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Google Announces Project 10^100 Winners

Soulskill posted about 4 years ago | from the bet-you'd-forgotten-about-this dept.

Google 133

Kilrah_il writes with news that Google has selected winners for Project 10^100, a contest to find the best ideas to change the world. Among the winners is the Khan Academy, which we've discussed previously. Google is "providing $2 million to support the creation of more courses and to enable the Khan Academy to translate their core library into the world’s most widely spoken languages." The other winning projects are: FIRST, an organization fostering math and science education through team competition; Public.Resource.Org, a government transparency effort focused on online access to public documents; Shweeb, a silly-looking method of human-powered urban transit; and the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences, a center aimed at promoting graduate-level math and science education in Africa.

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Obligatory (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33689784)

KHAAAAN!

Re:Obligatory (4, Funny)

Spazntwich (208070) | about 4 years ago | (#33689982)

I didn't believe Google had really gone evil until I learned they're funding the imperial agenda of science fiction villains.

Re:Obligatory (1, Offtopic)

JeanBaptiste (537955) | about 4 years ago | (#33690190)

I think the worst part about the whole thing is that movie started Kirstie Alley's "acting" career.

One of the best sites (1)

Shivetya (243324) | about 4 years ago | (#33690906)

KhanAcademy is one of my favorite sites. It constantly reminds me of how much I have forgotten while at the same time rewarding me for the time I spend on it. I think every parent should encourage their kids to use the site, hell every parent of a school age child should have this site bookmarked for their own use as well.

Re:Obligatory (1)

Begossi (652163) | about 4 years ago | (#33692498)

Khan academy should have a Day9 section.

Interesting Ideas (4, Insightful)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | about 4 years ago | (#33689942)

I like most of the projects that the summary mentioned. The Shweeb one is a bit...odd...however. From their website:

We tend not to like travelling because it’s uncomfortable, there’s not much space, not enough leg room, we spend our time stuck in traffic or on a broken down train... and we are completely powerless to do anything about it.

The design principles of Shweeb aim to put you, the traveller, back in control of your own space, time and power.

Their design seems to consist of locking oneself in a suspended bubble and peddling your way to your destination. So....to clarify, they talk about the problems of transportation including not having enough leg room or space, and their solution is for you to lock yourself in a bubble....hmmmmm.

Honestly, after looking at that project, I have to ask, "Why the hell wouldn't I just walk to my destination? Or ride my bike?"

Re:Interesting Ideas (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33689974)

@BJ - I like #blowjobs

Re:Interesting Ideas (1)

Megahard (1053072) | about 4 years ago | (#33690000)

Looks like they got their concept from the human pneumatic tubes on Futurama.

Re:Interesting Ideas (2, Insightful)

Col. Klink (retired) (11632) | about 4 years ago | (#33690022)

And the bubbles are on a track. Can you even pass a slower-moving Schweeb?

Re:Interesting Ideas (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33690152)

You're assuming a lack of parallel tracks. This is not a unique problem. The same issue faces roads -- you can't pass someone if there's only one lane.

If we're assuming only one track, then passing is not the largest issue -- going in the *other direction* is.

Re:Interesting Ideas (1)

Reece400 (584378) | about 4 years ago | (#33691302)

Not legally, but in practive people in cars pass people using shoulders and other creative methods if someone is moving slow enough.

Re:Interesting Ideas (1)

JorDan Clock (664877) | about 4 years ago | (#33691924)

It's perfectly legal to pass someone on the left in that situation, given you're not in a no passing zone.

Re:Interesting Ideas (4, Informative)

reverseengineer (580922) | about 4 years ago | (#33690186)

The Shweeb FAQ [shweeb.com] addresses this question, and the answer is hilarious:

But what if someone refuses to pedal or goes really slowly?

Impact-cushioning buffers at each end of the pods allow faster pods to run into slower pods and form a Shweeb 'peloton'. This increases aerodynamic efficiency and, unlike a bicycle peloton, the power produced by those behind can contribute to the overall power of the group, thereby increasing speed and efficiency and removing the need to overtake. Should the rider in front refuse to pedal, the extra effort required by the rider(s) behind is minimal due to the low rolling resistance and single aero-pressure point of the peloton.

Re:Interesting Ideas (3, Insightful)

iammani (1392285) | about 4 years ago | (#33690260)

What if a bunch of people refuse to pedal; say 9/10 refuse to pedal, would the system still work?

Re:Interesting Ideas (1)

cmiller173 (641510) | about 4 years ago | (#33690324)

What if the guy in front rides the brakes?

Re:Interesting Ideas (1)

LanMan04 (790429) | about 4 years ago | (#33690372)

There are no brakes. Seriously, they're not needed.

Re:Interesting Ideas (1)

Monchanger (637670) | about 4 years ago | (#33690426)

Not on the pods, no. There is the necessary break on the rail at destination.

