Month: March 2017

90 errors in GCSE maths revision book for WJEC students – BBC News

Image copyright PA
Image caption The workbooks are used by students studying for GCSE exams

Exam revision workbooks used by GCSE pupils taking Welsh exam board qualifications have been withdrawn after 90 mistakes were found in them.

A team from Cardiff University’s School of Mathematics found about every three in 50 questions contained an inaccuracy, were misleading or supplied a wrong answer.

Publisher Hodder Education is now reprinting the edition and has asked for current copies to be destroyed.

BBC research had led to the discovery.

The One Show commissioned Cardiff University to look at Mastering Mathematics for WJEC GCSE Practice Book: Higher alongside workbooks for five UK exam boards: WJEC, AQA, Pearson/Edexcel, SQA and OCR, some of which had officially endorsed the books.

Hodder Education apologised for the mistakes.

Group managing director Lis Tribe said: “We are human. We do our best. We have made a mistake.

“Where our process fell down, which is a real concern to me and to my team, is that there wasn’t the final quality check that should have taken place. We simply missed a stage because of the pressure of getting the book out on time.

“We are actually very grateful to The One Show for bringing these errors to our attention and enabling us to withdraw the book and put them right.”

‘Unacceptable’

A spokesman for the WJEC said: “We have worked with Hodder to produce endorsed material. However, we have not endorsed the revision guide in question.

“As it has not been subjected to our endorsement process, we are not responsible for its content and cannot comment on it.

“Of course, if we are made aware of any errors in non-endorsed publications, we make every effort to ensure that the relevant publisher is informed.”

Dr Matthew Lettington, who oversaw the research, said the level of mistakes was “unacceptable” and some errors would have been “highly confusing” for students.

The WJEC practice book had the highest level of errors by a significant margin, with 90 mistakes out of 1,496 questions.

The others were:

  • “AQA GCSE Maths Higher Exam Practice Book”, published by Oxford University Press, with three errors in 174 questions
  • “Mathematics GCSE for OCR Homework Book – Higher”, published by Cambridge University Press and endorsed by OCR, with eight mistakes in 1,200 questions
  • “Revise Edexcel GCSE (9-1) Mathematics Revision Workbook – Higher”, published by Pearson Education Limited, with eight mistakes in 563 questions
  • “How to Pass – National 5 Maths”, published by Hodder Gibson and endorsed by SQA, with five errors in 240 questions

The exam boards told the BBC final responsibility for fact checking lay with the publishers.

Pearson/Edexcel said it had already spotted and corrected the eight errors in its workbook and it was being recalled and destroyed.

Cambridge University Press and Oxford University Press both said all errors were looked into and corrected in the next reprint.

The One Show is broadcast on BBC One at 19:00 GMT.

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Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-38721478

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Five Teams Enter Final Stretch To Win Google Lunar XPRIZE Moon Race And Scoop $20 Million

And then there were five. From an initial 16 teams, five have moved ahead into the final stages of the Google Lunar XPRIZE, a competition to launch and land a rover on the Moon by the end of 2017.

The finalists herald from around the world, in Israel, the US, India, and Japan. All of them have launch contracts on various rockets, in an attempt to scoop the $20 million prize money. The first teams rover to travel 500 meters (1,640 feet) on the lunar surface will scoop the prize, with various other technical bonuses available.

Each of these teams has pushed the boundaries to demonstrate that you dont have to be a government superpower to send a mission to the Moon, while inspiring audiences to pursue the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, said Chanda Gonzales-Mowrer, senior director of Google Lunar XPRIZE, in a statement.

The competition began in 2007, and the teams that entered had until December 31, 2016, to get a launch contract, which 11 teams did not manage including German team Part-Time Scientists, who were seemingly on the cusp of doing so. Now, those with launch contracts haveuntil December 31, 2017, to actually launch although they can land on the Moon at a later date, as long as they have launched before then.

XPRIZE also announced there would be an additional $1 million Diversity Prize split among the 16 teams to recognize each of their unique approaches and initiatives over the years, said Gonzales-Mowrer.

Part-Time Scientists had hoped to revisit the Apollo 17 landing site with their rover (illustrated). PTScientists

Of the five finalists, only three have launch contracts on tried and tested rockets. One of these is SpaceIL from Israel, which plans to launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Another, Team Indus from India, is planning to launch on the Indian Space Research Organizations Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). And Hakuto, from Japan, plans to hitch a ride with Team Indus.

