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  • richardmitnick 4:36 pm on March 26, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From LANL: “Using magnetic fields to understand high-temperature superconductivity “ 

    LANL bloc

    LANL Sign
    Los Alamos National Laboratory

    March 26, 2015
    Nancy Ambrosiano

    Los Alamos explores experimental path to potential ‘next theory of superconductivity’

    1
    Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist Brad Ramshaw conducts an experiment at the Pulsed Field Facility of the National High Magnetic Field Lab, exposing high-temperature superconductors to very high magnetic fields, changing the temperature at which the materials become perfectly conducting and revealing unique properties of these substances.

    Taking our understanding of quantum matter to new levels, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory are exposing high-temperature superconductors to very high magnetic fields, changing the temperature at which the materials become perfectly conducting and revealing unique properties of these substances.

    “High magnetic-field measurements of doped copper-oxide superconductors are paving the way to a new theory of superconductivity,” said Brad Ramshaw, a Los Alamos scientist and lead researcher on the project. Using world-record high magnetic fields available at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (NHMFL) Pulsed Field Facility, based in Los Alamos, Ramshaw and his coworkers are pushing the boundaries of how matter can conduct electricity without the resistance that plagues normal materials carrying an electrical current.

    LANL National High Magnetic Field Lab
    NHMFL

    The eventual goal of the research would be to create a superconductor that operates at room temperature and needs no cooling at all. At this point, all devices that make use of superconductors, such as the MRI magnets found in hospitals, must be cooled to temperatures far below zero with liquid nitrogen or helium, adding to the cost and complexity of the enterprise.

    “This is a truly landmark experiment that illuminates a problem of central importance to condensed matter physics,” said MagLab Director Gregory Boebinger, who is also chief scientist for Condensed Matter Science at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory’s headquarters in Florida. “The success of this quintessential MagLab work relied on having the best samples, the highest magnetic fields, the most sensitive techniques, and the inspired creativity of a multi-institutional research team.”

    High-temperature superconductors have been a thriving field of research for almost 30 years, not just because they can conduct electricity with no losses—one hundred degrees higher than any other material—but also because they represent a very difficult and interesting “correlated-electron” physics problem in their own right.

    The theory of traditional, low-temperature superconductors was constructed by Bardeen, Cooper, and Schrieffer in 1957, winning them the Nobel prize; this theory (known as the BCS theory) had a far-reaching impact, laying the foundation for the Higgs mechanism in particle physics, and it represents one of the greatest triumphs of 20th century physics.

    On the other hand, high-temperature superconductors, such as yttrium barium copper oxide (YBa2Cu3O6+x), cannot be explained with BCS theory, and so researchers need a new theory for these materials. One particularly interesting aspect of high-temperature superconductors, such as YBa2Cu3O6+x, is that one can change the superconducting transition temperature (Tc, where the material becomes perfectly conducting) by “doping” it, : changing the number of electrons that participate in superconductivity.

    The Los Alamos team’s research in the 100-T magnet found that if one dopes YBa2Cu3O6+x to the point where Tc is highest (“optimal doping”), the electrons become very heavy and move around in a correlated way.

    “This tells us that the electrons are interacting very strongly when the material is an optimal superconductor,” said Ramshaw. “This is a vital piece of information for building the next theory of superconductivity.”

    “An outstanding problem in the field of high-transition-temperature (high-Tc) superconductivity has been the issue as to whether a quantum critical point—a special doping value where quantum fluctuations lead to strong electron-electron interactions—is driving the remarkably high Tc’s in these materials,” he said.

    Proof of its existence has previously not been found due to the robust nature of the superconductivity in the copper oxide materials, yet if scientists can show that there is a quantum critical point, it would constitute a significant milestone toward resolving the superconducting pairing mechanism, Ramshaw explained.

    “Assembling the pieces of this complex superconductivity puzzle is a daunting task that has involved scientists from around the world for decades,” said Charles H. Mielke, NHMFL-Pulsed Field Facility director at Los Alamos. “Though the puzzle is unfinished, this essential piece links unquestionable experimental results to fundamental condensed matter physics — a connection made possible by an exceptional team, strong partner support and unsurpassed capabilities.”

    In a paper this week in the journal Science, the team addresses this longstanding problem by measuring magnetic quantum oscillations as a function of hole doping in very strong magnetic fields in excess of 90 tesla.

    Strong magnetic fields such as the world-record field accessible at the NHMFL site at Los Alamos enable the normal metallic state to be accessed by suppressing superconductivity. Fields approaching 100 tesla, in particular, enable quantum oscillations to be measured very close to the maximum in the transition temperature Tc ~ 94 kelvin. These quantum oscillations give scientists a picture of how the electrons are interacting with each other before they become superconducting.

    By accessing a very broad range of dopings, the authors show that there is a strong enhancement of the effective mass at optimal doping. A strong enhancement of the effective mass is the signature of increasing electron interaction strength, and the signature of a quantum critical point. The broken symmetry responsible for this point has yet to be pinned down, although a connection with charge ordering appears to be likely, Ramshaw notes.

    Funding: Work carried out at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory—Pulsed Field Facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory was provided through funding from the National Science Foundation Division of Materials Research through Grant No. DMR-1157490 and from the US Department of Energy’s Office of Science, Florida State University, the State of Florida, and Los Alamos National Laboratory through the LDRD program.

    See the full article here.

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    Los Alamos National Laboratory’s mission is to solve national security challenges through scientific excellence.

    LANL Campus

    Los Alamos National Laboratory, a multidisciplinary research institution engaged in strategic science on behalf of national security, is operated by Los Alamos National Security, LLC, a team composed of Bechtel National, the University of California, The Babcock & Wilcox Company, and URS for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.

    Los Alamos enhances national security by ensuring the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile, developing technologies to reduce threats from weapons of mass destruction, and solving problems related to energy, environment, infrastructure, health, and global security concerns.

