Month: June 2017

Our Obsession With Smartphones Reduces Our Brain Power, Says Study

Younger generations are often accused of going around glued to their phones (although the rise of the silver surfer means this isnt strictly fair). Even though you can argue that means infinite knowledge and information at your fingertips, a new study has shownsmartphones can also reduce our brain power and a specifictype of intelligence.

Its all down to our attention continuously wandering towards our phones, which the researchers argue in their study published in the online Journal of the Association of Consumer Researchis reducing our available cognitive capacity.

They decided to test the brain drain hypothesis, which posits that knowing our smartphone is in the vicinity uses up limited-capacity cognitive resources, thereby leaving fewer resources available for other tasks and undercutting cognitive performance.

The brain has a finite pool of attention resources the limited-capacity cognitive resources that control both attention and other cognitive processes. When these resources are used to try and prevent automatic attention going towards our phone, we are tying up these resources, making them unavailable to carry out other tasks, meaning the performance of these tasks suffer.

The researchers discovered that just by having a smartphone in your eye line, you are more likely to fail at simple tasks and remembering things, and this holds true when your phone is in your pocket, your bag, or even in the next room.

To studythis, they conducted experiments testing 520 university students on their memory and intelligence while in the presence of their phones. The participants answered exam questions that tested mathematics, memory, and reasoning, while their phones were randomly assigned to be on their desk, in their pocket, in their bag, or in the next room.

The results showed that those who kept their phone on their desk (in eyesight) scored 10 percent lower on questions that testedfocus and memory. They also reacted slower to speed tests. In fact, even when their phones were turned off or on do not disturb mode, if they were on the desk, the participant scored lower than those whose phones were in the next room.

This means smartphones diminish a person’s working memory capacity and “fluid intelligence” the ability to solve novel problems independent of already stored information, which is calledcrystallized intelligence.

Unsurprisingly, they found that the negative effects of having your phone nearby was greater for those who self-identified as being dependent on their phones. They think this effect is not because the smartphone users mind is being distracted by thoughts of checking for messages, but rather their mind is concentrating on trying not to be distracted, at the expense of the performance of the task at hand.

“Your conscious mind isn’t thinking about your smartphone, but that process the process of requiring yourself not to think about something uses up some of your limited cognitive resources, concluded lead author Dr Adrian Ward in a statement. It’s a brain drain.”

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The police hero, the maths genius and more: meet Macrons new MPs

The French president swept parliamentary elections on Sunday with a wave of non-career MPs who could be the most interesting politicians in Europe. But it was bad news for the partys celebrity bullfighter

If Britons werent so wrapped up in our own great political unravelling, we would be obsessing about developments on the other side of the Channel. Emmanuel Macrons party La Rpublique En Marche, founded little more than a year ago, has won a clear majority in the national assembly something the Conservative party (founded 182 years earlier) signally failed to manage in the UK. Macron has effected a bloodless revolution, while the UK is mired in political paralysis.

Part of Macrons appeal is that, rather like the Scottish National party when they swept the board in Scotland in the 2015 general election, he has brought a new set of people into politics. He determined that half his partys candidates should not previously have been politicians, that they should be younger and more diverse than existing assembly members, and that half the candidates should be women. Macrons directives have thrown up some intriguing new MPs:

A dandyish penchant for cravats Cdric Villani. Photograph: Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images

The doyen of the new En Marche parliamentary group is Cdric Villani, a brilliant mathematician with a dandyish penchant for cravats. He triumphed easily in the fifth district of Essonne, south of Paris. Villani, who won the much-prized Fields medal for mathematics in 2010 and is the director of the Institut Henri-Poincar in Paris, said last month that, if elected, he was ready for a new challenge: Its important to make a change from time to time, and in most cases your previous lives will help you in your future life.

