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  • richardmitnick 12:23 pm on April 26, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Applied Research & Technology, , Blue Sky Research,   

    From Symmetry: “How blue-sky research shapes the future” 

    Symmetry Mag


    Diana Kwon


    While driven by the desire to pursue curiosity, fundamental investigations are the crucial first step to innovation.

    When scientists announced their discovery of gravitational waves in 2016, it made headlines all over the world. The existence of these invisible ripples in space-time had finally been confirmed.

    Caltech/MIT Advanced aLigo Hanford, WA, USA installation

    Caltech/MIT Advanced aLigo detector installation Livingston, LA, USA

    Cornell SXS, the Simulating eXtreme Spacetimes (SXS) project

    It was a momentous feat in basic research, the curiosity-driven search for fundamental knowledge about the universe and the elements within it. Basic (or “blue-sky”) research is distinct from applied research, which is targeted toward developing or advancing technologies to solve a specific problem or to create a new product.

    But the two are deeply connected.

    “Applied research is exploring the continents you know, whereas basic research is setting off in a ship and seeing where you get,” says Frank Wilczek, a theoretical physicist at MIT. “You might just have to return, or sink at sea, or you might discover a whole new continent. So it’s much more long-term, it’s riskier and it doesn’t always pay dividends.”

    When it does, he says, it opens up entirely new possibilities available only to those who set sail into uncharted waters.

    Most of physics—especially particle physics—falls under the umbrella of basic research. In particle physics “we’re asking some of the deepest questions that are accessible by observations about the nature of matter and energy—and ultimately about space and time also, because all of these things are tied together,” says Jim Gates, a theoretical physicist at the University of Maryland.

    CERN/LHC Map

    CERN LHC Tunnel

    LHC at CERN. Basic research in Particle Physics

    Physicists seek answers to questions about the early universe, the nature of dark energy, and theoretical phenomena, such as supersymmetry, string theory and extra dimensions.

    Perhaps one of the most well-known basic researchers was the physicist who predicted the existence of gravitational waves: Albert Einstein.

    Einstein devoted his life to elucidating elementary concepts such as the nature of gravity and the relationship between space and time. According to Wilczek, “it was clear that what drove what he did was not the desire to produce a product, or anything so worldly, but to resolve puzzles and perceived imperfections in our understanding.”

    In addition to advancing our understanding of the world, Einstein’s work led to important technological developments. The Global Positioning System, for instance, would not have been possible without the theories of special and general relativity. A GPS receiver, like the one in your smart phone, determines its location based on timed signals it receives from the nearest four of a collection of GPS satellites orbiting Earth. Because the satellites are moving so quickly while also orbiting at a great distance from the gravitational pull of Earth, they experience time differently from the receiver on Earth’s surface. Thanks to Einstein’s theories, engineers can calculate and correct for this difference.

    There’s a long history of serendipitous output from basic research. For example, in 1989 at CERN European research center, computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee was looking for a way to facilitate information-sharing between researchers. He invented the World Wide Web.

    While investigating the properties of nuclei within a magnetic field at Columbia University in the 1930s, physicist Isidor Isaac Rabi discovered the basic principles of nuclear magnetic resonance. These principles eventually formed the basis of Magnetic Resonance Imaging, MRI.

    It would be another 50 years before MRI machines were widely used—again with the help of basic research. MRI machines require big, superconducting magnets to function. Luckily, around the same time that Rabi’s discovery was being investigated for medical imaging, scientists and engineers at the US Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory began building the Tevatron particle accelerator to enable research into the fundamental nature of particles, a task that called for huge amounts of superconducting wire.

    FNAL/Tevatron map

    FNAL/Tevatron CDF detector

    FNAL/Tevatron DZero detector

    “We were the first large, demanding customer for superconducting cable,” says Chris Quigg, a theoretical physicist at Fermilab. “We were spending a lot of money to get the performance that we needed.” The Tevatron created a commercial market for superconducting wire, making it practical for companies to build MRI machines on a large scale for places like hospitals.

    Doctors now use MRI to produce detailed images of the insides of the human body, helpful tools in diagnosing and treating a variety of medical complications, including cancer, heart problems, and diseases in organs such as the liver, pancreas and bowels.

    Another tool of particle physics, the particle detector, has also been adopted for uses in various industries. In the 1980s, for example, particle physicists developed technology precise enough to detect a single photon. Today doctors use this same technology to detect tumors, heart disease and central nervous system disorders. They do this by conducting positron emission tomography scans, or PET scans. Before undergoing a PET scan, the patient is given a dye containing radioactive tracers, either through an injection or by ingesting or inhaling. The tracers emit antimatter particles, which interact with matter particles and release photons, which are picked up by the PET scanner to create a picture detailed enough to reveal problems at the cellular level.

    As Gates says, “a lot of the devices and concepts that you see in science fiction stories will never come into existence unless we pursue the concept of basic research. You’re not going to be able to construct starships unless you do the research now in order to build these in the future.”

    It’s unclear what applications could come of humanity’s new knowledge of the existence of gravitational waves.

    It could be enough that we have learned something new about how our universe works. But if history gives us any indication, continued exploration will also provide additional benefits along the way.

    See the full article here .

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    Symmetry is a joint Fermilab/SLAC publication.

  • richardmitnick 11:27 am on April 26, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Applied Research & Technology, , Cornell Tech's Roosevelt Island campus, How Creative Collisions Drive Innovation   

    From Cornell: “How Creative Collisions Drive Innovation” 

    Cornell Bloc

    Cornell University

    April 24, 2017
    No writer credit

    No image caption, no image credit.