    Operated by Los Alamos National Security, LLC for the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s NNSA

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  • richardmitnick 2:47 pm on March 26, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From Wisconsin: “Ebola whole virus vaccine shown effective, safe in primates” 

    U Wisconsin

    University of Wisconsin

    March 26, 2015
    Terry Devitt

    1
    Ebola virus swarms the surface of a host cell in this electron micrograph. Like most viruses, Ebola requires the help of a host cell to survive and replicate. Photo: Takeshi Noda, University of Tokyo

    An Ebola whole virus vaccine, constructed using a novel experimental platform, has been shown to effectively protect monkeys exposed to the often fatal virus.

    The vaccine, described today (March 26, 2015) in the journal Science, was developed by a group led by Yoshihiro Kawaoka, a University of Wisconsin-Madison expert on avian influenza, Ebola and other viruses of medical importance. It differs from other Ebola vaccines because as an inactivated whole virus vaccine, it primes the host immune system with the full complement of Ebola viral proteins and genes, potentially conferring greater protection.

    “In terms of efficacy, this affords excellent protection,” explains Kawaoka, a professor of pathobiological sciences in the UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine and who also holds a faculty appointment at the University of Tokyo. “It is also a very safe vaccine.”

    The vaccine was constructed on an experimental platform first devised in 2008 by Peter Halfmann, a research scientist in Kawaoka’s lab. The system allows researchers to safely work with the virus thanks to the deletion of a key gene known as VP30, which the Ebola virus uses to make a protein required for it to reproduce in host cells. Ebola virus has only eight genes and, like most viruses, depends on the molecular machinery of host cells to grow and become infectious.

    By engineering monkey kidney cells to express the VP30 protein, the virus can be safely studied in the lab and be used as a basis for devising countermeasures like a whole virus vaccine. The vaccine reported by Kawaoka and his colleagues was additionally chemically inactivated using hydrogen peroxide, according to the new Science report.

    Ebola first emerged in 1976 in Sudan and Zaire. The current outbreak in West Africa has so far claimed more than 10,000 lives. There are no proven treatments or vaccines, although several vaccine platforms have been devised in recent years, four of which recently advanced to the clinical trial stage in humans.

    2
    Yoshihiro Kawaoka

    The new vaccine reported by Kawaoka has not been tested in people. However, the successful tests in nonhuman primates conducted at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Rocky Mountain Laboratories, a biosafety level 4 facility in Hamilton, Montana, may prompt further tests and possibly clinical trials of the new vaccine. The work at Rocky Mountain Laboratories was conducted in collaboration with a group led by Heinz Feldmann of NIH.

    Those studies were conducted with cynomolgus macaques, which are very susceptible to Ebola. “It’s the best model,” Kawaoka says. “If you get protection with this model, it’s working.”

    Ebola vaccines currently in trials include:

    A DNA-based plasmid vaccine that primes host cells with some of the Ebola proteins.
    A vaccine based on a replication incompetent chimpanzee respiratory virus engineered to express a key Ebola protein.
    A live attenuated virus from the same family of viruses that causes rabies, also engineered to express a critical Ebola protein.
    A vaccine based on a vaccinia virus and engineered to express a critical Ebola protein.

    Each of those strategies, Kawaoka notes, has drawbacks in terms of safety and delivery.

    Whole virus vaccines have long been used to successfully prevent serious human diseases, including polio, influenza, hepatitis and human papillomavirus-mediated cervical cancer.

    The advantage conferred by inactivated whole virus vaccines such as the one devised by Halfmann, Kawaoka and their colleagues is that they present the complete range of proteins and genetic material to the host immune system, which is then more likely to trigger a broader and more robust immune response.

    Early attempts to devise an inactivated whole virus Ebola vaccine through irradiation and the preservative formalin failed to protect monkeys exposed to the Ebola virus and were abandoned.

    Although the new vaccine has surpassed that hurdle, human trials are expensive and complex, costing millions of dollars.

    The Ebola vaccine study conducted by Kawaoka was supported by the National Institutes of Health and by the Japanese Health and Labour Sciences Research Grants.

    In addition to Kawaoka, co-authors of the new Science report include Halfmann, Lindsay Hill-Batorski and Gabriele Neumann of UW-Madison and Andrea Marzi, W. Lesley Shupert and Feldmann of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

    See the full article here.

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    In achievement and prestige, the University of Wisconsin–Madison has long been recognized as one of America’s great universities. A public, land-grant institution, UW–Madison offers a complete spectrum of liberal arts studies, professional programs and student activities. Spanning 936 acres along the southern shore of Lake Mendota, the campus is located in the city of Madison.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:18 pm on March 26, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From JPL: “Astronomers Upgrade Their Cosmic Light Bulbs” 

    JPL

    Whitney Clavin
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    818-354-4673
    whitney.clavin@jpl.nasa.gov

    1
    A new study analyzes several sites where dead stars once exploded. Image credit: SDSS

    Sloan Digital Sky Survey Telescope
    SDSS Telescope at Apache Point, NM, USA

    The brilliant explosions of dead stars have been used for years to illuminate the far-flung reaches of our cosmos. The explosions, called Type Ia supernovae, allow astronomers to measure the distances to galaxies and measure the ever-increasing rate at which our universe is stretching apart.

    But these tools aren’t perfect. In the cosmic hardware store of our universe, improvements are ongoing. In a new report, appearing March 27 in the journal Science, astronomers identify the best, top-of-the-line Type Ia supernovae for measuring cosmic distances, pushing other, more clunky tools to the back of the shelf.

    Using archived data from NASA’s Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX), scientists show that a particular class of Type Ia supernovae that occur near youthful stars can improve these measurements with a precision of more than two times that achieved before.

    NASA Galex telescope
    GALEX

    “We have discovered a population of Type Ia supernovae whose light output depends very precisely on how quickly they fade, making it possible to measure very exact distances to them,” said Patrick Kelly of the University of California, Berkeley, lead author of the new study. “These supernovae are found close to populations of bright, hot young stars.”

