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  • richardmitnick 1:44 pm on July 11, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "The First Mass Extinction Event Explained: End-Ordovician", , Archaeology, , , , How long did the Ordovician period last and what caused the Ordovician mass extinction to wipe out 85 percent of life on earth 445 million years ago?, , , ,   

    From “Discover Magazine” : “The First Mass Extinction Event Explained: End-Ordovician” 


    From “Discover Magazine”

    Jul 11, 2022
    Gabe Allen

    How long did the Ordovician period last and what caused the Ordovician mass extinction to wipe out 85 percent of life on earth 445 million years ago?

    (Credit: Cagla Acikgoz/Shutterstock)

    Long before the dawn of humans, dinosaurs, insects or even trees, a cascade of unfortunate events threatened to end life on earth.

    During the Ordovician Period, around 485 to 444 million years ago, the diversity of marine life exploded. Trilobites and mollusks crawled on the ocean floor, plankton-like filter-feeders floated at all depths and coral and algae bloomed. Jawless fish, perhaps our oldest ancestors, drifted in shallow lagoons and deltas. Life may have also taken its first steps onto land during this period. Some researchers have speculated [JSTOR] that Ordovician green algae may have migrated onto the shore with assistance from mycorrhizal fungi.

    However, sometime around 445 million years ago, 85 percent of species went extinct [Geology] over the relatively short interval of 1.4 million years. This unprecedented die-off is now known as the earth’s first mass extinction, the Late Ordovician mass extinction or simply LOME. Many researchers have devoted time, or even careers, to uncovering the underlying forces of extinction. But pieces of the puzzle are still missing.

    “As you might imagine, trying to infer what exactly happened in the environment 445 million years ago is a fairly inexact process,” paleobiologist Charles Mitchell says. “But we can discern some things quite clearly.”

    What Caused the Ordovician Extinction

    Around the time of the extinction, the earth’s climate underwent a series of significant changes [Nature Communications]. A period of warming and sea level rise was followed by an ice age. Glaciers encapsulated much of the ancient supercontinent Gondwana, a landmass that gave rise to parts of every major modern continent. Eventually the ice age gave way to warming once again.

    These climatic changes disrupted the ways in which nutrients like oxygen, carbon and nitrogen, cycled through the ocean at the time.

    “When you shift from greenhouse conditions to ice house conditions, there are going to be major changes in ocean circulation patterns,” Mitchell says.

    One prominent theory [GSA Bulletin] posits that an initial wave of extinction occurred when the ice age began. The organisms at the bottom of the food chain, algae and cyanobacteria, may have been slow to adjust to a colder climate. The same theory aligns the second wave of extinction with the end of the ice age. Warming temperatures may have caused a global “algal bloom,” much like the blooms caused by nutrient-rich wastewater in lakes and rivers today.

    This rapid proliferation of cyanobacteria could have caused the de-oxygenation of the ocean, which scientists have observed in the geologic record.

    A second theory that has gained some traction, ties both waves of extinction to the warm periods [Nature Communications above] that bookend the ice age. In a 2020 paper [Geology above], two geologists assert that a large volcanic eruption may have been a leading factor as well.

    “Rather than being the odd-one-out of the ‘Big Five’ extinctions with origins in cooling, the LOME is similar to the others in being caused by volcanism, warming and anoxia,” they write.

    Ordovician Species

    While scientists will hotly debate the causes for decades to come, the outcomes of the extinction are clearer. All major groups of Ordovician organisms were affected — trilobites, brachiopods and bryozoans died off in large proportions. But, while subsequent mass extinctions selected broad categories of winners or losers, some species, from nearly every major group or organisms, survived the LOME. During the Silurian period, which succeeded the Ordovician, these survivors repopulated the oceans.

    Mitchell has focused much of his work on a group of filter feeders that the extinction hit especially hard: graptolites. These tube-like organisms were plentiful in the Ordovician oceans.

    “They were planktonic, so they were directly harvesting algae, which is at the bottom of the food chain,” Mitchell says. “For that reason, they’re a bit of a canary in a coal mine.”

    By looking through thousands of graptolite fossils, Mitchell and his colleagues noticed something curious. The creatures were dying off, slowly, for long before the sharp decline associated with the mass extinction event.

    “Graptolites started going extinct considerably before the big pulse,” Mitchell says. “That means that whatever caused the turnover had to have been a longer-term event.”

    In other words, slow and incremental change eventually gave way to rapid decline. Here, Mitchell sees a parallel to current human-caused shifts in global biodiversity. Over the past century, vertebrate species have gone extinct at a rate 100 times that of the pre-industrial average [Science Advances]. This rate is projected to increase [IPCC]as global temperatures rise.

