Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Miscellaneous/2012 May 18

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May 18[edit]

phd salary[edit]

Please name the countries providing highest PhD salary/financial aid. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:07, 18 May 2012 (UTC)

Do you mean a 'salary' to someone while doing a PhD? Nil Einne (talk) 11:53, 18 May 2012 (UTC)

Many countries call it that way. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:03, 18 May 2012 (UTC)

Coming up with meaningful comparative data on Ph.D. program stipends is tough because:
  1. The can vary quite a lot between universities in a single country
  2. They vary quite a lot from discipline to discipline
  3. Their real value varies quite a lot depending on the cost of living at the university locale
  4. They often have lots of caveates in them that may ostensibly reduce their value (e.g. many universities require research or teaching for the stipend, some do only after a year or two of free study, some just hand over the money no questions asked)
  5. They sometimes have non-monetary bonuses that actually increase their value (e.g. many NYC schools have highly subsidized housing for students or faculty, which has a real value many times more than the actual money paid to the students themselves for comparable digs in the NYC rental market; some schools give research money, computers, and other amenities), not to mention benefits programs (e.g. healthcare), which matters in some countries more than others.
  6. Different country university systems will have all sorts of differences in fees, expectations, length of degree program, etc. In my Ph.D. program I received some "money for nothing" in the first two years, then "guaranteed" money for teaching/research in the next couple of years, then had to pay "reduced tuition plus fees" out of pocket for two years (though the last year came with guaranteed "finishing" money). Looking at only the maximum value of the "money for nothing" would not have necessarily been the best way to get a handle on the comparative merits of my program versus many other programs.
So even trying to get a handle on the Ph.D. stipend range for the United States alone is hard. This page does a commendable effort of hashing through these variables for the field of biomedicine. It seems like quite a lot of work; I don't know of any resource which tries to do this across all possible countries. --Mr.98 (talk) 14:31, 18 May 2012 (UTC)
I'll take you at our word that in 'many' countries a PhD stipend, scholarship or other financial aide is called a salary (my primary question was whether you were referring to the salary of someone with a PhD or payment while getting the PhD.) However in some countries it is not, in particular it is usually exempt from income tax. (Evidentally this does not include the US although it doesn't appear it's usually called a salary there. In fact if what I read is correct, in the US even tuition free payment counts as income.) Note that in some countries, a PhD student may have a salary, for example from teaching work, but this isn't part of their PhD and is at the discretion of the student. Also, even within a university and for the same subject, the amount may depend on who is paying and for what, e.g. a government scholarship for high achievers will probably be more generous then a university scholarship. Nil Einne (talk) 17:00, 18 May 2012 (UTC)
I can confirm, from painful experience, that in the US, educational stipends are taxed, as are tuition payments. My memory is that when I did it, the only educational benefits given in the US tax code were for undergraduates, so you don't even get to write off out-of-pocket payments made towards tuition. Generally speaking, the universities do not, in my experience, actually take it out of the stipend as paid, so you end up with a relatively huge tax bill every year. It is completely maddening if you are scraping to get by and are then told that you're being taxed as if you made several tens of thousands more than you "really" made, and given a tax bill for $8,000 or so to be paid at once. Talk about squeezing blood out of a stone... --Mr.98 (talk) 19:31, 18 May 2012 (UTC)
BTW, from what I can tell even in countries like Switzerland, Germany and Italy where it is called and considered a salary, the amount varies depending on things like what you're doing and whos paying. Also, in some cases in some countries it may not include fees which you will have to pay yourself out of any payment received. Note also in some countries or universities your basically guaranteed some sort of payment if you get accepted, whereas with other there may be a variety of funding sources, but it's ultimately up to you to find funding, you can choose to self fund if you desire (although that's usually rare). Also you can sometimes combine multiple funding sources but even when the rules allow it, there may be rules on how much you can accept which will depend on the particular source (in a similar fashion there may be rules on how much paid employment you can do). And funding may be time limited, in some cases to a period shorter then many students complete their PhD in, at least for some disciplines. One additional point to what, Mr.98 has said, in some cases there may be additional monetary monetary allowances like housing allowances, computer allowances etc which you may not always get to use. Nil Einne (talk) 17:31, 18 May 2012 (UTC)

Absolute pitch[edit]

