Technology

March is Women's History Month and the theme this year is "Women Inspiring Innovation Through Imagination: Celebrating Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics". We celebrate Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics year round at the USA Science & Engineering Festival so of course we are thrilled with the choice of theme this year.  All month long we will continue to honor Role Models in Science & Engineering Achievement; however we will turn our focus to women in STEM.  The scientists and engineers selected for this series have been chosen because they are…
By Festival Founder Larry Bock It's strange but true: some of the most prodigious innovations in technology are often not born in the corridors of rational thought and reality, but on the wings of fantasy. I was reminded of this recently while reading the various tributes to legendary science fiction writer Ray Bradbury who died last year at age 91. Bradbury, whose best-known works include The Martian Chronicles, and Fahrenheit 451, was a master at using his imagination to bring us face-to-face with our growing love affair, fascination -- and, at times, wariness -- of technology and the price…
Invest in the future. And especially, invest in sustainable, effective job creation in the water sector. The result will be millions of new jobs – a significant result. That is the key message from a new analysis just released today by the Pacific Institute on sustainable water jobs in the United States. That study, Sustainable Water Jobs: A National Assessment of Water-Related Green Job Opportunities, finds that proactive investments increasing efficient water use, improving water quality, expanding smart water treatment and re-use, and more will address growing problems associated with…
Whoda thought that injecting viruses into peoples hearts would be not only fun, but good for their health!  I just wrote about this little guy that can turn regular heart muscle cells into pacemaker cells (in guinea pigs), and here is another cool study hot off the presses: Long-Term Follow-up Assessment of a Phase 1 Trial of Angiogenic Gene Therapy Using Direct Intramyocardial Administration of an Adenoviral Vector Expressing the VEGF121 cDNA for the Treatment of Diffuse Coronary Artery Disease There is a cell protein-- VEGF, vascular endothelial growth factor-- that convinces your body to…
Yesterday's mail brought the new issue of “Prayer News,” the newsletter of Creation Ministries International. (What can I say? I'm on several creationist mailing lists. At least it arrived along with the new issue of Free Inquiry to dilute the effect.) The lead article is called “Why Don't They Get It?” by Scott Gillis, and opens as follows: Most readers, at some time, have probably asked this question. “When the evidence supporting the biblical Creation and Flood account is presented in a clear and convincing manner, why is it summarily denied and dismissed by evolutionists?” In short,…
Ebb and Flow, the Twin Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) Space Ships, which have been employed to provide detailed gravitational mapping of the Moon's geology, have apparently served their purpose and will be reprogrammed in a few hours from now to crash into the moon on Monday. PASADENA, Calif. -- Twin lunar-orbiting NASA spacecraft that have allowed scientists to learn more about the internal structure and composition of the moon are being prepared for their controlled descent and impact on a mountain near the moon's north pole at about 2:28 p.m. PST (5:28 p.m. EST) Monday,…
Lego Technic is a Lego based technology that includes a combination of totally new kinds of Lego pieces and fancy technology that lets you build some amazing things. You can get kits that range in cost and sophistication from the LEGO 8514 Technic Power Roboriders a sort of motorcycle for robots that costs tens of dollars to a Motorized Bulldozer that will set you back nearly $700. Actually, I think there may be Techno kits that cost way over $1000. The modified Lego pieces include the techno "brick" which comes in many forms that have holes in them through which specially shaped parts can…
Sometimes when a study comes out that I'm very interested in blogging about, I don't get around to it right away. In the blogging biz, this sort of delay is often considered a bad thing, because blogging tends to be very immediate, about being the firstest with the mostest, and the moment to strike and be heard about major studies is brief. Of course, there's also real life as well. That this particular study came out in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) didn't help. So, here it is, a week and a half later, and I'm finally getting around to it. There is, however, an advantage to this…
In the comments to yesterday's post about college admissions, Joseph Yoon quoted my statement that "I'm somewhat sympathetic to claims that Asians have a difficult position in higher education," and shot back with: I wonder if you will feel more strongly about this in 10 years when your kids are near college. Will you advise them to not check the Asian box if it decreases their chances? As a general matter, I try to avoid responding to comments when my initial reaction is "Oh, go fuck yourself." But I'll make an exception here, because I think it goes to a more general issue about college…
In which I unpack a cryptic paper title and explain how quantum superposition lets you use light to keep things from interacting with light. ------------- I joined AAAS a couple of years ago to get a break on the registration fee for their meeting, and I've kept up the membership mostly because I like having individual access to Science articles, so I can read them in the coffee shops where I get actual work done. This also gives me access to articles in the "advance online publication" stage, which is hilarious because Union's institutional subscription doesn't include those articles-- if I'…
