March 8 is International Women’s Day (US has its equivalent on the 26th of August) which celebrates the struggle for women’s rights. Throughout history, many strong women had to rise against the odds and fight for their dreams and passions, equality and solidarity among men. Their bravery contributed to shaping today’s world, and has to be remembered.
Bored Panda has made a list of badass women who did their part to make the world a better place. Scroll down to vote for your favorite heroes, and upload new ones if we missed them!
After a few weeks of speculation, it looks like President-electTrump has finally picked the education secretary for his incoming administration: Betsy DeVos.
Two weeks ago, bets were on Dr Ben Carsonto be picked, a highly qualified neurosurgeon who simultaneously believedthe Earth was no older than 10,000 years old. He also once said the Biblical figure Joseph built the Egyptian pyramids to store grain.As you can imagine, the scientific community was pretty stressed about the idea of this guy setting education policy.
However, it looks like he’s been trumped. This week its been officially announced the lesser-known figure of Betsy DeVoshas taken the post.
Whoever is in the hot seat for the Education Secretary plays a very important role for scientific education and science as a whole, as they have a strong say in what schools receive funding and which subjects receive attention. This can also have a subtle effect of setting the climate where science can either thrive or shrink away.
For a bit of background, DeVos is a billionaire philanthropist, known to be a generous donor to the Republican Party. She has served onnumerous education philanthropy boards, although she has never professionally worked in the public education system.
She grew up as a member of the Christian Reformed Church in North America and was educated at Calvin College, the educational institution of the same church.
This is a protestant denomination that believes that all scientific theories be subject to Scripture and the confessions. It also claims that humanity is created in the image of God; all theorizing that minimizes this fact and all theories of evolution that deny the creative activity of God are rejected.
Most commentators say she is not expected to apply hardline religious beliefs to the curriculum, according to Washington Post.
It would be a mistake to put her in the Religious Right camp. Thats not who she is, Doug Koopman, a political scientist at Calvin College, told Washington Post.
Nevertheless, she is well known for her philanthropic efforts in Christian causes. Along with her hardenedbelief in the free-market, this has led people to believe she will favor privately owned and religious schools over public schools.
Her efforts over the years have done more to undermine public education than support students. She has lobbied for failed schemes, like vouchers which take away funding and local control from our public schools to fund private schools at taxpayers expense. These schemes do nothing to help our most vulnerable students while they ignore or exacerbate glaring opportunity gaps. She has consistently pushed a corporate agenda to privatize, de-professionalize and impose cookie-cutter solutions to public education.”
Much of Trumps stance on education during his campaign was rallying to abolish the Common Core, the educational guidelines of mathematics and reading adopted by most states. DeVos previously riled conservatives because of her ties to groups that supported these guidelines, although she has since claimed she is not a supporter of Common Core.
If mathematics isnt your strong suit, this equation that went viral in Japan may just trip you up. According to the YouTube channel MindYourDecisions, a study found that only 60 percent of individuals in their 20s could get the right answer. This is significantly lower than the 90 percent success rate in the 1980s.
To learn which common mistake people are making, check out the video below.
Last week, the US Department of Education announced that it received a gift of $100,000 from the President himself taken straight from his salary that will be used to help fund a summer camp for students focusing on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
The aim is to encourage students from a range of backgrounds to take up STEM subjects later in life as careers. Although no details of how this money would be spent were given, it is initially quite difficult to argue that this isnt on the face of it a nice gesture.
Context, however, is everything.
The Presidents budgets which so far have been continuously been shot down by Congress have called for historic and draconian cuts to federal science and education funding. In terms of cutting-edge scientific research, China is already on track to outcompete America within the next two or three years, and Trump only wishes to speed this up.
His scientific agencies, most notably the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), are also pursuing major job cutting initiatives. They bully, censor, demote and fire scientific advisors like its going out of fashion. Record numbers of scientists are literally fleeing the country to others that are welcoming them with open arms.
On top of everything, this administration is infamous for spouting anti-scientific rhetoric left, right and center. Trump and his acolytes are happy to shore up the views of prominent anti-vaxxers, actively undermine the publics trust in the scientific method, and for the most part, cant seem to do their sums correctly.
