Science, Energy, Health & Environment

The flag of the U.S. Space Command (USSPACECOM) is unfurled Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019, in the Rose Garden of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour)

Key Documents on U.S. policy on Science, Energy, Health & Environment

 

Latest U.S. Policy News on Science, Energy, Health & Environment

June 18, 2020
UPDATE: The United States Continues to Lead the Global Response to COVID-19
The U.S. government has so far allocated more than $12 billion that will benefit the global COVID-19 response, and we continue to ensure that the substantial U.S. funding and scientific efforts on this front remain a central and coordinated part of the worldwide effort against the disease.

June 04, 2020
USAID Deputy Administrator Bonnie Glick’s Remarks at the GAVI Global Vaccine Summit 2020 (via USEU website)
That is why today, I am proud to announce the U.S. Government’s multi-year commitment of $1.16 billion to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. This marks America’s largest-ever contribution to Gavi, and underscores our commitment to expanding access to immunizations worldwide.

May 29, 2020
UPDATE: The United States Continues to Lead the Global Response to COVID-19
The United States continues to lead in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, illustrated by recent announcements of new foreign assistance that are made possible through the American people’s generosity and the U.S. Government’s action. The American people have given more than $11 billion that will benefit the global COVID-19 response, and we continue to ensure that the substantial U.S. funding and scientific efforts on this front remain a central and coordinated part of the worldwide effort against the disease. Months into fighting this pandemic at home and abroad, the United States continues to lead a global response—building on decades of investment in life-saving health and humanitarian assistance.

May 21, 2020
On the Treaty on Open Skies
Tomorrow, the United States will submit notice of its decision to withdraw from the Treaty on Open Skies to the Treaty Depositaries and to all other States Parties to the Treaty. Effective six months from tomorrow, the United States will no longer be a party to the Treaty. We may, however, reconsider our withdrawal should Russia return to full compliance with the Treaty.

May 20, 2020
Delivering on American Commitments in the COVID-19 Response with Additional Foreign Assistance
Months into fighting the COVID-19 pandemic at home and abroad, the United States is continuing to lead the global charge against the pandemic, building on decades of leadership in life-saving health and humanitarian assistance. Through the generosity of the American people, our foreign assistance is saving lives and helping to mitigate economic devastation around the world.

May 18, 2020
U.S. scientists collaborate in worldwide search for COVID-19 cure
U.S. researchers are joining forces with scientists around the world to find solutions that will end the COVID-19 pandemic. The collaboration ranges from experiments to adapt a measles vaccine to prevent COVID-19 to efforts to understand how the human immune system’s antibodies attack the coronavirus.

May 15, 2020
The United States Protects National Security and the Integrity of 5G Networks
The U.S. government today took another step to protect U.S. national security and the integrity of 5G networks by expanding the Commerce Department’s foreign direct product rule to restrict Huawei from circumventing U.S. law.

May 14, 2020
U.S. cracks down on COVID-19 scams
Let’s be clear: There is no vaccine yet to prevent COVID-19. But there are swindlers around the world trying to cash in on COVID-19 fears with bogus prophylactics and cures. They steal money from their victims and spread misinformation, says Christopher Combs, special agent in charge of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation’s San Antonio field office.

May 14, 2020
U.S. researchers map COVID-19 cases to predict future needs
Researchers from the University of Virginia’s Biocomplexity Institute have won a $10 million, five-year computing grant from the U.S. government’s National Science Foundation in order to map cases of the new coronavirus and anticipate how communities will be affected.

14 May 2020
Scholars from U.S. exchange program fight COVID-19
Scholars around the world who have been part of the State Department’s Fulbright Program are using their experience to help their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

May 13, 2020
People’s Republic of China (PRC) Targeting of COVID-19 Research Organizations
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency issued a public service announcement today warning organizations researching COVID-19 of likely targeting and network compromise by the People’s Republic of China.

