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Science Progressing: March 9


Science Progressing is your weekly guide to the science and technology policy news you should not have missed. Did we leave anything out? Tweet or facebook us and let us know.

CYBER SECURITY
Federal agencies to run cyber attack fire drill in NYC
The White House along with the FBI, NSA, Homeland Security and Justice Department  plan to simulate an attack on the NYC power grid to show how extensive the damage could be. The idea is to give members of the Senate a firm understanding what is at stake in securing the Nation’s cyber-infrastructure.

GENETICS   
NIH debuts genetic testing online guide
The National Institutes of Health have released the Genetic Testing Registry, or GTR. Director of NIH and renowned biomedical researcher Dr. Francis Collins called the GTR a “powerful new tool,” to help people “make sense of the complex world of genetic testing.”

CLEAN ENERGY
Concentrating solar energy companies create advocacy group
Concentrated solar power, in use since the ’80′s, works by directing sunlight with an array of mirrors to heat water, creating steam to drive a turbine. The Concentrating Solar Power Alliance, or CSPA, is a consortium of companies that have extensive experience with the technology that is “dedicated to educating U.S. regulators, utilities and grid operators about the unique benefits of concentrating solar power (CSP).”

STEM EDUCATION
DOE’s “Biggest Energy Loser Challenge” is big hit
An online education program created through a partnership among the Department of Energy, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Southern University, has tasked kids with investigating their energy footprint. At the end of the education program, kids will compete to create the most energy efficient model home representative of their region.

TECHNOLOGY AND HEALTH
Nanoparticles affect nutrient absorption
A study has found that nanoparticles can affect nutrient absorption in the intestine at some dosages. The study found that small prolonged exposure, like what might occur with a some vitamin supplements, can have an impact to nutrients absorption ranging from 50 percent decreases to 200 percent increases.

GREEN ENERGY
What are “nanotrees?”
They are not alive but University of California, San Diego researchers have created branch-like nanowire from materials such as zinc and silicon to capture solar energy. Real trees vertical structure and branches are key to their efficiency at collecting sunlight and have been mimicked by the “3D branched nanowire array.” Coming to a rooftop near you!

TECHNOLOGY
HD electron microscope
A team of scientists from the University of Sheffield have greatly improved upon the electron microscope. The old scope depended on lenses, which have many physical limitations. The new microscope “instead forms the image by reconstructing the scattered electron-waves after they have passed through the sample using computers.” This allows for the imaging of much smaller objects at a much greater resolutions.

INVESTING IN SCIENCE
How much would you pay to launch our economy?
The question posed by Neil deGrasse Tyson both spoke to the economic argument for NASA as well as the less apparent and more important non-economic inspirations. The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation heard famed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson give testimony on why NASA is an important driver in the economy. Leaving lawmakers astonished and bumbling for words, Tyson delivers a vision of America that left the Senators asking what they can do to help move forward. Watch the video.

GENETICS
Genome of gorillas mapped for first time
The full genome of a gorilla was fully mapped out and revealed some unexpected secrets. The comparison of the genomes between all four living great apes: humans, chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans will shed light on many question of our evolutionary history together.

This wee’ks science policy news gathered and summarized by Jason Thomas, an intern with Science Progress.

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