Category: Math News

FBI Directors Shock Claim: Chinese Students Are a Potential Threat

Asian American advocacy groups are blasting FBI Director Chris Wray for telling Congress that Chinese students in the United States may be covertly gathering intelligence for their government back home.

Wrays comments came during the Senate intelligence committees annual open hearing on the greatest threats to the country. A host of Intelligence Community leaders shared a litany of concerns about dangers from around the globe. Then Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, asked Wray about the counterintelligence risk posed to U.S. national security from Chinese students, particularly those in advanced programs in science and mathematics.

Wray took it from there.

The use of non-traditional collectors, especially in the academic settingwhether its professors, scientists, studentswe see in almost every field office that the FBI has around the country, he said. Its not just in major cities. Its in small ones as well, its across basically every discipline. And I think the level of naivete on the part of the academic sector about this creates its own issues.

Whats more, Wray added, the Bureau is actively investigating some Chinese government-backed groups that facilitate dialogues between Chinese and American academics. It was a rare revelation of active FBI investigationsone that drew pointed criticism from Asian-American advocacy and student groups.

OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates, a group that works on issues related to Asian American and Pacific Islanders, said in a statement that they found Wrays comments dishonest and insulting.

It is dangerous and irresponsible for him to accuse many individuals seeking a higher education, or to contribute to their field of study, of spying, the statement said.

His remarks only further insinuates that Chinese and Chinese Americans continue to be treated racially profiled as perpetual foreigners in the intelligence community, the statement continued.

And Jason Li, who heads Stanfords Asian American Students Association, also criticized the comments.

We strongly denounce Director Wrays comments, which fall in line with a long history of targeting, vilifying, and scapegoating immigrants under the cloak of national security, he said in a statement. International students are our friends, our colleagues, and our family…This overreach of national security harms our communities, and we condemn Wrays statements in our fight against racial profiling and discrimination.

The FBI declined to comment on a request for additional details about Wrays comments. A spokesperson for Rubio did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Wray isnt the first FBI official to raise concerns about Chinese government activity and medical research.

Edward You, an agent in the FBIs Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate, told members of Congress last March that the Bureau has concerns about Chinese government-backed efforts to gather massive amounts of data on Americans health. In some cases, he said, government-backed hackers have stolen health data. But in other cases, Americans give away this data to Chinese government-backed labs that specialize in DNA sequencing and diagnostic tests, You said. American health and academic institutions work with these labs, sharing tens of thousands of Americans personal health information with these government-backed entities. He described the situation as a ticking time bomb.

Rubio spurred Mondays comments, and said that while the Kremlin poses major threat, China is the biggest issue of our time. Its a view thats increasingly common in the Trump administration, which has considered curbing the number of foreign students studying STEM to ensure that intellectual property is not transferred to our competitors…such as China.

Theyre exploiting the very open research and development environment that we have, which we all revere, Wray said in response. But theyre taking advantage of this. One of the things were trying to do is to view the Chinese threat as not just a whole of government threat, but a whole-of-society threat, on their end. And I think its going to take a whole-of-society response by us. Its not just the Intelligence Community, but its raising awareness within our academic sector, within our private sector, as part of defense.

With foreign students taking up a large majority of graduate STEM enrollment, it seems that the FBI has taken this to be an intelligence risk.

Intersections of the academic world and alleged Chinese espionage arent unprecedented. In 2015, the Justice Department announced the indictment of six Chinese nationals, including two who met while working on a Defense Department-funded research project as students at a Southern California university. They later stole trade secrets from their employers, which they shared with a university in China, according to the indictment, which said that university went on to use the information to get military contracts.

Court filings show the prosecution is underway.

We understand there is a real threat coming out of China, but expect that top-notched intelligence agencies have better tools to rely on than racial profiling every Chinese person coming to America.
John C. Yang

Espionage isnt the only concern Rubio and Wray discussed at the hearing. Rubio asked Wray if he worries about the Chinese government-funded Confucius Institutes, which partner with American universities. The senator said one concern, which he recently shared with Institute-partnered universities in Florida, is that these programs aim to covertly change American public opinion on the Chinese government by whitewashing its human rights abuses.

Neither Rubio nor Wray went into detail about the Institutes. But the FBI Director said the Bureau has opened investigations into some of them.