Re:Interesting Ideas (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 4 years ago | (#33690574)

Even that is pretty minimal (but yes, I'm sure it is present). They have a 2 meter increase in height when you go into the terminal station, so it converts most of your speed into potential energy, which is then used by the next person to get started. If you're going too slow to make it up the 2 meter incline, there's a conveyor system that will help pull you up.

Re:Interesting Ideas (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33690540)

why would there be brakes?

Re:Interesting Ideas (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33690602)

What brakes? The only time they are allowed to stop is at stations. There is no need for them to stop mid track.

Re:Interesting Ideas (2, Funny)

Sulphur (1548251) | about 4 years ago | (#33690684)

Back in my day, they didn't have brakes.

Re:Interesting Ideas (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33690732)

What if a bunch of people refuse to pedal; say 9/10 refuse to pedal, would the system still work?

The Democrats seem to think so.

Re:Interesting Ideas (2, Funny)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 4 years ago | (#33691964)

What if a bunch of people refuse to pedal; say 9/10 refuse to pedal, would the system still work?

Yep, but not immediately. The people who don't pedal won't be getting enough cardio and will die sooner.
It's the darwin solution to transportation problems.

Re:Interesting Ideas (1)

julien dot (911974) | about 4 years ago | (#33691970)

They get arrested by the shweeb police.

Re:Interesting Ideas (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33690946)

seriously, the answer is the perfect politician answer. "We could say no, but let's be honest, you won't want to!"

Re:Interesting Ideas (1)

should_be_linear (779431) | about 4 years ago | (#33690606)

No, but I saw it passing by slower moving Segway on "Pathetic Commuting Conference" in Gayland.

Re:Interesting Ideas (1)

thisisauniqueid (825395) | about 4 years ago | (#33690642)

...and head-to-tail collisions would be a real problem. And if you are moving in a chain of schweebs, there will be the inevitable lazy guy somewhere in the chain not pedaling or pretending to pedal, so someone else will do all the work. And if the schweeb capsules are publicly shared not privately owned, they'll get really, really gross and sweaty. And if everybody is commuting in one direction and they are a shared public resource, all the schweebs will end up at one end of the line...

However I'm guessing they'll eventually design passing lanes to partially solve the slow/lazy rider problems, and you'll be able to steer into passing lanes (if you can even see where you're going from that body position...) The really smart (and IMO only smart) aspects of schweeb are (1) it should reduce or eliminate biking deaths, because it lifts you off the road surface away from cars (and you can no longer fall off your bike; hopefully your schweeb won't fall off the track either) -- and (2) it potentially dramatically reduces the number of intersections by lifting the route graph off the 2D plane into 3D space. This solves the planar graph embedding problem (which forbids K_5 and K_{3,3} subgraphs) and allows a much denser point-to-point connectivity graph without having to wait at the schweeb equivalent of a red light. (This is the real reason we all need flying cars, incidentally.)

Re:Interesting Ideas (2, Informative)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | about 4 years ago | (#33690798)

Every 100 pods send an 'autonomous' with a simple electric motor. It clears the track and can serve to 'circulate' and expedite any backup.

You won't need a passing lane. And as for lazy commuters, take a look at the DC metro. There are enough people in a hurry that if you are lounging on the left of the escalator you will get yelled at to 'stand on the right'. And there are definately enough people in a hurry that they would gladly push anyone in front of them on these Schweeb things.

That said, every 100 have one go through at the max speed of 25 km/hr. It would be a very small cost (A 30 Watt electric motor) would basically guarantee a minimum speed and 'push out' any slackers.

Re:Interesting Ideas (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33691012)

But then, wouldn't a lot of people simply wait to be pushed by the electric shweeb?

Re:Interesting Ideas (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | about 4 years ago | (#33691210)

But then, wouldn't a lot of people simply wait to be pushed by the electric shweeb?

No. See my comment regarding the DC metro. In any urban area, there will be people in a hurry, they will be pushing as well. You can see this exact same thing on Escalators, most people will walk or even run up them. Never underestimate the untapped potential of a power commuter

Re:Interesting Ideas (2, Insightful)

MattskEE (925706) | about 4 years ago | (#33690994)

They address many of these issues in the FAQ if you follow the link:
>and head-to-tail collisions would be a real problem.
There are long springy bumpers of some sort to make this impact very gentle. The energy is used to push the first driver ahead, it is not dissipated.

>And if you are moving in a chain of schweebs, there will be the inevitable lazy guy somewhere in the chain not pedaling or pretending to pedal, so someone else will do all the work.
This is a problem to an extent. However because of the high mechanical efficiency (greater than an enclosed recumbent bike they say) and the increased efficiency of moving together in a line, it will be tolerant to a certain amount of laziness without significantly increasing the work of the others. Furthermore there are monitoring sensors, and you could presumably be identified in your pod via schweeb membership card you swipe to get in the pod, and problematic riders could be penalized or banned.

>And if the schweeb capsules are publicly shared not privately owned, they'll get really, really gross and sweaty.
They say it uses 1/3 the power of walking at 5km/h (30 watts vs. 100) so even an out of shape person should not break a sweat. However I would be concerned about the sun heating them up...

