Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenage education campaigner shot on school bus in 2012 by a Taliban gunman, has won the 2014 Nobel peace prize.

Malala wins along with Kailash Satyarthi, an Indian children’s rights activist. Full story »

Photo: BBC/PA


The Bus | Paul Kirchner | Via

When you listen to music, multiple areas of your brain become engaged and active. But when you actually play an instrument, that activity becomes more like a full-body brain workout. What’s going on? Anita Collins explains the fireworks that go off in musicians’ brains when they play, and examines some of the long-term positive effects of this mental workout. 

Lesson by Anita Collins, animation by Sharon Colman Graham.

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, West Virginia, operates the world premiere astronomical telescope operating from centimeter to millimeter wavelengths.   The Observatory has an active engineering research and development program ranging in areas from digital, mechanical, structural, computational, and software engineering.  The laboratories, utilities and support facilities make it an attractive location for a variety of research experiments, and it serves as the field station for several university-based research teams.  The Observatory is also a major resource for STEM education and public outreach and is used for an extensive array of programs in education and public outreach, and for the training of science and engineering students and teachers. These activities center on the Green Bank Science Center, with its auditorium, classrooms, research facilities and large exhibit hall, which is visited by 50,000 people every year

The Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope, or GBT, is the world’s premiere single-dish radio telescope operating at meter to millimeter wavelengths. Its enormous 100-meter diameter collecting area, its unblocked aperture, and its excellent surface accuracy provide unprecedented sensitivity across the telescope’s full 0.1 - 116 GHz (3.0m - 2.6mm) operating range.

The single focal plane is ideal for rapid, wide-field imaging systems – cameras.  Because the GBT has access to 85% of the celestial sphere, it serves as the wide-field imaging complement to ALMA and the EVLA.Its operation is highly efficient, and it is used for astronomy about 6500 hours every year, with 2000-3000 hours per year available to high frequency science.

Part of the scientific strength of the GBT is its flexibility and ease of use, allowing for rapid response to new scientific ideas.  It is scheduled dynamically to match project needs to the available weather.  The GBT is also readily reconfigured with new and experimental hardware, adopting the best technology for any scientific pursuit. Facilities of the Green Bank Observatory are also used for other scientific research, for many programs in education and public outreach, and for training students and teachers.



Can you tell which plot above is randomly generated?

Being able to determine if something is “truly” random is not just an investigation carried out by forensic accountants, sociologists, and law enforcement. Rather it is an interesting and complicated mathematical problem. Consider the two plots above. You may look at the on the left and see the clumps, the spacing, and think “That can’t be the random plot.” And yet it is. The plot on the left has been randomly generated, while the plot on the left is a scatter plot of glowworm positions on a ceiling.

So here, the clumps actually help indicate randomness. Try thinking of it in another way: imagine you have two students who were asked to flip a coin 100 times for homework. The first student was diligent and flipped accordingly:


The second student was lazy and decided to make up his flips:


Now while it might seem strange that the first student has long runs, it fits closer to what one would expect if the flip is random. On the other hand, in the second student’s data, there is less than a 0.1% chance that they wouldn’t get a single run longer than four in a row!

The images and coin flip data was found at this article. It takes a closer look at some of these topics and provides some pretty neat historical background.


The Brain Scoop: 
Year of the Passenger Pigeon

September 2014 marks the 100-year anniversary of the passenger pigeon’s extinction. How is it possible that the number of these pigeons - at once the most numerous species on the planet - could decrease from 3.7 billion individuals to 0 in just forty years? 

During the eradication of this species many people assumed the populations would somehow renew themselves. Conservation wasn’t on the minds of most people living in North America in the mid-19th century, and given the destructive potential of a few billion birds roosting in your backyard they weren’t exactly a hallmark species. 

Could we bring back the passenger pigeon? Newly developing technologies focused on de-extinction efforts could mean we potentially bring them back… but at what cost, and more importantly, where? Habitat destruction, climate change, and human impact means we’re losing innumerable ecosystems worldwide - it’s reported that by 2050 as many as 20-30% of all life on our planet today will be extinct

We’re living during this miraculous time of incredible technology where we’re more strongly connected with one another than ever before. We have tools, resources, and access to knowledge unprecedented in human history. It’s about time we tapped into our collective awareness and begin to think critically about our individual impacts. What can we do to live in tandem with our environment? What can you do?


