Take the test based on Singapores innovative primary maths syllabus
On Tuesday we will again learn how much better Asian children are at maths, science and reading than we are with announcement of the OECDs Pisa rankings, which compare the abilities of 15-year-olds from around the world.
In the last two Pisa tables, in 2009 and 2012, the top three countries for maths were Shanghai*, Singapore and Hong Kong*, and this years results are expected to be the same or similar.
(*Yes, OK, not countries, but I didnt make the rules.)
Even though many educationalists are cautious about what we can infer from international comparisons, they are a major reason why the UK government recently announced 41m funding for primary schools to copy the east Asian approach to maths teaching.
But just how good are these Asian kids? Today I am setting you ten questions from this years International Singapore Maths Competition, aimed at primary Years 5 and 6. (Thats kids aged 10-11 and 11-12). The questions are all based on Singapores much lauded maths syllabus, which aims to teach fewer topics in greater depth. I think you will be impressed at the level of these problems, and many adults may find them quite challenging!
The children taking these tests had a total of 25 questions to answer in 90 minutes. They did not have the multiple choice responses, but had to work everything out by themselves. They were, however, allowed to use calculators.
Make a note of your answers since the form will not give you a score but instead give you the answers. I will collate your submissions so when I post full explanations of the answers at 5pm GMT you can see how well you did compared to everyone else. [The percentage in square brackets is the percentage of Singaporean schoolchildren expected to get the right answer.]
Ill be back at 5pm GMT with the scores and full explanations of the answers.
A Tornado is seen in Keystone Lake, Oklahoma, March 25, 2015. (REUTERS/Jeff Piotrowski)
Tornados are behaving strangely: The number of tornado outbreaks per year is fairly constant, but the number of tornados per outbreak has skyrocketed. And scientists aren’t entirely sure why.
In an effort to learn more, researchers looked at meteorological factors related to tornado outbreaks , and then dug into the data to see whether these factors had changed over time, said study lead researcher Michael Tippett, an associate professor of applied physics and applied mathematics at Columbia University.
“The meteorological factors that are related with tornado outbreaks have also become more extreme,” Tippett told Live Science in an email. “The surprising finding was that the change in meteorological factors did not have the expected signature of climate change.”
“Many teachers were boring,” Hawking says in the video. “Not Mr. Tahta. His lessons were lively and exciting. Everything could be debated.” He mentions that he and Tahta built his first computer together, made with electromechanical switches.
“Thanks to Mr. Tahta, I became a professor of mathematics at Cambridge, in a position once held by Isaac Newton,” Hawking says. “When each of us thinks about what we can do in life, chances are, we can do it because of a teacher.”
Hawking admits to being a lazy student with bad handwriting, but he praises Tahta for igniting a sense of wonder and curiosity in him — and inspiring him to pursue a career in math and science.
When each of us thinks about what we can do in life, chances are, we can do it because of a teacher.”Stephen Hawking
The heartwarming video is part of the Varkey Foundation’s effort to recognize exceptional teachers with its annual Global Teacher Prize, which is awarded to instructors around the world. The inaugural prize was presented last year.
“I count my teachers as among the most influential people in my life,” said United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon in a statement. “Teachers are entrusted with nurturing the potential of the young and helping them blossom as productive and responsible members of society. It is hard to underestimate their value. … I applaud the launch of the Global Teacher Prize, which recognizes their worth.”
The four GOP presidential candidates debated in Miami and stretched the facts:
Businessman Donald Trump wrongly claimed that the Obama administration isn’t “knocking out the oil” controlled by the Islamic State in Syria, because of climate change concerns. The administration, which stepped up attacks on oil facilities, hasn’t cited climate change. Instead, it has cited concern about long-term economic harm and local environmental damage.
Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz disagreed over whether Cruz had waffled on his opposition to ethanol mandates. Trump was wrong, and Cruz was right.
Cruz claimed that President Obama sent a bust of Winston Churchill back to the United Kingdom when he took office. The bust had been loaned to President George W. Bush, and a replica is still at the White House.
Sen. Marco Rubio dismissed a question about man-made climate change, saying, “The climate has always been changing.” But scientists say there is ample evidence that humans are contributing to climate change. Rubio also falsely claimed that passing policies like the Clean Power Act would have “zero” impact on the environment.
