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Category: Science
  • "I find that I am bored with anything I understand," says Abel Prize winner Dr. Karen Uhlenbeck.

    American mathematician Karen Uhlenbeck has become the first woman to win the Abel Prize — the "Nobel Prize" of mathematics! The 76-year-old professor emeritus of the University of Texas at Austin and visiting scholar at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton has made wide-ranging advances in mathematics that influence many sciences, including quantum physics and string theory, and pioneered a new field of mathematics called geometric analysis. "She did things nobody thought about doing, and after she did, she laid the foundations of a branch of mathematics," says Sun-Yung Alice Chang, a Princeton mathematician who sat on the prize committee. Hans Munthe-Kaas, chair of the Abel Committee, added that "her perspective has pervaded the field and led to some of the most dramatic advances in mathematics over the last 40 years." Continue reading Continue reading

  • The rover will launch next year to search for evidence of past or present life on Mars.

    In 2020, a new rover will fly to Mars to search for signs of past or present life — so it's fitting that the rover will be named after Rosalind Franklin, the British chemist who helped uncover the mysteries of DNA! Astronaut Tim Peake announced the name at the Airbus factory in the UK where the European Space Agency (ESA) rover is being assembled. Franklin's sister, Jenifer Glynn, spoke to the BBC about the honor: "In the last year of Rosalind's life, I remember visiting her in hospital on the day when she was excited by the news of the [Soviet Sputnik satellite] — the very beginning of space exploration. She could never have imagined that over 60 years later there would be a rover sent to Mars bearing her name, but somehow that makes this project even more special." Continue reading Continue reading

  • The Katherine Johnson Independent Verification and Validation Facility is located in the West Virginia native's home state.

    "Hidden Figures" mathematician Katherine Johnson played a critical role in NASA's early space program — now, the space agency is honoring her contributions by renaming a NASA software facility after her! The Katherine Johnson Independent Verification and Validation Facility , located in Johnson's home state of West Virginia, is the home of NASA's IV&V Program, which is dedicated to "contributing to the safety and success of NASA’s highest-profile missions" by improving the software used for a variety of space launches and flights. "I am thrilled we are honoring Katherine Johnson in this way as she is a true American icon who overcame incredible obstacles and inspired so many," NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in an announcement. "It’s a fitting tribute to name the facility that carries on her legacy of mission-critical computations in her honor." Continue reading Continue reading

  • Eight downloadable posters celebrating women of STEM perfect for displaying in kids' rooms and classrooms!

    The saying, "If she can't see it, she can't be it," speaks to the importance of introducing girls to female role models, especially in areas where women's accomplishments were often overlooked or minimized such as in science, mathematics, and technology. A new poster collection aims to bring more of these women's stories to light — and inspire today's Mighty Girls with the knowledge that she can be whatever she aspires to be! Continue reading Continue reading

  • This trailblazing mathematician built the geodetic model of the Earth that became the foundation for GPS.

    If you rely on your GPS for directions, you can thank a mathematician whose little-known contributions to the mathematical modeling of the Earth recently earned her one of the U.S. Air Force's highest honors: induction into the Space and Missile Pioneers Hall of Fame! Dr. Gladys West, like the "human computers" at NASA who became famous with the book Hidden Figures, began her career by performing the complex hand calculations required before the computer age. However, her greatest accomplishment was the creation of an extremely detailed geodetic model of the Earth which became the foundation for the Global Positioning System. Although GPS is ubiquitous today, West says that in the moment, she wasn't thinking about the future: "When you’re working every day, you’re not thinking, ‘What impact is this going to have on the world?’" she says. "You’re thinking, ‘I’ve got to get this right.'" Continue reading Continue reading

  • This trailblazing engineer became the first person in history to design a Naval ship using a computer.

    Raye Montague, the groundbreaking engineer and ship designer, smashed both gender and racial barriers to revolutionize Naval ship design and become the U.S. Navy's first female program manager of ships. While Montague was the first person to ever design a ship on a computer, her contributions were little known until Margot Lee Shetterly's book Hidden Figures, which told the story of African American female mathematicians at NASA, generated a new interest in other little-known women who made remarkable contributions with their technical prowess. Montague, who died in late 2018 and whose story has been told in a new picture book, The Girl With A Mind For Math, always credited her mother's insistence on education for giving her the push she needed to reach for her dreams. "You’ll have three strikes against you," she remembered her saying. "You’re female, you’re black and you’ll have a Southern segregated school education. But you can be or do anything you want, provided you’re educated." Continue reading Continue reading

  • Experts offer tips for parents on building girls' confidence in math.

    “Why do smart people enjoy saying that they are bad at math?” laments Petra Bonfert-Taylor, a professor of engineering at Dartmouth College. “Few people would consider proudly announcing that they are bad at writing or reading.” After seeing one too many examples of adults “passing on [mathematical anxiety] like a virus,” Bonfert-Taylor has an important message for math-phobic parents and educators: “We are passing on from generation to generation the phobia for mathematics... [and] as a result, too many of us have lost the ability to examine a real-world problem, translate it into numbers, solve the problem and interpret the solution.” Continue reading Continue reading

  • Dr. Donna Strickland is only the third woman in history to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics.

    Physicist Donna Strickland has just awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics for her groundbreaking work studying light and lasers — becoming the third woman in 117 years to win the prestigious award. The 59-year-old associate professor in the Physics and Astronomy Department at the University of Waterloo was a graduate student working on her doctoral dissertation when she and her supervisor invented chirped pulse amplification, a method that creates ultrashort, high-intensity bursts of laser light without destroying amplifiers. The technique is most famous for its use in the development of Lasik eye surgery, but it also allows manufacturers to drill tiny, precise holes and makes it possible to miniaturize laser systems. Strickland, who describes herself as a "laser jock," says that becoming the third woman ever to win a Nobel Prize in Physics is "surreal," adding, "It’s hard for me to take it in right now. But I’m trying to enjoy it." Continue reading Continue reading

  • Dr. Frances Arnold, who pioneered the field of "directed evolution," became the fifth woman in history to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

    Dr. Frances Arnold has just been awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for pioneering the field of "directed evolution"  —  becoming the first American woman in history and the fifth woman overall to be honored.  The method she developed of engineering enzymes that mimic the process of natural selection has created a revolutionary new way for scientists and engineers to design more environmentally-friendly industrial processes. It's now being used in laboratories around the world to develop enzymes that can replace toxic compounds in everything from medicines to biofuels to laundry detergents. “My entire career I have been concerned about the damage we are doing to the planet and each other,” she says. “Change is easier when there are good, economically viable alternatives to harmful habits.” Continue reading Continue reading

  • Before Sara Josephine Baker took charge, a third of children died before their 5th birthdays.

    At the beginning of the 20th century, the pioneering physician Sara Josephine Baker revolutionized public health care for children in New York City. When Baker started her public health work, the impoverished slums of Hell's Kitchen on the city's Lower East Side were among the most densely populated places on Earth, and epidemics killed an estimated 4,500 people each week in the overcrowded immigrant tenements, including 1,500 babies. With a third of children born there dying before their fifth birthday, Baker famously remarked that "It is six times safer to be a soldier in the trenches than a baby in the United States." Thanks to her initiatives, the death rate plummeted, and Baker became famous as doctor who had saved 90,000 children in New York City and countless others as her reforms were replicated across the United States and in other countries. Continue reading Continue reading

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