    The findings will help light the way to understanding dark energy, one of the greatest mysteries in the field of cosmology, the study of the origin and development of the universe. Dark energy is the leading culprit behind the baffling acceleration of our cosmos, a phenomenon discovered in 1998. The acceleration was uncovered when astronomers observed that galaxies are pulling away from each other at increasing speeds.

    The key to measuring this acceleration — and thus the nature of dark energy — lies with Type Ia supernovae, which work much like light bulbs strung across space. Imagine lining up 60-watt light bulbs across a field and standing at one end. The farthest light bulb wouldn’t appear as bright as the closest one due to its distance. Since you know how bright the light bulb inherently is, you can use the extent of its dimming to figure out the distance.

    Type Ia supernovae, also referred to as “standard candles,” work in a similar way because they consistently shine with about the same amount of light. While the process that leads to these explosions is still not clear, they occur when the burnt-out core of a star, called a white dwarf, blasts apart in a regular way, briefly lighting up the host galaxy.

    However, the explosions aren’t always precisely uniform. They can differ considerably depending on various factors, which appear to be connected to the environments and histories of the exploding stars. It’s as if our 60-watt bulbs sometimes give off 55 watts of light, skewing distance measurements.

    Kelly and his team investigated the reliability of these tools by analyzing the surroundings of nearly 100 previous Type Ia explosions. They used data from GALEX, which detects ultraviolet light. Populations of hot, young stars in galaxies will shine brightly with ultraviolet light, so GALEX can distinguish between young and older star-forming communities.

    The results showed that the Type Ia supernovae affiliated with the hot, young stars were significantly more reliable at indicating distances than their counterparts.

    “These explosions are likely the result of youthful white dwarfs,” said Kelly.

    By focusing on this particular brand of Type Ia tools, astronomers will be able to, in the future, make even sharper measurements of the size and scale of our universe. According to the science team, this class of tools could work at distances up to six billion light-years away, and perhaps farther.

    “GALEX surveyed the entire sky, allowing past and future eruptions of these high-quality standard candles to be identified easily,” said Don Neill, a member of the GALEX team at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, not affiliated with the study. “Any improvement in the standard candles will have a direct impact on theories of dark energy, allowing us to home in on this mysterious force propelling the acceleration of the universe.”

    Caltech led the Galaxy Evolution Explorer mission and was responsible for science operations and data analysis. The mission ended in 2013 after more than a decade of scanning the skies in ultraviolet light. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, managed the mission and built the science instrument. The mission was developed under NASA’s Explorers Program managed by the Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland. Researchers sponsored by Yonsei University in South Korea and the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES) in France collaborated on this mission. ?

    Graphics and additional information about the Galaxy Evolution Explorer are online at:

    http://www.nasa.gov/galex

    http://www.galex.caltech.edu

    See the full article here.

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    NASA JPL Campus

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although the facility has a Pasadena postal address, it is actually headquartered in the city of La Cañada Flintridge, on the northwest border of Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Laboratory’s primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA’s Deep Space Network.

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  • richardmitnick 1:57 pm on March 26, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From Hubble: “Dark matter even darker than once thought” 

    NASA Hubble Telescope

    Hubble

    26 March 2015
    David Harvey
    École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
    Lausanne, Switzerland
    Tel: +41 22 3792475
    Cell: +41 7946 38283
    Email: david.harvey@epfl.ch

    Richard Massey
    Durham University
    Durham, UK
    Tel: +44 7740 648080
    Email: r.j.massey@durham.ac.uk

    Georgia Bladon
    ESA/Hubble, Public Information Officer
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +44 7816 291261
    Email: gbladon@partner.eso.org

    Hubble explores the dark side of cosmic collisions

    1
    Image credit: NASA, ESA, D. Harvey (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland)and R. Massey (Durham University, UK)

    Astronomers using observations from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory have studied how dark matter in clusters of galaxies behaves when the clusters collide. The results, published in the journal Science on 27 March 2015, show that dark matter interacts with itself even less than previously thought, and narrows down the options for what this mysterious substance might be.

    NASA Chandra Telescope
    NASA/CHandra

    Dark matter is a giant question mark looming over our knowledge of the Universe. There is more dark matter in the Universe than visible matter, but it is extremely elusive; it does not reflect, absorb or emit light, making it invisible. Because of this, it is only known to exist via its gravitational effects on the visible Universe (see e.g. heic1215a).

    To learn more about this mysterious substance, researchers can study it in a way similar to experiments on visible matter — by watching what happens when it bumps into things [1]. For this reason, researchers look at vast collections of galaxies, called galaxy clusters, where collisions involving dark matter happen naturally and where it exists in vast enough quantities to see the effects of collisions [2].

    Galaxies are made of three main ingredients: stars, clouds of gas and dark matter. During collisions, the clouds of gas spread throughout the galaxies crash into each other and slow down or stop. The stars are much less affected by the drag from the gas [3] and, because of the huge gaps between them, do not have a slowing effect on each other — though if two stars did collide the frictional forces would be huge.

    “We know how gas and stars react to these cosmic crashes and where they emerge from the wreckage. Comparing how dark matter behaves can help us to narrow down what it actually is,” explains David Harvey of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland, lead author of a new study.

    Harvey and his team used data from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory to study 72 large cluster collisions. The collisions happened at different times, and are seen from different angles — some from the side, and others head-on [4].

    The team found that, like the stars, the dark matter continued straight through the violent collisions without slowing down. However, unlike in the case of the stars, this is not because the dark matter is far away from other dark matter during the collisions. The leading theory is that dark matter is spread evenly throughout the galaxy clusters so dark matter particles frequently get very close to each other. The reason the dark matter doesn’t slow down is because not only does it not interact with visible particles, it also interacts even less with other dark matter than previously thought.

    “A previous study had seen similar behaviour in the Bullet Cluster,” says team member Richard Massey of Durham University, UK.