The other two have contracts with companies that are yet to launch a rocket perhaps making them relative outsiders to win the competition. One is American team Moon Express, which has a multi-mission contract with Rocket Lab USA to launch three missions by 2020. The final team, an international endeavor called Synergy Moon run by Interorbital Systems, hopes to launch on their own Neptune 8 rocket, which would launch from the sea.

Theres plenty of cause for excitement, though. Its looking more and more likely that some of these teams will actually launch by the years end. Whether they will be successful in landing on the Moon or not remains to be seen none have experience indoing so.

But if they do make it, well, we might very well have an old-fashioned Moon race on our hands before the year is out.

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/space/five-teams-enter-final-stretch-to-win-google-lunar-xprize-moon-race-and-scoop-20-million/

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Stephen Hawking Teaches Piers Morgan A Valuable Lesson In Gender Equality

Stephen Hawking may be a distinguished professor of mathematics, but he just schooled Piers Morgan on gender equality.

During an interview with the legendary British scientist on Monday, Morgan posited that the U.K.s roster of high-profile women in politics points to scientific evidence of gender equality.

But Hawkings response suggested the controversial TV host was overlooking a more important factor in the fight for womens empowerment.

It is not scientific proof of gender equality that is required, but general acceptance that women are at least the equals of men or better, Hawking told Morgan on Good Morning Britain.

If we factor in high-power women in Europe as well, such as [German Chancellor] Angela Merkel, it seems we are witnessing a seismic shift for women to accede to high-level positions in politics and society, he added. I welcome these signs of womens liberation. But there may still be a gap between those women achieving high public status and those in the private sector.

Morgan has faced harsh criticism in recent months for his vitriolic comments about women.He frequently engages in Twitter tirades against what he calls the feminazis and the creeping global emasculation of [his] gender. In January, he railed against the historic Womens March on Washington, deeming the event absurd and attacking its participants as rabid feminists.

Hawking offered a stark contrast to the controversial TV hosts views. When Morgan asked Hawking if he is a feminist, his response was resolute.

Yes, Hawking said. I have always supported womens rights.

I moved the admission of women to my college, Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, he added. The results were wholly good.

Watch the full interview below:

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/stephen-hawking-piers-morgans-gender-equality_us_58cfc7afe4b0ec9d29dd537b?mm&ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009

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Your animal life is over. Machine life has begun. The road to immortality

In California, radical scientists and billionaire backers think the technology to extend life by uploading minds to exist separately from the body is only a few years away

Heres what happens. You are lying on an operating table, fully conscious, but rendered otherwise insensible, otherwise incapable of movement. A humanoid machine appears at your side, bowing to its task with ceremonial formality. With a brisk sequence of motions, the machine removes a large panel of bone from the rear of your cranium, before carefully laying its fingers, fine and delicate as a spiders legs, on the viscid surface of your brain. You may be experiencing some misgivings about the procedure at this point. Put them aside, if you can.

Youre in pretty deep with this thing; theres no backing out now. With their high-resolution microscopic receptors, the machine fingers scan the chemical structure of your brain, transferring the data to a powerful computer on the other side of the operating table. They are sinking further into your cerebral matter now, these fingers, scanning deeper and deeper layers of neurons, building a three-dimensional map of their endlessly complex interrelations, all the while creating code to model this activity in the computers hardware. As thework proceeds, another mechanical appendage less delicate, less careful removes the scanned material to a biological waste container for later disposal. This is material you will no longer be needing.

At some point, you become aware that you are no longer present in your body. You observe with sadness, or horror, or detached curiosity the diminishing spasms of that body on the operating table, the last useless convulsions of a discontinued meat.

The animal life is over now. The machine life has begun.

This, more or less, is the scenario outlined by Hans Moravec, a professor of cognitive robotics at Carnegie Mellon, in his 1988 book Mind Children: The Future of Robot and Human Intelligence. It is Moravecs conviction that the future of the human species will involve a mass-scale desertion of our biological bodies, effected by procedures of this kind. Its a belief shared by many transhumanists, a movement whose aim is to improve our bodies and minds to the point where we become something other and better than the animals we are. Ray Kurzweil, for one, is a prominent advocate of the idea of mind-uploading. An emulation of the human brain running on an electronic system, he writes in The Singularity Is Near, would run much faster than our biological brains. Although human brains benefit from massive parallelism (on the order of 100 trillion interneuronal connections, all potentially operating simultaneously), the rest time of the connections is extremely slow compared to contemporary electronics. The technologies required for such an emulation sufficiently powerful and capacious computers and sufficiently advanced brainscanning techniques will be available, he announces, by the early 2030s.