Trump incorrectly referred to Common Core as “education through Washington, D.C.” and claimed Common Core has been “taken over by the federal government.” The education standards were developed by the states, and the curriculum will continue to be managed at the state and local level.
Trump wrongly said the U.S. gross domestic product was at “zero, essentially.” Real GDP grew at a rate of 2 percent in the third quarter of 2015 and 1 percent in the fourth quarter.
Trump, Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich repeated several claims we’ve checked before — including Trump’s claim to be self-funding his campaign (he’s taken $7.5 million in donations); Kasich’s boast on job creation (Ohio’s growth trails the national rate); Cruz’s claim about welfare benefits for immigrants in the country illegally (they’re already barred from most government benefits); and more.
Trump also said that the 1,237 delegate count needed to secure the party’s nomination was “a very random number.” It’s actually a simple majority of the total available delegates, 2,472.
The debate, hosted by CNN, was held March 10, days before Florida’s primary.
Trump on Oil and Carbon Footprint
Trump falsely claimed that the Obama administration isn’t “knocking out the oil” controlled by the Islamic State in Syria, “because of what it’s going to do to the carbon footprint.”
Administration officials have not cited climate change as a reason for not attacking oil controlled by the Islamic State. Instead, they have expressed concern that air strikes against oil and natural gas facilities will cause long-term economic and local environmental damage that could hurt Syria’s post-war recovery.
Even so, the military stepped up attacks on oil facilities controlled by the Islamic State when it launched “Operation Tidal Wave II” on Oct. 21, 2015.
Trump made his remark when he was asked whether he would send ground troops to fight the terrorist group, which is also known as ISIS.
Trump: We’re not knocking out the oil because they don’t want to create environmental pollution up in the air. I mean, these are things that nobody even believes. They think we’re kidding. They didn’t want to knock out the oil because of what it’s going to do to the carbon footprint.
Trump has been a vocal proponent of bombing the oil fields, since his campaign began in June. As we wrote in November, the administration initially had been cool to his call to “attack the oil” controlled by ISIS. But it was disclosed in a New York Times story on Nov. 12— a day before the terrorist attacks carried out by ISIS in Paris — that the U.S. military launched “Operation Tidal Wave II” to increase the intensity of attacks on ISIS-controlled oil.
Col. Steve Warren, a Defense Department spokesman, said at a Nov. 13, 2015, press conference, that the strikes against ISIS-controlled oil infrastructure until mid-October had been largely ineffective because damages were minor and quickly repaired. But that changed with the start of Operation Tidal Wave II, which was designed to inflict damage for one year, not just a few days.
Warren explained the difficulty of inflicting enough damage to cut off ISIS’ oil revenues without causing long-term damage that could hurt a post-war recovery in Syria.
“So we don’t want to completely and utterly destroy these facilities to where they’re irreparable,” Col. Warren said at the Nov. 13 press briefing. “So what we’ve done is we’ve used very precise carving, a very detailed analysis to strike certain parts of these facilities that will cause them to shut down for an extended period of time.”
Warren said the U.S. needs “to be cognizant that there will be a time after the war — the war will end,” and oil revenues will be needed to rebuild the war-torn nation.
A month later, the Defense Department held a background briefing on the strikes against the oil and natural gas infrastructure controlled by ISIS. A senior department official also spoke about the need to deprive ISIS of oil revenue in the short-term without doing long-term damage to the people and nations in that region. The official mentioned the local environment.
“You have to look at what does this do to the population, what does this do from a humanitarian perspective, from an environmental perspective, from a cost of reconstruction — post-conflict reconstruction costs,” the senior official, who was not identified, said at the Dec. 15, 2015, briefing.
So where did Trump get the idea that the administration won’t “knock out the oil because of what it’s going to do to the carbon footprint”? We suspect it is from a widely reported — and since distorted — interview that former CIA Director Michael Morell gave to Charlie Rose on Nov. 24, 2015.
In that interview, Morell said: “There seemed to have been a judgment that, look, we don’t want to destroy these oil tankers because that’s infrastructure that’s going to be necessary to support the people when ISIS isn’t there anymore, and it’s going to create environmental damage.”
