Tag: Nasa

7 Facts” You Learned In School That Are No Longer True

Over time, even facts we consider steadfast truths can change. People used to think doctors could forgo washing their hands before surgery. Knowledge is ever-evolving.

The sevenideas below probably changed since your school days. Re-educate yourself.

THEN: Pluto is a planet

NOW: Pluto isn’t a planet

We’ve known since the late 1800s that a ninth planet, after Uranus, potentially existed. In 1906, Percival Lowell, the founder of the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, even began a research project intended to locate the mysterious “Planet X.”

Then in 1930, a 23-year-old newbie at the facility found it. The discoverer, Clyde Tombaugh, had been tasked with systematically comparing photographs of the sky taken weeks apart to search for any moving objects. He eventually saw one and submitted his finding to the Harvard College Observatory. After an 11-year-old English girl named the new planet (for the Roman god of the underworld), we started including Pluto as a planet in our solar system.

But in 2003, an astronomer found a larger object beyond Pluto which he named Eris, according to NASA. The new information caused a bunch of other astronomers to question what really makes a planet a planet, and they decided, based on size and location, that Pluto just didn’t make the cut. Neither did Eris, actually. Pluto was demoted to a dwarf planet.

Needless to say,elementary schools kids were pretty bummed.

But there may be hope. Researchers have recently been debating whether tomake Pluto a planet again.’

THEN: Diamond is the hardest substance

Wikimedia Commons

NOW: Ultrahard nanotwinned cubic boron nitride is the hardest substance

We’ve known about two substances harder than a diamond since 2009: wurtzite boron nitride and lonsdaleite, according to Scientific American. The first resists indentation with 18% more fortitude than a diamond, and the second a whopping 58%.

Unfortunately, both substances are rather unusual and unstable in nature. In fact, the study’s authors, published in the journal “Physical Review Letters,” only calculated the new substances’ hardness, instead of actually testing it using a tangible specimen. That makes the discovery a bit theoretical.

But another contender was published in the January 2013 issue of the journal Nature. In the simplest terms, researchers compressed boron nitride particles to form “ultrahard nanotwinned cubic boron nitride.” They simply re-organized the particles like an onion, or a flaky rose, or those little Russian dolls that fit inside one another, as the team explained to Wired.

As a result, expect women everywhere to startasking for ultrahard nanotwinned cubic boron nitride engagement rings. Because those really areforever.

THEN: Witches in Salem were burned at the stake

Wikimedia Commons

NOW: They were actually hanged

Even if you didn’t read Arthur Miller’s”The Crucible“in high school, you probably learned somewhere that the townspeople of Salem burned witches at the stake.

But that never happened, according to Richard Trask, a town archivist for Danvers (formerly known as Salem Village.) He also chaired the Salem Village Witchcraft Tercentennial Committee from 1990 to 1992 and wrote a book detailing the time period called”Salem Village Witch Hysteria.”

At the time of the trials, New England still followed English law, which listed witchcraft as a felony punishable by hanging not burning at the stake, Trask said. In Europe, however, the church labeled witchcraft heresy and did tie up suspected practitioners and light them on fire. You can see where the confusion started.

THEN: Israelite slaves built the pyramids

NOW: Egyptians workers built the pyramids themselves

Even movies like “The Prince Of Egypt” perpetuate the idea that slaves built the pyramids. Although many think the Bible tells us they did, the book doesn’t mention the story specifically.

This popular myth reportedly stems from comments made by former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin when visiting Egypt in 1977, according to Amihai Mazar, professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

“No Jews built the pyramids because Jews didn’t exist at the period when the pyramids were built,” Mazar told the AP.

Recent archaeological finds actually show that Egyptians built the pyramids themselves. Workers were recruited from poor families in the north and south but were highly respected, earning crypts near the pyramids and even proper preparation for burial.

Slaves wouldn’t have been treated so honorably.