And this, obviously, is no small claim. We are talking about not just radically extended life spans, but also radically expanded cognitive abilities. We are talking about endless copies and iterations of the self. Having undergone a procedure like this, you would exist to the extent you could meaningfully be said to exist at all as an entity of unbounded possibilities.

I was introduced to Randal Koene at a Bay Area transhumanist conference. He wasnt speaking at the conference, but had come along out of personal interest. A cheerfully reserved man in his early 40s, he spoke in the punctilious staccato of a non-native English speaker who had long mastered the language. As we parted, he handed me his business card and much later that evening Iremoved it from my wallet and had a proper look at it. The card was illustrated with a picture of a laptop, on whose screen was displayed a stylised image of a brain. Underneath was printed what seemed to me an attractively mysterious message: Carboncopies: Realistic Routes to Substrate Independent Minds. Randal A Koene, founder.

I took out my laptop and went to the website of Carboncopies, which I learned was a nonprofit organisation with a goal of advancing the reverse engineering of neural tissue and complete brains, Whole Brain Emulation and development of neuroprostheses that reproduce functions of mind, creating what we call Substrate Independent Minds. This latter term, I read, was the objective to be able to sustain person-specific functions of mind and experience in many different operational substrates besides the biological brain. And this, I further learned, was a process analogous to that by which platform independent code can be compiled and run on many different computing platforms.

It seemed that I had met, without realising it, a person who was actively working toward the kind of brain-uploading scenario that Kurzweil had outlined in The Singularity Is Near. And this was a person I needed to get to know.

Randal
Randal Koene: It wasnt like I was walking into labs, telling people I wanted to upload human minds to computers.

Koene was an affable and precisely eloquent man and his conversation was unusually engaging for someone so forbiddingly intelligent and who worked in so rarefied a field as computational neuroscience; so, in his company, I often found myself momentarily forgetting about the nearly unthinkable implications of the work he was doing, the profound metaphysical weirdness of the things he was explaining to me. Hed be talking about some tangential topic his happily cordial relationship with his ex-wife, say, or the cultural differences between European and American scientific communities and Id remember with a slow, uncanny suffusion of unease that his work, were it to yield the kind of results he is aiming for, would amount to the most significant event since the evolution of Homo sapiens. The odds seemed pretty long from where I was standing, but then again, I reminded myself, the history of science was in many ways an almanac of highly unlikely victories.

One evening in early spring, Koene drove down to San Francisco from the North Bay, where he lived and worked in a rented ranch house surrounded by rabbits, to meet me for dinner in a small Argentinian restaurant on Columbus Avenue. The faint trace of an accent turned out to be Dutch. Koene was born in Groningen and had spent most of his early childhood in Haarlem. His father was a particle physicist and there were frequent moves, including a two-year stint in Winnipeg, as he followed his work from one experimental nuclear facility to the next.

Now a boyish 43, he had lived in California only for the past five years, but had come to think of it as home, or the closest thing to home hed encountered in the course of a nomadic life. And much of this had to do with the culture of techno-progressivism that had spread outward from its concentrated origins in Silicon Valley and come to encompass the entire Bay Area, with its historically high turnover of radical ideas. It had been a while now, he said, since hed described his work to someone, only for them to react as though he were making a misjudged joke or simply to walk off mid-conversation.

In his early teens, Koene began to conceive of the major problem with the human brain in computational terms: it was not, like a computer, readable and rewritable. You couldnt get in there and enhance it, make it run more efficiently, like you could with lines of code. You couldnt just speed up a neuron like you could with a computer processor.

Around this time, he read Arthur C Clarkes The City and the Stars, a novel set a billion years from now, in which the enclosed city of Diaspar is ruled by a superintelligent Central Computer, which creates bodies for the citys posthuman citizens and stores their minds in its memory banks at the end of their lives, for purposes of reincarnation. Koene saw nothing in this idea of reducing human beings to data that seemed to him implausible and felt nothing in himself that prevented him from working to bring it about. His parents encouraged him in this peculiar interest and the scientific prospect of preserving human minds in hardware became a regular topic of dinnertime conversation.

Computational neuroscience, which drew its practitioners not from biology but from the fields of mathematics and physics, seemed to offer the most promising approach to the problem of mapping and uploading the mind. It wasnt until he began using the internet in the mid-1990s, though, that he discovered a loose community of people with an interest in the same area.

As a PhD student in computational neuroscience at Montreals McGill University, Koene was initially cautious about revealing the underlying motivation for his studies, for fear of being taken for a fantasist or an eccentric.