>And if everybody is commuting in one direction and they are a shared public resource, all the schweebs will end up at one end of the line...
If x number of people go from point A to point B in the morning, then most of those people will go from B to A in the evening. Thus no pods pile up in any one location. Thus they just need to monitor usage and add new pods based on demand by location, plus extra to account for variability. And they will probably implement some sort of "tugboat" pod to move the pods between stations if pods start piling up in one location.

I admit I several of the same misgivings at first. Here are some problems I still see:
-The weirdness factor will turn people off regardless of utility and efficiency.
-The economic viability has yet to be established, because it's a new concept.
-Will there be airflow to maintain comfort on a sunny day without compromising aerodynamics? The pods look like a little greenhouse.

Re:Interesting Ideas (2, Insightful)

FooAtWFU (699187) | about 4 years ago | (#33690098)

The nice thing about something like bicycling is that it's not very capital-intensive (you don't need to build a lot of junk to make it work). The nice thing about something capital-intensive like a monorail is that it's high-speed, high-capacity, and effective.

It looks like Schweeb has managed to avoid all of these virtues. So, uh, what's left? The bubble might make an okay windshield in the rain, maybe.

Re:Interesting Ideas (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33690304)

Even better: Imagine trying to get the tens or hundreds of millions of dollars needed for a Shweeb track in your city from the US Federal Government. "We want to build this thing. It's exactly like an overhead rail system, which you hate funding, only it's not handicap accessible, and will likely not be able to carry as many people!"

Re:Interesting Ideas (1)

ooshna (1654125) | about 4 years ago | (#33690752)

"Can disabled people ride it? There are a few options for people who are unable to pedal themselves: i. Sit in a standard pod and be escorted along the track by a pod behind. ii. Sit as a passenger in a 2-seater pod. iii. Shweeb can design hand-powered and/or electric-assisted (or fully powered) pods. We have also had a number of blind people ride the Shweeb in Rotorua. The Shweeb offers them the unique opportunity to take control of and power a vehicle themselves."

Re:Interesting Ideas (3, Insightful)

TheLink (130905) | about 4 years ago | (#33690492)

The bubble might make an okay windshield in the rain, maybe.

I'm living in an equatorial zone, and it sure looks like a mini greenhouse tube to me. Sure they talk about ventilation holes, but I'm not convinced...

Anyway, overall it looks like a stupid idea. Not sure why it won a prize.

Re:Interesting Ideas (1)

ooshna (1654125) | about 4 years ago | (#33690738)

Still keeps it environmentally friendly. Expect to see this popping up in San Fran.

Re:Interesting Ideas (1)

Garble Snarky (715674) | about 4 years ago | (#33690764)

Bicycling requires roads, which are very capital-intensive, probably moreso than lightweight steel monorails. Roads probably require more maintenance as well. Stop-and-go city traffic, even at 40mph, is frequently slower than 30mph on average, whereas a decent biker can go 25mph without too much effort. That's WITHOUT the benefit of steel-on-steel wheels, aerodynamic shell, and drafting. It looks to me like the Schweeb system can easily be cheaper and faster than both cars and bikes, for mid-heavy city transportation. I don't understand how you reached your conclusion.

Re:Interesting Ideas (2, Interesting)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 4 years ago | (#33690446)

You should read their faq,

Honestly, after looking at that project, I have to ask, "Why the hell wouldn't I just walk to my destination? Or ride my bike?"

On firm, flat ground, a 70kg man requires about 100 watts to walk at 5km/h. The power required to move a Shweeb along a rail at 20km/h is only 33 watts. We rest our case!

33W is nothing, you could do 33W in a business suit for 20 minutes and not break a sweat. This efficiency also ties into the passing problem, since the top speed is limited to 25km/h for safety reasons and 25km/h can easily be reached with considerably less effort than walking the main lines should always be moving at top speed. There are apparently bumpers on the front and back of each bubble that make hitting even a stationary bubble at that speed safe and comfortable, at which point people behind can push a slower rider along at the max speed with little increase in effort (since two bubbles pushed up against one another are very aerodynamically efficient).

All in all, I'd say that the system is remarkably more practical than it appears at first glance. My initial reaction was the same as everyone else's, but looking at their faq it's seems they've thought through the issues quite well. Don't know if you'll ever see one constructed in your home town, but I could definitely see scenic routes being quite popular in some areas.

Re:Interesting Ideas (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 4 years ago | (#33690516)

Honestly, after looking at that project, I have to ask, "Why the hell wouldn't I just walk to my destination? Or ride my bike?"

Because it's below freezing or above 95F, or raining maybe?

Re:Interesting Ideas (2, Insightful)

Rakishi (759894) | about 4 years ago | (#33691428)

So when it's 95F you want to be in a nearly airtight transparent plastic bubble? Seriously? Think about it for a minute.