THEN: Folding a piece of paper more than seven times is mathematically impossible.

Shutterstock

NOW: The record stands at 13.

Whether in art class or science, this rumor definitely spread among the masses. But Britney Gallivan, a California high school student, didn’t bite.

She, with some volunteers, bought a giant, $85 roll oftoilet paperand proceeded to blow everyone’s mind by folding it a surprising 11 times. She realized everyone else who tried had been alternating folding directions, and even developed an equation, based on the thickness and width of the specific paper, explaining why you shouldn’t.

Gallivan was a keynote speaker at the 2006 National Council of Teachers of Mathematics convention. She graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a degree in Environmental Science in 2007. And since then, she’s appeared on MythBusters.

In 2012, students atSt. Mark’s Schoolin Southborough, Massachusetts, brokeGallivan’s record, folding paper 13 times.

THEN: The Great Wall Of China is the only man-made structure visible from space.

NOW: Many man-made places are visible from space.

Technically, this wasn’t ever a solid “truth” just a fact third-graders ubiquitously included in their class reports and diorama presentations. In fact, rumors that you can see the landmark, not only from a spaceship, but all the way from the moon, date back as far as 1938.

In 2003 though, the first Chinese astronaut finally shattered the myth.

The party responsible, a man named Yang Liwei, admitted he couldn’t see the Great Wall from space, according to NASA.

Other photos surfaced here and there. The consensus became that you can, indeed, catch glimpses of the Wall but only under the right conditions (snow on the structure) or with a zoom-capable camera. You can also see the lights of large cities and major roadways and bridges and airports and dams and reservoirs.

The moon factoid, however, is totally wrong.

“The only thing you can see from the Moon is a beautiful sphere, mostly white, some blue and patches of yellow, and every once in a while some green vegetation,” Apollo 12 astronaut Alan Bean told NASA. “No man-made object is visible at this scale.”

To further clarify, people probably mean these structures are visible from satellites orbiting Earth but that’s not actual space.

THEN: Five (or three) kingdoms of classification exist.

Flickr/Tony Higsett

NOW: There might be as many as eight kingdoms.

Depending when you grew up, your middle school science teacher probably lectured about three main kingdoms of life animals, plants, and bacteria (monera) or five, including fungi and protists, too.

Either way, we’ve expanded our classification of life since then.

The more species we find and analyze, the more complex labeling life becomes. In addition to the five kingdoms above, we now know of archaea, previously thrown under monera. Archaea superficially look like other one-celled organisms called eubacteria, but they’re completely different.

Even larger systems exist which further divide eubacteria into two more kingdoms or separate chromista from all the other protists.

In the U.S., however, we stick with six: plants, animals, protists, fungi, archaebacteria, and eubacteria.

Christina Sterbenz contributed to a previous version of this story

Read the original article on Business Insider.Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Copyright 2017.

Read next: 17 jokes that only smart people will really appreciate

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/editors-blog/seven-facts-you-learned-in-school-that-are-no-longer-true/

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UK schoolboy corrects Nasa data error – BBC News

Media captionMiles Soloman tells Radio 4’s World At One how he discovered something the Nasa experts missed

A British teenager has contacted scientists at Nasa to point out an error in a set of their own data.

A-level student Miles Soloman found that radiation sensors on the International Space Station (ISS) were recording false data.

The 17-year-old from Tapton school in Sheffield said it was “pretty cool” to email the space agency.

The correction was said to be “appreciated” by Nasa, which invited him to help analyse the problem.

“What we got given was a lot of spreadsheets, which is a lot more interesting than it sounds,” Miles told BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme.

The research was part of the TimPix project from the Institute for Research in Schools (IRIS), which gives students across the UK the chance to work on data from the space station, looking for anomalies and patterns that might lead to further discoveries.

During UK astronaut Tim Peake’s stay on the station, detectors began recording the radiation levels on the ISS.

