Hamilton Journal News

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Sunday, June 17, 2018

18 New Music Books to Read This Summer | Pitchfork

From confessional punk memoirs to a self-help book by Questlove, there’s something here for every genre of music nerd.

Photo: Patrick Jenkins

Whether you’re lounging in a beach chair, perched under a tree, or taking refuge next to a blasting air conditioner, the summer months offer many opportunities to sit back and read for hours on end. In that spirit, here are some of our favorite recent or soon-to-be-released music books, ranging from expert surveys of jazz and grime to fiction inspired by the sci-fi fabulousness of glam rock.
Read more... 

Source: Pitchfork

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Finally, a worthwhile graduation book | Living - New York Post

"Graduation books generally come in three flavors: celebrity advice, children’s books for adults and macho tough love" says Matt Carlstrom writing for New York Post.

The Third Door: The Wild Quest to Uncover
How the World's Most Successful People
Launched Their Careers
They’re often hard to relate to, condescending or pushy. (Please read the names of the books below while listening to a stirring round of “Pomp and Circumstance”: “Make Your Bed” “12 Rules for Life” “The Road to Character” “Nudge” “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!” “Assume the Worst” . . . the list goes on.)

Alex Banayan’s “The Third Door” is a rare exception to this rule for one simple reason: Banayan is young. The son of Jewish Persian immigrants, the 25-year-old broke a promise to his grandmother and dropped out of college to pursue his dream of interviewing legendary achievers like Lady Gaga, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett to learn their secrets. “Life, business, success . . . it’s just like a nightclub,” he insists. “There’s always a way in.”

Rather than the main entrance with its long lines and bouncers, or the VIP entrance reserved for the elite, Banayan advises young people to “run down the alley, bang on the door a hundred times, crack open the window, sneak through the kitchen — there’s always a way.”

Source: New York Post

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10 New Books We Recommend This Week | Book Review - New York Times

Suggested reading from critics and editors at The New York Times by Gregory Cowles, Senior Editor, Books. 
Photo: New York Times

Debut novelists often have a hard time attracting attention, so publishers and critics look for the little things that set them apart. Are they casting new light on the old neglected story of Native American identity and displacement? Tommy Orange is, with his novel about characters gathering for a tribal powwow in urban Oakland, Calif. Are they bridging the gap between East and West, and testing the nuances of immigration and exile? Negar Djavadi is, with her story of a family of Iranian emigrants to Paris. Are they a former POTUS collaborating with James Patterson on a political thriller about a rogue president who goes missing in the name of national security?

O.K., Bill Clinton might not need the help. But here he is anyway, on this week’s list of recommended titles alongside worthwhile new books from Michael Ondaatje (a novel of war and secrets), Michael Pollan (a deep dive into the world of psychedelic drugs), Catherine Nixey (an exploration of cultural destruction among early Christians) and more.

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Saturday, June 16, 2018

New Stanford education study shows where boys and girls do better in math, English | Stanford University News

Krysten Crawford, Freelance Writer & Editor notes, "A review of test scores from 10,000 school district finds that gender gaps in math and English vary with community wealth and racial diversity."

Researchers at Stanford Graduate School of Education discovered wide variations in how girls and boys in grades three through eight perform in math and English from one district to the next.
Photo: Getty/lisegagne

When Stanford Professor Sean Reardon and his research team set out to take an unprecedented look at how elementary school girls and boys compare in academic achievement, they expected to find similar stereotype-driven patterns across all 10,000 U.S. school districts: boys consistently outperforming girls in math and girls steadily surpassing boys in reading and writing by a wide margin.

Instead, Reardon and his team of researchers at Stanford Graduate School of Education discovered wide variations in how girls and boys in grades three through eight perform from one district to the next. In some cases, girls did better in both math and reading. In others, boys had the advantage in math and almost matched girls on English-related subjects.

The swings in math scores were especially striking. Looking closely, the researchers uncovered a pattern: in affluent, highly-educated and predominantly white districts, boys outperformed girls in math. In poorer, more racially diverse districts, girls often outdid boys in math.

In reading and writing, however, the researchers found no correlation with local socioeconomic status or racial makeup. In almost every public-school system, girls came out ahead in reading scores, though to different degrees across communities.

The study, published online as a working paper, marks the first comprehensive analysis of gender achievement gaps at the district level.

“Our goal was to map the patterns of gender achievement gaps across the entire country in order to develop a better sense of what kinds of communities and school districts most commonly provide equal educational opportunities for girls and boys,” says Reardon, the Professor of Poverty and Inequality in Education. We hope this information will help educators and policymakers eliminate educational gender disparities.”

Beyond stereotypes
The findings were drawn from the Stanford Education Data Archive (SEDA), a massive online collection of roughly 300 million math and reading test scores from every public school in the United States from fall 2008 through spring 2015. Reardon, one of the creators of SEDA, has previously found that school systems with large numbers of low-income students have average academic performances significantly below the national average. He's also shown that poverty alone does not determine the quality of a school district...

The paper’s additional co-authors were: Demetra Kalogrides, a researcher at CEPA; Rosalia Zarate, a GSE doctoral student; and Anne Podolsky, a researcher and policy analyst with the Learning Policy Institute.
Read more... 

Additional resources  
Gender Achievement Gaps in U.S. School Districts

Source: Stanford University News

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