ONTD Political

Meet the Math Professor Who’s Fighting Gerrymandering With Geometry

Chronicle of Higher Education · by Shannon Najmabadi · February 22, 2017

[OP note: This educator is setting up workshops in four states as well as online training to fight Gerrymandering!]

Moon Duchin, of Tufts U., has helped create a program to train mathematicians to serve as expert witnesses in court cases over redrawn electoral districts.

A Tufts University professor has a proposal to combat gerrymandering: give more geometry experts a day in court.
Moon Duchin is an associate professor of math and director of the Science, Technology and Society program at Tufts. She realized last year that some of her research about metric geometry could be applied to gerrymandering — the practice of manipulating the shape of electoral districts to benefit a specific party, which is widely seen as a major contributor to government dysfunction.

At first, she says, her plans were straightforward and research-oriented — "to put together a team to do some modeling and then maybe consult with state redistricting commissions." But then she got more creative. "I became convinced that it’s probably more effective to try to help train a big new generation of expert witnesses who know the math side pretty well," she says.

“It's clear that this is the right moment to do this kind of work. We want to harness all that energy.”
In part, she says, that’s because court cases over voting districts have risen since a 2013 Supreme Court decision, Shelby County v. Holder, struck down a key part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Former President Barack Obama is said to be making redistricting a focus after his presidency, and the former attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr. is leading a new Democratic group targeting gerrymandering ahead of 2021, the next time district lines will be drawn.

Before the Shelby decision, some states and localities with a history of racial discrimination were required to get federal clearance before redrawing electoral districts or making other changes in their election laws.

THis is why educated people are a danger to fascistsCollapse )

Shannon Najmabadi writes about teaching, learning, the curriculum, and educational quality.

Source thinks Science is Sexy
Black history month post: Hidden Figures, or how Nasa hired its first black women 'computers'

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The Oscar-nominated film Hidden Figures tells the story of African-American women whose maths skills helped put a US astronaut into orbit in the 1960s. But the history of black women working for Nasa goes back much further - and they were still struggling to get the best jobs in the 1970s.

Trigger warning: racism...Collapse )
Editor’s note: This article has been significantly revised since original publication. Please see correction note below.*

One of the first measures that Republicans in the 115th Congress proposed was the “Heartbeat Protection Act.” On January 11, a group led by Steve King of Iowa introduced a bill that would require doctors nationwide to “check for a fetal heartbeat” before performing an abortion, and prohibit them from completing the procedure if they found one. In December, Republicans in the Ohio state legislature put forth a similar measure. Governor John Kasich vetoed it, observing that such a law would almost certainly be struck down as unconstitutional, but approved a 20-week abortion ban.

Opponents of the heartbeat bills have pointed out that they would eliminate abortion rights almost entirely—making the procedure illegal around four weeks after fertilization, before many women realize that they are pregnant. These measures raise even more elementary questions: What is a fetal heartbeat? And why does it matter?Read more...Collapse )

Source: The Atlantic

I found this fascinating. I did not know anything about the history of ultrasound and how it came to be used in obstetrics, much less how profoundly it seems to have affected peoples' perceptions of fetal development, and I feel like I have a whole new perspective now.
Scientists have confirmed a brand new form of matter: time crystals

For months now, there's been speculation that researchers might have finally created time crystals - strange crystals that have an atomic structure that repeats not just in space, but in time, putting them in perpetual motion without energy.

Now it's official - researchers have just reported in detail how to make and measure these bizarre crystals. And two independent teams of scientists claim they've actually created time crystals in the lab based off this blueprint, confirming the existence of an entirely new form of matter.

The discovery might sound pretty abstract, but it heralds in a whole new era in physics - for decades we've been studying matter that's defined as being 'in equilibrium', such as metals and insulators.

But it's been predicted that there are many more strange types of matter out there in the Universe that aren't in equilibrium that we haven't even begun to look into, including time crystals. And now we know they're real.

unfortunately we will have to hold off on the time machine partCollapse )

soure is sciencealert
Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry misunderstood the administration post that President-elect Donald Trump nominated him for, the New York Times reported Wednesday.

In a report getting attention on social media, the Times said that Perry accepted the nomination to be Energy Secretary "believing he was taking on a role as a global ambassador for the American oil and gas industry that he had long championed in his home state."

"In the days after, Mr. Perry, the former Texas governor, discovered that he would be no such thing — that in fact, if confirmed by the Senate, he would become the steward of a vast national security complex he knew almost nothing about, caring for the most fearsome weapons on the planet, the United States’ nuclear arsenal" the Times continued.