But Morell wasn’t talking about climate change, and neither were Defense Department officials.
Trump vs. Cruz on Ethanol
Cruz said he bravely opposed ethanol mandates in Iowa where they are popular with corn growers, but Trump accused him of waffling on that issue.
Cruz: When I went to Iowa and campaigned against ethanol mandates, everyone said that was political suicide. You can’t take on ethanol in Iowa. …
Trump: If you look back to Iowa, Ted did change his view and his stance on ethanol quite a bit. He did and — at the end. Not full on, but he did change his view in the hopes of maybe doing well. … It was a front page story all over the place, and he did make a change.
It’s true that at one point along the Iowa campaign trail, Cruz gave an artfully worded response to an ethanol investor, expressing support for the RFS through 2022. That led to some reports that Cruz had changed his position and was now supporting the ethanol mandate, effectively caving in to the corn lobby.
But in fact, Cruz was simply soft-pedaling his call for a phase-out of the mandate, and at least one reporter then corrected himself. Cruz quickly reiterated his opposition to the ethanol mandate in a Jan. 6 op-ed piece in the Des Moines Register, saying, “We should phase out the Renewable Fuel Standard, end all energy subsidies, and ensure a level playing field for everyone.”
To be sure, Cruz dressed up his call for ending the RFS under a headline that said, “I’m fighting for farmers against Washington.” But the position he stated was the same as laid out in his 2014 legislation.
On this one, Trump is wrong, and Cruz is correct.
Cruz on Churchill Bust
Cruz said that one of Obama’s first acts as president was to return a bust of former U.K. Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Yes, that happened. But the bust had only been loaned to President George W. Bush by former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Cruz: This administration started with President Obama sending back the bust of Winston Churchill to the United Kingdom within the opening weeks.
William Allman, who became the White House curator in 2002 under Bush, told CBS News in January 2010 that the Churchill bust, which had been displayed in the Oval Office throughout Bush’s presidency, “was already scheduled to go back” before Obama became president.
The Churchill bust and other items were removed as part of the redecoration of the Oval Office at the beginning of Obama’s first term. However, a replica of the original Churchill bust designed by Sir Jacob Epstein had been a part of the White House’s art collection since the 1960s, and it remains on display in the White House residence, where the first family lives, according to a 2012 statement from Dan Pfeiffer, a former assistant and senior adviser to Obama.
The British Embassy, which took possession of the bust that had been in the White House on loan, confirmed this in a statement to Mediaite in 2012:
British Embassy statement to Mediaite, July 27, 2012: The bust of Sir Winston Churchill, by Sir Jacob Epstein, was lent to the George W Bush administration from the UK’s Government Art Collection, for the duration of the Presidency. When that administration came to an end so did the loan; the bust now resides in the British Ambassador’s Residence in Washington D.C. The White House collection has its own Epstein bust of Churchill, which President Obama showed to Prime Minister Cameron when he visited the White House in March.
Rubio on Climate Change
Rubio misleadingly dismissed a question about man-made climate change, saying, “The climate has always been changing.” But scientists say there is ample evidence that humans are contributing to climate change.
Rubio also falsely claimed that passing policies like the Clean Power Act would have “zero” impact on the environment. While the U.S. cannot solve the problem of climate change alone, scientists say it could slow global warming a bit.
Back in January, Cruz made a statement very similar to Rubio’s first claim, and we wroteabout it. Cruz said, “The climate has always changed since the beginning of time.” However, in 2014, the U.S. Global Change Research Program put out its third National Climate Assessment, which concluded that rapid warming is “due primarily to human activities”:
U.S. Global Change Research Program, May 2014: Long-term, independent records from weather stations, satellites, ocean buoys, tide gauges, and many other data sources all confirm that our nation [the United States], like the rest of the world, is warming. Precipitation patterns are changing, sea level is rising, the oceans are becoming more acidic, and the frequency and intensity of some extreme weather events are increasing. Many lines of independent evidence demonstrate that the rapid warming of the past half-century is due primarily to human activities.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s fifth assessment report also found evidence to support human-induced climate change. For example, the U.N. panel writes (see page 2): “Human influence on the climate system is clear, and recent anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are the highest in history. Recent climate changes have had widespread impacts on human and natural systems.”
