Saturday, March 06, 2010

Science Education: Popular Science Magazine puts entire archive online for free viewing

As a kid growing up in the USA in the 70's, I spent a lot of time in my local public library reading everything I could get my hands on.  When it came to science and technology magazines, I remember reading every single Popular Mechanics, Popular Science, and Scientific American as soon as it came in. Of course, a lot of what was in Scientific American was written above my academic level, but with each issue I read I got a little further into each article before I was lost- over time I gave myself a pretty good science education that way. (Aside: of course, that was before Scientific American became so politicized, but I can expound upon the politicization of science and science journalism another day...).

This trip down Memory Lane has a pleasant destination - Popular Science Magazine has put its entire archive of back issues - complete with period advertisements- online for free viewing.  The archive is even searchable using Google's technology.  Very cool, in a geeky sort of way (yes, I was a geek before geeks became cool).


Thursday, March 04, 2010

Speech Recognition: Men harder to understand than women

Researchers at Stanford University (USA) and the University of Edinburgh (UK) have tested various automatic speech recognition (ASR) systems and found that in general they have a more difficult time recognizing speech from males than females.  One of the causes mentioned by the researchers was that the men tended to use fillers such as "emm" more often.

I should point out that the tests were conducted using recordings of telephone calls.  This is important because the type of "channel" the audio is being carried over makes a significant difference to a computer-based speech recognition system.

The work was sponsored by the US Office of Naval Research.

For a quick overview of the research, you can read the BBC (center-left news media, UK) article here.