“I went straight to the bottom of the list and I went for the lowest bits of energy there were,” Miles explained.

Miles’s teacher and head of physics, James O’Neill, said: “We were all discussing the data but he just suddenly perked up in one of the sessions and went ‘why does it say there’s -1 energy here?'”

What Miles had noticed was that when nothing hit the detector, a negative reading was being recorded.

But you cannot get negative energy. So Miles and Mr O’Neill contacted Nasa.

“It’s pretty cool”, Miles said. “You can tell your friends, I just emailed Nasa and they’re looking at the graphs that I’ve made.”

It turned out that Miles had noticed something no-one else had – including the Nasa experts.

Nasa said it was aware of the error, but believed it was only happening once or twice a year.

Miles had found it was actually happening multiple times a day.

Image copyright NASA

Prof Larry Pinksy, from the University of Houston, told Radio 4: “My colleagues at Nasa thought they had cleaned that up.

“This underscores – I think – one of the values of the IRIS projects in all fields with big data. I’m sure there are interesting things the students can find that professionals don’t have time to do.”

The professor – who works with Nasa on radiation monitors – said the correction was “appreciated more so than it being embarrassing”.

What do Miles’ friends think of his discovery?

“They obviously think I’m a nerd,” the sixth-former said. “It’s really a mixture of jealousy and boredom when I tell them all the details.”

He added: “I’m not trying to prove Nasa wrong. I want to work with them and learn from them.”

The director of IRIS, Prof Becky Parker, said this sort of “expansion of real science in the classroom” could attract more young people to STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, mathematics).

She added: “IRIS brings real scientific research into the hands of students no matter their background or the context of the school. The experience inspires them to become the next generation of scientists.”

Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-39351833

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Congress Passes Bill To Recruit More Women Into STEM Careers

Update: We mistakenly reported that the pro-STEM bills signed by Trump were Executive Orders. In fact, they were Congressional bills, and this has now been corrected.

President Trump is infamous for his treatment of women, and we at IFLScience have made it no secret we find his administrations attitude towards science is one of near-total disdain. Thats why, when the Commander-in-Chief recently added his signature to two bills in the Oval Office bills designed to recruit more women into science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) jobs it came as quite a welcome surprise.

As per the first bill, HR 321, NASA must actively ramp up its attempts to recruit and encourage more young women into taking up STEM careers. NASA will also be required to report to Congressional committees with regards to how much progress it is making on this issue.

The second bill, HR 255, authorizes the National Science Foundation (NSF), the source of nearly a quarter of all federally supported scientific research, to boost its recruitment efforts. Women graduating in STEM subjects will be aided in taking up STEM careers in the worlds of both academia and industry.

Although the fine details of the bills are somewhat lacking its not clear what encouraging means in practical terms its hard to disagree with the President signing off on these, which were given bipartisan support in Congress. However, things are not as benevolent as they seem.

During the signing ceremony at the Oval Office Trump said it was unfair that only 1 in 4 women with a degree in one of these fields ends up working in them.

This likely refers to the results of a US census back in 2012, which notes that just 25 percent of both men and women with a bachelor’s in a STEM subject find work in a STEM field, a problem linked to the lack of funding and career support for science in general. The figure for women alone was actually closer to 1 in 7 far worse than Trumps team have made out.

Just 1 in 7 women with STEM degrees go into STEM fields. US Census

This depressing statistic isnt just down to the well-documented recruiting bias against women in STEM fields it goes back to education, and how, from a very young age, most girls arent raised to think that they are just as able to become scientists as men are. Its not clear that the new Education Secretary, someone who has no experience working in schools whatsoever, has any plans to address this issue.

Mind you, its not ever been clear that Trump himself knows much about women in STEM. Back in 2016, when questioned on the subject, he dismissively said: there are a host of STEM programs already in existence.