    “It looks like things are occurring predictably, and then you fall off a cliff,” Mitchell says. “Right now, we are still in the phase of incremental change. We can’t be fooled into thinking that this is manageable.”

    See the full article here .


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  • richardmitnick 8:42 am on June 24, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , "Getting Their Hands Dirty", , Archaeology   

    From “Endeavors” at The University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill: “Getting Their Hands Dirty” 

    From “Endeavors” at The University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill

    June 22nd, 2022
    Andrew Russell

    UNC graduating senior Ila Chilberg sifts dirt while looking for artifacts in Duke Forest as part of the archaeology program’s annual summer field school run by professors Heather Lapham and Steve Davis. (Photo by Andrew Russell)

    A few weeks ago, Maria Reid found herself at the bottom of a 1-meter pit called a test unit. Using a trowel, she meticulously evened out its walls and floor. By 11 a.m., the temperature was in the mid-80s and humid — and Reid was hot, sweaty, dirty, and exhausted. She was also exactly where she wanted to be.

    “I was thinking, I wonder if I could do this with my life,” says Reid, a UNC-Chapel Hill archaeology major who graduated this past May. “I’m 22. It feels like I need to make some big decisions. I think that I could easily do this every day. I don’t know what I’m going to do when this field school is over. I’m going to miss it. I’m going to miss having a shovel and just digging.”

    Steve Davis rinses an object found by students before examining to confirm it is a sherd.

    Reid was working as part of the UNC archaeology program’s annual summer field school, run by professors Heather Lapham and Steve Davis. This year, the group excavated two sites: one in Duke Forest and another at Ayr Mount, a Federal-style plantation house located east of Hillsborough in Orange County.

    At both locations, they were looking for evidence of pre-European indigenous settlements. The group picked the site in Duke Forest based on clues found in a 150-year-old newspaper article that suggested the existence of such an early settlement. Turns out the article was correct.

    Steve Davis teaches students participating in UNC’s archaeological field school about test units during an excavation in Duke Forest (Photo by Andrew Russell).

    A few meters away from Reid’s unit, students Annie Veum, Elizabeth Maguire, and Bashi Hariharan gathered around a wire mesh sieve positioned over a mound of loose dirt. They were examining a small chunk of clay, trying to decide if the piece was just a plain old rock or a sherd — a broken piece of manmade ceramic material used in ancient pottery.

    After some discussion, they brought the piece to Davis, who determined it was indeed a sherd. The students were ecstatic. It was the first artifact these archaeologists-in-training had ever discovered. Even after years of fieldwork, Davis and Lapham still find it thrilling to witness their students’ first moments of discovery.

    Heather Lapham peeks around a theodolite – a surveying instrument used to measure horizontal and vertical angles as students in the field school clear space for excavation (Photo by Andrew Russell).

    You’re introducing them not just to finding artifacts or objects, but also to what archaeology can tell us about people in the past — how they lived, where they lived, what they made and used to not just survive but thrive,” Lapham says.

    “That’s the start of it,” she continues. “That’s the start of it — finding a single artifact. It fuels a desire to learn more and can lead to a whole new understanding and appreciation of past people and cultures. So, for me, that’s exciting!”

    For Veum, a rising junior majoring in history, the moment illustrated how field school allowed her to experience history firsthand.

    Annie Veum, Elizabeth Maguire, and Bashi Hariharan celebrate after Steve Davis confirms that the artifact they just found in a test pit was indeed a sherd — a broken piece of manmade ceramic material used in ancient pottery (Photo by Andrew Russell).

    “We were looking at something that somebody made 400 years ago,” Veum says. “It’s like you’re walking on the same ground, especially when we get down into the units. I’m literally walking on the ground they were walking on. There’s just something about it that’s hard to describe. You can picture it: This was used for cooking probably, and then it fell into the fire and broke, and they just discarded it. And now, 400 years later, I’m getting to touch something that was valuable to them. It’s exhilarating.”

    Getting that hands-on experience in the field is essential in the path to becoming an archaeologist, according to Davis, who retires this month.

    “It’s really the best way for students to get firsthand knowledge of what doing field research is all about,” Davis says. “What the students are learning, you really can’t learn in the classroom. You can be told about it, but you must experience it firsthand to really appreciate it.”

    But, he says, it’s important to realize that field school is about more than just finding artifacts.

    Undergraduate student Elizabeth Maguire rakes grass from her team’s unit so that they can begin digging the shovel test pit and sifting the soil (Photo by Renata Schmidt).

    “Artifacts are just things, and archaeologists are not out to find just things,” Davis says. “We want to understand the people behind those things, the behaviors of those people that are manifested in those things, in those artifacts. And so, you know, that’s the way you get at it is through context and through the association of artifacts with other artifacts and where you can demonstrate a whole viable kind of contextual relationship between them.”