I didnt hide it, as such, he said, but it wasnt like I was walking into labs, telling people I wanted to upload human minds to computers either. Id work with people on some related area, like the encoding of memory, with a view to figuring out how that might fit into an overall road map for whole brain emulation.

Having worked for a while at Halcyon Molecular, a Silicon Valley gene-sequencing and nanotechnology startup funded by Peter Thiel, he decided to stay in the Bay Area and start his own nonprofit company aimed at advancing the cause to which hed long been dedicated: carboncopies

Koenes decision was rooted in the very reason he began pursuing that work in the first place: an anxious awareness of the small and diminishing store of days that remained to him. If hed gone the university route, hed have had to devote most of his time, at least until securing tenure, to projects that were at best tangentially relevant to his central enterprise. The path he had chosen was a difficult one for a scientist and he lived and worked from one small infusion of private funding to the next.

But Silicon Valleys culture of radical techno-optimism had been its own sustaining force for him, and a source of financial backing for a project that took its place within the wildly aspirational ethic of that cultural context. There were people there or thereabouts, wealthy and influential, for whom a future in which human minds might be uploaded to computers was one to be actively sought, a problem to be solved, disruptively innovated, by the application of money.

Transcendence
Brainchild of the movies: in Transcendence (2014), scientist Will Caster, played by Johnny Depp, uploads his mind to a computer program with dangerous results.

One such person was Dmitry Itskov, a 36-year-old Russian tech multimillionaire and founder of the 2045 Initiative, an organisationwhose stated aim was to create technologies enabling the transfer of an individuals personality to a more advanced nonbiological carrier, and extending life, including to the point of immortality. One of Itskovs projects was the creation of avatars artificial humanoid bodies that would be controlled through brain-computer interface, technologies that would be complementary with uploaded minds. He had funded Koenes work with Carboncopies and in 2013 they organised a conference in New York called Global Futures 2045, aimed, according to its promotional blurb, at the discussion of a new evolutionary strategy for humanity.

When we spoke, Koene was working with another tech entrepreneur named Bryan Johnson, who had sold his automated payment company to PayPal a couple of years back for $800m and who now controlled a venture capital concern called the OS Fund, which, I learned from its website, invests in entrepreneurs working towards quantum leap discoveries that promise to rewrite the operating systems of life. This language struck me as strange and unsettling in a way that revealed something crucial about the attitude toward human experience that was spreading outward from its Bay Area centre a cluster of software metaphors that had metastasised into a way of thinking about what it meant to be a human being.

And it was the sameessential metaphor that lay at the heart of Koenes project: the mind as a piece of software, an application running on the platform of flesh. When he used the term emulation, he was using it explicitly to evoke the sense in which a PCs operating system could be emulated on a Mac, as what he called platform independent code.

The relevant science for whole brain emulation is, as youd expect, hideously complicated, and its interpretation deeply ambiguous, but if I can risk a gross oversimplification here, I will say that it is possible to conceive of the idea as something like this: first, you scan the pertinent information in a persons brain the neurons, the endlessly ramifying connections between them, the information-processing activity of which consciousness is seen as a byproduct through whatever technology, or combination of technologies, becomes feasible first (nanobots, electron microscopy, etc). That scan then becomes a blueprint for the reconstruction of the subject brains neural networks, which is then converted into a computational model. Finally, you emulate all of this on a third-party non-flesh-based substrate: some kind of supercomputer or a humanoid machine designed to reproduce and extend the experience of embodiment something, perhaps, like Natasha Vita-Mores Primo Posthuman.

The whole point of substrate independence, as Koene pointed out to me whenever I asked him what it would be like to exist outside of a human body, and I asked him many times, in various ways was that it would be like no one thing, because there would be no one substrate, no one medium of being. This was the concept transhumanists referred to as morphological freedom the liberty to take any bodily form technology permits.

You can be anything you like, as an article about uploading in Extropy magazine put it in the mid-90s. You can be big or small; you can be lighter than air and fly; you can teleport and walk through walls. You can be a lion or an antelope, a frog or a fly, a tree, a pool, the coat of paint on a ceiling.

What really interested me about this idea was not how strange and far-fetched it seemed (though it ticked those boxes resolutely enough), but rather how fundamentally identifiable it was, how universal. When talking to Koene, I was mostly trying to get to grips with the feasibility of the project and with what it was he envisioned as a desirable outcome. But then we would part company I would hang up the call, or I would take my leave and start walking toward the nearest station and I would find myself feeling strangely affected by the whole project, strangely moved.