Rubio also said passing policies like the Clean Power Act would have “zero” impact on the environment “because China is still going to be polluting and India is still going to be polluting at historic levels.” That’s false. The U.S. is the world’s second-biggest emitter of carbon dioxide, and a reduction in its greenhouse gas emissions could slow global warming.
We wrote about this in January 2015 when Rick Santorum, the former Republican presidential candidate, said U.S. policies aimed at reducing GHG emissions “will have zero impact” on climate change.
Santorum and Rubio are correct that the U.S. can’t solve the problem of global warming all by itself. But that doesn’t mean U.S. policies will have “zero” impact on climate change.
Penn State climate scientist Michael Mann told us back in January 2015 that if the U.S. continues to emit GHGs at that level, it alone would cause about half a degree Celsius warming by the end of the century (just under 1 degree Fahrenheit) in addition to the about 1 degree Celsius of warming we have already seen since the start of the Industrial Revolution.
“That is hardly ‘zero impact,’ ” Mann told us.
Rubio also said, “If you took the gift list of all of these groups that are asking us to pass [climate mitigation] laws and did every single one of them, there would be no change in our environment. Sea level would still rise.”
Sea level rise is of particular concern to Florida, a state with more than 1,200 miles of coastline and a maximum elevation of less than 400 feet above sea level.
Still, this doesn’t mean U.S. climate policies would have “zero” impact on mitigating climate change.
Trump on Common Core
Trump incorrectly referred to Common Core as “education through Washington, D.C.” and also wrongly claimed Common Core has been “taken over by the federal government.”
The Obama administration provided advantages to states that adopted the education standards when competing for Race to the Top grants, and federal money has been used to develop the standardized tests that students will take. But the standards were developed by state governors and education officials and voluntarily adopted by states, and the curriculum is and will continue to be set by state and local school officials.
The Common Core State Standards are a set of standards developed by the states for what children from kindergarten through 12th grade should know in mathematics and English language arts/literacy.
During the debate, Trump was asked about his objections to Common Core.
“Education through Washington, D.C., I don’t want that,” Trump said. “I want local education. I want the parents, and I want all of the teachers, and I want everybody to get together around a school and to make education great.”
CNN’s Jake Tapper, one of the debate moderators, noted that “the Common Core standards were developed by the states, states and localities voluntarily adopt them, and they come up with their own curricula to meet those standards.”
“So when you say ‘education by Washington, D.C.,’ what do you mean?” Tapper asked.
“You’re right, Jake,” Trump said. “But it has been taken over by the federal government. It was originally supposed to be that way. And certainly sounds better that way. But it has all been taken over now by the bureaucrats in Washington, and they are not interested in what’s happening in Miami or in Florida, in many cases. Now in some cases they would be. But in many cases they are more interested in their paycheck and the big bureaucracy than they are taking care of the children.”
In fact, the federal government has no role in developing the Common Core standards.
As the Common Core State Standards Initiative explains on its website, on a page called “Myths vs. Facts,” Common Core is and will remain a state-led effort.
Common Core State Standards website: The federal government will not govern the Common Core State Standards. The Common Core was and will remain a state-ledeffort. The NGA Center and CCSSO are committed to developing a long-term governance structure with leadership from governors, chief state school officers, and other state policymakers to ensure the quality of the Common Core and that teachers and principals have a strong voice in the future of the standards. States and local school districts will drive implementation of the Common Core.
Common Core State Standards website: The Common Core is a stateled effort that is not part of No Child Left Behind or any other federal initiative. The federal government played no role in the development of the Common Core. State adoption of the standards is in no way mandatory. States began the work to create clear, consistent standards before the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which provided funding for the Race to the Top grant program. It also began before the Elementary and Secondary Education Act blueprint was released, because this work is being driven by the needs of the states, not the federal government.
The Obama administration does support the standards, and as we said, federal money has been used to develop the standardized tests that students will take. In addition, Race to the Top, a competitive education grant program that was created as part of the economic stimulus in 2009, rewarded states that adopted Common Core or other college and career education standards. As the Washington Post noted, that kind of federal promotion of Common Core “led critics from both ends of the political spectrum to decry the new standards as a federal overreach into local affairs.”
Nonetheless, that is far short of a federal takeover of Common Core, as Trump suggested.