We do share concerns about the Confucius Institutes, Wray said. Weve been watching that development for a while. Its just one of many tools that they take advantage of. We have seen some decrease recently in their own enthusiasm and commitment to that particular program, but it is something that were watching warily and in certain instances have developed appropriate investigations into them.

John C. Yang, who heads Asian Americans Advancing Justice, called the whole interchange an affront to the American way.

We cannot have every Chinese student or scientist assumed guilty until proven innocent of a national security threat, he said. We understand there is a real threat coming out of China, but expect that top-notched intelligence agencies have better tools to rely on than racial profiling every Chinese person coming to America.

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People Who Used To Be Ugly Ducklings Share Their Transformations, And We Can Barely Recognize Them (New Pics)

Danish poet and author Hans Christian Andersen published The Ugly Duckling in 1843, and a huge reason why the fairy tale is popular to this day is because of how relatable it is. It’s a heartwarming story about personal transformation for the better, revolving around inner beauty just as much as it does around its outer counterpart.

To prove that the Ugly Duckling Syndrome is an intrinsic part of life, people are constantly sharing (check out part I of this list here) their personal before-and-after photos in the uglyduckling subreddit. Viewing these images, it’s clear that you never know what time has prepared for you. Even though these late bloomers had to wait a little longer than others to fully grow into their looks, the results seem totally worth it. Scroll down to check out their stunning before-and-after images and upvote your favorites!

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Times table check trialled ahead of rollout

Image copyright Getty Images

Thousands of eight and nine-year-olds in England’s primary schools will take a new times tables check this spring.

Some 7,250 pupils in 290 primaries, are expected to take part in the trials of the new multiplication check.

The five-minute test, taken by children in Year 4, will then be fully rolled out over the next two years.

Ministers say the test will identify those struggling, but teaching unions have raised concerns about its benefits.

Supporters have argued that it will help to ensure all children know their tables up to 12 off by heart, but opponents say primary school children are already heavily tested.

Nick Brook, deputy general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers said it was “hugely disappointing” that the Department for Education was still determined to bring in a multiplication tables test.

“This test won’t tell teachers and parents anything they don’t already know about their children. Although school results won’t be published, this government test will be scrutinised by Ofsted when they visit and will therefore become even more significant.

“A pupil’s primary school years are already cluttered with tests and checks. We want all children to succeed at school, but the answer isn’t to test them more.”

Mike Ellicock, chief executive of National Numeracy, said: “While the introduction of this test is underpinned by good intentions, we need to be careful not to knock the joy out of children’s early mathematical experiences or distract schools from building children’s real understanding of numbers.

“Knowing your tables is valuable – we all use them in everyday life – but what is more important is having a real feel for numbers and understanding the patterns behind times tables so children can use the knowledge flexibly in the real world.

“The danger in putting so much emphasis on tables testing – effectively on rote learning – is that it becomes a box-ticking exercise, and hinders the development of practical number sense.”

The former Ofsted chief, Sir Michael Wilshaw, has welcomed the times table trial, saying he is sure it will “make a difference”.

“Good head teachers and good teachers never mind youngsters being tested. Nothing is taught unless it’s learnt,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“I think there’s a place for rote learning, but any good teacher will say that’s not the beginning and end of it. There has to be a deeper conceptual understanding.”

But the Department for Education said the test would last a maximum of five minutes and would allow teachers to monitor a child’s progress.

Schools can take part in the multiplication check voluntarily in June 2019 and it will be compulsory from 2020.

School standards minister Nick Gibb said: “Just as the phonics screening check helps children who are learning to read, the multiplication tables check will help teachers identify those pupils who require extra support.

“This will ensure that all pupils leave primary school knowing their times tables off by heart and able to start secondary school with a secure grasp of the fundamental mathematics they need to fulfil their potential.”

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Scientists Have Found A Way To Slow Light To A Complete Stop

Scientists have proposed a theoretical way that light could be slowed down to a complete stop, using something called “exceptional points”.

Published in Physical Review Letters, the authors describe in their study how previous methods included using a cloud of ultracold atoms of sodium to slow light down to speeds approaching zero, but not quite there.

