Recent Updates Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • richardmitnick 2:02 pm on February 28, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "A Decades-Long Quest Reveals New Details of Antimatter", Around 1970 researchers at DOE’s SLAC Accelerator Laboratory seemed to triumphantly confirm the quark model when they shot high-speed electrons at protons and saw the electrons ricochet off objects , At DOE's Brookhaven National Laboratory’s planned Electron-Ion Collider experimenters will probe the spin of the proton sea., “NuSea” experiment at DOE's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory., , Complications arise because gluons feel the very force that they carry., Down antiquarks seemed to significantly outnumber up antiquarks., For a brief period around half a century ago physicists thought they had the proton sorted., In 1964 Murray Gell-Mann and George Zweig independently proposed what became known as the quark model—the idea that protons neutrons and related rarer particles are bundles of three quarks., In 1991 the New Muon Collaboration in Geneva scattered muons-the heavier siblings of electrons off of protons and deuterons., In reality the proton’s interior swirls with a fluctuating number of six kinds of quarks-their oppositely charged antimatter counterparts (antiquarks) and “gluon” particles that bind the others , It often goes unmentioned that protons-the positively charged matter particles at the center of atoms-are part antimatter., , , Pions and other mesons are made of one quark and one antiquark., QCD or quantum chromodynamics formulated in 1973 describes the “strong force” the strongest force of nature in which particles called gluons connect bundles of quarks., SeaQuest experiment at DOE's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, Self-dealing gluons render the QCD equations generally unsolvable., Since the 1940s physicists have seen protons and neutrons passing pions back and forth inside atomic nuclei like teammates tossing basketballs to each other-an activity that helps link them together., The proton morphs into a neutron and a pion made of one up quark and one down antiquark., Twenty years ago physicists began investigating a mysterious asymmetry inside the proton. Their results show how antimatter helps stabilize every atom’s core., We learn that a proton is a bundle of three elementary particles-quarks-two “up” quarks and a “down” quark with electric charges (+2/3 and −1/3 respectively) making its charge of +1.,   

    From WIRED: “A Decades-Long Quest Reveals New Details of Antimatter” 

    From WIRED

    Natalie Wolchover

    Twenty years ago physicists began investigating a mysterious asymmetry inside the proton. Their results show how antimatter helps stabilize every atom’s core.

    From a distance, a proton appears to be made out of three particles called quarks. But look closer, and a sea of particles pops in and out of existence.Video credit: Olena Shmahalo/Quanta Magazine.

    It often goes unmentioned that protons-the positively charged matter particles at the center of atoms- are part antimatter.

    We learn in school that a proton is a bundle of three elementary particles called quarks—two “up” quarks and a “down” quark whose electric charges (+2/3 and −1/3 respectively) combine to give the proton its charge of +1. But that simplistic picture glosses over a far stranger, as-yet-unresolved story.

    In reality, the proton’s interior swirls with a fluctuating number of six kinds of quarks, their oppositely charged antimatter counterparts (antiquarks), and “gluon” particles that bind the others together, morph into them, and readily multiply. Somehow, the roiling maelstrom winds up perfectly stable and superficially simple—mimicking, in certain respects, a trio of quarks. “How it all works out, that’s quite frankly something of a miracle,” said Donald Geesaman, a nuclear physicist at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois.

    Thirty years ago, researchers discovered a striking feature of this “proton sea.” Theorists had expected it to contain an even spread of different types of antimatter; instead, down antiquarks seemed to significantly outnumber up antiquarks. Then, a decade later, another group saw hints of puzzling variations in the down-to-up antiquark ratio. But the results were right on the edge of the experiment’s sensitivity.

    So, 20 years ago, Geesaman and a colleague, Paul Reimer, embarked on a new experiment to investigate. That experiment, called SeaQuest, has finally finished, and the researchers report their findings in the journal Nature. They measured the proton’s inner antimatter in more detail than ever before, finding that there are, on average, 1.4 down antiquarks for every up antiquark.

    Credit: Samuel Velasco/Quanta Magazine.

    The data immediately favors two theoretical models of the proton sea. “This is the first real evidence backing up those models that has come out,” said Reimer.

    One is the “pion cloud” model, a popular, decades-old approach that emphasizes the proton’s tendency to emit and reabsorb particles called pions, which belong to a group of particles known as mesons. The other model, the so-called statistical model, treats the proton like a container full of gas.

    Planned future experiments will help researchers choose between the two pictures. But whichever model is right, SeaQuest’s hard data about the proton’s inner antimatter will be immediately useful, especially for physicists who smash protons together at nearly light speed in Europe’s Large Hadron Collider. When they know exactly what’s in the colliding objects, they can better piece through the collision debris looking for evidence of new particles or effects. Juan Rojo of Vrije University of Amsterdam [Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam](NL), who helps analyze LHC data, said the SeaQuest measurement “could have a big impact” on the search for new physics, which is currently “limited by our knowledge of the proton structure, in particular of its antimatter content.”

    Three’s Company

    For a brief period around half a century ago physicists thought they had the proton sorted.

    In 1964 Murray Gell-Mann and George Zweig independently proposed what became known as the quark model—the idea that protons neutrons and related rarer particles are bundles of three quarks (as Gell-Mann dubbed them), while pions and other mesons are made of one quark and one antiquark. The scheme made sense of the cacophony of particles spraying from high-energy particle accelerators, since their spectrum of charges could all be constructed out of two- and three-part combos. Then, around 1970 researchers at Stanford’s SLAC accelerator seemed to triumphantly confirm the quark model when they shot high-speed electrons at protons and saw the electrons ricochet off objects inside [Science].

    But the picture soon grew murkier. “As we started trying to measure the properties of those three quarks more and more, we discovered that there were some additional things going on,” said Chuck Brown, an 80-year-old member of the SeaQuest team at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory who has worked on quark experiments since the 1970s.

    Scrutiny of the three quarks’ momentum indicated that their masses accounted for a minor fraction of the proton’s total mass. Furthermore, when SLAC shot faster electrons at protons, researchers saw the electrons ping off of more things inside. The faster the electrons, the shorter their wavelengths, which made them sensitive to more fine-grained features of the proton, as if they’d cranked up the resolution of a microscope. More and more internal particles were revealed, seemingly without limit. There’s no highest resolution “that we know of,” Geesaman said.

    The results began to make more sense as physicists worked out the true theory that the quark model only approximates: quantum chromodynamics, or QCD. Formulated in 1973, QCD describes the “strong force,” the strongest force of nature, in which particles called gluons connect bundles of quarks.

    QCD predicts the very maelstrom that scattering experiments observed. The complications arise because gluons feel the very force that they carry. (They differ in this way from photons, which carry the simpler electromagnetic force.) This self-dealing creates a quagmire inside the proton, giving gluons free rein to arise, proliferate and split into short-lived quark-antiquark pairs. From afar, these closely spaced, oppositely charged quarks and antiquarks cancel out and go unnoticed. (Only three unbalanced “valence” quarks—two ups and a down—contribute to the proton’s overall charge.) But physicists realized that when they shot in faster electrons, they were hitting the small targets.

    Yet the oddities continued.

    Self-dealing gluons render the QCD equations generally unsolvable, so physicists couldn’t—and still can’t—calculate the theory’s precise predictions. But they had no reason to think gluons should split more often into one type of quark-antiquark pair—the down type—than the other. “We would expect equal amounts of both to be produced,” said Mary Alberg, a nuclear theorist at Seattle University, explaining the reasoning at the time.

    Hence the shock when, in 1991, the New Muon Collaboration in Geneva scattered muons, the heavier siblings of electrons, off of protons and deuterons (consisting of one proton and one neutron), compared the results, and inferred [Physical Review Letters] that more down antiquarks than up antiquarks seemed to be splashing around in the proton sea.

    Proton Parts

    Theorists soon came out with a number of possible ways to explain the proton’s asymmetry.

    One involves the pion. Since the 1940s physicists have seen protons and neutrons passing pions back and forth inside atomic nuclei like teammates tossing basketballs to each other-an activity that helps link them together. In mulling over the proton, researchers realized that it can also toss a basketball to itself—that is, it can briefly emit and reabsorb a positively charged pion, turning into a neutron in the meantime. “If you’re doing an experiment and you think you’re looking at a proton, you’re fooling yourself, because some of the time that proton is going to fluctuate into this neutron-pion pair,” said Alberg.

    Specifically, the proton morphs into a neutron and a pion made of one up quark and one down antiquark. Because this phantasmal pion has a down antiquark (a pion containing an up antiquark can’t materialize as easily), theorists such as Alberg, Gerald Miller and Tony Thomas argued that the pion cloud idea explains the proton’s measured down antiquark surplus.

    Credit: Samuel Velasco/Quanta Magazine.

    Several other arguments emerged as well. Claude Bourrely and collaborators in France developed the statistical model, which treats the proton’s internal particles as if they’re gas molecules in a room, whipping about at a distribution of speeds that depend on whether they possess integer or half-integer amounts of angular momentum. When tuned to fit data from numerous scattering experiments, the model divined a down-antiquark excess.

    The models did not make identical predictions. Much of the proton’s total mass comes from the energy of individual particles that burst in and out of the proton sea, and these particles carry a range of energies. Models made different predictions for how the ratio of down and up antiquarks should change as you count antiquarks that carry more energy. Physicists measure a related quantity called the antiquark’s momentum fraction.

    When the “NuSea” experiment at Fermilab measured [Nuclear Physics B – Proceedings Supplements] the down-to-up ratio as a function of antiquark momentum in 1999, their answer “just lit everybody up,” Alberg recalled. The data suggested that among antiquarks with ample momentum—so much, in fact, that they were right on the end of the apparatus’s range of detection—up antiquarks suddenly became more prevalent than downs. “Every theorist was saying, ‘Wait a minute,’” said Alberg. “Why, when those antiquarks get a bigger share of the momentum, should this curve start to turn over?”

    As theorists scratched their heads, Geesaman and Reimer, who worked on NuSea and knew that the data on the edge sometimes isn’t trustworthy, set out to build an experiment that could comfortably explore a larger antiquark momentum range. They called it SeaQuest.

    Junk Spawned

    Long on questions about the proton but short on cash, they started assembling the experiment out of used parts. “Our motto was: Reduce, reuse, recycle,” Reimer said.

    They acquired some old scintillators from a lab in Hamburg, leftover particle detectors from Los Alamos National Laboratory, and radiation-blocking iron slabs first used in a cyclotron at Columbia University in the 1950s. They could repurpose NuSea’s room-size magnet, and they could run their new experiment off of Fermilab’s existing proton accelerator. The Frankenstein assemblage was not without its charms. The beeper indicating when protons were flowing into their apparatus dated back five decades, said Brown, who helped find all the pieces. “When it beeps, it gives you a warm feeling in your tummy.”

    The nuclear physicist Paul Reimer (left) amid SeaQuest, an experiment at Fermilab assembled mostly out of used parts. Credit: DOE’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.

    Gradually they got it working. In the experiment, protons strike two targets: a vial of hydrogen, which is essentially protons, and a vial of deuterium—atoms with one proton and one neutron in the nucleus.

    When a proton hits either target, one of its valence quarks sometimes annihilates with one of the antiquarks in the target proton or neutron. “When annihilation occurs, it has a unique signature,” Reimer said, yielding a muon and an antimuon. These particles, along with other “junk” produced in the collision, then encounter those old iron slabs. “The muons can go through; everything else stops,” he said. By detecting the muons on the other side and reconstructing their original paths and speeds, “you can work backwards to work out what momentum fraction the antiquarks carry.”

    Because protons and neutrons mirror each other—each has up-type particles in place of the other’s down-type particles, and vice versa—comparing the data from the two vials directly indicates the ratio of down antiquarks to up antiquarks in the proton—directly, that is, after 20 years of work.

    In 2019, Alberg and Miller calculated [Physical Review C] what SeaQuest should observe based on the pion cloud idea. Their prediction matches the new SeaQuest data well.

    The new data—which shows a gradually rising, then plateauing, down-to-up ratio, not a sudden reversal—also agrees with Bourrely and company’s more flexible statistical model. Yet Miller calls this rival model “descriptive, rather than predictive,” since it’s tuned to fit data rather than to identify a physical mechanism behind the down antiquark excess. By contrast, “the thing I’m really proud of in our calculation is that it was a true prediction,” Alberg said. “We didn’t dial any parameters.”

    In an email, Bourrely argued that “the statistical model is more powerful than that of Alberg and Miller,” since it accounts for scattering experiments in which particles both are and aren’t polarized. Miller vehemently disagreed, noting that pion clouds explain not only the proton’s antimatter content but various particles’ magnetic moments, charge distributions and decay times, as well as the “binding, and therefore existence, of all nuclei.” He added that the pion mechanism is “important in the broad sense of why do nuclei exist, why do we exist.”

    In the ultimate quest to understand the proton, the deciding factor might be its spin, or intrinsic angular momentum. A muon scattering experiment in the late 1980s showed that the spins of the proton’s three valence quarks account for no more than 30 percent of the proton’s total spin. The “proton spin crisis” is: What contributes the other 70 percent? Once again, said Brown, the Fermilab old-timer, “something else must be going on.”

    At Fermilab, and eventually at Brookhaven National Laboratory’s planned Electron-Ion Collider experimenters will probe the spin of the proton sea.

    Electron-Ion Collider (EIC) at DOE’s Brookhaven National Laboratory, to be built inside the tunnel that currently houses the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider [RHIC].

    Already Alberg and Miller are working on calculations of the full “meson cloud” surrounding protons, which includes, along with pions, rarer “rho mesons.” Pions don’t possess spin, but rho mesons do, so they must contribute to the overall spin of the proton in a way Alberg and Miller hope to determine.

    Fermilab’s SpinQuest experiment, involving many of the same people and parts as SeaQuest, is “almost ready to go,” Brown said. “With luck we’ll take data this spring; it will depend”—at least, partly—“on the progress of the vaccine against the virus. It’s sort of amusing that a question this deep and obscure inside the nucleus is depending on the response of this country to the Covid virus. We’re all interconnected, aren’t we?”

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

  • richardmitnick 12:20 pm on February 28, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Solar storms can wreak havoc. We need better space weather forecasts", A CME’s biggest threat-its giant cloud of plasma which can be millions of kilometers wide-typically takes between one and three days to reach our planet., A recent near miss occurred in the summer of 2012. A giant solar storm hurled a radiation-packed blob in Earth’s direction at more than 9 million kilometers per hour., , , It was 19th century German astronomer Samuel Heinrich Schwabe who realized that solar activity ebbs and flows during 11-year cycles., , Scientists learned about the 2012 event after the fact only because it struck a NASA satellite designed to watch for this kind of space weather., , That 2012 storm was the most intense researchers have measured since 1859., The 1859 solar storm came to be known as the Carrington Event named after British astronomer Richard Carrington who witnessed intensely bright patches of light in the sky and recorded what he saw., The most recent sun cycle ended in December 2019., The sun’s magnetic field completely flips every 11 years., There have been a few cases of satellites damaged by solar storms., When the September 1859 storm hit the Northern Hemisphere people were not so lucky. Many telegraph systems throughout Europe and North America failed and the electrified lines shocked some people.   

    From Science News: “Solar storms can wreak havoc. We need better space weather forecasts” 

    From Science News

    February 26, 2021
    Ramin Skibba

    Scientists are expanding efforts to probe outbursts from the sun and understand their occasionally Earthbound paths.

    A burst of solar activity unleashed a huge coronal mass ejection that just missed Earth in July 2012. Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

    Since December 2019, the sun has been moving into a busier part of its cycle, when increasingly intense pulses of energy can shoot out in all directions. Some of these large bursts of charged particles head right toward Earth. Without a good way to anticipate these solar storms, we’re vulnerable. A big one could take out a swath of our communication systems and power grids before we even knew what hit us.

    A recent near miss occurred in the summer of 2012. A giant solar storm hurled a radiation-packed blob in Earth’s direction at more than 9 million kilometers per hour. The potentially debilitating burst quickly traversed the nearly 150 million kilometers toward our planet, and would have hit Earth had it come just a week earlier. Scientists learned about it after the fact only because it struck a NASA satellite designed to watch for this kind of space weather.

