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Women's Adventures in Science

Women's Adventures in Science

A States' Rights Battle over Light Bulbs The incandescent light bulb has been around for more than 130 years. But starting in January 2012, it will become a piece of history, pulled off the shelves in all 50 states—unless a group of fired-up conservatives manage to spark a mini-revolution over states’ rights. In 2007, George W. Michele Bachmann, the Minnesota congresswoman and Presidential candidate, was one of the first national figures to fight for the right to light up a room Thomas Edison-style. Washington having failed them, the light bulb brigade is now taking its case to the states. Some of the states, including Michigan, aren’t currently home to a light bulb manufacturer. One state is giving bulb activists hope.

Interactive 3D model of Solar System Planets and Night Sky Shrunken Proton Baffles Scientists One of the Universe's most common particles has left physicists completely stumped. The proton, a fundamental constituent of the atomic nucleus, seems to be smaller than thought. And despite three years of careful analysis and reanalysis of numerous experiments, nobody can figure out why. An experiment published today in Science only deepens the mystery, says Ingo Sick, a physicist at the University of Basel in Switzerland. The proton's problems started in 2010, when a paper published in Nature seemed to show that the particle was 4% smaller than originally thought. The latest experiment also used muonic hydrogen, but probed a different set of energy levels in the atom. But it is still not compatible with the measurements taken by non-muonic techniques, says John Arrington, a nuclear physicist at Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont, Illinois. Perplexing puzzle One possibility is that Antognini's team has inadvertently discovered new physics. Arrington and Sick both have their doubts.

Gonzaga University Pledges Zero Emissions As 'Moral Imperative' Leaders at Gonzaga University are asking "What Would Jesus Do" about climate change? The Jesuit school has adopted a plan for zero greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050. Over the next four decades, Gonzaga University plans to make a dramatic switch to green energy, some of it generated at new facilities on campus. Meeting the goal will also require major cuts in energy use. Car travel to campus by students and faculty, and Zags basketball trips to away games are all part of the final emissions tally. Brian Henning teaches philosophy at the university and helped develop the plan. “It's really become a critical part of our Jesuit Catholic identity and mission," Henning says. Henning says the university also plans to incorporate themes of environmental stewardship across academic disciplines. Copyright 2013 Northwest News Network On the Web: Gonzaga University’s Climate Action

These Cars Built By High School And College Students Get Up To 3,587 MPG Every year, the Shell Eco-Marathon Americas challenges over 100 teams of high school and university students to build and race incredibly energy-efficient vehicles powered by all types of sources--solar, electric, fuel cell, gasoline, and more. This year’s race was especially impressive: The prototype gasoline vehicle of Quebec City-based Laval University achieved a staggering 3,587 miles per gallon on the Houston racetrack. That’s the most mileage per gallon ever seen at a Shell Eco-Marathon Americas competition. In the UrbanConcept Diesel category, which focuses on practical vehicle designs (Laval’s prototype vehicle was focused on efficiency more than practicality), Louisiana Tech took first place for its HotRod diesel car. The vehicle traveled around the track at 315.9 mpg. The team is already working on next year’s design, which will have a completely new drive train. Check out all the winners in the slide show above.

New Physics Complications Lend Support to Multiverse Hypothesis From Simons Science News (find original story here) On an overcast afternoon in late April, physics professors and students crowded into a wood-paneled lecture hall at Columbia University for a talk by Nima Arkani-Hamed, a high-profile theorist visiting from the Institute for Advanced Study in nearby Princeton, N.J. With his dark, shoulder-length hair shoved behind his ears, Arkani-Hamed laid out the dual, seemingly contradictory implications of recent experimental results at the Large Hadron Collider in Europe. “The universe is inevitable,” he declared. “The universe is impossible.” The spectacular discovery of the Higgs boson in July 2012 confirmed a nearly 50-year-old theory of how elementary particles acquire mass, which enables them to form big structures such as galaxies and humans. However, in order for the Higgs boson to make sense with the mass (or equivalent energy) it was determined to have, the LHC needed to find a swarm of other particles, too.

1: Brothers: Christophe, 30 & Ulric, 29 | Uncanny Portraits Visualize The Power of Genetics A prominent technology columnist got science journalists into a tizzy last week when she proclaimed that she was a creationist. She probably didn’t really mean it, but the next time someone expresses doubt over basic, empirically validated facts of how living things evolve, point them toward a portrait collection called "Genetics Are Awesome"-- it could help you show them the light. Genetics Are Awesome isn’t an educational visualization like the Punnett squares you used to learn about genetic inheritance in high school. Instead, photographer Ulric Collette simply took portraits of two people who are directly related--say, a father and a daughter or pair of twins--and placed them in a split-screen combination. This basic juxtaposition dramatically visualizes the power that genes--just tiny coiled bits of nucleic acids--exert over the design of an entire organism. [See Ulrich Collette’s photos here]

Multiverse Controversy Heats Up over Gravitational Waves The multiverse is one of the most divisive topics in physics, and it just became more so. The major announcement last week of evidence for primordial ripples in spacetime has bolstered a cosmological theory called inflation, and with it, some say, the idea that our universe is one of many universes floating like bubbles in a glass of champagne. Critics of the multiverse hypothesis claim that the idea is untestable—barely even science.

Cities and Towns Choose Renewables to Save Money Georgetown, Texas, is home to the oldest university in the Lone Star State and is affectionately called the "red poppy capital" of Texas. It will soon add another accolade to the mix: the state's first city-owned utility to run on 100 percent renewable energy. Last Wednesday, the city announced a 25-year contract with SunEdison to buy 150 megawatts of solar energy. Between the two sources, the city of about 50,000 people will have more than enough power even with projected population growth, said Keith Hutchinson, a spokesman for the city. When it came down to it, Hutchinson said the price was right for renewable power. "With renewables, you avoid the price volatility of fossil fuels," he said. Georgetown is the latest city to join the renewables quest, which has been slowly growing across the country. By 2017, more than 13,000 MW of new wind energy capacity is expected to come online in the United States (ClimateWire, March 17). Investments have boosted renewable prospects.