Trump on GDP
Trump falsely claimed that U.S. economic growth was at “zero, essentially.”
Trump: GDP was zero essentially for the last two quarters. If that ever happened in China you would have had a depression like nobody’s ever seen before. They go down to 7 percent, 8 percent, and it’s a — it’s a national tragedy. We’re at zero, we’re not doing anything.
And the candidates repeated many claims we’ve fact-checked before:
Trump repeated his exaggerated boast that he is “self-funding” his campaign: “I’m self-funding my campaign. Nobody is going to be taking care of me. I don’t want anybody’s money.” Not quite. In fact, Donald J. Trump for President Inc. — his campaign committee — reports that it had received $7,497,984 in individual contributions through the end of January. That amounts to 29 percent of the committee’s total receipts, which totaled $25,526,319. Furthermore, only $250,318 of what Trump has put into his campaign has come in the form of an outright contribution. He has made $17,534,058 in loans to the campaign — loans which could legally be repaid to him at a later date, should Trump decide to accept more in donations. This time, Trump did acknowledge that got “small donations” but said “it’s not a large amount.” Whether $7.5 million is “not a large amount” is a matter of opinion. But to be accurate, Trump should say his campaign is “mostly” self-funded — so far.
Cruz again suggested that “Iran released our hostages the day Ronald Reagan was sworn into office” in 1981 because President Carter was perceived as “weak.” We interviewed several experts on the Iran hostage crisis, and they told us the hostages were released that day as a final insult to Carter, whom the hostage-takers despised. Experts also cited Iran’s need to focus on a war with Iraq, the hostage-takers having achieved their goal of smearing political opponents, fear of having to restart the negotiation process, and being tired of holding the hostages (the crisis lasted 444 days).
Cruz also said that after President Obama took office, “he proceeded to go on a worldwide apology tour apologizing for the United States of America,” a claim we first checked in 2012, when Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney made it. As we said then, we reviewed all of the speeches Romney pointed to in his book “No Apology” to support his claim, and we didn’t find that any of them amounted to an actual apology.
Cruz again said that “[w]e’re going to end welfare benefits for anyone who is here illegally,” despite the fact that immigrants who are in the country illegally are already not eligible for most government benefits, including food stamps and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.
Trump againboasted of beating Hillary Clinton in polls, saying, “I beat Hillary, and I will give you the list, I beat Hillary in many of the polls that have been taken.” Clinton leads Trump in five of the six most recent polls listed on Real Clear Politics, and Trump leads by 2 points, within the margin of error, in the sixth poll. In fact, Trump has been ahead in only five out of 49 polls on the hypothetical general election match-up going all the way back to last May.
Trump claimed that Cruz “was in favor of amnesty. So there’s no question about that.” We’ve writtenabout a similar claim from Rubio — that Cruz supported the legalization of immigrants who are in the country illegally. Cruz did offer an amendment to a Senate immigration bill that would have stripped the legislation of a path to citizenship but would have made legalization a possibility. But Cruz says that he never actually supported legalization and was instead bluffing to show that the real aim of the bill’s supporters was a path to citizenship.
Not So Random
Trump also said that the 1,237 delegate count needed to secure the party’s nomination was “a very random number.”
Trump: I think whoever gets to the top position as opposed to solving that artificial number that was by somebody, which is a very random number, I think that whoever gets the most delegates should win.
It’s actually a simple majority of the total available delegates, 2,472.
Social changes unleashed by new technologies could undermine core human values unless we engage with science, warns author
Imagine a two-tiered society with elite citizens, genetically engineered to be smarter, healthier and to live longer, and an underclass of biologically run-of-the-mill humans. It sounds like the plot of a dystopian novel, but the world could be sleepwalking towards this scenario, according to one of Britains most celebrated writers.
Kazuo Ishiguro argues that the social changes unleashed by gene editing technologies, such as Crispr, could undermine core human values.
Were going into a territory where a lot of the ways in which we have organised our societies will suddenly look a bit redundant, he said. In liberal democracies, we have this idea that human beings are basically equal in some very fundamental way. Were coming close to the point where we can, objectively in some sense, create people who are superior to others.