And then, of course, theres the Trump administrations anti-science agenda. From a Cabinet stuffed with climate change deniers to enormous budget cuts to federal science research programs including a 24 percent cut to the beleaguered Environmental Protection Agencys (EPA) budget these Congressional bills have cropped up at a strange time in the American political discourse.

Theres something decidedly paradoxical about encouraging women to take up STEM careers when it looks like there wont be many left by the time they graduate. Science needs funding, plain and simple, but every action taken by the resurgent Republican Party in 2017 amounts to nothing less than trampling on so much of Americas scientific legacy.

With this in mind, its worth pointing out that as the pro-STEM bills were signed, Trump also added his signature to one of his own Executive Orders, one that aims to review the way public waterways are protected from pollution under the EPAs Clean Water Rule.

This act essentially ensures over 110 million Americans have safe drinking water, and its backed by hard-and-fast science. This order seeks to weaken it just so fossil fuel companies can get away with a little more fracking and a little less regulation.

So yes, the signing of the STEM bills are a good thing but the wider picture confirms that Trump is far more of a threat to science than he is a friend to it.

[H/T: Chicago Tribune]

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/editors-blog/president-trump-signs-executive-orders-to-help-women-take-up-stem-careers/

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7 Science College Courses You Can Take Completely Free From Home

Interested in the environment? Are you partial to theplanetary sciences? Are youlooking to give your career a jumpstart? Its never been easier to learn about those subjects you’ve been curious about, but never had the means or time to explorefurther. Now, all you need is an Internet connection and a thirst for knowledge.

edXis a non-profit website that offers free education courses on a bunch of subjects from over 110 of the worlds top universities and institutions. The courses range from introductory to university level, all taught by leading researchers and experts in the field. Youcan also attend the classesfrom the comfort of your home with just a few hours of your time eachweek. So whats your excuse?

Check out a selection of their free courses below, ranging from the Earth sciences to astrophysics to science communication. In just a few clicks, you can start learning today!

Astrophysics: The Violent Universe

When it comes to unimaginably powerful forces and astronomical explosions, it does not get much more mind-blowing than the field of astrophysics. This self-paced course from the Australian National University gives an intermediate look at some of the most deadly forces and grand objects in the known universe, from neutron stars and white dwarfs to supernovae and even hypernovae.

Alexey Suloev/Shutterstock

Antarctica: From Geology To Human History

Victoria University of Wellington are offering youthechance to explore the coldest, driest, windiest, and coolest (no pun intended) continent on Earth: Antarctica

This course offers lessons onAntarctica’s 500 million years of geological history, as well as an insight into the 250 years of human and scientific exploration of this mysterious land. It also features virtual field trips and video lectures straight from Ross Island and the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica.

Climate Change: The Science

Climate change is undoubtedly one of the biggest and most controversial issues of our time, so its never been more important toknow the facts behind it.

Instructors from the University of British Columbia will give you the skills to understand and evaluate the latest science on climate change, as well as provide key expertise onways in which to communicate the scientific and human issues surrounding climate science to a wider audience.

Sensing Planet Earth From Core To Outer Space

This introductory course tells you everything you need to know about the different ways scientists use Earth observation tools, whether it be from space, aircraft, or on the ground. With the help of course instructors from Chalmers University of Technology, youll learn all you need to know to use, understand, and apply valuable observation data about our planet.

This Hubble Space Telescope image shows Supernova 1987A.Credit: NASA, ESA, R. Kirshner and M. Mutchler and R. Avila (STScI)

Greatest Unsolved Mysteries of the Universe

There’s no greater mystery than the universe. Just think, we don’t really know what most of the universe is even made of. Through this Australian National University course, you’ll learn many of the great questions raised by modern astrophysicsand understand why we’re so close, yet so very far, from answering them.

Question Everything: Scientific Thinking In Real Life

When you boil it down, science is simply a way of looking at the world. However,it doesnt just stop at scientific exploration, you can apply this way of seeing to all kinds of situations.This University of Queensland course shows how science can help you critically think about and appreciate the world around you. Its also perfect preparation if youre a high school student looking to further your interest in mathematics and science.

