New York sues Dumbo Trump for fraudulent “university”

Real estate tycoon Donald Trump was sued Saturday by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for $40 million. The lawsuit claims The Apprentice star helped run “Trump University,” a phony program that promised riches and apprenticeships in real estate but never delivered.

Instead, what it did deliver was useless seminars that came with a Trump-size price tag, costing students up to $35,000. Schneiderman said students didn’t even get to meet Trump but got their picture taken in front of a life-size picture of him.

Students were worse off financially after they studied with instructors who were “hand-picked” by Trump because of the high costs of the seminars. They would take the initial three-day program then were told they needed more instruction to be successful. If they signed up for “Trump Elite,” they would get individualized coaching until they made their first real estate deal. That one-on-one instruction came with a price between $10,000 to $35,000. When students tried to cancel their memberships, the program wouldn’t do so in a timely manner. The $40 million will serve as restitution.

The attorney general is suing the “university,” Donald Trump as chairman, and the “university” president for persistent fraud, violating federal laws of consumer protection, illegal and deceptive conduct. Complaints from 2005 through 2011 are included in the lawsuit…

Another case of a crook hustling the fools who believe in his ideology. Trump’s regurgitation of ancient Republican slogans haloed by idiot box presentations of his crap reality TV show brought in the suckers like ants to spilled sugar. As soon as they realized they were being snookered, they tried to get their money back – to no avail. This con artist kept every penny he could steal.

It’s easy for some to say they got what they paid for. But, the core of the fraud remains unethical and close to criminal. Trump lied to get people to pay for something they never received. Hopefully, he will now get some of what he deserves.

Tokai University wins World Solar Challenge 2nd year in a row

For the second year in a row, Tokai University can lay claim to the winner’s laurels in the 2011 Veolia World Solar Challenge, a sun-powered race challenge in Australia that winds over 1,800 miles between Darwin and Adelaide using only 5 kWh of on-board energy and the rest beamed in directly from the sun. As the race’s website says, “These are arguably the most efficient electric vehicles.”

According to the provisional results…seven teams managed to go the entire 2,998 kilometer but Tokai came out on top because their average speed – 91.54 kilometers an hour – was faster than any other finisher. The Tokai’s final time was 32 hours and 45 minutes. The fact that only seven teams finished out of a starting list of 37 shows that this is not an easy race, and this year was particularly difficult thanks to brush fires (set by arsonists) along the route.

Bravo!

We have kin who have worked their butts off for similar competitions in North America – and especially appreciate the effort not only by the designers and teams; but, everyone who works to produce the competition.

Barriers at home send students from India to the United States


Nikita Sachdeva – from Delhi – now a student at University of Chicago

Moulshri Mohan was an excellent student at one of the top private high schools in New Delhi. When she applied to colleges, she received scholarship offers of $20,000 from Dartmouth and $15,000 from Smith. Her pile of acceptance letters would have made any ambitious teenager smile: Cornell, Bryn Mawr, Duke, Wesleyan, Barnard and the University of Virginia.

But because of her 93.5 percent cumulative score on her final high school examinations, which are the sole criteria for admission to most colleges here, Ms. Mohan was rejected by the top colleges at Delhi University, better known as D.U., her family’s first choice and one of India’s top schools…

Mohan, 18, is now one of a surging number of Indian students attending American colleges and universities, as competition in India has grown formidable, even for the best students. With about half of India’s 1.2 billion people under the age of 25, and with the ranks of the middle class swelling, the country’s handful of highly selective universities are overwhelmed…

“The problem is clear,” said Kapil Sibal, the government minister overseeing education in India, who studied law at Harvard. “There is a demand and supply issue. You don’t have enough quality institutions, and there are enough quality young people who want to go to only quality institutions.”

American universities and colleges have been more than happy to pick up the slack. Faced with shrinking returns from endowment funds, a decline in the number of high school graduates in the United States and growing economic hardship among American families, they have stepped up their efforts to woo Indian students thousands of miles away…

Indians are now the second-largest foreign student population in America, after the Chinese, with almost 105,000 students in the United States in the 2009-10 academic year, the last for which comprehensive figures were available. Student visa applications from India increased 20 percent in the past year, according to the American Embassy here.

RTFA. A multipliplex of incompetence, political foolishness, unwillingness to see beyond your nose.

India and the United States maintain differing allocations to the concept of an intellectual elite. The easier transition from country to country in an educational culture becoming globalized helps students otherwise marginalized, denied by inequity. But, responsibility still remains unanswered in both India and the United States.

