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September 20, 2006, 5:16 AM CT

Academic Performance of Immigrant Children

Academic Performance of Immigrant Children
Far from being a burden on the educational system, research from Florida State University shows immigrant children perform as well or better than their same-race, American-born counterparts.

FSU Sociology Professor Kathryn Harker Tillman observed that first- and second- generation children are no more likely than their third-generation peers to have to repeat a grade despite the a number of social and economic disadvantages they face. The finding is true for immigrant youth of all racial and ethnic backgrounds or countries of origin. The study, co-authored by colleagues Guang Guo and Kathleen Mullan Harris from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was reported in the journal Social Science Research.

"Immigrant children are more successful navigating the educational system than would be expected," Tillman said. "Against the odds, these children are performing as well as or better than their same-race, third-generation peers".

The scientists used both the Panel Study of Income Dynamics and the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health to look at grade retention among a total of nearly 20,000 school-age children. They focused on grade retention rather than more traditional markers of educational performance, such as high school graduation, dropout rates or grades in order to see how immigrant children navigate the educational system, not just the end result.........

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September 19, 2006, 8:41 PM CT

Women Outpace Men In College

Women Outpace Men In College
It is a well know fact that girls have long gotten better grades compared to boys at all levels of school. But until recently only few of these women utilized those higher academic skills to fulfil the dream of a degree, new researh finds that growing incentives are giving positive draw women to college in record numbers.

Look at the college scene! Since the year 1982, women have outpaced men in college graduation rates. In 1960 only 35 percent of women received bachelor's degrees in the United States. This compares to 58 percent of graduates were women in 2004.

"What has changed is that more women are now using their longstanding academic advantages and translating them into college degrees," said Claudia Buchmann, co-author of the studies and associate professor of sociology at Ohio State University.

"In the 1960s and 70s, girls were getting better grades, but many young women were not going to college, or they were dropping out of college to get married. Now the benefits of a college education are growing faster for women than they are for men, and women are taking advantage".

Buchmann conducted the research with Thomas DiPrete, professor of sociology at Columbia University. Their results appear in the August 2006 issue of the American Sociological Review, and the February 2006 issue of Demography.........

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September 19, 2006, 5:08 AM CT

Detect Coastal Ocean Pollution

Detect Coastal Ocean Pollution Image courtesy of Time
Public health officials now may be able to know instantly when pollution has moved into the coastal ocean - a breakthrough that could enable authorities to post warnings or close beaches in minutes rather than days thanks to research by UC Irvine researchers.

The new technique analyzes temperature and salinity data collected by sensors located in the water along the Southern California coast. Researchers found that fluctuations in the sensor data correlate with changes in water quality as soon as they occur. This type of analysis may lead to detection methods that are far faster than the current method of physically collecting water and testing it in a lab.

"Decisions to post a warning or close a beach are currently made one to three days after a sample is collected. This would be fine if you were testing water that sits in a tub, but ocean currents are highly dynamic, and water quality varies hour by hour and minute to minute," said Stanley B. Grant, professor of chemical engineering and materials science at UCI. "Our research shows that near real-time sensor data can be used to detect changes in the state of the coastal ocean - information that could, in concert with traditional monitoring data and new ocean observing systems, eventually result in the creation of an up-to-the-minute water-quality report accessible by the public on the Internet".........

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September 18, 2006, 8:44 PM CT

Large Objects Can Follow The Rules Of The Microscope

Large Objects Can Follow The Rules Of The Microscope Miles Blencowe (Photo by Joseph Mehling '69)
Miles Blencowe, a quantum theorist with the physics and astronomy department at Dartmouth, is part of a team working to connect the macroscopic and the microscopic worlds by seeing if they can make larger objects obey the laws of quantum mechanics, where things can be in two places at once.

In the Sept. 14 issue of the journal Nature, the scientists report that they are much closer to making this classical-quantum connection with an experiment to determine the position of a vibrating beam measuring one-thousandth of a millimeter in width. While still tiny, the beam comprises about ten billion atoms, and it represents a much larger system than has been considered to date.

Blencowe explains that this field of research attempts to reconcile the inherent contradiction between the quantum world of microscopic or atomic-sized systems and the classical or macroscopic world of well-localized trees, buildings and cars that we live in. At some point, the quantum becomes the classical as objects get larger and larger, and researchers want to know how that crossover occurs.

