Friday, March 6, 2020

Language skills, not math, are better predictors of programming ability

A new study conducted by the University of Washington, Seattle reveals some pretty interesting statistics. After studying adults while they learned Python, researchers found the fastest and most accurate learners had both strong language and problem-solving abilities. “Contrary to widely held stereotypes [the learners] were facile problem solvers with a high aptitude for natural languages,” the study reads. “Although numeracy was a reliable predictor of programming aptitude, it was far from the most significant predictor.” The study contradicts beliefs about the relationship between numeracy and coding, wherein even universities often require advanced mathematical courses as prerequisites for some programming classes. (Nature)


How to make your own hand sanitizer

These seven words have seen a huge jump in search interest this week, as fears over the coronavirus have seen supplies of the product dwindle from store shelves nationwide. Fortunately, it’s very easy to make your own hand sanitizer from items that may not have sold out yet from your local CVS. The recipe is pretty simple: two parts rubbing alcohol, one part aloe vera gel. Combine in a bowl and stir. If you’ve got any essential oils lying around, you can add those to give the product a pleasant scent. Of course, even if you do make your own sanitizer, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests the best way to prevent infection is to wash your hands frequently with warm water and soap. (The Oregonian)


Virus spreads less than flu: WHO

The coronavirus menacing markets and economies around the world does not transmit as easily as the seasonal flu, a World Health Organization official said. While they say the virus’s death rate appears to be higher at 3.4%, the figure is based on data from China. Researchers argue that the rate may drop as they get a full picture of the outbreak. The information comes as deaths outside China exceed those within the country, where the outbreak began. In the U.S., deaths rose to 9 and Los Angeles declared a state of emergency. Italy has also closed schools and universities. (The New York Times)


Tulsa paid people to move there

A program to lure remote workers to Tulsa, Oklahoma, has shown early positive results, says a report. Tulsa Remote offered workers $10,000, cheap housing and a remote working community in exchange for moving to the city and bolstering its digital workforce. Some workers took up the offer and have plans to stay, according to the report. The program is reportedly expanding with more slots for this year. (CityLab)


Chinese scientists identify two strains of the coronavirus, indicating it’s already mutated at least once

Researchers in China have found that two different types of the new coronavirus could be causing infections worldwide. The scientists at Peking University’s School of Life Sciences and the Institute Pasteur of Shanghai found that a more aggressive type of the new coronavirus had accounted for roughly 70% of analyzed strains, while 30% had been linked to a less aggressive type. The more aggressive type of virus was found to be prevalent in the early stages of the outbreak in Wuhan (the Chinese city where COVID-19 was first detected late last year). But the frequency of this type of virus has since decreased from early January. The researchers said their results indicate the development of new variations of the spike in COVID-19 cases was “likely caused by mutations and natural selection besides recombination.” Researchers cautioned that data examined in the study was still “very limited,” emphasizing that follow-up studies of a larger set of data would be needed to gain a “better understanding” of the evolution and epidemiology of COVID-19. The study comes shortly after the WHO confirmed the fast-spreading virus had infected more than 93,000 people worldwide, with at least 3,100 deaths. (CNBC)


Astronauts wanted

For the first time in four years, NASA is hiring new astronauts. The job application opened for the “Artemis generation” of space explorers. The Artemis program’s goal is to return to the moon by 2024 and land the first woman on it. As the job description notes, “Extensive travel required.” The competition is sure to be fierce. The last time NASA sought astronauts, 18,300 people applied for 14 slots. (That’s an acceptance rate of a twelfth of a percent.) You must be a U.S. citizen and have a bachelor’s degree in science, math or engineering. Plus, NASA is looking for a master’s degree (in physical, computer or biological sciences, engineering or math) or at least a few years of PhD work in one of those fields; if you’re a medical doctor, that works too; or if you’re enrolled or a graduate of a test pilot program. Applicants who make it through this process enroll in a two-year evaluation program. Graduation from astronaut boot camp requires the completion of “spacecraft systems training, Extravehicular Activity (EVA) skills training, robotics skills training, Russian language training, aircraft flight readiness training” and more, NASA notes. (USA Jobs)


