In 1980, the United States hockey team pulled off one of the greatest upsets in Olympic history, beating a powerhouse Soviet squad, 4-3, on its way to winning the gold medal. The game would go down in history as “The Miracle on Ice.”
Thirty-five years later, America pulled off another stunning upset this week.
But this victory involved integers, not ice skates, and was waged not by hulking Cold Warriors but by teens.
Team America has finally retaken the International Mathematical Olympiad crown. The victory this week was a historic comeback.
If winning a youth math competition seems less important than vanquishing the Soviets back in 1980, consider this: the last time America won the IMO was 1994. Back then, Bill Clinton was president and Ace of Base was top of the pop charts.
In the decades since, America has slowly slid down the education charts, especially when it comes to math and science.
“It’s been 21 years,” said Team USA’s head coach. “This is a huge deal.”
He should know. Loh himself was a contestant back in 1999, when the U.S. slumped to 10th place.
“This is a matter of national pride.” he explained. “One reason we are super excited is that for the past five years or so, we’ve been consistently second or third. It’s actually quite difficult to win. We are going up against a natural population disadvantage in the sense that China, which is the usual winner, has four times as many people.”
“Finally, to topple a country that should beat us by all expectations is a fantastic achievement for these six students,” said Loh, a math professor at Carnegie Mellon University.
In a sign of the tournament’s geostrategic importance, the White House gave props to Team USA on its big win in Chiang Mai.
Go Team USA! America took first place in the International Mathematical Olympiad for the first time since 1994. pic.twitter.com/qr08o1INe0
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) July 15, 2015
The U.S. edged out China by four points, 185-181. South Korea took third place.
The rankings were based on the number of points scored by individual team members on six problems. Students tackle the problems three at a time in 4.5 hour sessions over two days, according to the Mathematical Association of America, the organization behind the American team.
Five U.S. team members won gold medals: Ryan Alweiss, Allen Liu, Yang Liu, Shyam Narayanan and David Stoner. A sixth member, Michael Kural, missed gold by one point, settling for silver.
Kural, a 17-year-old from Connecticut, said the competition was tougher than he expected.
“It was a definitely a lot harder than we’ve been used to,” he told the Guardian over a meal of steamed rice and spicy pork curry after the final match. “I think a lot of teams weren’t really used to that.”
Here’s an example of the problems Kural and company had to solve:
“The questions that we do here are not anything like school questions,” Loh explained. “It’s not like going into college math. It’s like thinking harder.”
He gave a math-challenged reporter a sports analogy.
“When you look at the Olympics, everyone can understand what they are doing. It’s pretty basic stuff: run as fast as you can,” he said. “In some sense the math Olympiad is similar because the math you are using, you don’t have to have a college degree to understand. However, you do have to be creative.”
And like the Olympics, the Olympiad isn’t just about national pride, but national improvement.
“Why we are doing this for the country is that basically it plays the same role as the Olympics does in sports: to have some sort of far destination that all of our hundreds of thousands or millions of people in America can reach towards, like a pinnacle in the distance,” Loh said. “It pushes people to reach farther in mathematics.”
Loh said he hoped his students’ victory would “inspire large areas of the population to try harder in mathematics than they ever thought they could.”
He added that the tournament was far less cutthroat than the Olympics. No cheating. No mind games. Sometimes teams actually help one another.
“It’s the exact opposite of backstabbing,” Loh said. “The coaches are always the same. We are all friends. It’s very collegial. We are essentially going after the same goal, which is to drive the whole world up.
“At the end of the day, the talent flow goes in many directions,” he said. “For example, many of the top students come to the United States to go to university. So we are all the beneficiary.”
But international integer solidarity didn’t stop Team America from pulling out the Stars and Stripes on the victory stage.
“The closing ceremonies are quite moving,” he said. “You have this scene where all of the top students are being recognized and they are holding their huge flags. Some of them are wearing the flags. It’s a big deal. Some of them are very attached to their countries.”
