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Physical sciences/Earth sciences

Data collected by the Fermi Space Telescope provide conclusive evidence that supernovae are the source of the speedy, energetic particles called cosmic rays, an international research team reports.

These charged particles, which are mostly protons, continuously assail the planet from outer space. There is general consensus among scientists that supernova remnants (the leftovers of a supernova explosion) are the sources of cosmic rays, but the final proof has been elusive because cosmic rays are deflected on their way to Earth.

AAAS’s Project 2061 has been awarded a $1.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to develop new tools for finding out how students build their knowledge of energy concepts over time and for helping teachers diagnose their students’ learning difficulties.

Acknowledging the importance of energy education for today’s students, the department’s Institute of Education Sciences gave high marks to the new study, which is one of only 26 funded this year through the competitive education research grants program.

It was cold, wet, and muddy in the large white tent that served as the home of the 2011 National Sustainable Design Expo on the National Mall, but it did not deter hundreds of people from coming to observe what one attendee called “a science fair for adults.”

Building on three years of top-level discussions, the China Association for Science and Technology (CAST) and AAAS have established a joint Steering Committee to coordinate work on ethics in science by the two organizations.

In a statement, CAST and AAAS said the steering committee will encourage collaborations between policymakers, scientists, educators, and students that “can be used in both countries to advance and apply knowledge on ethical issues associated with the conduct and application of scientific research.”

Leading members of the Texas scientific community, in collaboration with AAAS, have urged the Texas State Board of Education to reject amendments to the state’s draft science standards that would undermine sound science teaching. And in a commentary published in the San Antonio Express-News online edition, AAAS officials warned that approval of the anti-science amendments could undermine Texas’s reputation as a world engine of scientific discovery and innovation.

The board is to take a final vote on the standards on Friday 27 March.