The monetary gift is fine by itself, but its a drop of water facing up against a tidal wave of contradictory behavior and action.
If we want to talk about supporting science, why not look at lawmakers like Representative Jacky Rosen, whose Code Like A Girl bill aims to get the National Science Foundation to fully fund two grants that will help get more girls into computer science? Why not look at all those members of Congress that voted Trumps anti-science federal budget proposals down?
If we want to talk about donations into science from wealthy individuals, there are far better examples to focus on. Bill Gates may be an obvious choice, but his Foundations venture philanthropy is bordering on legendary: millions of people around the world are positively affected by his investments in STEM research.
In short, you cant donate $100,000 to the advancement of science at the same time you demand cuts of billions across the board and expect people not to notice the irony.
He painted his wife without lips. He painted his friend with a spinal deformity. And he painted himself as a ghost in a top hat. Paul Czannes unflinching portraits, coming to Britain this autumn, didnt just astonish Picasso and his disciples. They changed art for ever
In Paris at the dawn of the 20th century, a generation of young artists changed everything. They visited the dusty yet magical galleries of the Ethnography Museum in the rambling Trocadro and some started their own collections of African masks. This fascination with non-European art helped them break with hundreds of years of tradition. Pablo Picasso completed a portrait of his friend Gertrude Stein by giving her a mask instead of a face. He then painted Les Demoiselles dAvignon with its wildly cavorting masked prostitutes. Modern art was born in those bold years, in a glamorous atmosphere of absinthe, drugs (Picasso and his friends dabbled in opium) and sex in the red light district of Montmartre.
There is just one problem with this exhilarating story of the birth of modern art. It is not true.
My doubts began a couple of years ago in Londons National Gallery. I was looking at Paul Czannes Les Grandes Baigneuses, which he started in 1894. He was in his 50s then and did not complete it until 1905, one year before his death. Looking at the bold slashing lines of its landscape and the monumental abstracted nudes gathered under a crystalline sky, I realised something about the faces. Their eyes are dark sharp cuts. Their mouths, too. Their noses are like rigid blocks of wood. These are not faces. They are masks.
Yet they were painted by a man who, as far as anyone knows, had never looked at any African art. As for sex and drugs, he never went near them. The art of Czanne is the fruit of long, focused study by one man in front of an easel through long hot Provenal days. And this is the art that changed everything. This great 19th-century artist invented almost everything we attribute to Matisse, Picasso and Braque. Modernism is all there in paintings he executed as early as the 1880s. Czanne may be the single most revolutionary artist who ever lived.
For most of us, the ideaof zero may seem like a fairly easy and unchallenging thing to get our head around. But in actual fact, the ability to accept the absence of something, which is what zero is after all, as a quantity is a hard fought accomplishment. Children will often learn other numbers before understanding the concept of zero, and even then it has been shown that they can find difficulty in identifying whether or not zero is higher or lower than one.
So it is little wonder that in the animal world, very few species are known to understand the concept of zero. Chimpanzeesand some monkeyscan be trained to comprehend the concept, but apart from these, very few animals are able to do it, and until now it wasnt thought that any insect at all was capable of mastering the notion.
But scientists from the RMIT University in Melbourne have presented their research at the current Behaviour 2017 meeting in Portugal, reporting that they have been able to demonstrate that bees treat zero just like another number.
To start with, the researchers set up two platforms with varying numbers of shapes on them. They then trained bees to associate the platform with the fewest number of shapes on it with a sweet reward, and the platform with the most number a horrible taste. After being certain the bees were responding to the number of shapes and nothing else, the researchers then tested the insects by offering them one platform with two or three shapes, and another with zero shapes. The insects most frequently chose the latter.
Finally, the researchers then trained the bees to decide whether or not to land on a platform with zero objects, one object, or six objects. They found that once again, most of the time the insects could correctly identify the platform with nothing on it, but took more time over the decision if they were having to choose between a platform that had nothing and another that had just one object.
The fact that it took the bees longer to decide which one was zero when the numbers were numerically closer, suggests that the insects do indeed see the absence of objects as a number, the authors argue.
This would imply that the insects ability to count is similar to that of humans and some primates, and is strangely advanced for the animal world, not just for insects. The reason why bees should have such highly developed cognitive capability in the realm of mathematics, however, is a little tricky to deduce.