Their method, however, involves using a waveguide – a structure that guides waves in other words, like a tube – to create exceptional points. These are regions where two complex wavelength patterns meet and merge.

What does that mean exactly? Well, we know that light is a wave (most of the time), and these waves constantly change their shape depending on what they’re moving through.

As Live Science notes, if you tune the properties of a container, you can collapse one of light’s complex waves with its mirror twin. Essentially, they cancel each other out. And the point at which that happens is called an exceptional point.

“In this work, we disclose the relation of the stopped light effect with the phenomenon of [the] exceptional point,” the researchers, Tamar Goldzak and Nimrod Moiseyev from the Israel Institute of Technology and Alexei Mailybaev from the Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics in Brazil, wrote in their paper.

Exceptional points have been shown to have some weird physics before, such as causing lasers to switch on despite energy seemingly being taken away. Sending two wave modes past an exceptional point was described as “driving a car into an icy two-lane tunnel, in which one slides around wildly, but from which one always comes out on the correct side of the road.”

According to this latest paper, in theory, you can cause beams of light to stop moving completely at an exceptional point by changing their properties. The light can then move again when the properties are reversed.

This research is, right now, theoretical. But it could open some interesting avenues for so-called “slow-light applications”, useful for things like telecommunications. And the researchers said the method could apply not just to light waves, but other waves like sound too.


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This Math Question Aimed At Fifth Graders Will Have You Scratching Your Head

Growing up, math was never my strong suit.

Once I got past algebra, it was all kind of a blur to me. Still, it’s important that we learn the basics the best we can, and learning different subjects is important to become a well-rounded student and person.

On occasion, though, a math problem gets posted online that really drives everyone insane trying to figure out the answer. This time, the impossible question is coming out of China, where an image of the assignment was posted to social media site Weibo.

The question appeared on an exam for fifth graders, and translated it reads, “If a ship had 26 sheep and 10 goats onboard, how old is the ship’s captain?”

Kids and adults alike who tried to answer the question came up with some brilliant responses.

Others had other out-of-the-box answers.

“The captain is 36, because 26 10 is 36 and the captain wanted them to add up to his age.”

“The number of the sheep and goats is irrelevant to the captain’s age.”

“The captain is 36 years old. He is quite narcissistic, so the number of animals corresponds to his age.”

“The captain’s age is… I don’t know. I can’t solve this.”

The answer is, of course, that there is insufficient information to know the captain’s age. Because Chinese education relies on repetition and drills, this question aimed to teach students to think critically and differently.

The Shunqing Education Department said the test was aimed to examine “critical awareness and an ability to think independently.” They added that some surveys “show that ordinary primary school students in our country lack the sense of doubt and critical spirit in regard to mathematics.”

(via IFL Science)

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Petition Asks Marvel To Give 25 Percent Of ‘Black Panther’ Profits To Black Communities

A petition is calling on Marvel Studios and The Walt Disney Company to invest 25 percent of the profits for the hot new film “Black Panther” into the black community.

Created by a user named Chaz Gormley, the petition’s description said that Marvel and Walt Disney Co. have “targeted the black community with their advertisements” for the film.

“Through a clever, well-manufactured marketing campaign Marvel Studios and their parent company The Walt Disney Company have targeted the Black community with their advertisements for the upcoming ‘Black Panther’ film, due to release on February 16, 2018. As marginalized groups have become more vocal, corporations and their savvy public relations departments have turned to catering to these groups – to turn a profit – and this film by Marvel Studios is no different,” the petition reads. 


Gormley goes on to say that while it is a “symbolic victory” to see a major studio film with a majority black cast, black director and art direction helmed by black artists, this achievement doesn’t gain anything for the black community. He cites that Marvel’s marketing campaign has targeted black customers specifically by releasing the film during Black History Month and jazz poet Gil Scott-Heron’s “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”playing in the background of the film’s initial trailer.

Dave J Hogan via Getty Images
The cast of the “Black Panther” movie.

The petition asks that the studios stop simply asking for money from black customers with a film like this, but rather put their money where their mouth is and agree to set aside 25 percent of their worldwide profit “to be allocated for investment in black communities, and in programs within these communities that focus on S.T.E.M.”

