Khan Academy: The future of education?

With the backing of Gates and Google, Khan Academy and its free online educational videos are moving into the classroom and across the world. Their goal: to revolutionize how we teach and learn. Sanjay Gupta on assignment with CBS News reports.

Khan Academy in the classroom
School administrators Alyssa Gallagher and Jeff Baier of the Los Altos, California, school district are testing out Khan Academy software in their classrooms.

Google’s Eric Schmidt on Khan Academy
Eric Schmidt, the chairman of Google, explains why he’s backing the work of Sal Khan and Khan Academy.

Khan Academy’s “world-changing” plan for schools
Khan Academy’s core team – Sal Khan, Shantanu Sinha, Sundar Subbarayn, Ben Kamens and Jason Rosff – say they hope to revolutionize education.

Khan Academy: School of the future
In Sal Khan’s vision of the school of the future, the traditional classroom, school day, and even school year don’t look like anything like our current system.

18 Tricks and Traps to Writing Better Descriptions

Description – or the action part of a script – can be difficult to write. Here are a few tips and mistakes to avoid to keep your reader glued to the script.

1. Write action, not description

Don’t think of writing description, think of writing action – movement. Describing an inanimate object is boring to write and boring to read. And especially boring to the reader with the chequebook!

Remember, your job is to inspire the entire cast and crew. One of the key people on the crew who has to visualize your script is the Production Designer. It is the Production Designer’s job to create the actual sets you have described. Sometimes the log line of the scene will do it:


Aside: Most screenplays are static and the scenes do not flow. Writing movement into a scene makes your script more interesting to read, immediately distinguishing it from ninety-fine percent of all the other screenplays in circulation.

From this simple line, the Production Designer will know to create a room with desks, telephones, and computers. The Props master will add further details, like the clutter and knick-knacks. Here is where you, as a writer with the biblical quote, can use your creativity to inspire.

It is not your job to describe the clutter, the furniture, and knick-knacks, unless required by the plot.

If the slug line says INT: RAINDANCE OFFICE – DAY the reader will imagine desks and office furniture. You do not need to mention them.

If the slug line doesn’t convey all of the information necessary, then you need to add some simple description. | Read the Full Article

“Kara” – MoCap Rendered in Real Time on Sony PS3

Are we crossing the Uncanny Valley?

The French Game Developer Quantic Dream revealed a 5 minute short demonstrating it’s new motion capture and rendering engine for the PS3. The following is rendered in real time on the common household gaming system:

Researchers capture first-ever images of atoms moving in a molecule

Pictures of atoms have been physically impossible to take because they are smaller than the wavelengths of visible light. But that hasn’t stopped researches in Ohio, who devised a unique way of coaxing atoms to reveal themselves.

This is a real shot of the atoms in a Nitrogen molecule (N2).

Press Release Below

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Using a new ultrafast camera, researchers have recorded the first real-time image of two atoms vibrating in a molecule.

Key to the experiment, which appears in this week’s issue of the journal Nature, is the researchers’ use of the energy of a molecule’s own electron as a kind of “flash bulb” to illuminate the molecular motion.

The team used ultrafast laser pulses to knock one electron out of its natural orbit in a molecule. The electron then fell back toward the molecule scattered off of it, analogous to the way a flash of light scatters around an object, or a water ripple scatters in a pond.

Principal investigator Louis DiMauro of Ohio State University said that the feat marks a first step toward not only observing chemical reactions, but also controlling them on an atomic scale.

“Through these experiments, we realized that we can control the quantum trajectory of the electron when it comes back to the molecule, by adjusting the laser that launches it,” said DiMauro, who is a professor of physics at Ohio State. “The next step will be to see if we can steer the electron in just the right way to actually control a chemical reaction.”

A standard technique for imaging a still object involves shooting the object with an electron beam – bombarding it with millions of electrons per second. The researchers’ new single-electron quantum approach allowed them to image rapid molecular motion, based on theoretical developments by the paper’s coauthors at Kansas State University.

A technique called laser induced electron diffraction (LIED) is commonly used in surface science to study solid materials. Here, the researchers used it to study the movement of atoms in a single molecule.

The molecules they chose to study were simple ones: nitrogen, or N2, and oxygen, or O2. N2 and O2 are common atmospheric gases, and scientists already know every detail of their structure, so these two very basic molecules made a good test case for the LIED method.

In each case, the researchers hit the molecule with laser light pulses of 50 femtoseconds, or quadrillionths of a second. They were able to knock a single electron out of the outer shell of the molecule and detect the scattered signal of the electron as it re-collided with the molecule.

DiMauro and Ohio State postdoctoral researcher Cosmin Blaga likened the scattered electron signal to the diffraction pattern that light forms when it passes through slits. Given only the diffraction pattern, scientists can reconstruct the size and shape of the slits. In this case, given the diffraction pattern of the electron, the physicists reconstructed the size and shape of the molecule – that is, the locations of the constituent atoms’ nuclei.

The key, explained Blaga, is that during the brief span of time between when the electron is knocked out of the molecule and when it re-collides, the atoms in the molecules have moved. The LIED method can capture this movement, “similar to making a movie of the quantum world,” he added.

Beyond its potential for controlling chemical reactions, the technique offers a new tool to study the structure and dynamics of matter, he said. “Ultimately, we want to really understand how chemical reactions take place. So, long-term, there would be applications in materials science and even chemical manufacturing.”

“You could use this to study individual atoms,” DiMauro added, “but the greater impact to science will come when we can study reactions between more complex molecules. Looking at two atoms – that’s a long way from studying a more interesting molecule like a protein.”

Coauthors on the paper included Anthony DiChiara, Emily Sistrunk, Kaikai Zhang, Pierre Agostini, and Terry A. Miller of Ohio State; and C.D. Lin of Kansas State. Coauthor Junliang Xu pursued the theoretical side of this research to earn his doctorate at Kansas State, and will soon join DiMauro’s lab as a postdoctoral researcher.

Funding came from the U.S. Department of Energy Basic Energy Sciences Program.

Viral Videos Vs. Evergreen Videos

Creating viral videos is something a lot of people try to do, but creating evergreen videos that have on-going views instead of a flash-in-the-pan spike is perhaps more beneficial in the long-term.

Tim Schmoyer of ReelSEO talks with Kevin Nalty, affectionately known on YouTube as Nalts, about some of the differences between viral videos and evergreen videos.

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