Citizen scientists shape 'destiny of humanity'
With the help of citizen scientists, SETI hopes to make the most of the Allen Telescope Array.
March 27th, 2012
02:51 PM ET

Citizen scientists shape 'destiny of humanity'

In 2009, Jill Tarter wanted to trigger the most meaningful search for extraterrestrial intelligence to date by pulling everyone together to look at the sky. The SETI Institute scientist brought her wish to the 2009 TED Conference. The idea of citizen science gave her hope.

The more eyes and ears she could put on the sky and the signals being received by the Allen Telescope Array - a collection of small satellite dishes together that can simultaneously pick up signals for radio astronomy research - the better chance we have at making new discoveries. Tarter wanted people to analyze the signals the array sends back in real time – something machines can’t do.

“We think humans are able to do something that our machines can’t” Tarter said. “We’re hoping that in these regions of the spectrum, where there are so many signals that we use for our own communication purposes, that humans can perhaps be sensitive to signals buried underneath all of this chatter of our own that might be coming from a distant technology.”

Unlike a machine’s capabilities when sorting through the tangled data, the human eye is good at picking out patterns in “the mess,” Tarter said, and identifying that same mess elsewhere in the sky.

And the more people who actively point to one particular spot in the sky as producing the most interesting frequencies, the telescope will point in that direction. They can help SETI by accessing SETI Live, the citizen science platform, on Science Channel's site. The initiative will continue until the end of the month, with results of SETI's findings to follow after it concludes. FULL POST

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National Pi(e) Day: Recipes for pies
March 14th, 2012
11:44 AM ET

National Pi(e) Day: Recipes for pies

It's an all-out pie palooza because March 14 is National Pie Day!

Clever you, you've already figured out that today's date, 3/14, also corresponds to a famous mathematical constant you learned in school: 3.14, also known as pi. So it would stand to reason that today of all days is a great day to celebrate something of a similar name, pie.

In 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives agreed that yes, America, we should have a Pi Day, although it was celebrated beginning in 1988 at the San Francisco Exploratorium. The staff and visitors would march about a circular space and eat fruit pies.

Many iReporters sent in photos and recipes of pies for the occasion.

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Pi Day: How 3.14 helps find other planets, and more
March 14th, 2012
11:41 AM ET

Pi Day: How 3.14 helps find other planets, and more

Happy Pi Day! A favorite holiday among geeks, March 14 commemorates one of the most fundamental and strange numbers in mathematics. It's also Albert Einstein's birthday.

This is a great excuse to bake pies, as many iReporters have (send us your pie-report!). But there are also lots of reasons to celebrate this number: Pi  appears in the search for other planets, in the way that DNA folds, in science at the world's most powerful particle collider, and in many other fields of science.

Here's a refresher: Pi is the ratio of circumference to diameter of a circle. No matter how big or small the circle is, if you calculate the distance around it, divided by the distance across it, you will get pi, which is approximately 3.14.  That's why Pi Day is 3/14!

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'Journey' and the rewards of contemplative gaming
A scene from "Journey."
March 9th, 2012
11:55 AM ET

'Journey' and the rewards of contemplative gaming

When it comes to the words "video games," most people think about a fast-paced, action-oriented setting, possibly with lots of shooting and maybe even some splashes of blood for good measure. But gamers don't only crave that type of experience - in fact, both gamers and critics alike give rave reviews to titles that cultivate intellectual and even spiritual gaming leanings.

March 13 marks the official launch of the fourth game from indie studio thatgamecompany, known for their interesting and beautiful titles that defy conventional standards. Called "Journey," this "interactive parable to experience a person's life passage," as it is described on the official website, places the player in the role of a silent robed figure standing alone in a sea of glimmering sand dunes.

In the distance, a great mountain is silhouetted against the sky with a glow of light at the peak. Your destination is to reach that place, and learn what it may contain. The metaphor is clear: This is our life journey, and we will walk it to pursue whatever may lie at its end.

Unlike most current games, "Journey" is a very pared down, simplistic experience. In fact, the game only contains one word of text: The opening title. Beyond that, there is no dialogue, only the sound of your character's feet slicing through the sand as it presses forward. From start to finish, everything about this mysterious and beautiful experience is entirely open to interpretation, and the overall feeling of playing is one of serenity and peace. FULL POST

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Women! Embrace your inner geek
Welli Dai
March 8th, 2012
02:07 PM ET

Women! Embrace your inner geek

Editor's note: Weili Dai is co-founder of Marvell Technology Group, a leading global technology company that makes chips for smartphones, Google TV, cloud services and other connected consumer devices. She is the only female co-founder of a global semiconductor company in the world.

Technology is one of the key drivers of female economic empowerment, but the fields that women choose to participate in are still decidedly gendered.

In science, technology, engineering and mathematics, men far outnumber women in the classroom and the boardroom. In the United States, less than 20% of engineering and computer science majors are women.

It is pure mythology that women cannot perform as well as men in science, engineering and mathematics. In my experience, the opposite is true: Women are often more adept and patient at untangling complex problems, multitasking, seeing the possibilities in new solutions and winning team support for collaborative action.

To rectify this imbalance, I believe we must give young girls access to tools and devices that will implant an early desire to learn about technology. In the long term, toys, games and devices that challenge girls academically will help them contribute to the scientific ecosystem.

I believe it is in the world's interest to develop environments that fully engage women and leverage their natural talents.

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