This was Loh’s second year in charge of the team, but he spent four years before that as an assistant. He admits that after five years of second or third place finishes, plus his own 10th place performance 16 years ago, it felt good to finally beat the Chinese.
“Of course there is a very friendly rivalry between us,” he said. “When China conceded defeat, their coach came over to me and we shook hands.
“Usually it’s the other way around.”
Here are the names of the team members: Ryan Alweiss, Allen Liu, Yang Liu, Shyam Narayanan, and David Stoner, all of whom were awarded gold medals, and Michael Kural. More more on the team, click here. For rankings over the years, click here.
80 Million Stimulus Check Direct Deposits Have Been Processed. When Will They Arrive?
Americans will start to see their stimulus payments this week, a centerpiece of the $2.2 trillion rescue package meant to provide a buffer against the coronavirus pandemic that’s shuttered much of the U.S. economy.
The Internal Revenue Service has begun sending $1,200 payments to middle and lower income adults, plus $500 for their minor children, though it could take until September for every eligible person to get the money.
The first payments “should be deposited directly into individuals’ bank accounts; the precise date you will see payments in your account depends on how long individual banks typically take to process direct deposits,” according to a press release from House Ways and Means Committee Republicans.
The IRS will first send the money to individuals for whom the agency has direct deposit information. The remainder will be mailed as checks. That process is expected to begin April 20 but could take until the fall to complete.
The IRS processed more than 80 million payments on Friday that should be available in bank accounts early this week, Sunita Lough, the IRS deputy commissioner for services and enforcement, said in a video conference Monday.
Payments will be made first to those earning the least.
The IRS has launched a tool for non-tax filers, such as those who had income under $12,200 last year and weren’t required to file a federal return, to enter direct deposit information to get their payments.
The agency plans to have a second website up by April 17 that will show people the status of their payments, including the date the money is scheduled to be deposited or mailed. That tool will also let people who’ve typically gotten their tax refund in the mail to provide their bank account details to get their stimulus payment more quickly.
The IRS is using information from 2018 and 2019 tax returns to process the payments. It says taxpayers who’ve yet to file a return this year should do so as soon as possible, and elect to receive the refund via a direct deposit. The information can then be used to distribute the stimulus payments. Social Security and disability recipients will receive their payments automatically.
The tax deadline was extended to July 15 from April 15 to give people more time to file and pay during the pandemic.
Taxpayers who don’t need extra time and who expect to get a stimulus payment should file as soon as possible so the agency has their most up-to-date details on file, said Christina Taylor, head of operations for Credit Karma Tax.
“The quicker, the better,” she said.
Americans earning $75,000 or less, or $150,000 and below as a couple, are eligible for the full $1,200 payout per adult, plus $500 for each child under 17. Those amounts are reduced for people with higher incomes, and people who make $99,000 or more in earnings (or $198,000 for a couple) get nothing, even if they have children. Individuals must have a Social Security number to receive a payment.
A Case of Hantavirus Has Been Reported in China. Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Worry.
A man who died in China Monday reportedly tested positive for a hantavirus, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should worry another pandemic is coming…
A man who died in China Monday reportedly tested positive for a hantavirus, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should worry another pandemic is coming.
Hantaviruses are a family of virus that spread through rodents, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In Yunnan Province, a man died on his way back to Shandong Province, according to Global Times, an English-language Chinese news outlet.
“He was tested positive for #hantavirus. Other 32 people on bus were tested,” the news outlet tweeted.
The tweet, sent amid a pandemic caused by a new coronavirus, has been shared more than 15,000 times.
Though countries across the globe are on high alert due to uncertainty around the coronavirus, there is no indication that the hantavirus poses a global public health threat.
According to the CDC, hantavirus cases are rare, and they spread as a result of close contact with rodent urine, droppings or saliva.
Certain kinds of rats and mice in the United States can carry the virus, which is transmitted when someone breathes in contaminated air.
