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Science Progressing: International IP Theft, Oil Spills and Birds, A New View on Gender and Science

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.

Two truths and one science lie

Try to guess which of the following technology breakthroughs is false! (Answers at the bottom of the page)
1. Artificial Skin: A beetle-inspired sensing material mimics skins ability to “feel’ pressure and twisting.
2. Gender Math Difference: Women have lower average scores on mathematics exams than men in every country.
3. Electricity Plant: Microbial fuel cell produces electricity directly–not from biodiesel, but directly from corn.

Weekly news quick hits

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY
House urges FTC to fight IP theft
A bipartisan group of 19 members of the House Small Business Committee sent an open letter to the Federal Trade Commission yesterday urging teh commission to use its existing authority to help prevent overseas companies from using illegal intellectual property theft, and in particular, information technology theft, to create an unfair advantage in global trade.

ENVIRONMENT
Migratory birds affected by BP oil spill
The BP oil spill has contributed to the long-term degradation of health of migratory birds.

POLICY
Farm bill and cybersecurity bill delayed
A five-year farm bill was refused by House Republicans and a bipartisan cybersecurity bill was filibustered in the senate.

WOMEN IN SCIENCE
Transgendered scientist weighs in on women in science
Ben Barres – once Barbara Barres – says the “the reason women are not advancing [in science] is discrimination.”

AGRICULTURE
Obtaining phosphorus from waste material
Phosphorus is an essential mineral for living organisms, but is in short supply. A method of precipitating a crystalline phosphorus compound may create a supply of phosphorus to be used as fertilizer.

PHYSICS
Fluid dynamics of Missy Franklin
Video examines the physics of the 17-year old US Olympic swimming phenom.

TECHNOLOGY
Eco-computer made of wood
A computer called iamico is made with a wood frame, is largely recyclable, and uses far less energy.

BIOTECHNOLOGY
A more precise tissue engineering
A new method utilizing a microgel allows for more precise placement and growth of cells.

ENERGY
Forbes says: Japan should stay nuclear
Using fossil fuels will cost Japan over $1 trillion in the next 20 years as opposed to nuclear.

GREEN TECHNOLOGY
Artificial photosynthesis: 0.2 percent efficient
While Panasonic’s conversion of carbon dioxide to organic materials may not seem efficient, it rivals nature’s system. The breakthrough was using a nitride semiconductor.

Answers to two truths, one science lie: The first is true. A sensitive, artificial skin has been created that operates using sandwiched metal hairs that, when connected by external stimuli, channel current that indicates pressure has been applied to the material. The second is false. In Iceland and Japan, this trend does not apply. In Iceland, women score higher than men in math exams. See “Transgendered Scientist Weighs in on Women in Science Debate” in our “Science Progressing” for more. The third is true. An electrochemical uses corn as fuel and produces electricity.

This week’s news collected and summarized by Sam Finegold.

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