Young people capable of learning, acquiring skills and knowledge, of contributing to the betterment of society lose the opportunity. The barriers in either nation may differ. The result is the same.

Genius at work: 12-year-old is studying at Indiana/Purdue

When Jacob Barnett first learned about the Schrödinger equation for quantum mechanics, he could hardly contain himself. For three straight days, his little brain buzzed with mathematical functions.

From within his 12-year-old, mildly autistic mind, there gradually flowed long strings of pluses, minuses, funky letters and upside-down triangles — a tapestry of complicated symbols that few can understand.

He grabbed his pencil and filled every sheet of paper before grabbing a marker and filling up a dry erase board that hangs in his bedroom. With a single-minded obsession, he kept on, eventually marking up every window in the home…

Entirely normal for Jacob, a child prodigy who used to crunch his cereal while calculating the volume of the cereal box in his head…

Elementary school couldn’t keep Jacob interested. And courses at IUPUI have only served to awaken a sleeping giant.

Just a few weeks shy of his 13th birthday, Jake, as he’s often called, is starting to move beyond the level of what his professors can teach.

In fact, his work is so strong and his ideas so original that he’s being courted by a top-notch East Coast research center. IUPUI is interested in him moving from the classroom into a funded researcher’s position.

“We have told him that after this semester . . . enough of the book work. You are here to do some science,” said IUPUI physics Professor John Ross, who vows to help find some grant funding to support Jake and his work…

This is not what Jake’s parents expected from a child whose first few years were spent in silence.

“Oh my gosh, when he was 2, my fear was that he would never be in our world at all,” said Kristine Barnett, 36, Jake’s mother.

“He would not talk to anyone. He would not even look at us.”

RTFA. A delight. Not just for the tale of young Jacob; but, how his parents adapted and learned, experimented with freeing his latent abilities – sometimes regardless of the directions suggested by professional help more inclined to find the right box to put him into.

Great family story from all sides. And a young person I look forward to seeing in a larger picture someday.

Thanks, Mr. Fusion

Beancounters’ corruption of science as media

In the old days it didn’t matter so much which journal research was published in. Now it counts for everything.

Funding bodies now award grants almost exclusively to researchers who have published in a handful of top scientific journals.

According to Peter Lawrence, an emeritus professor at the University of Cambridge, it’s this new accounting mentality that is “corrupting” the scientific process. Professor Lawrence, who used to edit a scientific journal, and is a respected researcher himself, says “it’s a bit like judging a hospital by how quickly the telephone is answered.

“[Awarding grants] was never a very accurate process in the past. But it was done by people reading the [research] papers and determining whether it contained sparks of originality and quality of rigour and argument. Now that aim has been more or less abandoned.”

What counts now is how often the research is cited, or mentioned, by other researchers in their publications, he says. This is supposed to be a reflection of how influential a piece of research has been. But many outside the grant awarding system regard it as a crude measure.

Citations, they say, measure how fashionable and well funded a field of research is rather than its true quality

According to Professor Lawrence: “Once you start doing that, those numbers start gaining an importance to a point where in fact the real value of the work is extinguished.”

The priority now for many career scientists is to market themselves in a way that maximises their ability to have their research published in the top journals. They spend time travelling to scientific meetings to network with colleagues who may be reviewing their work. The research itself can at times seem a secondary concern.

The only way out of this cycle of “corruption”, according to Peter Lawrence, is for grant agencies to move away from counting citations and to actually read research proposals and to judge their quality.

Kind of seems obvious doesn’t it.

Of course, that might require staff at some of the journals deeply immersed in prestige – instead of leadership in investigation – to put in quality time off the networking circuit.

Excessive internet use in Leeds is depressing


Click on photo for NSFW version

People who spend a lot of time browsing the Internet are more likely to show depressive symptoms, according to the first large-scale study of its kind in the West by University of Leeds psychologists.

Researchers found striking evidence that some users have developed a compulsive internet habit, whereby they replace real-life social interaction with online chat rooms and social networking sites. The results suggest that this type of addictive surfing can have a serious impact on mental health…

“While many of us use the internet to pay bills, shop and send emails, there is a small subset of the population who find it hard to control how much time they spend online, to the point where it interferes with their daily activities.”

These ‘internet addicts‘ spent proportionately more time browsing sexually gratifying websites, online gaming sites and online communities. They also had a higher incidence of moderate to severe depression than non-addicted users.

