Saturday, 25 April 2015

Gender balance in small groups makes a big difference for women in STEM

A new study published in PNAS reports that female engineering students who are exposed to a higher percentage of female peers in small group interactions have increased levels of motivation, greater verbal participation, and feel more confident in their engineering career aspirations. This finding could have far-reaching implications for the gender imbalance that currently exists in engineering and related fields.

A hallmark of the public conversation regarding science education is the issue of gender parity. Fewer women than men pursue jobs and education in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), and those women who do enter these fields are more likely to leave than their male counterparts. In the US, women comprise only 28 percent of the workforce in these areas, despite being half of the population and getting closer to parity in others.

This gender differential begins during education. In their first year of college, women are less likely than men to state an intention to pursue STEM education, and those numbers continue to fall throughout their first few undergraduate semesters. Though the women who initially said they’re intending to major in STEM fields are well prepared academically, they report feeling less confidence in their skills and a decreased motivation to pursue a STEM career compared to male peers.

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Isabelle Armstrong Bridal Spring 2016

isabelle armstrong bridal
isabelle armstrong spring 2016
Located in the heart of Midtown Manhattan, Isabelle Armstrong bridal imagined their romantic collection around the beauty of a diamond. Sure, the diamond is a classic symbol of an engagement ring, but lots of elements inspired by the gem were involved.

First, lots of light. The fashion show was presented on a sunny Saturday morning on a sun-drenched rooftop. The natural beams shone down on the sparkling embroideries and reflected off the luxurious fabrics of the collections. There were lots of re-embroidered laces, feathers, hand-cut organza petals and silks.

Isabelle Amstrong designers are clearly a fan of the dramatic train Gown after gown took up half the runway (I don't have the space for all of the full train photos!) Imagine how gorgeous they look walking down the a full wedding aisle?

wedding dress embroidery

The embroideries. There were crystals that glittered like diamonds in a sprawling floral vine motif or all over corsets. There were also geometric diamond shaped motifs on sashes and embroidered along skirts.

In the end, the diamond symbolized the Isabelle Armstrong bride herself. Like a diamond, she is strong, brilliant and extraordinary. Now who wouldn't want to commit to that?
All photos by Mariana Leung
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Two Higgs are better than one

It seems like only yesterday that scientists were combing diligently through their data looking for single Higgs bosons.

The post Two Higgs are better than one has been published on Technology Org.

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The Inverted Architecture and Gravity-Defying Worlds of Cinta Vidal


In her latest series of paintings, Barcelona-based artist and illustrator Cinta Vidal Agulló defies gravity and architectural conventions to create encapsulated scenes of intersecting perspectives. Painted with acrylic on wood panels, Vidal refers to the paintings as “un-gravity constructions” and says that each piece examines how a person’s internal perspective of life may not match up with the reality around them. The intersecting planes on many of her paintings are somewhat reminiscent of drawings by M.C. Escher, where every angle and available surface is inhabited by colorful characters going about their daily lives. She shares in a new interview with Hi-Fructose:

With these un-gravity constructions, I want to show that we live in one world, but we live in it in very different ways – playing with everyday objects and spaces, placed in impossible ways to express that many times, the inner dimension of each one of us does not match the mental structures of those around us. The architectural spaces and day-to-day objects are part of a metaphor of how difficult it is to fit everything that shapes our daily space: our relationships, work, ambitions, and dreams.

Vidal just opened a new exhibition of work at Miscelanea BCN in Barcelona and you can read an in-depth conversation with the artist on Hi-Fructose.







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Mercury MESSENGER nears epic mission end

A spacecraft that carries a sensor built at the University of Michigan is about to crash into the

The post Mercury MESSENGER nears epic mission end has been published on Technology Org.

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America's future dementia epidemic

2014 was a big year for medicine. An unprecedented Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the release of a report showing an increase in antibiotic resistant diseases worldwide, and a spike in American measles cases from parents opting out of vaccines all made headlines.