“We cannot continue to recklessly support these conglomerates, allowing them to profit off of us without demanding something more than just their products in return,” Gormley writes. “We have the ability to change the conditions our communities and us as a people face, by leveraging the strongest resources we have: our strength in numbers, and our combined ‘spending power.’”

Additionally, the petition states that those who sign are “taking a stand” and refuse to see the film unless Marvel and Walt Disney Co. agree to these demands.

“You have the ability to not only be entertained, but to leave the theater in February knowing that a portion of your money will be coming back into your community,” Gormley wrote.

“To not only go see a film about a fictitious country in Africa with advanced technology, but the opportunity to invest in programs which focus on the fields – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – that make such advancements possible, in real life.”

The petition currently has over 600 signatures and many have remarked on what it’s asking for on Twitter and YouTube: 

Marvel and Walt Disney Co. did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment on the petition, which is asking supporters to use the #BreakBreadMarvel/#BreakBreadDisney hashtags.

Gormley also writes at the end of his petition description that while you could go to the theater and make “wealthy companies even wealthier,” it’s crucial to understand this:

“The revolution will not be televised, because the revolution is here – the revolution is in the people.”

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Air pollution: black, Hispanic and poor students most at risk from toxins study

Children are facing risks that will affect their ability to learn, says expert following study covering 90,000 schools across the US

Air pollution: black, Hispanic and poor students most at risk from toxins study

  • Children are facing risks that will affect their ability to learn
  • Study covered 90,000 schools across the US

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20+ Times People Proved They Were Right In The Best Possible Way

Nothing is as bitter as people thinking you’re full of it when you know you’re right. And nothing tastes as sweet as proving everyone wrong. Bored Panda has compiled a list of some of the most creative ways people proved their rightness, and it’ll prove that sometimes you have to work to earn vindication.

From a contractor vouching for his cabinet’s sturdiness to a guy showing a police officer how sober he is, these people were brave enough to do whatever it takes in the name of truth. Scroll down to check out the effort it sometimes takes to convince others, and vote for your favorite submissions!

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21 Weird Holidays And Their Origin Stories

If social media has taught us anything, it’s that the year is full of unofficial “holidays.” And while it’s always pleasant to realize it’s National Chocolate Day or Siblings Day, other special occasions ― like Fruitcake Toss Day or Yellow Pigs Day ― are less familiar and seem a little tougher to celebrate. 

We looked at sources like Chase’s Calendar of Events, the annual super-calendar of special observances and holidays, to identify some of the most unusual occasions. Many have gone global despite starting off as national, local or even family-specific traditions.

Without further ado: Here are 21 strange and mostly unofficial holidays, plus the stories of how they came to be. 

National Punctuation Day

Sept. 24

Newsletter specialist Jeff Rubin created National Punctuation Day in 2004 to promote and celebrate correctly placed semicolons, periods and ellipses. 

His wife, Norma, apparently got tired of hearing him complain about seeing punctuation being misused, so she encouraged him to do something about it

The website for National Punctuation Day features punctuation-themed products, photo contests, educational resources and even a recipe for the “Official Meat Loaf Of National Punctuation Day.”

Rubin supports the Oxford comma. 

V_Sot via Getty Images

Blame Someone Else Day

The first Friday the 13th of the year

This day is dedicated to not taking responsibility for any of your failings. 

Anne Moeller of Clio, Michigan, reportedly created the holiday in 1982. Legend has it that her alarm didn’t go off one Friday the 13th, which caused her show up late for appointments ― and make excuses ― throughout the day. 

Ice Cream For Breakfast Day

The first Saturday in February

Florence Rappaport of Rochester, New York, started Ice Cream For Breakfast Day in the 1960s. 

“It was cold and snowy and the kids were complaining that it was too cold to do anything. So I just said, ‘Let’s have ice cream for breakfast,’” the mother of six told The Washington Post.

Her two youngest children reminded her of the special day every year after that, and spread the family tradition when they went to college. Ice Cream For Breakfast Day became the subject of newspaper articles around the world, with celebrations taking place in Israel, New Zealand, England, Canada and South Africa.  

paulfourk via Getty Images

Kiss And Make Up Day

Aug. 25

Jacki Milgate pitched the idea of Kiss And Make Up Day to Chase’s Calendar of Events, and the holiday appeared in the publication’s 1992 edition. 