“Our research indicates that excessive internet use is associated with depression, but what we don’t know is which comes first — are depressed people drawn to the internet or does the internet cause depression?

Having Spurs kick your butt – with Jermaine Defoe scoring a hat-trick – doesn’t help, either. 🙂

Which shows how much concern I feel over chicken v. egg studies like this.

Successful trials of non-invasive brain surgery

A team of researchers working at the MR-Center of the University Children’s Hospital in Zürich has completed a pilot study using transcranial MR-guided focused ultrasound to treat 10 patients with neuropathic pain.

The origin of chronic pain in these patients included post amputation phantom limb syndrome, nerve injury, stroke, trigeminal neuralgia and post herpetic neuralgia from shingles.

“This study showed that we can perform successful operations in the depth of the brain without opening the cranium or physically penetrating the brain with medical tools, something that appeared to be unimaginable only a few years ago,” says Daniel Jeanmonod M.D., a neurosurgeon at the University of Zurich. “By eliminating any physical penetration into the brain, we hope to duplicate the therapeutic effects of invasive deep brain ablation without the side effects, and for a wider group of patients…”

“This research demonstrates that transcranial MR-guided focused ultrasound can be used non-invasively to produce small thermal ablations with extreme precision and accuracy deep in the brain,” comments Neal Kassell, M.D., a neurosurgeon at the University of Virginia, and Chairman of the Focused Ultrasound Surgery Foundation. “It paves the way for further research into the treatment of a variety of other brain disorders, including Parkinson’s disease and essential tremor, epilepsy, brain tumors and stroke.”

Any time you don’t have to poke holes in this carcass of ours is a good time.

I have a bit more confidence in ultrasound used for this procedure rather than focussed radiation.

Go to the right school in Japan – get a free iPhone


Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

A Japanese university is giving away Apple’s trendy iPhone to students for free, but with a catch: the device will be used to check their attendance.

The project, which is being tested ahead of its formal launch in June, involves 550 first and second year students and some staff of a department at Aoyama Gakuin University, which is located just outside Tokyo in Sagamihara city.

The school’s iPhones are meant to create a mobile information network between students and professors, but they are also a convenient way for the teachers to take attendance in class.

As students enter the room, instead of writing their name on a sheet, they simply type in their ID number and a specific class number into an iPhone application.

To prevent students from logging in from home or outside class, the application uses GPS location data and checks which router the students have logged in to…

“With Japanese cellphones it’s possible that the location data is automatically sent. However, with the iPhone, you must always confirm before the GPS data can be sent,” Yasuhiro Iijima said…

“Up until now, we’ve been using little slips of paper to take attendance. But with a cell phone, you don’t have to spend time collecting all of those and so I think it’s quite nice,” 20-year-old student Yuki Maruya.

Bet the App Store gets some use, too.

Nanoneedle is small in size, but huge in potential applications


Min-Feng Yu

Researchers at the University of Illinois have developed a membrane-penetrating nanoneedle for the targeted delivery of one or more molecules into the cytoplasm or the nucleus of living cells. In addition to ferrying tiny amounts of cargo, the nanoneedle can also be used as an electrochemical probe and as an optical biosensor.

“Nanoneedle-based delivery is a powerful new tool for studying biological processes and biophysical properties at the molecular level inside living cells,” said Min-Feng Yu, an associate professor of mechanical science and engineering and corresponding author of a paper accepted for publication in Nano Letters.

In the paper, Yu and collaborators describe how they deliver, detect and track individual fluorescent quantum dots in a cell’s cytoplasm and nucleus. The quantum dots can be used for studying molecular mechanics and physical properties inside cells…

With a diameter of approximately 50 nanometers, the nanoneedle introduces minimal intrusiveness in penetrating cell membranes and accessing the interiors of live cells…

“Combined with molecular targeting strategies using quantum dots and magnetic nanoparticles as molecular probes, the nanoneedle delivery method can potentially enable the simultaneous observation and manipulation of individual molecules,” said Ning Wang, a MechSE professor and a co-author of the paper…

“Nanoneedles can be used as electrochemical probes and as optical biosensors to study cellular environments, stimulate certain types of biological sequences, and examine the effect of nanoparticles on cellular physiology.”

Wow! As screwed-up as our education system is at the grassroots level, at least the realm of higher studies remains sufficiently advanced to attract the best and brightest.

If we could only figure out how to carry this obvious capacity down to our high schools and all undergraduate institutions.