Before being elected to the U.S. Congress in 1998, physicist Rush Holt taught and researched such areas as solar spectroscopy and plasma physics. This background inspired some of  his supporters in the 12th District of New Jersey to make bumper stickers that proudly read: “My congressman IS a rocket scientist!” -- reflecting their growing desire "for more science, or at least more scientific thinking, in Congress," Rush recalls.  Combining a keen interest in science with politics came relatively smoothly for Rush. He inherited his interest in politics from his parents. His father was the…
At today's presidential press conference, New York Times reporter Mark Landler broke a trend that ran through the presidential campaign, a trend of silence about climate change.  From the transcript: Q: Thank you, Mr. President. In his endorsement of you a few weeks ago, Mayor Bloomberg said he was motivated by the belief that you would do more to confront the threat of climate change than your opponent. Tomorrow you're going up to New York City, where you're going to, I assume, see people who are still suffering the effects of Hurricane Sandy, which many people say is further evidence of how…
Molly Stevens -- Materials scientist Internationally known for her work in nanotechnology to regenerate bone and tissue growth, and to design bioactive materials for early detection of disease  Nanotechnology (the science of manipulating matter at the atomic or molecular level, especially to build microscopic materials) has the potential to transform key areas of science and engineering. Molly Stevens, a materials scientist at the Imperial College of London (England), is using nanotechnology to push the boundaries of  biotechnology through advances in bone and tissue regeneration, and…
PLEASE SHARE IF YOU ARE INSPIRED BY THIS STORY! (C'mon, Hit Us With Your Comments! -- Yvonne, a pioneer of today's GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) technology, came up with the propulsion system that helps keep communication satellites in a fixed geosynchronous orbit. Tell us what you think!) When Yvonne Brill accepted the prestigious National Medal of Technology and Innovation award in 2011 from President Obama, it helped to further cement her place in science history as a pioneer in greatly improving space propulsion technology.  Her recent presidential award -- among the highest honors…
I usually avoid writing about research that has not been done yet. I get press releases every day about grants awarded to universities and private companies to pursue one research project or another. There is always some reason those grants are awarded, some prior research that indicates a potential finding. The early indications of what could happen in combination with the verification of wonderfulness of the research team demonstrated by six or seven figures of dollars being provided to develop the work results in a press release with promise. The thing is, the potential results often…
In which we win an award from the New Frontiers in Astronomy Program. The New Frontiers in Astronomy and Cosmology program announced its research grant award winners yesterday. The last, but not least of the Big Questions solicited in the Call for Proposals, was:Are we alone in the universe? Or, are there other life and intelligence beyond the solar system? There were four awards in this "Astrobiology and SETI" category, focusing on different approaches in the search for life elsewhere in the Universe. We got one: "Constraining the Abundance of Kardashev Type II and III Civilizations From…
The New York Times has a terrific graphic that plots the number of auto fatalities per 100,000 people and the vehicle miles driven per capita from 1950 to 2011. Overall, we're driving far more vehicle-miles per capita and seeing far fewer auto deaths than we were six decades ago, but this hasn't happened in a linear fashion. Rather, as Hannah Fairfield explains, change occurs unevenly: Plotting the two most important variables against each other — miles traveled versus deaths per 100,000 population — yields a pattern that looks like a plateau followed by a steep drop. It evokes the theory of…
As part of my ongoing effort to make sure that I never run out of blogging material, I subscribe to a number of quack e-mail newsletters. In fact, sometimes I think I've probably overdone it. Every day, I get several notices and pleas from various wretched hives of scum and quackery, such as NaturalNews.com, Mercola.com, and various antivaccine websites. I think of it as my way of keeping my finger on the pulse of the antiscience and pseudoscience wing of medicine, but I must admit that I don't really read them all, but they do allow me to know what the quacks are selling and what new…
When I look at the Atari Arcade, I get a bunch of gobbledygook but if I click on individual links to individual games, I get an interesting experiment in HTML 5.0 demonstrating old fashioned character-based-graphic style games. Here are the links, but I suggest right-clicking and opening in a new window or tab so you can more cleanly shut them down if you get stuck. In other words, attempting to use the most advanced web-based programming language/markup tool to emulate ancient games is kind of like Dr. Who crossing his own time line and all sorts of bad things can happen. The Atari Arcade…
The Twin Cities Metro Transit (which we voted some time ago to call "The T" but still haven't really started doing yet) has added a very cool bus to its fleet. It is Minnesota Made which is nice, and super efficient in part for reasons that I had not realized were important. From the T's web site: Advanced engine and hybrid technology Optimized onboard systems for improved efficiency Reduced emissions from less time spent idling Less idling + more efficiency = buses that run cleaner and pollute less Unlike other buses, even some hybrids, the Xcelsior uses super efficient All Electric…