“The hantaviruses that cause human illness in the United States cannot be transmitted from one person to another,” the CDC says on its website. Rare cases in Chile and Argentina have seen person-to-person transmission when a person is in close contact with someone sickened by a type of hantavirus called Andes virus, the CDC says.
In the U.S., the virus can cause hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, a severe respiratory disease that can be fatal. Symptoms include fatigue, fever, muscle aches, headaches, dizziness, chills, and abdominal problems. Coughing and shortness of breath can occur later in the disease as the lungs fill with liquid, the CDC says,
Hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome, found mostly in Europe and Asia, can also occur, which causes pain, fever, chills, nausea, and blurred vision, the CDC says. More serious symptoms include acute kidney failure.
Cases in the United States have typically been concentrated in the western and southwestern states.
From 1993 to 2017, there were only 728 confirmed hantavirus cases in the United States, with most being non-fatal, according to CDC data. In comparison, since late January, when the first known coronavirus case was identified in the U.S., there have been 46,805 confirmed coronavirus cases nationwide, according to a Johns Hopkins University tracker.
In May 1993, a hantavirus outbreak occurred in an area between Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah. A 2012 outbreak in Yosemite sickened 10 people. In seven states, 17 people were infected in a 2017 outbreak.
Developments in Presidential Race, Trump does Terribly at Forum as Clinton shines
November is lurking around the corner and will be here before you know it, so my question to you is, have you decided who you will vote for? I have, and I proudly say my choice is Hillary Rodham Clinton. I am informing you all that there are ample development in the race for the presidency of the United States…
November is lurking around the corner and will be here before you know it, so my question to you is, have you decided who you will vote for? I have, and I proudly say my choice is Hillary Rodham Clinton. I am informing you all that there are ample development in the race for the presidency of the United States.
First of all, Donald Trump, according to Kristina Vong’s article at Thehill.com, wrongly corrected a veteran Marine during a forum. The veteran, a woman named Rachel Fredericks, asked Mr. Trump how he plans to stop 20 veterans from committing suicide, daily. Trump tried to correct the woman, who needed no correction. He said it is actually 22, trying to emerge correct, when he was essentially incorrect.
Mr. Trump also does not have a real plan to defeat ISIS, as “his plan is to have a plan” according to Igor Bobic at the Huffington Post. He also insulted military leaders calling them embarrassments to the country when they were under President Obama. He wants to give the generals 30 days to come up with a plan to defeat ISIS. Of course, this even makes it more obvious that Mr. Trump does not have a plan to defeat ISIS. Why, then did he call our current president the founder of ISIS? How can you give your vote to someone so unprepared and unfit for the presidency that constitutes a whole country? Sorry to say, but Donald Trump is not someone to vote for, at least not as US President!
According to Sean Colarossi at PoliticusUSA.com, a presidential forum highlighted how prepared Trump and Clinton are compared to each other, with Clinton appearing as the more prepared one, very easily. Clinton was engaged with questions, expressed gratitude, and was very prolific and intelligible in her responses. To reiterate, Trump has not a plan to defeat ISIS, where Hillary has a well thought-out plan. She outlined her plan, entailing it could take any form and she iterated and supports the idea that terror suspects should not be able to purchase firearms. Clinton also covered issues like mental health, illuminating the fact that it is overlooked, and mental health should no longer be stigmatized and victims of mental disorders should have access to resources. On the other hand, Trump gave generic answers like that he knows what is going on in the world. Also according to Colarossi’s article, Trump showed as an “empty suit” and “showed he is not prepared to be commander-in-chief” and that the contrast between him and Clinton could not be clearer”; this essentially means Clinton showed to be immensely more prepared to lead and did not focus on attacking others, like Trump’s approach does.
Lastly, Donald Trump has insulted women, children, ethnic groups, religious groups, his opponent, our current president, the military, and the list goes on. He is patronizing and unprepared to preside over our country as well. He constantly attacks others, with no action in mind. Consider if you want to have him as president, seriously!
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