Another high-profile En Marche candidate elected by a sizeable majority was Jean-Michel Fauvergue, who defeated his Republican rival in a constituency to the east of Paris. Fauvergue was formerly the commander of the elite police unit Raid. His unit was part of the force involved in the Bataclan siege he felt Raid should have been given full control and he personally directed the assault against the Saint-Denis apartment where Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the alleged coordinator of the Paris terrorist attacks of November 2015, was in hiding. Abaaoud was killed in the raid.

Former bullfighter Marie Sara. Photograph: Guillaume Horcajuelo/EPA

Herv Berville is an economist who was born in Rwanda in 1990. He survived the Rwandan genocide of 1994, was adopted by a family in Brittany, studied in Lille and then did a masters degree in development economics at the London School of Economics. He has been elected to represent a constituency in Brittany, and is seen as part of Macrons attempt to introduce greater diversity into French politics.

The highest-profile En Marche candidate of them all, retired bullfighter Marie Sara, was beaten by the incumbent National Front MP Gilbert Collard by just 0.3% of the vote in the southern department of Gard, traditionally an NF stronghold. Her defeat is a loss to Frances remarkable new parliament, but Macron hopes he has enough firepower to tackle his countrys deep-seated social and economic problems. Despite Saras absence, the radical centrist intends to take the bull by the horns. Again, the contrast with the directionlessness in the UK is stark.

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Can you solve it? Pythagoras’s best puzzles

Three teasers from the vaults

Hi guzzlers,

The most famous theorem in maths is named after the Greek thinker Pythagoras. So is the most famous recreational mathematics publication in the Netherlands.

Pythagoras Magazine was founded in 1961, and to celebrate its half century it recently published a selection of its best brainteasers in English. Ive selected three of them here, in increasing order of difficulty.

1) Dollar bills. In a bag are 26 bills. If you take out 20 bills from the bag at random, you have at least one 1-dollar bill, two 2-dollar bills, and five 5-dollar bills. How much money was in the bag?

2) Yin and Yang. The Yin-Yang symbol is based on the figure below, bordered by three semi-circles. How can you divide this shape into two identical shapes?

Big yin

3) Huge pie. A huge pie is divided among 100 guests. The first guest gets 1% of the pie. The second guest gets 2% of the remaining part. The third guest gets 3% of the rest, etc. The last guest gets 100% of the last part. Who gets the biggest piece?

Ill be back later today with the solutions.


I set a puzzle here every two weeks on a Monday. Send me your email if you want me to alert you each time I post a new one. Im always on the look-out for great puzzles. If you would like to suggest one, email me.

Thanks to the editors of Pythagoras Magazine for todays puzzles. You can check out more of them in Half a Century of Pythagoras Magazine.


Football School, which I which I co-wrote with Ben Lyttleton, is a book for 7 to 13-year olds children that uses football to explain subjects like English, maths, physics, geography, philosophy and zoology. You (by which I mean any 7-13-year-olds you may know) can check out the Football School YouTube channel, in which Ben and I answer all questions about football and life. Submit your questions and subscribe!

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Rookie research: When school science gets ‘real’ – BBC News

Image caption Dr James Geach hopes primary pupils could make new discoveries

Modern science produces so much data that scientists can’t cope with it all – so why not enlist schoolchildren to help?

The new Sky Explorers club at Wheatfields Junior School in St Albans is making use of a night sky camera which has been installed on the building’s roof.

“I am really looking forward to doing all the great stuff we are going to do with the camera,” says eight-year-old Cameron. “Looking at space is really exciting.”

Throughout the night, the camera takes a long exposure shot of the whole sky once a minute and the resulting thousands of images are made into a time-lapse film for the children to view the next day.

The club members will be on the look-out for shooting stars or meteors and will log where they appear, their direction and the time and send the data to the international All Sky Camera network.

Image copyright UoH Bayfordbury Observatory
Image caption Meteors show up as bright streaks of light across the night sky

Dr Jim Geach, a senior lecturer and research fellow at University of Hertfordshire’s School of Physics, Astronomy and Mathematics, has shown them what to look for – the long bright lines across the sky produced by meteors as they enter the atmosphere – and how to distinguish them from planes from nearby Luton airport.