    That 2012 storm was the most intense researchers have measured since 1859. When a powerful storm hit the Northern Hemisphere in September of that year, people were not so lucky. Many telegraph systems throughout Europe and North America failed, and the electrified lines shocked some telegraph operators. It came to be known as the Carrington Event, named after British astronomer Richard Carrington, who witnessed intensely bright patches of light in the sky and recorded what he saw [MNRAS].

    The world has moved way beyond telegraph systems. A Carrington-level impact today would knock out satellites, disrupting GPS, mobile phone networks and internet connections. Banking systems, aviation, trains and traffic signals would take a hit as well. Damaged power grids would take months or more to repair.

    Especially now, during a pandemic that has many of us relying on Zoom and other video-communications programs to work and attend school, it’s hard to imagine the widespread upheaval such an event would create. In a worst-case scenario conceived before the pandemic, researchers estimated the economic toll in the United States could reach trillions of dollars, according to a 2017 review [Wiley Online Library] in Risk Analysis.

    To avoid such destruction, in October then-President Donald Trump signed a bill that will support research to produce better space weather forecasts and assess possible impacts, and enable better coordination among agencies like NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

    “We understand a little bit about how these solar storms form, but we can’t predict [them] well,” says atmospheric and space scientist Aaron Ridley of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor(US). Just as scientists know how to map the likely path of tornadoes and hurricanes, Ridley hopes to see the same capabilities for predicting space weather.

    The ideal scenario is to get warnings well before a storm disables satellites or makes landfall, and possibly even before the sun sends charged particles in our direction. With advance warning, utilities and governments could power down the grids and move satellites out of harm’s way.

    Ridley is part of a U.S. collaboration creating simulations of solar storms to help scientists quickly and accurately forecast where the storms will go, how intense they will be and when they might affect important satellites and power grids on Earth. Considering the havoc an extreme solar storm could wreak, many scientists and governments want to develop better forecasts as soon as possible.

    Ebbs and flows

    When scientists talk about space weather, they’re usually referring to two things: the solar wind, a constant stream of charged particles flowing away from the sun, and coronal mass ejections, huge outbursts of charged particles, or plasma, blown out from the sun’s outer layers (SN Online: 3/7/19). Some other phenomena, like high-energy particles called cosmic rays, also count as space weather, but they don’t cause much concern.

    Coronal mass ejections, or CMEs, the most threatening kind of solar storms, aren’t always harmful — they generate dazzling auroras near the poles, after all. But considering the risks of a storm shutting down key military and commercial satellites or harming the health of astronauts in orbit, it’s understandable that scientists and governments are concerned.

    Astronomers have been peering at our solar companion for centuries. In the 17th century, Galileo was among the first to spy sunspots, slightly cooler areas on the sun’s surface with strong magnetic fields that are often a precursor to more intense solar activity. His successors later noticed that sunspots often produce bursts of radiation called solar flares. The complex, shifting magnetic field of the sun also sometimes makes filaments or loops of plasma thousands of kilometers across erupt from the sun’s outer layers. These kinds of solar eruptions can generate CMEs.

    “The sun’s magnetic field lines can get complicated and twisted up like taffy in certain regions,” says Mary Hudson, a physicist at Dartmouth College. Those lines can break like a rubber band and launch a big chunk of corona into interplanetary space.

    It was 19th century German astronomer Samuel Heinrich Schwabe who realized that such solar activity ebbs and flows during 11-year cycles. This happens because the sun’s magnetic field completely flips every 11 years. The most recent sun cycle ended in December 2019, and we’re emerging from the nadir of sun activity while heading toward the maximum of cycle 25 (astronomers started numbering solar cycles in the 19th century). Solar storms, particularly the dangerous CMEs, are now becoming more frequent and intense, and should peak between 2024 and 2026.

    Up and down
    The number of sunspots, and other solar activity that generates solar storms, rises and falls in an 11-year cycle. Solar cycle 25 began in December 2019 and is expected to peak in 2025. Source: SILSO data/Royal Observatory of Belgium 2021.

    Solar storms develop from the sun’s complex magnetic field. The sun rotates faster at its equator than at its poles, and since it’s not a solid sphere, its magnetic field constantly roils and swirls around. At the same time, heat from the sun’s interior rises to the surface, with charged particles bringing new magnetic fields with them. The most intense CMEs usually come from the most vigorous period in a particularly active solar cycle, but there’s a lot of variation. The 1859 CME originated from a fairly modest solar cycle, Hudson points out.

    A CME has multiple components. If the CME is on a trajectory toward Earth, the first thing to arrive — just eight minutes after it leaves the sun — is the electromagnetic radiation, which moves at the speed of light. CMEs often produce a shock wave that accelerates electrons to extremely fast speeds, and those arrive within 20 minutes of the light. Such energetic particles can damage the electronics or solar cells of satellites in high orbits. Those particles could also harm any astronauts outside of Earth’s protective magnetic field, including any on the moon. A crew on board the International Space Station, inside Earth’s magnetic field, however, would most likely be safe.

    But a CME’s biggest threat — its giant cloud of plasma, which can be millions of kilometers wide — typically takes between one and three days to reach our planet, depending on how fast the sun propelled the shotgun blast of particles toward us. Earth’s magnetic field, our first defense against space weather and space radiation, can protect us from only so much.

    Magnetosphere of Earth, original bitmap from NASA. SVG rendering by Aaron Kaase.

    Satellites and ground-based observations have shown that a CME’s charged particles interact with and distort the magnetic field. Those interactions can have two important effects: producing more intense electric currents in the upper atmosphere and shifting these stronger currents away from the poles to places with more people and more infrastructure, Ridley says. With an extremely powerful storm, it’s these potentially massive currents that put satellites and power grids at risk.

    A bright cloud of particles blew out from the sun in 2013. Activity in the current solar cycle is expected to peak in 2025. Credit: SDO/Goddard/NASA/Flickr.


    Anyone who depends on long-distance radio signals or telecommunications might have to do without them until the storm blows over and damaged satellites are repaired or replaced. A powerful storm can disturb airplanes in flight, too, as pilots lose contact with air traffic controllers. While these are temporary effects, typically lasting up to a day, impacts on the electrical grids could be worse.

    A massive CME could suddenly and unexpectedly drive currents of kiloamps rather than the usual amps through power grid wires on Earth, overwhelming transformers and making them melt or explode. The entire province of Quebec, with nearly 7 million people, suffered a power blackout that lasted more than nine hours on March 13, 1989, thanks to such a CME during a particularly active solar cycle. The CME affected New England and New York, too. Had electricity grid operators known what was coming, they could have reduced power flow on lines and interconnections in the power grid and set up backup generators where needed.

    Early warning

    But planners need more of a heads-up than they get today. Perhaps within the next decade, improved computer modeling and new space weather monitoring capabilities will enable scientists to predict solar storms and their likely impacts more accurately and earlier, says physicist Thomas Berger, executive director of the Space Weather Technology, Research and Education Center at the University of Colorado Boulder.

    Space meteorologists classify solar storms, based on disturbances to the Earth’s magnetic field, on a five-level scale, like hurricanes. But unlike those tropical storms, the likely arrival of a solar storm isn’t known with any precision using available satellites. For storms brewing on Earth, the National Weather Service has access to constantly updated data. But space weather data are too sparse to be very useful, with few storms to monitor and provide data.

    Two U.S. satellites that monitor space weather are NASA’s ACE spacecraft, which dates from the 1990s and should continue to collect data for a few more years, and NOAA’s DSCOVR, which was designed at a similar time but not launched until 2015. Both orbit about 1.5 million kilometers above Earth — which seems far but is barely upstream of our planet from a solar storm’s perspective. The two satellites can detect and measure a solar storm only when its impact is imminent: 15 to 45 minutes away. That’s more akin to “nowcasting” than forecasting, offering little more than a warning to brace for impact.

    Eyes on the sun

    Three main satellites have been monitoring space weather, starting as early as 1995, but can only pick up an imminent impact.

    NASA ACE Advanced Composition Explorer. Launched in 1997.

    NOAA/DSCOVR. Launched in 2015.

    ESA/NASA SOHO.Launched in 1995

    “That’s one of the grand challenges of space weather: to predict the magnetic field of a CME long before it gets [here] so that you can prepare for the incoming storm,” Berger says. But aging satellites like SOHO, a satellite launched by NASA and the European Space Agency in 1995, plus ACE and DSCOVR monitor only a limited range of directions that don’t include the sun’s poles, leaving a big gap in observations, he says.

    Ideally, scientists want to be able to forecast a solar storm before it’s blown out into space. That would give enough lead time — more than a day — for power grid operators to protect transformers from power surges, and satellites and astronauts could move out of harm’s way if possible.

    That requires gathering more data, particularly from the sun’s outer layers, plus better estimating when a CME will burst forth and whether to expect it to arrive with a bang or a whimper. To aid such research, NOAA scientists will outfit their next space weather satellite, scheduled to launch in early 2025, with a coronagraph, an instrument used for studying the outermost part of the sun’s atmosphere, the corona, while blocking most of the sun’s light, which would otherwise blind its view.

    An artist’s rendering of the SWFO-L1 satellite.

    A second major improvement could come just two years later, in 2027, with the launch of ESA’s Lagrange mission.

    ESA Lagrange will be the first mission with a satellite (illustrated) at L5, to monitor the sun from the side to try and spot Earth-bound coronal mass ejections much earlier. Credit: WMAP Science Team/NASA.

    LaGrange Points map. NASA.

    It will be the first space weather mission to launch one of its spacecraft to a unique spot: 60 degrees behind Earth in its orbit around the sun. Once in position, the spacecraft will be able to see the surface of the sun from the side before the face of the sun has rotated and pointed in Earth’s direction, says Juha-Pekka Luntama, head of ESA’s Space Weather Office.

    That way, Lagrange will be able to monitor an active, flaring area of the sun days earlier than other spacecraft, getting a fix on a new solar storm’s speed and direction sooner to allow scientists to make a more precise forecast. With these new satellites, there will be more spacecraft watching for incoming space weather from different spots, giving scientists more data to make forecasts.

    Meanwhile, Berger, Ridley and colleagues are focused on developing better computer simulations and models of the behavior of the sun’s corona and the ramifications of CMEs on Earth. Ridley and his team are creating a new software platform that allows researchers anywhere to quickly update models of the upper atmosphere affected by space weather. Ridley’s group is also modeling how a CME shakes our planet’s magnetic field and releases charged particles toward the land below.

    Berger also collaborates with other researchers on modeling and simulating Earth’s upper atmosphere to better predict how solar storms affect its density. When a storm hits, it compresses the magnetic field, which can change the density of the outer layers of Earth’s atmosphere and affect how much drag satellites have to battle to stay in orbit.

    Satellite safety

    There have been a few cases of satellites damaged by solar storms. The Japanese ADEOS-II satellite stopped functioning in 2003, following a period of intense outbursts of energy from the sun. And the Solar Maximum Mission satellite appeared to have been dragged into lower orbit — and eventually burned up in the atmosphere — following the same 1989 solar storm that left Quebec in the dark.

    Satellites affected by solar storms could be at risk of crashing into each other or space debris, too. With mega-constellations of satellites like SpaceX’s being launched by the hundreds (SN: 3/28/20, p. 24), and with tens of thousands of satellites and bits of space flotsam already in crowded orbits, the risks are real of something drifting into the path of something else. Any space crash will surely create more space junk, too, tossing out debris that also puts spacecraft at risk.

    These are all strong motivators for Ridley, Berger and colleagues to study how storm-driven drag works. The U.S. military tracks satellites and debris and predicts where they’ll likely be in the future, but all those calculations are worthless without knowing the effects of solar storms, says Boris Krämer, an aerospace engineer at the University of California, San Diego who collaborates with Ridley. “To put satellites on trajectories so that they avoid collisions, you have to know space weather,” Krämer says.

    It takes time to create simulations estimating the drag on a single satellite. Current models run on powerful super-computers. But if a satellite needs to use its onboard computer to make those computations on the fly, researchers need to develop sufficiently accurate models that run much more quickly and with less energy.

    New data and new models probably won’t be online in time for the upcoming solar storm season, but they should be in place for solar cycle 26 in the 2030s. Perhaps by then, scientists will be able to give earlier red alerts to warn of an incoming storm, giving more time to move satellites, buttress transformers and stave off the worst.

    The goal of improving space weather forecasts has drawn broad federal government support and interest from industry, including Lockheed Martin, because of the threats to important satellites, including the 31 that constitute the U.S. GPS network.

    The growing interest in space weather led to the 2020 law, known as the Promoting Research and Observations of Space Weather to Improve the Forecasting of Tomorrow Act, or PROSWIFT. And the National Science Foundation and NASA have thrown support behind space weather research programs like Berger’s and Ridley’s. For instance, Ridley, Krämer and their collaborators recently received $3.1 million in NSF grants to develop new space weather computer simulations and software, among other things.

    Our reliance on technology in space comes with increasing vulnerabilities. Some space scientists speculate that we’ve failed to find alien civilizations because some of those civilizations were wiped out by the very active stars they orbit, which could strip a once-habitable world’s atmosphere and expose life on the surface to harmful stellar radiation and space weather. Our sun is not as dangerous as many other stars that have more frequent and intense magnetic activity, but it has the potential to be perilous to our way of life.

    “Globally, we have to take space weather seriously and prepare ourselves. We don’t want to wake up one day, and all our infrastructure is down,” ESA’s Luntama says. With key satellites and power grids suddenly wrecked, we wouldn’t even be able to use our phones to call for help.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

  • richardmitnick 10:55 am on February 28, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "What is a quasar?" "Elementary my dear Watson" Really? Read on., 3.5 million years ago there was a gigantic explosion known as a Seyfert flare at the center of our galaxy centered on Sagittarius A*- the Milky Way’s supermassive black hole., A quasar is a type of active galactic nucleus or AGN., A quasar is an extremely bright and distant point-like source visible to radio telescopes. The source is a so-called Active Galactic Nucleus fueled by a supermassive black hole., A typical quasar is 27 trillion times brighter than our sun!, As matter in a quasar/black hole’s accretion disk heats up it generates radio waves-X-rays-in ultraviolet and visible light., Astronomers now believe that quasars are the extremely luminous centers of galaxies in their infancy., , Fermi bubbles and are visible today at gamma and X-ray wavelengths., It was Maarten Schmidt who after examining the emission lines in the spectra of quasars suggested that astronomers were seeing normal emission lines that were that were highly shifted towards the red , Quasar J0313-1806 currently the most distant quasar known., Quasars are extremely bright- up to 1000 times brighter than our Milky Way galaxy., The intense radiation released by an AGN is thought to be powered by a supermassive black hole at its center., The inward spiral of matter in a supermassive black hole’s accretion disk-at the center of a quasar-is the result of particles colliding and bouncing against each other and losing momentum., The oldest quasar currently is J0313-1806. Its distance has been measured as 13.03 billion light-years. Therefore we see it as it was just 670 million years after the Big Bang., The redshift was due to the quasar’s great distance., The word quasar stands for quasi-stellar radio source., There are actually many different types of AGNs each with their own tale to tell., There are galaxies not classed as quasars but that still have bright active centers where we can see the rest of the galaxy. An example of this type of AGN is called a Seyfert galaxy., Using the 200-inch (5 m) Hale telescope John Bolton and his team were able to observe quasar 3C273 as it passed behind the moon., We know that quasaers are highly active emitting staggering amounts of radiation across the entire electromagnetic spectrum.   

    From EarthSky: “What is a quasar?” “Elementary my dear Watson” Really? Read on. 


    From EarthSky

    February 28, 2021
    Andy Briggs

    A quasar is an extremely bright and distant point-like source visible to radio telescopes. The source is a so-called Active Galactic Nucleus fueled by a supermassive black hole.

    Artist’s concept of quasar J0313-1806 currently the most distant quasar known. Quasars are highly luminous objects in the early universe, thought to be powered by supermassive black holes. This illustration shows a wide accretion disk around a black hole, and depicts an extremely high-velocity wind, flowing at some 20% of light-speed, found in the vicinity of JO313-1806. Credit: NOIRLab/ NSF/ AURA/ J. da Silva/ Keck Observatory.

