Physics as a Strange Attractor

Almost every student who attends a decent high school will be exposed to Special Relativity. Their science/physics teacher may not really understand it very well, may do a terrible job trying to explain it. But the kid will have to read a textbook discussion and (in the internet age) can easily find more with a …

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$1.2 trillion college loan bubble?

See also When everyone goes to college: a lesson from S. Korea. Returns to a “college education” are highly dependent on the intrinsic cognitive ability and work ethic of the individual. WSJ: College Loan Glut Worries Policy Makers The U.S. government over the last 15 years made a trillion-dollar investment to improve the nation’s workforce, …

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Theory, Money, and Learning

After 25+ years in theoretical physics research, the pattern has become familiar to me. Talented postdoc has difficulty finding a permanent position (professorship), and ends up leaving the field for finance or Silicon Valley. The final phase of the physics career entails study of entirely new subjects, such as finance theory or machine learning, and developing …

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John McWhorter: the truth about mismatch

I’m shocked that CNN published Columbia professor John McWhorter’s editorial on Scalia’s mismatch comments. His remarks challenge the mainstream media narrative, and require some thought from the reader. CNN: Those who consider themselves on black people’s side are having a field day dismissing Justice Antonin Scalia as a racist. His sin was suggesting that black …

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The cult of genius?

In one of his early blog posts, Terence Tao (shown above with Paul Erdos in 1985) wrote Does one have to be a genius to do maths? The answer is an emphatic NO. In order to make good and useful contributions to mathematics, one does need to work hard, learn one’s field well, learn other …

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Global Impact Initiative

MSU will be hiring over 100 new professors (beyond ordinary hiring such as retirement replacements), primarily in science and technology areas that address key global challenges. Priority areas include Computation, Advanced Engineering, Genomics, Plant Sciences, Food/Environment, Precision Medicine, and Advanced Physical Sciences. MSU total funding from the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation …

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Income, wealth, and IQ

I’m occasionally asked about financial returns to cognitive ability. As a rough rule of thumb, judging from the graphs below (obtained here), I would say: On average, an increase of IQ by one SD corresponds to  ~ $30k per annum of additional income. (Somewhat less than 1 SD in income; the distribution is far from …

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Educational background of US elites

Jonathan Wai writes in Quartz about returns to elite education in the US. Wai also notes that more than ten percent of all Senators, billionaires, Federal judges, and Fortune 500 CEOs hold Harvard degrees of some kind. See also Credentialism and elite performance, and further links therein. Blue = attended elite undergraduate college or graduate school (no …

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Rigorous inequalities

  The Effects of an Anti-grade-Inflation Policy at Wellesley College Journal of Economic Perspectives, 28(3): 189-204 (2014) DOI: 10.1257/jep.28.3.189 Average grades in colleges and universities have risen markedly since the 1960s. Critics express concern that grade inflation erodes incentives for students to learn; gives students, employers, and graduate schools poor information on absolute and relative …

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STEM, Gender, and Leaky Pipelines

Some interesting longitudinal results on female persistence through graduate school in STEM. Post-PhD there could still be a problem, but apparently this varies strongly by discipline. These results suggest that, overall, it is undergraduate representation that will determine the future gender ratio of the STEM professoriate. The bachelor’s to Ph.D. STEM pipeline no longer leaks …

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Seasons and Veritas

Harvard graduates explain why we have seasons. If only their understanding matched their confidence. See also Why is it dark at night?  ,  Inside HBS: “kill, f^^k or marry”  ,  Frauds!  and High V, Low M: … high verbal ability is useful for appearing to be smart, or for winning arguments and impressing other people, …

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Harvard admissions and meritocracy

Motivated by Steve Pinker’s recent article The Trouble With Harvard (see my comments here), Ephblog drills down on Harvard admissions. The question is just how far Harvard deviates from Pinker’s ideal of selecting the entire class based on intellectual ability. Others raised similar questions, as evidenced by, e.g., the very first comment that appeared on …

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