July 20, 2018: Friday News Roundup

What did you learn this week, roundup readers? Or maybe you shared your expertise to teach someone else? Either way, good for you—you deserve a weekend.

A 4-Day Workweek? A Test Run Shows a Surprising Result
If you’re lucky enough to live in New Zealand, maybe the weekend arrived yesterday for you! A firm in Auckland had its employees work only four days, while still being paid for five, and it actually boosted productivity. Job performance didn’t suffer, and, in fact, “staff were more creative, their attendance was better, they were on time, and they didn’t leave early or take long breaks.”  

What Knitting Can Teach You About Math
This article by an assistant professor of mathematics describes how she set out to change the mindset of math haters who view the discipline as dry and impenetrable. Her unconventional approach was to skip the calculators and, instead, have students use their hands, draw pictures, and play with beach balls.

Can AI Help Brewers Predict How New Beer Varieties Will Taste? Carlsberg Says “Probably”
With the weekend approaching, you may have a cold beer on your mind. Danish brewer Carlsberg, whose yeast is apparently used in most commercial lagers today, has recently been experimenting with artificial intelligence. The Beer Fingerprinting Project “use(s) advanced sensors and analytics to more quickly map out and predict flavors.”

Why The Chess Community Actually Grew When Computers Learned To Play
When chess champion Garry Kasparov was beaten by an IBM computer in 1996, it was a very big deal. Since then, computers have only gotten smarter, becoming more daunting opponents to human players. But rather than give up on the game, chess fans have actually increased in number because, as this writer postulates, we still love to see humans perform at the highest level.

Memory Contest Comes To MIT, Where Brain Scientists Explain Why Training Works
Like serious competitors in any sport, participants in the USA Memory Championship train for months to be in peak condition. “The point is, memory is a skill, it’s not an innate capacity,” said one research scientist at MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research. Among the challenges presented at the memory contest: take 15 minutes to memorize 300 words and then recall them in order.