    2
    Bullet Cluster
    X-ray photo by Chandra X-ray Observatory. Exposure time was 140 hours. The scale is shown in megaparsecs. Redshift (z) = 0.3, meaning its light has wavelengths stretched by a factor of 1.3.

    “But it’s difficult to interpret what you’re seeing if you have just one example. Each collision takes hundreds of millions of years, so in a human lifetime we only get to see one freeze-frame from a single camera angle. Now that we have studied so many more collisions, we can start to piece together the full movie and better understand what is going on.”

    By finding that dark matter interacts with itself even less than previously thought, the team have successfully narrowed down the properties of dark matter. Particle physics theorists have to keep looking, but they now have a smaller set of unknowns to work with when building their models[5].

    Dark matter could potentially have rich and complex properties, and there are still several other types of interaction to study. These latest results rule out interactions that create a strong frictional force, causing dark matter to slow down during collisions. Other possible interactions could make dark matter particles bounce off each other like billiard balls, causing dark matter to be thrown out of collisions or for dark matter blobs to change shape. The team will be studying these next.

    To further increase the number of collisions that can be studied, the team are also looking to study collisions involving individual galaxies, which are much more common.

    “There are still several viable candidates for dark matter, so the game is not over, but we are getting nearer to an answer,” concludes Harvey. “These ‘Astronomically Large’ particle colliders are finally letting us glimpse the dark world all around us but just out of reach.”

    Notes

    [1] On Earth scientists use particle accelerators to find out more about the properties of different particles. Physicists can investigate what substances are made of by accelerating particles into a collision, and examining the properties and trajectory of the resulting debris.

    [2] Clusters of galaxies are a swarm of galaxies permeated by a sea of hot X-ray emitting ionised hydrogen gas that is all embedded in a massive cloud of dark matter. It is the interactions of these, the most massive structures in the Universe that are observed to test dark matter’s properties.

    [3] The gas-gas interaction in cluster collisions is very strong, while the gas-star drag is weak. In a similar way to a soap bubble and a bullet in the wind where the bubble would interact a great deal more with the wind than the bullet.

    [4] To find out where the dark matter was located in the cluster the researchers studied the light from galaxies behind the cluster whose light had been magnified and distorted by the mass in the cluster. Because they have a good idea of the visible mass in the cluster, the amount the light is distorted tells them how much dark matter there is in a region.

    [5] A favoured theory is that dark matter might be constituted of “supersymmetric” particles. Supersymmetry is a theory in which all particles in our Standard Model — electrons, protons, neutrons, and so on — have a more massive “supersymmetric” partner. While there has been no experimental confirmation for supersymmetry as yet, the theory would solve a few of the gaps in our current thinking. One of supersymmetry’s proposed particles would be stable, electrically neutral, and only interact weakly with the common particles of the Standard Model — all the properties required to explain dark matter.

    Supersymmetry standard model
    Standard Model of Supersymmetry

    4
    Standard Model of Particle Physics. The diagram shows the elementary particles of the Standard Model (the Higgs boson, the three generations of quarks and leptons, and the gauge bosons), including their names, masses, spins, charges, chiralities, and interactions with the strong, weak and electromagnetic forces. It also depicts the crucial role of the Higgs boson in electroweak symmetry breaking, and shows how the properties of the various particles differ in the (high-energy) symmetric phase (top) and the (low-energy) broken-symmetry phase (bottom).

    Notes for editors

    The research paper, entitled The non-gravitational interactions of dark matter in colliding galaxy clusters, will be published in the journal Science on 27 March 2015.

    The international team of astronomers in this study consists of D. Harvey (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland; University of Edinburgh, UK), R. Massey (Durham University, UK), T. Kitching (University College London, UK), A. Taylor (University of Edinburgh, UK), and E. Tittley (University of Edinburgh, UK).
    More information

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    The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), is a free-standing science center, located on the campus of The Johns Hopkins University and operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) for NASA, conducts Hubble science operations.

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  • richardmitnick 1:19 pm on March 26, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Horizon 2020, Ukraine   

    From AAAS: “Ukraine joins E.U. research club—at a steep discount” 

    AAAS

    AAAS

    24 March 2015
    Tania Rabesandratana

    1
    European Commissioner Carlos Moedas (left) and Ukrainian education and science minister Serhii Myronovych Kvit exchange signatures in Kiev.

    Ukraine has earned privileged access to competitive research funds from the European Union, bringing its science closer to the Western bloc. Under a deal signed in Kiev on 20 March with the European Commission, Ukraine becomes an “associated country” to Horizon 2020, the European Union’s €80 billion, 7-year research program. That means researchers and businesses in Ukraine may apply for any Horizon 2020 grant.

    The commission has given Ukraine a sweet deal: It receives a 95% rebate on its association fee and a 1-year deferment to pay the first year’s installment. The agreement is a testament to the European Union’s will to build closer economic and political ties with its former Soviet neighbor, a process that has sped up after the conflict in Eastern Ukraine erupted last year. Researchers in the Crimean Peninsula, annexed by Russia, are excluded from the agreement.

    “Ukraine will now have access to the full spectrum of activities funded under Horizon 2020, helping spur its economy,” said E.U. research commissioner Carlos Moedas in a statement.

    Ukraine-based researchers did receive about €24 million of E.U. research money under the previous program, between 2007 and 2013. But until now, Russia’s neighbor had the status of a “third country,” meaning that researchers there were excluded from parts of the program, including coveted grants from the European Research Council (ERC). The upgrade puts Ukraine on par with 12 other non-E.U. countries including Iceland, Norway, and Turkey.

    Ukrainian applicants are encouraged to submit research proposals under this year’s calls, says a Horizon 2020 document issued last month, but formal grant agreements will be signed only when the Horizon 2020 agreement enters into force—that is, after the Ukrainian parliament ratifies it.