Yet researchers studying a quieter but no less deadly disease also had something to say. A team at the Rush Institute for Healthy Aging released findings that showed that cases of Alzheimer's disease, the neurological condition that gradually robs the sufferer of their mental abilities, would increase considerably as the American population aged.

The report, which was put together using calculations that took data from a Chicago sample and extrapolated it nationwide using census data, showed that an estimated 1.6 million Americans age 65 or older would die of Alzheimer's by 2050. That would account for 43 percent of older adult deaths in the country. By contrast, 32 percent of older adults deaths were due to the disease in 2010.

It's not that Alzheimer's is somehow becoming more virulent. In fact, some studies indicate that Americans are at less risk of developing the disease today because the rates of heart disease and stroke nationwide are going down. Scientists believe there is a link between cardiovascular health and forms of dementia like Alzheimer's.

Instead, it's demographics that are leading the shift. As the Baby Boomer generation ages, the country will experience what some demographers call "the silver tsunami," as aging Americans fuel a higher demand for services and health care. With that shift also comes an increase in age-related disease, like Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia. So while the risk of Alzheimer's might actually be on the decline, the sheer number of older Americans is expected to make the disease a leading cause of death nationwide for decades.

By 2030, 20 percent of the American population will be 65 or older, according to an Alzheimer's Association report. Barring any unforeseen changes in the disease or a cure, that means roughly 13 million older Americans could suffer from Alzheimer's disease by 2050, the association says.

"Age is by far the strongest risk factor for Alzheimer's," said Jennifer Weuve, who led the Rush Institute study. "It will be interesting to see how the aging experience of the Baby Boomer generation will possibly change how we think about Alzheimer's, the way we treat it and the way we manage it."

Researchers are trying hard to stem the tide of dementia in a rapidly aging population. In 2011, President Obama signed an act establishing the National Alzheimer's Project to coordinate federal research into the disease across agencies, with the ultimate goal of an effective treatment by 2025.

With this new attention came renewed funding and global interest, with the G7 group of nations holding a "dementia summit" earlier this year. And cooperation has become central to the push to halt the disease. Federal agencies, universities, hospitals, and drug companies now partner together under an umbrella system organized by the National Institutes of Health to share information and test results, and researchers also share brain scans and other data worldwide.

But Weuve, the Rush Institute study leader, says that even with the hard work being put into research and testing, a workable treatment may still take some time, and that raises tough questions as Americans age.

"We need to face the possibility that there will be a lot of people who develop this condition before we have a cure," she said. "How do we humanely and sanely manage the symptoms of the condition? What is death going to be like? Will we be proud of how we treat Alzheimer's patients?"

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Wisconsin cutting environmental science, limiting talk of climate change

Since taking office in 2010, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has reshaped the state’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR). He appointed a former state senator and critic of the agency to be its secretary and hired an outside “deer czar” in response to hunters’ complaints about the state’s management of the deer herd. Gov. Walker also re-wrote state mining regulations to clear the way for an ill-fated iron mine proposal that was finally abandoned last month. Several days ago, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the mining company’s lobbyist and spokesman had been considered for appointment as the DNR’s deputy secretary—until officials realized there was a federal law specifically preventing that kind of thing. (He was, instead, hired for a job in another agency.)

Now, the DNR has come under the budget knife. Among other changes and position cuts, the agency’s science bureau faces a 30 percent reduction in staff. Now, Wisconsin Watch reports that the DNR is considering eliminating the science bureau altogether, shuffling remaining staff into other divisions.

The bureau performs the local, applied ecological research and monitoring that informs state regulations. Timothy Van Deelen, a University of Wisconsin ecologist, told Wisconsin Watch he was concerned about losing that work. “Long-term data sets are so incredibly rare,” he said. “And now a lot of that monitoring, such as with the deer herd, is up in the air.”

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5 Stylish Earth Day Finds

bio seaweed gel polish

Happy Earth Day my loves! Being a fashion and beauty fan isn’t always the most eco-friendly attitude. Frankly, it shouldn’t be Earth Day, but an on-going approach to your sartorial choices.