"Quantum mechanics predicts that if you try to measure the position of an object accurately, you will disturb its position, so you can never precisely know where the object is," says Blencowe. "That disturbance was exactly what we saw in the larger system".........

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September 18, 2006, 8:37 PM CT

'Taste not Waste' is New Motto

'Taste not Waste' is New Motto
If Dartmouth Sustainability Coordinator Jim Merkel has his way, this will be the year Dartmouth students get fed up with trash. Sept. 19 marks the College's convocation ceremonies and the first time that Dartmouth students will have the option to eat from College dining services without producing any waste.

Merkel, in collaboration with the student group Sustainable Dartmouth and college officials, has revamped Home Plate dining hall with the goal of changing people's habits from disposability to a more environmentally sound dining experience. If the transformation works, "habits of zero-waste will become 'normal'," Merkel said, "throwing away a tray-full of trash - usually after no more than thirty minutes of use -will become psychologically difficult. The goal is to elicit an allergic reaction to packaging and waste".

Home Plate, located in the south side of Thayer Hall, has always offered students a healthier dining alternative with a menu including low fat, low cholesterol, low sodium, and high fiber foods. That emphasis has been extended toward organic and locally-grown foods, and Home Plate now features everything from an exotic salad and baked potato bar to pasta and panini.

Under the new sustainability program, almost all of the formerly packaged foods - such as milk cartons, condiments and sodas - will now be served from bulk containers. Disposable tableware has been replaced with reusable. The few packaged items for which no substitutes could be found will be sorted and recycled, and all food waste will be composted and put directly back into the campus landscaping. To support these initiatives, Home Plate has launched its "Taste not Waste" campaign, including a new mural and educational displays in the dining hall area, slow-dining socials, table-top trivia, and other consciousness-raising opportunities. An opening celebration is in the works for sometime during fall 2006.........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source


September 18, 2006, 8:18 PM CT

Many Shapes Of Shakespeare

Many Shapes Of Shakespeare
The works of William Shakespeare have a timeless quality, but it would be a mistake to imagine these "classics" have retained their adamantine purity despite the passage of time.

As Diana Henderson, professor of literature, shows in her new book, "Collaborations With the Past: Reshaping Shakespeare Across Time and Media" (Cornell University Press), even those trying "faithfully" to represent Shakespeare cannot do so, because the context in which his works were formed is gone for good. Instead, producers, writers and filmmakers must engage in "Shake-shifting," a collaboration in which both artists and the Bard give and take.

In four case studies, Henderson highlights "the rewards, choices and responsibilities of re-creating culture across time and media, and the ingenuity and difficulties of a collaborative model of artistic process. It is as much about art in the modern world as it is about the figure, legacy and plays of William Shakespeare".

Henderson's first two case studies center on novelists -- Sir Walter Scott, who recast "Othello" as an all-white drama for "Kenilworth," and Virginia Woolf, who made use of "Cymbeline" in "Mrs. Dalloway".

The second pair examines Shakespeare in new media by exploring film versions of "The Taming of the Shrew" and "Henry V".........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source


September 18, 2006, 5:45 PM CT

Island Ferries Take on Role

Island Ferries Take on Role The 235-foot ferry Katama heads for the dock in Woods Hole. Martha's Vineyard is in the background. (Photo by Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
Ferries that connect Cape Cod and the islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket are taking on another role - research vessels.

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) biologist Scott Gallager and colleagues have installed a package of sensors on the 235-foot freight ferry Katama to measure water quality and to photograph plankton as the ferry crisscrosses the western side of Nantucket Sound year-round, several times daily.

"Hitchhiking science on a ferry provides a terrific opportunity for us to better understand how water quality and ocean life change over time," Gallager said. The measurements for the Nantucket Sound Ferry Scientific Environmental Monitoring System began in May.