    The conflict in Ukraine has had a major impact on the country’s science. Entire universities have been relocated from war-torn Eastern Ukraine, along with an estimated 1500 scientists and 10,000 students; meanwhile, the country lost several important research assets when Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula in March 2014. The European Union strongly rejects the annexation, and the Horizon 2020 association rules reflect that. “Given that the EU does not recognise the illegal annexation … legal persons established in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea or the city of Sevastopol are not eligible to participate,” says the document.

    The European Union has tried to build bridges with Ukraine in other ways as well; last year, it offered a package of aid and loans worth more than €11 billion to boost recovery and reform.

    See the full article here..

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  • richardmitnick 1:02 pm on March 26, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From AAAS: “Shuttered Japanese proton accelerator nears restart” 

    AAAS

    AAAS

    25 March 2015
    Dennis Normile

    Idled after a radiation leak in May 2013, the Japan Proton Accelerator Research Complex (J-PARC) in Tokaimura took a step toward resuming full operations yesterday when the governor of Ibaraki Prefecture accepted a set of countermeasures aimed at preventing another accident. If the facility passes a final inspection by Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority, J-PARC could resume normal operations by the end of next month.

    Japan Proton Accelerator Research Complex J-PARC
    J-PARC

    It has been a long slog. An independent investigative panel convened by J-PARC concluded that the accident resulted from a combination of equipment malfunction and human error. In J-PARC’s Hadron Experimental Facility, a proton beam from a 50-GeV synchrotron strikes a target to produce a variety of secondary subatomic particles, including kaons, pions, and muons for use in experiments to determine their characteristics and interactions. On 23 May 2013, a malfunction sent a brief, unexpectedly high intensity beam at a gold target and vaporized radioactive material leaked into the experiment hall. Unaware of what had happened, researchers and staff inhaled contaminated air and also vented it outside the building. J-PARC took 34 hours to notify local and national authorities of the accident. All experiments were halted pending an investigation.

    The expert panel later determined that 34 people had inhaled the vapors and received slight internal radiation exposure that wasn’t deemed harmful and that the release outside the building posed no threat to area residents or the environment. Nonetheless, J-PARC, operated jointly by the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization and the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, then had to convince local and national authorities they could resume operating the facility without endangering staff or the community.

    The countermeasures developed over the past 2 years include upgrading schemes to minimize the impact of equipment glitches, making key experimental chambers airtight, fitting ventilation equipment with filters, and upgrading radiation monitoring and alarm systems. Researchers and staff have received safety training. Designated, trained emergency response personnel will be on hand at all times during operations and J-PARC will conduct accident drills several times annually.

    Experiments resumed at J-PARC’s Materials and Life Science Experimental Facility in February 2014 and at the Neutrino Experimental Facility last May after reviews and strengthening of safety programs.

    J-PARC Neutrino Experimental Facility
    J-PARC Neutrino Experimental Facility Tunnel
    J-PARC Neutrino Experimental Facility

    But more extensive work was needed in the hadron facility. The upgrades were accepted by the prefecture’s own panel of experts earlier this month. Yesterday’s presentation to the governor was largely symbolic. Starting next week, J-PARC officials will explain their strengthened safety measures at three public meetings in nearby towns. The final green light must come from the Nuclear Regulation Authority, which will inspect the facility next month.

    See the full article here.

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  • richardmitnick 8:57 am on March 26, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From Space.com: “The Strangest Black Holes in the Universe” 2013 But Interesting 

    space-dot-com logo

    SPACE.com

    July 08, 2013
    Charles Q. Choi

    Black holes are gigantic cosmic monsters, exotic objects whose gravity is so strong that not even light can escape their clutches.

    The Biggest Black Holes
    1
    Credit: Pete Marenfeld

    Nearly all galaxies are thought to harbor at their cores supermassive black holes millions to billions of times the mass of our sun. Scientists recently discovered the largest black holes known in two nearby galaxies.

    One of these galaxies, known as NGC 3842 — the brightest galaxy in the Leo cluster nearly 320 million light years away — has a central black hole containing 9.7 billion solar masses. The other, NGC 4889, the brightest galaxy in the Coma cluster more than 335 million light years away, has a black hole of comparable or larger mass.

    3
    NGC 4889
    Credit: Sloan Digital Sky Survey, Spitzer Space Telescope
    Sloan Digital Sky Survey Telescope
    SDSS telescope

    NASA Spitzer Telescope
    NASA/Spitzer

    The Smallest Black Hole
    2
    Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/CI Lab

    The gravitational range, or “event horizon,” of these black holes is about five times the distance from the sun to Pluto. For comparison, these blaVck holes are 2,500 times as massive as the black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy, whose event horizon is one-fifth the orbit of Mercury.

    The smallest black hole discovered to date may be less than three times the mass of our sun. This would put this little monster, officially called IGR J17091-3624, near the theoretical minimum limit needed for a black hole to be stable. As tiny as this black hole may be, it looks fierce, capable of 20 million mph winds (32 million kph) — the fastest yet observed from a stellar-mass black hole by nearly 10 times.

    Cannibalistic Black Holes
    3
    Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/G.Fabbiano et al; Optical: NASA/STScI

    NASA Chandra schematic
    NASA/Chandra

    NASA Hubble Telescope
    NASA/ESA Hubble [not in notes but in credit]

    Black holes devour anything unlucky enough to drift too close, including other black holes. Scientists recently detected the monstrous black hole at the heart of one galaxy getting consumed by a still larger black hole in another.

    The discovery is the first of its kind. Astronomers had witnessed the final stages of the merging of galaxies of equal mass — so-called major mergers — but minor mergers between galaxies and smaller companions had long eluded researchers.

    Using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, investigators detected two black holes at the center of a galaxy dubbed NGC3393, with one black hole about 30 million times the mass of the sun and the other at least 1 million times the mass of the sun, separated from each other by only about 490 light-years.