    For Maguire, a rising junior double-majoring in archaeology and anthropology, exploring that context is what draws her to archaeology. Early in her second week, Maguire discovered a large rock while digging her shovel test pit. As McGuire brushed the loose dirt from it, she realized that it was a preformed tool — a rock that someone had started to shape into a tool but abandoned in the middle of the process.

    “I’m holding this piece of their lives in my hand,” Maguire says. “I wonder why they didn’t finish it. I wonder if this was someone’s first time making this preform. Were they trying to make a tool? It’s just really fun to think about all the possibilities.”

    Reid, who graduated this may, had always wanted to pursue archaeology. She was exposed to the field at a very young age through her aunt, an archeologist working in Greece.

    “She kept my baby teeth before I knew the tooth fairy wasn’t real. She took mine and my sister’s baby teeth and used them in labs with her grad students — unbeknownst to me. I was 8 years old. There are a bunch of grad students in Canada somewhere with my baby teeth analyzing them.”

    But her experience at field school cemented Reid’s desire to be an archaeologist.

    “It feels so cool because this is my first field school,” she says.

    Maria Reid and Caroline Maness clear loose dirt out of a test unit during an excavation at the Duke Forest site (Photo by Andrew Russell).

    “I’ve read all about the archaeology. I’ve taken a lot of archaeology classes. But here, just pulling something out of that dirt, it feels like mining for gold, honestly, even though it’s basically a rock. But it’s really something more than that.”

    Heather Lapham is the research archaeologist in the Research Laboratories of Archaeology and an adjunct associate professor in the Curriculum in Archaeology in the Department of Anthropology within the UNC College of Arts & Sciences.

    Steve Davis retired in June 2022. He was the associate director of the Research Laboratories of Archaeology and an adjunct professor in the Curriculum in Archaeology in the Department of Anthropology within the UNC College of Arts & Sciences.

    Maria Reid is a UNC alumna who graduated in May 2022. She majored in archaeology and participated in the 2022 field school.

    Annie Veum is a rising junior majoring in history within the UNC College of Arts & Sciences.

    Elizabeth Maguire is a rising junior double-majoring in archaeology and anthropology within the UNC College of Arts & Sciences.

    See the full article here .


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    UNC bloc

    UNC campus
    UNC-University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
    The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is a public research university in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The flagship of the University of North Carolina system, it is considered to be a Public Ivy, or a public institution which offers an academic experience similar to that of an Ivy League university. After being chartered in 1789, the university first began enrolling students in 1795, making it one of the oldest public universities in the United States. Among the claimants, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is the only one to have held classes and graduated students as a public university in the eighteenth century.

    The first public institution of higher education in North Carolina, the school opened its doors to students on February 12, 1795. North Carolina became coeducational under the leadership of President Kemp Plummer Battle in 1877 and began the process of desegregation under Chancellor Robert Burton House when African-American graduate students were admitted in 1951. In 1952, North Carolina opened its own hospital, UNC Health Care, for research and treatment, and has since specialized in cancer care through UNC’s Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center which is one of only 51 national NCI designated comprehensive centers.

    The university offers degrees in over 70 courses of study and is administratively divided into 13 separate professional schools and a primary unit, the College of Arts & Sciences. Five of the schools have been named: the UNC Kenan–Flagler Business School, the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media, the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, and the UNC Adams School of Dentistry. All undergraduates receive a liberal arts education and have the option to pursue a major within the professional schools of the university or within the College of Arts and Sciences from the time they obtain junior status. It is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity”, and is a member of the Association of American Universities . According to the National Science Foundation, UNC spent $1.14 billion on research and development in 2018, ranking it 12th in the nation.

    UNC’s faculty and alumni include 9 Nobel Prize laureates, 23 Pulitzer Prize winners, and 51 Rhodes Scholars. Additional notable alumni include a U.S. President, a U.S. Vice President, 38 Governors of U.S. States, 98 members of the United States Congress, and nine Cabinet members as well as CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, Olympians and professional athletes.

    The campus covers 729 acres (3 km^2) of Chapel Hill’s downtown area, encompassing the Morehead Planetarium and the many stores and shops located on Franklin Street. Students can participate in over 550 officially recognized student organizations. The student-run newspaper The Daily Tar Heel has won national awards for collegiate media, while the student radio station WXYC provided the world’s first internet radio broadcast. UNC Chapel Hill is one of the charter members of the Atlantic Coast Conference, which was founded on June 14, 1953. Competing athletically as the Tar Heels, UNC has achieved great success in sports, most notably in men’s basketball, women’s soccer, and women’s field hockey.

