Lego announces "Women of NASA" minifigs

Last year, MIT News editor Maya Weinstock submitted her Women of NASA minifigures design to LEGO Ideas. LEGO has just approved the idea and laster this year or early 2018 will release an official minifig set of these five inspiring women in science:

Margaret Hamilton, computer scientist: While working at MIT under contract with NASA in the 1960s, Hamilton developed the on-board flight software for the Apollo missions to the moon. She is known for popularizing the modern concept of software.

Katherine Johnson, mathematician and space scientist: A longtime NASA researcher, Johnson is best known for calculating and verifying trajectories for the Mercury and Apollo programs — including the Apollo 11 mission that first landed humans on the moon.

Sally Ride, astronaut, physicist, and educator: A physicist by training, Ride became the first American woman in space in 1983. After retiring as a NASA astronaut, she founded an educational company focusing on encouraging children — especially girls — to pursue the sciences.

Nancy Grace Roman, astronomer: One of the first female executives at NASA, Roman is known to many as the "Mother of Hubble" for her role in planning the Hubble Space Telescope. She also developed NASA's astronomy research program.

Mae Jemison, astronaut, physician, and entrepreneur: Trained as a medical doctor, Jemison became the first African-American woman in space in 1992. After retiring from NASA, Jemison established a company that develops new technologies and encourages students in the sciences.

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Psychology journal editor asked to resign for refusing to review papers unless he can see the data

Psychologist Gert Storms doesn't want to review scientific papers if their authors refuse to share with him the underlying data. The American Psychological Association (APA), which publishes the journal he edits, has asked him to resign.

Nature.com's Gautam Naik reports that the effort to force him out is a test of The Peer Reviewer's Opennness Initiative, a move crafted to "increase transparency in a field beset by reports of fraud and dubious research."

Storms, a psychologist at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium and a consulting editor for the APA’s Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, accepted an invitation last year to review a study for the journal, and pointed out his new open-data policy. The journal's editor, Robert Greene, wrote back to say that Storms’s stance set “a terrible precedent” because it was unfair to the author of the paper and opposed the APA’s policies and the guidelines followed by other reviewers. “Given that your policy conflicts with that of the journal, I think that it's best that you step down from the editorial board,” he wrote.

Storms refused, writing that he would continue to do what he thought was necessary to “prevent sloppy science”. And he forwarded his correspondence to other editors at the journal. Two of them, Robert Hartsuiker and Marc Brysbaert, both psychologists at Ghent University in Belgium, wrote to Greene saying that they, too, would quit if Storms was forced to resign. "The policy of asking people to leave rather than inviting a discussion and getting critical voices — I found that quite inappropriate," said Hartsuiker.

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The mystery of the Tully Monster continues

In 1958 in an Illinois creek bed, an amateur fossil collector named Francis Tully discovered the fossilized remains of a bizarre creature that resembled a mollusk, insect, and worm yet was none of those things. Since then, thousands of 300 million-year-old fossilized "Tully Monsters" have turned up and the creature was officially named as the Illinois state fossil.

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Frog saliva is even stranger than scientists expected

Frog tongue mechanism has been well-documented, but only recently have scientists started looking at the remarkable combo of tongue softness and frog spit's chemical makeup. Read the rest

Mechanical spinning globe that shows the night/day terminator

Elenco's Night 'n Day Mechanical Globe uses a system of translucent, exposed gears to rotate an internally illuminated globe that displays the seasonally adjusted, real-time night/day terminator as it spins. Read the rest

Artificial sweeteners be damned; these naturally occurring, safe proteins are thousands of times sweeter than sugar

KSU plant biochemical geneticist Raj Nagarajan describes the properties of Thaumatin, Monellin and Brazzein, all found in west African plants that are generally considered safe for consumption; each is a protein, and they are, respectively, 1,000x, 2000x, and 3000x sweeter than sugar. Read the rest

Octopus suckers don't just suck

The amazing suckers on octopus arms aren't just for sucking. They also are used to smell and taste. To deal with all that sensory input, the vast majority of an octopus's brain cells are in its eight arms!

“It’s more efficient to put the nervous cells in the arm,” neurobiologist Binyamin Hochner, of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, told KQED's Deep Look. “The arm is a brain of its own.”

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Cold welding metal together on earth

Cold welding is the phenomenon of two pieces of metal fusing on contact. It's a big problem in space, but it can even happen on earth at room temperatures with the right metal, as Cody demonstrates. Read the rest

Gun violence researchers at UC Davis are racing to save the ATF's gun violence data before Trump blows it away

Magdalena Cerdá and Garen Wintemute are epidemiological researchers with US Davis's Violence Prevention Research Program; when they witnessed the Trump administration's mass-deletion of publicly funded EPA research, they feared gun violence stats would be next. Read the rest

Scientists, and their moral duty to resist trumpism

A trio of "scientists against a fascist government" set out a program for resisting trumpism with science, delving into the moral duty of scientists to resist the perversion of their work to attain cruel and evil ends. Read the rest

Stunning image of Saturn's moon Mimas

A breathtaking photo of Saturn's moon Mimas taken this week by NASA's Cassini space probe.

You may recall, that another photo (below) of Mimas raised concerns that it isn't actually a moon but rather the Death Star.

(Images: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

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Autonomous bat bot weighs 93g, flies like a bat

A team of roboticists from Caltech and Urbana-Champaign have built a biomimetic "bat bot" that uses nine joints to deform a foot-wide wing membrane to achieve breathtaking aerial maneuvers. Read the rest

Trump's war on science, a chronology (Week 1)

John Dupuis, the web's leading chronicler of governmental wars on science, has made good on his promise to track trumpism's denialism, and judging from week one, there's going to be a gigantic rapsheet by the time Trump is impeached. Read the rest

Watch what happens when you touch magnetized ferrofluid

YouTuber Brainiac75 suffers for science by taking a viewer request to touch the spikes formed by exposing ferrofluid to an extremely powerful neodymium magnet. He also shares some history of the substance. Read the rest

Wafting magnetism has transferred oxygen from Earth to the Moon for billions of years

In a new paper in Nature Astronomy, a team from Osaka University publishes its analysis of data gathered by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Selenological and Engineering Explorer, revealing that an isotope present in lunar regolith is a match for an isotope found in terrestrial, atmospheric oxygen. Read the rest

This fish hunts by spitting water at its prey

The Archerfish of Southeast Asia and Australia spit at perched insects to knock them into the water for an easy meal. From KQED's "Deep Look":

“When the fish fires the shot,” (Wake Forest University biologist Morgan) Burnett explained, citing the work of other researchers in Germany who first used high-speed cameras to observe the projectiles in 2014, “the water leaves the mouth as essentially a very long stream. But during flight, the stream merges into a ball.”

The fish accomplishes this feat of timing through deliberate control of its highly-evolved mouthparts, in particular its lips, which act like an adjustable hose that can expand and contract while releasing the water.

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Interactive map of every satellite in orbit

David Yanofsky and Tim Fernholz created an interactive chart showing the weight, national origin and position of more than 1,300 active satellites orbiting the planet Earth. The data was sourced from the Union of Concerned Scientists.

It goes out in bands: there's a cloud in low-earth orbit bulked up with the International Sapce Station and surveillance satellites. Satellite phone networks such as Iridium and Globalstar form conspicuous rings about 800 and 1500 km up. 20km up are the navigation networks GPS and Glonass. 37km up is a mess, with so many geostationary satellites clustered together that they become a rainbow blur in the graphic. Read the rest

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