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Professor Attributes Gender Disparity In STEM Fields To Treatment Of Women At Colleges.

University of Hawaii geobiology professor A. Hope Jahren writes in a 1,700-word op-ed for the “Sunday Review” of the New York Times  (3/6, SR4, Jahren, Subscription Publication) to provide analysis of the relative absence of women in STEM fields at colleges. Jahren posits the cause for the disparity is not a difference in performance, but is “isolation and intimidation as barriers blocking [women’s] scholarly path.” Jahren cites increasing “reports of sexual harassment and assault within science departments.”

Article posted: 03/07/2016

Researchers Use Nanotechnology To Make Faster, Cheaper Water Filters.

Reuters (3/3, Gruber) reports researchers at the University of California, Berkeley have developed nano-scaled membranes made of layers of graphene that could help filter water both cheaper and faster than conventional methods. UC Berkeley assistant professor of environmental engineering, Baoxia Mi commented that since the new technology uses graphene, a resource that is abundant and cheap, the method used to make the graphene layers should be adaptable for both household faucets and industrial scale water filtration systems.

Article posted: 03/04/2016

NASA Looking To Revive Supersonic Travel.

CNBC (3/1, Reid) reports in continuing coverage NASA is looking “to build a quieter supersonic passenger jet, following Concorde” and “has awarded a $20 million contract to California-based Lockheed Martin for the design of what it calls a ‘low boom’ flight demonstration aircraft.” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden on Monday said, “NASA is working hard to make flight greener, safer and quieter – all while developing aircraft that travel faster, and building an aviation system that operates more efficiently.” He added, “We’re continuing that supersonic X-plane legacy with this preliminary design award for a quieter supersonic jet with an aim toward passenger flight.”

CBS News (3/1, Boccagno) reports NASA during a press conference at Reagan National Airport on Monday discussed its X-planes with Bolden saying, “It’s worth noting that it’s been almost 70 years since Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in the Bell X-1 as part of our predecessor agency’s high speed research. Now we’re continuing that supersonic X-plane legacy with this preliminary design award for a quieter supersonic jet with an aim toward passenger flight.” He explained the $20 million “investment will allow us to make giant new leaps.” CBS reports the advances could be “saving the commercial airline industry $255 billion over the next 25 years by reducing aircraft fuel consumption to half of what it is today.”

Also reporting is Fortune (3/1, Hackett) and The Verge (3/2).

Article posted: 03/02/2016

Apple’s Encryptions Fight Could Speed Development Of Secure Devices.

Reuters (2/25, Menn, Love) reports that the fight between Apple and the FBI over encryption is likely to accelerate efforts to engineer super-secure phones and applications. Jonathan Zittrain, co-founder of Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, said that even a government victory could prompt investment by tech companies in security systems that even the companies’ own engineers can’t access. Reuters says that the case benefits a niche industry that has released phones and apps designed to thwart surveillance. These include phones such as Boeing Co’s Black, that targets government customers, and Blackberry’s Priv, an Android device marketed to corporate clients seeking more security.

Article posted: 02/25/2016

Engineers, Physicians Getting Closer To Developing Prosthetics That Accomplish Individualized Motion.

The Baltimore Sun (2/21) reports that researchers at Johns Hopkins University are working to develop the first prosthetics to accomplish immediate, precise, individualized motion of limbs. Research published this month in the Journal of Neural Engineering showed promise as participants were able to achieve individualized motion of the fingers. The experiment “used a modular prosthetic arm developed by Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory” and was funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Article posted: 02/22/2016