May 12, 2020
Fact Sheet: Transatlantic Cooperation on COVID-19
As President Trump has said, the United States is working with our friends and partners around the world to coordinate our efforts on stopping the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. The United States values our cooperation with allies and partners in combatting the pandemic and in planning for our collective recovery.

May 08, 2020
Defending America’s cyberfrontier with a 5G ‘clean path’
The U.S. Department of State will begin requiring a “clean path” for all 5G network traffic between U.S. diplomatic facilities and the United States, as U.S. diplomatic facilities overseas move toward adopting 5G-enabled technology.

May 06, 2020
Additional U.S. Foreign Assistance Builds Upon U.S. Leadership in the Global COVID-19 Response
Today, the United States continues to demonstrate global leadership in response to the COVID -19 pandemic, with an additional $128 million in global health and humanitarian assistance…..This enhanced commitment brings our total to more than $900 million in life-saving global health, humanitarian, and economic assistance to more than 120 countries to-date.

May 04, 2020
Briefing With Senior Administration Official and Senior State Department Official On U.S. Global Leadership in the International COVID-19 Response

May 01, 2020
FACT SHEET: Update: The United States is Continuing to Lead the Response to COVID-19
Through the American people’s generosity and the U.S. government’s action, the United States continues to demonstrate global leadership in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Months into fighting this pandemic at home and abroad, the United States remains the largest single country donor to the response efforts globally, building on decades of leadership in life-saving health and humanitarian assistance.

April 30, 2020
Pompeo: End wildlife trafficking and save lives
China and other countries should shut down markets that are hot spots for wildlife trafficking and threaten public safety, Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo said April 22.
The secretary noted the strong link between wildlife sold in these markets and diseases that can be transmitted from animals to people, called zoonotic diseases. These animals are often slaughtered at the markets, creating unsanitary conditions.

April 27, 2020
Here’s how the coronavirus could change supply chains
The novel coronavirus pandemic is forcing factories around the world to slow or cease production. This reduced output is disrupting global supply chains that normally keep countries supplied with everything from medicine to garlic to socks.

April 23, 2020
Members of the Coronavirus Task Force Hold a Press Briefing, April 23, 2020
“U.S. trials of the COVID-19 have been going on and have been approved in the United States, Germany, UK, and China. That’s big news. And we’re — a lot of trials are going on. We have a lot of great, brilliant minds working on this, both from the standpoint of a vaccine and therapeutics.”

April 22, 2020
The United States and ASEAN are Partnering to Defeat COVID-19, Build Long-Term Resilience, and Support Economic Recovery (state.gov)
Members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are enduring strategic partners as we respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and plan for economic recovery. We commit to continue our collaboration with ASEAN to beat this pandemic and get back to the business of building a bright future for the region together.

April 22, 2020
For Earth Day 2020, download this free poster
Every year, the U.S. celebrates Earth Day on April 22 — the date in 1970 when environmental rallies were first held across America, from Philadelphia to Chicago to Los Angeles. Now the day is celebrated around the world and recognized as the largest organized environmental event.

April 20, 2020
NASA astronauts set for historic launch from U.S.
The first launch of astronauts from U.S. soil in nearly a decade is scheduled to take off May 27 from Kennedy Space Center’s launch complex to the International Space Station, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced April 17.

April 20, 2020
Members of the Coronavirus Task Force Hold a Press Briefing, April 20, 2020
“America continues to make steady progress in our war against the virus. As of today, we’ve tested 4.18 million Americans. That’s a record anywhere in the world. The United States has now conducted more total tests than all of the following nations combined: France, the United Kingdom, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, India, Austria, Australia, Sweden, and Canada.”

April 17, 2020
U.S. works with NATO to respond to COVID-19
NATO’s defense ministers met April 15 by teleconference and pledged to continue their efforts against the outbreak. The alliance has flown more than 100 missions supporting medical relief efforts and helped build 25 field hospitals, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters after the meeting.