    People are social creatures. When we bump into one another in shared office or learning spaces, we are inclined to chat. The so-called water cooler effect shows us that. But, what happens when you push that concept beyond merely gathering to gossip? What happens when buildings are actively designed to maximize the exchange of ideas, to foster innovation, and to forge surprising connections?

    The results are creative collisions points, and Cornell Tech’s new Roosevelt Island campus is bursting with them. From open learning areas inspired by artists’ studios to stairwells that encourage lingering and interaction — this is architecture that blurs the function of spaces and sparks innovation.

    Kent Kleinman, the Gale and Ira Drukier Dean of Cornell University’s College of Architecture, Art, and Planning, has been closely involved in the development of the new campus.

    According to Kleinman, the architecture will create opportunities for students across disciplines to rub shoulders. It is designed to stimulate ideas, projects, and connections. People can see one another’s work. They can overhear — and contribute to — conversations.

    Students write on walls to facilitate the ideation and development products. No image credit.

    “That’s the architectural invention of creative collisions, that you create architecture that allows these accidental ad hoc kind of meetings of minds and people to happen,” he said.

    Take the learning spaces, for example. Under older teaching methods, one person stood in the front of a room and other people listened. It is a highly structured and hierarchical relationship, says Kleinman. In the new campus that will be blown apart. The spaces draw inspiration from artists’ studios, where groups work collaboratively and can critique one another’s work.

    When the new campus was being designed, the team explored how these kinds of spaces functioned and looked at how such concepts could be applied to Cornell Tech’s needs. They asked questions such as: how do studios work? What kind of spaces qualify as jury space? What kind of surfaces? What kind of furniture?

    The result is learning spaces which are open, flexible, and full of daylight. There are surfaces which are designed to be appealing to the touch.

    From writing on the walls to moving furniture, learning spaces aren’t just vacant spaces for students to work on computers.

    These design choices also reflect the innovative teaching styles at Cornell Tech. It also mirrors the interdisciplinary language used by staff, which might draw on a range of fields, including art education.

    “Twenty years ago, if you’d gone to an engineering school and said you wanted to teach like the artists, they would have looked at you like you were from Mars,” said Kleinman.

    The creative collisions extend beyond teaching areas and into other parts of the building. In turn, the function of spaces becomes fluid. Wide corridors and staircases are flooded with natural light; some with river views. They are designed to be appealing places to stop, to talk, and to listen. They can be adopted for informal seminars and spontaneous interactions.

    “You can have a conversation there, or you can sit and sketch outside, or you can sit with your laptop on your lap when you’re in the sunlight,” said Kleinman.

    This blurring of function means that people do not have to be formally invited to be in a place, or to be part of a conversation. You might overhear something, linger in the space and join in.

    Michael Manfredi and Marion Weiss are the team behind Weiss/Manfredi, the firm selected to design The Bridge — a corporate co-location where tech companies will work side-by-side with researchers, allowing a free flow from innovation to markets. The Bridge is one of three buildings slated to open in 2017 during the initial phase of the Roosevelt Island campus.

    Manfredi and Weiss believe that the premise that architecture can spark collaboration is a radical one, and that it anticipates the future of building design.

    “Innovation is no longer a solitary pursuit. Rather, it occurs at the interstices between different specializations and, in fact, the most interesting mysteries lie at the intersection of multiple disciplines,” the pair explain.

    Weiss/Manfredi designed The Bridge as a network of connected spaces. It introduces “programmatic juxtapositions, spatial transparencies, and interwoven circulation routes.” All of which increase chance encounters between different groups and disciplines.

    For example, a lecture hall adjacent to a lobby allows passersby to observe events taking place inside, and generously scaled stairs connect multiple levels and increase floor to floor exchanges.

    “River-to-river views throughout the building enhance the sense of peripheral vision for all of the building’s occupants, and create a sense of visual continuity and community,” they say.

    These different elements work together to maximize opportunity for collaboration, but they try not to force it. And this, says Dean Kleinman, is fundamental.

    Creative collisions are not about forcing people to use the space in a set way or forcing them to interact. It is more akin to a theatre, he says, where the architecture becomes a kind of a stage.

    “It’s full of props, it suggests certain kinds of action, it invites players to inhabit that stage and use the props in interesting ways but it doesn’t force that,” says Kleinman. “It simply opens up that opportunity.”

    Across Cornell Tech’s Roosevelt Island campus, the stage has been set. It is now up to the people who will inhabit these spaces to interact, to innovate and to collaborate.

    See the full article here .

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    Once called “the first American university” by educational historian Frederick Rudolph, Cornell University represents a distinctive mix of eminent scholarship and democratic ideals. Adding practical subjects to the classics and admitting qualified students regardless of nationality, race, social circumstance, gender, or religion was quite a departure when Cornell was founded in 1865.

    Today’s Cornell reflects this heritage of egalitarian excellence. It is home to the nation’s first colleges devoted to hotel administration, industrial and labor relations, and veterinary medicine. Both a private university and the land-grant institution of New York State, Cornell University is the most educationally diverse member of the Ivy League.

    On the Ithaca campus alone nearly 20,000 students representing every state and 120 countries choose from among 4,000 courses in 11 undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools. Many undergraduates participate in a wide range of interdisciplinary programs, play meaningful roles in original research, and study in Cornell programs in Washington, New York City, and the world over.

  • richardmitnick 11:17 am on April 26, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Applied Research & Technology, In-Flight, on-Demand Hydrogen Production Could Mean “Greener” Aircraft,   

    From Technion: “In-Flight, on-Demand Hydrogen Production Could Mean “Greener” Aircraft” 

    Technion bloc

    Israel Institute of Technology

    American Technion Society


    Aerospace engineers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology have developed and patented a process that can be used onboard aircraft while in flight to produce hydrogen from water and aluminum particles safely and cheaply. The hydrogen can then be converted into electrical energy for inflight use. The breakthrough could pave the way for non-polluting, more-electric aircraft that replace current hydraulic and pneumatic systems typically powered by the main engine.