Here are my favorite Earth Day Fashion and Beauty finds:

1. The Bamboo Shirt
I was introduced to P3 Bamboo shirts through the team at designer Zang Toi. Bamboo is a sustainable fiber. It is hardy, doesn’t need pesticides, a little water, and little space to grow.  It isn’t just the fiber itself that makes it eco-friendly. The breathability and anti-microbial qualities mean it needs to be washed less. Less laundry saves water and potential toxic cleaning ingredients from that water as well.

There is a good selection of basic silhouette tops and colors. They are super soft so I can totally see why fans (like myself) are happy to wear these every day as my basic shirt. I was pleasantly surprised at their affordability too.

2. Health Gel Manicures
My girlfriend loved getting gel manicures. Since becoming a conscientious Mom, she has shied away from nail lacquers because of all the toxic ingredients involved when you put it on AND when you remove them. I was just introduced to Bio Seaweed Gel polish. It doesn’t have any of the “big 5” (no formaldehyde, toluene, DBP, BHA, solvents, etc.) It doesn’t need a special lamp; you just cure your nails in natural sunlight.  This is the healthier option of gel nails, and they hail from my childhood suburb of Scarborough, Ontario. The brand has a gorgeous range of trendy colors and sparkly shades. Your mani doesn’t chip for two weeks like your traditional gel manicure, but unlike the traditional job, it only takes 5 minutes to take it off.

3. Alkemie Reclaimed Jewelry
Love artisanal jewelry? One of the best ways to be green is to upcycle gold. The husband-and-wife makers behind Alkemie Jewelry used reclaimed metals and manufactured locally in Los Angeles. They make sure each piece is lead and nickel free and are committed to running a sustainable design company. They cast pieces like this stunning Gingko leaf bracelet through the traditional lost-wax process.

4. Angela Roi Gives Back
How cute is the handbag? One of my fellow Twitter #stylechat buddies introduced me to Angela and Roi. They were entrepreneurs who met in college and had mutual interests in fashion and philanthropy. The created a stylish handbag brand that is affordable (almost all styles were \$150 or under) well made and vegan. But not only that, each bag and color also corresponds to a cause that they contribute to. It makes you feel good to shop stylish and know you are helping a worthy cause as well. 

5. Come Visit Olsenhaus
Striped heels for spring? Yes, please. Olsenhaus makes these fab shoes from cotton, cork, and composite rubber. Founded by a vocal advocate on behalf of animal rights, Elizabeth Olsen created the company to provide stylish options made with healthy vegan materials and ethical manufacturing. 

So now you see that you can be a fashionista and care about your planet. Go ahead and check out my guide for 10 ways to green your wardrobe for sustaining Earth Day style all year. Now go hug a tree or something. 

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Elegant Fine Line Geometric Tattoos by Dr. Woo


With delicate lines, dots, and geometric patterns, L.A. tattoo artist Dr. Woo creates some of the coolest tattoos we’ve seen in quite a while. The 33-year-old artist first started experimenting with tattoos when he was only 13 and would later work as a fashion buyer and designer before he apprenticed with Mark Mahoney at the Shamrock Social Club where he’s now based.

Woo is now one of the most in-demand tattoo artists in L.A. with a waitlist well over six months. There’s often a line out the door of people just making appointments in-person (a professor recently showed up with an entire class in tow). You can join a half million others and follow him on Instagram. All photos courtesy the artist. (via Quipsologies, My Modern Met, The New York Times)









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Rosetta blog: OSIRIS catches activity in the act

Rosetta’s scientific imaging system OSIRIS has witnessed a new jet of dust emerging from the surface of Comet

The post Rosetta blog: OSIRIS catches activity in the act has been published on Technology Org.

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Happy hunting grounds for bosons

We understand nature in terms of elementary particles interacting through a set of well-known forces, which are mediated

The post Happy hunting grounds for bosons has been published on Technology Org.

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