How do you get absolute pitch? I heard you can only get it from 6 to 9 years old. Is it possible for much older people (I'm 22)? Will drumming middle C in my ear everyday eventually pay off? Money is tight (talk) 12:11, 18 May 2012 (UTC)

The article on absolute pitch has a section that discusses this. (talk) 12:15, 18 May 2012 (UTC)
Incidentally, I don't see why you'd want true absolute pitch. A lot of music is performed at a pitch slightly off from concert pitch, which is presumably the pitch you would use, and it would just be distressing if you were constantly aware of that, not to mention useless in performance. Much better to develop good relative pitch, including a good sense of what specific intervals sound like. What can be useful is choosing a reference sound for one standard pitch, so that you can recall that one standard pitch when needed. For example, the sound of a tuning fork giving 440 Hz 'A', so that if you need to give an 'A' without access to a tuned instrument, you can. (talk) 13:11, 18 May 2012 (UTC)
My high school music teacher, who had perfect pitch, or near enough to perfect that he could duplicate the 'note' of a fork dropping onto a tile floor or a jingling set of car keys, stressed the importance of relative pitch over absolute, and had us do extensive ear training so we could recognize and identify intervals. I got quite good at it through practice, though much like my high school Spanish, my skills have lapsed without steady drilling. He also used to claim that the only true "perfect pitch" in music was when you threw a banjo into a dumpster and hit a set of bagpipes. --some jerk on the Internet (talk) 17:27, 18 May 2012 (UTC)
If you just want to find middle A within a half step or so without carrying around a tuning fork, you can learn to find it as an interval from the lowest pitch you can sing. -- BenRG (talk) 19:14, 18 May 2012 (UTC)
That supposes one is able to sing a major or minor scale starting with any random note. I'm not entirely sure everyone could do that. In their head they might be doing it perfectly, but out loud, I don't know. -- ♬ Jack of Oz[your turn] 12:47, 20 May 2012 (UTC)

How accurate is absolute pitch typically?[edit]

How accurate is absolute pitch typically? Are we talking about to within a quarter tone or a few cents? -- Q Chris (talk) 13:24, 18 May 2012 (UTC)

See Absolute_pitch#Definition. --Mr.98 (talk) 14:36, 18 May 2012 (UTC)
I can't see that this answers the question! -- Q Chris (talk) 15:04, 18 May 2012 (UTC)
The extensive text in the Wikipedia article, with extensive references notwithstanding, I've always beleived that "perfect pitch" being something that certain persons have is a myth. Two reasons:
(1) I am into electronics and ham radio as a hobby, & have made my own musical instruments and thereby have equipment cable of playing, accurately, any desired pitch. I have tested many friends, including non-musicians, musicians, and those claiming to have perfect pitch. I have found just about everybody has about the same absolute pitch accuracy, and its not very good, up to 3 tones out when not practiced, and about 1 tone when praticed. I can also measure accurately the pitch that someone is singing on. People do much better on this, but there is no significant different difference between non-musicians, musicians, and those claiming perfect pitch.
(2) My country is a 50Hz electricity country. For technical reasons that means that TV stations (and video tapes) must play movies at 25 frames per second, and not the correct 24 frames per second. Nobody, and I mean absolutely nobody, notices the consequent 4.2% error in sound pitch.
What does vary, is that relative pitch sensitivity is very much better in musicians. Play a note, then ask them to sing one tone higher. You'll get considerable variation in ability with different people.
Wickwack124.178.40.217 (talk) 15:38, 18 May 2012 (UTC)
There's a 1932 study by Petran online (skip down to section III, "Experiments with the tone variator") in which none of the test subjects did terribly well. However, that doesn't mean that absolute pitch doesn't exist. In An old Ref Desk thread, S.dedalus says he has absolute pitch and complains about performances at Baroque pitch (A ≈ 415 Hz) sounding horribly flat. I believe him. -- BenRG (talk) 17:24, 18 May 2012 (UTC)
Perfect pitch is something that babies are born with, and steadily declines until the age of 5 years when it's gone, never to return. If musical training is introduced to the toddler (or baby?) then it can be preserved into later life. Was it Beethoven who composed at 5 years ?
Local demographics will have an adverse effect on studies, so try to pay special attention to ethnic groups where musical training has started young. The combination of preserved natural talent combined with training can give you a proper group to study.
Advanced musical training for under 5's is going to be seriously rare, so it's probably best to go on history, study the greatest composers and musicians and see what they could manage, they probably started young.
Perfect pitch like anything else can have genetic mutation give it a big boost now and then, far beyond any set standard and it is more common than you think. How perfect pitch is depends upon how far you look. Penyulap 18:08, 20 May 2012 (UTC)
Mozart was composing at 5. Beethoven was by comparison an under-achieving procrastinator. He (like many others) was displaying music-playing ability at 5, but didn't start composing till about 9. Sorry, but I'm completely failing to grasp what "Perfect pitch like anything else can have genetic mutation give it a big boost now and then, far beyond any set standard and it is more common than you think" means. -- ♬ Jack of Oz[your turn] 20:33, 20 May 2012 (UTC)
Penyulap, on what basis do you claim that new-borns have perfect pitch? What (evolutionary or practical) purpose can it serve? Perfect pitch has nothing whatever to do with the ability of 5 year olds, or anyone else, to compose music, which is about rythm and relative pitch. I do NOT have perfect pitch, and I can't sing at all (though I could, reasonably well, before puberty), but I have been taught guitar, and I can, and have, compose music. I use a fork or electronic tuner to tune instruments. Wickwack58.170.164.246 (talk) 02:06, 21 May 2012 (UTC)