    The word quasar stands for quasi-stellar radio source. Quasars got that name because they looked starlike when astronomers first began to notice them in the late 1950s and early 60s. But quasars aren’t stars. They’re now known as young galaxies, located at vast distances from us, with their numbers increasing towards the edge of the visible universe. How can they be so far away and yet still visible? The answer is that quasars are extremely bright- up to 1,000 times brighter than our Milky Way galaxy. We know that quasaers are highly active emitting staggering amounts of radiation across the entire electromagnetic spectrum.

    Because they’re far away, we’re seeing these objects as they were when our universe was young. The oldest quasar currently is J0313-1806 [depiction above]. Its distance has been measured as 13.03 billion light-years. Therefore we see it as it was just 670 million years after the Big Bang.

    What was happening in our universe at that time to make quasars so astoundingly bright?

    Here are 100 quasars identified via data from the Hyper Suprime-Cam mounted on the Subaru Telescope. The top 7 rows represent the 83 new discoveries. The bottom 2 rows represent 17 previously known quasars in the survey area. Image via NAOJ.

    NAOJ Subaru Hyper Suprime-Cam at ATC.

    NAOJ Subaru Hyper Suprime-Cam

    NAOJ/Subaru Telescope at Mauna Kea Hawaii, USA,4,207 m (13,802 ft) above sea level.

    Astronomers now believe that quasars are the extremely luminous centers of galaxies in their infancy. After decades of intense study, we have another term for these objects: a quasar is a type of active galactic nucleus or AGN. There are actually many different types of AGNs each with their own tale to tell. The intense radiation released by an AGN is thought to be powered by a supermassive black hole at its center. The radiation is emitted when material in the accretion disk surrounding the black hole is superheated to millions of degrees by the intense friction generated by the particles of dust, gas and other matter in the disk colliding countless times with each other.

    The inward spiral of matter in a supermassive black hole’s accretion disk-at the center of a quasar-is the result of particles colliding and bouncing against each other and losing momentum. That material came from the enormous clouds of gas, mainly consisting of molecular hydrogen, which filled the universe in the era shortly after the Big Bang.

    Thus, positioned as they were in the early universe, quasars had a vast supply of matter to feed on.

    As matter in a quasar/black hole’s accretion disk heats up it generates radio waves-X-rays-in ultraviolet and visible light. The quasar becomes so bright that it’s able to outshine entire galaxies. But remember … quasars are very far away. They’re so far from us that we only observe the active nucleus, or core, of the galaxy in which they reside. We see nothing of the galaxy apart from its bright center. It’s like seeing a distant car headlight at night: you have no idea of which type of car you are looking at, as everything apart from the headlight is in darkness.

    On the other hand,there are galaxies which are not classed as quasars but that still have bright active centers where we can see the rest of the galaxy. An example of this type of AGN is called a Seyfert galaxy after the late astronomer Carl Keenan Seyfert, who was the first to identify them.

    NGC 1068 (Messier 77) was one of the first Seyfert galaxies classified. It’s the brightest and one of the closest and best-studied type 2 Seyfert galaxies, and is the prototype of this class. Credit: 2013 image is via the Hubble Space Telescope.

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope.

    Seyfert galaxies make up perhaps 10% of all the galaxies in the universe: they are not classed as quasars because they are much younger and have well-defined structures, rather than the rather formless and amorphous young galaxies which are presumed to have hosted quasars as soon as just a few hundred million years after the Big Bang.

    But just consider the amounts of energy required to illuminate an object sufficiently to make it visible in radio waves from the farthest reaches of the universe, like a mariner being able to glimpse a distant lighthouse across an entire ocean. Quasars can emit up to a thousand times the energy of the combined luminosity of the 200 billion or so stars in our own Milky Way galaxy.

    Milky Way NASA/JPL-Caltech /ESO R. Hurt. The bar is visible in this image.

    A typical quasar is 27 trillion times brighter than our sun! Replace the sun in the sky with a quasar and its incredible luminosity would blind you instantly should you be foolhardy enough to look at it directly. If you were to place a quasar at the distance of Pluto, it would vaporize all of Earth’s oceans to steam in a fifth of a second.

    Astronomers believe that most, if not all, large galaxies went through a so-called “quasar phase” in their youth, soon after their formation. If so, they subsided in brightness when they ran out of matter to feed the accretion disk surrounding their supermassive black holes. After this epoch, galaxies settled into quiescence, their central black holes starved of material to feed on. The black hole at the center of our own galaxy has been seen to flare up briefly, however, as passing material strays into it, releasing radio waves and X-rays. It’s conceivable that entire stars could be torn apart and consumed as they cross a black hole’s event horizon, the point of no return.

    It must be pointed out, however, that our knowledge of galaxy evolution – from youthful quasar to quiescent middle-aged galaxy – is far from complete. Galaxies often provide us with exceptions, and as an example we need look no further than our own Milky Way. We now know, for example, that 3.5 million years ago there was a gigantic explosion known as a Seyfert flare at the center of our galaxy. It was apparently centered on Sagittarius A*, the Milky Way’s supermassive black hole, producing two huge lobes of superheated plasma extending some 25,000 light years from the north and south galactic poles.

    SGR A* , the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way. Credit: NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory.

    SgrA* NASA/Chandra supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way, X-ray image of the center of our galaxy, where the supermassive black hole Sagittarius A* resides. Credit: X-ray: NASA/UMass/D.Wang et al., IR: NASA/STScI.

    Sgr A* from ESO VLT.

    SGR A and SGR A* Credit: Penn State and NASA/Chandra.

    Star S2 near SGR A* at the center of the milky Way studied by Richard Genzel of MPG Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics [MPG Institut für extraterrestrische Physik] (DE).

    These huge lobes are called Fermi bubbles and are visible today at gamma and X-ray wavelengths (very high frequency electromagnetic emissions).

    Artist’s concept of the mind-boggling Fermi bubbles, discovered in 2010. These huge lobes extend above and below the plane of our Milky Way galaxy. They shine in gamma rays and X-rays and thus are invisible to the human eye. The graph shows how the Hubble Space Telescope was used to probe the light from a distant quasar to analyze the Fermi bubbles. A quasar’s light passed through one of these bubbles. Imprinted on that light is information about the outflow’s speed, composition, and eventually mass. Thus quasars aren’t only mysterious, they can be useful too! Credit: NASA/ESA Hubble.

    So astronomers are still learning about the specifics of galaxy evolution.

    Indeed, the history of quasars hasn’t been an easy road for astronomers to follow. When quasars were first discovered in the late 1950s, astronomers using radio telescopes saw starlike objects that radiated radio waves (hence quasi-stellar radio objects), but which were not visible in optical telescopes. Their resemblance to stars, their brightness and small angular diameters understandably led astronomers of the time to assume they were looking at objects within our own galaxy. However, examination of the radio spectra from these objects revealed them to be more mysterious than anyone had expected.

    Many early observations of quasars, including those of 3C48 and 3C273, the first two quasars to be discovered, were made in the early 1960s by British-Australian astronomer John Bolton. He and his colleagues were puzzled by the fact that quasars were not visible in optical telescopes. They wanted to find quasars’ so-called “optical counterparts,” that is, a quasar which would be visible to their eyes in a telescope rather than only being detectable with radio instruments.

    Astronomers simply didn’t know at that time that quasars were extremely distant, too distant for their optical counterparts to be visible from Earth at that time, despite being intrinsically brilliant objects. But then, in 1963, astronomers Allan Sandage and Thomas A. Matthews found what they were looking for: what appeared to be a faint, blue star at the location of a known quasar. Taking its spectrum, they were perplexed: it looked like nothing they had ever seen before. They couldn’t make heads or tails of it.

    Using the 200-inch (5 m) Hale telescope John Bolton and his team were able to observe quasar 3C273 as it passed behind the moon.

    Caltech Palomar 200 inch Hale Telescope, Altitude 1,713 m (5,620 ft), located in San Diego County, California, U.S.A.

    These observations also let them obtain spectra. And again the spectra looked strange, showing unrecognizable emission lines. These lines tell astronomers which chemical elements are present in the object they are examining. But the quasar’s spectral lines were nonsensical, seeming to indicate elements which should not be present.

    The hydrogen spectrum of quasar 3C273. The emission lines are shifted to the right, toward longer wavelengths, compared to where hydrogen emission lines would normally be located on the spectrum. They are redshifted, indicating that the quasar is located at an extreme distance from us. Credit: University of Alberta(CA).

    It was astronomer Maarten Schmidt who after examining the strange emission lines in the spectra of quasars suggested that astronomers were seeing normal emission lines that were highly shifted towards the red end of the electromagnetic spectrum!

    And so they had their answer. The redshift was due to the quasar’s great distance. Its light is being stretched by the expansion of the universe during its long journey to us from the edge of the visible cosmos.

    But if it were really true that quasars were as far away as towards the edge of the visible universe, how could they have generated such copious quantities of energy? Back in 1964, even the existence of black holes was hotly debated. There were many scientists who considered them nothing more than mathematical freaks, because surely they could not exist in the real universe.

    So the debate about the nature of quasars raged on until the 1970s when a new generation of Earth- and space-based telescopes established beyond reasonable doubt that quasars do indeed lie at vast distances, that we are seeing galaxies when they were young, that the quasar stage is a natural phase of their growth. With black holes finally being taken seriously too, astronomers could now finally model the identity of the almost incomprehensible powerhouse behind quasars: supermassive black holes consuming stupendous amounts of gas and radiating vast amounts of energy across the spectrum as a result.

    This model explains why quasars sit towards the edge of the visible universe and why we don’t see them closer: because quasars are young galaxies, seen not long after their formation in the early universe.

    The study of quasars, and active galactic nuclei in general, has come far, but there is much we still don’t understand. However, I believe part of our lack of understanding is a failure of imagination. It is virtually impossible to comprehend the amounts of energy generated by the black hole engines at the hearts of quasars, those monsters in the dark. It is equally hard to appreciate just how far they are from us. But that is hardly our fault: our poor simian brains are just not well-equipped to deal with such concepts.

    Quasars are just one example of an animal in the cosmic zoo about which one just has to accept the facts rather than try to comprehend them.

    Artist’s concept of the quasar Poniua’ena, the first quasar to receive an indigenous Hawaiian name. Credit:International Gemini Observatory/ NOIRLab/ NSF/ AURA/ P. Marenfeld/ UANews.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.orgin 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. “Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers,” she says.

  • richardmitnick 6:42 pm on February 27, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Merging boson stars could explain massive black hole collision and prove existence of dark matter", Galician Institute of High Energy Physics (ES), , , The heaviest black hole collision ever observed produced by the gravitational-wave GW190521 might actually be something even more mysterious: the merger of two boson stars., This result would not only involve the first observation of boson stars but also that of their building block: a new particle known as an ultra-light boson., This would be the first evidence of the existence of these hypothetical objects which are a candidate for dark matter-believed to comprise 27% of the mass in the universe., University of Aveiro (PT)   

    From Galician Institute of High Energy Physics (ES) and University of Aveiro [Universidade de Aveiro](PT) via “Merging boson stars could explain massive black hole collision and prove existence of dark matter” 

    From Galician Institute of High Energy Physics (ES)


    University of Aveiro [Universidade de Aveiro](PT)

    Artistic impression of the merger of two boson stars. Credit: Nicolás Sanchis-Gual and Rocío García Souto.

    An international team of scientists led by the Galician Institute of High Energy Physics (IGFAE) and the University of Aveiro [Universidade de Aveiro](PT) shows that the heaviest black hole collision ever observed, produced by the gravitational-wave GW190521, might actually be something even more mysterious: the merger of two boson stars. This would be the first evidence of the existence of these hypothetical objects which are a candidate for dark matter-believed to comprise 27% of the mass in the universe.

    Gravitational waves are ripples in the fabric of spacetime that travel at the speed of light. These originate in the most violent events of in the universe, carrying information about their sources. Since 2015, the two LIGO detectors in the U.S. and the Virgo detector in Cascina, Italy, have detected and interpreted gravitational waves.

    Caltech/MIT Advanced aLigo at Hanford, WA(US), Livingston, LA(US) and VIRGO Gravitational Wave interferometer, near Pisa(IT).

    To date, these detectors have already observed around 50 gravitational-wave signals. All of these originated in the collisions and mergers of black holes and neutron stars, allowing physicists to deepen the knowledge about these objects.

    Masses in the Stellar Graveyard GWTC-2 plot v1.0 BY LIGO-Virgo. Credit: Frank Elavsky and Aaron Geller at Northwestern University.

    However, the promise of gravitational waves goes much further than this, as these should eventually provide us with evidence for previously unobserved and even unexpected objects, and shed light on current mysteries like the nature of dark matter. The latter may, however, have already happened.

    In September 2020, the LIGO and Virgo collaboration (LVC) announced to the world the gravitational-wave signal GW190521. According to their analysis, the signal was consistent with the collision of two heavy black holes, of 85 and 66 times the mass of the sun, which produced a final black hole with 142 solar masses. The resulting black hole was the first of a new, previously unobserved black hole family: intermediate-mass black holes. This discovery is of paramount importance, as such black holes were the missing link between two well-known black-hole families: stellar-mass black holes that form from the collapse of stars, and supermassive black holes that reside in the center of almost every galaxy, including the Milky Way.

    In addition, this observation came with an enormous challenge. If what we think we know about how stars live and die is correct, the heaviest of the colliding black holes (85 solar masses) could not form from the collapse of a star at the end of its life, which opens up a range of doubts and possibilities about its origins.

    In an article published today in Physical Review Letters, a team of scientists lead by Dr. Juan Calderón Bustillo at the Galician Institute of High Energy Physics (IGFAE), joint center of the University of Santiago de Compostela and Xunta de Galicia, and Dr. Nicolás Sanchis-Gual, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Aveiro and the Instituto Superior Técnico at University of Lisbon [Universidade de Lisboa](PT] , together with collaborators from University of Valencia [Universitat de València [univeɾsiˈtad de vaˈlensia]](ES), Monash University(AU) and The Chinese University of Hong Kong [香港中文大学; Xiānggǎng zhōngwén dàxué](HK), has proposed an alternative explanation for the origin of the signal GW190521: the collision of two exotic objects known as boson stars, which are one of the most likely candidates to explain dark matter. In their analysis, the team was able to estimate the mass of a new particle constituent of these stars, an ultra-light boson with a mass billions of times smaller than electrons.

    The team compared the GW190521 signal to computer simulations of boson-star mergers, and found that these actually explain the data slightly better than the analysis conducted by LIGO and Virgo. The result implies that the source would have different properties than stated earlier. Dr. Calderón Bustillo says, “First, we would not be talking about colliding black holes anymore, which eliminates the issue of dealing with a ‘forbidden’ black hole. Second, because boson star mergers are much weaker, we infer a much closer distance than the one estimated by LIGO and Virgo. This leads to a much larger mass for the final black hole, of about 250 solar masses, so the fact that we have witnessed the formation of an intermediate-mass black hole remains true.”

    Dr. Nicolás Sanchis-Gual says, “Boson stars are objects almost as compact as black holes but, unlike them, do not have a ‘no-return’ surface. When they collide, they form a boson star that can become unstable, eventually collapsing to a black hole, and producing a signal consistent with what LIGO and Virgo observed. Unlike regular stars, which are made of what we commonly know as matter, boson stars are made up of what we know as ultralight bosons. These bosons are one of the most appealing candidates for constituting what we know as dark matter.”

    The team found that even though the analysis tends to favor the merging black-holes hypothesis, a boson star merger is actually preferred by the data, although in a non-conclusive way. Prof. Jose A. Font from the University of Valencia says, “Our results show that the two scenarios are almost indistinguishable given the data, although the exotic boson star hypothesis is slightly preferred. This is very exciting, since our boson-star model is, as of now, very limited, and subject to major improvements. A more evolved model may lead to even larger evidence for this scenario and would also allow us to study previous gravitational-wave observations under the boson-star merger assumption.”

    This result would not only involve the first observation of boson stars but also that of their building block: a new particle known as an ultra-light boson. Prof. Carlos Herdeiro from University of Aveiro says, “One of the most fascinating results is that we can actually measure the mass of this putative new dark-matter particle, and that a value of zero is discarded with high confidence. If confirmed by subsequent analysis of this and other gravitational-wave observations, our result would provide the first observational evidence for a long-sought dark matter candidate.”