“Be more like this guy.” Shutterstock

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/editors-blog/7-free-science-courses-you-can-take-from-home/

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UK schoolboy corrects Nasa data error – BBC News

Media captionMiles Soloman tells Radio 4’s World At One how he discovered something the Nasa experts missed

A British teenager has contacted scientists at Nasa to point out an error in a set of their own data.

A-level student Miles Soloman found that radiation sensors on the International Space Station (ISS) were recording false data.

The 17-year-old from Tapton school in Sheffield said it was “pretty cool” to email the space agency.

The correction was said to be “appreciated” by Nasa, which invited him to help analyse the problem.

“What we got given was a lot of spreadsheets, which is a lot more interesting than it sounds,” Miles told BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme.

The research was part of the TimPix project from the Institute for Research in Schools (IRIS), which gives students across the UK the chance to work on data from the space station, looking for anomalies and patterns that might lead to further discoveries.

During UK astronaut Tim Peake’s stay on the station, detectors began recording the radiation levels on the ISS.

“I went straight to the bottom of the list and I went for the lowest bits of energy there were,” Miles explained.

Miles’s teacher and head of physics, James O’Neill, said: “We were all discussing the data but he just suddenly perked up in one of the sessions and went ‘why does it say there’s -1 energy here?'”

What Miles had noticed was that when nothing hit the detector, a negative reading was being recorded.

But you cannot get negative energy. So Miles and Mr O’Neill contacted Nasa.

“It’s pretty cool”, Miles said. “You can tell your friends, I just emailed Nasa and they’re looking at the graphs that I’ve made.”

It turned out that Miles had noticed something no-one else had – including the Nasa experts.

Nasa said it was aware of the error, but believed it was only happening once or twice a year.

Miles had found it was actually happening multiple times a day.

Image copyright NASA

Prof Larry Pinksy, from the University of Houston, told Radio 4: “My colleagues at Nasa thought they had cleaned that up.

“This underscores – I think – one of the values of the IRIS projects in all fields with big data. I’m sure there are interesting things the students can find that professionals don’t have time to do.”

The professor – who works with Nasa on radiation monitors – said the correction was “appreciated more so than it being embarrassing”.

What do Miles’ friends think of his discovery?

“They obviously think I’m a nerd,” the sixth-former said. “It’s really a mixture of jealousy and boredom when I tell them all the details.”

He added: “I’m not trying to prove Nasa wrong. I want to work with them and learn from them.”

The director of IRIS, Prof Becky Parker, said this sort of “expansion of real science in the classroom” could attract more young people to STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, mathematics).

She added: “IRIS brings real scientific research into the hands of students no matter their background or the context of the school. The experience inspires them to become the next generation of scientists.”

Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-39351833

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The hidden history of Nasas black female scientists

The diversity of Nasas workforce in 1940s Virginia is uncovered in a new book by Margot Lee Shetterly. She recalls how a visit to her home town led to a revelation

Mrs Land worked as a computer out at Langley, my father said, taking a right turn out of the parking lot of the First Baptist church in Hampton, Virginia. My husband and I visited my parents just after Christmas in 2010, enjoying a few days away from our full-time life and work in Mexico.

They squired us around town in their 20-year-old green minivan, my father driving, my mother in the front passenger seat, Aran and I buckled in behind like siblings. My father, gregarious as always, offered a stream of commentary that shifted fluidly from updates on the friends and neighbours wed bumped into around town to the weather forecast to elaborate discourses on the physics underlying his latest research as a 66-year-old doctoral student at Hampton University.

He enjoyed touring my Maine-born-and-raised husband through our neck of the woods and refreshing my connection with local life and history in the process.