Re:Interesting Ideas (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 4 years ago | (#33691686)

Well, it had better not be airtight or you'll sufficate. But it would have to be air conditioned or it's a non-starter.

HEAT vs Shweeb (1)

krelvin (771644) | about 4 years ago | (#33690546)

I can just imagine a network of these in Phoenix Arizona on a typical +100F day.... they would be plucking heat stroke victims out of the sky. You could make a reality TV show on that alone.... Shweeb Rescue Network.

Re:Interesting Ideas (2, Interesting)

Monchanger (637670) | about 4 years ago | (#33690700)

Honestly, after looking at that project, I have to ask, "Why the hell wouldn't I just walk to my destination? Or ride my bike?"

Because you can't get sustained 70kps with bicycles without shortening the average lifespan.

So....to clarify, they talk about the problems of transportation including not having enough leg room or space, and their solution is for you to lock yourself in a bubble....hmmmmm.

Yes- you can stretch your legs in the pod, which you can't in all trains/buses. "Bubble" is misleading- it's not spherical. It's more of a rounded coffin, but far roomier and not claustrophobic. As for locking, yes, it's probably a good idea when suspended in the air moving at that speed, to ensure that you don't fall out.

There's obviously room for adaptation to mass-market, which might just benefit from, say, I don't know- a little investment?

Re:Interesting Ideas (1)

ooshna (1654125) | about 4 years ago | (#33690716)

Did you actually read anything else about it. Hell I would rather be moving at 20km using the same energy as walking at 5km. And besides it doesn't look uncomfortable. Though I do wonder how long it would be before the inside is covered like a bathroom wall.

Re:Interesting Ideas (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 4 years ago | (#33691066)

Because you can go a lot faster this way? And not get killed by a car.

You must be of very limited vision.

Re:Interesting Ideas (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33691904)

Honestly, after looking at that project, I have to ask, "Why the hell wouldn't I just walk to my destination? Or ride my bike?"

Let's say it's really cold/icy/hot/etc. out, or you live somewhere where you might get mugged/assaulted going on your own.

However, I fail to see how these things can handle decently under a strong crosswind.

Re:Interesting Ideas (1)

giorgist (1208992) | about 4 years ago | (#33693082)

"we spend our time stuck in traffic or on a broken down train"

Or stuck behind that broken down sweeb, or swearing for overshooting your stop and having to go around the "monorail"

I wonder how one changes path. I can see overtaking will be fun.
It is interesting that he considers a feature that if you get stuck behind a slow coach, you can just push him along and go faster than if the two where peddling alone. Not sure how he does his physics. I'd go faster if I wasnt stuck behind this dude. On the other hand, if sombody else is doing the peddling, this can be cool. I can get on the monorail and take a nap.Why arrive sweaty at work, when sombody else can push me

Shweeb (1)

brenddie (897982) | about 4 years ago | (#33689980)

My seemingly short-sighted imagination doesn't let me see how Shweeb can work in the real world. Is that a good idea to invest expecting serious results?

Re:Shweeb (2, Insightful)

FooAtWFU (699187) | about 4 years ago | (#33690206)

Is Google doing a disservice to its voters here?

"Drive innovation in public transportation" was one of the five winning ideas, voted on by the public. Google Inc. subsequently searched the globe and selected Shweeb as the organisation with the most forward looking transportation vision and with the relevant expertise to implement such an idea.

Seriously. That's the best you can come up with? I agree that it's completely oblivious to reality, if that's what you meant by "the most forward-looking vision".

Re:Shweeb (1)

mrops (927562) | about 4 years ago | (#33691134)

The idea is so stupid that I had to put my thinking cap on. Why would google pick something soooo stupid.

Then it occurred to me, make these powered, provide power over these rails, a mechanism to drop on/off the rail queue and it just might work. Even better if you can program drop off point in advance.

Imagine, getting up in he morning, sitting in your bubble, choose destination and take a nap.

Re:Shweeb (1)

SoftwareArtist (1472499) | about 4 years ago | (#33691670)

Perhaps you could elaborate on what you think the problems are? But first look at their FAQ [shweeb.com] . You'll probably find it addresses whatever problems you think it has.

Having gone through their website, I think it sounds very clever and entirely practical. Compared to the light rail systems currently used in many cities, it would be less expensive to build and less expensive to operate, would require less land, would be safer, and would get you to your destination faster. What do you see as the practical problems?

Rats in a maze (1)

el_smurfo (1211822) | about 4 years ago | (#33690004)

You really get a feel for what Google thinks of their customers when one of their award winning projects is basically a human Habitrail. The name even sounds a bit like "sheep". Sent from my Android powered GooglePhone, now with more AdMob tracking!

FIRST (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33690018)

FIRST, an organization fostering math and science education through team competition

No, FIRST is an organization for National Instruments to push its hardware and software onto children. In college, I assisted a highschool team in the FIRST robotics competition. The teams are required to use National Instruments's Labview (crap software - claims to be a programming language, but isn't) to control their robot. The objective is to get them hooked, at their own detriment, on National Instruments software.

