A comprehensive collection of articles for you to become well versed in the world of science and engineering.

December 17th, 2010

Students know effective teaching when they see it

So says the Measures of Effective Teaching Project, a major ($45M) effort to assess teacher quality funded by the Gates Foundation. Preliminary findings were released earlier in the week. Key quote from the report: When a teacher teaches multiple classes, student perceptions of his or her practice are remarkably consistent across different groups of students. … read more

December 10th, 2010

Science funding: an alternative approach

From Wired, an alternative to agencies and foundations for science funding: 3 different Kiva-style microfinance organizations that pool small donations from many individuals to fund particular projects. This kind of thing can’t scale to anything NIH-like – the NIH’s annual budget is literally one million times greater than the total raised by all three projects … read more

December 2nd, 2010

NSF in the crosshairs

The New York Times recently launched a crowdsourcing initiative to see how people would choose to balance the federal budget. The Times gave people the option to pick and choose from a collection of budget cutting measures that had been proposed by various committees and think tanks: The Simpson/Bowles deficit commission, the Cato Institute, the … read more

December 2nd, 2010

Gender differences in science: a cure?

Science has a fascinating study at the University of Colorado at Boulder: a simple, 30 minute intervention erased the gender gap in physics grades in a randomized, double-blind study. (Here are two summaries for those without a subscription.) The gist: in weeks 1 and 4 of the 15 week course, students spent 15 minutes writing … read more

November 23rd, 2010

Leaving academia

Harvard CS professor and blogger Matt Welsh just announced that he will be leaving Harvard to join Google. His reasons sound similar to my own motivation for leaving Dartmouth 12 years ago for Microsoft: The cynical view is that as an academic systems researcher, the very best possible outcome for your research is that someone … read more

November 21st, 2010

Rankings update

Quiet on the blog is often good news: it means that web site improvements are in thw works. Today we’ve rolled out some nice speedups of the rankings site. One of the hazards of working with great hardware and software when developing a site is that it’s easy to forget that there are lots of … read more

November 13th, 2010

Graduate enrollments are up

The Council of Graduate Schools has released their annual report on graduate enrollments. Here’s their key point: “The strong growth in first-time graduate enrollment is an indication of the continued high value of graduate education,” said CGS President Debra W. Stewart. “In particular, the 6.0% gain in first-time U.S. enrollment reflects the increasing necessity of … read more

November 11th, 2010

DIY stem cells

In the 19th century gold and silver rushes here in California, a few miners struck it rich by discovering gold and silver. But many more of the companies that persist to this day made their fortunes by providing services to the miners. Levis, Wells Fargo, etc. I wonder if there are similar opportunities on the … read more

November 9th, 2010

The Next Big Thing

Today’s Times has an article on hot fields in science. Right now it’s stem cells, but the article asks about how much one can predict big breakthroughs in general. The interviewees are skeptical of the ability to predict big discoveries, but: …even if it’s impossible to predict a particular major discovery, one can sometimes sense … read more

November 4th, 2010

Waiter, there’s a drosophila melanogaster in my soup

I’ve merged the two BLS data sets mentioned in the previous post and have added the merged set as the third sheet in the Google spreadsheet – there are links at the bottom of the spreadsheet to the different sheets. (The whole merge took about 20 lines of python, a language that every science and … read more