April 16, 2020
Release of U.S. Government Action Plan to Support the International Response to COVID-19
In collaboration with U.S. departments and agencies, the Department of State is releasing the U.S. Government Action Plan to Support the International Response to COVID-19. Through the American people’s generosity and the U.S. government’s action, the United States continues to demonstrate global leadership in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

April 14, 2020
Members of the Coronavirus Task Force Hold a Press Briefing, April 14, 2020
“America is continuing to make critical progress in our war against the virus. Over the weekend, the number of daily new infections remained flat nationwide. Flat. Hospitalizations are slowing in hotspots like New York, New Jersey, Michigan, and Louisiana. This is clear evidence that our aggressive strategy to combat the virus is working and that Americans are following the guidelines. It’s been incredible what they’ve done.”

April 14, 2020
Remarks by President Trump in a Meeting with Healthcare Executives (Whitehouse.gov)

April 07, 2020
Members of the Coronavirus Task Force Hold a Press Briefing, April 07, 2020
“I also want to send best wishes to a very good friend of mine and a friend to our nation, Prime Minister Boris Johnson. We’re very saddened to hear that he was taken into intensive care this afternoon, a little while ago, and Americans are all praying for his recovery. He’s been a really good friend. He’s been really something very special. Strong. Resolute. Doesn’t quit. Doesn’t give up.”

April 04, 2020
Remarks by President Trump, Vice President Pence, and Members of the Coronavirus Task Force in Press Briefing.

March 18, 2020
Remarks by President Trump, Vice President Pence, and Members of the Coronavirus Task Force in Press Briefing

March 15, 2020
Remarks by President Trump, Vice President Pence, and Members of the Coronavirus Task Force in Press Briefing

March 14, 2020
Proclamation on the Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Certain Additional Persons Who Pose a Risk of Transmitting Coronavirus
“Given the importance of protecting persons within the United States from the threat of this harmful communicable disease, I have determined that it is in the interests of the United States to take action to restrict and suspend the entry into the United States, as immigrants or nonimmigrants, of all aliens who were physically present within the United Kingdom, excluding overseas territories outside of Europe, or the Republic of Ireland during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States.”

March 11, 2020
President Donald J. Trump Has Taken Unprecedented Steps To Respond To The Coronavirus And Protect The Health And Safety Of Americans
“Together we are putting into policy a plan to prevent, detect, treat and create a vaccine against coronavirus to save lives in America and the world.”

March 10, 2020
Coronavirus: U.S. in action
The U.S. has deployed a “whole-of-America approach” to protect citizens against the coronavirus, with federal, state and local governments, as well as private businesses, banding together to fight the disease, Vice President Pence said.

2019

August 29, 2019
The Trump Administration Is Establishing the U.S. Space Command to Advance American Interests and Defend Our Nation

President Trump: “When it comes to defending America, it is not enough to merely have an American presence in space. We must have American dominance in space.”

July 17, 2019
Apollo 50 Festival brings moon landing to Washington
The National Air and Space Museum on July 16 projected the Apollo 11 Saturn V rocket onto the monument to kick off its “Go for the Moon” show. The display, which will be live evenings through July 18, leads into the Apollo 50 Festival, marking the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.

July 16, 2019
Remarks by Vice President Pence at the Neil Armstrong Spacesuit Unveiling
“Apollo 11 is the only event of the 20th century that stands a chance of being widely remembered in the 30th century. And that’s what makes a day like today so important. A thousand years from now, July 20, 1969, will likely be a date that will live on in the minds and imaginations of men and women here on Earth, across our solar system, and beyond.”

June 24, 2019
White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Director to Visit United Kingdom
While in the UK, Dr. Droegemeier will tour the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts to discuss shared research and development (R&D) priorities for improving weather data and modeling. He will also meet with researchers and students at Oxford University to discuss areas for future science and technology collaboration and highlight the important role of academia in the global R&D enterprise.

June 04, 2019
Why is America concerned about 5G?
Next year, fifth-generation (5G) wireless technology will begin to form the backbone of future economies and public services.
Unfortunately, the new infrastructure needed to support 5G can subject countries to threats to their national security. A major concern is that equipment might be installed by a company that can be controlled or swayed by a foreign government.