    The groundbreaking work was reported in a recent paper published in the International Journal of Hydrogen Energy.

    “Hydrogen produced onboard the aircraft during flight can be channeled to a fuel cell for electrical energy generation,” said lead researcher Dr. Shani Elitzur of the Technion Faculty of Aerospace Engineering. “This technology offers a good solution to several challenges, such as hydrogen storage, without the problems associated with storing hydrogen in a liquid or gas state.”

    While the use of hydrogen fuels has been a potential greener energy solution for some time, storing hydrogen has always been a problem. The engineers were able to work around the hydrogen storage problem by using non-polluting Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cells and a process of aluminum activation patented by the paper’s co-authors, Prof. Alon Gany and Dr. Valery Rosenband.

    Dr. Elitzur’s research was focused on the reaction between the activated aluminum powder and water (from different types) to produce hydrogen. The foundation for the technology is in the chemical reaction between aluminum powder and water to produce hydrogen. Either fresh water or waste water, already onboard the aircraft, can be used for activation, which means the aircraft does not need to carry any additional water.

    The spontaneous and sustained reaction between powdered aluminum and water is enabled by a special thermo-chemical process of aluminum activation the researchers developed. The protective properties of the oxide or hydroxide film covering the aluminum particle surface are modified by a small fraction of lithium-based activator diffused into aluminum bulk, allowing water at room temperature to react spontaneously with the aluminum.

    The process does generate heat, which the researchers say can be used for a number of tasks, including heating water and food in the galley, de-icing operations, or heating aircraft fuel prior to starting the engines.

    According to the researchers, their technology would provide:

    Quieter operations on board an aircraft
    Drastic reductions in CO2 emissions
    Compact storage; no need for hydrogen storage tanks onboard aircraft
    More efficient electric power generation
    A reduction in wiring (multiple fuel cells can be located near their point of use)
    Thermal efficiency (fuel cell generated heat can be used for de-icing, heating jet fuel)
    Reduced flammable vapors in fuel tanks (Inert gas generation)

    “The possibility of using available, onboard wastewater boosts both the efficiency and safety of the system,” explained Dr. Rosenband. “Also, the PEM fuel cells exhibit high efficiency in electric energy generation.”

    Aircraft manufacturers, including Boeing and Airbus, have already investigated using onboard fuel cells. Boeing has experimented with them in smaller aircraft, in anticipation of using them on its 787-8, the current state-of-the-art electric airplane. According to the Technion researchers, fuel cells can even play an energy saving role in airline and airport ground support operations when they are on used for systems such as de-icing and runway light towers.

    “Efficient hydrogen production and storage represents the future for efficient and safe aircraft inflight energy needs.” summarized Prof. Gany.

    The Technion-Israel Institute of Technology is a major source of the innovation and brainpower that drives the Israeli economy, and a key to Israel’s renown as the world’s “Start-Up Nation.” Its three Nobel Prize winners exemplify academic excellence. Technion people, ideas and inventions make immeasurable contributions to the world including life-saving medicine, sustainable energy, computer science, water conservation and nanotechnology. The Joan and Irwin Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute is a vital component of Cornell Tech, and a model for graduate applied science education that is expected to transform New York City’s economy.

    American Technion Society (ATS) donors provide critical support for the Technion—more than $2 billion since its inception in 1940. Based in New York City, the ATS and its network of supporters across the U.S. provide funds for scholarships, fellowships, faculty recruitment and chairs, research, buildings, laboratories, classrooms and dormitories, and more.

    See the full article here .

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    Technion Campus

    A science and technology research university, among the world’s top ten,
    dedicated to the creation of knowledge and the development of human capital and leadership,
    for the advancement of the State of Israel and all humanity.

  • richardmitnick 10:54 am on April 26, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: AASHDIT Technologies, Applied Research & Technology, Correlsense, Technion T3   

    From Technion T3: “Correlsense Partners with AASHDIT Technologies for India” 

    Technion bloc

    Israel Institute of Technology


    April 26, 2017

    Correlsense, the leading enterprise application performance management (APM) company recognized in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for APM Suites 2016, recently announced a new strategic partnership with AASHDIT Technologies signaling the start of a collaboration that will bring Correlsense’s award winning SharePath APM software to India.

    This alliance reinforces the company’s strategy of building strong partnerships around the globe. Correlsense believes this is a step to help enterprises in India seeking a complete perspective of their user’s end-to-end experience.

    “India has seen a big advancement in technology in the past years, and with it the evolution of complex application interactions”, says Lalit Mohanty. SVP Sales and Co-Founder of AASHDIT Technologies, “More and more, companies in India understand the importance of monitoring their systems and are seeking new ways to deal with application failures and slowdowns. We want to become a significant player in this market, and believe that Correlsense’s SharePath will enable us to achieve this.”

    Lanir Shacham, CEO of Correlsense added: “This partnership with Aashdit is an important strategic step for us. India has seen a substantial growth in APM revenues in the past years and we believe we can become a key player in this growing industry.

    Being part of the world’s fastest-growing economy in 2016, Indian companies have had to evolve and adapt their systems to this new market. There is an increasing need for application performance monitoring tools and we are excited to partner with AASHDIT to offer Indian businesses a way to benefit from the leading solution for advances in performance and user experience.”

