Math and Science Popular With Students Until They Realize They're Hard
OK, I started out as a Physics/ Astronomy major, and even got through three semesters of intro (all the way to elementary QM) and three semesters of math (thru diffy Q) as an undergrad.
My problem, and why I became an English major: I was in the 3rd semester phys class and the math breaks out, and I am fine until they started using bra-ket notation. (If you don't know what I mean it's stuff like and used a lot in QM) I had no idea what it was. I hadn't seen it in a math class yet. the math and physics departments evidently never spoke to one another so there wasn't ay "matching" of the curricula, so if you got to the right notation in math you were ok but god help you if it was unfamiliar. I was too embarrassed to ask about it, probably.
I didn't give up a sci major for *just* that reason. Originally I wanted to do both a liberal arts and a science degree. Yeah, I bit off more than I could chew. And I got interested in a lot of other things, like language learning (which I was more naturally talented at no question). But I did feel that I was falling behind in physics and was getting a bit frustrated I think. Even with pretty OK grades.
But all that said, math builds up from one step to the other. I think it's like bicycle riding -- a lot of things stay once burned in.
Anyhow, I did OK in my physics classes, and even the math. I was a B student and probably could have stuck it out.
Interestingly, 20 years down the line I am back in math again. And I did Vector Calc and loved the class. My prof gave a take-home exam and I loved the fact that me and other students could argue over solutions. In one interesting instance I had the answer to a problem and I had to convince 2 other people I was right. I really learned that one! I think, even though I got a B-, (I glitched on the final, blanking on L'Hopital's rule for more than one variable, for christ's sake, I was so anxious) but my teacher was so good I felt like I learned a lot. And I still remembered, with a little prodding, the calc I took 20 years ago. Funny how it stays with you.
Then this summer I was in Linear Algebra. And it was the most frustrating math class ever, for me. Lots of memorization of proofs. Abstractions way more than Vector Calc. I found it VERY hard. Much more so than vector calc even. A totally different skill set. I find that kind of abstract math more challenging for some reason. (Though I finally learned what the hell bra-ket notation meant. If someone had told me that in 1989... )
I think it's a combination of difficulty, preparedness, and the hit-or-miss setup of curricula at various colleges. And you have to have - as others here have said -- instructors who can help students with the things they struggle with. That's an art and there are no hard and fast answers or easy methods.
I'll be taking partial diffs at some point soon I think. Will have to break out my old calc book and study ahead tho. (Finishing that physics BA. I really kind of dug intermediate E&M this time around).
Fish Evolve Immunity To Toxic Sludge
Not as easy as all that. Mammals have the same AFR proteins but the atual function of those proteins isn't entirely clear. What scientists DO know is that if you mess with them you get developmental problems.
New Fed Agency Proposed to Tax Cars by the Mile
They already do this. The Mass Pike, NY Thruway, NJ Pike, all "tax" you by how far you go. Simple enough. Seems to work well enough. (The EZ pass is a great little invention, at least insofar as it speeds things up a bit).
Now, could you do this on every city street? Probably not worth it.
As to whether one should charge usage fees for things like roads, well, that's another debate, but you're going to pay for it one way or the other. Since the private sector has demonstrated that it won't build such things then the government has to do it.
A more salient question is why ther eis no choice in many American cities. That is, I live in NYC where I can drive -- but that would be an insane thing to do. I can do without a car here (even in Queens, until you get rather far from Queens Boulevard).
In LA, driving is still an insane thing to do -- I've been on the I-5. But there is no real choice. Basically, you have to drive (or take the bus which is just a step removed, though a slight improvement in a few respects).
For people in NJ, who commute, there are many instances where it is cheaper to take NJ Transit into the city five days a week rather than pay the tolls on the road (plus gas). If NJ transit could get its act together they might one day be able to balance the road load a bit better -- the old corridor where 287 is now would be a good start.
Tech That Failed To Fail
Satellites have been primarily for International communications, so Craven was right -- partly -- about that. The big use for them was international phone calls and ship to shore (it's why Inmarsat is in business). Of course there's the military, but that kind of falls into the same category. The companies that have tried to do sat communications within the US only have been financial failures, though technically sweet. (TerreStar, anyone?)
Many technologies do better than predicted because people find a way to commercialize them. You have to remember that the trend of something becoming cheaper and easier to produce doesn't always hold true, even for electronics. Sometimes there are physical limits, sometimes social ones. (Housing, for instance, has gotten far more expensive relative to income, despite many technological advances since 1940, including the pre-fab house and wallboard. Computers have done the reverse). Television was pretty expensive to do in 1940 and there probably didn't seem to be many reasons to have one.
Many times the predicted use of a technology is rather different fro what it actually gets used for. Techies are just as guilty of this as anyone else. How many slashdot readers are old enough to remember the old IBM PC platforms, and what we all thought we'd be doing with them in the 1980s? And how many of us were completely, utterly wrong? Look at computers in sci-fi movies from that period and look at what was in the popular consciousness.
Kepler Finds Bizarre Systems
Guilty as charged, typed very fast.
FCC Approves Changes To Cable Box Rules
I think we forget sometimes that most people want to just turn the TV on and go to a channel and have it work.
I don't want to mess with hooking up an Xbox. (I don't own one). As a non-technical person I find Apple TV and Google TV or whatever to be completely opaque and frustrating to use at best. I like streaming on Netflix but it doesn't work well on my TV if I try to hook up the computer to it. And I never had a card in my cable box-- there's a slot for one (it's a Scientific Atlanta model) but I never got one from Time Warner.
I just want to watch the freaking television. That is what it is for.
For those of us who just want to watch TV, is there any real benefit to cable box competition? Will it matter? I know many people here are more technically-minded. But I am not. And also, I suspect, are 90 percent of TV viewers. I don't want to mess with a zillion different devices trying to figure out how to connect, you know? I like the on demand service, but again, i just want to point the remote and have it work. No fuss no muss.
So, will some more technically sophisticated person out there help explain to me why this is going to matter? I'm not being just flippant. I really want to know what this will do for me.