November 16, 2018 (NASA Youtube)
We’ve taken giant leaps and left our mark in the heavens. Now we’re building the next chapter, returning to the Moon to stay, and preparing to go beyond. We are NASA – and after 60 years, we’re just getting started. Special thanks to Mike Rowe for the voiceover work.
This video is available for download from NASA’s Image and Video Library.

October 23, 2018
Remarks by Vice President Pence at the Fourth Meeting of the National Space Council (Whitehouse.gov)

October 23, 2018
Fact Sheet: President Donald J. Trump Is Launching America’s Space Force (Whitehouse.gov)
To safeguard American dominance in space, President Donald J. Trump is working to form a Space Force as a sixth branch of the Armed Forces.

Vice President Mike Pence chairs a meeting of the National Space Council at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, Thursday, October 5, 2017, in Chantilly, Virginia.
Vice President Mike Pence chairs a meeting of the National Space Council at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, Thursday, October 5, 2017, in Chantilly, Virginia.

October 11, 2018
Attorney General Sessions Delivers a Statement on Behalf of the United States at the London Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference 2018
“In the United States, we are proud of our longstanding commitment to defend wildlife.  The U.S. government made its first major commitment to the preservation of wildlife almost 120 years ago, with the passage of the Lacey Act, which prohibits the import, export, and sale of protected wildlife in the U.S. if the law of the foreign nation was violated.  Though we have made many advances since then, the Lacey Act remains among our nation’s most powerful weapons in the fight against the illegal wildlife trade.”

September 17, 2018
U.S. Delegation to the G-7 Environment, Energy, and Oceans Ministerial in Halifax (state.gov)
The Group of Seven (G-7) Environment, Energy, and Oceans Ministerial will take place in Halifax, Nova Scotia, September 19–21, 2018. The State Department delegation, led by Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and Fisheries William Gibbons-Fly, will include senior officers from the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs and the Bureau of Energy Resources. Other senior officials representing the United States will include Acting Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler; Deputy Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette; and Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere Tim Gallaudet.

July 12, 2018
Tools of modern science help farmers feed a hungry world (ShareAmerica.gov)
The United States leads the world in growing biotech crops — mostly soybeans, corn and cotton. In Europe, many countries import modified feed for animals but bar farmers from growing bioengineered crops for humans. The European Food Safety Authority has allowed some modified soybeans, but not all varieties. Processed foods must disclose GMO ingredients on labels. (The United States also is instituting a labeling requirement.)
China and some other countries impose restrictions, but the European Union’s rules are among “the most stringent and onerous,” the Congressional Research Service says.

June 22, 2018
NASA tech helps unravel secrets of Dead Sea Scrolls (ShareAmerica)
Imaging technology developed for NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has uncovered new secrets of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Using devices originally designed for space telescopes, Israeli and American archaeologists discovered that degraded fragments could reveal previously invisible text. Although ordinary cameras could not detect writing, researchers used multispectral imaging technology from NASA and some nifty filters to uncover the hidden text.

June 21, 2018
Health innovations help in latest Ebola outbreak (ShareAmerica)
The World Health Organization recently announced an outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the largest since an Ebola epidemic ravaged West Africa from 2013 to 2016. At least two new tools helping patients and health care workers in the DRC combat the disease are products of the USAID Fighting Ebola Grand Challenge.
USAID awarded grants in 2015 to two companies, Kinnos Inc. and Shift Labs, to develop tangible solutions to major challenges faced by health care workers in West Africa, with the intention that the solutions would be ready for use when the next epidemic struck.

May 30, 2018
Briefing on the 15th Anniversary of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (State.gov)
Remarks and Q&A with U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy at the Department of State, Ambassador Deborah L. Birx.

May 25, 2018
That Moon Colony Will Be a Reality Sooner Than You Think  (Whitehouse.gov)
A privately funded American space industry is the reason. This industry is making progress in leaps and bounds. The global space economy is approaching $350 billion and is expected to become a multitrillion-dollar industry. There are more than 800 operational American satellites in orbit, and by 2024 that number could exceed 15,000. Thanks to public-private partnerships, for the first time in seven years American rockets will soon carry NASA astronauts into space. Long dormant, Cape Canaveral is now bustling with activity. America is leading in space once again.

