Math 101: A reading list for lifelong learners. Ready to level up your working knowledge of math? Here’s what to read now — and next. Math 101, with Jennifer Ouellette First, start with these 5 books… 1. Number: The Language of Science Tobias Dantzig Plume, 2007 “First published in 1930, this classic text traces the evolution of the concept of a number in clear, accessible prose. (None other than Albert Einstein sang its praises.) 2. “This bestselling book originally published in 1988 remains one of the best introductions to the basics of large numbers, statistics and probabilities with illustrations drawn from everyday life: sports, the stock market, the lottery and dubious medical claims, to name a few.” 3.
“Pair Paulos with the just-released How Not to Be Wrong. 4. “Most of us take zero for granted, but there was a time when it simply didn’t exist, until some enterprising Babylonian soul inserted it as a placeholder in Eastern counting methods. 5. Then, read these 3 foundational texts… 1. 2. 3. Last, here’s one from the cutting edge… What are you revealing online? Much more than you think. What can be guessed about you from your online behavior?
Two computer privacy experts — economist Alessandro Acquisti and computer scientist Jennifer Golbeck — on how little we know about how much others know. The best indicator of high intelligence on Facebook is apparently liking a page for curly fries. At least, that’s according to computer scientist Jennifer Golbeck (TED Talk: The curly fry conundrum), whose job is to figure out what we reveal about ourselves through what we say — and don’t say — online. Of course, the lines between online and “real” are increasingly blurred, but as Golbeck and privacy economist Alessandro Acquisti (TED Talk: Why privacy matters) both agree, that’s no reason to stop paying attention. TED got the two together to discuss what the web knows about you, and what we can do about the things we’d rather it forgot. I hear so much conflicting information about what I should and shouldn’t be posting online.
Jennifer Golbeck: I agree with that. AA: Indeed. 4 reasons we should fix economic inequality. It’s safe to say that economic inequality bothers us. But why? Harvard philosopher T. M. Scanlon offers four reasons we should tackle — and fix — the problem. The great inequality of income and wealth in the world, and within the United States, is deeply troubling. It seems, even to many of us who benefit from this inequality, that something should be done to reduce or eliminate it. One obvious reason for redistributing resources from the rich to the poor is simply that this is a way of making the poor better off. A justification for reducing inequality through non-voluntary means, such as taxation, needs to explain why redistribution of this kind is not just robbery. These reasons for redistribution are strongest when the poor are very badly off, as in the cases Singer describes.
The possibility of making the poor better off does not seem to be the only reason for seeking to reduce the world’s rising level of economic inequality. 1. 2. 3. 4. T. Illustration by Dawn Kim. Be a better writer in 15 minutes: 4 TED-Ed lessons on grammar and word choice. There’s no denying it — the English language can be mighty tricky. When writing a paper, a novel or even an e-mail, you might look at a sentence you just wrote and think, “Is that comma supposed to be there?” Or “Is that really the best word to use?” Fear not! TED-Ed has put together a list of four of our favorite grammar and language lessons to get your next piece of writing in tip-top shape. First, let’s look at the often-confusing comma. What about the Oxford comma? Now, take an adjective such as “implacable” or a verb like “proliferate” or even another noun “crony,” and add a suffix, such as “-ity” or “-tion” or “-ism.”
Finally, when it comes to good writing, don’t take the easy route! How to live with robots | Playlist | TED.com. Graduation…now what? | Playlist | TED.com. Now playing Clinical psychologist Meg Jay has a bold message for twentysomethings: Contrary to popular belief, your 20s are not a throwaway decade. In this provocative talk, Jay says that just because marriage, work and kids are happening later in life, doesn’t mean you can’t start planning now. She gives 3 pieces of advice for how twentysomethings can re-claim adulthood in the defining decade of their lives. “In your 20s, you may not get married or figure out exactly what career you want to pursue. But that doesn’t mean it’s a throwaway decade, says psychologist Meg Jay.
In this talk, she shows why this time is a developmental sweet spot to lay foundations for what’s to come. 26 ideas from the future. “One of the things about learning how to read — we have been doing a lot of consuming of information through our eyes and so on — that may be a very inefficient channel. So my prediction is that we’re going to ingest information.