Eggs and lemons

Dr Geach, who studies galaxies, also has a second task for the children, directly related to his own research.

He plans to give the children access to images from the Subaru telescope on Hawaii, which takes pictures of deep space, to look for interesting or unusual looking galaxies. “Some of them will not have been seen before and could be very exciting,” he says.

He will come to the school every two weeks to run the club, answer the children’s questions and evaluate their research.

Image caption Some galaxies are lemon-shaped, said Dr Geach

The project has been funded by a grant of almost 3,000 from the Royal Society, the UK’s science academy.

“If they find anything, scientists will be interested,” says Dr Geach.

This kind of engagement by scientists with primary pupils is “one of the things we need to do, as this age is when you can really get them switched on as scientists”, he adds.

Image copyright NAOJ/HSC Collaboration
Image caption The Subaru telescope takes images of galaxies in deep space

This view has strong support from Dr Becky Parker, director of the Institute for Research in Schools, which runs classroom projects involving scientists from the International Space Station, Nasa and the Large Hadron Collider, among others.

“Students get a diet of quite factual based science in school and yet they have the potential to contribute,” she says.

“Why not involve them in doing real science? Teachers find it keeps them inspired and keeps them right at the cutting edge of their subjects.

“Young people don’t necessarily just become clever when they get to university. Let them contribute when they are at school.”

The Royal Society offers about 20 grants a year to universities and schools wanting to collaborate on research.

“It’s all about letting as many schools as possible experience the creative core of science,” says Tom McLeish, professor of physics at Durham University and chairman of the society’s education committee.

Too often a lack of resources in schools makes encountering real science very difficult.

“But, for example, you would be appalled if students had never put pen to paper when doing art GCSE, or never made any kind of music while doing music A-level.

“If all you have done is learn the facts of what biology or chemistry have shown us, you haven’t actually engaged with what it is.

“We are passionately committed to making sure that pupils get as rich an experience of science as we possibly can.”

‘Exciting and relevant’

Nearing the end of their school careers, sixth formers at The King’s Academy in Middlesbrough have been chosen to showcase their experiments on the possibility of mimicking the way plants use sunlight to make hydrogen fuel from water at this summer’s Royal Society Summer Exhibition in London.

They hope their work on artificial photosynthesis, in conjunction with Teesside University, could pave the way for a new method of producing hydrogen gas to run cars and fuel cells.

For the last few months the teenagers have spent Saturday mornings and Wednesday afternoons synthesising chemicals at the university laboratories, working with equipment their school could never afford.

Image copyright Teesside University
Image caption Nazmin Akhtar, 17, hopes the project will boost the efficiency of hydrogen fuel cells

Nazmin Akhtar, 17, described how the team developed catalysts able to “split water to produce oxygen and to create the hydrogen gas which is the fuel”.

“Obviously we are running out of fossil fuels now, so we need to find new ways of making fuel and sustaining the environment,” she says.

“I love learning about renewable fuels – it is one of my passions. I am so glad I chose to do this project.”

Her chemistry teacher Brian Casson says the opportunity to work on a project as “exciting and relevant as this” had widened his students’ horizons.

“It’s been such an eye-opening thing for them… I hope it will turn them into scientists for the future. It really has given them a vision of what science is about.”

Teesside University lecturer Dr Anna Reynal, who has been working on artificial photosynthesis for six years, says the students are experiencing real research.

“This has not been done many times and we don’t know what the result is going to be. We don’t know that it’s going to work.”

Back at Wheatfields, Dr Geach warns the Sky Explorers that unexpected results can pave the way to new knowledge.

“One of the most important things about science is making mistakes,” he says. “There are no wrong answers.”