    See the full article here.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The Galician Institute of High Energy Physics (Instituto Galego de Física de Altas Enerxías, IGFAE) is a joint research center of University of Santiago de Compostela – USC [Universidade de Santiago de Compostela](ES) and Xunta de Galicia (the Galician Autonomous Government), that it was officially created on July 2, 1999.

    Our main goal is to coordinate and foster the scientific and technical research in the field of High Energy Physics, Particle and Nuclear Physics and related areas as Astrophysics, Medical Physics and Instrumentation.

    Of primary importance is the planning and promotion of the relation with large experimental facilities, especially with CERN, GSI/FAIR, Pierre Auger Observatory and LIGO at present.

    In 2016, IGFAE was accredited “María de Maeztu” Unit of Excellence, integrating the Severo Ochoa and María de Maeztu alliance (SOMMa). This program of the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities identify and promote excellence in existing cutting-edge research institutions.

  • richardmitnick 4:39 pm on February 27, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Nuclear Physicists on the Hunt for Squeezed Protons", , , DOE’s Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility(US), , QCD predicts that the proton can be squeezed so that the quarks become more tightly knit-essentially wrapping themselves up so tightly in the color force that it no longer leaks out of the proton., Quantum Chromodynamics or QCD-the theory that describes how quarks and the strong force interact. In QCD the strong force is also referred to as the color force., While the nuclear physicists observed several thousand protons in the experiment they did not find the tell-tale signs of color transparency in the new data.   

    DOE’s Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility(US): “Nuclear Physicists on the Hunt for Squeezed Protons” 

    From DOE’s Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility(US)

    Kandice Carter
    Jefferson Lab Communications Office

    Nuclear physicists crank up the energy to put the squeeze on the proton and its quarks.


    While protons populate the nucleus of every atom in the universe, sometimes they can be squeezed into a smaller size and slip out of the nucleus for a romp on their own. Observing these squeezed protons may offer unique insights into the particles that build our universe.

    Now, researchers hunting for these squeezed protons at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility have come up empty-handed, suggesting there’s more to the phenomenon than first thought. The result was recently published in Physical Review Letters.

    “We were looking to squeeze the proton such that its quarks are in a small-size configuration. And that’s a pretty tough thing to do,” said Holly Szumila-Vance, a Jefferson Lab staff scientist.

    Protons are made of three quarks bound up by the strong force. In an ordinary proton, the strong force is so strong that it leaks out, making the proton stick to other protons and neutrons around it in the nucleus. That’s according to quantum chromodynamics or QCD-the theory that describes how quarks and the strong force interact. In QCD the strong force is also referred to as the color force.

    However, QCD also predicts that the proton can be squeezed such that the quarks become more tightly knit – essentially wrapping themselves up so tightly in the color force that it no longer leaks out of the proton. When that happens, the proton no longer sticks to other particles and can move freely through the nucleus. This phenomenon is called “color transparency,” since the proton has become invisible to the color force of the particles around it.

    “It’s a fundamental prediction of quantum chromodynamics, the theory that describes these particles,” Szumila-Vance explained.

    An earlier experiment showed color transparency in simpler particles made of quarks called pions. Where protons have three quarks, pions have just two. In addition, another experiment conducted with protons had also suggested that protons also may exhibit color transparency at energies well within reach of the recently upgraded facility at Jefferson Lab.

    “We expected to find the protons squeezed just like the pions,” said Dipangkar Dutta, a professor at Mississippi State University and a spokesperson for the experiment. “But we went to higher and higher energies and are still not finding them.”

    The experiment was one of the first to run in the Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility [CEBAF], a DOE Office of Science User Facility, following its 12 GeV upgrade.

    Jlab CEBAF Large Accelerator Spectrometer.

    In the experiment, the nuclear physicists directed high-energy electrons from CEBAF into the nuclei of carbon atoms. They then measured the outgoing electrons and any protons that came out.

    “This was an exciting experiment to be a part of. It was the first experiment to run in Experimental Hall C after we upgraded the hall for 12 GeV running,” said Szumila-Vance. “These were the highest-momentum protons measured at Jefferson Lab, and the highest-momentum protons ever produced by electron scattering.”

    “At the energies we are probing, the proton is usually decimated, and you’re looking at the debris of the proton,” Dutta explained. “But in our case, we want the proton to stay a proton, and the only way that that can happen is if the quarks kind of squeeze together, hold each other much more tightly so that they can escape together from the nucleus.”

    While the nuclear physicists observed several thousand protons in the experiment they did not find the tell-tale signs of color transparency in the new data.

    “I think this tells us that the proton is more complicated than we expected,” said Szumila-Vance. “This is a fundamental prediction of the theory. We know that it has to exist at some high energy, but just don’t yet know where that will happen.”

    The researchers said the next step is to better understand the phenomenon in simpler particles where it has already been observed, so that improved predictions can be made for more complex particles, such as protons.

    Ninety nuclear physicists representing 27 institutions contributed to this experiment, including two graduate students: Deepak Bhetuwal from Mississippi State University and John Matter from the University of Virginia.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    JLab campus
    DOE’s Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility(US) is supported by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy. DOE’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit
    Jefferson Science Associates, LLC, a joint venture of the Southeastern Universities Research Association, Inc. and PAE Applied Technologies, manages and operates the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, or Jefferson Lab, for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

  • richardmitnick 4:09 pm on February 27, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Funding excellent research- dynamics of neutron stars is the focus of the cluster project ELEMENTS", , , , , ELEMENTS Project-Exploring the Universe from microscopic to macroscopic scales, ELEMENTS will study neutron stars- the barely visible little brothers of black holes., , , GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research [GSI Helmholtz Zentrum für Schwerionenforschung] GmbH (DE), ,   

    From GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research [GSI Helmholtz Zentrum für Schwerionenforschung] GmbH (DE): “Funding excellent research- dynamics of neutron stars is the focus of the cluster project ELEMENTS” 

    From GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research [GSI Helmholtz Zentrum für Schwerionenforschung] GmbH (DE)


    The electron accelerator S-DALINAC at Technical University of Darmstadt [Technische Universität Darmstadt](DE), Institute for Nuclear Physics. Credit: Jan-Christoph Hartung/TU Darmstadt.

    Visualization of the future FAIR accelerator facility. Credit: ion42/FAIR

    The Hessian state government is supporting cutting-edge research in Hesse with almost 40 million euros over a period of four years. Six projects of the universities in Darmstadt, Frankfurt, Giessen and Marburg together with further universities and non-university research institutions will be supported in the funding line “Cluster Projects” launched by the state from April 2021. In this way, the state is strengthening the research areas that shape the profile of Hessen’s universities, including particle physics. One of the funded projects is ELEMENTS, in which the GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung is involved.

    In 2017, gravitational waves from merging neutron stars and their electromagnetic signals were detected for the first time — a turning point in multi-messenger astronomy. The cluster project ELEMENTS (Exploring the Universe from microscopic to macroscopic scales) brings together scientists from different fields of physics to investigate the origin of chemical elements in the universe. In the process, physics questions about the fundamental properties of matter will be answered. Experimentally, the project benefits from the worldwide unique infrastructure of particle accelerators in Hesse, including the FAIR facility currently under construction at GSI.

    The project combines the strong research forces of several international leading institutions. It is being funded with 7.9 million euros until 2025 as part of the “Cluster Projects” funding line of the State of Hesse in preparation for the next round of the Bund-Länder Excellence Strategy. Besides Goethe University Frankfurt [Goethe-Universität](DE) and Technical University of Darmstadt [Technische Universität Darmstadt](DE), which are equally leading the project, the Justus Liebig University Giessen [Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen](DE) and the GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung in Darmstadt are also involved. This collaboration will allow the researchers to combine their outstanding expertise in gravitational physics and in the physics of nuclear reactions, as well as to make synergistic use of the accelerator facilities in Darmstadt — the FAIR facility at GSI and the TU’s electron accelerator S-DALINAC at the Institute of Nuclear Physics.

    “I am delighted with this decision of the State of Hesse,” said the Scientific Managing Director of GSI and FAIR, Professor Paolo Giubellino. “In the State of Hesse we understand how to bring together the right people and the right topics. We provide research structures at international top level. That enables us to achieve a leading standing in important future research fields. The current research program at GSI and FAIR offers excellent opportunities, and in the coming years the FAIR accelerator center will open up further innovative potential.”

    “I am extremely pleased with the decision,” TU President Professor Tanja Brühl said. “It honors the synergies between outstanding university and non-university research. The globally unique particle accelerator infrastructures established here, including the future FAIR facility, will contribute to a successful future.” Brühl added that the project also strengthens the alliance of Rhine-Main universities formed by the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz [Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz](DE), Goethe University Frankfurt [Goethe-Universität](DE) and Technical University of Darmstadt [Technische Universität Darmstadt](DE).

    ELEMENTS will study neutron stars- the barely visible little brothers of black holes. They are formed after a star has burned out when it was not massive enough to be compressed into a black hole by its own gravitational pressure after its end. Neutron stars, like black holes, are the cause of extreme space-time curvature, and when neutron stars or black holes merge, detectable gravitational waves are created. Because of their cosmic effects and extreme conditions, both phenomena are very exciting for researchers around the world. However, unlike black holes, neutron stars also allow conclusions about their interior.

    Thus, neutron star mergers are visible in the sky as extremely light-intense processes, kilonovae, where the heaviest chemical elements are produced through nuclear reactions under extreme conditions. The ELEMENTS project investigates the dynamics in the fusion of two neutron stars and in this context also examines the gravitational field, nuclear matter and — the main topic of the physicists at GSI/FAIR and the TU Darmstadt — the heavy chemical elements that are created in the process. For example, the luminosity of a kilonova as a fingerprint for the production of heavy elements was successfully predicted a few years ago by physicists working in Darmstadt.

    See the full article here.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research GmbH, Darmstadt, Germany (DE),

    GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research [GSI Helmholtz Zentrum für Schwerionenforschung] GmbH (DE) is a federally and state co-funded heavy ion (Schwerion [de]) research center in the Wixhausen suburb of Darmstadt, Germany. It was founded in 1969 as the Society for Heavy Ion Research (German: Gesellschaft für Schwerionenforschung), abbreviated GSI, to conduct research on and with heavy-ion accelerators. It is the only major user research center in the State of Hesse.

    The laboratory performs basic and applied research in physics and related natural science disciplines. Main fields of study include plasma physics, atomic physics, nuclear structure and reactions research, biophysics and medical research. The lab is a member of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres [Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft Deutscher Forschungszentren] (DE).

    Shareholders are the German Federal Government (90%) and the State of Hesse, Thuringia and Rhineland-Palatinate. As a member of the Helmholtz Association, the current name was given to the facility on 7 October 2008 in order to bring it sharper national and international awareness.[1]

    The GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research has strategic partnerships with the Technical University of Darmstadt [Technische Universität Darmstadt](DE), Goethe University Frankfurt [Goethe-Universität](DE), Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz [Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz](DE)and the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies.

  • richardmitnick 2:23 pm on February 27, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Engineering the boundary between 2D and 3D materials", "Moiré patterns"-Modify properties of some “two dimensional” materials-which are just one or a few atoms thick-by stacking two layers together-rotating one slightly in relation to the other., 4D STEM, A new way of imaging what goes on at these interfaces down to the level of individual atoms., , , Correlating the moiré patterns at the 2D-3D boundary with the resulting changes in the material’s properties., , Harvard University(US), Integrated differential phase contrast, Little has been known about what happens where 2D materials meet regular 3D solids., Massachusetts Institute of Technology(US), , , Moiré patterns change the way electrons move through the material in potentially useful ways., , , STEM-Scanning Tunneling Electron Microscopy, Such two-dimensional materials must at some point connect with the ordinary world of 3D materials., The findings could help lead to improved kinds of junctions in some microchips., The team then had to figure out how to reveal the atomic configurations and orientations of the different layers., University of Victoria(CA)   

    From Massachusetts Institute of Technology(US): “Engineering the boundary between 2D and 3D materials” 

    MIT News

    From MIT News

    February 26, 2021
    David L. Chandler

    Cutting-edge microscope helps reveal ways to control the electronic properties of atomically thin materials.

    These images of “islands” of gold atoms deposited on a layer of two-dimensional molybdenum sulfide were produced by two different modes, using a new scanning tunneling electron microscope (STEM) in the new MIT.nano facility. By combining the data from the two different modes the researchers were able to figure out the three-dimensional arrangement of atoms where the two materials meet.
    Credit: The researchers.

    In recent years, engineers have found ways to modify the properties of some “two- dimensional” materials- which are just one or a few atoms thick- by stacking two layers together and rotating one slightly in relation to the other. This creates what are known as moiré patterns, where tiny shifts in the alignment of atoms between the two sheets create larger-scale patterns. It also changes the way electrons move through the material in potentially useful ways.

    But for practical applications, such two-dimensional materials must at some point connect with the ordinary world of 3D materials. An international team led by MIT researchers has now come up with a way of imaging what goes on at these interfaces down to the level of individual atoms, and of correlating the moiré patterns at the 2D-3D boundary with the resulting changes in the material’s properties.

    The new findings are described today in the journal Nature Communications, in a paper by Massachusetts Institute of Technology(US) graduate students Kate Reidy and Georgios Varnavides, professors of materials science and engineering Frances Ross, Jim LeBeau, and Polina Anikeeva, and five others at Massachusetts Institute of Technology(US) , Harvard University(US), and the University of Victoria(CA).

    Pairs of two-dimensional materials such as graphene or hexagonal boron nitride can exhibit amazing variations in their behavior when the two sheets are just slightly twisted relative to each other. That causes the chicken-wire-like atomic lattices to form moiré patterns, the kinds of odd bands and blobs that sometimes appear when taking a picture of a printed image, or through a window screen. In the case of 2D materials, “it seems like anything, every interesting materials property you can think of, you can somehow modulate or change by twisting the 2D materials with respect to each other,” says Ross, who is the Ellen Swallow Richards Professor at MIT.

    While these 2D pairings have attracted scientific attention worldwide, she says, little has been known about what happens where 2D materials meet regular 3D solids. “What got us interested in this topic,” Ross says, was “what happens when a 2D material and a 3D material are put together. Firstly, how do you measure the atomic positions at, and near, the interface? Secondly, what are the differences between a 3D-2D and a 2D-2D interface? And thirdly, how you might control it — is there a way to deliberately design the interfacial structure” to produce desired properties?

    Figuring out exactly what happens at such 2D-3D interfaces was a daunting challenge because electron microscopes produce an image of the sample in projection, and they’re limited in their ability to extract depth information needed to analyze details of the interface structure. But the team figured out a set of algorithms that allowed them to extrapolate back from images of the sample, which look somewhat like a set of overlapping shadows, to figure out which configuration of stacked layers would yield that complex “shadow.”

    The team made use of two unique transmission electron microscopes at MIT that enable a combination of capabilities that is unrivalled in the world. In one of these instruments, a microscope is connected directly to a fabrication system so that samples can be produced onsite by deposition processes and immediately fed straight into the imaging system. This is one of only a few such facilities worldwide, which use an ultrahigh vacuum system that prevents even the tiniest of impurities from contaminating the sample as the 2D-3D interface is being prepared. The second instrument is a scanning transmission electron microscope located in MIT’s new research facility, MIT.nano. This microscope has outstanding stability for high-resolution imaging, as well as multiple imaging modes for collecting information about the sample.

    Unlike stacked 2D materials, whose orientations can be relatively easily changed by simply picking up one layer, twisting it slightly, and placing it down again, the bonds holding 3D materials together are much stronger, so the team had to develop new ways of obtaining aligned layers. To do this, they added the 3D material onto the 2D material in ultrahigh vacuum, choosing growth conditions where the layers self-assembled in a reproducible orientation with specific degrees of twist. “We had to grow a structure that was going to be aligned in a certain way,” Reidy says.

    Having grown the materials, they then had to figure out how to reveal the atomic configurations and orientations of the different layers. A scanning transmission electron microscope actually produces more information than is apparent in a flat image; in fact, every point in the image contains details of the paths along which the electrons arrived and departed (the process of diffraction), as well as any energy that the electrons lost in the process. All these data can be separated out so that the information at all points in an image can be used to decode the actual solid structure. This process is only possible for state-of-the-art microscopes, such as that in MIT.nano, which generates a probe of electrons that is unusually narrow and precise.

