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Archive for the ‘Science/Technology’ Category

Will Colleges One Day Be Massive, Online, and Free?

Black Mortarboard and computer keyboardWhoever you are, whatever your SAT score and high school report card looks like, you could take a course at Harvard, Yale, MIT, Stanford, or Johns Hopkins right this minute. These elite schools, among many others, have begun to offer open, online, not-for-credit courses to anyone who wants to take them. These are casually referred to as MOOCs, massive open online courses.

You might assume that these classes consist only of video lectures, a collection of slides with a professor’s voiceover, the equivalent of watching some informative YouTube videos. In fact, the courses are as complete as any you’d take in college. There are assigned readings to accompany every class, a syllabus, homework, and essays. Many of them even have some form of grading.

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The 8 Best Motivational TED Talks for College Students

The following was written by JT Ripton, a writer who has contributed to Teach.com, Apartments.com, CollegeRecruiter.com, and other sites. He can be reached on Twitter at @JTRipton.

The college years are full of tough assignments, hectic schedules, and challenging social situations. It’s easy to shrink back and become overwhelmed in that environment, but that can lead to regret later. Inspiring TED talks are always a good go-to for anyone who needs a bit of thought-provoking insight. The following eight talks are particularly helpful to college students.

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The Brilliant Class Where You Do Nothing for 15 Minutes

University_of_Washington_Seal.svgWhen the last time you did nothing? Not bum around on the internet because you were bored. Not flip channels absent-mindedly. Not even try to fall asleep. Just nothing?

It’s been awhile right? It’s worth trying sometime. Once your brain stops screaming that you’re wasting valuable time, you might start to appreciate the quiet.

That’s the idea behind a class at University of Washington called “Information and Contemplation.” For the first 15 minutes of class, students sit in silence. It’s a form of meditation, basically, a way to calm the endlessly multitasking mind of the average college student. The class hopes to take college students outside of their normally busy and distracted lifestyle to gain better perspective on how to live a more balanced and peaceful existence. (more…)

We’re One Step Closer to Getting Real Lightsabers, People

Darth Vader vs. Luke Skywalker on Bespin

Image via Wookiepedia

According to an article published in the science journal Nature, scientists from MIT and Harvard have managed to observe light photons as particles. That means that while light doesn’t really have matter or mass in the way we normally understand it, it can still be made to “stick together” to form light molecules.

Now, if we can just get three or four feet worth of these light molecules to stick together and add whatever properties let it deflect lasers and slice through flesh, we’ll have ourselves our very own lightsabers.

 

STEM Students Can (and Should) Dream Big Too

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It’s a tough time to be a student. Landing a halfway decent job is always a struggle, but recent graduates have to deal with a weak economy and devalued degrees, all while more and more of them need to take out loans and find other methods of paying for their education.

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Ethiopian Kids Go From Illiterate to Hackers in 5 Months

Kids are smart. Much, much smarter than we give them credit for. Most kids have an inherent curiosity, a craving for knowledge and a greater patience with the learning process than most adults. And curiosity is the most powerful force in education.

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Is Using Siri While Driving As Bad As Texting While Driving?

A recent study out of Texas A&M University concluded that sending hands-free, voice-activated text messages impairs driver reaction times just as badly as actually typing them out.

“In each case, drivers took about twice as long to react as they did when they weren’t texting,” Christine Yager, who headed the study, told Reuters. “Eye contact to the roadway also decreased, no matter which texting method was used.”

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A Mixed Drink Inspired by Today’s Russian Meteor and Close-Call Asteroid

meteorBetween Asteroid 2012 DA14 passing a mere 17,200 miles from the surface and the meteor impact in Chelyabinsk, Russia causing over 1,000 injuries, I think it’s time we  start calling February 15th International Space Junk Day. Children can celebrate by throwing rocks at each other. Adults can coat ice cubes in 151, light them on fire, and drop them into a vodka & tonic. We can call the drink an “Atmospheric Entry,” or maybe a “Siberian Sky.”

New NASA Spacesuits Look an Awful Lot Like Buzz Lightyear

NASA is working on redesigning their space suits. The idea behind the latest redesign, currently called the Z-1, is to make something more flexible and easier to take on and off. The hope is that these suits will one day be attached to the outside of rovers, so astronauts can simply step into the suit as they’re exiting the rover to walk around Mars (or wherever). Look closely at the “backpack” and you’ll see it’s actually a hatch. The astronaut simply climbs through to put the suit on.

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NYU Just Proved the Dangers of ‘Reply All’

Any NYU students reading this? They should already know the story…

Like all schools, NYU keeps a listserv of all its students for anytime it needs to send out mass emails. But because it was improperly set up, one student gave the entire student body access to that listserv by accidentally hitting “reply all” instead of “forward.” (more…)

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