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Study: Student Gender Bias Hindering Women In STEM Fields.

US News & World Report  (2/16) reports that University of Washington anthropology doctoral candidate Daniel Grunspan and co-lead author Sarah Eddy have published research finding that “among 1,700 students in undergraduate biology classes at the University of Washington, men overwhelmingly chose men when asked to nominate the best students in the class, revealing a gender bias among male students that was 19 times the size of that of female students.” The researchers suggest that “subtle biases along these lines may lead to at least some female STEM students having a lower sense of belonging or confidence, resulting in an increased tendency to leave STEM fields.”

Article posted: 02/17/2016

Moore’s Law May No Longer Hold True.

Fast Company (2/10, Grothaus) discusses an article first appearing in the science journal Nature indicating that Moore’s Law, the 1965 prediction by Intel-co founder Gordon Moore that “the number of transistors on a microprocessor will double roughly every two years,” will no longer hold true. The global semiconductor industry will reportedly “formally acknowledge” next month that it can longer keep pace with Moore’s prediction, which has become a self-fulfilling prophecy over the decades as chipmakers “deliberately chose to match what the law said by agreeing to produce microprocessors on a roadmap that synced with Moore’s prediction.” The piece discusses the physical and economic factors making it increasingly difficult to make pack more transistors into microprocessors.

Article posted: 02/11/2016

Experts Raise Concern About Hackers Targeting Aircraft.

Flightglobal (2/5, Hemmerdinger) reports that “though there have been no proven cases in which a passenger aircraft has been electronically commandeered by a hacker, experts note that at least one hacker claims to have done so.” Meanwhile, “other hackers have exposed security flaws in various aircraft systems, such as” aircraft communications addressing and reporting systems and automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast. Flightglobal cites Marco Wolf, head of engineering and consulting at Escrypt, and colleagues Moritz Minzlaff and Martin Moser, who “co-wrote a 2015 paper about aviation cyber vulnerability, in which they highlight recent hackings and specific risks.” Meanwhile, the FAA and DOD have launched an 18-month study of aviation cybersecurity, and Susan Cabler, the FAA’s assistant manager of design, manufacturing, and airworthiness, has said the agencies are “seeking to acquire a passenger commercial aircraft, which they intend to ‘dissect’” in order “to see if there are cyber vulnerabilities that have not yet identified themselves.”

Article posted: 02/05/2016

Government R&D Can Be A Catalyst For Technological Progress.

In The Hill’s (2/3, Brooks, Contributor, Logsdon) “Pundits Blog”, Chuck Brooks and David Logsdon discuss the role government research and development funding plays as a catalyst for technological advances and economic growth. The story notes the National Human Genome Research Institute, “a $3.8 billion federal investment to launch the Human Genome Project, jointly conceived and executed by the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Energy, has resulted in an estimated economic impact of $965 billion between 1988 and 2012.”

Article posted: 02/04/2016

“Gecko Gloves” Let You Climb Like Spider-Man.

Fast Company (1/28, Grothaus) reports that Elliot Hawkes, a mechanical engineering graduate student at Stanford University, and a team of engineers have invented “gecko gloves” that allow the wearer to climb surfaces like Spider-Man. Mark Cutkosky, Stanford University’s Fletcher Jones Chair in the School of Engineering and senior author on the paper said “some of the applications we’re thinking of involve manufacturing robots that lift large glass panels or liquid-crystal displays. We’re also working on a project with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to apply these to the robotic arms of spacecraft that could gently latch on to orbital space debris, such as fuel tanks and solar panels, and move it to an orbital graveyard or pitch it toward Earth to burn up.”

Article posted: 02/01/2016