    About AASHDIT Technologies

    AASHDIT is an E-2-E software service provider with more than 100 years of collective experience in the industry. AASHDIT has expertise across all the phases of SDLC and can deliver high quality products/services with optimum utilization of project parameters. AASHDIT is very much in the “As-a-Service” model such as Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Testing as a Service (TaaS). For more information visit: http://www.aashdit.com

    About Correlsense

    Correlsense is a leading enterprise Application Performance Management (APM) company, delivering customers value by ensuring that all business-critical applications perform effectively. SharePath, its flagship product, is the APM product of choice for business and IT operations managers who rely on complex enterprise applications. Correlsense paints a complete and dynamic picture of IT service levels and performance, and offers real-user monitoring of applications that span mobile, SaaS, cloud, data center and legacy platforms. SharePath customers include some of the world’s largest financial, telecom, utilities and healthcare firms. For more information, visit http://www.correlsense.com.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Technion Campus

    A science and technology research university, among the world’s top ten,
    dedicated to the creation of knowledge and the development of human capital and leadership,
    for the advancement of the State of Israel and all humanity.

  • richardmitnick 10:42 am on April 26, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 10 common misconceptions in physics, Applied Research & Technology, , , Slices of PI   

    From PI: “10 common misconceptions in physics” 

    Perimeter Institute
    Perimeter Institute

    The true power of science is that it perpetually refines our understanding based new evidence.

    Apr 26, 2017
    No writer credit

    A key part of a scientist’s job is to question everything – including the things we think we know.

    Through the ages, many ideas considered “facts” have been revealed as common misconceptions. To name a few: the Earth is flat (nope), your tongue has taste “zones” (that map of the tongue you remember from elementary school is wrong), and lightning can’t strike the same place twice (a small area in Venezuela gets roughly 1.2 million strikes each year).

    Indeed, one of the most common scientific misconceptions is that science is full of facts. Rather, science is a field in which the best current models of understanding can either be supported or disproved by evidence.

    Here, we debunk a few of the more common scientific misconceptions.


    The Event Horizon Telescope Initiative at Perimeter Institute, led by Faculty member Avery Broderick, will analyze and interpret the torrent of data collected by the network’s telescopes, generating humanity’s first image of a black hole and testing fundamental concepts in our understanding of spacetime.

    Event Horizon Telescope Array

    Event Horizon Telescope map

    The locations of the radio dishes that will be part of the Event Horizon Telescope array. Image credit: Event Horizon Telescope sites, via University of Arizona at https://www.as.arizona.edu/event-horizon-telescope.

    Arizona Radio Observatory
    Arizona Radio Observatory/Submillimeter-wave Astronomy (ARO/SMT)

    Atacama Pathfinder EXperiment (APEX)

    CARMA Array no longer in service
    Combined Array for Research in Millimeter-wave Astronomy (CARMA)

    Atacama Submillimeter Telescope Experiment (ASTE)
    Atacama Submillimeter Telescope Experiment (ASTE)

    Caltech Submillimeter Observatory
    Caltech Submillimeter Observatory (CSO)

    IRAM NOEMA interferometer
    Institut de Radioastronomie Millimetrique (IRAM) 30m

    James Clerk Maxwell Telescope interior, Mauna Kea, Hawaii, USA
    James Clerk Maxwell Telescope interior, Mauna Kea, Hawaii, USA

    Large Millimeter Telescope Alfonso Serrano
    Large Millimeter Telescope Alfonso Serrano

    CfA Submillimeter Array Hawaii SAO
    Submillimeter Array Hawaii SAO

    ESO/NRAO/NAOJ ALMA Array, Chile

    Future Array/Telescopes

    Plateau de Bure interferometer
    Plateau de Bure interferometer

    South Pole Telescope SPTPOL
    South Pole Telescope SPTPOL


    Watch Perimeter’s curious cartoon duo, Alice and Bob, explore why the moon doesn’t fall down.

    Uploaded on Oct 13, 2009

    Why doesn’t the moon fall down? Join Alice & Bob in nine fun-filled, animated adventures as they wonder about the world around us. Alice and Bob in Wonderland premiered at Perimeter Institute’s Quantum to Cosmos Festival. http://www.q2cfestival.com.

    Watch “As We Enter a New Quantum Era,” a public lecture on the incredible advances (and potential pitfalls) of the quantum computing revolution, delivered by Perimeter Institute Associate Faculty member Michele Mosca.

    Published on Oct 6, 2016
    In his public lecture at Perimeter Institute on Oct. 5, 2015, Michele Mosca (Institute for Quantum Computing, Perimeter Institute) explored quantum technologies – those that already exist, and those yet to come – and how they will affect our lives.

    Check out “20 illuminating, enlightening, day-brightening facts about light.”


    Watch Alice and Bob explore where energy comes from.


    Read “What we know (and what we don’t) about dark matter.”


    See the full article here .

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    About Perimeter

    Perimeter Institute is the world’s largest research hub devoted to theoretical physics. The independent Institute was founded in 1999 to foster breakthroughs in the fundamental understanding of our universe, from the smallest particles to the entire cosmos. Research at Perimeter is motivated by the understanding that fundamental science advances human knowledge and catalyzes innovation, and that today’s theoretical physics is tomorrow’s technology. Located in the Region of Waterloo, the not-for-profit Institute is a unique public-private endeavour, including the Governments of Ontario and Canada, that enables cutting-edge research, trains the next generation of scientific pioneers, and shares the power of physics through award-winning educational outreach and public engagement.

  • richardmitnick 10:08 am on April 26, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Applied Research & Technology, , Building the Bridge to Exascale, ECP- Exascale Computing Project, , , ,   

    From OLCF at ORNL: “Building the Bridge to Exascale” 


    Oak Ridge National Laboratory


    April 18, 2017 [Where was this hiding?]
    Katie Elyce Jones

    Building an exascale computer—a machine that could solve complex science problems at least 50 times faster than today’s leading supercomputers—is a national effort.