Because there was something, in the end, paradoxically and definitively human in this desire for liberation from human form. I found myself thinking often of WB Yeatss Sailing to Byzantium, in which the ageing poet writes of his burning to be free of the weakening body, the sickening heart to abandon the dying animal for the manmade and immortal form of a mechanical bird. Once out of nature, he writes, I shall never take/ My bodily form from any natural thing/ But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make.

One evening, we were sitting outside a combination bar/laundromat/standup comedy venue in Folsom Street a place with the fortuitous name of BrainWash when I confessed that the idea of having my mind uploaded to some technological substrate was deeply unappealing to me, horrifying even. The effects of technology on my life, even now, were something about which I was profoundly ambivalent; for all I had gained in convenience and connectedness, I was increasingly aware of the extent to which my movements in the world were mediated and circumscribed by corporations whose only real interest was in reducing the lives of human beings to data, as a means to further reducing us to profit.

The content we consumed, the people with whom we had romantic encounters, the news we read about the outside world: all these movements were coming increasingly under the influence of unseen algorithms, the creations of these corporations, whose complicity with government, moreover, had come to seem like the great submerged narrative of our time. Given the world we were living in, where the fragile liberal ideal of the autonomous self was already receding like a half-remembered dream into the doubtful haze of history, wouldnt a radical fusion of ourselves with technology amount, in the end, to a final capitulation of the very idea of personhood?

Koene nodded again and took a sip of his beer.

Hearing you say that, he said, makes it clear that theres a major hurdle there for people. Im more comfortable than you are with the idea, but thats because Ive been exposed to it for so long that Ive just got used to it.

Dmitry
Russian billionaire Dmitry Itskov wants to create technologies enabling the transfer of an individuals personality to a more advanced nonbiological carrier. Photograph: Mary Altaffer/AP

In the weeks and months after I returned from San Francisco, I thought obsessively about the idea of whole brain emulation. One morning, I was at home in Dublin, suffering from both a head cold and a hangover. I lay there, idly considering hauling myself out of bed to join my wife and my son, who were in his bedroom next door enjoying a raucous game of Buckaroo. I realised that these conditions (head cold, hangover) had imposed upon me a regime of mild bodily estrangement. As often happens when Im feeling under the weather, I had a sense of myself as an irreducibly biological thing, an assemblage of flesh and blood and gristle. I felt myself to be an organism with blocked nasal passages, a bacteria-ravaged throat, a sorrowful ache deep within its skull, its cephalon. I was aware of my substrate, in short, because my substrate felt like shit.

And I was gripped by a sudden curiosity as to what, precisely, that substrate consisted of, as to what I myself happened, technically speaking, to be. I reached across for the phone on my nightstand and entered into Google the words What is the human… The first three autocomplete suggestions offered What is The Human Centipede about, and then: What is the human body made of, and then: What is the human condition.

It was the second question I wanted answered at this particular time, as perhaps a back door into the third. It turned out that I was 65% oxygen, which is to say that I was mostly air, mostly nothing. After that, I was composed of diminishing quantities of carbon and hydrogen, of calcium and sulphur and chlorine, and so on down the elemental table. I was also mildly surprised to learn that, like the iPhone I was extracting this information from, I also contained trace elements of copper and iron and silicon.

What a piece of work is a man, I thought, what a quintessence of dust.

Some minutes later, my wife entered the bedroom on her hands and knees, our son on her back, gripping the collar of her shirt tight in his little fists. She was making clip-clop noises as she crawled forward, he was laughing giddily and shouting: Dont buck! Dont buck!

With a loud neighing sound, she arched her back and sent him tumbling gently into a row of shoes by the wall and he screamed in delighted outrage, before climbing up again. None of this, I felt, could be rendered in code. None of this, I felt, could be run on any other substrate. Their beauty was bodily, in the most profound sense, in the saddest and most wonderful sense.

I never loved my wife and our little boy more, I realised, than when I thought of them as mammals. I dragged myself, my animal body, out of bed to join them.

To Be a Machine by Mark OConnell is published by Granta (12.99). To order a copy for 11.04 go to bookshop.theguardian.com or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over 10, online orders only. Phone orders min p&p of 1.99

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/mar/25/animal-life-is-over-machine-life-has-begun-road-to-immortality

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Using maths to outsmart mosquitoes – BBC News

Image copyright SPL

Researchers at Strathclyde university are working to combat a deadly tropical disease – using mathematics.

Dengue fever is caused by a virus carried by Aedes mosquitoes.

The number of cases has grown dramatically in recent years with close to 60 million people catching it every year.