  • richardmitnick 9:03 am on April 13, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Embracing ancient materials and 21st-century challenges", , Archaeology, , Sophia Mittman,   

    From The Massachusetts Institute of Technology: “Embracing ancient materials and 21st-century challenges” 

    MIT News

    From The Massachusetts Institute of Technology

    April 13, 2022
    Alli Armijo

    An early interest in archaeology led MIT senior Sophia Mittman to explore many facets of materials science, from restoring artwork to developing fruit snacks. Her new passion is finding ways to extract widely used minerals from mining waste. Credit: Adam Glanzman.

    When Sophia Mittman was 10 years old, she wanted to be an artist. But instead of using paint, she preferred the mud in her backyard. She sculpted it into pots and bowls like the ones she had seen at the archaeological museums, transforming the earthly material into something beautiful.

    Now an MIT senior studying materials science and engineering, Mittman seeks modern applications for sustainable materials in ways that benefit the community around her.

    Growing up in San Diego, California, Mittman was homeschooled, and enjoyed the process of teaching herself new things. After taking a pottery class in seventh grade, she became interested in sculpture, teaching herself how to make fused glass. From there, Mittman began making pottery and jewelry. This passion to create new things out of sustainable materials led her to pursue materials science, a subject she didn’t even know was originally offered at the Institute.

    “I didn’t know the science behind why those materials had the properties they did. And materials science explained it,” she says.

    During her first year at MIT, Mittman took 2.00b (Toy Product Design), which she considers one of her most memorable classes at the Institute. She remembers learning about the mechanical side of building, using drill presses and sanding machines to create things. However, her favorite part was the seminars on the weekends, where she learned how to make things such as stuffed animals or rolling wooden toys. She appreciated the opportunity to learn how to use everyday materials like wood to construct new and exciting gadgets.

    From there, Mittman got involved in the Glass Club, using blowtorches to melt rods of glass to make things like marbles and little fish decorations. She also took a few pottery and ceramics classes on campus, learning how to hone her skills to craft new things. Understanding MIT’s hands-on approach to learning, Mittman was excited to use her newly curated skills in the various workshops on campus to apply them to the real world.

    In the summer after her first year, Mittman became an undergraduate field and conservation science researcher for the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. She traveled to various cities across Italy to collaborate with international art restorers, conservation scientists, and museum curators to study archaeological materials and their applications to modern sustainability. One of her favorite parts was restoring the Roman baths, and studying the mosaics on the ground. She did a research project on Egyptian Blue, one of the first synthetic pigments, which has modern applications because of its infrared luminescence, which can be used for detecting fingerprints in crime scenes. The experience was eye-opening for Mittman; she got to directly experience what she had been learning in the classroom about sustainable materials and how she could preserve and use them for modern applications.

    The next year, upon returning to campus, Mittman joined Incredible Foods as a polymeric food science and technology intern. She learned how to create and apply a polymer coating to natural fruit snacks to replicate real berries. “It was fun to see the breadth of material science because I had learned about polymers in my material science classes, but then never thought that it could be applied to making something as fun as fruit snacks,” she says.

    Venturing into yet another new area of materials science, Mittman last year pursued an internship with Phoenix Tailings, which aims to be the world’s first “clean” mining company. In the lab, she helped develop and analyze chemical reactions to physically and chemically extract rare earth metals and oxides from mining waste. She also worked to engineer bright-colored, high-performance pigments using nontoxic chemicals. Mittman enjoyed the opportunity to explore a mineralogically sustainable method for mining, something she hadn’t previously explored as a branch of materials science research.

    “I’m still able to contribute to environmental sustainability and to try to make a greener world, but it doesn’t solely have to be through energy because I’m dealing with dirt and mud,” she says.

    Outside of her academic work, Mittman is involved with the Tech Catholic Community (TCC) on campus. She has held roles as the music director, prayer chair, and social committee chair, organizing and managing social events for over 150 club members. She says the TCC is the most supportive community in her campus life, as she can meet people who have similar interests as her, though are in different majors. “There are a lot of emotional aspects of being at MIT, and there’s a spiritual part that so many students wrestle with. The TCC is where I’ve been able to find so much comfort, support, and encouragement; the closest friends I have are in the Tech Catholic Community,” she says.

    Mittman is also passionate about teaching, which allows her to connect to students and teach them material in new and exciting ways. In the fall of her junior and senior years, she was a teaching assistant for 3.091 (Introduction to Solid State Chemistry), where she taught two recitations of 20 students and offered weekly private tutoring. She enjoyed helping students tackle difficult course material in ways that are enthusiastic and encouraging, as she appreciated receiving the same help in her introductory courses.

    Looking ahead, Mittman plans to work fulltime at Phoenix Tailings as a materials scientist following her graduation. In this way, she feels like she has come full circle: from playing in the mud as a kid to working with it as a materials scientist to extract materials to help build a sustainable future for nearby and international communities.