“I thought that it would be a neat idea to have a day dedicated to making amends ― for relationships that need mending,” Milgate told HuffPost. “I come from an Italian family where there was a lot of discord!”

She chose Aug. 25 because it’s her birthday. 

Milgate’s tradition caught on. “I’ve done radio interviews with DJs from as far away as Australia,” she said. “I’ve received letters from all over the country, and Kiss And Make Up Day was even featured in a Wrigley gum ad in USA Today.”

Talk Like A Pirate Day 

Sept. 19

Oregon pals John “Ol’ Chumbucket” Baur and Mark “Cap’n Slappy” Summers created Talk Like a Pirate Day on June 6, 1995, after, for reasons they don’t quite recall, they started using pirate-speak during a game of racquetball

Out of respect for the fact that June 6 is the anniversary of D-Day, they chose to designate Sept. 19 (the birthday of Summers’ ex-wife) as Talk Like a Pirate Day.

“For seven years we celebrated International Talk Like a Pirate Day pretty much on our own, with our friend Brian Rhodes actually reminding us that the event was coming up,” Baur and Summers wrote on their holiday’s official website. 

In 2002, they reached out to humor columnist Dave Barry to share their tradition, and he wrote a piece about it. Talk Like a Pirate Day has since gained a cult following, with individuals and businesses taking part in the fun. 

Imgorthand via Getty Images

Squirrel Appreciation Day

Jan. 21

This squirrel-themed day was the brainchild of Christy Hargrove, a wildlife rehabilitator from North Carolina who was affiliated with the Western North Carolina Nature Center. Hargrove invented Squirrel Appreciation Day in 2001 to celebrate squirrels and educate people about the species. 

You can celebrate the occasion by putting out food for squirrels, reading about the animal or observing them in person. 

Hug Your Hound Day

The second Sunday in September

Dog trainer Ami Moore created Hug Your Hound Day (reportedly in the late 1990s) to strengthen the relationship between dogs and their owners.

“This day is dedicated to celebrating the bond between you and your dog. National Hug Your Hound Day is about truly observing your dog (from their point of view) in their environment and everyday life and for just one day to see the word as your dog sees it,” Moore told blogger Jen Reeder. “As you celebrate your beloved dog, remember that today is about keeping our dog’s healthy, happy and safe at home and in our hearts.” 

Winnie Au via Getty Images

The Duchess Who Wasn’t Day

Aug. 27

The Duchess Who Wasn’t Day celebrates the life and work of Irish author Margaret Wolfe Hungerford (1855-1897), who wrote under the pen name The Duchess. 

It’s not clear why Aug. 27 was chosen as a day to honor the writer, considering her birthday is April 27. Still, the holiday provides a great excuse to read her most famous book, Molly Bawn, which contains the iconic line “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

Draw A Bird Day

April 8

According to lore, a 7-year-old British girl named Dorie Cooper was the inspiration for Draw A Bird Day. In 1943, her mom took her to the hospital to visit her uncle, who was distraught over losing his leg in the war. She asked her uncle to draw her a picture of a bird, so he drew a robin. 

She laughed at his bird drawing but said she would hang it in her room. Dorie’s “complete honesty and acceptance” lifted her uncle’s spirits, and the story cheered up other soldiers in the hospital. Soldiers held drawing contests whenever she visited, and over time the ward was covered in bird art. 

Dorie was hit by a car three years later and died. Her coffin was reportedly filled with bird pictures drawn by soldiers, nurses and doctors from her uncle’s ward. They honored her every year on her birthday, April 8, by drawing birds, and the tradition grew as a way to help soldiers find joy and forget the suffering of war. 

czarny_bez via Getty Images

Wear Something Gaudy Day

Oct. 17

This holiday originates from an episode of the 1970s sitcom “Three’s Company,” in which the character Larry Dallas declared it to be “Wear Something Gaudy Day.” Because of that, Oct. 17 is a great day to dress in your loudest, flashiest, tackiest outfit. 

Yellow Pigs Day

July 17

Yellow Pigs Day supposedly dates back to the early 1960s, when Princeton University math students Michael Spivak and David C. Kelly were exploring the properties of the number 17. At some point, they got a little loopy and thought up the idea of a yellow pig with 17 toes, 17 eyelashes and 17 teeth. 