You’re going to swallow a pill and know English. You’re going to swallow a pill and know Shakespeare. The way to do it is through the bloodstream; once it’s in your bloodstream, it basically goes through and gets into the brain and when it knows it’s in the brain it deposits the information in the right places. I’ve been hanging around with Ed Boyden and Hugh Herr and a number of people… This isn’t far-fetched.”Nicholas Negroponte, founder, MIT Media Lab “I hope it will be a rejection of technology that makes us more isolated from one another and more easily surveilled. “The seamless integration of our physical and virtual worlds. “We will see the big picture with more clarity and resolution than ever before. 2. 3. “What is next? “How far can we go? 10 places where anyone can learn to code.
Teens, tweens and kids are often referred to as “digital natives.” Having grown up with the Internet, smartphones and tablets, they’re often extraordinarily adept at interacting with digital technology. But Mitch Resnick, who spoke at TEDxBeaconStreet, is skeptical of this descriptor. Sure, young people can text and chat and play games, he says, “but that doesn’t really make you fluent.” Mitch Resnick: Let's teach kids to code Fluency, Resnick proposes in this TED Talk, comes not through interacting with new technologies, but through creating them. The former is like reading, while the latter is like writing. The point isn’t to create a generation of programmers, Resnick argues.
In his talk, Resnick describes Scratch, the programming software that he and a research group at MIT Media Lab developed to allow people to easily create and share their own interactive games and animations. While we’re at it: bonus! 8 math talks to blow your mind. Mathematics gets down to work in these talks, breathing life and logic into everyday problems. Prepare for math puzzlers both solved and unsolvable, and even some still waiting for solutions. Ron Eglash: The fractals at the heart of African designs When Ron Eglash first saw an aerial photo of an African village, he couldn’t rest until he knew — were the fractals in the layout of the village a coincidence, or were the forces of mathematics and culture colliding in unexpected ways?
Here, he tells of his travels around the continent in search of an answer. How big is infinity? There are more whole numbers than there are even numbers … right? Arthur Benjamin does “Mathemagic” A whole team of calculators is no match for Arthur Benjamin, as he does astounding mental math in the blink of an eye. Scott Rickard: The beautiful math behind the ugliest music What makes a piece of music beautiful? 5 examples of how the languages we speak can affect the way we think. Keith Chen (TED Talk: Could your language affect your ability to save money?) Might be an economist, but he wants to talk about language. For instance, he points out, in Chinese, saying “this is my uncle” is not as straightforward as you might think.
In Chinese, you have no choice but to encode more information about said uncle. The language requires that you denote the side the uncle is on, whether he’s related by marriage or birth and, if it’s your father’s brother, whether he’s older or younger. “All of this information is obligatory. This got Chen wondering: Is there a connection between language and how we think and behave? While “futured languages,” like English, distinguish between the past, present and future, “futureless languages” like Chinese use the same phrasing to describe the events of yesterday, today and tomorrow. But that’s only the beginning. Featured illustration via iStock. What will blow our minds in the *next* 30 years? Predictions are a mug’s game. If they come true, you likely didn’t push your thinking hard enough.
If they don’t come true, you risk looking like an idiot. Nonetheless, many speakers at the annual TED conference have taken the plunge and proffered thoughts of what the future might look like. The video above takes a quick spin through just some of them, with thoughts from tech pioneers including Nicholas Negroponte, Rodney Brooks, Jeff Han and Pattie Maes. Below, we asked many of the attendees and speakers at this year’s just-wrapped TED to riff off the conference’s theme (“The Next Chapter”) and tell us what they think might radically change society, life, technology and so on in the *next* 30 years. From funny and wry to deeply insightful, the answers will surprise you. “One of the things about learning how to read — we have been doing a lot of consuming of information through our eyes and so on — that may be a very inefficient channel. 2. 3. “What is next? How far can we go.
A first dance, on a next-generation bionic leg: Hugh Herr at TED2014. Hugh Herr talks about the new prosthetics his team is creating at the MIT Media Lab. This is a highly personal talk, as Herr both creates and uses these limbs. Photo: James Duncan Davidson Hugh Herr, director of the Biomechatronics Group at The MIT Media Lab, strolls onto the TED2014 stage in a pair of long, black shorts. Normally, what he’s wearing wouldn’t be of note—except that he’s chosen his ensemble today to show us something. Below the hem of his shorts, we see that he has two prosthetic legs. His lab not only creates bionic limbs; he wears them himself. “Bionics explores the interplay between biology and design,” says Herr. Herr begins by telling his story—his legs were amputated after he got frostbite during a rock climbing accident in 1982. Herr began in the field of prosthetics with the idea that the body is malleable, a blank slate that could be improved.
