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.