    To oversee the rapid research and development (R&D) of an exascale system by 2023, the US Department of Energy (DOE) created the Exascale Computing Project (ECP) last year. The project brings together experts in high-performance computing from six DOE laboratories with the nation’s most powerful supercomputers—including Oak Ridge, Argonne, Lawrence Berkeley, Lawrence Livermore, Los Alamos, and Sandia—and project members work closely with computing facility staff from the member laboratories.

    ORNL IBM Summit supercomputer depiction.

    At the Exascale Computing Project’s (ECP’s) annual meeting in February 2017, Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF) staff discussed OLCF resources that could be leveraged for ECP research and development, including the facility’s next flagship supercomputer, Summit, expected to go online in 2018.

    At the first ECP annual meeting, held January 29–February 3 in Knoxville, Tennessee, about 450 project members convened to discuss collaboration in breakout sessions focused on project organization and upcoming R&D milestones for applications, software, hardware, and exascale systems focus areas. During facility-focused sessions, senior staff from the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF) met with ECP members to discuss opportunities for the project to use current petascale supercomputers, test beds, prototypes, and other facility resources for exascale R&D. The OLCF is a DOE Office of Science User Facility located at DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).

    “The ECP’s fundamental responsibilities are to provide R&D to build exascale machines more efficiently and to prepare the applications and software that will run on them,” said OLCF Deputy Project Director Justin Whitt. “The facilities’ responsibilities are to acquire, deploy, and operate the machines. We are currently putting advanced test beds and prototypes in place to evaluate technologies and enable R&D efforts like those in the ECP.”

    ORNL has a unique connection to the ECP. The Tennessee-based laboratory is the location of the project office that manages collaboration within the ECP and among its facility partners. ORNL’s Laboratory Director Thom Mason delivered the opening talk at the conference, highlighting the need for coordination in a project of this scope.

    On behalf of facility staff, Mark Fahey, director of operations at the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility, presented the latest delivery and deployment plans for upcoming computing resources during a plenary session. From the OLCF, Project Director Buddy Bland and Director of Science Jack Wells provided a timeline for the availability of Summit, OLCF’s next petascale supercomputer, which is expected to go online in 2018; it will be at least 5 times more powerful than the OLCF’s 27-petaflop Titan supercomputer.

    ORNL Cray XK7 Titan Supercomputer.

    “Exascale hardware won’t be around for several more years,” Wells said. “The ECP will need access to Titan, Summit, and other leadership computers to do the work that gets us to exascale.”

    Wells said he was able to highlight the spring 2017 call for Innovative and Novel Computational Impact on Theory and Experiment, or INCITE, proposals, which will give 2-year projects the first opportunity for computing time on Summit. OLCF staff also introduced a handful of computing architecture test beds—including the developmental environment for Summit known as Summitdev, NVIDIA’s deep learning and accelerated analytics system DGX-1, an experimental cluster of ARM 64-bit compute nodes, and a Cray XC40 cluster of 168 nodes known as Percival—that are now available for OLCF users.

    In addition to leveraging facility resources for R&D, the ECP must understand the future needs of facilities to design an exascale system that is ready for rigorous computational science simulations. Facilities staff can offer insight about the level of performance researchers will expect from science applications on exascale systems and estimate the amount of space and electrical power that will be available in the 2023 timeframe.

    “Getting to capable exascale systems will require careful coordination between the ECP and the user facilities,” Whitt said.

    One important collaboration so far was the development of a request for information, or RFI, for exascale R&D that the ECP released in February to industry vendors. The RFI enables the ECP to evaluate potential software and hardware technologies for exascale systems—a step in the R&D process that facilities often undertake. Facilities will later release requests for proposals when they are ready to begin building exascale systems

    See the full article here .

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    ORNL is managed by UT-Battelle for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science. 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.


    The Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF) was established at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in 2004 with the mission of accelerating scientific discovery and engineering progress by providing outstanding computing and data management resources to high-priority research and development projects.

    ORNL’s supercomputing program has grown from humble beginnings to deliver some of the most powerful systems in the world. On the way, it has helped researchers deliver practical breakthroughs and new scientific knowledge in climate, materials, nuclear science, and a wide range of other disciplines.

    The OLCF delivered on that original promise in 2008, when its Cray XT “Jaguar” system ran the first scientific applications to exceed 1,000 trillion calculations a second (1 petaflop). Since then, the OLCF has continued to expand the limits of computing power, unveiling Titan in 2013, which is capable of 27 petaflops.

    ORNL Cray XK7 Titan Supercomputer

    Titan is one of the first hybrid architecture systems—a combination of graphics processing units (GPUs), and the more conventional central processing units (CPUs) that have served as number crunchers in computers for decades. The parallel structure of GPUs makes them uniquely suited to process an enormous number of simple computations quickly, while CPUs are capable of tackling more sophisticated computational algorithms. The complimentary combination of CPUs and GPUs allow Titan to reach its peak performance.

    The OLCF gives the world’s most advanced computational researchers an opportunity to tackle problems that would be unthinkable on other systems. The facility welcomes investigators from universities, government agencies, and industry who are prepared to perform breakthrough research in climate, materials, alternative energy sources and energy storage, chemistry, nuclear physics, astrophysics, quantum mechanics, and the gamut of scientific inquiry. Because it is a unique resource, the OLCF focuses on the most ambitious research projects—projects that provide important new knowledge or enable important new technologies.

  • richardmitnick 9:47 am on April 26, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Applied Research & Technology, , ,   

    From U Washington: “With autism diagnoses on the rise, UW establishes clinic for babies” 

    U Washington

    University of Washington

    April 25, 2017
    Kim Eckart

    Research scientist Tanya St. John works with a baby at the University of Washington Autism Center.