    Bullet-shooting Black Hole
    4
    Credit: Greg Sivakoff/University of Alberta

    Black holes are known for sucking in matter, but researchers find they can shoot it out as well. Observations of a black hole called H1743-322, which harbors five to 10 times the mass of the sun and is located about 28,000 light-years from Earth, revealed it apparently pulled matter off a companion star, then spat some of it back out as gigantic “bullets” of gas moving at nearly a quarter the speed of light.

    The Oldest Known Black Hole
    5
    Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser

    The oldest black hole found yet, officially known as ULAS J1120+0641, was born about 770 million years after the Big Bang that created our universe. (Scientists think the Big Bang occurred about 13.7 billion years ago.)

    The ancient age of this black hole actually poses some problems for astronomers. This brilliant enigma appears to be 2 billion times the mass of the sun. How black holes became so massive so soon after the Big Bang is difficult to explain.

    The Brightest Black Hole
    6
    Credit: HST

    Although the gravitational pulls of black holes are so strong that even light cannot escape, they also make up the heart of quasars, the most luminous, most powerful and most energetic objects in the universe.

    As supermassive black holes at the centers of galaxies suck in surrounding gas and dust, they can spew out huge amounts of energy. The brightest quasar we see in the visible range is 3C 273, which lies about 3 billion light-years away.

    Rogue Black Holes
    7
    Credit: David A. Aguilar (CfA)

    When galaxies collide, black holes can get kicked away from the site of the crash to roam freely through space. The first known such rogue black hole, SDSSJ0927+2943, may be approximately 600 million times the mass of the sun and hurtle through space at a whopping 5.9 million mph (9.5 million kph). Hundreds of rogue black holes might wander the Milky Way.

    Middleweight Black Holes
    8
    Credit: NASA

    Scientists have long thought that black holes come in three sizes — essentially small, medium and large. Relatively small black holes holding the mass of a few suns are common, while supermassive black holes millions to billions of solar masses are thought to lurk at the heart of nearly every galaxy. One more massive than four million suns, for example, is thought to hide in the center of the Milky Way.

    However, middle-weight black holes had eluded astronomers for years. Scientists recently discovered an intermediate-mass black hole, called HLX-1 (Hyper-Luminous X-ray source 1), approximately 290 million light-years from Earth, which appears to be about 20,000 solar masses in size.

    Medium-size black holes are thought to be the building blocks of supermassive black holes, so understanding more about them can shed light on how these monsters and the galaxies that surround them evolved.

    Fastest-spinning Black Hole
    9
    Credit: NASA / NASA / CXC / M.Weiss

    Black holes can whirl the fabric of space around themselves at extraordinary speeds. One black hole called GRS 1915+105, in the constellation Aquila (The Eagle) about 35,000 light-years from Earth, is spinning more than 950 times per second.

    An item placed on the edge of the black hole’s event horizon — the edge past which nothing can escape — would spin around it at a speed of more than 333 million mph (536 million kph), or about half the speed of light.

    Tabletop Black Holes
    10
    Credit: Chris Kuklewicz

    Black holes are thankfully quite far away from Earth, but this distance makes it difficult to gather clues that could help solve the many mysteries that surround them. However, researchers are now recreating the enigmatic properties of black holes on tabletops.

    For instance, black holes possess gravitational pulls so powerful that nothing, including light, can escape after falling past a border known as the event horizon. Scientists have created an artificial event horizon in the lab using fiber optics. They have also recreated the so-called Hawking radiation thought to escape from black holes.

    See the full article here.

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  • richardmitnick 7:03 am on March 26, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From ESA: “Galileo satellites enclosed for Friday’s launch” 

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    European Space Agency

    25 March 2015
    No Writer Credit

    1
    Galileos enclosed

    Thousands of engineers have worked on the seventh and eighth navigation satellites of Europe’s Galileo constellation in recent years, but last Friday marked the very last time the spacecraft were glimpsed by human eyes.

    The team from ESA and builders OHB in the S3B building of Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana looked on as the focus of their work disappeared from view.

    The pair of satellites – already resting atop their Fregat upper stage and attached to their dispenser – was enclosed within the halves of the Soyuz rocket’s protective fairing.

    This unit was moved yesterday to the launch site, where it will be lifted atop the first three stages of the Soyuz ST-B to complete the vehicle for Friday’s launch.

    2
    Heading to launch pad

    Last week saw the two satellites being fuelled in the Spaceport’s S5A preparation hall and then brought together atop the dispenser that will support them during the rigours of ascent.

    The dispenser’s final task is to release them in opposite directions once their 22 522 km-altitude orbit is reached. The satellites themselves will then gradually lower themselves to their working 22 322 km orbit.

    After fuelling, the satellites plus dispenser were moved to the S3B processing building, where their Fregat was already fuelled and waiting.

    3
    Galileo’s Soyuz

    The reignitable Fregat is as much a spacecraft as a rocket stage. Once the Soyuz reaches low orbit, Fregat will take over the task of hauling the satellites higher through a pair of burns.

    The two Galileos and their dispenser altogether weigh more than one and a half tonnes, so the attachment operation took place with great care and precision.

    Then the fairing halves were slowly slid into place around them and closed. Enclosed in this way, the satellites will be protected from the harsh slipstream and vibration of the first few moments of launch, when the Soyuz is still travelling through the thickest layers of atmosphere.

    4
    Inside fairing

    The fairing is due to be ejected 3 min 29 sec after liftoff.

    Until liftoff, the satellites remain connected to the outside world via power and data links, allowing ESA’s Galileo team keep a check on their battery charging and the health of their atomic clocks.

    The satellites stay switched off during launch, and will be activated automatically on separation from the dispenser.

    Launch is due at 21:46:18 GMT (22:46:18 CET, 18:46:18 local time) on 27 March. The satellites are scheduled for release upon reaching their set orbit 3 h 47 min 57 sec after launch.

    See the full article here.

