What are the odds?

1) A New York woman recently won a million dollars on a scratch-off lottery ticket for the second time in four years. The odds of that happening have to be incredibly slim.

They are, at more than 1 in 3.6 trillion. To put that in perspective, we've all heard about how reliable DNA evidence is and how it's virtually impossible for two persons to have identical DNA. Well, the odds there are only about 1 in 3 trillion.
2) A 50-year-old man recently set a new world record for skydiving. Isn't that just tempting death?

The odds here are better than you might think. The man's name was Jay Stokes, and last weekend, he set a record by completing 640 parachute jumps from an airplane over a 24-hour period. Most sources say the odds of a fatal skydiving accident are about one in 100,000, so by jumping 640 times, his overall odds for the day increased to a little more than 1 in 150. And while those odds certainly won't send me on a parachuting vacation anytime soon, Stokes finished the day with nothing more than a few pulled muscles.

3) We've posted before on the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, AL. What are the odds of a major airline losing your luggage for good?

A 2005 report indicated that 30 million bags were lost by airlines last year. That sounds like a lot, and it IS a lot, but it's only about one percent of all the bags that they handled during those 12 months. And all but about 200 thousand of those bags were later reunited with their owners, so the odds of an airline misplacing your bag for good is about one in 15,000. Definitely room for improvement but it does mean that you're more likely to lose your luggage than the airlines are.

What are the odds that Pluto will regain planet status? Don't ask, we're still too sad to talk about it.

College Board Wants to Erase Thousands of Years From AP World History, and Teachers Aren't Happy

One would be forgiven for thinking that the Ides of March are upon us, because Julius Caesar is being taken out once again—this time from the Advanced Placement World History exam. The College Board in charge of the AP program is planning to remove the Roman leader, and every other historical figure who lived and died prior to 1450, from high school students’ tests, The New York Times reports.

The nonprofit board recently announced that it would revise the test, beginning in 2019, to make it more manageable for teachers and students alike. The current exam covers over 10,000 years of world history, and according to the board, “no other AP course requires such an expanse of content to be covered over a single school year.”

As an alternative, the board suggested that schools offer two separate year-long courses to cover the entirety of world history, including a Pre-AP World History and Geography class focusing on the Ancient Period (before 600 BCE) up through the Postclassical Period (ending around 1450). However, as Politico points out, a pre-course for which the College Board would charge a fee "isn’t likely to be picked up by cash-strapped public schools," and high school students wouldn't be as inclined to take the pre-AP course since there would be no exam or college credit for it.

Many teachers and historians are pushing back against the proposed changes and asking the board to leave the course untouched. Much of the controversy surrounds the 1450 start date and the fact that no pre-colonial history would be tested.

“They couldn’t have picked a more Eurocentric date,” Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks, who previously helped develop AP History exams and courses, told The New York Times. “If you start in 1450, the first thing you’ll talk about in terms of Africa is the slave trade. The first thing you’ll talk about in terms of the Americas is people dying from smallpox and other things. It’s not a start date that encourages looking at the agency and creativity of people outside Europe.”

A group of teachers who attended an AP open forum in Salt Lake City also protested the changes. One Michigan educator, Tyler George, told Politico, “Students need to understand that there was a beautiful, vast, and engaging world before Europeans ‘discovered’ it.”

The board is now reportedly reconsidering its decision and may push the start date of the course back some several hundred years. Their decision will be announced in July.

[h/t The New York Times]

North America: East or West Coast?


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