    To new parents, a baby’s every gurgle and glance are fascinating, from a smile at mom or dad to a reach for a colorful toy.

    But when a baby doesn’t look at parents and caregivers, imitate gestures and sounds, or engage in play, parents have questions. And a growing number are bringing their babies to the University of Washington Autism Center for answers.

    As autism diagnoses have increased over the years — an estimated one in 68 people has autism spectrum disorder — parents have looked for signs earlier in their children’s lives, especially if they have an older child with autism. While the average age for autism diagnosis in the United States is around 4 years, a growing body of research and practice suggests accurate assessment of children as young as 12 months old, though rare, is not only possible, but also useful.

    “Many people have an unfounded belief that you have to wait until 36 months of age to diagnose autism. That is not the case,” said Annette Estes, who directs the UW Autism Center and is a research affiliate at the Center on Human Development and Disability. “There is a great deal of value in diagnosing as soon as symptoms emerge — it gives parents a great deal of relief and allows appropriate intervention to begin.”

    With only a few infant autism clinics scattered around the country, families have brought their infants to the UW Autism Center from elsewhere in the United States, and in a few cases, the world, Estes said. The natural next step was to dedicate services to them.

    The center’s Infant Clinic, officially established this spring, provides four clinical psychologists to evaluate infants and toddlers up to 24 months of age, along with teams of behavior analysts to create a treatment plan with clinic- and home-based activities — just as would happen with older children. The difference, Estes explained, is the specific expertise with the infant population.

    The Autism Center, part of the UW Department of Speech & Hearing Sciences, has conducted a number of studies into the signs of autism and the effectiveness of intervention strategies. Earlier this year, Nature published findings from the center’s involvement in a North American effort that examined brain biomarkers in infants, including those with at least one autistic sibling. The study showed that magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) helped correctly identify 80 percent of babies who would go on to be diagnosed with autism at 2 years of age Researchers are wrapping up another study, focused on toddlers 12 to 24 months old, that looks at structured intervention activities versus a more play-based approach.

    That work bolsters the center’s diagnostic and treatment capacity with infants, Estes explained.

    For older infants and toddlers, psychologists focus on social and communication deficits, said Tanya St. John, a research scientist and clinical psychologist at the center. Typically-developing infants and toddlers spend time engaging and interacting with their caregivers, which helps them learn language and fosters their social development.

    “Children showing the early signs of autism don’t do those things as much as expected, or they don’t do them at all,” St. John said. “We look at a repertoire of other behaviors as well: Do they do the same thing over and over? Do they pick up a toy and inspect it closely? Do they have a hard time when you change activities?”

    It is less common to diagnose a very young child, St. John said, but when that happens, it’s typically because the symptoms are clear.

    “Most people are hesitant to give a diagnosis to a child who isn’t showing clear signs of ASD. We tend to give early diagnoses to children who meet all of the criteria for a diagnosis, and if they’re not, we take an assessment-and-monitoring approach, where we give parents specific recommendations based on the child’s current challenges, and then see the child back 3 to 6 months later,” she explained.

    Treatment would follow the same general trajectory, depending on the infant’s symptoms and development, as toddlers and older children. Specialists might work on communication, for instance, through strategies to encourage eye contact. As children age, they work with specialists on cognitive, social and motor skills, both individually and in peer groups. Much of the Autism Center’s approach is designed to give parents tools that they can use at home, Estes said.

    Spotting the signs of autism early is critical, she added, so that a family can connect with the right services, whether in the clinic or out in the community.

    A little over three years ago, the Autism Center accurately diagnosed its youngest client: a 10-month-old boy. Thanks to subsequent intervention activities, Estes said, he has developed communication skills, engages socially and is thriving in preschool.

    See the full article here .

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    The University of Washington is one of the world’s preeminent public universities. Our impact on individuals, on our region, and on the world is profound — whether we are launching young people into a boundless future or confronting the grand challenges of our time through undaunted research and scholarship. Ranked number 10 in the world in Shanghai Jiao Tong University rankings and educating more than 54,000 students annually, our students and faculty work together to turn ideas into impact and in the process transform lives and our world. For more about our impact on the world, every day.

    So what defines us — the students, faculty and community members at the University of Washington? Above all, it’s our belief in possibility and our unshakable optimism. It’s a connection to others, both near and far. It’s a hunger that pushes us to tackle challenges and pursue progress. It’s the conviction that together we can create a world of good. Join us on the journey.

  • richardmitnick 11:29 am on April 25, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Applied Research & Technology, Crystalline solar cells,   

    From EPFL: “A simplified fabrication process for high efficiency solar cells” 

    EPFL bloc

    École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne EPFL

    Author:Mediacom / CSEM

    © 2017 CSEM / David Marchon

    A team of EPFL and CSEM researchers in Neuchâtel has featured in Nature Energy with an astonishing new method for the creation of crystalline solar cells. These cells have electrical contacts at the back, which removes all shadowing at the front. Thanks to this new inexpensive approach, the fabrication process is greatly simplified, with efficiencies in the laboratory already surpassing 23%.

    In the quest for more efficient crystalline silicon solar cells with low manufacturing costs, one of the most promising approaches is to bring all electrical contacts to the back of the device. This removes all shadowing at the front, increasing the current and the efficiency. This approach generally requires several delicate processing steps. Well-defined narrow negative and positive contact lines need to be created, which will then collect the electrons (negative charges) and holes (positive charges). This usually requires several steps of photolithography masking, to create the alternate positive (+) and negative (-) areas.