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Are Left-Handed People More Gifted Than Others? Our Study Suggests It May Hold True For Maths

The Conversation

The belief that there is a link between talent and left-handedness has a long history. Leonardo da Vinci was left-handed. So were Mark Twain, Mozart, Marie Curie, Nicola Tesla and Aristotle. Its no different today former US president Barack Obama is a left-hander, as is business leader Bill Gates and footballer Lionel Messi.

But is it really true that left-handers are more likely to be geniuses? Lets take a look at the latest evidence including our new study on handedness and mathematical ability.

It is estimated that between 10% and 13.5% of the population are not right-handed. While a few of these people are equally comfortable using either hand, the vast majority are left-handed.

Hand preference is a manifestation of brain function and is therefore related to cognition. Left-handers exhibit, on average, a more developed right brain hemisphere, which is specialised for processes such as spatial reasoning and the ability to rotate mental representations of objects.

The corpus callosum. Life Science Databases(LSDB)/wikipedia, CC BY-SA

Also, the corpus callosum the bundle of nerve cells connecting the two brain hemispheres tends to be larger in left-handers. This suggests that some left-handers have an enhanced connectivity between the two hemispheres and hence superior information processing. Why that is, however, is unclear. One theory argues that living in a world designed for right-handers could be forcing left-handers to use both hands thereby increasing connectivity. This opens up the possibility that we could all achieve enhanced connectivity by training ourselves to use both hands.

These peculiarities may be the reason why left-handers seem to have an edge in several professions and arts. For example, they are over-represented among musicians, creative artists, architects and chess players. Needless to say, efficient information processing and superior spatial skills are essential in all these activities.

Handedness and mathematics

But what about the link between left-handedness and mathematical skill? Unsurprisingly, the role played by handedness in mathematics has long been a matter of interest. More than 30 years ago, a seminal study claimed left-handedness to be a predictor of mathematical precociousness. The study found that the rate of left-handedness among students talented in mathematics was much greater than among the general population.

However, the idea that left-handedness is a predictor of superior intellectual ability has been challenged recently. Several scholars have claimed that left-handedness is not related to any advantage in cognitive skills, and may even exert detrimental effects on general cognitive function and, hence, academic achievement.

For example, one study discovered that left-handed children slightly under-performed in a series of developmental measures. Also, a recent review reported that left-handers appear to be slightly over-represented among people with intellectual disabilities. Another large study found that left-handers performed more poorly in mathematical ability in a sample of children aged five to 14.

Carefully designed experiment

Interestingly, these past studies, just like many others, differed from each other in how handedness was measured and how participants were categorised some of them simply asked people what their hand preference was in general. And, most importantly, they had different approaches to measuring mathematical ability ranging from simple arithmetic to complex problem solving. These discrepancies in the experimental design may be the cause of the mixed observed results.

To get more reliable results, we decided to carry out a whole series of experiments including more than 2,300 students (in primary school and high school). These experiments varied in terms of type and difficulty of mathematical tasks.

To assure comparability, we used the same questionnaire the Edinburgh Inventory to assess handedness in all the experiments. This questionnaire asks people which hand they prefer for writing, drawing, throwing, brushing and other things. It assesses to what extent someone prefers their right or left its a scale rather than a categorical left versus right assessment. This specific feature allowed us to build more reliable and powerful statistical models.


Could training to use both hands boost mathematical ability?enixii/flickr

The results, published in Frontiers, show that left-handers outperformed the rest of the sample when the tasks involved difficult problem-solving, such as associating mathematical functions to a given set of data. This pattern of results was particularly clear in male adolescents. By contrast, when the task was not so demanding, such as when doing simple arithmetic, there was no difference between left- and right-handers. We also discovered that extreme right-handers individuals who said they prefer to use their right hand for all items on the handedness test under-performed in all the experiments compared to moderate right-handers and left-handers.

Left-handers seem to have, on average, an edge when solving demanding mathematical tasks at least during primary school and high school. Also, being strongly right-handed may represent a disadvantage for mathematics. Taken together, these findings show that handedness, as an indicator of connectivity between brain hemispheres, does influence cognition to some extent.