Who is Amit?

Here’s a man who is obsessed with languages in more ways than one and who didn’t know any, other than English, until he turned 23. Amit Schandillia is the name and this website is his window to the passion called Spanish.


I have been fiddling with Spanish ever since the turn of the millennium when my sleepy little village had little access to the burgeoning world of Internet. My first date with Spanish was one of the most unremarkable coincidence. I was at a local store selling used books at throwaway prices and happened to pick this horribly dog-eared book teaching Spanish “in 30 days”. 

More than a decade, one Latina fling, countless chats with some of the most wonderful men and women from both sides of the Atlantic, dozens of Spanish tomes, hundreds of experiments with several language-learning strategies, 5 day jobs, and two startups down the line, I am still very much in awe of the sheer command Spanish wields over almost a tenth of humanity! The richness of this language that is spoken in more than 20 countries is far from comprehensible in a single blog. After deciding to let go of my highly regimented 9-5 existence in the middle of 2012, I decided to pay a little tribute to the rich language. Until then, I had been working my butt off in almost half a dozen regular jobs, the last one for a billion-dollar American subprime mortgage conglomerate managing a brain-damaging team of over a thousand Associates, Team Leads, and Assistant Managers. A stable job, a reputable title, an enviable job-description, and a more-than-handsome paycheck, all had to make way for a higher calling one day. This blog is what came out of that higher calling. 

Today, Spanish is way more than just a language to me; it’s a way of life, a whole new universe of mesmerizing people, cultures, lifestyles, and possibilities. Spanish is beautiful. Beautiful because of the colorful people who speak this language. Beautiful because of the unique regional flavors it takes wherever it is spoken. This blog is my attempt to capture some aspects of this beauty and share them with as many lives as it can possibly touch. 

And What is Always Spanish?

Always Spanish was the logical next step after my first attempt at blogging in the fall of 2006. It was called Easiest Spanish and it started as a part-time hobby. The stuff was hilariously shabby, and amateur and the design was ridiculously lame for the serious blog it masqueraded as. Easiest Spanish was the result of an unemployment-related vacuum that was killing me both financially and socially. Anyways, Then came 2007 when I landed a good-enough job that paid my bills and kept me well-fed and I started drifting away from my blog. That was the end of what became my first ever attempt at blogging.

Fast forward to 2012. This time, it’s called Always Spanish and is, hopefully, a more serious avatar of Easiest Spanish. What’s different is that this time, it’s the work of a more matured and enlightened author who knows more about both blogging and Spanish than he did six years ago. 

Always Spanish attempts to discuss everything I learned out of my experiments with Spanish over the last several years. Unconventional learning methodologies, street Spanish, tips and tricks on fluency and Spanish acquisition, simple techniques for Spanish immersion, learning optimization, interesting cultural notes, and tidbits on the regional variations of Spanish. This publication is an exercise geared toward giving you a wholesome, most fulfilling experience adding a whole new dimension to your learning. This website talks about everything that worked for me and everything that didn’t. Always Spanish has some of the most natural yet unconventional tips for learners of Spanish and the articles posted here are set to revolutionize the way you approach Spanish as a learner.

This website raises questions on some of the most fundamental language-learning dogmas propagandized by academicians around the world! Be prepared to radically change the way you learn languages and be prepared to attain an enviable fluency in Spanish without cramming a single rule of grammar from that book! If this website were to be believed and so were the years of rock-solid research in this field by some of the most reputed linguists from around the globe, you can become fluent in Spanish (pretty much any language for that matter) just by watching movies and listening to music!

In short, while Always Spanish does not intend to replace your existing arsenal of Spanish-learning tools, it certainly serves to add a lot of passion, charm, and practical essence to your learning regimen. This is the site that you would ideally pick if you wish to acquire Spanish instead of just learn it. This is the site you would pick if you crave turning the ordeal of learning into the adventures of acquisition. 

Welcome to Always Spanish. May your experience with Spanish be pleasant and full of new learnings. May Spanish open doors of possibilities and endless opportunities for you. And may Always Spanish succeed in its mission to serve you as the best alternative learning resource in the Web. 

Wishing you luck!




How a Handgun Works: 1911 .45

GIBBS TAG YOUR PORN *fans self* 

Damn. Handy reference, educational, and very well-executed presentation. I like this.