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    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 6:46 am on March 26, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From ESO: “Best View Yet of Dusty Cloud Passing Galactic Centre Black Hole” 


    European Southern Observatory

    26 March 2015
    Andreas Eckart
    University of Cologne
    Cologne, Germany
    Email: eckart@ph1.uni-koeln.de

    Monica Valencia-S.
    University of Cologne
    Cologne, Germany
    Email: mvalencias@ph1.uni-koeln.de

    Richard Hook
    ESO, Public Information Officer
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 3200 6655
    Cell: +49 151 1537 3591
    Email: rhook@eso.org

    VLT observations confirm that G2 survived close approach and is a compact object

    Temp 0

    The best observations so far of the dusty gas cloud G2 confirm that it made its closest approach to the supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way in May 2014 and has survived the experience. The new result from ESO’s Very Large Telescope shows that the object appears not to have been significantly stretched and that it is very compact. It is most likely to be a young star with a massive core that is still accreting material. The black hole itself has not yet shown any increase in activity.

    A supermassive black hole with a mass four million times that of the Sun lies at the heart of the Milky Way galaxy. It is orbited by a small group of bright stars and, in addition, an enigmatic dusty cloud, known as G2, has been tracked on its fall towards the black hole over the last few years. Closest approach, known as peribothron, was predicted to be in May 2014.

    The great tidal forces in this region of very strong gravity were expected to tear the cloud apart and disperse it along its orbit. Some of this material would feed the black hole and lead to sudden flaring and other evidence of the monster enjoying a rare meal. To study these unique events, the region at the galactic centre has been very carefully observed over the last few years by many teams using large telescopes around the world.

    A team led by Andreas Eckart (University of Cologne, Germany) has observed the region using ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) [1] over many years, including new observations during the critical period from February to September 2014, just before and after the peribothron event in May 2014. These new observations are consistent with earlier ones made using the Keck Telescope on Hawaii [2].

    Keck Observatory
    Keck Observatory Interior
    UCO/Keck

    The images of infrared light coming from glowing hydrogen show that the cloud was compact both before and after its closest approach, as it swung around the black hole.

    As well as providing very sharp images, the SINFONI instrument on the VLT also splits the light into its component infrared colours and hence allows the velocity of the cloud to be estimated [3].

    ESO SINFONI
    SINFONI

    Before closest approach, the cloud was found to be travelling away from the Earth at about ten million kilometres/hour and, after swinging around the black hole, it was measured to be approaching the Earth at about twelve million kilometres/hour.

    Florian Peissker, a PhD student at the University of Cologne in Germany, who did much of the observing, says: “Being at the telescope and seeing the data arriving in real time was a fascinating experience,” and Monica Valencia-S., a post-doctoral researcher also at the University of Cologne, who then worked on the challenging data processing adds: “It was amazing to see that the glow from the dusty cloud stayed compact before and after the close approach to the black hole.”

    Although earlier observations had suggested that the G2 object was being stretched, the new observations did not show evidence that the cloud had become significantly smeared out, either by becoming visibly extended, or by showing a larger spread of velocities.

    In addition to the observations with the SINFONI instrument the team has also made a long series of measurements of the polarisation of the light coming from the supermassive black hole region using the NACO instrument on the VLT.

    ESO NACO
    NACO

    These, the best such observations so far, reveal that the behaviour of the material being accreted onto the black hole is very stable, and — so far — has not been disrupted by the arrival of material from the G2 cloud.

    The resilience of the dusty cloud to the extreme gravitational tidal effects so close to the black hole strongly suggest that it surrounds a dense object with a massive core, rather than being a free-floating cloud. This is also supported by the lack, so far, of evidence that the central monster is being fed with material, which would lead to flaring and increased activity.

    Andreas Eckart sums up the new results: “We looked at all the recent data and in particular the period in 2014 when the closest approach to the black hole took place. We cannot confirm any significant stretching of the source. It certainly does not behave like a coreless dust cloud. We think it must be a dust-shrouded young star.”

    Notes

    [1] These are very difficult observations as the region is hidden behind thick dust clouds, requiring observations in infrared light. And, in addition, the events occur very close to the black hole, requiring adaptive optics to get sharp enough images. The team used the SINFONI instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope and also monitored the behaviour of the central black hole region in polarised light using the NACO instrument.

    [2] The VLT observations are both sharper (because they are made at shorter wavelengths) and also have additional measurements of velocity from SINFONI and polarisation measurement using the NACO instrument.

    [3] Because the dusty cloud is moving relative to Earth — away from Earth before closest approach to the black hole and towards Earth afterwards — the Doppler shift changes the observed wavelength of light. These changes in wavelength can be measured using a sensitive spectrograph such as the SINFONI instrument on the VLT. It can also be used to measure the spread of velocities of the material, which would be expected if the cloud was extended along its orbit to a significant extent, as had previously been reported.

    More information

    This research was presented in a paper Monitoring the Dusty S-Cluster Object (DSO/G2) on its Orbit towards the Galactic Center Black Hole by M. Valencia-S. et al. in the journal Astrophysical Journal Letters.

    The team is composed of M. Valencia-S. (Physikalisches Institut der Universität zu Köln, Germany), A. Eckart (Universität zu Köln; Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie, Bonn, Germany [MPIfR]), M. Zajacek (Universität zu Köln; MPIfR; Astronomical Institute of the Academy of Sciences Prague, Czech Republic), F. Peissker (Universität zu Köln), M. Parsa (Universität zu Köln), N. Grosso (Observatoire Astronomique de Strasbourg, France), E. Mossoux (Observatoire Astronomique de Strasbourg), D. Porquet (Observatoire Astronomique de Strasbourg), B. Jalali (Universität zu Köln), V. Karas (Astronomical Institute of the Academy of Sciences Prague), S. Yazici (Universität zu Köln), B. Shahzamanian (Universität zu Köln), N. Sabha (Universität zu Köln), R. Saalfeld (Universität zu Köln), S. Smajic (Universität zu Köln), R. Grellmann (Universität zu Köln), L. Moser (Universität zu Köln), M. Horrobin (Universität zu Köln), A. Borkar (Universität zu Köln), M. García-Marín (Universität zu Köln), M. Dovciak (Astronomical Institute of the Academy of Sciences Prague), D. Kunneriath (Astronomical Institute of the Academy of Sciences Prague), G. D. Karssen (Universität zu Köln), M. Bursa (Astronomical Institute of the Academy of Sciences Prague), C. Straubmeier (Universität zu Köln) and H. Bushouse (Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland, USA).