That said, handedness is just an indirect expression of brain function. For example, onlya thirdof the people with a more developed right hemisphere are left-handed. So plenty of right-handed people will have a similar brain structure as left-handers. Consequently, we need to be cautious in interpreting peoples hand preference whether we see it as a sign of genius or a marker for cognitive impairment.

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Researchers Reveal The Multi-Dimensional Universe Of The Brain

The human brain is a convoluted labyrinth of passages in constant flux routes are being created, strengthened, and deconstructed on a daily basis. On top of this, there are billionsof neurons communicating with each other all day, every dayvia these ever-changing passages. At their junctions, there are synapses about 1 quadrillion of them. If this all sounds complicated enough, then add a mind-boggling 11 dimensions to the mix.

Get ready, this new research is set to be a head-twister.

The study, published in Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience, uses algebraic topology to reveal the multi-dimensional architecture of the brain. This branch of mathematics harnesses abstract algebra to study topological spaces, such as spheres, knots, and tori.

The team from Blue Brain Project primarily focused on cliques and cavities to paint a picture of the structures and spaces within the brain. When neurons form a clique, they connect to every other neuron in the group in a way that forms a precise geometric object. The more neurons there are in a clique, the more connections there are, and the greater the dimension of the object.

We found a world that we had never imagined, said neuroscientist Henry Markram, director of Blue Brain Project, in a statement, there are tens of millions of these objects even in a small speck of the brain, up through seven dimensions. In some networks, we even found structures with up to eleven dimensions.

The purpose of such work is to try to peel back the relatively flat representation of the brain we have and reveal the multi-dimensional internal workings of the brain.

A representation of theneurons and connections that, in terms of the model, make up multi-dimensional “cliques”. Above is a 5-dimensional simplex. Blue Brain Project

When the team then added a stimulus into the virtual brain, progressively higher dimensional cliques assembled and enclosed holes, or cavities. Much of these developments, however, were ephemeral.

Co-author Ran Levi paints it in a simpler fashion: The appearance of high-dimensional cavities when the brain is processing information means that the neurons in the network react to stimuli in an extremely organized manner. It is as if the brain reacts to a stimulus by building then razing a tower of multi-dimensional blocks, starting with rods (1D), then planks (2D), then cubes (3D), and then more complex geometries with 4D, 5D, etc. The progression of activity through the brain resembles a multi-dimensional sandcastle that materializes out of the sand and then disintegrates.

The team did their best to verify their findings by testing the results on real brain tissue. They state that their virtual discoveries were biologically relevant and suggest that the brain constantly rewires itself during development to construct a high-dimensional structure.

It is key to note that the objects in this study are not more than three dimensions outside the space of this model, its just that the mathematics used to describe the intricacy can have more dimensions.

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Even An AI Supercomputer Found This College Entrance Exam Tough

If you are getting stressed about upcoming exams then youre not alone, so is this artificially intelligent (AI) machine.

Last week, a top AI system was pitted against nearly 10 million students to face the maths paper for a much-feared Chinese university entrance exam, known as gaokao. Unfortunately for robotkind, its results were pretty mediocre.

The computer a humming tower of eleven servers with no Internet connection called AI-MATHS scored 105 points out of 150 points. On another version of the test, it scored 100. Although that beats the passing score of 90, humanities students had previously scored an average of 109 last year.

That said, the machine finished the exam in 10 minutes when humans are given two hours to complete the exam.

Scientists recently saidartificial intelligence will be able to beat humans at everything by 2060, whether that’squizzes, exams, chess, or the game Go. In response to the study, Elon Musk then tweeted that he believes AI-superiority will actually be earlier, around 2030 or 2040.

That doesnt mean this AI is slow off the mark, however. The computer itself would be able to deal with raw numbers with no problem. Instead, the purpose of this task was to understand the examination in terms of language, something that computers are not so sharp with at the moment.

