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Last month, Governor Rick Snyder called for less coal power and more renewable energy in Michigan. Utilities are in a good position, but questions remain over whether lawmakers will be able to act before the state's current energy standards expire. We found out more on today's show.

Then, of all the physics professors in the United States, only 14% are women. Why do some female scientists give up? And what can be done to help female students and minorities succeed?

And, we heard from the BBC on how China had become the world leader for wind power.

Also, a group of “free skiers” have found a new ski location in the abandon buildings of Detroit.

First on the show, it's Thursday, time for the first check-in of this New Year with Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes.

Understandably, he has the auto industry on his mind as we prepare for next week's opening of the North American International Auto Show. He got an early look at the show, and he joined us today to discuss it.

Ed Uthman / Creative Commons

Maybe don't read this story right after plowing through a pecan pie, ok? 

Because a group of scientists are finding that what young women eat during puberty could determine how breast cancer cells develop in their bodies for the rest of their lives.

The culprit: high-fat diets.

It's not just about weight: high fat diets may hurt skinny and heavy women alike 

Michigan researchers say eating lots of fat as a teen can speed up breast cancer cell development, especially for cancers usually associated with young adult women. 

Scientists pushed to share their data sooner

Nov 21, 2013
Scott Bauer / USDA, ARS

Some policymakers say scientists hold onto their data too long. They say by the time the information is released, it can miss the window for addressing pressing problems.

The federal government is urging scientists to share their data sooner, but good data is like gold to scientists.

It can solve a lingering puzzle, and lead to professional success. That's why some scientists are considered data hoarders. They protect the information they collect.

But in a recent survey of over 1,300 scientists, Carol Tenopir found more of a spirit of collaboration than competition.

Tenopir participates in a National Science Foundation project called DataOne. Her job is to figure out how to overcome barriers to data sharing and broaden access to information.

Though only a small percentage of scientists said they actually share their data, she was surprised to find many are eager to do so.

NCI

Environmental Health Sciences professor Andrew Maynard teaches one of the University of Michigan's only classes focused on blogging.

Here you can listen in on an exchange he has with his students:

Maynard says learning how to communicating online is a skill crucial to his students' professional success.

“I would say very strongly scientists should blog, and they should blog because it forces them to become very familiar with the state of the science in specific areas,” says Maynard.

Morguefile

A new report said Michigan eighth graders perform in the middle of the pack in math, and better in science, compared with students in other countries. 

Bob Geier is associate director of the CREATE for STEM Institute at Michigan State University.  He says students in Michigan and most other states lag behind the top-performing countries.

J. Gabás Esteban / Flickr

There was once a time when Uncle Sam and NASA opened the wallet to fund space travel and space research.

That was then. This is now.

These days, space scientists have to get much more creative in raising those research dollars.

Case in point: Benjamin Longmier, who's an assistant professor of aerospace engineering at the University of Michigan. His special area is propulsion, as he seeks to build the kind of thruster that will push a spacecraft out of Earth's orbit and send that space craft to other planets.

We spoke to Benjamin Longmier about his research a few months ago, and now he's moving to the "creative fundraising" stage of things.

Benjamin Longmier joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

CrowdHydrology

If you’ve ever wanted to get involved in science but thought it sounded like a lot of work, now all you have to do is send a text.

Chris Lowry is an assistant professor of geology at the University at Buffalo. He’s the co-creator of CrowdHydrology. You can think of it as crowdsourcing information about water.

“So basically how this works is we have some giant rulers that are set up in streams and there’s a little sign on the top of the ruler that says ‘please text us the water level’ and people who are walking by these signs with their mobile phones can look at the ruler and make a measurement off that ruler of what the water level would be at that particular time of the day and send us a text message," he says.

Then, the data you enter goes into an online database.

"And about five minutes after they send in that text message there’s a point on the plot that appears on our CrowdHydrology web page,” Lowry says.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan State University broke ground today on a new, $60 million dollar bioengineering building.

The building will serve as place for researchers in different disciplines to share ideas for advancements in medicine and other sciences.

“Let’s not forget that as important as the facility is to our success, it is the people, the researchers, the medical professionals applying their knowledge, curiosity and perseverance that will ultimately triumph,” said Stephen Hsu, vice president for Research and Graduate Studies at MSU.

A Michigan State University professor says most teachers aren't ready to implement new science standards planned by the state.

The Michigan Department of Education says a plan called "Next Generation Science Standards" will provide more depth to students.

MSU education professor Suzanne Wilson disagrees.

Pablo Martinez Monsivai/Greenwichtime.com

President Barack Obama has had a briefing from two Lansing-area teenagers about their new technology for warning swimmers about dangerous off-shore currents.

19-year-old Spencer Ottarson and 17-year-old Julie Xu represented Williamston High School on Monday as of 12 teams that presented their science projects at the White House's third science fair.

Obama examined their Offshore Rip Current Alert System, which was on display in the East Garden.

NASA / wiki commons

What would it take to get humans to Mars?

For the last seven months, NASA's rover 'Curiosity' has crawled all over the planet's dusty red Gale Crater.

As it explores, the rover has sent back all sorts of information to Earth for further investigation.

Most recently, a report of a rock sample collected by Curiosity shows that, yes, ancient Mars could have supported living microbes.

But let's go one step further. What would it take for human beings to get to Mars?

Ben Longmier is an Assistant Professor of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Michigan College of Engineering and researches electric propulsion, spacecraft design and basic plasma physics.

Michigan Radio's Cynthia Canty spoke with Longmier about the challenges and possibilities of getting humans on Mars.

Click the link above to hear the full interview.

www.michiganadvantage.org

The following is a summary of a previously recorded interview. To hear the complete segment, click the audio above.

Are there important jobs going begging in Michigan?

Michigan Department of Education

A new study shows a disappointing result for Michigan’s new high school academic standards.

The Michigan Merit Curriculum was introduced in 2006. The intent was to strengthen academic performance.

Researchers say students who entered high school in 2007 with strong academic skills saw only a small improvement in their math, science and reading tests scores.

Everybody knows the old saying that prophets are never  appreciated in their own countries. We take the familiar for granted.

That’s certainly the case in Michigan. This is one of the more beautiful states in the union, something we sometimes forget. We also have some of the nation’s most fascinating people, some of whom aren’t always on the media radar screen.

Scale of the Universe 2
screen grab / Scale of the Universe 2

Cary Huang (with a little help from his twin brother, Michael) built the interactive web page "The Scale of the Universe 2." It's their second pass at the concept, according to Discover Magazine.

With it, you can scroll down to see a representation of the microscopic (i.e. E. coli bacteria), and scroll back out to see the galactic.

ABCNews.com writes the ninth graders from Moraga, California were inspired by a teacher to create the page: 

"My seventh grade science teacher showed us a size comparison video on cells, and I thought it was fascinating. I decided to make my own interactive version that included a much larger range of sizes," said Cary in an email forwarded by his mother. "It was not a school project -- just for fun. However, my science teacher loved it so much she showed [it] to the class! My brother, Michael, helped me put it on the internet."

Cary said he worked on the project, on and off, for a year and a half, getting information from Wikipedia and astronomy books. It is now spreading virally online.

H/T to the A2Chronicle

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