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Breakthrough Starshot Launches, Operates “Smallest Ever” Spacecraft In Orbit.

Scientific American (7/26, Billings) reports that the $100 million “Breakthrough Starshot” initiative, which aims to “send robotic mission to nearby stars by the mid-21st century,” has officially launched its “first spacecraft--the smallest ever launched and operated in orbit.” Representatives of the project worked extensively with the U.S. State Department “to ensure the project did not violate strict federal regulations,” and say “the organization is set to solicit research proposals for the associated ‘grand challenges’ in optics, communications, materials science and other disciplines later this year.” Breakthrough Starshot’s executive director Pete Worden stated, “This is a very early version of what we would send to interstellar distances. In addition, this is another clear demonstration that it is possible for countries to work together to do great things in space. These are European spacecraft with U.S. nanosatellite payloads launching on an Indian booster—you can’t get much more international than that.”

Article posted: 07/27/2017

STEM Degrees Earned By Women, Minorities Increase.

The Omaha (NE) World-Herald (7/11, Ruggles) reports that “efforts to increase the numbers of women and minority students in science and technology appear to be having some effect, national statistics indicate.” The World-Herald adds that “the numbers of blacks, Hispanics and women earning degrees in science, technology, engineering and math rose considerably between 2008-09 and 2014-15, the most recent year for which data are available.” However, the article states, “there were still more than double the degrees awarded to men than women in STEM, and there were well over twice as many STEM degrees earned by whites as were conferred on blacks, Hispanics and American Indians as a whole.”

Article posted: 07/12/2017

Young Ford Engineer Playing Key Role In Company’s Future.

The Street (7/10, Byrnes) profiles 23-year-old Ford research engineer Victoria Schein, who has “at least 15 patents under her belt” and “is the future” of the company. According to The Street, “Schein will continue to well...shine...and amaze. And you will continue to hear her name. She is our #AlphaRising and we’re hoping she brings a lot of young girls with her.”

Article posted: 07/11/2017

University Of Central Florida Researchers’ Smartphone Screen Modeled After Moth Eyes.

NBC News (6/26, Yiu) “Inside Science” reports University of Central Florida researchers published a paper in the journal Optica this week describing an anti-reflection film optimized “specifically for smartphone screens, and they also provide a model that other researchers can use to optimize their own films.” NBC News says engineers and materials scientists have often modeled their anti-reflection films after moths’ eyes, which feature surface-level nanoscale structures that minimize light reflection. Likewise, the UCF team led by Shin-Tson Wu deposited a solution of nanoscale silicon oxide spheres measuring about 100 nanometers across onto a surface that was then dimpled to create “the nanoscale structure that mimics what moths have on the surface of their eyes.” Stanford University material scientist Dietmar Knipp, who was not involved in the research, explained that “imprinting is usually a good choice,” but Wu conceded the process loosened some of the nanoparticles, rendering the dimpling stamp unusable.

Article posted: 06/27/2017

Boston Globe Analysis: iPhone Software On “Verge Of Becoming Medically Useful.”

The Boston Globe (5/28, Sheridan) reports the Apple software, ResearchKit, promised to turn an iPhone into a “powerful tool for medical research,” according to Apple. The software has led to “a number of studies” and, says the Globe, “seems to be on the verge of becoming medically useful” as it is being used to collect “new data on seizures, asthma attacks, and heart disease.”

Article posted: 05/30/2017