    The teams at the EPFL Photovoltaics laboratory and at the CSEM PV-center succeeded in establishing an innovative process in which the positive and negative contacts align automatically. This is made possible by depositing the first “negative” contact by a plasma process through a mask. Subsequently, a second layer (positive) is deposited over the full surface. The growth of this layer is such that the negative contact, even when placed under the positive contact, remains negative.

    Using this simple process, 25 cm2 solar cells have already reached 23.2% efficiency, with a potential to reach close to 26% efficiency. The researchers are working with the Meyer Burger Company, leading equipment makers for solar cell production lines, to work out industrial solutions for this kind of solar cells, and at the same time valorizing the so-called silicon heterojunctions technology, which served as the basis for this work.

    The research was funded by the Meyer Burger Company, the Commission for Technology and Innovation (CTI) and the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE). The work will continue within the European project H2020 Nextbase.

    See the full article here .

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    EPFL is Europe’s most cosmopolitan technical university with students, professors and staff from over 120 nations. A dynamic environment, open to Switzerland and the world, EPFL is centered on its three missions: teaching, research and technology transfer. EPFL works together with an extensive network of partners including other universities and institutes of technology, developing and emerging countries, secondary schools and colleges, industry and economy, political circles and the general public, to bring about real impact for society.

  • richardmitnick 11:17 am on April 25, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A Practical Approach to Conservation, Applied Research & Technology,   

    From UCSB: “A Practical Approach to Conservation” 

    UC Santa Barbara Name bloc
    UC Santa Barbara

    April 24, 2017
    Julie Cohen

    No image caption. No image credit

    Kevin Lafferty and Hillary Young. Photo Credit: Sonia Fernandez

    Is conservation good for your health? Seems like a no-brainer, right?

    Not so much, according to a group of scientists who have collaborated on a new research volume that explores what turns out to be a very tough question.

    UC Santa Barbara ecologists teamed up with colleagues at Duke University and the University of Washington to present various perspectives on the subject for the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. Their special issue, Conservation, Biodiversity, and Infectious Disease, is a combination of theoretical work and case studies, all of which embrace a systems approach to infectious disease ecology.

    “I’m a firm believer that insights from ecology can help us manage disease and protect species,” said co-editor Kevin Lafferty, a senior ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey and a principal investigator at UCSB’s Marine Science Institute. “But ecological systems are too complicated to expect one-size-fits-all solutions.”

    The biodiversity-disease relationship often has been framed as a simple synergy between conservation action and improved human health, yet the links between habitat disturbance and other factors that affect disease risk are complex. The editors sought authors from diverse perspectives and backgrounds to investigate how economics, climate change and biodiversity change affect infectious diseases.

    “What’s really unique about this issue is that we have gone all the way from theory articles that look at how biodiversity changes might affect disease to multiple field studies of various conservation interventions at different scales to an examination of the global drivers of biodiversity change,” said lead editor Hillary Young, an assistant professor in UCSB’s Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology (EEMB). “We wanted to present cases for viable and useful public health interventions.”

    Take schistosomiasis, a parasitic disease carried by fresh water snails. Found predominantly in tropical and subtropical climates, schistosomiasis infects 240 million people in as many as 78 countries, with a vast majority occurring in Africa. Schistosomiasis ranks second only to malaria as the most common parasitic disease.

    Susanne Sokolow, a researcher at UCSB’s Marine Science Institute and at Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station, presents her study of the disease in Senegal in one paper in the special issue. She found that when dams block the migration of snail-eating river prawns, snail abundance — and presumably schistosomiasis — increase.

    “This is a story that repeats itself in systems where river prawns are present, and one that has a simple solution,” said co-author Lafferty, who is an adjunct EEMB faculty member at UCSB. “This is a type of species that can be restored and that’s the kind of win-win we’re looking for. A third win occurs because river prawn fisheries create economic benefits. Restoring the river is too vague a solution; honing in on the specific lever in the system to which the disease is sensitive gets us there faster.”

    Young’s research in Kenya, also featured in this special issue, is different, but it tells a similar story: Details matter. The ecologists examined how different types of disturbances affected vector-borne diseases and found that agricultural disturbance and the removal of large wildlife caused strong and systematic increases in many pathogens. However, pastoral land use change had no general effect.

    “The type of land use change matters; you can’t just say conservation is good for disease,” Young said. “In fact, conservations are much more effective when scientists understand the nuances involved.

    “While the mechanisms involved in my system are entirely different from the schistosomiasis system, both underscore the importance of understanding the entire ecology of the system, finding win-win scenarios and acting on them rather than expecting generalities about conservation and disease,” she added.

    Discovering the specifics can be problematic because measurements of the environment, of biodiversity and of infectious diseases vary greatly. In another of the volume’s papers, Lafferty, Young and colleagues found a way to analyze global disease burden at two time points, which enabled them to examine the same things.

    “We analyzed what drives the world’s most important infectious diseases among countries and across decades,” Lafferty explained. “It’s the most comprehensive attempt yet to explain how conservation, climate and economics affect human health.”

    The researchers considered forestation, biodiversity, wealth, temperature, precipitation and urbanization. They found that any of those factors on their own could have a positive, negative or neutral effect, depending on the disease. By far the most consistent finding, though, was this: The wealthier the country, the less disease; and the more wealth increased, the lower the burden of infectious disease.

    Young noted that this research produced a better understanding of causality than most studies. “This paper has some good news that is rarely part of the story in our field,” Lafferty said. “Our analysis shows across the board — with just a couple of exceptions — that the burden of infectious diseases has diminished considerably over the last two decades and that is mostly due to increased wealth and urbanization.”

