The “Rule of Three”

In watching Michael Moore’s film Where to Invade Next that I reviewed here, I was struck by a segment that he had on the role of women in Iceland. In 1980, that became the first country to democratically elect a woman as president of a republic (though not the first country to elect a woman as an executive head of state which happened in Sri Lanka when it elected a female prime minister twenty years earlier) and she went on to serve four consecutive terms. Every major political party in Iceland now requires a minimum of 40% of women members.
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The search for pi

Today March 14 is so-called ‘pi day’ where in the month/day format in the US for the date gives 3/14. The number pi (the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a circle) is a source of endless fascination because it is so basic and yet so ubiquitous in all areas of science and mathematics and everyday life. Here is a fascinating article by Xiaojing Ye on the search for obtaining increasingly precise values of pi. It contained many nuggets of information that were quite new to me.
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New galaxy found 13.4 billion light-years away

The discovery by the Hubble telescope of a galaxy that is 13.4 billion light years away is an exciting development. This is not only because it is further away than anything we have seen so far but also because it suggests that stars and galaxies were being formed at the very earliest stages of the universe, which is currently calculated as being 13.81 billion years old.
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Laser light attacks on planes

I have been reading about the increased number of incidents in which pilots of planes report that they have been blinded by laser beams aimed at the cockpit from the ground. I was surprised by this since the lasers one uses in everyday life are quite low in power and it is not easy to aim them. But it turns out that these lasers, which can be easily purchased online, are more powerful than the ones used in meeting presentations and are getting even more powerful. Authorities are treating them as dangerous practices and urging a crackdown.
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What is going on in the Apple-FBI fight over encryption

Yesterday a federal judge ruled against the FBI in its efforts to get Apple to unlock the phone of a suspected drug dealer. This ruling has an impact on the other case in which the FBI has demanded that Apple unlock the phone of the San Bernadino shooter. The government is using a 227-year old law known as the All Writs Act as the basis for its claim. (Neil Richards and Woodrow Hartzog explain the origins and purpose of this law.)
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