Man’s orbeez bathroom experiment goes horribly wrong

French YouTuber decided to have an experiment in his own bathroom using orbeez – silicone balls that expand in water. He filled his bathtub with the balls and without considering the results. So, he thought that the best way to get rid of the balls would be to let them go down the drain, so he pulled the plug. This is when disaster struck: the balls began coming up through the blocked drains, flooding his toilet, his sink and ultimately the entire bathroom. He then attempted to vacuum up the balls which again, did not work and caused the vacuum cleaner to smoke and catch alight. He claimed his entire neighborhood’s sewage system was blocked, saying he received a letter from the town hall saying police were searching for the perpetrator. The town’s Mayor, however, issued a statement saying that was fabricated information as there is no link between the sewage system of the neighbors. Many are questioning the authenticity of the video, with one YouTube user saying: “Anyone with common sense would know you don’t flush this. He did the whole thing on purpose”. (Mashable)


Shoppers start stockpiling

Amazon, Instacart and Walmart are facing significant delays related to their same-day and next-day delivery services in a cluster of North American cities as shoppers begin stockpiling basic household items. Customers have swarmed retailers in recent days as virus-related buying begins to hobble “normally speedy services.” A handful of sites have begun limiting delivery availability and are also informing users that in demand items such as disinfectant spray, toilet paper, bottled water and antibacterial hand wipes are subject to buying restrictions. (CNBC)


Virus already hitting bottom lines

The coronavirus has already impacted businesses across the U.S., causing customers to shun Asian restaurants in Philadelphia and Broadway plays in New York, according the Federal Reserve. The central bank’s Beige Book or regional survey showed slower economic growth since the beginning of the year in many areas, especially St. Louis and Kansas City, but the virus has added another wrench: It’s disrupting supply chains, travel, tourism and exports. (Market Watch)


Where women are getting hired more

Women are gaining ground in many jobs where men traditionally have dominated, according to a new analysis by LinkedIn. Since 2015, hiring in 23 occupations has flipped from majority male to majority female, and another 17 are on the verge of doing so. Retail operations managers, user experience designers, animation specialists and medical officers are among the fields that have switched. Overall, women’s share of hiring inched forward in 68% of the occupations analyzed. (LinkedIn)


The death toll in the United States from the coronavirus has risen to 11

The most recent death is connected to a cruise ship that traveled from the U.S. to Mexico. The California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency over coronavirus in the state, which has more than 50 confirmed cases, according to health officials. Officials in Placer County, Calif., announced that an elderly resident has become the first person to die from the illness in California. The patient, who was not identified, had underlying health conditions, according to the county. The patient tested positive for the coronavirus illness on and “was likely exposed during international travel from February 11-21 on a Princess cruise ship that departed from San Francisco to Mexico,” according to a statement published on Placer County’s website. Placer County spans a wide area, from the outskirts of Sacramento to Lake Tahoe. Among California’s cases are 24 people who arrived in the U.S. on repatriation flights from outbreak locations in Asia. The other cases include seven people who were infected via person-to-person exposure and 12 travel-related cases. (NBR)


Democratic Presidential Candidates are down to three

Senator Elizabeth Warren ended her campaign for president yesterday (3/5) after tallying up only 65 delegates in primary elections and winning no states on Super Tuesday. In a call with campaign staff, remarks from which were later shared to her official Medium page, Warren said she “may not be in the race for president in 2020, but this fight – our fight – is not over. And our place in this fight has not ended.” According to sources inside Warren’s campaign, the senator has spoken with both former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders, and “is assessing who would best uphold her agenda.” As of this writing, she has not endorsed either candidate. After a campaign season that saw several serious female contenders, including Warren, Senator Amy Klobuchar, and Senator Kamala Harris, there is only one woman remaining in the Democratic presidential race: Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard, who has picked up only a single delegate. (The New York Times)


Finally Feelgood Friday Is Back With:

  • Day of The Dude
  • Dress in Blue Day (Always First Friday)
  • Employee Appreciation Day (Always First Friday)
  • National Day of Unplugging (First Friday & Saturday)
  • National Dentist’s Day
  • National Salesperson Day (First Friday)
  • National Speech and Debate Education Day (First Friday)
  • Middle Name Pride Day (Friday of First Full Week)
  • National Dress Day
  • Oreo Cookie Day
  • Sofia Kovalevskaya Math Day
  • World Day of Prayer (Always First Friday)

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