    The researchers used a combination of techniques called 4D STEM and integrated differential phase contrast to achieve that process of extracting the full structure at the interface from the image. Then, Varnavides says, they asked, “Now that we can image the full structure at the interface, what does this mean for our understanding of the properties of this interface?” The researchers showed through modeling that electronic properties are expected to be modified in a way that can only be understood if the full structure of the interface is included in the physical theory. “What we found is that indeed this stacking, the way the atoms are stacked out-of-plane, does modulate the electronic and charge density properties,” he says.

    Ross says the findings could help lead to improved kinds of junctions in some microchips, for example. “Every 2D material that’s used in a device has to exist in the 3D world, and so it has to have a junction somehow with three-dimensional materials,” she says. So, with this better understanding of those interfaces, and new ways to study them in action, “we’re in good shape for making structures with desirable properties in a kind of planned rather than ad hoc way.”

    “The present work opens a field by itself, allowing the application of this methodology to the growing research line of moiré engineering, highly important in fields such as quantum physics or even in catalysis,” says Jordi Arbiol of the Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology [Institut Català de Nanociència i Nanotecnologia -ICN2] at The Autonomous University of Barcelona [Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona](ES) in Spain, who was not associated with this work.

    “The methodology used has the potential to calculate from the acquired local diffraction patterns the modulation of the local electron momentum,” he says, adding that “the methodology and research shown here has an outstanding future and high interest for the materials science community.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    MIT Seal

    Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a private land-grant research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The institute has an urban campus that extends more than a mile (1.6 km) alongside the Charles River. The institute also encompasses a number of major off-campus facilities such as the MIT Lincoln Laboratory, the Bates Center, and the Haystack Observatory, as well as affiliated laboratories such as the Broad and Whitehead Institutes.

    MIT Haystack Observatory, Westford, Massachusetts, USA, Altitude 131 m (430 ft).

    Founded in 1861 in response to the increasing industrialization of the United States, MIT adopted a European polytechnic university model and stressed laboratory instruction in applied science and engineering. It has since played a key role in the development of many aspects of modern science, engineering, mathematics, and technology, and is widely known for its innovation and academic strength. It is frequently regarded as one of the most prestigious universities in the world.

    As of December 2020, 97 Nobel laureates, 26 Turing Award winners, and 8 Fields Medalists have been affiliated with MIT as alumni, faculty members, or researchers. In addition, 58 National Medal of Science recipients, 29 National Medals of Technology and Innovation recipients, 50 MacArthur Fellows, 80 Marshall Scholars, 3 Mitchell Scholars, 22 Schwarzman Scholars, 41 astronauts, and 16 Chief Scientists of the U.S. Air Force have been affiliated with MIT. The university also has a strong entrepreneurial culture and MIT alumni have founded or co-founded many notable companies. MIT is a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU).

    Foundation and vision

    In 1859, a proposal was submitted to the Massachusetts General Court to use newly filled lands in Back Bay, Boston for a “Conservatory of Art and Science”, but the proposal failed. A charter for the incorporation of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, proposed by William Barton Rogers, was signed by John Albion Andrew, the governor of Massachusetts, on April 10, 1861.

    Rogers, a professor from the University of Virginia, wanted to establish an institution to address rapid scientific and technological advances. He did not wish to found a professional school, but a combination with elements of both professional and liberal education, proposing that:

    The true and only practicable object of a polytechnic school is, as I conceive, the teaching, not of the minute details and manipulations of the arts, which can be done only in the workshop, but the inculcation of those scientific principles which form the basis and explanation of them, and along with this, a full and methodical review of all their leading processes and operations in connection with physical laws.

    The Rogers Plan reflected the German research university model, emphasizing an independent faculty engaged in research, as well as instruction oriented around seminars and laboratories.

    Early developments

    Two days after MIT was chartered, the first battle of the Civil War broke out. After a long delay through the war years, MIT’s first classes were held in the Mercantile Building in Boston in 1865. The new institute was founded as part of the Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act to fund institutions “to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes” and was a land-grant school. In 1863 under the same act, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts founded the Massachusetts Agricultural College, which developed as the University of Massachusetts Amherst. In 1866, the proceeds from land sales went toward new buildings in the Back Bay.

    MIT was informally called “Boston Tech”. The institute adopted the European polytechnic university model and emphasized laboratory instruction from an early date. Despite chronic financial problems, the institute saw growth in the last two decades of the 19th century under President Francis Amasa Walker. Programs in electrical, chemical, marine, and sanitary engineering were introduced, new buildings were built, and the size of the student body increased to more than one thousand.

    The curriculum drifted to a vocational emphasis, with less focus on theoretical science. The fledgling school still suffered from chronic financial shortages which diverted the attention of the MIT leadership. During these “Boston Tech” years, MIT faculty and alumni rebuffed Harvard University president (and former MIT faculty) Charles W. Eliot’s repeated attempts to merge MIT with Harvard College’s Lawrence Scientific School. There would be at least six attempts to absorb MIT into Harvard. In its cramped Back Bay location, MIT could not afford to expand its overcrowded facilities, driving a desperate search for a new campus and funding. Eventually, the MIT Corporation approved a formal agreement to merge with Harvard, over the vehement objections of MIT faculty, students, and alumni. However, a 1917 decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court effectively put an end to the merger scheme.

    In 1916, the MIT administration and the MIT charter crossed the Charles River on the ceremonial barge Bucentaur built for the occasion, to signify MIT’s move to a spacious new campus largely consisting of filled land on a one-mile-long (1.6 km) tract along the Cambridge side of the Charles River. The neoclassical “New Technology” campus was designed by William W. Bosworth and had been funded largely by anonymous donations from a mysterious “Mr. Smith”, starting in 1912. In January 1920, the donor was revealed to be the industrialist George Eastman of Rochester, New York, who had invented methods of film production and processing, and founded Eastman Kodak. Between 1912 and 1920, Eastman donated $20 million ($236.6 million in 2015 dollars) in cash and Kodak stock to MIT.
    Curricular reforms

    In the 1930s, President Karl Taylor Compton and Vice-President (effectively Provost) Vannevar Bush emphasized the importance of pure sciences like physics and chemistry and reduced the vocational practice required in shops and drafting studios. The Compton reforms “renewed confidence in the ability of the Institute to develop leadership in science as well as in engineering”. Unlike Ivy League schools, MIT catered more to middle-class families, and depended more on tuition than on endowments or grants for its funding. The school was elected to the Association of American Universities in 1934.

    Still, as late as 1949, the Lewis Committee lamented in its report on the state of education at MIT that “the Institute is widely conceived as basically a vocational school”, a “partly unjustified” perception the committee sought to change. The report comprehensively reviewed the undergraduate curriculum, recommended offering a broader education, and warned against letting engineering and government-sponsored research detract from the sciences and humanities. The School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences and the MIT Sloan School of Management were formed in 1950 to compete with the powerful Schools of Science and Engineering. Previously marginalized faculties in the areas of economics, management, political science, and linguistics emerged into cohesive and assertive departments by attracting respected professors and launching competitive graduate programs. The School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences continued to develop under the successive terms of the more humanistically oriented presidents Howard W. Johnson and Jerome Wiesner between 1966 and 1980.

    MIT’s involvement in military science surged during World War II. In 1941, Vannevar Bush was appointed head of the federal Office of Scientific Research and Development and directed funding to only a select group of universities, including MIT. Engineers and scientists from across the country gathered at MIT’s Radiation Laboratory, established in 1940 to assist the British military in developing microwave radar. The work done there significantly affected both the war and subsequent research in the area. Other defense projects included gyroscope-based and other complex control systems for gunsight, bombsight, and inertial navigation under Charles Stark Draper’s Instrumentation Laboratory; the development of a digital computer for flight simulations under Project Whirlwind; and high-speed and high-altitude photography under Harold Edgerton. By the end of the war, MIT became the nation’s largest wartime R&D contractor (attracting some criticism of Bush), employing nearly 4000 in the Radiation Laboratory alone and receiving in excess of $100 million ($1.2 billion in 2015 dollars) before 1946. Work on defense projects continued even after then. Post-war government-sponsored research at MIT included SAGE and guidance systems for ballistic missiles and Project Apollo.

    These activities affected MIT profoundly. A 1949 report noted the lack of “any great slackening in the pace of life at the Institute” to match the return to peacetime, remembering the “academic tranquility of the prewar years”, though acknowledging the significant contributions of military research to the increased emphasis on graduate education and rapid growth of personnel and facilities. The faculty doubled and the graduate student body quintupled during the terms of Karl Taylor Compton, president of MIT between 1930 and 1948; James Rhyne Killian, president from 1948 to 1957; and Julius Adams Stratton, chancellor from 1952 to 1957, whose institution-building strategies shaped the expanding university. By the 1950s, MIT no longer simply benefited the industries with which it had worked for three decades, and it had developed closer working relationships with new patrons, philanthropic foundations and the federal government.

    In late 1960s and early 1970s, student and faculty activists protested against the Vietnam War and MIT’s defense research. In this period MIT’s various departments were researching helicopters, smart bombs and counterinsurgency techniques for the war in Vietnam as well as guidance systems for nuclear missiles. The Union of Concerned Scientists was founded on March 4, 1969 during a meeting of faculty members and students seeking to shift the emphasis on military research toward environmental and social problems. MIT ultimately divested itself from the Instrumentation Laboratory and moved all classified research off-campus to the MIT Lincoln Laboratory facility in 1973 in response to the protests. The student body, faculty, and administration remained comparatively unpolarized during what was a tumultuous time for many other universities. Johnson was seen to be highly successful in leading his institution to “greater strength and unity” after these times of turmoil. However six MIT students were sentenced to prison terms at this time and some former student leaders, such as Michael Albert and George Katsiaficas, are still indignant about MIT’s role in military research and its suppression of these protests. (Richard Leacock’s film, November Actions, records some of these tumultuous events.)

    In the 1980s, there was more controversy at MIT over its involvement in SDI (space weaponry) and CBW (chemical and biological warfare) research. More recently, MIT’s research for the military has included work on robots, drones and ‘battle suits’.

    Recent history

    MIT has kept pace with and helped to advance the digital age. In addition to developing the predecessors to modern computing and networking technologies, students, staff, and faculty members at Project MAC, the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, and the Tech Model Railroad Club wrote some of the earliest interactive computer video games like Spacewar! and created much of modern hacker slang and culture. Several major computer-related organizations have originated at MIT since the 1980s: Richard Stallman’s GNU Project and the subsequent Free Software Foundation were founded in the mid-1980s at the AI Lab; the MIT Media Lab was founded in 1985 by Nicholas Negroponte and Jerome Wiesner to promote research into novel uses of computer technology; the World Wide Web Consortium standards organization was founded at the Laboratory for Computer Science in 1994 by Tim Berners-Lee; the OpenCourseWare project has made course materials for over 2,000 MIT classes available online free of charge since 2002; and the One Laptop per Child initiative to expand computer education and connectivity to children worldwide was launched in 2005.

    MIT was named a sea-grant college in 1976 to support its programs in oceanography and marine sciences and was named a space-grant college in 1989 to support its aeronautics and astronautics programs. Despite diminishing government financial support over the past quarter century, MIT launched several successful development campaigns to significantly expand the campus: new dormitories and athletics buildings on west campus; the Tang Center for Management Education; several buildings in the northeast corner of campus supporting research into biology, brain and cognitive sciences, genomics, biotechnology, and cancer research; and a number of new “backlot” buildings on Vassar Street including the Stata Center. Construction on campus in the 2000s included expansions of the Media Lab, the Sloan School’s eastern campus, and graduate residences in the northwest. In 2006, President Hockfield launched the MIT Energy Research Council to investigate the interdisciplinary challenges posed by increasing global energy consumption.

    In 2001, inspired by the open source and open access movements, MIT launched OpenCourseWare to make the lecture notes, problem sets, syllabi, exams, and lectures from the great majority of its courses available online for no charge, though without any formal accreditation for coursework completed. While the cost of supporting and hosting the project is high, OCW expanded in 2005 to include other universities as a part of the OpenCourseWare Consortium, which currently includes more than 250 academic institutions with content available in at least six languages. In 2011, MIT announced it would offer formal certification (but not credits or degrees) to online participants completing coursework in its “MITx” program, for a modest fee. The “edX” online platform supporting MITx was initially developed in partnership with Harvard and its analogous “Harvardx” initiative. The courseware platform is open source, and other universities have already joined and added their own course content. In March 2009 the MIT faculty adopted an open-access policy to make its scholarship publicly accessible online.

    MIT has its own police force. Three days after the Boston Marathon bombing of April 2013, MIT Police patrol officer Sean Collier was fatally shot by the suspects Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, setting off a violent manhunt that shut down the campus and much of the Boston metropolitan area for a day. One week later, Collier’s memorial service was attended by more than 10,000 people, in a ceremony hosted by the MIT community with thousands of police officers from the New England region and Canada. On November 25, 2013, MIT announced the creation of the Collier Medal, to be awarded annually to “an individual or group that embodies the character and qualities that Officer Collier exhibited as a member of the MIT community and in all aspects of his life”. The announcement further stated that “Future recipients of the award will include those whose contributions exceed the boundaries of their profession, those who have contributed to building bridges across the community, and those who consistently and selflessly perform acts of kindness”.

    In September 2017, the school announced the creation of an artificial intelligence research lab called the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab. IBM will spend $240 million over the next decade, and the lab will be staffed by MIT and IBM scientists. In October 2018 MIT announced that it would open a new Schwarzman College of Computing dedicated to the study of artificial intelligence, named after lead donor and The Blackstone Group CEO Stephen Schwarzman. The focus of the new college is to study not just AI, but interdisciplinary AI education, and how AI can be used in fields as diverse as history and biology. The cost of buildings and new faculty for the new college is expected to be $1 billion upon completion.

    The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) was designed and constructed by a team of scientists from California Institute of Technology, MIT, and industrial contractors, and funded by the National Science Foundation.

    MIT/Caltech Advanced aLigo .

    It was designed to open the field of gravitational-wave astronomy through the detection of gravitational waves predicted by general relativity. Gravitational waves were detected for the first time by the LIGO detector in 2015. For contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves, two Caltech physicists, Kip Thorne and Barry Barish, and MIT physicist Rainer Weiss won the Nobel Prize in physics in 2017. Weiss, who is also an MIT graduate, designed the laser interferometric technique, which served as the essential blueprint for the LIGO.

    The mission of MIT is to advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology, and other areas of scholarship that will best serve the nation and the world in the twenty-first century. We seek to develop in each member of the MIT community the ability and passion to work wisely, creatively, and effectively for the betterment of humankind.

    USPS “Forever” postage stamps celebrating Innovation at MIT.

    MIT Campus

  • richardmitnick 9:06 am on February 27, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "HPE to Build Research Supercomputer for Sweden’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology", , , ,   

    From insideHPC: “HPE to Build Research Supercomputer for Sweden’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology” 

    From insideHPC

    February 26, 2021

    HPE Dardel Cray EX system

    HPE’s string of HPC contract wins has continued with the company’s announcement today that it’s building a supercomputer for KTH Royal Institute of Technology [Kungliga Tekniska högskolan] (KTH) in Stockholm. Funded by Swedish National Infrastructure for Computing (SNIC), the HPE Cray EX system will target modeling and simulation in academic pursuits and industrial areas, including drug design, renewable energy and advanced automotive and fleet vehicles, HPE said.

    The new supercomputer (named “Dardel” in honor of the Swedish novelist, Thora Dardel and her first husband Nils Dardel, a post-impressionist painter) will replace KTH’s current flagship system, Beskow, and will be housed on KTH’s main campus at the PDC Center for High Performance Computing.

    The supercomputer will include HPE Slingshot HPC networking to congestion control and will also feature AMD EPYC CPUs and AMD Instinct GPU accelerators, and will have a theoretical peak performance of 13.5 petaflops. HPE will install the first phase of the supercomputer this summer and will include more than 65,000 CPU cores; it is scheduled to be ready for use in July. The second phase will consist of GPUs to be installed later this year and be ready for use in January 2022.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Founded on December 28, 2006, insideHPC is a blog that distills news and events in the world of HPC and presents them in bite-sized nuggets of helpfulness as a resource for supercomputing professionals. As one reader said, we’re sifting through all the news so you don’t have to!