As a callow 18-year-old leaving for college, Id seen my home town as a mere launching pad for a life in worldlier locales, a place to be from rather than a place to be. But years and miles away from home could never attenuate the citys hold on my identity and the more I explored places and people far from Hampton, the more my status as one of its daughters came to mean to me. That day after church, we spent a long while catching up with the formidable Mrs Land, who had been one of my favourite Sunday school teachers. Kathaleen Land, a retired Nasa mathematician, still lived on her own well into her 90s and never missed a Sunday at church.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/feb/05/hidden-figures-black-female-scientists-african-americans-margot-lee-shetterly-space-race

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LEGO To Launch Women In NASA Collection

These days, youve only really made it if youve been immortalized in LEGO. Just ask Batman. So riding high on the renewed interest in the hidden figures of space science, LEGO has announced it will be releasing a new Women of NASA collection, set to be available either late this year or early 2018.

The Women of NASA collection was proposed by US science writer Maia Weinstock as part of the LEGO Ideas project that takes place twice a year, allowing fans to pitch ideas to the company. Weinstocks collection of five notable women in science was picked up by the company after it received more than 10,000 public votes.

LEGO Ideas spokeswoman Lise Dydensborg announced the company was excited to go ahead with Weinstock’s idea, following on from its first-ever set of female-only scientists, also a LEGO Ideas proposal, back in 2014.

“As a science editor and writer, with a strong personal interest in space exploration as well as the history of women in science and engineering, Maia Weinstock’s Women of NASA project was a way for her to celebrate accomplished women in the STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics] professions,” Dydensborg said in a statement.

“This proposed set celebrates five notable NASA pioneers and provides an educational building experience to help young ones and adults alike learn about the history of women in STEM, said Weinstock in her proposal.

So who are these awesome women?

Katherine Johnson

Youve probably heard of Johnson recently due to the popularity of the book and subsequent Oscar-nominated film, Hidden Figures. Johnson was one of the many human computers, women of color employed by NASA in the early days of the space program. A mathematician and physicist, she calculated the trajectory of the rocket that sent Alan Shepherd, the first Amercian, into space.

content-1488455190-27769399194-b14bc1b4b

Margaret Hamilton

Margaret Hamiton worked for MIT under contract with NASA in the 1960s. A computer scientist and systems engineer, she designed and developed the onboard flight software used for the Apollo missions to the Moon, whichwas later adapted and used by the Space Shuttle. Last year, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama, the highest civilian award in the US.

content-1488454961-27769398114-6e49b0483

Sally Ride

Sally Ride is well known for being the first American woman in space. A physicist by training and astronaut by ambition, Ride first went into space aboard the Challenger space shuttle in 1983, returning again in 1984. After retiring as an astronaut, Ride taught as a professor of physics, became a childrens science book writer, and set up a science outreach company to encourage children, especially young girls, to pursue science. Ride died in 2012.

Mae Jemison

Mae Jemison was the first African-Amercan woman to go into space. A trained medical doctor and Peace Corps medical official, Jemison was inspired by Sally Ride and applied to the NASA astronaut program, entering into space aboard the space shuttle Endeavour in 1992. Retiring from NASA, Jemison founded acompany that researches the application of science and technology to daily life.

content-1488455083-27769399024-5cf823ab3Ride and Jemison with the Space Shuttle

Nancy Grace Roman

Astronomer, educator, and advocate for women in science, Nancy Grace Roman is known to many as the Mother of Hubble due to her contribution to the Hubble Space Telescope. She was the first Chief of Astronomy in NASA’s Office of Space Science, and NASAs first female executive. She has published many astronomy papers over the years and acted as a consultant to NASAs Goddard Space Flight Center.

content-1488454990-28281722952-7dd67d8ec

As well as the desktop frame that includes all five figurines, the set includes various vignettes, including a recreation of the famous photo of Margaret Hamilton standing next to piles of code shed written, the Hubble telescope for Roman, the Space Shuttle for Jemison and Ride, and instruments used to calculate and verify shuttle trajectories for Johnson.