    “I want to be able to apply what I’m enthusiastic about, which is materials science, by way of mineralogical sustainability, so that it can help mines here in America but also mines in Brazil, Austria, Jamaica — all over the world, because ultimately, I think that will help more people live better lives,” she says.

    See the full article here .

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    MIT Seal

    USPS “Forever” postage stamps celebrating Innovation at MIT.

    MIT Campus

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

    Massachusettes Institute of Technology-Haystack Observatory Westford, Massachusetts, USA, Altitude 131 m (430 ft).

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

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

    Foundation and vision

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

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

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

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

    Early developments

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

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

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

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

    Curricular reforms

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Recent history

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

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

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

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

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

    The Caltech/MIT Advanced aLIGO was designed and constructed by a team of scientists from California Institute of Technology , Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and industrial contractors, and funded by the National Science Foundation .

    Caltech /MIT Advanced aLigo

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

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

  • richardmitnick 9:03 am on March 29, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Built by an Unknown Culture This Is The Oldest Sun Observatory in The Americas", , Archaeology, , ,   

    From Science Alert(AU): “Built by an Unknown Culture This Is The Oldest Sun Observatory in The Americas” 


    From Science Alert(AU)

    29 MARCH 2022

    The Fortified Temple at Chankillo. Credit: Janine Costa/Agence France-Presse via Getty Images.

    Long before the Incas rose to power in Peru and began to celebrate their sun god, a little known civilization was building the earliest known astronomical observatory in the Americas.

    While not quite as old as sites like Stonehenge, these ancient ruins, known as Chankillo, are considered a “masterpiece of human creative genius”, holding unique features not seen anywhere else in the world.

    Based in the coastal desert of Peru, the archaeological site famously contains a row of 13 stone towers, which together trace the horizon of a hill, north to south, like a toothy bottom grin.

    The Thirteen Towers of Chankillo. Credit: David Edgar/Wikipedia/CC BY-SA 3.0.

    Apart from this remarkable structure, known as the Thirteen Towers, the ruins of the observatory also include a triple-walled hilltop complex called the Fortified Temple and two building complexes called the Observatory and the Administrative Center.

    Completed over 2,300 years ago and abandoned in the first century of the common era, the site has remained a mystery to travelers for centuries.

    Only when official excavations began at the turn of the 21st century, did archaeologists realize what they were looking at.

    Aerial view of the towers. Credit: Janine Costa/AFP via Getty Images.

    Against a barren desert landscape and in broad daylight, the hilltop stone structures, which span roughly 300 meters (980 feet), don’t look like much. But it’s another story at dawn and dusk.

    As the Sun rises in the east, an orb of light emerges somewhere along the ridge of towers. As the year proceeds, so too does the position of the sunrise, almost as though the light is flossing the toothy horizon.

    On the summer solstice, for example, the sunrise emerges to the right of the rightmost tower. Whereas on the winter solstice, the sunrise emerges to the left of the leftmost tower.

    The Towers of Chankillo were so carefully placed, that when an onlooker stands at a specific observation point below the ridge, they can predict the time of year within two or three days based just on sunrise or sunset. The observation point looking west towards the ridge – this is the Observatory structure – uses the sunset. At what’s thought to be the east observation point, all that’s left is the incomplete stone outline of a room, but it’s in a symmetrical location and would have used the sunrise.

    The September equinox, for example, is defined when the Sun sets between the sixth and the seventh tower, as captured in the image below.

    The September equinox sunset. Credit: World Monuments Fund/Youtube Screenshot.

    The ancient civilization that designed the solar observatory is barely known, but it would have been one of the oldest cultures in the Americas. In fact, this culture predates the Inca culture, which also excelled at astronomy, by more than 1,000 years.

    Because the Chankillo ruins attributed to this civilization are based in the coastal desert between Peru’s Casma River and the Sechin river, the original builders are now known as the Casma-Sechin culture.

    Similar to the Incas, this civilization would probably have considered the Sun a deity of some sort. The staircases leading up to each tower strongly suggest the site was once used for rituals.

    According to archaeological excavations, the observatory was probably built sometime between 500 and 200 BCE. Then, for some reason, the site was abandoned, and the towers fell into disrepair. In their heyday, archaeologists say the structures would have been plastered yellow, ochre or white and painted with graffiti or fingerprints.

    Mind-blowing Ancient Solar Calender | Wonders of the Universe w/ Brian Cox | BBC Studios.

    Even when stripped of decoration and falling apart, however, the remains of these stone towers still faithfully record the days of the year. Conservation efforts are now under way to uphold the accuracy of the ancient calendar.

    In 2021, the Chankillo Archaeoastronomical Complex officially joined the UNESCO World Heritage List for its outstanding craftsmanship and its insight into the worldview of ancient societies.