    If you would like to contact me with suggestions, comments, corrections, errors or new company announcements, please send me an email at Or you can send me mail at:

    2825 NW Upshur
    Suite G
    Portland, OR 97239

    Phone: (503) 877-5048

  • richardmitnick 8:21 am on February 27, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Evidence for white dwarfs consuming Earth-like worlds", , , , , , University of Warwick(UK)   

    From University of Warwick(UK) via EarthSky: “Evidence for white dwarfs consuming Earth-like worlds” 

    From University of Warwick(UK)




    February 26, 2021
    Paul Scott Anderson

    For the first time, astronomers have detected the vaporized remains of the crusts of long-dead Earth-like and Mars-like planets in the atmospheres of white dwarf stars.

    Artist’s concept of planetary crust fragments being vaporized around a white dwarf star. Credit: Mark Garlick/University of Warwick.

    Finding other Earth-like planets in our Milky Way galaxy has been a holy grail of exoplanet research. Astronomers have found Earth-sized exoplanets. But is an Earth-sized planet going to be Earth-like? We still don’t know. Now, though, scientists at the University of Warwick in the U.K. have announced another clue that some exoplanets can, and do, have Earth-like compositions. The results come not from the planets themselves, but rather the vaporized remains of their crusts in the atmospheres of white dwarf stars.

    White dwarfs are the burnt-out cores of once-active stars like our sun. It seems likely that – at one time – some may have had their own solar systems. So far, astronomers have detected the dusty remains of planetary crusts in the atmospheres of four white dwarfs.

    The researchers reported these fascinating peer-reviewed results in Nature Astronomy on February 11, 2021.

    According to analysis of the vaporized material found, these are the remains of the outer layers, the crusts, of planets similar in rocky composition to Earth and Mars that used to orbit those stars. The chemical composition of these crusts was very similar to Earth’s continental crust. The planets would have been vaporized when the former stars – ones like our sun that are not massive enough to become neutron stars – turned into red giant stars before finally shrinking down to a leftover core, or white dwarf. The term Earth-like is used here in the sense that the rocky composition of these worlds was similar to ours, although that doesn’t tell us what the actual conditions were like on their surfaces. including temperature, atmosphere, etc.

    Size comparison of the white dwarf Sirius B to Earth. White dwarfs are the remaining burnt-out cores of formerly active stars like our sun. Credit: ESA/NASA.

    The discovery was made using data about more than 1,000 nearby white dwarf stars from the European Space Agency’s Gaia telescope.

    ESA(EU)/GAIA satellite .

    One star in particular stood out when they analyzed the data using spectroscopy. This way, the researchers could determine what elements are present in the atmospheres of the white dwarfs. The white dwarf of special interest turned out to have lithium in its atmosphere. It was then found in three more white dwarfs as well, and one of those also had potassium.

    Why is this significant? The researchers compared the ratios of those two elements with two others that were also found: sodium and calcium. Surprisingly, the ratios match those found in the rocky crusts of Earth and Mars. The scientists estimated that they had been present in the stars’ atmospheres for about 2 million years, after the crusts of the former planets had been vaporized. As lead author Mark Hollands noted in a statement:

    “In the past, we’ve seen all sorts of things like mantle and core material, but we’ve not had a definitive detection of planetary crust. Lithium and potassium are good indicators of crust material, they are not present in high concentrations in the mantle or core.

    Now we know what chemical signature to look for to detect these elements, we have the opportunity to look at a huge number of white dwarfs and find more of these. Then we can look at the distribution of that signature and see how often we detect these planetary crusts and how that compares to our predictions.”

    The researchers think that the vaporized elements came from rocky pieces that broke off from planets rather than from entire planets. There is a lot of this material, about 300,000 gigatons in each star (one gigaton is equal to one billion tons), which includes up to 60 gigatons of lithium and 3,000 gigatons of potassium, equivalent to a 37 mile (60 km) sphere of similar density to Earth’s crust.

    The discovery of this crust material is exciting since it provides valuable clues as to what the former planets were composed of, but is more difficult to detect than material from the inner core or mantle, which has been seen before in white dwarfs.
    These white dwarfs are also very old, burning up their fuel about 10 billion years ago. That also means that the former planetary systems were some of the oldest known in the galaxy. If any of these planets, older than any in our solar system, actually were Earth-like to some degree (apart from just composition), then any possible life would have had an even longer time to evolve before their stars bloated into red giants and consumed them. Co-author Pier-Emmanuel Tremblay said:

    “In one case, we are looking at planet formation around a star that was formed in the galactic halo, 11-12.5 billion years ago, hence it must be one of the oldest planetary systems known so far. Another of these systems formed around a short-lived star that was initially more than four times the mass of the sun, a record-breaking discovery delivering important constraints on how fast planets can form around their host stars.”

    Interestingly, one of the white dwarfs is about 70% more massive than average. The researchers think that there must be more crustal material in a surrounding debris disk that is replenishing the amount in the white dwarf’s atmosphere. Otherwise, the material should have disappeared already. An excessive amount of infrared light was also detected, evidence for a debris disk being heated by the star and the re-radiated at longer wavelengths.

    As Hollands also noted:

    “As we understand it, rocky planet formation happens in a similar way in different planetary systems. Initially, they are formed from similar material in composition to the star, but over time those materials separate and you end up with different chemical compositions in different parts of the planets. We can see that at some point that these objects have undergone differentiation, where the composition is different to the starting composition of the star.

    It is now well understood that most normal stars like the sun harbor planets, but now there’s the opportunity to look at the frequency of different types of material as well.”

    We already know from detections of exoplanets by telescopes that there are many rocky worlds in our galaxy similar in size to Earth, and some a bit larger, known as super-Earths. Some smaller Mars-sized planets are even being found now. The discovery and study of crustal remains of similar but now long-gone worlds around white dwarfs show that at least some of those planets have compositions very similar to Earth. When it comes to the search for evidence of life elsewhere, that is an exciting and tantalizing finding indeed.

    See the full article here.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The establishment of the The University of Warwick(UK) was given approval by the government in 1961 and received its Royal Charter of Incorporation in 1965.

    The idea for a university in Coventry was mooted shortly after the conclusion of the Second World War but it was a bold and imaginative partnership of the City and the County which brought the University into being on a 400-acre site jointly granted by the two authorities. Since then, the University has incorporated the former Coventry College of Education in 1978 and has extended its land holdings by the purchase of adjoining farm land.

    The University initially admitted a small intake of graduate students in 1964 and took its first 450 undergraduates in October 1965. In October 2013, the student population was over 23,000 of which 9,775 are postgraduates. Around a third of the student body comes from overseas and over 120 countries are represented on the campus.

  • richardmitnick 7:26 am on February 27, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Quantum quirk yields giant magnetic effect where none should exist", “Weyl-Kondo semimetal”, Hall effect-a characteristic change in the way electricity is conducted in the presence of a magnetic field in a nonmagnetic quantum material to which no magnetic field was applied., , , Rice University(US), The material-an exotic semimetal of cerium; bismuth; and palladium-was created and measured at TU Wien.   

    From Rice University(US): “Quantum quirk yields giant magnetic effect where none should exist” 

    From Rice University(US)

    February 26, 2021
    Jade Boyd

    Study opens window into the landscape of extreme topological matter.

    In a twist befitting the strange nature of quantum mechanics, physicists have discovered the Hall effect — a characteristic change in the way electricity is conducted in the presence of a magnetic field — in a nonmagnetic quantum material to which no magnetic field was applied.

    The discovery by researchers from Rice University, Austria’s Vienna University of Technology [Technische Universität Wien](AT) (TU Wien), Switzerland’s Paul Scherrer Institute(CH) and McMaster University(CA) is detailed in a paper in the PNAS. Of interest are both the origins of the effect, which is typically associated with magnetism, and its gigantic magnitude — more than 1,000 times larger than one might observe in simple semiconductors.

    Rice study co-author Qimiao Si, a theoretical physicist who has investigated quantum materials for nearly three decades, said, “It’s really topology at work,” referring to the patterns of quantum entanglement that give rise the unorthodox state.

    The material-an exotic semimetal of cerium; bismuth; and palladium-was created and measured at TU Wien by Silke Bühler-Paschen-a longtime collaborator of Si’s. In late 2017, Si, Bühler-Paschen and colleagues discovered a new type of quantum material they dubbed a “Weyl-Kondo semimetal.” The research laid the groundwork for empirical investigations, but Si said the experiments were challenging, in part because it wasn’t clear “which physical quantity would pick up the effect.”

    In April 2018, Bühler-Paschen and TU Wien graduate student Sami Dzsaber, the study’s first author, dropped by Si’s office while attending a workshop at the Rice Center for Quantum Materials (RCQM). When Si saw Dzsaber’s data, he was dubious.

    “Upon seeing this, everybody’s first reaction is that it is not possible,” he said.

    To appreciate why, it helps to understand both the nature and the 1879 discovery of Edwin Hall, a doctoral student who found that applying a magnetic field at a 90-degree angle to conducting wire produced a voltage difference across the wire, in the direction perpendicular to both the current and the magnetic field. Physicists eventually discovered the source of the Hall effect: The magnetic field deflects the motion of passing electrons, pulling them toward one side of the wire. The Hall effect is a standard tool in physics labs, and devices that make use of it are found in products as diverse as rocket engines and paintball guns. Studies related to the quantum nature of the Hall effect captured Nobel Prizes in 1985 and 1998.

    Photograph of a single crystal of a nonmagnetic topological material of cerium, bismuth and palladium known as a Weyl-Kondo semimetal that physicists at Vienna University of Technology used to measure the Hall effect — a characteristic change in the way electricity is conducted in the presence of a magnetic field — with no magnetic field applied. Credit: S. Dzsaber/TU Wien.

    Dzsaber’s experimental data clearly showed a characteristic Hall signal, even though no magnetic field was applied.

    “If you don’t apply a magnetic field, the electron is not supposed to bend,” Si said. “So, how could you ever get a voltage drop along the perpendicular direction? That’s why everyone didn’t believe this at first.”

    Experiments at the Paul Scherrer Institute ruled out the presence of a tiny magnetic field that could only be detected on a microscopic scale. So the question remained: What caused the effect?

    “In the end, all of us had to accept that this was connected to topology,” Si said.

    In topological materials, patterns of quantum entanglement produce “protected” states, universal features that cannot be erased. The immutable nature of topological states is of increasing interest for quantum computing. Weyl semimetals, which manifest a quasiparticle known as the Weyl fermion, are topological materials.

    So are the Weyl-Kondo semimetals Si, Bühler-Paschen and colleagues discovered in 2018. Those feature both Weyl fermions and the Kondo effect, an interaction between the magnetic moments of electrons attached to atoms inside the metal and the spins of passing conduction electrons.

    “The Kondo effect is the quintessential form of strong correlations in quantum materials,” Si said in reference to the correlated, collective behavior of billions upon billions of quantum entangled particles. “It qualifies the Weyl-Kondo semimetal as one of the rare examples of a topological state that’s driven by strong correlations.

    “Topology is a defining characteristic of the Weyl-Kondo semimetal, and the discovery of this spontaneous giant Hall effect is really the first detection of topology that’s associated with this kind of Weyl fermion,” Si said.

    Physicists Sami Dzsaber and Silke Bühler-Paschen of TU Wien. Credit: F. Aigner/TU Wien)

    Experiments showed that the effect arose at the characteristic temperature associated with the Kondo effect, indicating the two are likely connected, Si said.

    “This kind of spontaneous Hall effect was also observed in contemporaneous experiments in some layered semiconductors, but our effect is more than 1,000 times larger,” he said. “We were able to show that the observed giant effect is, in fact, natural when the topological state develops out of strong correlations.”

    Si said the new observation is likely “a tip of the iceberg” of extreme responses that result from the interplay between strong correlations and topology.

    He said the size of the topologically generated Hall effect is also likely to spur investigations into potential uses of the technology for quantum computation.

    “This large magnitude, and its robust, bulk nature presents intriguing possibilities for exploitation in topological quantum devices,” Si said.

    Si is the Harry C. and Olga K. Wiess Professor in Rice’s Department of Physics and Astronomy and director of RCQM. Bühler-Paschen is a professor at TU Wien’s Institute for Solid State Physics.

    Study co-authors include Sarah Grefe and Hsin-Hua Lai, both of Rice; Xinlin Yan, Mathieu Taupin, Gaku Eguchi, Andrey Prokofiev and Peter Blaha of TU Wien; Toni Shiroka of the Paul Scherrer Institute; and Oleg Rubel of McMaster University.

    The research was funded by the Austrian Science Fund, the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Program, the Swiss National Science Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the Welch Foundation and an Ulam Scholarship from the Center for Nonlinear Studies at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

    RCQM leverages global partnerships and the strengths of more than 20 Rice research groups to address questions related to quantum materials. RCQM is supported by Rice’s offices of the provost and the vice provost for research, the Wiess School of Natural Sciences, the Brown School of Engineering, the Smalley-Curl Institute and the departments of Physics and Astronomy, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Materials Science and NanoEngineering.

    See the full article here .


    Stem Education Coalition

    Rice University [formally William Marsh Rice University] is a private research university in Houston, Texas. It is situated on a 300-acre campus near the Houston Museum District and is adjacent to the Texas Medical Center.

    Opened in 1912 after the murder of its namesake William Marsh Rice, Rice is a research university with an undergraduate focus. Its emphasis on education is demonstrated by a small student body and 6:1 student-faculty ratio. The university has a very high level of research activity. Rice is noted for its applied science programs in the fields of artificial heart research, structural chemical analysis, signal processing, space science, and nanotechnology. Rice has been a member of the Association of American Universities since 1985 and is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity”.

    The university is organized into eleven residential colleges and eight schools of academic study, including the Wiess School of Natural Sciences, the George R. Brown School of Engineering, the School of Social Sciences, School of Architecture, Shepherd School of Music and the School of Humanities. Rice’s undergraduate program offers more than fifty majors and two dozen minors, and allows a high level of flexibility in pursuing multiple degree programs. Additional graduate programs are offered through the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business and the Susanne M. Glasscock School of Continuing Studies. Rice students are bound by the strict Honor Code, which is enforced by a student-run Honor Council.

    Rice competes in 14 NCAA Division I varsity sports and is a part of Conference USA, often competing with its cross-town rival the University of Houston. Intramural and club sports are offered in a wide variety of activities such as jiu jitsu, water polo, and crew.

    The university’s alumni include more than two dozen Marshall Scholars and a dozen Rhodes Scholars. Given the university’s close links to NASA, it has produced a significant number of astronauts and space scientists. In business, Rice graduates include CEOs and founders of Fortune 500 companies; in politics, alumni include congressmen, cabinet secretaries, judges, and mayors. Two alumni have won the Nobel Prize.


    Rice University’s history began with the demise of Massachusetts businessman William Marsh Rice, who had made his fortune in real estate, railroad development and cotton trading in the state of Texas. In 1891, Rice decided to charter a free-tuition educational institute in Houston, bearing his name, to be created upon his death, earmarking most of his estate towards funding the project. Rice’s will specified the institution was to be “a competitive institution of the highest grade” and that only white students would be permitted to attend. On the morning of September 23, 1900, Rice, age 84, was found dead by his valet, Charles F. Jones, and was presumed to have died in his sleep. Shortly thereafter, a large check made out to Rice’s New York City lawyer, signed by the late Rice, aroused the suspicion of a bank teller, due to the misspelling of the recipient’s name. The lawyer, Albert T. Patrick, then announced that Rice had changed his will to leave the bulk of his fortune to Patrick, rather than to the creation of Rice’s educational institute. A subsequent investigation led by the District Attorney of New York resulted in the arrests of Patrick and of Rice’s butler and valet Charles F. Jones, who had been persuaded to administer chloroform to Rice while he slept. Rice’s friend and personal lawyer in Houston, Captain James A. Baker, aided in the discovery of what turned out to be a fake will with a forged signature. Jones was not prosecuted since he cooperated with the district attorney, and testified against Patrick. Patrick was found guilty of conspiring to steal Rice’s fortune and he was convicted of murder in 1901 (he was pardoned in 1912 due to conflicting medical testimony). Baker helped Rice’s estate direct the fortune, worth $4.6 million in 1904 ($131 million today), towards the founding of what was to be called the Rice Institute, later to become Rice University. The board took control of the assets on April 29 of that year.

