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February 25, 2007

Things to read while the simulator runs; part 3

Who knew that you could fold a single piece of paper into a silverfish, or a chinese dragon? This story is about a physicist who dropped out of research to become a professional oragami folder. I'm still wrapping my head around that picture of the dragon... (via 3 Quarks Daily)

I've long been interested in video games (purely on an academic basis, I assure you), and have often found myself defending them to non-gamers. Sometime soon, I'll blog about a recent trip to a SFI business workshop that focused on how to make various kinds of office work more interesting by borrowing ideas from games, but that's not the point of this entry. Rather, I want to point you to the results of a comprehensive meta-analysis of the connection between violent behavior and violent video games. The conclusion? That current research doesn't support any conclusions. (via Ars Technica)

As someone who spent various numbers of grade-school years in both tracked gifted programs and non-tracked general education, Alexandre Borovik's notes on how mathematically gifted children's brains operate differently from normal children resonated deeply with me. One that's probably quite prevalent is

[A mathematically] able child can show no apparent interest in mathematics whatsoever because he or she is bored by a dull curriculum and uninspiring teacher.

Apparently, Alexandre has a whole book on the topic of "What is it that makes a mathematician." (via Mathematics under the Microscope)

Update Feb 27: Yesterday, I came across an interesting article in the New York Magazine about the problem with praising children for their intelligence rather than their hard work. The research described herein seems both simple and persuasive - praising kids for their intelligence encourages them to not take risks that might make them look unintelligent, while praising kids for their hard work encourages them to apply themselves, even to problems beyond their capabilities. I can't help but wonder if the tendency to praise mathematically talented kids for being smart, rather than hard working, somehow tends to push girls out of the field. And finally, on the subject of hard work, Richard Hamming says that this is partially what distinguishes great researchers from the merely good. End Update.

Finally, here's a great little video. Not sure about the whole "teaching the Machine" thing, but otherwise, spot on and very well done.

posted February 25, 2007 01:23 AM in Things to Read | permalink