May 24, 2018
Space Policy Directive-2, Streamlining Regulations on Commercial Use of Space (Whitehouse.gov)

May 23, 2018
White House Hosts Roundtable Discussion on Leveraging Data as a Strategic Asset (Whitehouse.gov)
The Federal data strategy is intended to strengthen the government’s ability to provide and use data for mission accountability and to enable businesses to grow the American economy. Key to successfully accomplishing these goals is assuring that privacy and confidentiality are protected, even as data are connected to create new insights. In addition, maintaining high quality data at the Federal level is essential.

May 03, 2018
The Future Is in Supercomputers – Secretary of Energy James Perry (Whitehouse.gov)
“I have the privilege of overseeing the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) 17 national laboratories — or what I like to call our country’s “crown jewels” of science and innovation — which house some of the most significant computing resources and supercomputers in the world.
Each day, DOE’s supercomputers are being used to explore fundamental scientific questions and address some of our nation’s most complex challenges.”

April 23, 2018
Remarks by Vice President Pence at Meeting with NASA Senior Leadership (Whitehouse.gov)
“do just want to say thank you to each and every one of you for the leadership that you provide to thousands of employees that you lead and the work that they do every day. Not only here at headquarters but, as I look out at this big screen — Armstrong Flight Research Center, down at Johnson, at Goddard. All these names are legendary; all of you do a phenomenal job leading 20 centers and facilities, 13 states, and 2 foreign nations. I want you to know, the President and I, all the members of the National Space Council are grateful for the leadership that you provide.

March 29, 2018
Fact Sheet: Building Up American Infrastructure and American Workers (Whitehouse.gov)

March 29, 2018
Fact Sheet: President Donald J. Trump is Unveiling an America First National Space Strategy (Whitehouse.gov)

February 21, 2018
Moon, Mars, and Worlds Beyond: Winning the Next Frontier (Whitehouse.gov)

February 20, 2018
Vice President Pence Announces National Space Council Users Advisory Group (Whitehouse.gov)

 

2017

December 20, 2017
Life on the International Space Station (ShareAmerica) A trio of astronauts from the U.S., Russia and Japan blasted off from Kazakhstan on December 17 for the International Space Station, orbiting 400 kilometers above Earth, where their experiments could help get humans to Mars and beyond.
Scott Tingle from the U.S., Anton Shkaplerov of Russia and Norishige Kanai of Japan will live at the space station for the next five months.
International partners from the U.S., Russia, Japan, Canada and Europe constructed the space station, which has been in continuous operation for 17 years. Astronauts from these space agencies crew the station, and more than 100 different nations have participated in science and education projects on the outpost.

December 13, 2017
America Will Once Again Reach for the Moon—and Beyond (Whitehouse.gov) On the National Space Council’s recommendation, President Donald J. Trump signed a directive December 11 that puts human exploration back at the core of America’s space program.

October 27, 2017
1969: The first whisper of the internet (ShareAmerica) With the world so interconnected by the internet today, it’s hard to appreciate that just a half-century ago it didn’t even exist. In fact, social media, your favorite news sites, even the word “online” wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the transmission of two letters from a computer in Los Angeles to another computer in Menlo Park, California, in 1969.

May 11, 2017
U.S. hands chairmanship of Arctic Council to Finland (via By ShareAmerica)   The nations and peoples of the northernmost part of Earth meet May 10–11 in Alaska to tackle common challenges of the region and to celebrate 20 years of the Arctic Council.
The United States has chaired the Arctic Council since 2015. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will be on hand to officially pass the two-year chairmanship of the council to Finland.