Re:FIRST (1)

LatencyKills (1213908) | about 4 years ago | (#33690616)

I work for a company that is involved in FIRST. It's an excellent opportunity for engineers to get out of the lab and hang out with a bunch of teenagers for a couple of days, there's a goofy competition, and everyone goes home. I'm not sure it is in the slightest fostering an increased interest in math and science as it claims (the students who do FIRST are already strongly on the math/sci track - it's not like the very existence of the program will attract more), but it does no harm (diatribe against NI above notwithstanding). Of course, if attracting more students into math and science with double-digit unemployment in some engineering disciplines and jobs being outsourced to other countries is a Good Thing (TM)is perhaps a debate we could have at another time.

Re:FIRST (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33690656)

Students are not required to use Labview...they can also use Java or C++.

Re:FIRST (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33690748)

Wrong. I've participated in FIRST since its inception at my high school two years ago, and the only thing that's "forced" on you is the goal to build the best damn robot you can while being polite and helpful to other teams at the meets. The teams are not required to use Labview, as there have been code libraries developed for both Java and C++ in the past. Last year in fact, we had a program in Java developed in part with another team and we were helped by several other teams at the meet who helped us optimize our code (at the time, we had no full-time Java programmers which kinda stunk). And the objective is not to get people hooked on National Instruments; in my limited experience it's been to inspire high schoolers to be both polite and professional, two concepts that are generally not fostered in high schoolers these days. FIRST isn't about some corporate scheme to brainwash high schoolers into thinking National Instruments are the only thing out there to use (which, after even a year of participating you'd realize that some hardware given to you will be the absolute least of your issues at a meet), it's about...well, I'd suggest you read their mission statement:

"Our mission is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership."

I mean, come on. At a bare minimum it's a noble cause, and that's before the years that they've been doing this for. FIRST works, not as a way to get kids hooked on National Instruments, but as a way to expose high schoolers to not only a very high level of electronics, engineering, and teamwork that wouldn't be seen until they actually got full time jobs and worked on projects.

10^100 Winners (3, Funny)

bblount (976092) | about 4 years ago | (#33690106)

With 10^100 winners it brings a whole new meaning to 'everyone's a winner!'

Re:10^100 Winners (1)

Rary (566291) | about 4 years ago | (#33690650)

With 10^100 winners it brings a whole new meaning to 'everyone's a winner!'

Woohoo! I won 1.47058824 × 10^93 times!

Re:10^100 Winners (1)

Kvasio (127200) | about 4 years ago | (#33692714)

both 10^100 and 1.47058824 × 10^93 seem to be overestimated for number of winners.

Even if each and every elementary particle in the universe won.

Re:10^100 Winners (1)

houghi (78078) | about 4 years ago | (#33690750)

Yeah. Everybody but me.

If my arm was longer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33690126)

...I'd pat myself on the back.

The day they announced the project I had a run in at work with a lot of stupid people, and thus my idea was submitted as

"Collaborate with top schools around the world to make their lectures freely accessible online." Though, this is only a brief summary.

When the idea was chosen in the top 16, I was surprised and thought it wouldn't make it out of that round. As it turns out, it was one of the 5 winning ideas.

Hooray for humanity! We're one step closer to a more advanced civilization.

http://www.khanacademy.org/ Was given the money.

Shweeb (1)

immakiku (777365) | about 4 years ago | (#33690134)

If they can make a nice switching network like they advertise, this can actually alleviate much of the congestion commonly found in urban areas, especially in parts of the world that are much denser. The only problem is scalability - people barely even have room to walk in some cities in China and India, so enlarging everyone's footprint is going to make the problem worse. Also the design seems like it'd only be conducive to only one level of rails, and that already costs a lot of steel. If we want to make it effective, it needs to cover at least one line per every three or four blocks. That's a lot of steel and cable for something that took centuries to pave over.

Thanks Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33690248)

Khan Academy deserves every penny. This is good stuff for society in whole, especially with the state of science knowledge on display every day (creationists, global warming deniers, etc.).

Every time I think that Google is slipping way towards the evil side it gets balanced with stuff like this. The Facebook donation? Blah, the intention is clear as a self-serving stunt.

And Microsoft doing something this good is certainly possible. But imagine Ballmer announcing it, is there any way to think it would be sincere, or at least without a blatantly ulterior motive? Sergey and Larry, maybe that's a different story because their geeky. Jobs is only slightly better than Ballmer in the sleazy salesman aspect.

There's plenty of troll and flamebait to go around here so mod accordingly. But the point stands...this is good stuff and Google should get the kudos for it even if they aren't prisine anymore.

These ideas will save humanity (3, Informative)

GPLDAN (732269) | about 4 years ago | (#33690290)

I've submitted my ideas in order of excellence:


1. Cowboy Neal breeds with Britney Spears, embryo placed on next Voyager spacecraft
2. Duke Nukem Forever gets released on the iPhone
3. Cached copies of goatse.cx for all mankind
4. Raze Hope College to get rid of the world riff-raff
5. Rename the GPL,the GNU Pubic License, just for the Lulz.

