Sci-Tech

  • Software enables computers to translate words to math

    If Johnny has five apples and seven oranges, and he wants to share them with three of his friends, can a computer understand the text to figure out how many pieces of fruit each person gets? Thanks to new software developed at the University of Illinois, machines now can learn to understand mathematical reasoning expressed in language, which could greatly improve search engines and access to data as well as boost mathematics education.

  • Improving chemistry teaching throughout North America

    The Dow Chemical Company and the American Association of Chemistry Teachers (AACT) are partnering to invigorate chemistry education and support STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education in the nation’s schools. Dow and AACT will work together to convene a series of teacher summits and create more than 750 lesson plans, multimedia resources, demonstrations, and other high-quality chemistry teaching materials for use in K–12 classrooms. The work will be supported by a $1 million contribution from Dow to the AACT spread over a four year period.

  • Atmospheric rivers, cloud-creating aerosol particles, and California water situation

    In the midst of the California rainy season, scientists – using aircraft, research vessel, and ground stations — are embarking on a field campaign designed to improve the understanding of the natural and human-caused phenomena that determine when and how the state gets its precipitation. They will do so by studying atmospheric rivers, meteorological events that include the famous rainmaker known as the Pineapple Express. Atmospheric rivers, which produce up to 50 percent of California’s precipitation and can transport 10-20 times the flow of the Mississippi River.

  • Islamic fundamentalism is not a marginal phenomenon in Europe

    A comprehensive new comparative study of religious dispositions among European Muslims and Christians finds that between 40 percent and 45 percent of European Muslims have fundamentalist religious ideas. The percentage goes down among the young and among individuals with higher social and economic status. A PEW Research Center study, using the same criteria for fundamentalism, found that Islamic fundamentalists make up slightly more than 30 percent of U.S. Muslims. Only 4 percent of European Christians are fundamentalists. Fundamentalist beliefs among both Muslims and Christians are closely associated with hostility toward other out-groups, including homosexuals, Jews, and Westerners (in the case of Muslims) or Muslims (in the case of Christians) – but violence does not necessarily form part of a fundamentalist ideology (thus, the Jewish Neturei Karta of the Christian Amish are at the same time among the most fundamentalist religiously and the most violence-averse). The research quotes other studies which found that between 10 percent and 15 percent of European Muslims are prepared to use violence to defend their faith, but that the increase in the propensity for violence among Muslim fundamentalists is a relatively recent phenomenon — of the last two or three decades.

  • Revolutionary weapon to be showcased at Future Force EXPO

    The Electromagnetic Railgun program continues to move toward scheduled at-sea testing in 2016. Its revolutionary technology relies on electricity instead of traditional chemical propellants, with magnetic fields created by high electrical currents launching projectiles at distances over 100 nautical miles — and at speeds that exceed Mach 6, or six times the speed of sound. The Railgun will play a significant role in the future of the U.S. Navy, and it will be on display to the public for the first time on the East Coast 4-5 February at the Naval Future Force Science and Technology (S&T) EXPO in Washington, D.C.

  • Six-legged Snake Monster is first of new breed of reconfigurable modular robots

    Carnegie Mellon University’s latest robot is called Snake Monster, but with six legs, it looks more like an insect than a snake. It really does not matter, however, what you call it, says its inventor, Howie Choset — the whole point of the project is to make modular robots that can easily be reconfigured to meet a user’s needs.

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  • Sea level rise has been more rapid than previously understood: Study

    The acceleration of global sea level change from the end of the twentieth century through the last two decades has been significantly swifter than scientists thought, according to a new Harvard study. The study shows that calculations of global sea-level rise from 1900 to 1990 had been overestimated by as much as 30 percent. The report, however, confirms estimates of sea-level change since 1990, suggesting that the rate of change is increasing more rapidly than previously understood.

  • U Wisconsin, shedding 1960s anti-classified research image, launches cybersecurity center

    A new cybersecurity research center being built in partnership with private firms and the University of Wisconsin(UW) system aims to attract high-tech research dollars to the state, but administrators must balance the secrecy required for classified research with the openness which is the foundation of academic science. The state legislature passed a 2014 law allowing UW to accept contract for classified work partly in hopes that the school system will lose the perception of being an anti-classified-research environment, a perception dating back to campus protests against military research in the 1960s.

  • Universities adding cybersecurity programs to their curricula to meet growing demand

    The cyberattacks of recent years have not only increased the demand for employees who understand the field of information assurance and cybersecurity, they have also created a demand in cybersecurity education. Universities across the country are adding cybersecurity concentrations to their curricula to train students who will later help secure network systems.

  • Rivers of meltwater on Greenland’s ice sheet contribute to rising sea levels

    As the largest single chunk of melting snow and ice in the world, the massive ice sheet that covers about 80 percent of Greenland is recognized as the biggest potential contributor to rising sea levels due to glacial meltwater. Until now, however, scientists’ attention has mostly focused on the ice sheet’s aquamarine lakes — bodies of meltwater that tend to abruptly drain — and on monster chunks of ice that slide into the ocean to become icebergs. A new study reveals, however, a vast network of little-understood rivers and streams flowing on top of the ice sheet that could be responsible for at least as much, if not more, sea-level rise as the other two sources combined.

  • Mobile app helps first responders choose the right biodetection technology

    First responders have downloaded more than 10,000 copies of a guide to commercially available, hand-portable biodetection technologies created to help them determine what they might be up against in the field. Since many first responders do not always have immediate access to a computer, a mobile version of the guide is now available for cell phones and tablets. An updated version of the guide has just been released to help response organizations make informed decisions when procuring the right technology for their particular needs and circumstances.

  • Smart grenade seeks, finds enemy hiding behind barriers, walls

    The Small Arms Grenade Munition (SAGM) round — a 40mm counter-defilade, air-bursting grenade designed for both the M203 and M320 launchers — will undergo evaluation in July 2015. The SAGM allows a soldier to target an enemy who is protected behind a barrier and have the munition explode, in the air, above the target. The SAGM does not require the soldier to conduct any kind of pre-fire programming sequence. The soldier aims the weapon and fires, and the round detects where a wall is and then explodes, in the air, after passing the wall. The SAGM round has been under development since January 2012.

  • Reducing uncertainty in designing complex military systems

    Uncertainty is sometimes unavoidable, but in the world of scientific computing and engineering, at least, what is worse than uncertainty is being uncertain about how uncertain one is. Understanding with confidence the level of uncertainty in computational models used for designing complex military systems can be enormously beneficial, reducing costs and development times. DARPA program seeks novel mathematical research for quantifying and predicting uncertainty in design models as alternative to costly and repetitive testing.

  • Consistency, collaboration needed for effective implementation of science teaching standards

    A new report just released today by the National Research Council offers guidance to district and school leaders and teachers on necessary steps for putting the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) into practice over the next decade and beyond. The report’s recommendations are informed by research findings that emphasize that science and engineering involve both knowing and doing; that developing rich, conceptual understanding is more productive for future learning than simply memorizing discrete facts; and learning experiences should be designed with coherent progressions over multiple years.

  • Research advocates urge 114th Congress to act on Top 5 science priorities in first 100 days

    Research!America urged the 114th Congress to take action on five science priorities in the first 100 days of the legislative session in order to elevate research and innovation on the U.S. agenda. The organizations says that the five priorities: end sequestration, increase funding for U.S. research agencies, advance the 21st Century Cures initiative, repeal the medical device tax, and enact a permanent and enhanced R&D tax credit.