The association of the number 17 and a yellow pig lived on. Spivak reportedly makes subtle references to it in his writing, and Kelly gives an annual lecture on the number 17 as part of the Yellow Pigs Day celebration during the Hampshire College Summer Studies in Mathematics for high-ability high school students. He also has an extensive collection of yellow pigs. 

undefined undefined via Getty Images

Caps Lock Day

Oct. 22

Caps Lock Day relates to … yep, you guessed it, the caps lock key on a computer keyboard. Derek Arnold of Iowa created the holiday in 2000. 

“International Caps Lock Day is in fact a testament to the small mindedness of certain Western individuals: the majority of the world’s population writes in scripts which have no concept of letter casing,” he has said about the holiday, HuffPost previously reported. “Therefore it is advised to laugh at anyone who invokes this day as an excuse to dismiss local typographical conventions: they are simply making an ass out of themselves.”

Caps Lock Day was originally celebrated on Oct. 22, but Arnold later added a second day of observation: June 28, the day in 2009 that infomercial king Billy Mays died. Some people jokingly refer to the caps lock key as the “Billy Mays” key because of his famously loud voice. 

National Open An Umbrella Indoors Day

March 13

According to superstition, opening an umbrella indoors will cause bad luck to “rain down” on you. A gentleman in Maryland named Thomas Edward Knibb apparently thought this was a load of B.S. 

Knibb reportedly invented National Open An Umbrella Indoors Day in 2003 as a way to defy the superstition. He encourages people to open their umbrellas inside and realize that nothing bad will happen to them.

Giambra via Getty Images

Working Naked Day

The first Friday in February

It should go without saying, but you’re meant to celebrate Working Naked Day by working from home

Home office expert and author Lisa Kanarek created the holiday in 2011.

“Working Naked Day is about celebrating the freedom you have to work from home and enjoying a sweet arrangement that allows you to spend time with your family, set your own hours, and say goodbye to your boss and annoying co-workers,” she wrote on her website

Ampersand Day

Sept. 8

Typographer and graphic designer Chaz DeSimone founded Ampersand Day in 2015. He says on his website that he chose Sept. 8 because several of the characters in the word “September,” as well as the numeral 8, “can be cleverly disguised as ampersands, when the right fonts are used.”

DeSimone encourages people to celebrate by using lots of ampersands, substituting ”&” for “and” wherever possible, designing new styles of ampersands and replacing syllables and parts of friends names with ampersands ― like &roid, c&elabra, Gr&ma, and Alex&er.  

PhotosbyBetz via Getty Images

Be Kind To Lawyers Day

The second Tuesday in April

The first Be Kind To Lawyers Day took place in 2008. The unofficial holiday is the brainchild of Steve Hughes, “a mild-mannered non-lawyer from St. Louis, Missouri” who worked with lawyers on their presentation skills ― a job he enjoyed very much. 

“However, whenever Steve mentioned to friends, neighbors, and people who sat next to him on airplanes that he worked with lawyers he was met with crinkled up faces, snide remarks, and sarcastic sighs,” the website for the holiday explains. “They would say things like, ‘Lawyers? I bet that’s a treat.’ Or, ‘Lawyers? You poor thing.’ (Can’t you just feel the hate?) Suddenly he found himself playing defense counsel for an entire profession.”

Hughes eventually decided to create a special day to honor lawyers. He chose the second Tuesday in April because it falls between April Fool’s Day and Tax Day.   

Fruitcake Toss Day

Jan. 3

The exact history of this holiday is unconfirmed, but many people believe Fruitcake Toss Day originated in Manitou Springs, Colorado, as a way for people to get rid of unwanted fruitcake after Christmas. 

The town held an annual “fruitcake toss” beginning in 1996. The annual event used to take place on one of the first Saturdays in January, but the date has been pushed back in recent years and many calendars recognize Fruitcake Toss Day as Jan. 3

wideonet via Getty Images

National Nothing Day

Jan. 16

Given there seems to be an occasion to honor every single day of the year, Nothing Day comes as a relief. 