What if there was a humane, targeted way to wipe out alien pest species such as mice, rats and rabbits, by turning their own genes on themselves so they can no longer reproduce and their population collapses?
Gene drives a technique that involves deliberately spreading a faulty gene throughout a population promises to do exactly that.
Our study, published today in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, suggests that under certain circumstances, genome editing could work.
Good and bad genes
The simplest way to construct a gene drive aimed at suppressing a pest population is to identify a gene that is essential for the pest species reproduction or embryonic development. A new DNA sequence the gene-drive cassette is then inserted into that gene to disrupt its function, creating a faulty version (or allele) of that gene.
Typically, faulty alleles would not spread through populations, because the evolutionary fitness of individuals carrying them is reduced, meaning they will be less likely than non-faulty alleles to be passed on to the next generation. But the newly developed CRISPR gene-editing technology can cheat natural selection by creating gene-drive sequences that are much more likely to be passed on to the next generation.
Heres how the trick works. The gene-drive cassette contains the genetic information to make two new products: an enzyme that cuts DNA, and a molecule called a guide RNA. These products act together as a tiny pair of molecular scissors that cuts the second (normal) copy of the target gene.
To fix the cut, the cell uses the gene drive sequence as a repair template. This results in a copy of the gene drive (and therefore the faulty gene) on both chromosomes.
This process is called homing and, when switched on in the egg- or sperm-producing cells of an animal, it should guarantee that almost all of their offspring inherit the gene-drive sequence.
As the gene-drive sequence spreads, mating between carriers becomes more likely, producing offspring that possess two faulty alleles and are therefore sterile or fail to develop past the embryonic stage.
Will it work?
Initial attempts to develop suppression drives will likely focus on invasive species with rapid life cycles that allow gene drives to spread rapidly. House mice are an obvious candidate because they have lots of offspring, they have been studied in great detail by biologists, and have colonised vast areas of the world, including islands.
In our study we developed a mathematical model to predict whether gene drives can realistically be used to eradicate invasive mice from islands.
Our results show that this strategy can work. We predict that a single introduction of just 100 mice carrying a gene drive could eradicate a population of 50,000 mice within four to five years.
But it will only work if the process of genetic homing which acts to overcome natural selection functions as planned.
Experiments with non-vertebrate species show that homing can fail in some circumstances. For example, the DNA break can be repaired by an alternative mechanism that stitches the broken DNA sequence back together without copying the gene-drive template. This also destroys the DNA sequence targeted by the guide RNA, producing a resistance allele that can never receive the gene drive.
A recent study in mosquitos estimated that resistance alleles were formed in at least 2% of homing attempts. Our simulation experiments for mice confirm this presents a serious problem.
After accounting for low failure rates during homing, the creation and spread of resistance alleles allowed the modelled populations to rebound after an initial decline in abundance. Imperfect homing therefore threatens the ability of gene drives to eradicate or even suppress pest populations.
One potential solution to this problem is to encode multiple guide RNAs within the gene-drive cassette, each targeting a different DNA sequence. This should reduce homing failure rates by allowing multiple shots on goal, and avoiding the creation of resistance alleles in more cases.
To wipe out a population of 200,000 mice living on an island, we calculate that the gene-drive sequences would need to contain at least three different guide RNA sequences, to avoid the mice ultimately getting the better of our attempts to eradicate them.
From hype to reality
Are gene drives a hyperdrive to pest control, or just hype? Part of the answer will come from experiments with gene drives on laboratory mice (with appropriate containment). That will help to provide crucial data to inform the debate about their possible deployment.
We also need more sophisticated computer modelling to predict the impacts on non-target populations if introduced gene drives were to spread beyond the populations targeted for management. Using simulation, it will be possible to test the performance and safety of different gene-drive strategies, including strategies that involve multiple drives operating on multiple genes.
An engineer at the company has suggested male domination of Silicon Valley is down to biological differences between the sexes. But the root causes are much more complicated
It is time to be open about the science of human nature. This was the assertion of software engineer James Damore to his colleagues at Google, in an internal memo that has since led to his sacking. Im simply stating, Damore wrote, that the distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes and that these differences may explain why we dont see equal representation of women in tech and leadership. He went on to imply that womens stronger interest in people and neuroticism might make them less naturally suited to being coders at Google.