The author hopes that the 5 million exhibition, and others like it, will encourage people to engage with the process of science and its future trajectory, rather than simply tuning in for the headline results of research and only then worrying about the implications.
Despite the atom bomb and things like this, were still in the habit of compartmentalising scientific endeavour, he said. Its important that we, as a society, get much more interested in science and maths, that we dont silo it off in our minds … until theres some breakthrough product that turns up.
Ishiguro cites three areas – gene editing, robotics and Artificial Intelligence – that he believes could transform the way we live and interact with each other over the next 30 years.
We are on the brink of all kinds of discoveries that will completely alter the way we run our lives, said the author, whose 2005 book, Never Let Me Go, imagines a dark future in which humans clones are raised to be organ donors.
The gene editing tool, Crispr, allows scientists to cut, paste and delete single letters of the genome with unprecedented precision, meaning aberrant genes can be overwritten with working copies, and, potentially, functional genes replaced with enhanced versions. Chinese scientists are already trialling the technology in patients to treat lung cancer.
When you get to the point where you can say that person is actually intellectually or physically superior to another person because you have removed certain possibilities for that person getting ill or because theyre enhanced in other ways, that has enormous implications for very basic values that we have, said Ishiguro.
He also has concerns that in AI and robotics the bulk of intellectual capital lies with the Silicon Valley masters of the universe rather than universities or government-funded labs.
There are some very powerful and rich people who want to do enormous research in this area, he said. Some of them might want to come out with things that are very beneficial, but its probably outside of regulation and so, yes, I think society as a whole needs to be more engaged.
Ishiguros father, an oceanographer originally based in Nagasaki, moved with the family to Guildford, Surrey, to work at the National Institute of Oceanography in 1957, when Ishiguro was five.
Neuroscientists are divided about whether electrical brain stimulation improves learning or helps depression, but that hasnt stopped DIY hackers giving it a try
Struggling with your mathematics homework? Sudoku proving too hard? Depression? ADHD? Post-traumatic stress disorder?
Theres a solution! It involves strapping electrodes to your head and feeding a current through your brain. Sound good?
Theres an increasingly active community of amateur brain hackers, two neuroscientists told SXSW, with all the relevant electrical parts available to buy online for less than $100 and delivered to the privacy and, theoretically, safety of your own home.
When Canadian neuroscientist Wilder Penfield practiced pioneering brain surgery and research from the 1930s to the 50s, it involved poking or electrically stimulating the brain directly. Cameron Craddock, director at the Nathan S Kline Institute For Psychiatric Research in New York state, showed a video of a patient in the early 60s who had an electrode attached to her brains nucleus accumbens, or pleasure center.
She repeatedly pressed a button on the control panel resting on her lap that connected directly to her brain, and when asked what it felt like she whispered sex button.
Brain stimulation is a little more sophisticated now, and non-invasive. Transcranial direct current stimulation (TDCS), Cameron explains, involves running a current through your brain and can be self applied. Theres already an active community of citizen scientists experimenting with this and sharing their experiences online.
If youve ever licked a battery youve probably done TDCS, he quips. All the equipment to do this is readily available online. The red part goes near the part of the brain you want to stimulate, the the black pad goes on the opposite side and you just hope that things work that way. There is some evidence, he said, that using this technique helps improve the rate of learning, encouraging neurons and synapses to do the right thing while the brain is processing information.
Another technique is transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), which stimulated a relatively localized area of a few square centimeters. That can interfere (and therefore hopefully improve) the ability to speak, move and count, depending there on the brain it is applied. And some of these techniques are nearing FDA approval for treatment of conditions such as depression, Cameron says.
Beijing (CNN)Imagine taking a five-hour exam just to get a job interview.
That’s what nearly one million people did in China Sunday, taking the country’s grueling civil service entrance exam, or Guokao.
Test-takers had two hours to answer 135 multiple-choice questions on topics covering language, mathematics, logic, politics, law and culture. That was followed by 3 hours of essay questions.
The exam is only held once a year, so for those taking part, it’s do or die.
They are competing for 27,000 jobs. The odds of getting one — after the exam and a subsequent interview — are about 36 to 1.
Wang Caizhen, 23, is one of those people. A graduate of Beijing’s prestigious Tsinghua University, she took the exam in hopes of an entry-level job with China’s Ministry of Commerce.