Newspaper columnist Harold Pullman Coffin proposed National Nothing Day in 1972 as an unofficial holiday to give people “a day where they can just sit without celebrating, observing, or honoring anything.” 

Plan Your Epitaph Day

April 6 and Nov. 2

California entrepreneur Lance Hardie invented Plan Your Own Epitaph Day while working as a special events producer for KHSU radio in 1995. He submitted the event to Chase’s Calendar of Events, which printed it in the next edition. 

The occasion occurs on Nov. 2 (the Day of the Dead) and April 6, which is around the time of China’s Ching Ming Festival (an occasion to visit graves and burial grounds to pray to your ancestors). As the name suggests, Plan Your Epitaph Day encourages people to think about what will go on their tombstones after they die. 

Castort via Getty Images

No Brainer Day

Feb. 27

Adrienne Sioux Koopersmith, who bills herself as “America’s premier eventologist,” reportedly created this holiday so people could give themselves a break from projects involving a great deal of thought or analysis.  

Pretend To Be A Time Traveler Day

Dec. 8

Pretend To Be A Time Traveler Day originates from the now-defunct Koala Wallop forums. The online community established the special day and set the ground rules in 2007. 

Participants must spend the entire day portraying a character ― costumes and all ― that can come from the past or the future, dystopian or utopian. People honoring the holiday can’t tell anyone they’re a time traveler. 

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25 High-Paying Jobs That Are Perfect For Shy People

Shy people can thrive in certain occupations and work environments.

Business Insider scoured Occupational Information Network (O*NET) to find out what jobs are a great fit for shy people.

Many of the jobs we found are in the field of science.

Shy people are often at risk of getting shouted over and ignored in certain office settings, regardless of how talented and competent they are.

But that doesn’t mean that reserved, quiet employees always have to be relegated to workplace wallflowers.

Some occupations actually seem tailor-made for the shyer individuals among us.

Business Insider reviewed the Occupational Information Network (O*NET), a US Department of Labor database that compiles detailed information on hundreds of jobs, and looked at salary data on the US Bureau of Labor Statistics’ website to find positions with a median annual salary of over $75,000 that do not require much social interaction.

O*NET ranks how important “preferring work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job” is in any job, assigning each a “social orientation importance level” between 1 and 100.

Here are 25 high-paying positions with a social orientation importance level of 40 or lower:

Molecular and cellular biologists

University of Liverpool/Flickr  CC BY 2.0

Median salary: $75,150

Social orientation importance level: 32

Molecular and cellular biologists study the nature and use of areas of the Earth’s surface, relating and interpreting interactions of physical and cultural phenomena.

Network and computer systems administrators

Strelka Institute/Flickr  CC By 2.0

Median salary: $77,810

Social orientation importance level: 39

Network and computer systems administrators install, configure, and support an organization’s local area network, wide area network, and Internet systems or a segment of a network system.

Biochemists and biophysicists

MilitaryHealth/Flickr  CC BY 2.0

Median salary: $82,150

Social orientation importance level: 25

Biochemists and biophysicist study the chemical composition or physical principles of living cells and organisms, their electrical and mechanical energy, and related phenomena.

Fuel cell engineers

Science Photo/Shutterstock

Median salary: $83,590

Social orientation importance level: 36

Fuel cell engineers design, evaluate, modify, or construct fuel cell components or systems for transportation, stationary, or portable applications.

Web administrators


Median salary: $85,240

Social orientation importance level: 32

Web administrators manage web environment design, deployment, development and maintenance activities. They perform testing and quality assurance of websites and web applications.

Biomedical engineers

UC Davis College of Engineering/flickr  CC BY 2.0

Median salary: $86,220

Social orientation importance level: 33

Biomedical engineers apply knowledge of engineering, biology, and biomechanical principles to the design, development, and evaluation of biological and health systems and products, such as artificial organs and prostheses.

Database architects

VFS Digital Design / Flickr  CC BY 2.0

Median salary: $86,510

Social orientation importance level: 40

Database architects design strategies for enterprise database systems and set standards for operations, programming, and security.

Geoscientists, except hydrologists and geographers

Savannah River Site/flickr  CC BY 2.0

Median salary: $89,700

Social orientation importance level: 36

Geoscientists study the composition, structure, and other physical aspects of the Earth. They may use geological, physics, and mathematics knowledge in exploration for oil, gas, minerals, or underground water; or in waste disposal, land reclamation, or other environmental problems.