Re:These ideas will save humanity (1)

pitchpipe (708843) | about 4 years ago | (#33692118)

5. Rename the GPL,the GNU Pubic License, just for the Lulz.

So that would be: GNUPL's Not a Unix Public License?

Re:These ideas will save humanity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33692616)

Re-read #5, paying particular attention to the word "Pubic".

Congratulations to Sal and his team! (1)

Some1too (1242900) | about 4 years ago | (#33690354)

You guys deserve it! Hopefully now you'll continue to be cash flow positive for years to come. Cheers, Some1too

My idea ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33690366)

Create a rocket powerful enough to tow Texas to the Sun

Awesome! (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | about 4 years ago | (#33690392)

This was a great idea and it resulted in mostly good spending. So my question is...

When is 10^100...2?

I've no complaints about the method or the results. Concept proven, do it more.

Just curious... (1)

Zarf (5735) | about 4 years ago | (#33690532)

Does Apple or Microsoft do stuff like this? How about Oracle? If they don't why not?

Re:Just curious... (5, Funny)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 4 years ago | (#33690808)

Because:

Microsoft wouldn't know a good idea if it bit them on the ass these days.
Oracle has contests like this and then they try to figure out ways to sue the winners.
Steve Jobs thinks everyone else's ideas suck.

I kid ... mostly.

Re:Just curious... (4, Interesting)

Zarf (5735) | about 4 years ago | (#33691474)

I just keep hearing how "evil" Google is becoming... but they do stuff like this when nobody else seems to. These types of projects are the kinds of things an idealistic socialist government would do... yet here's a capitalist organisation doing them.

Re:Just curious... (1)

Jedi Alec (258881) | about 4 years ago | (#33693088)

Lots of corporations hold / promote / back activities that do not provide an immediate return on the bottom line. If you're looking for tax deductions anyway you might as well go with something that you care about and gets you some good PR in the process.

Not saying that that makes it any less "good" or idealistic, just that it really isn't all that uncommon.

South Africa (0, Troll)

hey (83763) | about 4 years ago | (#33690536)

South Africa is doing OK. Its the rest of Africa that needs the help. Ooops.

Re:South Africa (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33690756)

Agreed. It's hard to feel sorry for those poor Africans who only have a bachelor's degree and can't afford to get a Master's or PHD without having to get a job using the degree they already have.

Too Much Hype for the Khan Academy! (2, Interesting)

abramovs (744048) | about 4 years ago | (#33690796)

As a former educator (middle and high school Social Studies) and a current researcher of new technology and learning science I get frustrated about the amount of praise given to the Khan Academy.

I applaud Khan's effort and I'm sure the videos do help some people but I draw the line at it deserving a two million dollar grant for growth. What are these videos other than direct instruction (i.e. the traditional lecture)? We have a lot of evidence that direct instruction is a very inefficient way to learn something. Furthermore, access to videos only helps those who have the required internet connection and are intrinsically motivated to seek out the knowledge (the typical Slashdot user might fit that model but I assure the rest of the world does not).

Shouldn't there be some some scientific testing of the effectiveness of the Khan Academy before giving it $2million to expand. The summary even calls the videos courses! Courses have an implied pedagogical trajectory that helps learner gain some level of mastery on the subject being taught. These videos barely qualify.

Re:Too Much Hype for the Khan Academy! (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 4 years ago | (#33691024)

Could they not play these in schools? Meaning instead of a real teacher in each class you only need maybe a student who knows the material already?

Re:Too Much Hype for the Khan Academy! (1)

Nemyst (1383049) | about 4 years ago | (#33691116)

That already exists in the form of lecturers [wikipedia.org] , although they don't need video to do their job. You can bet that if you put a bunch of mildly interested students in a darkly lit room with a video projection, the volume of snorting will soon outmatch the sound coming from the TV.

Re:Too Much Hype for the Khan Academy! (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 4 years ago | (#33691332)

Seems like they would cost a lost more than videos.

Re:Too Much Hype for the Khan Academy! (1)

abramovs (744048) | about 4 years ago | (#33691178)

Maybe. Current research would point out that unless you gave the students something specific to do with their knowlesdge that they might not actually learn something.

But your larger point is exactly what I was trying to convey! No one knows how best to use these videos and that is what we should spend money discovering before sending them out to the world.

Re:Too Much Hype for the Khan Academy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33691222)

So what you are saying is that those who cannot teach go on to hooji up learning science?

Re:Too Much Hype for the Khan Academy! (1)

jcampbelly (885881) | about 4 years ago | (#33691362)

I agree that watching lectures online is not the most effective way to gain a true mastery of knowledge. It's also true that there are some subjects which require access to lab equipment and other physically expensive or rare materials. It's worth looking into ways to make it more effective and it will still be a very long time before people such as hiring managers will be convinced of the credibility of self-taught students. But it IS an excellent way to prime yourself for an upcoming class by seeing some example problems, or simply to gain an introductory level knowledge through recorded survey-type courses requiring little technical background (iTunes U has a lot of this kind of material).

