Louis Braille

“When he was a child, Louis Braille gouged his eye with an awl by accident. The one eye was destroyed instantly, and the resulting infection claimed the other eye, making him blind by the time he was four. The accident spurred Braille to the invention of the famous Braille alphabet. Ironically, Braille created the raised-dot system by using an awl.”

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Professors on MOOCs

Do these professors seem out of touch to you?

Do you believe MOOCs could eventually reduce the cost of attaining a college degree at your institution?
No, not at all: 35%
Yes, marginally: 40%
Yes, significantly: 24%

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The @ symbol

“A certain degree of whimsical fondness for the character [@] developed over time. In Danish, the symbol is known as an ‘elephant’s trunk a’; the French call it an escargot. It’s a streudel in German, a monkey’s tail in Dutch, and a rose in Istanbul.”

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Foxconn suicides

On the well-publicized spate of suicides at Foxconn factories a few years back:

“Out of a million people, 17 suicides isn’t much—indeed, American college students kill themselves at four times that rate.”

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Child mortality

“Until 1885, childhood mortality took one out of every five children in her first year, two out of every five by their fifth.”

I did some googling, and it looks like today the U.S. numbers are 5 in 1,000 within the first year, and 7 in 1,000 within the first five years.

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Reforestation

“Since the 19th century, forests have grown back to cover 60% of the land within this area [the eastern third of the U.S.]. In New England, an astonishing 86.7% of the land that was forested in 1630 had been reforested by 2007, according to the U.S. Forest Service….In 2007, forests covered 63.2% of Massachusetts and 58% of Connecticut, the third and fourth most densely populated states in the country.”

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Weather forecasts

“Forecasts today made 3-4 days out are as accurate as a 36-hour forecast was 30 years ago. So the weather forecasts are more accurate than people give them credit for.”

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