    In 1907, the Board of Trustees selected the head of the Department of Mathematics and Astronomy at Princeton University, Edgar Odell Lovett, to head the Institute, which was still in the planning stages. He came recommended by Princeton’s president, Woodrow Wilson. In 1908, Lovett accepted the challenge, and was formally inaugurated as the Institute’s first president on October 12, 1912. Lovett undertook extensive research before formalizing plans for the new Institute, including visits to 78 institutions of higher learning across the world on a long tour between 1908 and 1909. Lovett was impressed by such things as the aesthetic beauty of the uniformity of the architecture at the University of Pennsylvania, a theme which was adopted by the Institute, as well as the residential college system at Cambridge University in England, which was added to the Institute several decades later. Lovett called for the establishment of a university “of the highest grade,” “an institution of liberal and technical learning” devoted “quite as much to investigation as to instruction.” [We must] “keep the standards up and the numbers down,” declared Lovett. “The most distinguished teachers must take their part in undergraduate teaching, and their spirit should dominate it all.”

    Establishment and growth

    In 1911, the cornerstone was laid for the Institute’s first building, the Administration Building, now known as Lovett Hall in honor of the founding president. On September 23, 1912, the 12th anniversary of William Marsh Rice’s murder, the William Marsh Rice Institute for the Advancement of Letters, Science, and Art began course work with 59 enrolled students, who were known as the “59 immortals,” and about a dozen faculty. After 18 additional students joined later, Rice’s initial class numbered 77, 48 male and 29 female. Unusual for the time, Rice accepted coeducational admissions from its beginning, but on-campus housing would not become co-ed until 1957.

    Three weeks after opening, a spectacular international academic festival was held, bringing Rice to the attention of the entire academic world.

    Per William Marsh Rice’s will and Rice Institute’s initial charter, the students paid no tuition. Classes were difficult, however, and about half of Rice’s students had failed after the first 1912 term. At its first commencement ceremony, held on June 12, 1916, Rice awarded 35 bachelor’s degrees and one master’s degree. That year, the student body also voted to adopt the Honor System, which still exists today. Rice’s first doctorate was conferred in 1918 on mathematician Hubert Evelyn Bray.

    The Founder’s Memorial Statue, a bronze statue of a seated William Marsh Rice, holding the original plans for the campus, was dedicated in 1930, and installed in the central academic quad, facing Lovett Hall. The statue was crafted by John Angel. In 2020, Rice students petitioned the university to take down the statue due to the founder’s history as slave owner.

    During World War II, Rice Institute was one of 131 colleges and universities nationally that took part in the V-12 Navy College Training Program, which offered students a path to a Navy commission.

    The residential college system proposed by President Lovett was adopted in 1958, with the East Hall residence becoming Baker College, South Hall residence becoming Will Rice College, West Hall becoming Hanszen College, and the temporary Wiess Hall becoming Wiess College.

    In 1959, the Rice Institute Computer went online. 1960 saw Rice Institute formally renamed William Marsh Rice University. Rice acted as a temporary intermediary in the transfer of land between Humble Oil and Refining Company and NASA, for the creation of NASA’s Manned Spacecraft Center (now called Johnson Space Center) in 1962. President John F. Kennedy then made a speech at Rice Stadium reiterating that the United States intended to reach the moon before the end of the decade of the 1960s, and “to become the world’s leading space-faring nation”. The relationship of NASA with Rice University and the city of Houston has remained strong to the present day.

    The original charter of Rice Institute dictated that the university admit and educate, tuition-free, “the white inhabitants of Houston, and the state of Texas”. In 1963, the governing board of Rice University filed a lawsuit to allow the university to modify its charter to admit students of all races and to charge tuition. Ph.D. student Raymond Johnson became the first black Rice student when he was admitted that year. In 1964, Rice officially amended the university charter to desegregate its graduate and undergraduate divisions. The Trustees of Rice University prevailed in a lawsuit to void the racial language in the trust in 1966. Rice began charging tuition for the first time in 1965. In the same year, Rice launched a $33 million ($268 million) development campaign. $43 million ($283 million) was raised by its conclusion in 1970. In 1974, two new schools were founded at Rice, the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Management and the Shepherd School of Music. The Brown Foundation Challenge, a fund-raising program designed to encourage annual gifts, was launched in 1976 and ended in 1996 having raised $185 million. The Rice School of Social Sciences was founded in 1979.

    On-campus housing was exclusively for men for the first forty years, until 1957. Jones College was the first women’s residence on the Rice campus, followed by Brown College. According to legend, the women’s colleges were purposefully situated at the opposite end of campus from the existing men’s colleges as a way of preserving campus propriety, which was greatly valued by Edgar Odell Lovett, who did not even allow benches to be installed on campus, fearing that they “might lead to co-fraternization of the sexes”. The path linking the north colleges to the center of campus was given the tongue-in-cheek name of “Virgin’s Walk”. Individual colleges became coeducational between 1973 and 1987, with the single-sex floors of colleges that had them becoming co-ed by 2006. By then, several new residential colleges had been built on campus to handle the university’s growth, including Lovett College, Sid Richardson College, and Martel College.

    Late twentieth and early twenty-first century

    The Economic Summit of Industrialized Nations was held at Rice in 1990. Three years later, in 1993, the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy was created. In 1997, the Edythe Bates Old Grand Organ and Recital Hall and the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology, renamed in 2005 for the late Nobel Prize winner and Rice professor Richard E. Smalley, were dedicated at Rice. In 1999, the Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology was created. The Rice Owls baseball team was ranked #1 in the nation for the first time in that year (1999), holding the top spot for eight weeks.

    In 2003, the Owls won their first national championship in baseball, which was the first for the university in any team sport, beating Southwest Missouri State in the opening game and then the University of Texas and Stanford University twice each en route to the title. In 2008, President David Leebron issued a ten-point plan titled “Vision for the Second Century” outlining plans to increase research funding, strengthen existing programs, and increase collaboration. The plan has brought about another wave of campus constructions, including the erection the newly renamed BioScience Research Collaborative building (intended to foster collaboration with the adjacent Texas Medical Center), a new recreational center and the renovated Autry Court basketball stadium, and the addition of two new residential colleges, Duncan College and McMurtry College.

    Beginning in late 2008, the university considered a merger with Baylor College of Medicine, though the merger was ultimately rejected in 2010. Rice undergraduates are currently guaranteed admission to Baylor College of Medicine upon graduation as part of the Rice/Baylor Medical Scholars program. According to History Professor John Boles’ recent book University Builder: Edgar Odell Lovett and the Founding of the Rice Institute, the first president’s original vision for the university included hopes for future medical and law schools.

    In 2018, the university added an online MBA program, MBA@Rice.

    In June 2019, the university’s president announced plans for a task force on Rice’s “past in relation to slave history and racial injustice”, stating that “Rice has some historical connections to that terrible part of American history and the segregation and racial disparities that resulted directly from it”.


    Rice’s campus is a heavily wooded 285-acre (115-hectare) tract of land in the museum district of Houston, located close to the city of West University Place.

    Five streets demarcate the campus: Greenbriar Street, Rice Boulevard, Sunset Boulevard, Main Street, and University Boulevard. For most of its history, all of Rice’s buildings have been contained within this “outer loop”. In recent years, new facilities have been built close to campus, but the bulk of administrative, academic, and residential buildings are still located within the original pentagonal plot of land. The new Collaborative Research Center, all graduate student housing, the Greenbriar building, and the Wiess President’s House are located off-campus.

    Rice prides itself on the amount of green space available on campus; there are only about 50 buildings spread between the main entrance at its easternmost corner, and the parking lots and Rice Stadium at the West end. The Lynn R. Lowrey Arboretum, consisting of more than 4000 trees and shrubs (giving birth to the legend that Rice has a tree for every student), is spread throughout the campus.

    The university’s first president, Edgar Odell Lovett, intended for the campus to have a uniform architecture style to improve its aesthetic appeal. To that end, nearly every building on campus is noticeably Byzantine in style, with sand and pink-colored bricks, large archways and columns being a common theme among many campus buildings. Noteworthy exceptions include the glass-walled Brochstein Pavilion, Lovett College with its Brutalist-style concrete gratings, Moody Center for the Arts with its contemporary design, and the eclectic-Mediterranean Duncan Hall. In September 2011, Travel+Leisure listed Rice’s campus as one of the most beautiful in the United States.

    Lovett Hall, named for Rice’s first president, is the university’s most iconic campus building. Through its Sallyport arch, new students symbolically enter the university during matriculation and depart as graduates at commencement. Duncan Hall, Rice’s computational engineering building, was designed to encourage collaboration between the four different departments situated there. The building’s foyer, drawn from many world cultures, was designed by the architect to symbolically express this collaborative purpose.

    The campus is organized in a number of quadrangles. The Academic Quad, anchored by a statue of founder William Marsh Rice, includes Ralph Adams Cram’s masterpiece, the asymmetrical Lovett Hall, the original administrative building; Fondren Library; Herzstein Hall; the original physics building and home to the largest amphitheater on campus; Sewall Hall for the social sciences and arts; Rayzor Hall for the languages; and Anderson Hall of the Architecture department. The Humanities Building winner of several architectural awards is immediately adjacent to the main quad. Further west lies a quad surrounded by McNair Hall of the Jones Business School; the Baker Institute; and Alice Pratt Brown Hall of the Shepherd School of Music. These two quads are surrounded by the university’s main access road, a one-way loop referred to as the “inner loop”. In the Engineering Quad, a trinity of sculptures by Michael Heizer, collectively entitled 45 Degrees; 90 Degrees; 180 Degrees are flanked by Abercrombie Laboratory; the Cox Building; and the Mechanical Laboratory housing the Electrical; Mechanical; and Earth Science/Civil Engineering departments respectively. Duncan Hall is the latest addition to this quad providing new offices for the Computer Science; Computational and Applied Math; Electrical and Computer Engineering; and Statistics departments.

    Roughly three-quarters of Rice’s undergraduate population lives on campus. Housing is divided among eleven residential colleges which form an integral part of student life at the university The colleges are named for university historical figures and benefactors.While there is wide variation in their appearance; facilities; and dates of founding are an important source of identity for Rice students functioning as dining halls; residence halls; sports teams among other roles. Rice does not have or endorse a Greek system with the residential college system taking its place. Five colleges: McMurtry; Duncan; Martel; Jones; and Brown are located on the north side of campus across from the “South Colleges”; Baker; Will Rice; Lovett, Hanszen; Sid Richardson; and Wiess on the other side of the Academic Quadrangle. Of the eleven colleges Baker is the oldest originally built in 1912 and the twin Duncan and McMurtry colleges are the newest and opened for the first time for the 2009–10 school year. Will Rice; Baker; and Lovett colleges are undergoing renovation to expand their dining facilities as well as the number of rooms available for students.

    The on-campus football facility-Rice Stadium opened in 1950 with a capacity of 70000 seats. After improvements in 2006 the stadium is currently configured to seat 47,000 for football but can readily be reconfigured to its original capacity of 70000, more than the total number of Rice alumni living and deceased. The stadium was the site of Super Bowl VIII and a speech by John F. Kennedy on September 12 1962 in which he challenged the nation to send a man to the moon by the end of the decade. The recently renovated Tudor Fieldhouse formerly known as Autry Court is home to the basketball and volleyball teams. Other stadia include the Rice Track/Soccer Stadium and the Jake Hess Tennis Stadium. A new Rec Center now houses the intramural sports offices and provide an outdoor pool and training and exercise facilities for all Rice students while athletics training will solely be held at Tudor Fieldhouse and the Rice Football Stadium.

    The university and Houston Independent School District jointly established The Rice School-a kindergarten through 8th grade public magnet school in Houston. The school opened in August 1994. Through Cy-Fair ISD Rice University offers a credit course based summer school for grades 8 through 12. They also have skills based classes during the summer in the Rice Summer School.

    Innovation District

    In early 2019 Rice announced the site where the abandoned Sears building in Midtown Houston stood along with its surrounding area would be transformed into the “The Ion” the hub of the 16-acre South Main Innovation District. President of Rice David Leebron stated “We chose the name Ion because it’s from the Greek ienai, which means ‘go’. We see it as embodying the ever-forward motion of discovery, the spark at the center of a truly original idea.”

    Students of Rice and other Houston-area colleges and universities making up the Student Coalition for a Just and Equitable Innovation Corridor are advocating for a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA)-a contractual agreement between a developer and a community coalition. Residents of neighboring Third Ward and other members of the Houston Coalition for Equitable Development Without Displacement (HCEDD) have faced consistent opposition from the City of Houston and Rice Management Company to a CBA as traditionally defined in favor of an agreement between the latter two entities without a community coalition signatory.


    Rice University is chartered as a non-profit organization and is governed by a privately appointed board of trustees. The board consists of a maximum of 25 voting members who serve four-year terms. The trustees serve without compensation and a simple majority of trustees must reside in Texas including at least four within the greater Houston area. The board of trustees delegates its power by appointing a president to serve as the chief executive of the university. David W. Leebron was appointed president in 2004 and succeeded Malcolm Gillis who served since 1993. The provost six vice presidents and other university officials report to the president. The president is advised by a University Council composed of the provost, eight members of the Faculty Council, two staff members, one graduate student, and two undergraduate students. The president presides over a Faculty Council which has the authority to alter curricular requirements, establish new degree programs, and approve candidates for degrees.

    The university’s academics are organized into several schools. Schools that have undergraduate and graduate programs include:

    The Rice University School of Architecture
    The George R. Brown School of Engineering
    The School of Humanities
    The Shepherd School of Music
    The Wiess School of Natural Sciences
    The Rice University School of Social Sciences

    Two schools have only graduate programs:

    The Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Management
    The Susanne M. Glasscock School of Continuing Studies

    Rice’s undergraduate students benefit from a centralized admissions process which admits new students to the university as a whole, rather than a specific school (the schools of Music and Architecture are decentralized). Students are encouraged to select the major path that best suits their desires; a student can later decide that they would rather pursue study in another field or continue their current coursework and add a second or third major. These transitions are designed to be simple at Rice with students not required to decide on a specific major until their sophomore year of study.

    Rice’s academics are organized into six schools which offer courses of study at the graduate and undergraduate level, with two more being primarily focused on graduate education, while offering select opportunities for undergraduate students. Rice offers 360 degrees in over 60 departments. There are 40 undergraduate degree programs, 51 masters programs, and 29 doctoral programs.

    Faculty members of each of the departments elect chairs to represent the department to each School’s dean and the deans report to the Provost who serves as the chief officer for academic affairs.

    Rice Management Company

    The Rice Management Company manages the $6.5 billion Rice University endowment (June 2019) and $957 million debt. The endowment provides 40% of Rice’s operating revenues. Allison Thacker is the President and Chief Investment Officer of the Rice Management Company, having joined the university in 2011.


    Rice is a medium-sized highly residential research university. The majority of enrollments are in the full-time four-year undergraduate program emphasizing arts & sciences and professions. There is a high graduate coexistence with the comprehensive graduate program and a very high level of research activity. It is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools as well as the professional accreditation agencies for engineering, management, and architecture.

    Each of Rice’s departments is organized into one of three distribution groups, and students whose major lies within the scope of one group must take at least 3 courses of at least 3 credit hours each of approved distribution classes in each of the other two groups, as well as completing one physical education course as part of the LPAP (Lifetime Physical Activity Program) requirement. All new students must take a Freshman Writing Intensive Seminar (FWIS) class, and for students who do not pass the university’s writing composition examination (administered during the summer before matriculation), FWIS 100, a writing class, becomes an additional requirement.

    The majority of Rice’s undergraduate degree programs grant B.S. or B.A. degrees. Rice has recently begun to offer minors in areas such as business, energy and water sustainability, and global health.

    Student body

    As of fall 2014, men make up 52% of the undergraduate body and 64% of the professional and post-graduate student body. The student body consists of students from all 50 states, including the District of Columbia, two U.S. Territories, and 83 foreign countries. Forty percent of degree-seeking students are from Texas.

    Research centers and resources

    Rice is noted for its applied science programs in the fields of nanotechnology, artificial heart research, structural chemical analysis, signal processing and space science.

    Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship – supports entrepreneurs and early-stage technology ventures in Houston and Texas through education, collaboration, and research, ranked No. 1 among university business incubators.
    Baker Institute for Public Policy – a leading nonpartisan public policy think-tank
    BioScience Research Collaborative (BRC) – interdisciplinary, cross-campus, and inter-institutional resource between Rice University and Texas Medical Center
    Boniuk Institute – dedicated to religious tolerance and advancing religious literacy, respect and mutual understanding
    Center for African and African American Studies – fosters conversations on topics such as critical approaches to race and racism, the nature of diasporic histories and identities, and the complexity of Africa’s past, present and future
    Chao Center for Asian Studies – research hub for faculty, students and post-doctoral scholars working in Asian studies
    Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality (CSWGS) – interdisciplinary academic programs and research opportunities, including the journal Feminist Economics
    Data to Knowledge Lab (D2K) – campus hub for experiential learning in data science
    Digital Signal Processing (DSP) – center for education and research in the field of digital signal processing
    Ethernest Hackerspace – student-run hackerspace for undergraduate engineering students sponsored by the ECE department and the IEEE student chapter
    Humanities Research Center (HRC) – identifies, encourages, and funds innovative research projects by faculty, visiting scholars, graduate, and undergraduate students in the School of Humanities and beyond
    Institute of Biosciences and Bioengineering (IBB) – facilitates the translation of interdisciplinary research and education in biosciences and bioengineering
    Ken Kennedy Institute for Information Technology – advances applied interdisciplinary research in the areas of computation and information technology
    Kinder Institute for Urban Research – conducts the Houston Area Survey, “the nation’s longest running study of any metropolitan region’s economy, population, life experiences, beliefs and attitudes”
    Laboratory for Nanophotonics (LANP) – a resource for education and research breakthroughs and advances in the broad, multidisciplinary field of nanophotonics
    Moody Center for the Arts – experimental arts space featuring studio classrooms, maker space, audiovisual editing booths, and a gallery and office space for visiting national and international artists
    OpenStax CNX (formerly Connexions) and OpenStax – an open source platform and open access publisher, respectively, of open educational resources
    Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen (OEDK) – space for undergraduate students to design, prototype and deploy solutions to real-world engineering challenges
    Rice Cinema – an independent theater run by the Visual and Dramatic Arts department at Rice which screens documentaries, foreign films, and experimental cinema and hosts film festivals and lectures since 1970
    Rice Center for Engineering Leadership (RCEL) – inspires, educates, and develops ethical leaders in technology who will excel in research, industry, non-engineering career paths, or entrepreneurship
    Religion and Public Life Program (RPLP) – a research, training and outreach program working to advance understandings of the role of religion in public life
    Rice Design Alliance (RDA) – outreach and public programs of the Rice School of Architecture
    Rice Center for Quantum Materials (RCQM) – organization dedicated to research and higher education in areas relating to quantum phenomena
    Rice Neuroengineering Initiative (NEI) – fosters research collaborations in neural engineering topics
    Rice Space Institute (RSI) – fosters programs in all areas of space research
    Smalley-Curl Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology (SCI) – the nation’s first nanotechnology center
    Welch Institute for Advanced Materials – collaborative research institute to support the foundational research for discoveries in materials science, similar to the model of Salk Institute and Broad Institute
    Woodson Research Center Special Collections & Archives – publisher of print and web-based materials highlighting the department’s primary source collections such as the Houston African American, Asian American, and Jewish History Archives, University Archives, rare books, and hip hop/rap music-related materials from the Swishahouse record label and Houston Folk Music Archive, etc.

    Student life

    Situated on nearly 300 acres (120 ha) in the center of Houston’s Museum District and across the street from the city’s Hermann Park, Rice is a green and leafy refuge; an oasis of learning convenient to the amenities of the nation’s fourth-largest city. Rice’s campus adjoins Hermann Park, the Texas Medical Center, and a neighborhood commercial center called Rice Village. Hermann Park includes the Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Houston Zoo, Miller Outdoor Theatre and an 18-hole municipal golf course. NRG Park, home of NRG Stadium and the Astrodome, is two miles (3 km) south of the campus. Among the dozen or so museums in the Museum District was (until May 14, 2017) the Rice University Art Gallery, open during the school year from 1995 until it closed in 2017. Easy access to downtown’s theater and nightlife district and to Reliant Park is provided by the Houston METRORail system, with a station adjacent to the campus’s main gate. The campus recently joined the Zipcar program with two vehicles to increase the transportation options for students and staff who need but currently don’t utilize a vehicle.

    Residential colleges

    In 1957, Rice University implemented a residential college system, which was proposed by the university’s first president, Edgar Odell Lovett. The system was inspired by existing systems in place at Oxford(UK) and Cambridge(UK) and at several other universities in the United States, most notably Yale University. The existing residences known as East, South, West, and Wiess Halls became Baker, Will Rice, Hanszen, and Wiess Colleges, respectively.

    List of residential colleges:

    Baker College, named in honor of Captain James A. Baker, friend and attorney of William Marsh Rice, and first chair of the Rice Board of Governors.
    Will Rice College, named for William M. Rice, Jr., the nephew of the university’s founder, William Marsh Rice.
    Hanszen College, named for Harry Clay Hanszen, benefactor to the university and chairman of the Rice Board of Governors from 1946 to 1950.
    Wiess College, named for Harry Carothers Wiess (1887–1948), one of the founders and one-time president of Humble Oil, now ExxonMobil.
    Jones College, named for Mary Gibbs Jones, wife of prominent Houston philanthropist Jesse Holman Jones.
    Brown College, named for Margaret Root Brown by her in-laws, George R. Brown.
    Lovett College, named after the university’s first president, Edgar Odell Lovett.
    Sid Richardson College, named for the Sid Richardson Foundation, which was established by Texas oilman, cattleman, and philanthropist Sid W. Richardson.
    Martel College, named for Marian and Speros P. Martel, was built in 2002.
    McMurtry College, named for Rice alumni Burt and Deedee McMurtry, Silicon Valley venture capitalists.
    Duncan College, named for Charles Duncan, Jr., Secretary of Energy.

    Much of the social and academic life as an undergraduate student at Rice is centered around residential colleges. Each residential college has its own cafeteria (serveries) and each residential college has study groups and its own social practices.

    Although each college is composed of a full cross-section of students at Rice, they have over time developed their own traditions and “personalities”. When students matriculate they are randomly assigned to one of the eleven colleges, although “legacy” exceptions are made for students whose siblings or parents have attended Rice. Students generally remain members of the college that they are assigned to for the duration of their undergraduate careers, even if they move off-campus at any point. Students are guaranteed on-campus housing for freshman year and two of the next three years; each college has its own system for determining allocation of the remaining spaces, collectively known as “Room Jacking”. Students develop strong loyalties to their college and maintain friendly rivalry with other colleges, especially during events such as Beer Bike Race and O-Week. Colleges keep their rivalries alive by performing “jacks,” or pranks, on each other, especially during O-Week and Willy Week. During Matriculation, Commencement, and other formal academic ceremonies, the colleges process in the order in which they were established.

    Student-run media

    Rice has a weekly student newspaper (The Rice Thresher), a yearbook (The Campanile), college radio station (KTRU Rice Radio), and now defunct, campus-wide student television station (RTV5). They are based out of the RMC student center. In addition, Rice hosts several student magazines dedicated to a range of different topics; in fact, the spring semester of 2008 saw the birth of two such magazines, a literary sex journal called Open and an undergraduate science research magazine entitled Catalyst.

    The Rice Thresher is published every Wednesday and is ranked by Princeton Review as one of the top campus newspapers nationally for student readership. It is distributed around campus, and at a few other local businesses and has a website. The Thresher has a small, dedicated staff and is known for its coverage of campus news, open submission opinion page, and the satirical Backpage, which has often been the center of controversy. The newspaper has won several awards from the College Media Association, Associated Collegiate Press and Texas Intercollegiate Press Association.

    The Rice Campanile was first published in 1916 celebrating Rice’s first graduating class. It has published continuously since then, publishing two volumes in 1944 since the university had two graduating classes due to World War II. The website was created sometime in the early to mid 2000s. The 2015 won the first place Pinnacle for best yearbook from College Media Association.

    KTRU Rice Radio is the student-run radio station. Though most DJs are Rice students, anyone is allowed to apply. It is known for playing genres and artists of music and sound unavailable on other radio stations in Houston, and often, the US. The station takes requests over the phone or online. In 2000 and 2006, KTRU won Houston Press’ Best Radio Station in Houston. In 2003, Rice alum and active KTRU DJ DL’s hip-hip show won Houston Press‘ Best Hip-hop Radio Show. On August 17, 2010, it was announced that Rice University had been in negotiations to sell the station’s broadcast tower, FM frequency and license to the University of Houston System to become a full-time classical music and fine arts programming station. The new station, KUHA, would be operated as a not-for-profit outlet with listener supporters. The FCC approved the sale and granted the transfer of license to the University of Houston System on April 15, 2011, however, KUHA proved to be an even larger failure and so after four and a half years of operation, The University of Houston System announced that KUHA’s broadcast tower, FM frequency and license were once again up for sale in August 2015. KTRU continued to operate much as it did previously, streaming live on the Internet, via apps, and on HD2 radio using the 90.1 signal. Under student leadership, KTRU explored the possibility of returning to FM radio for a number of years. In spring 2015, KTRU was granted permission by the FCC to begin development of a new broadcast signal via LPFM radio. On October 1, 2015, KTRU made its official return to FM radio on the 96.1 signal. While broadcasting on HD2 radio has been discontinued, KTRU continues to broadcast via internet in addition to its LPFM signal.

    RTV5 is a student-run television network available as channel 5 on campus. RTV5 was created initially as Rice Broadcast Television in 1997; RBT began to broadcast the following year in 1998, and aired its first live show across campus in 1999. It experienced much growth and exposure over the years with successful programs like Drinking with Phil, The Meg & Maggie Show, which was a variety and call-in show, a weekly news show, and extensive live coverage in December 2000 of the shut down of KTRU by the administration. In spring 2001, the Rice undergraduate community voted in the general elections to support RBT as a blanket tax organization, effectively providing a yearly income of $10,000 to purchase new equipment and provide the campus with a variety of new programming. In the spring of 2005, RBT members decided the station needed a new image and a new name: Rice Television 5. One of RTV5’s most popular shows was the 24-hour show, where a camera and couch placed in the RMC stayed on air for 24 hours. One such show is held in fall and another in spring, usually during a weekend allocated for visits by prospective students. RTV5 has a video on demand site at The station went off the air in 2014 and changed its name to Rice Video Productions. In 2015 the group’s funding was threatened, but ultimately maintained. In 2016 the small student staff requested to no longer be a blanket-tax organization. In the fall of 2017, the club did not register as a club.

    The Rice Review, also known as R2, is a yearly student-run literary journal at Rice University that publishes prose, poetry, and creative nonfiction written by undergraduate students, as well as interviews. The journal was founded in 2004 by creative writing professor and author Justin Cronin.

    The Rice Standard was an independent, student-run variety magazine modeled after such publications as The New Yorker and Harper’s. Prior to fall 2009, it was regularly published three times a semester with a wide array of content, running from analyses of current events and philosophical pieces to personal essays, short fiction and poetry. In August 2009, The Standard transitioned to a completely online format with the launch of their redesigned website, The first website of its kind on Rice’s campus, The Standard featured blog-style content written by and for Rice students. The Rice Standard had around 20 regular contributors, and the site features new content every day (including holidays). In 2017 no one registered The Rice Standard as a club within the university.

    Open, a magazine dedicated to “literary sex content,” predictably caused a stir on campus with its initial publication in spring 2008. A mixture of essays, editorials, stories and artistic photography brought Open attention both on campus and in the Houston Chronicle. The third and last annual edition of Open was released in spring of 2010.

    Vahalla is the Graduate Student Association on-campus bar under the steps of the chemistry building.


    Rice plays in NCAA Division I athletics and is part of Conference USA. Rice was a member of the Western Athletic Conference before joining Conference USA in 2005. Rice is the second-smallest school, measured by undergraduate enrollment, competing in NCAA Division I FBS football, only ahead of Tulsa.

    The Rice baseball team won the 2003 College World Series, defeating Stanford, giving Rice its only national championship in a team sport. The victory made Rice University the smallest school in 51 years to win a national championship at the highest collegiate level of the sport. The Rice baseball team has played on campus at Reckling Park since the 2000 season. As of 2010, the baseball team has won 14 consecutive conference championships in three different conferences: the final championship of the defunct Southwest Conference, all nine championships while a member of the Western Athletic Conference, and five more championships in its first five years as a member of Conference USA. Additionally, Rice’s baseball team has finished third in both the 2006 and 2007 College World Series tournaments. Rice now has made six trips to Omaha for the CWS. In 2004, Rice became the first school ever to have three players selected in the first eight picks of the MLB draft when Philip Humber, Jeff Niemann, and Wade Townsend were selected third, fourth, and eighth, respectively. In 2007, Joe Savery was selected as the 19th overall pick.

    Rice has been very successful in women’s sports in recent years. In 2004–05, Rice sent its women’s volleyball, soccer, and basketball teams to their respective NCAA tournaments. The women’s swim team has consistently brought at least one member of their team to the NCAA championships since 2013. In 2005–06, the women’s soccer, basketball, and tennis teams advanced, with five individuals competing in track and field. In 2006–07, the Rice women’s basketball team made the NCAA tournament, while again five Rice track and field athletes received individual NCAA berths. In 2008, the women’s volleyball team again made the NCAA tournament. In 2011 the Women’s Swim team won their first conference championship in the history of the university. This was an impressive feat considering they won without having a diving team. The team repeated their C-USA success in 2013 and 2014. In 2017, the women’s basketball team, led by second-year head coach Tina Langley, won the Women’s Basketball Invitational, defeating UNC-Greensboro 74–62 in the championship game at Tudor Fieldhouse. Though not a varsity sport, Rice’s ultimate frisbee women’s team, named Torque, won consecutive Division III national championships in 2014 and 2015.

    In 2006, the football team qualified for its first bowl game since 1961, ending the second-longest bowl drought in the country at the time. On December 22, 2006, Rice played in the New Orleans Bowl in New Orleans, Louisiana against the Sun Belt Conference champion, Troy. The Owls lost 41–17. The bowl appearance came after Rice had a 14-game losing streak from 2004–05 and went 1–10 in 2005. The streak followed an internally authorized 2003 McKinsey report that stated football alone was responsible for a $4 million deficit in 2002. Tensions remained high between the athletic department and faculty, as a few professors who chose to voice their opinion were in favor of abandoning the football program. The program success in 2006, the Rice Renaissance, proved to be a revival of the Owl football program, quelling those tensions. David Bailiff took over the program in 2007 and has remained head coach. Jarett Dillard set an NCAA record in 2006 by catching a touchdown pass in 13 consecutive games and took a 15-game overall streak into the 2007 season.

    In 2008, the football team posted a 9-3 regular season, capping off the year with a 38–14 victory over Western Michigan University in the Texas Bowl. The win over Western Michigan marked the Owls’ first bowl win in 45 years.

    Rice Stadium also serves as the performance venue for the university’s Marching Owl Band, or “MOB.” Despite its name, the MOB is a scatter band that focuses on performing humorous skits and routines rather than traditional formation marching.

    Rice Owls men’s basketball won 10 conference titles in the former Southwest Conference (1918, 1935*, 1940, 1942*, 1943*, 1944*, 1945, 1949*, 1954*, 1970; * denotes shared title). Most recently, guard Morris Almond was drafted in the first round of the 2007 NBA Draft by the Utah Jazz. Rice named former Cal Bears head coach Ben Braun as head basketball coach to succeed Willis Wilson, fired after Rice finished the 2007–2008 season with a winless (0-16) conference record and overall record of 3-27.

    Rice’s mascot is Sammy the Owl. In previous decades, the university kept several live owls on campus in front of Lovett College, but this practice has been discontinued, due to public pressure over the welfare of the owls.

    Rice also has a 12-member coed cheerleading squad and a coed dance team, both of which perform at football and basketball games throughout the year.

Compose new post
Next post/Next comment
Previous post/Previous comment
Show/Hide comments
Go to top
Go to login
Show/Hide help
shift + esc
%d bloggers like this: