History’s Forgotten Women in STEM

February 11 was the UN’s International Day of Women and Girls in Science. Today, women comprise only approximately 28 percent of the world’s STEM workforce. Historically, women have been barred from pursuing careers in science, and those passionate enough to do so anyway were often overlooked and ignored in favor of their male counterparts. This article shines a light on some of the forgotten women who achieved significant breakthroughs in their field.

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UT Austin Engineers Tackle Water Scarcity  

Water scarcity is an issue that impacts people all around the world. Thankfully, engineers at the University of Texas have created a device to combat it. They created a bio-based nanofiber hydrogel filter (BNHF) that is cheap, accessible, and has the potential to bring clean water to people all over the world.

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The Legacy of NASA’s Ingenuity

After three successful years, the Mars helicopter Ingenuity has just taken its last flight. During a landing, a brief loss of communication with the chopper occurred, only for the vehicle to resume communications the next day with a damaged rotor blade. Being the first helicopter to operate on another planet, Ingenuity is a trailblazer in more ways than one. However, budgetary constraints leave the future of additional Marscopter missions up in the air.

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Vapes Harm More Than Just Their Users

For anyone who has been thinking about quitting vaping, here is some inspiration. Vapes are not just bad for those who use them, they are incredibly harmful to those who have to make them. Vapes require a lithium-ion battery which is made with cobalt. The demand for cobalt has created treacherous and inhumane conditions for miners in Congo where the mineral is present in great abundance.

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Controversy at the COP28 Summit

The annual United Nations Climate Change Conference has started with a bang. Comments made before the summit by the event president, Sultan Ahmed al Jaber, were met with scathing criticism. Al Jaber, who went on the record claiming the phase-out of fossil fuels is an alarmist idea not rooted in science, has since been slammed by other attendees for being biased toward fossil fuel and oil companies. Despite the president’s reluctance, a call for the complete removal of the fossil fuel industry continues to be a major focus point of the conference.

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FTC Dispute Helps to Explain Rising Medical Device Costs

The FTC recently challenged over 100 patents in the FDA’s Orange Book, a guide that lists drug products, patents, and viable generics. A patent in the Orange Book for pharmaceutical companies delays competitors from entering the market because of infringement risks. However, the FTC found several instances of medical device patents listed in the Orange Book that overstep the Book’s purpose. These improper patents are artificially extending monopolies to pharmaceutical companies. This adds to the rising costs of inhalers and EpiPens, which come at the consumer’s expense.

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NASA’s “Asteroid Autumn” Reveals the Future of the Space Industry

This “Asteroid Autumn,” NASA has made significant steps forward in three of their asteroid-focused space missions. On September 24, 2023, OSIRIS-REx successfully returned an estimated half-pound sample of asteroid rock. Psyche, launched on October 13, will travel out to examine the metal-rich asteroid 16-Psyche. Finally, on November 1, Lucy flew by her first asteroid out of the twelve along her planned trajectory. These missions highlight the growing interest in identifying and collecting the resources found in space. The economic and political advantages gained from access to space resources will shape the future of the space industry.

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iPad Kids: A Generation in Danger 

People in Silicon Valley tend to be very strict about their children’s screen time because they have insider knowledge of just how addictive and harmful the algorithms they create are. Fed up with these algorithms, 33 general attorneys from 42 different states have come together to sue Meta for endangering children. Excessive screen use perpetuated by such algorithms has serious implications for the children who fall victim to them.

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The Benefits of Scientific Controversy

Timothy Nash recently brought a two-million-year-old fossil on a commercial voyage aboard Virgin Galactic’s V.S.S. Unity. The purpose was to symbolize how far humanity has come, though many scientists disagree with this stunt, stating the venture to be “unethical” and “reckless”. However, the resulting controversy has led to a great deal of public interest in the Cradle of Humankind, benefitting future research ventures through additional economic support.

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Nobel Prize in Medicine Winner Demonstrates the Roadblocks of Academic Innovation

This week, the recipients of the Nobel Prize in Medicine were recognized for their contributions to mRNA vaccine technology. However, their research was historically brushed off by colleagues, publications, and grant institutions before the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, Dr. Katalin Karikó was demoted from a tenure-track position and eventually forced to retire from her university. Her struggle for recognition reflects the roadblocks to innovation in academia that are amplified by limited funding and biases.

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