Where I’ve Been Online (May 2013, part 1)

Approximate Reading Time: 4 minutes
  • tags: nytimes groupthink intelligence

  • Every day gamers go into fictional spaces to save the world. They go on quests to save the Mario Galaxy, battle evil in Azeroth, and improve their lots in Farmville. Millions of gamers spend in the area of 3 billion hours a week solving the difficult and challenging problems of hundreds of fictional worlds and thousands of quests. Until lately that didn’t really have much of an effect on the real world. However with the rise of Serious Gaming, a movement that explores the uses of games beyond “entertainment”, video games and the real world have become entwined. Games have already been developed that have helped scientists find planets around distance suns, create new proteins to help fight AIDS, teach about peak oil, and this is only the beginning. Games are evolving into an excellent medium for education, scientific discovery, group problem solving, and a whole host of applications we are only beginning to explore. The ability of games to now reach out into the real world brings up a tantalizing question. If games can be used to solve real world problems and complete real world quests… could it be that gamers are finally poised to save the real world? Gamers are smart, they like to solve hard problems, they put in staggering amounts of hours into playing, and they seem to want to save the world too. If we can make games that actually let them do that, would they?

    tags: gamers games

  • Dog History How were Dogs Domesticated? By K. Kris Hirst, About.com Guide “Larry and Butch – A boy and his dog at the beach” Larry and Butch – A boy and his dog at the beach Sheri Stritof Dog history is really the history of the partnership between dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) and humans. That partnership is based on human needs for help with herding and hunting, an early alarm system, and a source of food in addition to the companionship many of us today know and love. Dogs get companionship, protection and shelter, and a reliable food source out of the deal. But when this partnership first occurred is at the moment under some controversy. Dog history has been studied recently using mitochondrial DNA, which suggests that wolves and dogs split into different species around 100,000 years ago: but whether humans had anything to do with that, no one really knows. Recent mtDNA analysis (Boyko et al.), suggests that the origin and location of dog domestication, long thought to be in east Asia, is in some doubt.

    tags: history domestication dog

  • Carbs were key in wolves’ evolution into dogs Comparing the DNA of dogs and wolves shows that dogs’ ability to easily digest carbohydrates, originally from starch in scraps left behind by humans, helped enable their domestication, a study finds. January 23, 2013|By Rosie Mestel, Los Angeles Times Gray wolves in Rhodes, France. The new analysis examined a mix of DNA from 12 gray wolves and compared it with DNA collected from 60 domestic dogs from 14 breeds. Gray wolves in Rhodes, France. The new analysis examined a mix of DNA from… (Jean-Christophe Verhaegen,…) Long ago, some brazen wolves started hanging around human settlements, jump-starting events that ultimately led to today’s domesticated dogs. Now geneticists say they have identified one of the key changes that turned wolves into the tame, tail-wagging creatures well-suited to living by our sides — the ability to digest carbohydrates with ease. The report, published online Wednesday by the journal Nature, found signs that dogs can break down starch into sugar, and then transport those sugars from the gut into the bloodstream, more efficiently than can wolves. Comparing dog and wolf DNA, the authors pinpointed several changes in starch and sugar-processing genes that would have made early dogs better able to digest the scraps they scavenged from dumps in early farming villages, helping them to thrive as they gave up the independent life of the pack to entwine their lives with ours.

    tags: carbs key wolves evolution dogs

  • What is GAME:IT 10,000 – A STEM Initiative? STEM Fuse was founded with the mission to promote STEM education by giving our schools student attracting, affordable, flexible and teachable STEM curriculum. To this end STEM Fuse wants to give away our terrifically popular, standards aligned, full semester game design course GAME:IT to 10,000 high schools. Give away as in – no cost, 100% free, nada, nothing! Our first course, GAME:IT, teaches all facets of STEM as an intro level game design course and is now being taught in 47 states and 3 foreign countries. GAME:IT is a full semester course that contains everything need to teach it, assumes no prior technical background by either teacher or student and is aligned with ALL applicable national and state CTE / STEM / Technology standards. Please click on the buttons to the right to learn much more about GAME:IT and then simply register and make sure your school is part of the GAME:IT 10,000! *To ensure your school and your students get the most from GAME:IT we will provide continual training and professional development for our teachers and offer terrific technical support as well. Upon registration a Regional Director of Client Services will be in contact to provide training options and details. Let’s get to 10,000! Let’s inspire our students and promote STEM education!

    tags: game education

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