In University research on December 5, 2013 at 12:08 pm
A typical selection from my reporter’s notebook. Can you make out any of it?
Anyone who’s seen my handwriting would have a hard time mistaking it for someone else’s. The loops and slashes that fill my reporter’s notebooks are unmistakably mine, even if they’re indecipherable to most people. (Fortunately, I can read them… mostly.)
My typing, of course, is easily legible – even though my typing is pretty terrible. I’m able to erase the typos, blank spaces, merged words and other errors.
Now it turns out that my crappy typing is just as recognizable as my crappy handwriting. In fact, we each have a characteristic typing pattern, and some Iowa State University computer researchers are capitalizing on that to strengthen information security.
In University research on October 27, 2013 at 11:15 pm
It’s often how the best scientific discoveries start: When a scientist says, “Well, that’s weird.”
That was pretty much Steve Kawaler’s reaction when he saw data from Kepler-56, one of dozens of stars NASA’s Kepler space telescope flagged as likely to have orbiting planets, known as exoplanets.
Kawaler, an Iowa State University professor of physics and astronomy, is part of a committee overseeing Kepler’s asteroseismic (no, that’s not a typo) research. Asteroseismology is a lot like Earth-bound seismology, Kawaler says. “It’s the same mathematics, the same physics” describing wave propagation and response to conditions like pressure.
But with stars 3,000 light-years away, as Kepler-56 is, scientists can’t plant monitors on the surface to detect and measure waves, like they do here. Instead, astronomers watch for subtle oscillations in light from the star. The frequency and magnitude of those oscillations, combined with readings from instruments like spectrometers, can tell astronomers a lot, including the radius, mass and age of a star and how fast it rotates.
Asteroseismology and other data seemed to tell Kawaler and others in an international team something about Kepler-56 and its planets that they had never seen before.
In STEM on October 18, 2013 at 11:53 am
A summary of comments on the NGSS from Iowa citizens, students, nonprofits and philanthropic groups.
I can say, gladly, that I was wrong.
My fear was unfounded, that Iowa officials (and probably politicians) would kill the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) by shunting their consideration to a task force of administrators, teachers, education experts, parents and students in order to kill them.
It turned out that evolution opponents and climate change deniers failed to hijack an open survey to campaign against the standards, which teach both as supported by the evidence. So I was wrong about that, too, although the survey produced some interesting results.
In the end, the NGSS will go to the Iowa Board of Education with a recommendation for adoption, although not without some provisos.