How prosperous is your neighborhood? The Economic Innovation Group, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization, has released a new report and an interactive tool that tells you how your zip code stacks up to the rest of the country—and illustrates just how geographical economic inequality is growing across the U.S.
The organization’s annual Distressed Communities Index finds that more than half of the Americans residing in distressed communities live in the South. More Americans, however, live in prosperous communities (84.8 million) than distressed ones (52.3 million).
Most pressing, according to the report, is that “distressed communities are quite literally being left behind by the rest of the country.” Most of the economic growth over the last five years has been concentrated on the more prosperous parts of the country, with depressed communities seeing much less growth.
Compiled from U.S. Census Bureau data, the report looks at the following criteria: percentage of adults without high school diplomas, poverty rate, percentage of prime-age adults not working, housing vacancy rate, median income ratio, percentage change in employment, and percentage change in establishment. Distressed communities are areas where each of those categories are above the U.S. average.
The EIG’s interactive tools show how other locations compare to your neighborhood. You’ll get a sense of the magnitude of the country’s yawning economic gulf, and perhaps share your frustration with policymakers, whom, the EIG concludes, are the ones who can best help reconnect distressed areas and assist with revitalization. And check out the entire report here.CGW
CRISPR (that’s short for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) is the coolest gene-editing technique around, and it is revolutionizing the field of biochemistry by making it faster, easier, cheaper, and more precise to delete, repair, or replace genes. Radiolab has a great explainer on the tech, which you can listen to here, and we wrote about some of the ethical dilemmas posed by the technology. While usually the creators of such groundbreaking tech would be practicing their Scrooge McDuck backstrokes in anticipation of collecting the eight million Swedish kronor that comes with the Nobel Prize, CRISPR may not be the favorite to win this year.
After all, CRISPR already lost out on the Nobel Prize in chemistry twice. First in 2015, when it lost to scientists looking at how DNA repairs itself, and then again in 2016, when it lost to the team that used molecular physics to create the world’s smallest machines (which hopefully played the world’s smallest violin for CRISPR).
There’s no doubt that CRISPR technology is revolutionary and incredibly scientifically important in fields as diverse as agriculture and human biology. It could lead to a world filled with drought-resistant crops, or one where diseases like cystic fibrosis or Huntington’s could be simply snipped out of a gene. But the tech is embroiled in a patent war between MIT’s Feng Zhang and Berkeley’s Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier, who is now at the Max Plank Institute. While MIT filed first, Doudna and Charpentier proved CRISPR tech was viable in 2012, using Cas9 technology. However, many other teams have built on the tech, making it more utilitarian, more efficient, and more precise, and some people think those advances were the real groundbreakers.
Since the Nobel committee only lets three people claim the award for their work—and they probably want to avoid getting involved in patent kerfuffles— they may want the court to weigh in before they decide which team should get the laurels (and the cold hard cash). Plus, perhaps this is the year that the lithium–ion battery will finally get the attention it deserves from the Noble committee.
The chemistry Nobel Prize will be revealed on October 4.ML
President Trump will sign a presidential memorandum this afternoon that commits the administration to expanding access to STEM and computer science education, senior White House officials tell Fast Company. As part of that initiative, the administration will devote at least $200 million per year in grant funding to this priority, as well as other actions to increase the focus on computer science in K-12 and post-secondary programs. To emphasize the need for such an initiative, the White House cited statistics showing that less than half of high schools currently offer computer programming and that nearly 40% of high schools did not offer physics in 2015.
And Ivanka Trump is heading to Detroit on Tuesday to join tech executives in announcing some private-sector participation from Facebook, Google, Amazon, Quicken Loans, and GM in the initiative. The effort represents a rare victory for the tech sector with this administration–prioritizing coding in public school curricula has long been a focus for Apple CEO Tim Cook and Microsoft president Brad Smith, among others–amid Silicon Valley’s public criticism of the Trump’s administration’s recent move to end the DACA program, the travel ban, and the president’s statements on the Charlottesville violence.
In a statement released today, Smith said:
“Our country is facing a challenge that it hasn’t had to address in two generations: reworking the education system to keep pace with advancing technology. In the 1950s, the race to space drove schools to start teaching physics. Today, it’s all about computer science. Microsoft looks forward to partnering with other companies, non-profit groups, and the federal and state governments to help bring computer science into America’s mainstream education curriculum. It’s good for our country, our businesses, and most importantly, our nation’s young people.”