    “Unlike architectural alignments upon a single astronomical target found at many ancient sites around the world, the line of towers spans the entire annual solar rising and setting arcs as viewed, respectively, from two distinct observation points, one of which is still clearly visible above ground,” reads the UNESCO description.

    “The solar observatory at Chankillo is thus a testimony of the culmination of a long historical evolution of astronomical practices in the Casma Valley.”

    You can read even more details about this observatory at the Portal to the Heritage of Astronomy.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

  • richardmitnick 4:33 pm on August 19, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Unlocking the Secrets of Earth’s Magnetic Field From 9000-Year-Old Recordings", Archaeology, , , Tel Aviv University (IL) אוּנִיבֶרְסִיטַת תֵּל אָבִיב   

    From Tel Aviv University (IL) אוּנִיבֶרְסִיטַת תֵּל אָבִיב via SciTechDaily : “Unlocking the Secrets of Earth’s Magnetic Field From 9,000-Year-Old Recordings” 

    Tel Aviv University

    From Tel Aviv University (IL) אוּנִיבֶרְסִיטַת תֵּל אָבִיב



    August 18, 2021

    Excavations at Tel Tifdan / Wadi Fidan. Credit: Thomas E. Levy

    International research by Tel Aviv University, the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology [Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia](IT)Rome and the University of California-San Diego uncovered findings regarding the magnetic field that prevailed in the Middle East between approximately 10,000 and 8,000 years ago. Researchers examined pottery and burnt flints from archaeological sites in Jordan, on which the magnetic field during that time period was recorded. Information about the magnetic field during prehistoric times can affect our understanding of the magnetic field today, which has been showing a weakening trend that has been cause for concern among climate and environmental researchers.

    The research was conducted under the leadership of Prof. Erez Ben-Yosef of the Jacob M. Alkow Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Cultures at Tel Aviv University אוּנִיבֶרְסִיטַת תֵּל אָבִיב (IL) and Prof. Lisa Tauxe, head of the Paleomagnetic Laboratory at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (US), at University of California- San Diego(US), in collaboration with other researchers from the University of California at San Diego, Rome, and Jordan. The article was published in the journal PNAS.

    Burnt flints and ceramics used to reconstruct the strength of the ancient geomagnetic field. Credit: PNAS.

    Prof. Ben-Yosef explains, “Albert Einstein characterized the planet’s magnetic field as one of the five greatest mysteries of modern physics. As of now, we know a number of basic facts about it: The magnetic field is generated by processes that take place below a depth of approximately 3,000 km beneath the surface of the planet (for the sake of comparison, the deepest human drilling has reached a depth of only 20 km); it protects the planet from the continued bombardment by cosmic radiation and thus allows life as we know it to exist; it is volatile and its strength and direction are constantly shifting, and it is connected to various phenomena in the atmosphere and the planet’s ecological system, including – possibly – having a certain impact on climate. Nevertheless, the magnetic field’s essence and origins have remained largely unresolved. In our research, we sought to open a peephole into this great riddle.”

    Wadi Fidan. Credit: Thomas E. Levy.

    The researchers explain that instruments for measuring the strength of the Earth’s magnetic field were first invented only approximately 200 years ago. In order to examine the history of the field during earlier periods, science is helped by archaeological and geological materials that recorded the properties of the field when they were heated to high temperatures. The magnetic information remains “frozen” (forever or until another heating event) within tiny crystals of ferromagnetic minerals, from which it can be extracted using a series of experiments in the magnetics laboratory. Basalt from volcanic eruptions or ceramics fired in a kiln are frequent materials used for these types of experiments.

    The great advantage in using archaeological materials as opposed to geological is the time resolution: While in geology dating is on the scale of thousands years at best, in archaeology the artifacts and the magnetic field that they have recorded can be dated at a resolution of hundreds and sometimes even tens of years (and in specific cases, such as a known destruction event, even give an exact date). The obvious disadvantage of archaeology is the young age of the relevant artifacts: Ceramics, which have been used for this purpose up until now, were only invented 8,500 years ago.

    The current study is based on materials from four archaeological sites in Wadi Feinan (Jordan), which have been dated (using carbon-14) to the Neolithic period – approximately 10,000 to 8,000 years ago — some of which predate the invention of ceramics. Researchers examined the magnetic field that was recorded in 129 items found in these excavations, and this time, burnt flint tools were added to the ceramic shards.

    Prof. Ben-Yosef: “This is the first time that burnt flints from prehistoric sites are being used to reconstruct the magnetic field from their time period. About a year ago, groundbreaking research at the Hebrew University was published, showing the feasibility of working with such materials, and we took that one step forward, extracting geomagnetic information from tightly dated burned flint. Working with this material extends the research possibilities tens of thousands of years back, as humans used flint tools for a very long period of time prior to the invention of ceramics. Additionally, after enough information is collected about the changes in the geomagnetic field over the course of time, we will be able to use it in order to date archaeological remains.”

