Category Archives: Passion

Mathematical thinking: Patterns

Source: AMS, Sep 2013

… mathematical thinking is rooted in the ability to extract patterns and make non-intuitive connections. 

Why the STEM Gender Gap is Overblown

Source: PBS, Apr 2015

1. Men do not outnumber women in all STEM fields

Gender equity in STEM means that females account for 50 percent of the individuals involved in STEM fields. When we look at the percentage of STEM bachelor’s degrees awarded to female students for the last two decades, based on NSF statistics, we find that there is no gender difference in the biosciences, the social sciences, or mathematics, and not much of a difference in the physical sciences. The only STEM fields in which men genuinely outnumber women are computer science and engineering.

2. Women and men are equally capable of doing STEM work

The fact is that men and women score equivalently on tests of raw IQ, with some studies showing women scoring slightly higher. When it comes to mathematics—a core requirement for science and engineering—women score on average only 32 points lower than men on the SAT— a mere 3 percent difference.

While men outnumber women in the “genius” SAT math score range (700-800), the ratio is not that large (1.6 to 1). Men show only an insignificant five-point advantage over women on the quantitative section of the Graduate Record Examination, and they score one point lower than women on the analytic section.

3. Sex-linked interest preferences are not mere artifacts of socialization

Newborn girls prefer to look at faces while newborn boys prefer to look at mechanical stimuli (such as mobiles). When it comes to toys, a consistent finding is that boys (and juvenile male monkeys) strongly prefer to play with mechanical toys over plush toys or dolls, while girls (and female juvenile monkeys) show equivalent interest in the two. (See this for summary of this research.)

These sex-linked preferences emerge in human development long before any significant socialization can have taken place. And they exist in juvenile non-human primates that are not exposed to human gender-specific socialization efforts.

4. Different preferences don’t mean women’s are less important

The hidden assumption underlying the push to eliminate gender gaps in traditionally male-dominated fields is that such fields are intrinsically more important and more valuable to society than fields that traditionally appeal to women.

The bottom line

Women are clearly capable of doing well in STEM fields traditionally dominated by men, and they should not be hindered, bullied, or shamed for pursuing careers in such fields.

But we also should not be ashamed if our interests differ from men’s. If we find certain careers more intrinsically rewarding than men do, that does not mean we have been brainwashed by society or herded into menial fields of labor. Instead, we should demand that greater intrinsic and monetary compensation be awarded to the work we like and want to do.

JK Rowling’s 2008 Harvard Commencement Speech

Source: Harvard website, Jun 2006

I have learned to value imagination in a much broader sense.

Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathise with humans whose experiences we have never shared.

Apple Helps to Track your Sex Life

Source: Live Science, Jun 2015

The sexual-activity tracking feature will be included as part of a new “reproductive health” section within Apple’s Health Kit app, which will be available with the iOS9 update. Users will be able to log the day and time that they had sex, and whether they used protection.

Apple’s Health Kit will also allow users to track other measures important for reproductive health, including menstrual cycles, ovulation test results and cervical mucus quality. (Tracking these factors can help a woman know when she’s more likely to get pregnant.)

Warren & Marshall Nobel Prize : H. Pylori

Source: How to Fly a Horse, Jan 2015

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MIT Campus Preview Weekend

Source: MIT admissions blog, Apr 2015

does the sentence “MIT is hard” even mean? It means that come October of the first semester, midnight quasi-philosophical discussions about the future might become pset parties of frustration. Lists of things to do become as long as the infinite corridor, but unlike during CPW, they come with a price tag of your time and an expectation for them to be completed with excellence. At the core of what makes MIT challenging is learning the delicate balance between taking advantage of everything it has to offer and time management, all while doing a good job.

It’s possible and common to be so deep in piles of work that you will NOT be able to finish. (Example: I once made a 48-hour schedule of things I had to do and then realized I forgot to include time to sleep.) It means that even if you go to every recitation and lecture, you might still fail your exam, your interest in the material may vanish, and your mind will be so tired and full of the next thing you have to do and the last thing you haven’t done that it will likely become unable to think of happy things. You get an empty, sinking feeling in your stomach, and you wonder if you’ll be able to make it through the semester, let alone ever measure up to everyone else.

You won’t be alone. In a poll done in 2012, it was found that more than half of the student body surveyed believed they performed below average as compared to their peers. To bring back Lydia’s Meltdown post, “There’s this feeling that no matter how hard you work, you can always be better, and as long as you can be better, you’re not good enough.”

By the time a given class graduates, 35% of students will have gone to get mental health help. And that percentage doesn’t include those who, like me, lacked a “good reason.”

Last year, one of my peers who overcame depression came back to campus and started a happiness club. The club was responsible for purchasing and lining up smiley face balloons all along the infinite corridor as a way to express solidarity with regards to upcoming finals and encourage people to be proactive about their mental health.

What I believe drives the success behind MIT students in the real world is that to survive here, you become an expert at rolling up your sleeves and summoning your grit.

Any kind of progress, scientific or not, is not easy and sometimes seems to be at a standstill no matter how much work you put into it. In the process, you learn about what your boundaries are mentally, physically, and emotionally. You will learn the exact number of hours of sleep you need. You will learn how to accept failure with a smile. That’s what MIT teaches you, and what preview weekend shows if you look hard enough.

Ada Lovelace – the 1st Programmer

Source: The New Yorker, Oct 2013

On January 5, 1841, she asked, “What is Imagination?” Two things, she thought. First, “the combining faculty,” which “seizes points in common, between subjects having no apparent connection,” and then, she wrote, “Imagination is the Discovering Faculty, pre-eminently. It is that which penetrates into the unseen worlds around us, the worlds of Science.”

