News and Events: Watch penultimate COSMOS episode, NSF vs. House Republicans, and BRAIN Initiative new price tag

Posted: June 10, 2014 in Uncategorized

On Monday the Environmental Protection Agency released new regulations to combat climate change via reduction of greenhouse gases. “As predictably as morning follows sunrise, these rules are drawing fire in a number of ways.” This article addresses (and dismisses) six of those arguments.

I also highly recommend the 2nd to last episode of COSMOS season 1, in which Neil deGrasse Tyson gives an excellent 45-min summary of what we know about climate change and its potential consequences should the world continue to ignore/deny the problem.

“A key US House of Representatives committee approved legislation on 28 May that recommends steep cuts to US National Science Foundation (NSF) social-science funding and controversial changes to the agency’s grant-making process.”

” On April 2, 2013, President Obama launched the BRAIN Initiative to “accelerate the development and application of new technologies that will enable researchers to produce dynamic pictures of the brain that show how individual brain cells and complex neural circuits interact at the speed of thought.” In response to this Grand Challenge, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) convened a working group of the Advisory Committee to the Director, NIH, to develop a rigorous plan for achieving this scientific vision. This report presents the findings and recommendations of the working group, including the scientific background and rationale for the BRAIN Initiative as a whole and for each of seven major goals articulated in the report. In addition, we include specific deliverables, timelines, and cost estimates for these goals as requested by the NIH Director.”

“Now, after more than a year of meetings and deliberations, an NIH-convened working group has fleshed out some the goals and aspirations of BRAIN and tried to offer a more realistic appraisal of the funding needed: $4.5 billion over the course of a decade, or roughly quadruple the project’s currently planned budget.”

“The number of women on university science faculties has been growing too slowly to satisfy many people. But one category of researchers—miniature ones made of plastic—will soon get an infusion of female members. LEGO, the manufacturer of the plastic-block construction sets beloved by children everywhere, has announcedthat a new kit consisting of three female scientists and their research gear will hit the market by the fall. ”

“Scientists have demonstrated that genetically modified organisms have no measurable negative impacts on human health. Indeed, they may hold the key to feeding a world impacted by climate change. But does this mean GMOs are completely without risk? Nope. Here are some good reasons to be concerned.”

“While girls and boys take STEM classes at the same rates in high school, far fewer women choose to pursue science and math once they enter college. Currently women only make up 24 percent of the STEM workforce, a statistic the White House is hoping to see change.”

“The retraction of two controversial papers that promised a simple way to create embryonic-like stem cells seems to be imminent today after the lead author unexpectedly gave her full consent. Haruko Obokata, of the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology in Kobe, Japan, had been the last obstacle to the retraction of both papers.”

“Many observers believe that the United States is churning out too many new Ph.D. biomedical researchers, creating a hypercompetitive, unhealthy environment. But a new report from an advisory panel to the director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) paints a different picture for physician-scientists: There may not be enough of them to replace those preparing to retire.”

“Illinois became the first state in the union to ban microbeads, the tiny bits of plastic found in consumer products like skin exfoliants and soap.”


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