    An additional and important finding of this study is the strength of the magnetic field during the time period that was examined. The archaeological artifacts demonstrated that at a certain stage during the Neolithic period, the field became very weak (among the weakest values ever recorded for the last 10,000 years), but recovered and strengthened within a relatively short amount of time.

    According to Prof. Tauxe, this finding is significant for us today: “In our time, since measurements began less than 200 years ago, we have seen a continuous decrease in the field’s strength. This fact gives rise to a concern that we could completely lose the magnetic field that protects us against cosmic radiation and therefore, is essential to the existence of life on Earth. The findings of our study can be reassuring: This has already happened in the past. Approximately 7,600 years ago, the strength of the magnetic field was even lower than today, but within approximately 600 years, it gained strength and again rose to high levels.”

    See the full article here.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Tel Aviv University (IL) אוּנִיבֶרְסִיטַת תֵּל אָבִיב is a public research university in Tel Aviv, Israel. With over 30,000 students, it is the largest university in the country. Located in northwest Tel Aviv, the university is the center of teaching and research of the city, comprising 9 faculties, 17 teaching hospitals, 18 performing arts centers, 27 schools, 106 departments, 340 research centers, and 400 laboratories.

    Besides being the largest university in Israel, Tel Aviv University is also the largest Jewish university in the world. It originated in 1956 when three education units merged to form the university. The original 170-acre campus was expanded and now makes up 220 acres (89 hectares) in Tel Aviv’s Ramat Aviv neighborhood. It regularly ranks among the top academic institutions in the world by the THE World University Rankings, QS World University Rankings, and the Shanghai Ranking.

    TAU’s origins date back to 1956, when three research institutes: the Tel Aviv School of Law and Economics (established in 1935), the Institute of Natural Sciences (established in 1931), and the Institute of Jewish Studies – joined together to form Tel Aviv University. Initially operated by the Tel Aviv municipality, the university was granted autonomy in 1963, and George S. Wise was its first President, from that year until 1971. The Ramat Aviv campus, covering an area of 170-acre (0.69 km2), was established that same year. Its succeeding Presidents have been Yuval Ne’eman from 1971 to 1977, Haim Ben-Shahar from 1977 to 1983, Moshe Many from 1983 to 1991, Yoram Dinstein from 1991 to 1999, Itamar Rabinovich from 1999 to 2006, Zvi Galil from 2006 to 2009, Joseph Klafter from 2009 to 2019, and Ariel Porat since 2019.

    The university also maintains academic supervision over the Center for Technological Design in Holon, the New Academic College of Tel Aviv-Yafo, and the Afeka College of Engineering in Tel Aviv. The Wise Observatory is located in Mitzpe Ramon in the Negev desert.

  • richardmitnick 9:01 am on August 11, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Study reveals that Machu Picchu is older than expected", Accelerator mass spectrometry: an advanced form of radiocarbon dating, Antiquity, , Archaeology, , , One time country estate of Inca Emperor Pachacuti located on the eastern face of the Andes Mountains.,   

    From Yale University (US) : “Study reveals that Machu Picchu is older than expected” 

    From Yale University (US)

    August 4, 2021
    Mike Cummings

    Media Contact
    Bess Connolly

    Photo by Pedro Szekely. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike CC BY-SA 2.0.

    Machu Picchu, the famous 15th-century Inca site in southern Peru, is up to several decades older than previously thought, according to a new study led by Yale archaeologist Richard Burger.

    Burger and researchers from several U.S. institutions used accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) — an advanced form of radiocarbon dating — to date human remains recovered during the early 20th century at the monumental complex and one time country estate of Inca Emperor Pachacuti located on the eastern face of the Andes Mountains.

    Their findings, published in the journal Antiquity, reveal that Machu Picchu was in use from about 1420 C.E. to 1530 C.E.— ending around the time of the Spanish conquest — making the site at least 20 years older than the accepted historical record suggests and raising questions about our understanding of Inca chronology.

    Historical sources dating from the Spanish invasion of the Inca Empire indicate that Pachacuti seized power in 1438 C.E. and subsequently conquered the lower Urubamba Valley where Machu Picchu is located. Based on those records, scholars have estimated that the site was built after 1440 C.E., and perhaps as late as 1450 C.E., depending on how long it took Pachacuti to subdue the region and construct the stone palace.

    The AMS testing indicates that the historical timeline is inaccurate.

    “Until now, estimates of Machu Picchu’s antiquity and the length of its occupation were based on contradictory historical accounts written by Spaniards in the period following the Spanish conquest,” said Burger, the Charles J. MacCurdy Professor of Anthropology in Yale’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences. “This is the first study based on scientific evidence to provide an estimate for the founding of Machu Picchu and the length of its occupation, giving us a clearer picture of the site’s origins and history.”

