Becoming a scientist isn’t an option for most kids

The Path to Being a Scientist Doesn’t Have to Be So Narrow:

Many American students are all but knocked out of the race toward a graduate science degree before their 13th birthday. To get on the advanced math track in high school, you need to complete algebra in the eighth grade. This is standard practice in affluent communities but rare to nonexistent in many low-income schools. Then students must advance through calculus—another subject more available to the privileged—by their senior year of high school. Then they must navigate the complex college admissions process and come up with an increasingly large amount of money to pay tuition. Then they have to slog through huge, impersonal freshman lecture courses that are designed to weed students out. Only then can the few students who remain advance toward science careers.

While I look forward to online classes making higher education more accessible in the coming years, I also worry about the cultural shifts that need to happen if America is going to stay competitive in the future. Parents need to understand the importance of motivating their children to aspire to bigger and better things. That can’t be taught in the classroom alone. 

If a university-level education can be offered for little-to-no-cost to anyone anywhere in the world, we need to make sure that our kids take advantage of that opportunity because at some point, people won’t need to come to America to be successful.

The Next Web’s Jon Russell fails at math

First sign of a comeback? HTC sales hit $970m in May, its best month of business since June 2012 :

It’s fair to say that things couldn’t have got any worse financially for Taiwan’s HTC after it posted a mere $2.88 million in profit in Q1 2013. But it appears the worst may be over as the phone maker took its first step back to respectability after announcing NT$29 billion (US$ 970 million) in revenue for May 2013.

That figure is still 3 percent lower than May 2012, but it’s close to double the NT$19.5 billion ($652 million) that the company grossed in April and represents its best month of business since June 2012.

I know tech journalism isn’t very math intensive, but seriously –  that’s not even a 50% increase, let alone “close to double.”

Update: Jon and I had a fun little exchange on Twitter. He thought I should add: no relation.

Could two people populate the Earth?

From an AskScience Reddit thread:

But keeping to the hypothetical, a fertility rate of six with 4 surviving to reproduce themselves on a similar basis would lead to exponential population growth; the survival of the species would be pretty much assured if they could keep this up for only a few generations simply due to force of numbers. A couple having four children survive to adulthood is a doubling of population each generation.

As a purely mathematical fiction, presuming an average generation gap of 16 years and that this average of four children per couple surviving to reproduce held solidly (it wouldn’t, of course) it would only take a little over 500 years for this original couple to have repopulated the earth to the present level of 7bn (that’s exponential growth for you.) Of course plenty would happen in between to slow the exponential growth.

Assuming no wars, famine, disease – yes, and in only 500 years. Of course, human history shows that many things do get in the way of humans rapidly multiplying like we theoretically could.