The companys leadership viewed the matter differently, firing Damore and sparing his female colleagues the need to prove their biological aptitude for working with computers.
Sacking one errant employee doesnt alter an awkward fact, though. Only 20% of Google engineers are women a statistic that is matched roughly across big tech companies. So, does Damore have a point? Is there an underlying biological explanation for why so few women work at a company that prides itself on its progressive ideals and family-friendly ethos?
There are countless scientific studies that claim to identify differences between male and female cognitive aptitudes and, in the UK, far fewer girls choose to study computer science at GCSE level (20% of the total number of students), at degree level (16%) and beyond. There is something seductive about the idea that professional success springs from our innate abilities, rather than the degree to which society tips the odds in our favour.
The international T2K neutrino experiment has found more evidence that neutrino oscillations appear to violate the symmetry between matter and antimatter. While its still too early to claim this as a discovery, the research strengthens the hints that had already been seen with the experiment last year.
The preliminary analysis presented at the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization (KEK) in Tsukuba, Japan, revealed the teamfrom theTokai to Kamioka (T2K) neutrino experiment a particle physicsexperiment collaboration between several countries obtained twice the neutrino detections compared to the previous results.
This new research has a 95 percent confidence level in rejecting the so called charge-parity (CP) symmetry hypothesis that neutrinos and antineutrinos behave in the same way. While 95 might seem good, a discovery is only accepted when researchers have a 99.99994 percent confidence from the data.
“By doubling our neutrino mode data and making analysis improvements, T2K has made the most sensitive search for CP violation in neutrino oscillations yet, Professor Mark Hartz from the University of Tokyo Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe, said in a statement.
This data shows an intriguing hint of CP violation. To make a definitive measurement, T2K will need to collect additional neutrino mode and antineutrino mode data.
This new data goes towards supporting other interesting violations of CP, like the discovery of a newpear-shaped atom. Researchers are at looking at these types of violation to explain why theres more matter than antimatter in the universe. The charge-parity symmetry requires that if we switch every particle for its antiparticle, and mirrored the set-up of the space, physics is expected to behave in the same way. But if it doesnt then we can justify why the universe is made of matter.
And in the T2K experiment antimatter is not behaving as it should. The experiment has detected 89 electron neutrinos when about 67 were detected with no CP violation, and detected seven electron neutrinos were theories stated nine should have been observed. Neutrinos are tiny and they hardly interact so even such a small number of detection is important. Every neutrino counts.
As a T2K collaborator, I am excited to continue our long-term program to search for CP violation in neutrino oscillations and make precision neutrino oscillation parameter measurements,” Professor Hartz, who presented the new data, added.
The T2K experiment has a curious setup compared to other standard labs. The neutrinos are shot from a research center in Tokai to the Super-Kamiokande neutrino detector 295 kilometers (183 miles) away, hence the name T2K. It will continue to look for potential violations of CP symmetry and maybe soon it will have enough evidence to confirm it.
A 10-year-old girl who is pregnant and has been refused an abortion is at the centre of a media storm in India. The BBC’s Geeta Pandey travelled to the northern city of Chandigarh to piece together her story.
“We have seen lots of cases of teenage pregnancies involving 14 to 15-year-olds, but this is the first ever case that I have seen of a 10-year-old,” said Mahavir Singh, of the Chandigarh State Legal Services Authority.
Mr Singh has been involved in a case which has shocked Chandigarh and the rest of India, that of a 10-year-old girl who became pregnant after allegedly being repeatedly raped by a relative.
That relative is now in jail, pending trial.
The girl in question has been described as a happy child who smiles easily. She’s shy and not very talkative. English and mathematics are the favourite subjects of this class six student. She loves to draw and is pretty good at it. She can’t get enough of her favourite cartoon shows Chhoti Anandi (Little Anandi) and Shin Chan. She loves chicken and fish – and ice-cream.
But on 28 July, India’s Supreme Court rejected a petition – filed on her behalf – to allow her to abort, on the grounds that at 32 weeks, she is too far into her pregnancy. A doctors’ panel had advised the court that a termination at this stage would be “too risky” for the girl, and that the foetus was “doing well”.