    “There is no one-size-fits-all lever, where improving access to healthcare is going to affect all infectious diseases,” Young added. “This body of work highlights the need to understand the nuances that make biodiversity and conservation effective levers.”

    The discourse begun in the special journal will continue at the 15th annual Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases conference to be held June 24-27 at UCSB. Many authors will present their work. More information is available at https://eeid2017.eemb.ucsb.edu/

    See the full article here .

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    The University of California, Santa Barbara (commonly referred to as UC Santa Barbara or UCSB) is a public research university and one of the 10 general campuses of the University of California system. Founded in 1891 as an independent teachers’ college, UCSB joined the University of California system in 1944 and is the third-oldest general-education campus in the system. The university is a comprehensive doctoral university and is organized into five colleges offering 87 undergraduate degrees and 55 graduate degrees. In 2012, UCSB was ranked 41st among “National Universities” and 10th among public universities by U.S. News & World Report. UCSB houses twelve national research centers, including the renowned Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics.

  • richardmitnick 8:08 am on April 25, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Applied Research & Technology, ,   

    From SLAC: “Machine Learning Dramatically Streamlines Search for More Efficient Chemical Reactions” 

    SLAC Lab

    April 24, 2017
    Glennda Chui

    A diagram shows the many possible paths one simple catalytic reaction can theoretically take – in this case, conversion of syngas, which is a combination of carbon dioxide (CO2) and carbon monoxide (CO), to acetaldehyde. Machine learning allowed SUNCAT theorists to prune away the least likely paths and identify the most likely one (red) so scientists can focus on making it more efficient. (Zachary Ulissi/SUNCAT)

    Even a simple chemical reaction can be surprisingly complicated. That’s especially true for reactions involving catalysts, which speed up the chemistry that makes fuel, fertilizer and other industrial goods. In theory, a catalytic reaction may follow thousands of possible paths, and it can take years to identify which one it actually takes so scientists can tweak it and make it more efficient.

    Now researchers at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University have taken a big step toward cutting through this thicket of possibilities. They used machine learning – a form of artificial intelligence – to prune away the least likely reaction paths, so they can concentrate their analysis on the few that remain and save a lot of time and effort.

    The method will work for a wide variety of complex chemical reactions and should dramatically speed the development of new catalysts, the team reported in Nature Communications.

    ‘A Daunting Task’

    “Designing a novel catalyst to speed a chemical reaction is a very daunting task,” said Thomas Bligaard, a staff scientist at the SUNCAT Center for Interface Science and Catalysis, a joint SLAC/Stanford institute where the research took place. “There’s a huge amount of experimental work that normally goes into it.”

    For instance, he said, finding a catalyst that turns nitrogen from the air into ammonia – considered one of the most important developments of the 20th century because it made the large-scale production of fertilizer possible, helping to launch the Green Revolution – took decades of testing various reactions one by one.

    Even today, with the help of supercomputer simulations that predict the results of reactions by applying theoretical models to huge databases on the behavior of chemicals and catalysts, the search can take years, because until now it has relied largely on human intuition to pick possible winners out of the many available reaction paths.

    “We need to know what the reaction is, and what are the most difficult steps along the reaction path, in order to even think about making a better catalyst,” said Jens Nørskov, a professor at SLAC and Stanford and director of SUNCAT.

    “We also need to know whether the reaction makes only the product we want or if it also makes undesirable byproducts. We’ve basically been making reasonable assumptions about these things, and we really need a systematic theory to guide us.”

    Trading Human Intuition for Machine Learning

    For this study, the team looked at a reaction that turns syngas, a combination of carbon monoxide and hydrogen, into fuels and industrial chemicals. The syngas flows over the surface of a rhodium catalyst, which like all catalysts is not consumed in the process and can be used over and over. This triggers chemical reactions that can produce a number of possible end products, such as ethanol, methane or acetaldehyde.

    “In this case there are thousands of possible reaction pathways – an infinite number, really – with hundreds of intermediate steps,” said Zachary Ulissi, a postdoctoral researcher at SUNCAT. “Usually what would happen is that a graduate student or postdoctoral researcher would go through them one at a time, using their intuition to pick what they think are the most likely paths. This can take years.”

    The new method ditches intuition in favor of machine learning, where a computer uses a set of problem-solving rules to learn patterns from large amounts of data and then predict similar patterns in new data. It’s a behind-the-scenes tool in an increasing number of technologies, from self-driving cars to fraud detection and online purchase recommendations.

    Rapid Weeding

    The data used in this process came from past studies of chemicals and their properties, including calculations that predict the bond energies between atoms based on principles of quantum mechanics. The researchers were especially interested in two factors that determine how easily a catalytic reaction proceeds: How strongly the reacting chemicals bond to the surface of the catalyst and which steps in the reaction present the most significant barriers to going forward. These are known as rate-limiting steps.

    A reaction will seek out the path that takes the least energy, Ulissi explained, much like a highway designer will choose a route between mountains rather than waste time looking for an efficient way to go over the top of a peak. With machine learning the researchers were able to analyze the reaction pathways over and over, each time eliminating the least likely paths and fine-tuning the search strategy for the next round.

    Once everything was set up, Ulissi said, “It only took seconds or minutes to weed out the paths that were not interesting. In the end there were only about 10 reaction barriers that were important.” The new method, he said, has the potential to reduce the time needed to identify a reaction pathway from years to months.

    Andrew Medford, a former SUNCAT graduate student who is now an assistant professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, also contributed to this research, which was funded by the DOE Office of Science.

    See the full article here .

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    SLAC is a multi-program laboratory exploring frontier questions in photon science, astrophysics, particle physics and accelerator research. Located in Menlo Park, California, SLAC is operated by Stanford University for the DOE’s Office of Science.

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