“This is not a make-or-break test for a robot. The aim is to train artificial intelligence to learn the way humans reason and deal with numbers,” said Lin Hui, CEO of Chengdu Zhunxingyunxue Technology, who developed the AI, according to Chinese news agencyXinhua.

For example, the robot had a hard time understanding the words ‘students’ and ‘teachers’ on the test and failed to understand the question, so it scored zero for that question.

Gaokao isinfamously rigorous and renowned for being overwhelming stressful for the young people that take it. Made up of four three-hour papers in Chinese, English, mathematics, and a choice of either sciences or humanities, the series of tests rely on an extensive range of knowledge, problem-solving skills, and obscure creative thinking. The mathematics exam itself is said to be about as tough as the same level college exam in the West.

Nevertheless, the researchers continue to work with China’s Ministry of Science and Technology and remain optimistic their AI will improve in the exams in no time at all.

I hope next year the machine can improve its performance on logical reasoning and computer algorithms and score over 130,” Lin added.

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Can you solve it? The incredible sponge puzzle

This brainteaser will wring out your brain

Hi guzzlers.

For todays puzzle, let me introduce you to the Menger sponge, a fascinating object first described by the Austrian mathematician Karl Menger in 1926. Well get to the problem as soon as I explain what the object is.

The Menger sponge is a cube with smaller cubes extracted from it, and is constructed as follows: Step A: Take a cube. Step B: Divide it into 27 smaller subcubes, so it looks just like a Rubiks cube.



Step C: Remove the middle subcube in each side as well as the subcube at the centre of the cube, so if you looked through any hole you would see right through it. Step D: Repeat steps A to C for each of the remaining subcubes, that is, imagine that each subcube is made from 27 even smaller cubes and remove the middle one in each side and the central one.

We could carry on repeating steps A to C ad infinitum, on smaller and smaller subcubes, but here lets do it just once more:

Menger sponge. Illustration: Edmund Harriss/Visions of Numberland

Menger sponges are so loved within the maths community that building origami models of them out of business cards is a thing.

Menger sponge made as part of Matt Parker and Laura Taalmans MegaMenger project. Photograph: MegaMenger

There are lots* of reasons why Menger sponges are cool and one of them is illustrated by todays puzzle.

How to slice a cube in two.

On the left here is how you slice a cube in half such that the cross section is a hexagon.

When you slice a Menger sponge in two like this, what does the hexagonal slice look like?

This question is probably the most difficult one I have ever set in this column, as it requires phenomenal levels of spatial intuition. But I urge you to give it a go, even if just a basic sketch. Send me some images, or post them to me on social media. You may draw something along the right lines…

Please forgive me, though, for posing this toughie. The answer is jaw-droppingly amazing. In fact, I was told about the Menger slice by a respected geometer who told me it gave him probably his biggest wow moment in maths. Come back at 5pm BST and see for yourself.

NO SPOILERS PLEASE! Please talk about Karl Menger and origami instead.

Photograph: Bloomsbury

Both the Menger sponge and the Menger slice are included in my latest book, Visions of Numberland: A Colouring Journey Through the Mysteries of Maths. The book is a gallery of the most spectacular images that Edmund Harriss, my co-author, and I could find in maths. You can colour them in, or just contemplate them in black and white.

I set a puzzle here every two weeks on a Monday. Send me your email if you want me to alert you each time I post a new one.

Im always on the look-out for great puzzles. If you would like to suggest one, email me.

* Here are a couple. 1) Each time you follow the iteration described in steps A to C you decrease the volume of the sponge, but increase its surface area. After an infinite number of iterations, you will have removed an infinite number of cubes. The sponge will then have zero volume and infinite surface area. 2) After an infinite number of iterations, the object is a fractal, that is, it contains parts that are identical to the whole thing.

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Here’s the world’s favorite number and why it makes perfect sense

The latest news from the none-of-your-thoughts-are-original department comes from mathematics blogger Alex Bellos, who set out to determine the worlds favorite number.

