Science has struggled to increase the diversity of the research community, trying to ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to contribute to humanity's advances. But science's struggles are nothing compared to those of the financial industry, where only about 1% of fund managers are women or minorities. While there have been some efforts made to increase diversity, finance stubbornly remains the domain of white males, even though firms run by women and minorities have, on average, produced equivalent returns. To find out why this disparity exists, a group of Stanford researchers collaborated with a diverse financial firm to perform a relatively simple experiment. They created fake financial firms, swapped in headshots of black and white "managers," and asked actual asset managers to rate the firm's performance. The results showed that when performance was good, having black managers led to lower ratings than when the same performance was supposedly delivered by a white-led firm. … [Read more...] about Investment managers don’t understand how to rate funds managed by black people
By Lizzie WadeAug. 29, 2019 , 2:00 PM About 16,000 years ago, on the banks of a river in western Idaho, people kindled fires, shaped stone blades and spearpoints, and butchered large mammals. All were routine activities in prehistory, but their legacy today is anything but. The charcoal and bone left at that ancient site, now called Cooper’s Ferry, are some 16,000 years old—the oldest radiocarbon-dated record of human presence in North America, according to work reported this week in Science. The findings do more than add a few centuries to the timeline of people in the Americas. They also shore up a new picture of how humans first arrived, by showing that people lived at Cooper’s Ferry more than 1 millennium before melting glaciers opened an ice-free corridor through Canada about 14,800 years ago. That implies the first people in the Americas must have come by sea, moving rapidly down the Pacific coast and up rivers. The dates from Cooper’s Ferry “fit … [Read more...] about First people in the Americas came by sea, ancient tools unearthed by Idaho river suggest
By Greg MillerAug. 22, 2019 , 8:00 AM Can a three-digit phone number avert suicides on a grand scale? Last week, the Federal Communications Commission recommended designating 988 as a nationwide suicide prevention hotline number. Currently, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached around the clock through the more cumbersome 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Many paths in life can bring someone to the brink of suicide, and a shorter phone number might seem to be a naïvely simple solution. But researchers have repeatedly found that simple works: Callers routinely credit the existing hotline, which is on track to take 2.5 million calls this year, with keeping them safe. "It's one of the most basic human realities," says Lifeline Director John Draper, a counseling psychologist with Vibrant Emotional Health, the New York City nonprofit that administers the hotline. "Helping people feel understood and cared about saves lives." More than 47,000 people died by suicide in the United … [Read more...] about Three suicide prevention strategies show real promise. How can they reach more people?
By Kelly ServickOct. 31, 2019 , 2:20 PM CHICAGO, ILLINOIS—In 2014, U.S. regulators approved a futuristic treatment for blindness. The device, called Argus II, sends signals from a glasses-mounted camera to a roughly 3-by-5-millimeter grid of electrodes at the back of eye. Its job: Replace signals from light-sensing cells lost in the genetic condition retinitis pigmentosa. The implant’s maker, Second Sight, estimates that about 350 people in the world now use it. Argus II offers a relatively crude form of artificial vision; users see diffuse spots of light called phosphenes. “None of the patients gave up their white cane or guide dog,” says Daniel Palanker, a physicist who works on visual prostheses at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. “It’s a very low bar.” But it was a start. He and others are now aiming to raise the bar with more precise ways of stimulating cells in the eye or brain. At the annual meeting of the Society for … [Read more...] about New technologies promise sharper artificial vision for blind people
By Kelly ServickOct. 1, 2019 , 7:01 PM The brain has a way of repurposing unused real estate. When a sense like sight is missing, corresponding brain regions can adapt to process new input, including sound or touch. Now, a study of blind people who use echolocation—making clicks with their mouths to judge the location of objects when sound bounces back—reveals a degree of neural repurposing never before documented. The research shows that a brain area normally devoted to the earliest stages of visual processing can use the same organizing principles to interpret echoes as it would to interpret signals from the eye. In sighted people, messages from the retina are relayed to a region at the back of the brain called the primary visual cortex. We know the layout of this brain region corresponds to the layout of physical space around us: Points that are next to each other in our environment project onto neighboring points on the retina and activate neighboring points in the … [Read more...] about Echolocation in blind people reveals the brain’s adaptive powers