Although it is fatal in only a small proportion of cases, it means deaths are still in the tens of thousands.

Image caption Millions of people catch dengue fever every year

The World Health Organisation says 500,000 people a year need hospital treatment for dengue in Africa, the Americas, the eastern Mediterranean, southeast Asia and the western Pacific.

The currently favoured approach is to search and destroy the mosquitoes using methods such as spraying fogs of insecticides.

But the authorities in Malaysia wanted something more environmentally friendly which did not increase the mosquitoes’ resistance and kill their predators.

Which is why the Strathclyde University team, led by mathematician Dr David Greenhalgh, has been working with its Malaysian partners to assess the effectiveness of a new type of mosquito trap.

The exact design is still under wraps but I can reveal that it looks a bit like a yogurt pot.

That belies its huge potential in a new approach to fighting tropical diseases: don’t use search and destroy – outsmart the insects.

“The trap contains a chemical solution that attracts female mosquitoes into it,” Dr Greenhalgh says.

“There’s a piece of paper leading into the chemical solution.

“The female mosquitoes that are attracted to the trap lay their eggs on the piece of paper and the chemical stops the eggs developing.”

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Dengue fever is spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito

Mathematics comes into the process because Dr Greenhalgh and colleagues have built a computer model of how the disease spreads.

From that they can simulate how the trap affects the spread of the virus among people and mosquitoes.

He says people go through different stages of the disease.

“There are four different types of dengue, four different serotypes,” he says.

“Usually the infection with the first serotype is quite mild.

“But if you get a second infection with a different strain it can have very serious effects.”

Dr Greenhalgh adds: “As well as modelling how the people go through those different stages, the mosquitoes also go through different stages.

“So you’re trying to model how these populations interact, with mosquitoes biting people, with the disease spreading from people to mosquitoes and vice versa.”

The variables in the mathematical model include the number of traps, the area’s history of dengue infections, plus the numbers of mosquitoes and breeding sites.

Global scale

So far the indications are that both the simulation and the real life traps are working well.

In a small-scale test in three blocks of flats in Kuala Lumpur the number of dengue cases was reduced from 53 in 2013 to 13 the following year.

In 2015, after the trial was over, the number of infections rose again to 57.

Dr Greenhalgh warns that these are small numbers but also promising ones.

Further research is now examining the effectiveness of the trap in different conditions.

The collaboration is between Strathclyde, Malaysia’s Institute for Medical Research and the Kuala Lumpur-based business One Team Network Solutions, which designs low-tech pest control devices.

The UK delivery partner is the British Council Malaysia. The project is being funded by the UK government’s Newton Fund and the Malaysian government’s High Impact Programme 2.

If the trap and its mathematical model work on a large scale it will have implications for health on a global scale.

Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-39353752

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UK schoolboy corrects Nasa data error – BBC News

Media captionMiles Soloman tells Radio 4’s World At One how he discovered something the Nasa experts missed

A British teenager has contacted scientists at Nasa to point out an error in a set of their own data.

A-level student Miles Soloman found that radiation sensors on the International Space Station (ISS) were recording false data.

The 17-year-old from Tapton school in Sheffield said it was “pretty cool” to email the space agency.

The correction was said to be “appreciated” by Nasa, which invited him to help analyse the problem.

“What we got given was a lot of spreadsheets, which is a lot more interesting than it sounds,” Miles told BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme.

The research was part of the TimPix project from the Institute for Research in Schools (IRIS), which gives students across the UK the chance to work on data from the space station, looking for anomalies and patterns that might lead to further discoveries.

During UK astronaut Tim Peake’s stay on the station, detectors began recording the radiation levels on the ISS.

“I went straight to the bottom of the list and I went for the lowest bits of energy there were,” Miles explained.

Miles’s teacher and head of physics, James O’Neill, said: “We were all discussing the data but he just suddenly perked up in one of the sessions and went ‘why does it say there’s -1 energy here?'”

What Miles had noticed was that when nothing hit the detector, a negative reading was being recorded.

But you cannot get negative energy. So Miles and Mr O’Neill contacted Nasa.

“It’s pretty cool”, Miles said. “You can tell your friends, I just emailed Nasa and they’re looking at the graphs that I’ve made.”

It turned out that Miles had noticed something no-one else had – including the Nasa experts.

Nasa said it was aware of the error, but believed it was only happening once or twice a year.

Miles had found it was actually happening multiple times a day.

Image copyright NASA

Prof Larry Pinksy, from the University of Houston, told Radio 4: “My colleagues at Nasa thought they had cleaned that up.

