Microfluidics: The tiny, beautiful tech hidden all around you

When you think of micro- or nanotechnology, you likely think of small electronics like your phone, a tiny robot or a microchip. But COVID-19 tests – which have proven to be central to controlling the pandemic – are also a form of miniaturized technology. Many COVID-19 tests can give results within hours without the need to send a sample to a lab, and most of these tests use an approach called microfluidics.

Microfluidic systems are any device that process minuscule amounts of liquids. The fluids travel through channels thinner than a hair, and tiny valves can turn the flow on and off. These channels are made of materials such as glass, polymers, paper or gels. One way to move fluids is with a mechanical pump; another way is to use the surface charges of certain materials; and yet another is to use the so-called capillary action – more commonly known as wicking. Wicking is the process by which the energy stored within the liquid propels the liquid through narrow spaces.

Despite federal moratorium, eviction rates returning to pre-pandemic levels

The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, known as the CARES Act, banned evictions from March 24 through Aug. 24, 2020, but applied to only the relatively small number of renters using federal assistance programs to pay their rent, or living in properties with federally backed financing.

A broader eviction ban, ordered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, took effect on Sept. 4, 2020, and is set to expire on June 30, 2021. It covers more renters, including people who are at risk of moving to overcrowded lodging or becoming homeless. But it’s not automatic protection: Tenants must prove their eligibility.

Zero-trust security: Assume that everyone and everything on the internet is out to get you – and maybe already has

There were at least 2,354 ransomware attacks on local governments, health care facilities and schools in the U.S. last year. Although estimates vary, losses to ransomware seem to have tripled in 2020 to more than US$300,000 per incident.

A recurring theme in many of these breaches is misplaced trust – in vendors, employees, software and hardware. As a scholar of cybersecurity policy with a recent report on this topic, I have been interested in questions of trust.

Representative Cheney calls for order

Liz Cheney reveres order. Donald Trump detests it.

Simple, yes, but that sums up the difference between the elected but exiled U.S. congresswoman and the exiled but elected-in-his-own-mind former president.

Countless critics have detailed Trump’s disruptive effects on national life, but Cheney’s call for order deserves attention. She offers a coherent, conservative alternative to Trumpist populism. As a scholar of American political speeches, I think it important to assess her persuasive force as well as her deep roots in the conservative tradition.

Here’s why students don’t revise what they write – and why they should

Despite the proven benefits of revision, students often resist making change to the initial versions of what they wrote – because it requires additional effort. Or, if they do revise, they only do it in a mediocre way.

Learning how to revise one’s writing is something that will serve students well in a variety of ways. Research shows that while writing is an effective way to help students learn content in different subject areas, revision helps them to develop a deeper conceptual understanding of the topic on which they are writing.

Another dangerous fire season is looming in the Western U.S., and the drought-stricken region is headed for a water crisis

Just about every indicator of drought is flashing red across the western U.S. after a dry winter and warm early spring. The snowpack is at less than half of normal in much of the region. Reservoirs are being drawn down, river levels are dropping and soils are drying out.

It’s only May, and states are already considering water use restrictions to make the supply last longer. California’s governor declared a drought emergency in 41 of 58 counties. In Utah, irrigation water providers are increasing fines for overuse. Some Idaho ranchers are talking about selling off livestock because rivers and reservoirs they rely on are dangerously low and irrigation demand for farms is only just beginning.

The Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack and the SolarWinds hack were all but inevitable – why national cyber defense is a ‘wicked’ problem

· There are no easy solutions to shoring up U.S. national cyber defenses.

· Software supply chains and private sector infrastructure companies are vulnerable to hackers.

· Many U.S. companies outsource software development because of a talent shortage, and some of that outsourcing goes to companies in Eastern Europe that are vulnerable to Russian operatives.

· U.S. national cyber defense is split between the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security, which leaves gaps in authority.

Why the inflation rate doesn’t tell the whole story – all it takes is a spike in a category like used cars to cause consumer prices to soar

Markets, economists and policymakers, have been fretting about inflation for months, worried that the trillions of dollars being spent in recent and future government stimulus programs could overheat the economy and send prices soaring.

On May 12, 2021, the worrywarts seemed to have their fears confirmed when the April consumer price index shot up a seasonally adjusted 0.8%, the biggest jump since 2008. The year-over-year inflation rate of 4.2% is double what the Federal Reserve has set as its target.

Why we remember more by reading – especially print – than from audio or video

When reading texts of several hundred words or more, learning is generally more successful when it’s on paper than onscreen. A cascade of research confirms this finding.

The benefits of print particularly shine through when experimenters move from posing simple tasks – like identifying the main idea in a reading passage – to ones that require mental abstraction – such as drawing inferences from a text. Print reading also improves the likelihood of recalling details – like “What was the color of the actor’s hair?” – and remembering where in a story events occurred – “Did the accident happen before or after the political coup?”