Not all learners are trying to replace a traditional university education with online lectures, or to achieve parity with a graduate student. Some of them are middle-aged, career-laden, family-burdened, cash-strapped people who just want to broaden their horizons or professionals who just want to gain interdisciplinary knowledge. And, of course, some learners live in places and situations where they could not dream of getting a college education. Any effort to get knowledge closer to these people and conditions is to be praised.

There is no harm in a private company making a large donation to one of the most prolific individual contributors to the field. The money is partially going towards translating his content into many languages. If anything, that will allow this material to be used as modern teaching aids in places where no free material is available in the most common languages of the region. Much of the internet's undergraduate-level educational resources are still English-centric.

I applaud Khan, the many YouTube channels dedicated to sharing knowledge, institutuional projets like OpenCourseWare and of course Wikipedia for making free knowledge available online. I can find no good reason not to be glad that Google is making a cash contribution and for maintaining YouTube as a free service, without which, Khan might not have been able to get started with hosting and streaming this much video to as many users.

Re:Too Much Hype for the Khan Academy! (1)

jcampbelly (885881) | about 4 years ago | (#33691422)

I should add that there is some degree of absurdity in criticizing this material for its inadequacy at teaching people who do not want to learn.

Re:Too Much Hype for the Khan Academy! (1)

abramovs (744048) | about 4 years ago | (#33691550)

But it IS an excellent way to prime yourself for an upcoming class by seeing some example problems, or simply to gain an introductory level knowledge through recorded survey-type courses requiring little technical background (iTunes U has a lot of this kind of material).

No and that's the point. There is nothing to say that this is a good way to introduce anyone to the subject. It might be but we have no way of knowing short of conducting research on the problem.

This isn't the same as Wikipedia, which is a resource designed to serve as a reference. These videos are meant to teach and must bear the burden of being able to do so.

No matter who the learner is, there will be some better and some worse ways to learn something. How do you know that this is a good way to learn something for anyone? There is a real problem with people miss-learning concepts and requiring extensive, if even possible, re-education to get the concept right. Take for example the average explanation of why we have seasons - completely wrong and requires significant explanantion.

And I can lament the fact that the very little money given to educational projects is being spent on unproven concepts. Applaud all you want but know that you might be applauding for nothing more than entertainment.

Re:Too Much Hype for the Khan Academy! (1)

jcampbelly (885881) | about 4 years ago | (#33691946)

Less-than optimal teaching methods are nothing new to any form of education. That is hardly justification to discourage their use in the absence of better methods, especially when the less-than-optimal methods are vastly more accessible and largely accurate. Research into the human brain's powers of cognition, learning, intelligence and emotion are likely to be an ongoing research area in science for the breadth of human civilization. I wouldn't advise waiting for their resolution to begin making those fruits available for consumption. Reeducation is a small price to pay for elevating minds out of plain ignorance.

Re:Too Much Hype for the Khan Academy! (1)

jcampbelly (885881) | about 4 years ago | (#33692038)

I should clarify: "in the absence of better methods available to the student."

Re:Too Much Hype for the Khan Academy! (1)

abramovs (744048) | about 4 years ago | (#33692068)

the absence of better methods

There are plenty of NEW and possibly better methods awaiting funding.

I wouldn't advise waiting for their resolution to begin making those fruits available for consumption.

Excellent. Neither would I. How do you feel about scientific research? Do you think it's a good idea or do you hate that it holds things up? I mean, would you like to take a potential drug cure before its trial?

Re:Too Much Hype for the Khan Academy! (1)

jcampbelly (885881) | about 4 years ago | (#33692472)

Really? These funds aren't your tax dollars. They are Google's private contribution. If congress had decided to give Khan $2m you would have a real position to debate their judgment.

Research is the expansionist force at the boundaries of science. It's critical to understanding the previously unknown. We're talking about a man making instructional videos about foundational math and science and making it available for free to the world with no strings attached. Your position is that this is somehow /dangerous/.

Re:Too Much Hype for the Khan Academy! (1)

maxume (22995) | about 4 years ago | (#33693164)

His position is somewhat milder than that, he is simply arguing that his opinions about what to do with the money are better than Google's. Of course, given that Google is the one with the money, this argument isn't worth a great deal.

Not Enough Hype for the Khan Academy! (5, Interesting)

CentTW (1882968) | about 4 years ago | (#33691764)

As a person who graduated from a major state college with a minor in math about 3 years ago, I really wish I had even one math teacher in my entire schooling experience who was even half as good of a teacher as Salmon Khan. I've gone over his Calculus videos, because I felt my Calculus skills were lacking, as I'd originally been taught by a lady who could just barely speak English. In my opinion, these videos represent a better educational experience than about 95% of the school that I've attended. I've had a few better classes in person, but most "teachers" are barely qualified, in my personal experience.