Material scientists

Peter Zalupski/Wikimedia Commons

Median salary: $91,000

Social orientation importance level: 38

Material scientists research and study the structures and chemical properties of various natural and synthetic or composite materials, including metals, alloys, rubber, ceramics, semiconductors, polymers, and glass.

Materials engineers

UC Davis College of Engineering  CC BY 2.0

Median salary: $91,310

Social orientation importance level: 35

Materials engineers evaluate materials and develop machinery and processes to manufacture materials for use in products that must meet specialized design and performance specifications. They develop new uses for known materials.

Marine architects


Median salary: $93,350

Social orientation importance level: 40

Marine architects design and oversee construction and repair of marine craft and floating structures such as ships, barges, tugs, dredges, submarines, torpedoes, floats, and buoys. 

Marine engineers

PHOTOCREO Michal Bednarek/Shutterstock

Median salary: $93,350

Social orientation importance level: 40

Marine engineers design, develop, and take responsibility for the installation of ship machinery and related equipment including propulsion machines and power supply systems.

Mechatronics engineers

WorldSkills UK/Flickr  CC BY 2.0

Median salary: $95,900

Social orientation importance level: 35

Mechatronics research, design, develop, or test automation, intelligent systems, smart devices, or industrial systems control.

Nanosystems engineers

BM Photolab/Shutterstock

Median salary: $95,900

Social orientation importance level: 39

Nanosystems engineers design, develop, or supervise the production of materials, devices, or systems of unique molecular or macromolecular composition, applying principles of nanoscale physics and electrical, chemical, or biological engineering.


Ruslan Ivantsov/Shutterstock

Median salary: $97,070

Social orientation importance level: 34

Actuaries analyze statistical data, such as mortality, accident, sickness, disability, and retirement rates and construct probability tables to forecast risk and liability for payment of future benefits.

Microsystems engineers

Intel Free Press/Flickr  CC BY 2.0

Median salary: $97,300

Social orientation importance level: 40

Microsystems engineers research, design, develop, or test microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) devices.

Photonics engineers

Vladimir Nenezic/Shutterstock

Median salary: $97,300

Social orientation importance level: 40

Photonics engineers design technologies specializing in light information or light energy, such as laser or fiber optics technology.

Applications software developers

Flickr / Fabrizio Salvetti  CC BY 2.0

Median salary: $98,260

Social orientation importance level: 33

Software developers develop, create, and modify general computer applications software or specialized utility programs.


Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design/Flickr  CC BY 2.0

Median salary: $99,180

Social orientation importance level: 35

Economists conduct research, prepare reports, or formulate plans to address economic problems related to the production and distribution of goods and services or monetary and fiscal policy.

Environmental economists

greensefa/Flickr  CC BY 2.0

Median salary: $99,180

Social orientation importance level: 33

Environmental economists conduct economic analysis related to environmental protection and use of the natural environment, such as water, air, land, and renewable energy resources.


Grand Canyon NPS/flickr  CC BY 2.0

Median salary: $104,100

Social orientation importance level: 24

Astronomers observe, research, and interpret astronomical phenomena to increase basic knowledge or apply such information to practical problems.


ResoluteSupportMedia/Flickr  CC BY 2.0

Median salary: $111,110

Social orientation importance level: 32

Mathematicians conduct research in fundamental mathematics or in application of mathematical techniques to science, management, and other fields.


University of the Fraser Valley/flickr  CC BY 2.0

Median salary: $111,580

Social orientation importance level: 37

Physicists conduct research into physical phenomena, develop theories on the basis of observation and experiments, and devise methods to apply physical laws and theories.

Computer hardware engineers

Srdjan Radovanovic/Shutterstock

Median salary: $111,730

Social orientation importance level: 21

Computer hardware engineers research, design, develop, or test computer or computer-related equipment for commercial, industrial, military, or scientific use.

Water resource specialists

Tim Green/Flickr  CC BY 2.0

Median salary: $119,850

Social orientation importance level: 40

Water resource specialists design or implement programs and strategies related to water resource issues such as supply, quality, and regulatory compliance issues.

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