Not everybody will know who these amazing women are, but half the fun will be exploring them, their histories, and contributions to science, whether youre five or 95.

content-1488455270-27770116643-a14cf5b84All images: (c) Maia Weinstock

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/editors-blog/lego-to-launch-women-in-nasa-collection/

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Celebrate Women’s History Month With 20 Women In Science Who Changed The World

Simply put, women are amazing.

Not only do they create and give birth to tiny humans, but they’ve proven throughout history that they’re pretty damn brave and intelligent, too. They’ve had to fight for their rights and prove themselves worthy over and over again, which is why they’re honored every March. And what better way to celebrate Women’s History Month than to introduce you to women who’ve made scientific advancements in the past as well as those who are changing the way we live now?

Get ready to burst with pride, ladies, because these 20 women in science are too good for this world.

1. Miriam Daniel Mann, who had a chemistry degree with a minor in mathematics, got a job at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), NASA’s predecessor, as a human computer in the 1940s. Her work helped put astronaut John Glenn into orbit, but she also fought against segregation at NASA.

2. Cynthia Kenyon, a molecular biologist and geneticist, is currently working with a team of scientists at Calico, Google’s nascent biotechnology company, to find ways to slow aging and prevent age-related diseases. In 1993, she discovered that altering a single gene in roundworms could double their lifespan. She’s been able to discover which genes help us live longer and has a goal of extending human lives by 100 years.

Read More: These Powerful Photos Of Women Making History Are Incredibly Inspiring

3. Marine biologist and writer Rachel Carson published a book called, “Silent Spring” in 1962, which warned about the danger of pesticides. It had a huge historical impact and led to lethal pesticides being banned in the U.S.

http://www.viralnova.com/incredible-women/

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Congress Passes Bill To Recruit More Women Into STEM Careers

Update: We mistakenly reported that the pro-STEM bills signed by Trump were Executive Orders. In fact, they were Congressional bills, and this has now been corrected.

President Trump is infamous for his treatment of women, and we at IFLScience have made it no secret we find his administrations attitude towards science is one of near-total disdain. Thats why, when the Commander-in-Chief recently added his signature to two bills in the Oval Office bills designed to recruit more women into science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) jobs it came as quite a welcome surprise.

As per the first bill, HR 321, NASA must actively ramp up its attempts to recruit and encourage more young women into taking up STEM careers. NASA will also be required to report to Congressional committees with regards to how much progress it is making on this issue.

The second bill, HR 255, authorizes the National Science Foundation (NSF), the source of nearly a quarter of all federally supported scientific research, to boost its recruitment efforts. Women graduating in STEM subjects will be aided in taking up STEM careers in the worlds of both academia and industry.

Although the fine details of the bills are somewhat lacking its not clear what encouraging means in practical terms its hard to disagree with the President signing off on these, which were given bipartisan support in Congress. However, things are not as benevolent as they seem.

During the signing ceremony at the Oval Office Trump said it was unfair that only 1 in 4 women with a degree in one of these fields ends up working in them.

This likely refers to the results of a US census back in 2012, which notes that just 25 percent of both men and women with a bachelor’s in a STEM subject find work in a STEM field, a problem linked to the lack of funding and career support for science in general. The figure for women alone was actually closer to 1 in 7 far worse than Trumps team have made out.

Just 1 in 7 women with STEM degrees go into STEM fields. US Census

This depressing statistic isnt just down to the well-documented recruiting bias against women in STEM fields it goes back to education, and how, from a very young age, most girls arent raised to think that they are just as able to become scientists as men are. Its not clear that the new Education Secretary, someone who has no experience working in schools whatsoever, has any plans to address this issue.

Mind you, its not ever been clear that Trump himself knows much about women in STEM. Back in 2016, when questioned on the subject, he dismissively said: there are a host of STEM programs already in existence.