Bellos apparently doesnt have a favorite number himself, but as Nautiluswrites, he began asking people about their favorite numbers a few years ago, and after setting up theFavourite Numberwebsite, more than 44,000 people voted for the numeral they liked best and explained why.

Heres what Bellos discovered.

The third-most popular number is 8, because, as some of Belloss respondents wrote, In Japan, eight is a lucky number, because the Japanese character for eight means an opening to the future and because of its symmetrical and round shape and because it has always given me a sense of friendliness and warmth (unlike, for example, 9 which looks bossy or 6 which appears to me a bit submissive).

No. 2 on the list is the No. 3, because Its curly, but not pretentious curly like eight and because in Chinese, “3 means alive.

But the worlds most favorite number is No. 7. As for why, Bello will explain that himself. Its basically because of our desire to be outliers when it comes to arithmetical patterns.

As for why numbers ending in 0 or 5 are unpopular, Bellos said its because we use those numbers as approximations more than, say, 7 or 9.

When we say 100, we dont usually mean exactly 100, we mean around 100, Bellos told Nautilus. So 100 seems incredibly vague. Why would you have something as your favorite that is so vague?It seems that we like our numbers to be somewhat unique, which may be why prime numbers are popular. They arent divisible by any smaller numbers (aside from 1).

Belloss research was revealed in 2014, but his conclusion has been bouncing all over the internet for the past few days. Because your favorite number is probably a topic thatis endlessly fascinating.

Interestingly, the number 13 isnt as unpopular as you might think. It ranks as the sixth-most popular favorite number (but decidedly lower among people who have been hacked to pieces by Jason Voorhees).

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Space historian Amy Shira Teitel is changing the face of online educaiton

The Daily Dot is celebrating Woman Crush Wednesday, better known as #WCWonTwitterandInstagram, by highlighting female creators onYouTubewhose work we admire.

Like all great love stories, Amy Shira Teitels longtime affair with space history has been a winding and unpredictable road. She has turned this lifelong pursuit into a full-time business that has launched her as a writer and expert. Now the author, blogger, vlogger, and TV host is using her digital media presence to champion women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (S.T.E.M.)—making the often-academic topic of space accessible to anyone who is interested.

As a 7-year-old, Teitel presented a poster to her second-grade class on the many ways Venus was the opposite of Earth. But despite being obsessed with space and science throughout her education in Canada, Teitel soon realized that it was the history of science that intrigued her the most. After picking up a masters degree in science technology studies, a program that wasnt the right fit, Teitel moved to Phoenix. Not yet ready to pursue a Ph.D. but at a loss on how to pursue academia any other way, Teitel spent her days blogging on Vintage Spaceand nights working as a personal trainer. Four months into her blogging career, started in 2010, her Vintage Space articles began to gain traction across publications like Nerdist and the Guardian; Al Jazeera began asking her to write regular, original content.

With her niche blog gaining steam, Teitel decided to put a Ph.D. on the back burner to see what other unexpected opportunities might present themselves. In 2012, she first opened her YouTube channelas a space to make teasers for her blog posts, which were filing at a vast 2,500 words. The channel eventually transformed into a full-time education hub with videos covering everything about space exploration from the 1960s onward. Her videos quickly gained notice not only for their original content, but for the fact that she—a pink-haired cat lover with tattoos—was inspiring other women in the overly male dominated field of education on YouTube. It was her YouTube videos that sparked DNews to hire her as a regular host, and spurred her TV appearances on Science Channel, American Heroes Channel, SyFy, and the Travel Channel.

Like a skilled acrobat spinning plates without missing a step, Teitel added author to her business card in 2015 after publishing her debut book, Breaking the Chains of Gravity. After my deep research and years of watching her channel, I can confidently say that everything she puts her mind to will work out strongly.Her years of building a brand around her passion continue to show others that it is possible for them to do the same. So as young girls continue to push back against the boys’ club of S.T.E.M., Teitel stands as a heroine using her videos to shatter taboos around who and how someone can succeed in science.

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