“This underscores – I think – one of the values of the IRIS projects in all fields with big data. I’m sure there are interesting things the students can find that professionals don’t have time to do.”

The professor – who works with Nasa on radiation monitors – said the correction was “appreciated more so than it being embarrassing”.

What do Miles’ friends think of his discovery?

“They obviously think I’m a nerd,” the sixth-former said. “It’s really a mixture of jealousy and boredom when I tell them all the details.”

He added: “I’m not trying to prove Nasa wrong. I want to work with them and learn from them.”

The director of IRIS, Prof Becky Parker, said this sort of “expansion of real science in the classroom” could attract more young people to STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, mathematics).

She added: “IRIS brings real scientific research into the hands of students no matter their background or the context of the school. The experience inspires them to become the next generation of scientists.”

Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-39351833

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Can this $199 device stop club tennis cheats? You cannot be serious!

London (CNN)“It’s in!”

“No, it was most definitely out.”
It’s a scene played out daily on tennis courts the world over.
    Although pros have had electronic line calling during matches since 2004, club players and juniors can now buy their own device for roughly the same price as a new tennis racket.
    The $199 In/Out promises to put a stop to those endless discussions about line calls once and for all.
    The device is the brainchild of French inventor Grgoire Gentil, who spent two years developing it in his living room in Palo Alto, California.
    “Detecting the lines of a tennis court is like detecting the lines of the road in the Tesla,” Gentil said in an email exchange with CNN.

    Arguments

    His device, which is the size of a small camera and will be available this summer, can be set up in less than a minute on top of the net post. It provides real-time line calls.
    “I’m an inventor and I understand electronics,” said Gentil, an avid tennis player who learned to play on red clay during his youth in Paris.
    Although the ball leaves a mark on clay, arguments over which mark is the right one first gave him the idea for the In/Out device.
    “I’m aware of the progress of computer vision for the self-driving car,” he said. “I knew that it was possible to apply the ‘same’ algorithms to sports.”
    Here’s how it works:

    Hawk-Eye, PlaySight

    With a precision of two to three centimeters on average, In/Out may not be as accurate as Hawk-Eye and PlaySight but it doesn’t come with the same hefty price tag.
    The Hawk-Eye ball-tracking and challenge system, brought in by the grand slam tournaments in 2006 after a number of highly controversial line calls against current women’s world No. 1 Serena Williams during the 2004 US Open, costs around $60,000 per court.

    Produces light, loud sound or both for each line call

    Artificial intelligence software tracks the ball’s spin, speed and movement

    Stats and video can be downloaded to a phone or tablet

    Works on all surfaces, as long as there are a few white lines

    Fits any net post, in less than one minute

    Is 99% accurate

    Can detect a let serve

    Works indoor but needs good quality lights

    Has battery life of more than two hours for line calling

    PlaySight’s SmartCourt system costs up to $12,500 on an outdoor court, with an additional $500 a month for maintenance and cloud storage.
    It offers multi-angle, instant high-definition video review and analysis and is used by clubs and elite performance centers across the world as well as top players such as former French Open finalist Simona Halep.
    “I’m a tennis player and I’m aware of Hawk-Eye and PlaySight,” said Gentil, who holds a Master’s degree in mathematics and physics from Ecole Polytechnique in France and a Master’s degree of science in engineering management from Stanford University in California.

    Other sports to follow?

    “I have always dreamed of the same but for any player on any court at an affordable price,” said Gentil, who partly funded the development of the In/Out device from a company sale to networking technology giant Cisco Systems in 2004.
    Although Gentil is focusing on the market for recreational and junior tennis players, he said he’s received “dozens of emails” from volleyball players.
    “I have the vision to do a bunch of other sports,” said Gentil, whose main goal is to produce a versatile “smart sport camera” that can be used in a variety of games.

    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/21/tennis/tennis-tech-gadget/index.html

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    Pupils need internet lessons to thrive online, say Lords – BBC News

    Image copyright Thinkstock

    Learning to survive in a world dominated by the internet should be as important for children as reading and writing, says a House of Lords report.

    Lessons about online responsibilities, risks and acceptable behaviour should be mandatory in all UK schools, the Lords Communications Committee argues.

    The internet is “hugely beneficial” but children need awareness of its hazards, said committee chairman Lord Best.

    Industry leaders said education was key to keeping children safe online.

    The Lords report builds on findings by the Children’s Commissioner for England in January that the internet is not designed for children, despite them being the biggest users by age group.

    “Children inhabit a world in which every aspect of their lives is mediated through technology: from health to education, from socialising to entertainment.

