Monthly Archives: October 2015

A Male Engineering Student Explains Why Female Classmates Aren’t His Equals

The areas of study recognized as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) have long been dominated by males. According to the National Girls Collaborative Project,¹ males are six times more likely to take engineering courses than their female counterparts.  For the women who do manage to fulfill their dreams of making scientific discoveries and recording significant findings from their research in a research notebook, study in the STEM fields often remain biased against women. From the time girls begin to take an interest in areas of science and math in elementary or high school, throughout college, and into the workplace, many face challenges of prejudice that make their accomplishments even more difficult. The attitudes against women who choose STEM fields for their career goals were the inspiration for a letter that is getting a lot of attention.

An article in Huffpost Women² talks about a paper written by Eastern Washington University engineering student, Jared Mauldin. Mauldin explains in the letter he posted in the school newspaper that the females in his engineering courses were not his equal. Although this might be a comment that any of these women have heard before, along the pathway to their current position, Mauldin was headed in an entirely different direction. Although he begins by discussing the inequality between the female students and himself, he continues the letter with an explanation of why the females are, in fact, ahead of him for the adversity they have already had to endure.

Discrimination without Grounds

Mauldin talks about how he did not face discouragement from focusing on hard science when he was growing up. He also mentions that society never told him that he shouldn’t get dirty or considered him bossy when he exhibited leadership skills. In addition to his college studies, Mauldin also teaches 4th to 8th grade tech classes, giving him another perspective for how girls are given more obstacles in STEM fields than boys. In both the elementary grades and in his college courses, Mauldin has seen repeatedly how often females are ignored or criticized based entirely on sex and not on ability.

Women in the STEM Workforce

Although many statistics will show gradual growth over time, those for women in the STEM fields shift between the different areas and fluctuate from year to year. Even so, the number of women represented in each field and in the STEM fields overall continues to be low. This is especially true for the areas of engineering, physical sciences, and computer science.¹ While there are more women in these areas than in the past, the prejudices remain that make it more difficult for them throughout their educations.

The attention that Jared Mauldin’s letter received tells us that there are many women out there who recognize the conditions represented by the topic and who appreciate the fact that a man in the same position as they are would acknowledge the problem. If you are a woman who has always dreamed of tracking scientific discoveries in your scientific notebook, contact the Scientific Notebook Company at 800-537-3028 to order the quality of notebook your ideas deserve.

Research notebook

Sources:

  1. http://ngcproject.org/statistics
  2. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/women-men-engineers-arent-equal-jared-mauldin-letter_561699b9e4b0e66ad4c6bee5

How Simple Physics Takes This Roller Coaster to a New Extreme

If your kids are fans of roller coasters, knowing the physics it takes to make them so exciting might just lead your children to swap a video game controller for a research notebook. While most people tend to associate high speeds with strong motors, roller coasters rely heavily on physics alone, motor or not.

Introducing the Valravn

The Valravn is a Cedar Point feature, and it’s gaining a lot of interest from those who want to explore their knowledge of physics. That’s because this roller coaster uses the momentum created from the very first drop to keep it moving for the rest of the ride.

The Valravn reaches its first crest of 66 meters and uses that crest to propel it the rest of the time that the ride goes on. In fact, if it weren’t for the brakes on the coaster, it simply wouldn’t stop at all until it hit another crest. Plummeting from 66 meters at a 90 degree angle, by the time the ride reaches the top, it has enough stored potential energy to make the ride an adrenaline rush from the crest right until it comes to a stop.

Today’s Roller Coasters

The hardest part about riding a roller coaster is having the patience to make it to the top of the first big crest. After that it’s nothing but thrills, and for that you can thank gravity. Even so, the materials used today are much different from those in the past. In fact, roller coasters from the past wouldn’t be able to reach the same speeds as the ones today, simply because of their materials.

Roller coasters rely on stored gravitational energy. In short, it’s the energy that builds up, as an object gets higher. The force of gravity is always there and, until it is used, it is called potential or stored energy. By calculating the mass of an object combined with the height and angle of descent, physicists are able to determine exactly what speeds can be reached. However, those speeds depend on the materials as well.

In the past, roller coasters were made of wood. All you have to do is run your hand across a piece of wood and then run it across a piece of metal to see which one is rougher. The rougher object is going to offer the most friction, a force that works against the potential energy, effectively slowing an object down. Since wood generates more friction than steel, it isn’t possible to get the same results from a wooden roller coaster designed exactly the same as a steel one.

Can roller coasters go even faster than they do today? Certainly. The issue isn’t whether or not they can, but whether or not they should. The same physicist who designs a roller coaster in his or her scientific notebook has to consider g force and the dangers that come with it. The speed of the coaster is only limited by its height. It’s the human body that may not be able to withstand not just the speed, but the sudden onset of the speed.

5 Greatest Achievements of Women in Science

Today, it isn’t such a big deal to see a woman carrying around her research notebook and to take her seriously. However, years ago it was unheard of, and many woman had to get creative in order to simply learn about science, much less be active in the field. Nevertheless, there were a few women who led the way. Their research and findings have paved the way for better things, but their very presence and effort helped break the chains that prevented previous women from entering this field.

Caroline Hershe
Caroline Hershe discovered several comets in her lifetime—a pretty amazing accomplishment for someone who wasn’t even supposed to be in the field. In fact, her efforts may have led to an even more important achievement than the comets she found. Ms. Hershe is the first woman to be paid and recognized in the United Kingdom for work done as a scientist.

Anne McClaren
Speaking of getting started with new things, parents who didn’t think they would ever have children can thank Anne McClaren for her efforts. Ms. McClaren did extensive work in the field of developmental biology. Her efforts have changed the face of fertility. Using mice to conduct embryonic transfers, her research provided the knowledge needed to develop IVF.

Chien-Shiung
As it often goes with science, not all research is used to produce things. Some is used for destruction, as is the case with the work of Chien-Shiung. Her work in nuclear fission took science to new heights and led to the methods that led to the use of uranium as a fuel for nuclear bombs.

Marie Curie
Some women literally give their lives to science, and then some. Such is the case with Marie Curie. She is the one responsible for the fact that you can heat up your leftovers with the touch of a button. Ms. Curie’s work with polonium and radium has led to some of the most significant developments of the 20th century, but it isn’t easy to explore her work.

Marie Curie died from exposure to polonium and radium, but her efforts didn’t die with her. Today, you can’t read a laboratory notebook she worked on without using special equipment, because it is radioactive, and will be for some time.

Gertrude B. Elion
Some women are best known for what they do after the work is all done. Gertrude Elion may be the leader in that area. As a result of the research she did after she retired, people who suffer from HIV gained a bit of hope they didn’t have before. Her adaptation of azidothymide led to the very first successful treatment of AIDS victims. Not only did she slow the replication process of the virus, but made it possible for women with AIDS to have children without infecting those children with the virus.

These amazing women made strides where strides weren’t expected, but they did more than that. They made it possible for women today to carry a laboratory notebook into work instead of their shorthand notebook or a mop.

Scientists Plan to Resurrect 30,000 Year Old Virus

Scientists want to resurrect a recently unearthed 30,000 year old virus found in the frozen tundra of Siberia. For years, Siberia has been a frozen wasteland, with its secrets waiting to be discovered. With recent shifts in the climate and global warming, the frozen wasteland is starting to thaw, as temperatures remain warmer for longer period of time in this region of the world. This is the fourth prehistoric virus to be discovered, and it would be the second one resurrected and studied in the past decade.

Scientists have termed the viruses being unearthed in the frozen tundra as “giant” viruses. This means they measure longer than half a micron and can be viewed using a light microscope. The recently discovered one has been given the name of “Mollivirus Sibericum,” which means “soft virus from Siberia.” 

Before reanimating the virus, scientists intend to study it further to verify it will not pose any threat to humans or animals. The Pithovirus Sibericum was discovered in 2013 in the same location as the current giant virus. It was the first giant virus scientists were able to successfully resurrect by placing it in a petri dish along with a single-cell amoeba to act as the host of the virus.  

Some people might wonder why scientists would try to resurrect a 30,000 year old virus. The main reason is to study it and gain a better understanding of prehistoric viruses. Of concern is the vast number of genes being discovered in prehistoric viruses, and their complexity compared to modern viruses, like Influenza A, which only has 8 genes. For instance, the recently discovered giant virus has over 500 different genes, and another one, discovered in 2003, called Pandoravirus, has over 2,500 genes. 

As the permafrost and tundra in northern areas of the globe warm, access to precious resources, like oil and metals becomes possible. However, scientists warn there could be other giant viruses still dormant buried deep in the ground. They have no idea whether one of these giant viruses could pose risks for humans and animals if it is accidently unearthed and released into modern society. Due to the complexity of the giant viruses and numerous genes, there is no telling how the virus would react to antivirals or whether it would quickly adapt and mutate.

As the climate continues to change, and warming in the frozen areas of the world causes it to thaw, all it would take would be a few particles of an infectious virus to be reawakened with the right host, and, once awakened, the virus could turn into a pandemic of global proportions. As previously frozen areas are industrialized, scientists urge caution, and to research and study soil samples before undertaking major projects, to ensure the area is not hiding a deadly giant virus.

In the meantime, scientists will continue to study giant viruses in safe laboratory conditions to gain a better understanding of their origins and how they evolved, and to record their findings in laboratory notebooks in order to have a permanent, chronological record of all research. For additional information about research notebooks, feel free to contact Scientific Notebook Company at 800-537-3028.