She spent nearly four months studying for the test, reviewing old questions, taking mock exams and attending preparatory classes on the weekend.
“The questions on the test were different from the exercises I did to prepare for it,” Wang said, adding that the timing of the exam was “very tight.”
In order to complete the aptitude test in the time limit, “you have to train to answer each question within 50 seconds,” she said.
“One of the (essay) questions was about modern governance based on the ancient Chinese understanding and metaphor of water.”
Civil service jobs in China are known as the “golden rice bowl” due to their stable pay and generous benefits. The jobs can also lead to membership in the ruling Communist Party, which brings additional prestige.
Those hoping to take the exam must have at least a junior college degree, and be between the ages of 18 and 35. They have to choose the jobs they’re interested in when they register.
Wang’s desired role pays only 6,000 yuan ($870) a month, but includes benefits such as Beijing housing registration, free accommodation and free food at the office canteen. Such jobs are especially appealing at a time when economic growth in China has been steadily slowing.
“The civil service is a good career option because it’s stable,” she said.
For now, Wang and other applicants will have to wait. Results of the exam won’t come out until January, and if they’ve scored high enough, the actual job interviews will take place in February or March.
Newcombs problem has split the world of philosophy into two opposing camps. Two philosophers explain – then take the test yourself
Two boxes or not two boxes? That is the question.
For almost half a century Newcombs problem has been one of the most contentious conundrums in philosophy, with ramifications in economics, politics and computer science.
Vast amounts have been written about it, yet thinkers cannot agree on the right answer. Rather uncharacteristically for the gentle and cerebral world of philosophy, here is a debate in which each side is extremely confident they are correct and that the other side is wrong.
On which side do you sit? Read the problem and submit your decision below. In order to help you make up your mind, Ive enlisted two philosophers with opposing views to persuade you as to the most sensible course of action.
Two closed boxes, A and B, are on a table in front of you. A contains 1,000. B contains either nothing or 1 million. You dont know which. You have two options:
Take both boxes.
Take box B only.
You keep the contents of the box/boxes you take, and your aim is to get the most money.
But heres the thing. The test was set by a Super-Intelligent Being, who has already made a prediction about what you will do. If Her prediction was that you would take both boxes, She left B empty. If Her prediction was that you would take B only, She put a 1 million cheque in it.
Before making your decision, you do your due diligence, and discover that the Super-Intelligent Being has never made a bad prediction. She predicted Leicester would win the Premier League, the victories of Brexit and Trump, and that Ed Balls would be eliminated yesterday from Strictly Come Dancing. She has correctly predicted things you and others have done, including in situations just like this one, never once getting it wrong. Its a remarkable track-record. So, what do you choose? Both boxes or just box B?
Why you should take B only.
By Dr Arif Ahmed, Reader in Philosophy at Cambridge university and a Fellow of Gonville and Caius College. His most recent book is Evidence, Decision and Causality.
You know that the Super-Intelligent Being is always right. So whatever you do, She will have predicted it! If you take box B only, She will have predicted that and you will get 1 million. If you take both boxes for any reason for instance, because of what David is about to say She will have predicted that and you will get only 1,000. Clearly, you should take box B only.
The Super-Intelligent Being has already made Her prediction before you make your decision. So, she has either put 1 million in Box B or not. What do you have to lose by choosing both boxes? You cannot influence a decision made in the past by a decision made in the present! Think of it this way. Suppose box B has transparent glass on the far side the side I cant see. And suppose I have a friend who can see through that glass side, and knows whether or not the 1 million is there. If my friend were allowed to communicate with me, what would his advice be? Surely it would be to take both boxes. If the 1 million is there, it is not going to disappear in a puff of smoke by my decision to take both boxes. Taking both boxes will always enrich me by an extra 1,000 in comparison to taking B only.
Now its your turn. What will you do?
Ill be back later with the results of the decisions you made, and a further discussion of this problem.
Meanwhile, I encourage fierce debate a boxing match? – below the line about the pros and cons of each of the choices. Explain why you chose what you did.
Margaret Hamilton, a computer scientist who was pivotal in humans first landing on the Moon, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom this week, honoring her pioneering work.