    “Yet the recognition that children have different needs to those of adults has not yet been fully accepted in the online world,” say the Lords.

    Fake news

    Lord Best added: “There is a lot of material which makes the internet harmful but it can also be hugely beneficial – a way for children to interact and find out about the world.”

    However, they need to cope with online pornography, internet grooming, sexting and body image issues, he said, as well as building resilience to the addictive properties of internet games which are “designed and developed to keep users online, missing out on sleep as they stay in their bedrooms glued to the screen”.

    Children also need to be aware of the dangers of fake news and covert advertising online, he added.

    The report argues that “digital literacy should be the fourth pillar of a child’s education alongside reading, writing and mathematics and be resourced and taught accordingly”.

    It should form the core of a new curriculum for personal social health and economic education, it adds.

    It backs the government’s move to make sex and relationships education statutory in England but says PSHE should also be mandatory in all schools, with the subject included in inspections.

    Image copyright Thinkstock
    Image caption Too many teens miss out on sleep as they stay online ‘glued to the screen’ said Lord Best

    The report notes “a worrying rise in unhappy and anxious children emerging alongside the upward trend of childhood internet use” and calls for more robust research into a “possible causal relationship” alongside immediate action to prevent children being affected.

    Overall, the report says the internet should “do more to promote children’s best interests” but found self regulation by industry was “failing” and that commercial interests “very often” took priority.

    Meanwhile, it adds, government responsibility is “fragmented” with little co-ordinated policy and joined-up action.

    Other recommendations include:

    • Content control filters and privacy settings to be “on” by default for all customers
    • All online businesses to respond quickly to requests by children to remove content
    • A children’s digital champion to be appointed to argue for their rights at the highest levels of government
    • An industry summit, chaired by the prime minister, on redesigning the internet to serve children better

    “This issue is of such critical importance for our children that the government, civil society and all those in the internet value chain must work together to improve the opportunities and support where the end user is a child,” the Lords conclude.

    The Internet Services Providers Association rejected calls for stronger regulation, while backing the report’s call for better education.

    James Blessing, who chairs the ISPA, said that the UK was regarded as a world leader in keeping children safe online “through a self-regulatory approach”.

    “We believe the most effective response is a joint approach based on education, raising awareness and technical tools,” he said.

    The government said it wanted to make the UK the safest place in the world for young people to go online.

    “Ministers have begun work on a new internet safety strategy that will help make this a reality, and we will carefully consider the recommendations included in the Lords Communications Committee Report as part of this process,” said a spokesman.

    Related Topics

    Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-39329967

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    Steve Ballmer Fast Facts

    (CNN)Here is a look at the life of Steve Ballmer, former CEO of Microsoft.

    Birth place: Detroit, Michigan
    Birth name: Steven Anthony Ballmer
      Father: Fred Ballmer, manager for Ford Motor Co.
      Mother: Bea (Dworkin) Ballmer
      Marriage: Connie Snyder (1990-present)
      Children: three sons
      Education: Harvard University, B.A., 1977, double major in Mathematics and Economics; Attended Stanford University Graduate School of Business, 1979-1980
      Other Facts:
      Became friends with Bill Gates while at Harvard University.
      Worked for Procter & Gamble as assistant product manager before Microsoft.
      Met his wife, Connie Snyder, while both were working at Microsoft.

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      Timeline:
      1980 –
      Begins his Microsoft career as a business manager and is the company’s 24th employee.
      July 1998-February 2001 – President of Microsoft.
      January 13, 2000 – Is named chief executive officer when Bill Gates steps down to concentrate on philanthropy.
      February 4, 2014 – Steps down as Microsoft CEO.
      May 29, 2014 – Ballmer signs a binding agreement to buy the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion from the Sterling family trust.
      August 12, 2014 – Steve Ballmer becomes the official owner of the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers, according to Ballmer’s attorney, Adam Streisand. The negotiated $2 billion sale price is a record for an NBA team.
      August 19, 2014 – Steps down from the Microsoft board of directors in order to concentrate on the Clippers.
      October 16, 2015 – Announces he has bought a 4% stake in Twitter during the past few months, becoming one of its largest shareholders.
      March 2016 – Forbes names Ballmer, with a net worth of $23.5 billion, number 26 on its annual World’s Billionaires list.
      June 4, 2016 – Along with Brandt Vaughan, founds USAFacts Institute. Ballmer later describes the work of the institute as creating a “10-K for the government,” according to a Bloomberg interview.

      Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/08/us/steve-ballmer-fast-facts/index.html

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