Links for 2010-11-09

  • "In 1981 the physicist Richard Feynman speculated about the possibility of "tiny computers obeying quantum mechanical laws." He suggested that such a quantum computer might be the best way to simulate real-world quantum systems, a challenge that today is largely beyond the calculating power of even the fastest supercomputers.
    Since then there has been sporadic progress in building this kind of computer. The experiments to date, however, have largely yielded only systems that seek to demonstrate that the principle is sound. They offer a tantalizing peek at the possibility of future supercomputing power, but only the slimmest results.

    Recent progress, however, has renewed enthusiasm for finding avenues to build significantly more powerful quantum computers. Laboratory efforts in the United States and in Europe are under way using a number of technologies."

  • "Many might be surprised that underrepresented minorities aspire to earn STEM degrees at roughly the same rate as other groups. However, only about 20 percent of underrepresented minority students complete undergraduate STEM programs within five years. And while white and Asian American students are more successful, their completion rates are also troubling, with only 33 and 42 percent of those students, respectively, finishing STEM degrees in five years. The country is struggling to remain globally competitive in science and technology. Retaining and graduating undergraduates of all races in STEM fields is clearly an American issue."
  • ""We aim to reduce these women's decisions to leave their programs, if that decision involves discouragement," said Bianca L. Bernstein, an Arizona State professor of counseling and principal investigator of the CareerWISE research program, the $3.2 million NSF grant project that led to the website. "We're taking a completely different tack, and frankly, it's experimental."

    The site, which Bernstein describes as an "online psychological education intervention and prevention program," aims to increase retention of women in the STEM fields by addressing the various challenges they face. A woman visiting the web page is met with situational questions: Do your adviser's priorities differ markedly from your own? As a woman, are you expected to feel or behave in certain ways? Do you wonder how starting a family fits in with your career? Are you having trouble fitting in with the others in your group? Do you wish you were in a more collegial environment?"

  • "Faculty members routinely change their courses from semester to semester, experimenting with both minor changes and major innovations, according to a national survey released Saturday by the Association of American Colleges and Universities. But while professors see curricular innovation as part of their jobs, they remain uncertain about whether pedagogical efforts are appropriately rewarded, the study found."

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