In the ceremony led by President Barack Obama on Tuesday, Hamilton was one of 21 recipients of the award, the highest civilian award in the United States. Another female computer scientist, Grace Hopper, was also posthumously given an award.
Everyone on this stage has touched me in a powerful personal way, Obama said at the ceremony, reported the New York Times. These are folks who have helped make me who I am and think about my presidency.
Hamilton began working with NASA in the 1960s as part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which she had joined as a computer scientist after completing her degree in mathematics from the University of Michigan.
MIT was given a contract by NASA in 1961 to develop the guidance and navigation system for the Apollo spacecraft that would go to the Moon, and Hamilton was put in charge of the Software Engineering Division. She worked long hours, aware of how pivotal her code was to the success of the mission.
I was always imagining headlines in the newspapers, and they would point back to how it happened, and it would point back to me, she told Wired.
Hamilton pictured in the Apollo Command Module. NASA
This work would prove crucial during the descent of Apollo 11 to the lunar surface. Just minutes before the landing, the software overrode a command, causing some confusion. But the resulting 1202 alarm from the software let everyone know it was simply shedding less important tasks to give more focus to the engine. The landing was thus able to continue without aborting.
(In fact, the story behind this is incredibly interesting, as it was thanks to a young computer engineer called Jack Garman that the decision to ignore the alarm and proceed with the landing was made. He passed away in September this year.)
Also awarded the Medal of Freedom was Grace Hopper, a computer scientist who helped make coding languages more practical, along with creating the first compiler for code. She was known as Amazing Grace and the first lady of software, and remained at the forefront of programming from the 1940s through the 1980s. Hopper passed away in 1992, but was given the award posthumously.
Both Hamilton and Hopper were wholly deserving of their awards, and its great to see what might be regarded as unsung heroes given some deserved attention. Hamiltons software would continue to be used through the later Apollo missions, and was adapted for NASAs first space station (Skylab) and the Space Shuttle.
After a few weeks of speculation, it looks like President-electTrump has finally picked the education secretary for his incoming administration: Betsy DeVos.
Two weeks ago, bets were on Dr Ben Carsonto be picked, a highly qualified neurosurgeon who simultaneously believedthe Earth was no older than 10,000 years old. He also once said the Biblical figure Joseph built the Egyptian pyramids to store grain.As you can imagine, the scientific community was pretty stressed about the idea of this guy setting education policy.
However, it looks like he’s been trumped. This week its been officially announced the lesser-known figure of Betsy DeVoshas taken the post.
Whoever is in the hot seat for the Education Secretary plays a very important role for scientific education and science as a whole, as they have a strong say in what schools receive funding and which subjects receive attention. This can also have a subtle effect of setting the climate where science can either thrive or shrink away.
For a bit of background, DeVos is a billionaire philanthropist, known to be a generous donor to the Republican Party. She has served onnumerous education philanthropy boards, although she has never professionally worked in the public education system.
She grew up as a member of the Christian Reformed Church in North America and was educated at Calvin College, the educational institution of the same church.
This is a protestant denomination that believes that all scientific theories be subject to Scripture and the confessions. It also claims that humanity is created in the image of God; all theorizing that minimizes this fact and all theories of evolution that deny the creative activity of God are rejected.
Most commentators say she is not expected to apply hardline religious beliefs to the curriculum, according to Washington Post.
It would be a mistake to put her in the Religious Right camp. Thats not who she is, Doug Koopman, a political scientist at Calvin College, told Washington Post.
Nevertheless, she is well known for her philanthropic efforts in Christian causes. Along with her hardenedbelief in the free-market, this has led people to believe she will favor privately owned and religious schools over public schools.
Her efforts over the years have done more to undermine public education than support students. She has lobbied for failed schemes, like vouchers which take away funding and local control from our public schools to fund private schools at taxpayers expense. These schemes do nothing to help our most vulnerable students while they ignore or exacerbate glaring opportunity gaps. She has consistently pushed a corporate agenda to privatize, de-professionalize and impose cookie-cutter solutions to public education.”
Much of Trumps stance on education during his campaign was rallying to abolish the Common Core, the educational guidelines of mathematics and reading adopted by most states. DeVos previously riled conservatives because of her ties to groups that supported these guidelines, although she has since claimed she is not a supporter of Common Core.