Something to understand about Khan's videos, they can be helpful to anyone who can speak English. There are numerous reports of it being a useful tool for students in Africa. Many students have used it to pass the California Algebra I standards test. I suppose there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that it's effective, nobody's done a major study yet.

About a month ago, Slashdot posted an article [slashdot.org] about a 578 million dollar high school being built. Now you're demonizing Google for giving 1/289th that amount to an institution that will likely reach 50+ times the audience, who are probably more in need of a better education anyway? I don't think that makes any sense at all.

In the business world, two million dollars is chump change. Angel investors throw a lot more money than that at an idea without scientific evidence of it working. This seems like an excellent opportunity to throw a little money at an interesting education opportunity, and see how it pays off.

Re:Not Enough Hype for the Khan Academy! (3, Interesting)

abramovs (744048) | about 4 years ago | (#33691880)

I'll stay away from your Flame-bait (you really think I demonized them?) and show how you made my point for me.

This seems like an excellent opportunity to throw a little money at an interesting education opportunity, and see how it pays off.

Where is anyone talking about see how this 'pays off'? How do you tell if it 'pays off'? Anecdotal evidence is just that and not the substitute for a scientific evaluation. How about we spend some of the money to explore that?

Now you're demonizing Google for giving 1/289th that amount to an institution that will likely reach 50+ times the audience, who are probably more in need of a better education anyway?

Don't you think that something that has the potential to reach a much wider audience should be carefully tested before released into the wild?

Re:Not Enough Hype for the Khan Academy! (2, Insightful)

CentTW (1882968) | about 4 years ago | (#33692510)

This seems like an excellent opportunity to throw a little money at an interesting education opportunity, and see how it pays off.

Where is anyone talking about see how this 'pays off'? How do you tell if it 'pays off'? Anecdotal evidence is just that and not the substitute for a scientific evaluation. How about we spend some of the money to explore that?

The payoff is in the improved education of people who choose to use the Khan Academy to supplement their education. If it's popular, someone will likely fund a study to see how effective it is. Google apparently believes in it enough that they're willing to fund the site directly, rather than a study of it.

Now you're demonizing Google for giving 1/289th that amount to an institution that will likely reach 50+ times the audience, who are probably more in need of a better education anyway?

Don't you think that something that has the potential to reach a much wider audience should be carefully tested before released into the wild?

No. While I definitely agree that mandatory class material should be tested, I don't think anyone's talking about making Khan Academy mandatory. Everything on the Internet has the potential to reach a lot of people. Not everything on the Internet should be carefully tested.

Re:Not Enough Hype for the Khan Academy! (1)

nEoN nOoDlE (27594) | about 4 years ago | (#33692814)

Exactly right. I'm currently learning linear algebra from Khan Academy because I never needed to take the classes in school, and the instruction and explanation is a lot better than in 95% of my high school and college courses. For one guy to go to the trouble of making hundreds of videos to teach people this stuff for free is incredible and people should be throwing more than 2 million bucks at him.

Re:Not Enough Hype for the Khan Academy! (1)

ChinggisK (1133009) | about 4 years ago | (#33693238)

Exactly right. I'd have killed for something like this while I was in college, it'd have helped immensely, and I most definitely will be using it to brush up on things if/when I go back for grad school.

Re:Too Much Hype for the Khan Academy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33691968)

I applaud Khan's effort and I'm sure the videos do help some people but I draw the line at it deserving a two million dollar grant for growth. What are these videos other than direct instruction (i.e. the traditional lecture)? We have a lot of evidence that direct instruction is a very inefficient way to learn something. Furthermore, access to videos only helps those who have the required internet connection and are intrinsically motivated to seek out the knowledge (the typical Slashdot user might fit that model but I assure the rest of the world does not).

Seriously, people need to stop saying that. Things like this is what always caused me to fail math in high school: there was no teaching, only making exercises. So after barely making it for six years, I started computer science, where I got actual decent education and suddenly, math was a piece of cake. Hell, I even do security these days, a topic I always thought of as having 'way over-my-head math'.

Re:Too Much Hype for the Khan Academy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33692462)

Were you a good educator? Are you a good researcher or is just a label (so easily applied)? Were those points relevant?

Project ZERO? 10^100 = 0 (1)

wagadog (545179) | about 4 years ago | (#33691172)

...to a C programmer, anyway.

Oh, yeh, Goog doesn't do that any more, I heard.

That, and they're getting out of the search indexing business.

Right Idea, Wrong Focus (1)

TheRedDuke (1734262) | about 4 years ago | (#33691588)

Don't get me wrong, I think promoting education in Africa is all well and good, but if they really wanted to help, the majority of Africans need the three R's (to start with), not higher ed. The majority of the continent is in the bottom 20% of literacy in the world:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_literacy_rate [wikipedia.org]

New ? (1)

us7892 (655683) | about 4 years ago | (#33691838)

A lot of these sound familiar...

WEAK (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33692554)

These projects suck. Not worth a 2 year wait.

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