And then, of course, theres the Trump administrations anti-science agenda. From a Cabinet stuffed with climate change deniers to enormous budget cuts to federal science research programs including a 24 percent cut to the beleaguered Environmental Protection Agencys (EPA) budget these Congressional bills have cropped up at a strange time in the American political discourse.

Theres something decidedly paradoxical about encouraging women to take up STEM careers when it looks like there wont be many left by the time they graduate. Science needs funding, plain and simple, but every action taken by the resurgent Republican Party in 2017 amounts to nothing less than trampling on so much of Americas scientific legacy.

With this in mind, its worth pointing out that as the pro-STEM bills were signed, Trump also added his signature to one of his own Executive Orders, one that aims to review the way public waterways are protected from pollution under the EPAs Clean Water Rule.

This act essentially ensures over 110 million Americans have safe drinking water, and its backed by hard-and-fast science. This order seeks to weaken it just so fossil fuel companies can get away with a little more fracking and a little less regulation.

So yes, the signing of the STEM bills are a good thing but the wider picture confirms that Trump is far more of a threat to science than he is a friend to it.

[H/T: Chicago Tribune]

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/editors-blog/president-trump-signs-executive-orders-to-help-women-take-up-stem-careers/

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This Proposed Lego Set Honors Women In NASA

More than 40 American women have flown in space, and many others have worked at NASA as cosmonauts, analysts, researchers and engineers. Yet when most people think about the U.S. space program, it’s the names of men that tend to first come to mind: Buzz and Neil, Carl and Alan, Gus and Jim.

But one female science writer is trying to change that with the help of a handful of figurines.

Maia Weinstock, deputy editor of MIT News and a self-described “Lego tinkerer,” has proposed a new Lego set celebrating the women of NASA.

The set would come with five figurines representing five notable NASA pioneers: Margaret Hamilton, Katherine Johnson, Nancy Grace Roman, Mae Jemison and Sally Ride. 

Maia Weinstock
A science writer has proposed this new Lego set celebrating the women of NASA.

Hamilton was a computer scientist who developed onboard flight software for the Apollo mission, and Johnson was a mathematician who worked on the Mercury and Apollo programs. According to NASA, Johnson’s calculations were “critical” to the success of the Apollo moon landing program.  

Maia Weinstock
Katherine Johnson, mathematician and space scientist.

Maia Weinstock
Computer scientist Margaret Hamilton.

Roman was an astronomer and one of the first female executives at NASA. Known as the “Mother of Hubble,” she was one of the masterminds behind the Hubble Space Telescope. 

Ride and Jemison were both astronauts. Ride became the first American woman in space in 1983. About a decade later, Jemison became the first African-American woman in space.

“I think it’s so vitally important that all people in this world are involved in the process of discovery,” Jemison once said.

Maia Weinstock
Lego versions ofSally Ride (left) and Mae Jemison.

“Women have played critical roles throughout the history of the U.S. space program … yet in many cases, their contributions are unknown or under-appreciated — especially as women have historically struggled to gain acceptance in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM),” Weinstock wrote in her Lego Ideas proposal.

Lego Ideas encourages people to suggest new Lego sets to the company. If a project hits 10,000 supporters, the proposed set is sent for official review.

Weinstock’s proposal had garnered about 3,000 supporters as of Monday morning. NASA itself has shown its support:

In recent years, Lego has been adding more female characters in scientific fields to its collection. In 2013, for instance, it released its first female lab scientist minifigure. Last year, new spaceport sets included female aerospace engineers and female astronauts. 

Still, based on Lego Ideas proposals, it seems consumer interest in female STEM figurines remains high. In addition to the Women in NASA set, there are currently also proposals for an Amelia Earhart set, a Girls in STEM set and a number of other science-related sets featuring female characters.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/women-in-nasa-lego-set_us_5795d108e4b0d3568f83b0b1?section=

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