Sir/Madam I, Rajinder Singh, a US senior citizen, pro se litigant wishes to file a legitimate complaint with the United Nation Human Rights commission/consul against a Multinational Corporation, having their corporate office in India, for discrimination on the basis of language and region, mental tortures, tarnishing my unblemished reputation, intentionally inflicting sufferings, pains and thereby violating my civil rights/human rights for no legitimate reason. In view of the above, please let me know that to whom my complaint should be addressed and what is the postal address of the appropriate authority who can exercise jurisdiction to redress my genuine grievance that are based on truth, supported by documentary evidences? Please provide your response on my email address - <personal information redacted>


RAJINDER SINGH <personal information redacted> — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:02, 18 May 2012 (UTC)

You live in Troy, Michigan and want to work from a multinational based in India ? Are you an Indian citizen ? If so, I'd think your own government would be the place to file a complaint. StuRat (talk) 18:06, 18 May 2012 (UTC)
I have removed your personal information, as described at the top of this page, since it is a bad idea to publish this information in a public place. Also, you are currently at Wikipedia, which is an encyclopedia, and has no connection to the United Nations. It looks like you may find the correct people to contact at This webpage, which is the home page of the United Nations Human Rights Council. Good luck! --Jayron32 18:10, 18 May 2012 (UTC)

History of numbers.[edit]

Which civilization invented the first recorded numbers? I am at a loss of what so search for. Thank you. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:17, 18 May 2012 (UTC)

The Math Desk might be the best place to ask this. It's going to depend on what you call numbers. Simple hash marks may even predate spoken language. When we see a series of vertical lines in a cave painting, it isn't obvious what they are meant to convey. However, all early writing seemed to contain some method of counting. These hash marks, combined with different symbols for larger numbers, were then used in Roman numerals, Egyptian numerals and others. If you refer to the modern system of numbers, see Hindu–Arabic numeral system. StuRat (talk) 18:34, 18 May 2012 (UTC)
(edit conflict) The idea of counting and thus "numbers" is probably older than recorded history. History of mathematics has some threads for you to follow. The oldest known mathematical counting devices to be accurately dated are called Tally sticks, though those are artifacts and there isn't really a way to date an idea; the concept of numbers probably are much older than these tally sticks. The earliest written numbers dates to the earliest writing systems, those of the Sumerians and Babylonians (see Babylonian mathematics), while the earliest decimal-positional numeral system is probably the Hindu–Arabic numeral system. Hope this leads you on some interesting threads. --Jayron32 18:38, 18 May 2012 (UTC)
If we are talking about numbers as a concept, then they undoubtedly predate history, as various levels of numeracy have been observed in many species, from ants to elephants. (talk) 21:25, 18 May 2012 (UTC)
Numbers as a concept are really more than one idea, as you can tell by observing a child develop numeracy. Number as in counting is a relatively basic idea, as seen in shepherd counting and tally sticks. Numbers as labels are more complicated, the idea that there is such a thing as "5" outside the context of counting up to it. When you find arithmetic, like "5 - 3 = 2", you can be fairly confident numbers are being used as labels. (talk) 21:51, 18 May 2012 (UTC)