The court order was a huge disappointment for the girl’s family.
‘She has no idea what happened’
Indian law does not allow terminations after 20 weeks unless doctors certify that the mother’s life is in danger.
But in recent years, the courts have received several petitions, many from child rape survivors, seeking to terminate pregnancies after 20 weeks. In most cases, these pregnancies are discovered late because the children are not aware of their condition.
In the case of this 10-year-old too, the pregnancy was discovered only three weeks ago when she complained of pain in her lower abdomen and her mother took her to a doctor.
Someone who interacts with the girl on a regular basis says: “She’s very innocent and has no idea what’s happened to her.”
Her parents also missed the telltale signs, perhaps because she’s “a healthy, chubby child”. Besides, they couldn’t imagine even in their wildest nightmares that their daughter could be pregnant at 10.
The child has still not been told about her pregnancy and, for those dealing with her, talking to her is like treading on eggshells. She has been told that she has a big stone in her stomach and the bulge is because of that.
She’s been put on a special diet of eggs, milk, fruit, fish and chicken and she seems to be enjoying the extra attention.
But in recent days, police, social workers and counsellors have been in and out of her house, and a media circus has grown up outside her home.
“She might not understand the exact problem, the gravity of the situation, but I think she has some idea now,” a senior official told the BBC.
50% of abusers are known to the child or are “persons in trust and care-givers”
Sources: Indian government, Unicef
What has made their situation worse is that, ever since the news of the rape and pregnancy hit the headlines, they have been hounded by journalists.
“When the girl’s father came to see me, he told me his biggest problem was the press. He said there were reporters outside his home all the time and his privacy was being infringed upon,” Neil Roberts, chair of the Child Welfare Committee, told the BBC.
The media attention has meant the girl is likely to get the best medical care and is entitled to claim financial compensation from the government.
But the unwanted publicity is causing the family immense grief. Many of the reporters went to their house when the father was at work and gained entry claiming to be child workers.
Since the alleged rapist was the mother’s cousin, some even questioned if she was aware of the abuse and, maybe, even approved of it. “How come she didn’t know that her daughter was pregnant for seven months?” they asked.
This has been very troubling for the family, and the girl’s father is angry and bitter.
“I want him to be severely punished. He should get the death penalty or be locked away for the rest of his life in prison. He has admitted to the crime. But he has never said sorry to us,” he tells me in a brief phone conversation.
Before hanging up on me, he asks: “Why are you advertising my daughter’s case? The press have turned this into a business enterprise.”
His anger is justified – even though there are laws that expressly forbid journalists from revealing identities of rape survivors and child victims of crimes, many people have been able to join the dots and identify the family because the alleged rapist’s name was extensively reported in the Indian press. Now their neighbours and his work colleagues know. Possibly the child’s school friends know too.
A local journalist, who met the family in the early days, says the parents are worried sick about the girl’s future and the stigma she will face when she grows up. The father has also spoken of his worries over her health.
Medical tests so far show that her health is “good” though she suffers from “mild anaemia”.
But there are other concerns. The girl was born with a hole in her heart, which was plugged in 2013. Although doctors say it’s unlikely to interfere with her pregnancy, the fact remains that she is way too young to give birth.
Every year, 45,000 adult women die during childbirth in India. The risk of pregnant girls under the age of 15 years dying is two-and-a-half times higher than that for women above 20. Doctors say the risk is even higher for someone who is only 10.
It’s a concern the Supreme Court took on board, but the judges still ruled that the pregnancy could continue.
So what will happen next?
Those in the know say the baby is due by the middle of September and the doctors have decided that it will be a Caesarean delivery. In case of any complications, the birth could be earlier.
Since the girl’s family have said they want nothing to do with the baby, the newborn will be looked after by the child welfare committee until it is put up for adoption.
Medical experts say the 10-year-old is bound to suffer from mental trauma and will need years of counselling from a child psychologist.
“We’ve got our fingers crossed for her,” said a child rights worker. “Can a 10-year-old deliver a child? Could it be life threatening for her? We are praying that nothing bad happens to her.”