With the interest and cooperation of the Woods Hole, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket Steamship Authority, which operates the ferry service between Cape Cod and the islands, Gallager and colleagues developed a sensor package to measure water temperature, salinity, oxygen, chlorophyll, and water clarity, and take images of plankton living in the water column. Real-time data from the sensors travel over a wireless connection to Gallager's shore-based lab, where he and WHOI colleagues Steve Lerner, Emily Miller, Andrew Girard, Andy Maffei, and collaborator Kevin Fall from Intel Corporation make them available to scientists and the public on the project Web site, http://4dgeo.whoi.edu/ferries.........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source


September 14, 2006, 8:44 PM CT

Describes Unique Cloud Forest

Describes Unique Cloud Forest
Trees that live in an odd desert forest in Oman have found an unusual way to water themselves by extracting moisture from low-lying clouds, MIT researchers report.

In an area that is characterized mostly by desert, the trees have preserved an ecological niche because they exploit a wispy-thin source of water that only occurs seasonally, said Elfatih A.B. Eltahir, professor of civil and environmental engineering, and former MIT graduate student Anke Hildebrandt.

After studying the Oman site, they also expressed concern that the unusual forest could be driven into extinction if hungry camels continue eating too much of the foliage. As the greenery disappears it's possible the trees will lose the ability to pull water from the mist and recharge underground reservoirs.

A report on their research was published in a recent issue of Geophysical Research Letters. They are also advising the Omani government on handling the problem.

The forest is particularly unique, said Eltahir and Hildebrandt, because it "is a water-limited seasonal cloud forest" that is kept alive by water droplets gathered from passing clouds -- ground fog. The water dribbles into the ground and sustains the trees later when the weather is dry. The MIT work suggests the trees actually get more of their water through contact with clouds than via rainfall.........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source


September 14, 2006, 6:08 PM CT

Characterizing Human Predecessors

Characterizing Human Predecessors
The genomic DNA sequencing of an extinct Pleistocene cave bear species--the kind of stuff once reserved for science fiction--has been logged into scientific literature thanks to scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Joint Genome Institute (JGI). This study, published in the June 2 online edition of the journal Science, has set the research community's sights on traveling back in time through the vehicle of DNA sequencing to reveal the story of other extinct species, including our nearest relatives, the Neandertals.

Until now, researchers have been stymied in attempts to sequence genomes of extinct species. The DOE JGI scientists overcame many of the difficulties normally associated with recovery of DNA from ancient samples. DNA starts degrading at death, while microbes attack the decaying carcass to utilize the nutrients present in the dead organism as an energy source. What remains and confounds the efforts to sequence and characterize these artifacts is an overabundance of microbial contaminants along with the occasional DNA fingerprints contributed unwittingly by the modern fossil hunters or lab workers.

"Among the limitations of previous ancient DNA studies was that they were restricted to mitochondrial DNA sequences," said Eddy Rubin, DOE JGI director, in whose laboratory the work was conducted. "While mitochondria are great for learning about evolutionary relationships between species, to understand the functional differences between extinct and modern species we really need genomic DNA, and nobody has been able to purify and sequence large quantities of DNA from these old samples.........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source


September 14, 2006, 4:42 AM CT

Serious Vulnerabilities In e-Voting Machines

Serious Vulnerabilities In e-Voting Machines Highlighting security vulnerabilities in electronic voting machines Credit: John Jameson, Princeton University
In a paper published on the Web today, a group of Princeton computer researchers said they created demonstration vote-stealing software that can be installed within a minute on a common electronic voting machine. The software can fraudulently change vote counts without being detected.

"We have created and analyzed the code in the spirit of helping to guide public officials so that they can make wise decisions about how to secure elections," said Edward Felten, the director of the Center for Information Technology Policy, a new center at Princeton University that addresses crucial issues at the intersection of society and computer technology.

The paper appears on the Web site for the Center for Information Technology Policy.

The scientists obtained the machine, a Diebold AccuVote-TS, from a private party in May. They spent the summer analyzing the machine and developing the vote-stealing demonstration.

"We observed that the machine is vulnerable to many extremely serious attacks that undermine the accuracy and credibility of the vote counts it produces," wrote Felten and his co-authors, graduate students Ariel Feldman and Alex Halderman.

In a 10-minute video on their Web site, the scientists demonstrate how the vote-stealing software works. The video shows the software sabotaging a mock presidential election between George Washington and Benedict Arnold. Arnold is reported as the winner even though Washington gets more votes. (The video is edited from a longer continuously shot video; the long single-shot version will be available for downloading from the center's site as well.).........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source


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