Throughout his career, a simple idea guided Herr’s work. Next, come the dynamic challenges. It’s a stunning moment. The science of willpower: Kelly McGonigal on sticking to resolutions. It’s the second week in January and, at about this time, that resolution that seemed so reasonable a week ago — go to the gym every other day, read a book a week, only drink alcohol on weekends — is starting to seem very … hard. As you are teetering on the edge of abandoning it all together, Kelly McGonigal is here to help. This Stanford University psychologist — who shared last year how you can make stress your friend — wants you to know that you’re not having a hard time sticking to a resolution because you are a terrible person.
Perhaps you’ve just formulated the wrong resolution. McGonigal has, for years, taught a course called “The Science of Willpower” through Stanford’s Continuing Studies program and, in 2011, she spun it into a book, The Willpower Instinct. The TED Blog spoke to McGonigal this week about how willpower is often misunderstood, and what we each can do to improve it. First question: why is willpower such a struggle? It’s a great question. Yes! Yes. 10 facts about infidelity, as divulged by Helen Fisher. While talking about her research on love at TED2006, Helen Fisher mentioned the issue of infidelity. Here, she dives into the topic of cheating in much more detail. Photo: Robert Leslie Love isn’t so much an emotion, says Helen Fisher in her TED Talk. No, love is a brain system — one of three that that’s related to mating and reproduction. Helen Fisher: Why we love, why we cheatIt’s those other two systems that explain why human beings are capable of infidelity even as we so highly value love.
We see infidelity on big and small screens all the time and, on occasion, we see evidence of it in real life too. 1. Further reading: Anatomy of Love, by Helen FisherThe Marriage-Go-Round, by Andrew J. 2. 3. Why We Love, by Helen Fisher 4. Nisa: The Life and Words of a ! 5. “Justifications for extramarital relationships: The association between attitudes, behaviors, and gender,” by Shirley Glass and Thomas Wright in the Journal of Sex Research 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. Anatomy of Love, by Helen Fisher Why Him? Scott Belsky on How to Avoid Idea Plateaus. Philosopher Martha Nussbaum on How to Live with Our Human Fragility. By Maria Popova “To be a good human being is to have a kind of openness to the world, an ability to trust uncertain things beyond your own control.” In 1988, Bill Moyers produced a series of intelligent, inspiring, provocative conversations with a diverse set of cultural icons, ranging from Isaac Asimov to Noam Chomsky to Chinua Achebe.
It was unlike any public discourse to have ever graced the national television airwaves before. The following year, the interviews were transcribed and collected in the magnificent tome Bill Moyers: A World of Ideas (public library). But for all its evenness of brilliance, one conversation in the series stands out for its depth, dimension, intensity, and timelessness — that with philosopher Martha Nussbaum, one of the most remarkable and luminous minds of our time, who sat down to talk with Moyers shortly after the publication of her enormously stimulating book The Fragility of Goodness: Luck and Ethics in Greek Tragedy and Philosophy.
Martha Nussbaum. The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge. By Maria Popova “The real enemy is the man who tries to mold the human spirit so that it will not dare to spread its wings.” In an age obsessed with practicality, productivity, and efficiency, I frequently worry that we are leaving little room for abstract knowledge and for the kind of curiosity that invites just enough serendipity to allow for the discovery of ideas we didn’t know we were interested in until we are, ideas that we may later transform into new combinations with applications both practical and metaphysical. This concern, it turns out, is hardly new. We hear it said with tiresome iteration that ours is a materialistic age, the main concern of which should be the wider distribution of material goods and worldly opportunities. Mr. Flexner goes on to contend that the work of Hertz and Maxwell is exemplary of the motives underpinning all instances of monumental scientific discovery, bringing to mind Richard Feynman’s timeless wisdom.
This lament, alas, is timelier than ever. Solving It : TED Radio Hour. Are all new things a mash-up of what came before? A Q&A with Kirby Ferguson. See how quickly a society can shift its sexual attitudes. Why are we getting smarter? Further reading on the “Flynn effect” More to life than DNA: Fellows Friday with Sheref Mansy. 5 examples of how the languages we speak can affect the way we think. 6 areas of research that offer fascinating conclusions on sexuality.