But Michael McKenna, who at one point was part of Trump’s transition team for the Energy Department, told the newspaper Perry is educating himself.

Read more...Collapse )

SOURCE

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A Superbug That Resisted 26 Antibiotics

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This illustration depicts Klebsiella pneumoniae bacteria, which can cause different types of infections, including pneumonia, bloodstream infections and meningitis.
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"People keep asking me, how close are we to going off the cliff," says Dr. James Johnson, professor of infectious diseases medicine at the University of Minnesota. The cliffside free fall he is talking about is the day that drug-resistant bacteria will be able to outfox the world's entire arsenal of antibiotics. Common infections would then become untreatable.

Here's Johnson's answer: "Come on people. We're off the cliff. It's already happening. People are dying. It's right here, right now. Sure, it's going to get worse. But we're already there."

More under the cut...Collapse )

OP: Scary.

(I put the 'capitalism...' tag because... well I'm sure you can see why from the article -see the mention on livestock.)
Petrified tree rings tell ancient tale of sun’s behavior

The sun has been in the same routine for at least 290 million years, new research suggests.

Ancient tree rings from the Permian period record a roughly 11-year cycle of wet and dry periods, climate fluctuations caused by the ebbing and flowing of solar activity, researchers propose January 9 in Geology. The discovery would push back the earliest evidence of today’s 11-year solar cycle by tens of millions of years.

“The sun has apparently been doing what it’s been doing today for a long time,” says Nat Gopalswamy, a solar scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., who was not involved in the study.

those trees never got the memo that the earth is only like 60 years old or something idkCollapse )

science news
Bat chat: machine learning algorithms provide translations for bat squeaks

It turns out you don’t need to be Dr Doolittle to eavesdrop on arguments in the animal kingdom.

Researchers studying Egyptian fruit bats say they have found a way to work out who is arguing with whom, what they are squabbling about and can even predict the outcome of a disagreement – all from the bats’ calls.

“The global quest is to understand where human language comes from. To do this we must study animal communication,” said Yossi Yovel, co-author of the research from Tel Aviv University in Israel. “One of the big questions in animal communication is how much information is conveyed.”

Egyptian fruit bats, common to Africa and the Middle East, are social creatures. But the calls they make as they huddle together to roost are almost impossible to tell apart by human ear, all simply sounding aggressive. “Basically [it’s] bats shouting at each other,” said Yovel.

YOU ATE MY FLY IT WAS MY FLYCollapse )
teh guardian
Harry Potter-loving scientists find spider that looks like the Sorting Hat, naming it Eriovixia gryffindori

Before they traipsed through the sacred Indian grove or studied the hat-shaped spider, before they realized it was a new species or assigned it a peculiar name, scientific researchers Javed Ahmed and Rajashree Khalap discovered Harry Potter.

Ahmed first cracked open the books in his teens. For Khalap, it was in adulthood.

They anxiously awaited the release of “The Cursed Child” and were delighted to learn of that universe’s expansion in “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.” The scientists couldn’t help drawing a parallel between author J.K. Rowling’s fictional world and the critters still undiscovered in their own.

That sentiment propelled them into the small sacred grove in the Shivamogga district of the southwestern Indian state of Karnataka, where a “biodiversity hotspot” had been preserved for generations by villagers and their ancestors.

There the scientists, along with colleague Sumukha J.N., found their own fantastic beasts, including one spider that looked like a lady bug and another tiny arachnid that brought their love for “Harry Potter” full circle.

there is a picture of a spider in this postCollapse )

source is WaPo
Study Shows Dogs Have Episodic Memory, Just Like Humans

It may be elephants that never forget, but it turns out dogs have pretty good memories too, and could share more cognitive abilities with humans than we thought. According to a study published yesterday in the journal Current Biology, canines are able to recall events that occurred even when they weren’t paying attention, suggesting they may have episodic memories.

Thought to be linked to self-awareness, episodic memory refers to the ability to remember specific moments from one’s life simply by absorbing events as they occur. It differs from working memory in that information is not deliberately encoded, but is stored without knowing that it has to be remembered or that it will become relevant later on.

aka i know where you put the steak plateCollapse )

ifl science

Here's a royally festive sight: Queen Elizabeth and her family in Christmas sweaters.

The British royal wax figures have been dressed in Christmas sweaters, resulting a hilarious and festive tableau at Madame Tussauds in London. The figure of Queen Elizabeth is clad in a corgi-themed sweater, surrounded by her beloved corgis. The museum said real dogs in Christmas sweaters joined the Queen for the photo op.

it's for charity!Collapse )
source is alpha beta see

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