    See the full article here.

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    ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world’s most productive ground-based astronomical observatory by far. It is supported by 16 countries: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, along with the host state of Chile. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO also plays a leading role in promoting and organising cooperation in astronomical research. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope, the world’s most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory and two survey telescopes. VISTA works in the infrared and is the world’s largest survey telescope and the VLT Survey Telescope is the largest telescope designed to exclusively survey the skies in visible light. ESO is a major partner in ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. And on Cerro Armazones, close to Paranal, ESO is building the 39-metre European Extremely Large Telescope, the E-ELT, which will become “the world’s biggest eye on the sky”.

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  • richardmitnick 4:00 am on March 26, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From phys.org: “‘Ice vault’ idea to keep climate’s time capsule intact” 

    physdotorg
    phys.org

    March 26, 2015
    Catherine Hours

    1
    A researcher analysing samples at the Laboratory for Glaciology and the Geophysics of the Environment, in Grenoble, southeastern France, in 2008

    Imagine you are Sherlock Holmes bent on solving a mystery but the evidence is starting to crumble and eventually you will be left with worthless dust.

    This is the worry which haunts ice scientists delving into Earth’s threatened glaciers.

    Deep inside them, the slumbering ice slabs hold information about Earth’s climate past, and pointers for the future.

    The frozen archive is formed from compacted layers snow which fell hundreds, thousands or even hundreds of thousands of years ago.

    Learning more about the past through examining the glaciers could help us predict how our planet will respond when global warming kicks into higher gear—just decades from now, if predictions are right.

    Only a tiny amount of this glacial material has ever been extracted and examined.

    And as temperatures rise, the fringes of many glaciers are softening to mush, threatening the survival of this precious testament.

    “We are the only scientific community working on climate history whose research material is disappearing,” lamented Jerome Chappellaz at the Laboratory for Glaciology and the Geophysics of the Environment in Grenoble, southeastern France.

    “It is time to do something—we have to act now, while the glaciers are still a useable source.”

    That “something” is a new scheme to build a vault for ice cores extracted by scientists from the deep chill of Antarctica.

    About 50-130 millimetres (two to five inches) wide, in sections between one to six metres (a yard to 20 feet) long, ice cores are glaciology’s mainstay.

    Within them are telltale bubbles of gas, notably the greenhouse-gas carbon dioxide (CO2).

    By studying them, “past eras can be reconstructed, showing how and why climate changed, and how it might change in the future,” says the US National Snow and Ice Data Center.

    2
    Jerome Chappellaz, senior scientist at the National Center for Scientific Research, working at the Laboratory for Glaciology and the Geophysics of the Environment in Grenoble, southeastern France, examines an ice sample

    The deepest-ever core, drilled in Antarctica, is 3,270 metres long, and revealed the world has gone through eight ice ages over about 800,000 years.

    These cycles, which profoundly affect life on our planet, generally move in lockstep with greenhouse gases.

    Until the start of the Industrial Revolution in the mid-18th century, these heat-trapping gases had natural causes.

    The deepest-ever core, drilled in Antarctica, is 3,270 metres long, and revealed the world has gone through eight ice ages over about 800,000 years.

    These cycles, which profoundly affect life on our planet, generally move in lockstep with greenhouse gases.

    Until the start of the Industrial Revolution in the mid-18th century, these heat-trapping gases had natural causes.

    3
    Learning more about the past through examining glaciers could help us predict how our planet will respond when global warming kicks into higher gear, scientists say

    They are casting around for funding and sponsorships.

    The UN’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) is considering joining the initiative.

    “We support the idea although at this stage, we haven’t really figured out how we can provide it,” said Anil Mishra of Unesco’s International Hydrological Programme.

    Mountain glacier cores, as opposed to ice sheet cores, are generally 100 to 150 metres deep.

    They provide more recent snapshots of climate but invaluable local insights.

    They can shed light on how different mountain regions respond to sharp swings in temperature, weather patterns and atmospheric pollutants such as soot—a useful tip in tackling flood risk and securing water supplies.

    The first contributions to the vault will come next year, from the Col du Dome, a site 4,300 metres high on Mont-Blanc, Europe’s highest peak, and more will come in 2017 from the Illimani glacier, 6,300 metres above the Bolivian capital of La Paz.

    The scheme’s organisers are hoping that American, Chinese, Italian, Swiss and South American researchers will also contribute cores.

    Future generations may learn even more from the capsules than current science allows, said Chappellaz.

    “A few centuries from now, who knows what kind of technology may be available for analysing the cores?” he asked.

    See the full article here.

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    About Phys.org in 100 Words

    Phys.org™ (formerly Physorg.com) is a leading web-based science, research and technology news service which covers a full range of topics. These include physics, earth science, medicine, nanotechnology, electronics, space, biology, chemistry, computer sciences, engineering, mathematics and other sciences and technologies. Launched in 2004, Phys.org’s readership has grown steadily to include 1.75 million scientists, researchers, and engineers every month. Phys.org publishes approximately 100 quality articles every day, offering some of the most comprehensive coverage of sci-tech developments world-wide. Quancast 2009 includes Phys.org in its list of the Global Top 2,000 Websites. Phys.org community members enjoy access to many personalized features such as social networking, a personal home page set-up, RSS/XML feeds, article comments and ranking, the ability to save favorite articles, a daily newsletter, and other options.

     
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