May 11, 2017
Secretary Tillerson’s Remarks at the Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting (state.gov)   The United States concluded a successful two-year Chairmanship of the Arctic Council with concrete achievements that have enhanced Arctic Ocean safety, security and stewardship; increased economic development opportunities in the Arctic region; and strengthened the resilience and adaptation capabilities of the Arctic communities. At the meeting, Secretary Tillerson recognized the Arctic Council as an indispensable forum for cooperation and affirmed that the United States will continue to be an active member as it transfers chairmanship of the Council to Finland.
Deliverables from the Ministerial included the signing of the Fairbanks Declaration in which the Council reaffirmed its commitment to maintain peace, stability, and constructive cooperation in the Arctic. The Fairbanks Declaration recognized the key accomplishments during the 2015-2017 U.S. Chairmanship of the Arctic Council to advance Arctic Ocean safety, security, and stewardship and improve economic and living conditions. At the Ministerial, Secretary Tillerson also announced the signing of the Agreement on Enhancing International Arctic Scientific Cooperation by Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, and the United States. This is the third legally binding agreement negotiated under the auspices of the Arctic Council.

Related:

April 21, 2017
Modified mosquitoes may eliminate malaria    Each year, 3.2 billion of us are at risk of contracting malaria from an infected mosquito. University of California scientists have devised a revolutionary way to fight the mosquito-borne disease, using the insects’ own DNA.
Researchers Anthony James, Ethan Bier and Valentino Gantz teamed up to edit mosquito genes using a tool known as CRISPR. (That’s short for “Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats.”) Replacing specific genetic material, they killed the parasite that causes malaria. Even better, the modified mosquitoes passed the malaria-fighting genes on to their offspring.

24 April 2017 Couple donates bug collection worth millions — priceless to researchers   Two of the world’s foremost experts on insects are donating to a U.S. university their collection of insects, one of the world’s largest and most important private holdings, worth millions of dollars. The gift is a boon to researchers worldwide.
Charlie and Lois O’Brien are entrusting to Arizona State University a collection that includes more than 1 million weevils, a type of beetle that has devastated crops around the world, and 250,000 planthoppers, insects named for their skill at jumping short distances. Every specimen of the collection is worth $5 to $300, depending on its rarity, Nico Franz, an entomologist at the university, told The Guardian. As many as 1,000 of the O’Briens’ insects could be “new to science,” he said.

28 March 2017 NASA Unveils New Searchable Video, Audio and Imagery Library for the Public (NASA.gov)    NASA officially has launched a new resource to help the public search and download out-of-this-world images, videos and audio files by keyword and metadata searches from NASA.gov. The NASA Image and Video Library website consolidates imagery spread across more than 60 collections into one searchable location.
NASA Image and Video Library allows users to search, discover and download a treasure trove of more than 140,000 NASA images, videos and audio files from across the agency’s many missions in aeronautics, astrophysics, Earth science, human spaceflight, and more. Users now can embed content in their own sites and choose from multiple resolutions to download. The website also displays the metadata associated with images.
The site is now live at https://images.nasa.gov

25 March 2017 President Trump Signs the NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017 (Whitehouse.gov)  This week President Donald J. Trump signed the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Transition Authorization Act of 2017, the first comprehensive NASA authorization passed by Congress in more than six years. The bill demonstrates strong bipartisan support for our Nation’s space program and helps ensure that NASA remains at the forefront of exploration and discovery.

2016

09 August 2016 ‘Blue energy’ could be another way to go green   A simple way to produce a lot of energy could be found anywhere a river meets the sea.  Researchers call it “blue energy,” and it could be the next frontier in clean-energy technology.
Osmosis occurs when salty water hits freshwater across a permeable membrane. Salt ions (molecules with an electrical charge) will pass through the membrane until the amount of salt is equal on both sides.
“Making use of the osmotic pressure difference between freshwater and seawater is an attractive, renewable and clean way to generate power,” explain researchers at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Lausanne, Switzerland, who collaborated with researchers at the University of Illinois.

25 July 2016 After giving blind mice vision, scientists hope to help humans    Most scientists once thought that the brain cells of mammals, once damaged, could never be repaired. But researchers at Stanford University in California have regrown damaged optic nerves in mice, restoring hope that similar treatments could help people with glaucoma, Alzheimer’s disease and even spinal cord injuries.
How did they do it? With two methods: flipping on a “growth switch,” a gene that encourages growth of cells in the central nervous system, and “exercising” the eye by having mice look at displays of bold, shifting patterns.

21 July 2016 Is telehealth poised to revolutionize global medical care? When you’re sick, one of the hardest parts about getting better is getting up and getting to the doctor. Soon, the solution may be just a mouse click away. It’s called telehealth, and it links patients and doctors using computers or mobile devices. Some researchers think it will revolutionize global health care in the next decade.
Telemedicine is now used to some extent to monitor heart patients and to connect doctors and distant emergency rooms.
But in the next decade, telemedicine or virtual care will evolve into telehealth, say the authors of an article in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Utilizing computers or mobile devices, doctors and nurses could be available 24 hours a day at relatively low cost to assess emergency situations, like heart attack or stroke.

21 July 2016 Solar energy lights the way from California to Africa    California is blazing ahead in renewable energy, with an emphasis on solar. It’s an ambitious plan that other U.S. states and countries are watching carefully.   The state can already electrify 3.3 million homes with solar energy alone. A large chunk of that comes from the new Solar Star installation, with 1.7 million solar panels. It is the solar farm with the largest capacity in the world.
California outshines all other U.S. states in solar power. The solar dominance was achieved by a combination of local, state and federal laws and incentives for businesses and ordinary citizens to adopt solar and other renewable energy technologies. Generous tax credits have been important tools in California’s renewable energy roll-out.

02 June 2016  U.S., Europe tackle health challenges together, with technology  Imagine that a tourist newly arrived in a destination overseas is hit by a bus, knocked unconscious and rushed to a hospital. Doctors and nurses know the name in the passport but nothing about medical history, allergies to medications or other special conditions.
But what if that patient’s electronic health record could be easily retrieved before surgery? And if the medical codes and terminology collected in one country matched what doctors relied on in the next?
That’s been the goal of an ambitious eHealth project that the United States and the European Union undertook in 2010. The first stage finished last year, and work is expected to resume soon on a “road map” to bolster trans-Atlantic cooperation in eHealth among governments, international-standards agencies, health-care companies and entrepreneurs.

26 May 2016 Will silk replace plastic and prevent food waste?    Researchers at Tufts University discovered that a coating containing a silk protein, from silkworms, kept some produce from spoiling for longer periods and without refrigeration.  When strawberries were dipped into the solution several times, the berries lasted for a week at room temperature. The berries that weren’t dipped showed color changes and were shriveled.
The findings are significant because one-third of the food produced for human consumption worldwide is lost or wasted every year, according to the United Nations. The rate is even higher for fruits and vegetables (up to 50 percent). Spoilage is a large reason why.

11 May 2016  Solar pilot: ‘I flew over plastic waste as big as a continent’  “I speak to you from the cockpit of Solar Impulse in the middle of the Pacific, flying only on solar power,” said Bertrand Piccard, a Swiss psychiatrist who is trying to fly around the world using only energy from the sun.  He and his co-pilot André Borschberg began their historic journey in March 2015 from Abu Dhabi in a campaign to build support for clean-energy technologies.  But along the way, something caught their attention. From their experimental aircraft, the Solar Impulse 2, they spotted last month what some call the world’s largest trash dump.
Piccard was flying above the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Much of the plastic we use isn’t recycled or buried in landfills, but finds its way to the ocean. There, it breaks down into a hard-to-spot “peppery soup” of tiny microplastics and larger debris.   Worldwide, as many as 5 trillion pieces of plastic now pollute our oceans. These tiny particles look like food to the ocean’s smallest creatures. That means plastics enter the food chain: Fish eat plastics, and humans eat fish, which means that we may be picking up toxic chemicals from ocean debris.

02 May 2016 Rats! Meet the heroes helping us defeat TB    In a lab in Tanzania, Serafina has dramatically improved health care, helping increase tuberculosis detection by about 45 percent. She has four paws, inquisitive whiskers and superhuman powers.  Serafina is a giant pouched rat. She and other rats have extraordinary noses for sniffing out tuberculosis (TB).
TB is a serious global health threat. In 2015, the World Health Organization reported that 1.5 million people died from the disease, making it the leading cause of death from a single infectious disease in the world. It’s preventable, treatable and curable with early detection, but scientists estimate that 1 in 3 cases goes undiagnosed.
“Normally, a technician at a TB clinic is checking 20 to 25 samples in a day,” said Fidelis John, a lab technician at the non-profit organization APOPO. A trained rat, on the other hand, can test 100 samples in only 20 minutes.

29 April 2016 Will you help find the next lost city?    Sarah Parcak calls herself a “space archaeologist,” while others compare her to Indiana Jones, the fictional archaeologist portrayed in film by actor Harrison Ford.  However you describe her, this University of Alabama at Birmingham Egyptologist is using a $1 million prize to help the next generation of explorers find lost cities with satellites and a mobile phone app.
Parcak and her team used satellite imagery to find a potential early Viking settlement in Canada, hundreds of miles south of the only confirmed Viking site in North America. Constructed 500 years before the voyages of Christopher Columbus, this new site could rewrite history.

13 April 2016  Whiskery manatees make a comeback in Florida    Early explorers often mistook manatees for mermaids. Up to 4 meters long and weighing half a ton, the portly aquatic creatures are closely related to elephants.
After being driven almost to extinction, manatee populations in Florida have increased fivefold since 1991 as a result of conservation efforts.
Manatees have no natural predators, except maybe humans.  Manatee numbers dropped so low that they were one of the first animals placed under the protection of the U.S. Endangered Species Act in 1966.

04 April 2016 Zanzibar’s Malaria Hunter   For millions of Tanzanians, a potentially deadly disease is just one bug bite away.   It is a threat that lurks in the shadows as the sun falls, flutters through holes in bednets at night and multiplies in puddles after a summer storm.   Throughout history, more people have died of malaria than of any other disease. Despite recent global advances, malaria still kills more than 1,000 children each day, most in sub-Saharan Africa.
Habiba Suleiman Sefu is fighting that danger, one case at a time.    She works as a malaria surveillance officer in Shakani village, in southwest Zanzibar.
Her job: to track, test and treat cases of the disease to stop its spread.
In Shakani village, people fear malaria because they are infected so often,” Habiba says.   While malaria has always existed in Shakani village, Habiba is now armed with new tools to fight it: a mobile phone, a tablet, a motorbike and lots of drive.
Though they might not seem novel, these tools—supplied to her by the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative—help her respond to the disease in record time and help authorities identify outbreaks.
USAID.gov has the full story in photo-enhanced form.

01 April 2016 One Person’s Trash is Another Person’s Treasure    Materials that would ordinarily be dumped in landfill have found new life thanks to the U.S. Materials Marketplace, which matches one business’s industrial waste with other businesses that can use it for profit. The companies benefit from finding the resources they need and waste is reduced.
The U.S. Materials Marketplace is a cloud-based digital platform that scales up business-to-business materials to be reused across the U.S. Users post details about waste materials they have, or are looking for,  and work out mutually acceptable transactions. They can then reuse or ‘upcycle’.

01 April 2016 Carter: DoD-MIT Partnership to Produce Fabrics that See, Hear, Sense   Defense Secretary Ash Carter today announced that DoD is partnering with an 89-member consortium to establish a new manufacturing innovation institute focused on revolutionary fibers and textiles.   Speaking this morning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management in Cambridge, Carter said that Advanced Functional Fabrics of America is a competitively selected group of companies, universities, non-profits, research organizations and startup incubators organized by MIT.
“This is a pioneering field combining fibers and yarns with … flexible integrated circuits, LEDs, solar cells, electronic sensors and other capabilities to create fabrics and cloths that can see, hear, sense, communicate, store energy, regulate temperature, monitor health, change color and much more,” the secretary added.