 Related Resource: PsychCentral, Oct 2014

“Mathematical science shows what is. It is the language of unseen relations between things… Imagination too shows what is … Hence she is or should be especially cultivated by the truly Scientific, those who wish to enter into the worlds around us!”

believed that intuition and imagination were critical to effectively applying mathematical and scientific concepts.


A KFC Reject Becomes China’s Richest Man: Jack Ma

Source: Bloomberg, Jan 2015

You got used to rejection. Weren’t you turned down for admission to college?
There’s an examination for young people to go to university. I failed it three times. I failed a lot. So I applied to 30 different jobs and got rejected. I went for a job with the police; they said, “You’re no good.” I even went to KFC when it came to my city. Twenty-four people went for the job. Twenty-three were accepted. I was the only guy. …

Does Greatness Come from Oddness?

Source: The New Yorker, Feb 2015

Jobs and Ive had an intense first meeting. Ive said, “I can’t really remember that happening really ever before, meeting somebody when it’s just like that”—he snapped his fingers. “It was the most bizarre thing, where we were both perhaps a little—a little bit odd. We weren’t used to clicking.”

… Apple launched its “Think Different” campaign, and Ive took it as a reminder of the importance of “not being apologetic, not defining a way of being in response to what Dell just did.”

… a poster, well known in design circles, that begins, “Believe in your fucking self. Stay up all fucking night,” and ends, many admonitions later, “Think about all the fucking possibilities.”

… he linked the studio’s work to nasa’s: like the Apollo program, the creation of Apple products required “invention after invention after invention that you would never be conscious of, but that was necessary to do something that was new.”

as André put it, “There’s a hexagon pattern of negative shapes that are subtracted from the material from one side, and then there’s the same pattern, subtracted from the material from the other side. But it’s offset, so that the intersection between the two subtractions makes interesting shapes.”

Ive manages newness. He helps balance the need to make technological innovations feel approachable, so that they reach a mass market—Choo Choo—with the requirement that they not be ugly and infantile.

“Elegance in objects is everybody’s right, and it shouldn’t cost more than ugliness.”

“At the risk of sounding terribly sentimental, I do think one of the things that just compel us is that we have this sense that, in some way, by caring, we’re actually serving humanity,” he said. “People might think it’s a stupid belief, but it’s a goal—it’s a contribution that we can hope we can make, in some small way, to culture.”

Abrams told me that “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” would reflect those thoughts, but he wouldn’t say how. After the release of the film’s first trailer—which featured a fiery new lightsabre, with a cross guard, and a resemblance to a burning crucifix.

He craved products that didn’t force adjustments of behavior, that gave what Powell Jobs called a “feeling of gratitude that someone else actually thought this through in a way that makes your life easier.” She added, “That’s what Steve was always looking for, and he didn’t find it until he worked with Jony. . . . They were really happy, they relished each other.”

she and Ive share a taste for Josef Frank, the Austrian-Swedish designer of rounded furniture and floral fabrics, who once announced, in a lecture, “No hard corners: humans are soft and shapes should be, too.”

At Jobs’s memorial, which was held on the lawn at Infinite Loop, Ive said, “Steve used to say to me—and he used to say this a lot—‘Hey, Jony, here’s a dopey idea.’ And sometimes they were: really dopey. Sometimes they were truly dreadful. But sometimes they took the air from the room, and they left us both completely silent. Bold, crazy, magnificent ideas. Or quiet, simple ones which, in their subtlety, their detail, they were utterly profound.” Ive said to me, “I couldn’t be more mindful of him. How could I not, given our personal relationship, and given that I’m still designing in the same place, at the same table, where I spent the last fifteen years with him sat next to me?”

Ive’s position was that people were “O.K., or O.K. to a degree,” with carrying a phone that is identical to hundreds of millions of others, but they would not accept this in something that’s worn. The question, then, was “How do we create a huge range of products and still have a clear and singular opinion?”

Swiping at Love in NYC

Source: NYTimes, Feb 2015

Tinder is a matchmaking service that enables people to connect with one another through no more than a brief swipe on their smartphones. While traditional dating sites, like OKCupid or, use algorithms to sort through personal profiles and to link up strangers with complementary interests, Tinder makes the daters do the choosing, stripping down and speeding up the process. You look at a photo, tagged only with a name, an age and, with a tap, perhaps a short introduction, and then you vote yes by swiping to the right, or no by swiping left.

The app’s popularity is based on two chief aspects of its software. The first, which plays off our desire for instant gratification, is a location function that lets those seeking companionship search for people in their area. The other, which avoids the embarrassment of rejection, is what the company calls the “double opt-in”: a match between two users will occur only if they each signal that they like the other’s profile. The matched pair can then chat through Tinder’s messaging service and, perhaps, meet.

social scientists say apps like Tinder are incredibly effective at identifying a local population of potential mates and at helping people contact one another (through instant-message systems), particularly in large, anonymous places like New York, where traditional modes of introduction — family connections or religious institutions — might not be available. But the apps are not so good, experts say, at predicting or inspiring chemistry; indeed, there is evidence, at least in theory, that New York’s bountiful supply of romantic possibilities can actually erode one’s dedication to any single partner.

“There’s tons of research that suggests if people know they have lots of options, they feel less dependent on and committed to their current option,” Professor Karney said. “But options aren’t the only or the main predictor of commitment. What’s most important is that you actually like your partner. What mobile technology does is make it easier to find someone, if you’re looking.”

“The best way to use Tinder is to see it as an opportunity to meet new people, to make new friends, to have nights out and be introduced to things you might never have done before,” she said. “But if you’re looking for a long-term relationship, if that’s your primary interest, you’re going to have a disappointing experience.”