    The finding suggests that Pachacuti, whose reign set the Inca on the path to becoming pre-Columbian America’s largest and most powerful empire, gained power and began his conquests decades earlier than textual sources indicate. As such, it has implications for people’s wider understanding of Inca history, Burger said.

    “The results suggest that the discussion of the development of the Inca empire based primarily on colonial records needs revision,” he said. “Modern radiocarbon methods provide a better foundation than the historical records for understanding Inca chronology.”

    The AMS technique can date bones and teeth that contain even small amounts of organic material, expanding the pool of remains suitable for scientific analysis. For this study, the researchers used it to analyze human samples from 26 individuals that were recovered from four cemeteries at Machu Picchu in 1912 during excavations led by Yale professor Hiram Bingham III, who had “rediscovered” the site the previous year.

    The bones and teeth used in the analysis likely belonged to retainers, or attendants, who were assigned to the royal estate, the study states. The remains show little evidence of involvement in heavy physical labor, such as construction, meaning that they likely were from the period when the site functioned as a country palace, not when it was being built, the researchers said.

    On Nov. 30, 2010, Yale University and the Peruvian government reached an accord for the return to Peru of the archaeological materials Bingham excavated at Machu Picchu. On Feb. 11, 2011, Yale signed an agreement with the Universidad Nacional de San Antonio Abad del Cusco establishing the International Center for the Study of Machu Picchu and Inca Culture, which is dedicated to the display, conservation, and study of the archaeological collections from Bingham’s 1912 excavations. All human remains and other archaeological materials from Machu Picchu have subsequently been returned to Cusco, the former capital city of the Inca Empire, where they are conserved at the Museo Machu Picchu.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Yale University (US) is a private Ivy League research university in New Haven, Connecticut. Founded in 1701 as the Collegiate School, it is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and one of the nine Colonial Colleges chartered before the American Revolution. The Collegiate School was renamed Yale College in 1718 to honor the school’s largest private benefactor for the first century of its existence, Elihu Yale. Yale University is consistently ranked as one of the top universities and is considered one of the most prestigious in the nation.

    Chartered by Connecticut Colony, the Collegiate School was established in 1701 by clergy to educate Congregational ministers before moving to New Haven in 1716. Originally restricted to theology and sacred languages, the curriculum began to incorporate humanities and sciences by the time of the American Revolution. In the 19th century, the college expanded into graduate and professional instruction, awarding the first PhD in the United States in 1861 and organizing as a university in 1887. Yale’s faculty and student populations grew after 1890 with rapid expansion of the physical campus and scientific research.

    Yale is organized into fourteen constituent schools: the original undergraduate college, the Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and twelve professional schools. While the university is governed by the Yale Corporation, each school’s faculty oversees its curriculum and degree programs. In addition to a central campus in downtown New Haven, the university owns athletic facilities in western New Haven, a campus in West Haven, Connecticut, and forests and nature preserves throughout New England. As of June 2020, the university’s endowment was valued at $31.1 billion, the second largest of any educational institution. The Yale University Library, serving all constituent schools, holds more than 15 million volumes and is the third-largest academic library in the United States. Students compete in intercollegiate sports as the Yale Bulldogs in the NCAA Division I – Ivy League.

    As of October 2020, 65 Nobel laureates, five Fields Medalists, four Abel Prize laureates, and three Turing award winners have been affiliated with Yale University. In addition, Yale has graduated many notable alumni, including five U.S. Presidents, 19 U.S. Supreme Court Justices, 31 living billionaires, and many heads of state. Hundreds of members of Congress and many U.S. diplomats, 78 MacArthur Fellows, 252 Rhodes Scholars, 123 Marshall Scholars, and nine Mitchell Scholars have been affiliated with the university.


    Yale is a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU) (US) and is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity”. According to the National Science Foundation (US), Yale spent $990 million on research and development in 2018, ranking it 15th in the nation.

    Yale’s faculty include 61 members of the National Academy of Sciences (US), 7 members of the National Academy of Engineering (US) and 49 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (US). The college is, after normalization for institution size, the tenth-largest baccalaureate source of doctoral degree recipients in the United States, and the largest such source within the Ivy League.

    Yale’s English and Comparative Literature departments were part of the New Criticism movement. Of the New Critics, Robert Penn Warren, W.K. Wimsatt, and Cleanth Brooks were all Yale faculty. Later, the Yale Comparative literature department became a center of American deconstruction. Jacques Derrida, the father of deconstruction, taught at the Department of Comparative Literature from the late seventies to mid-1980s. Several other Yale faculty members were also associated with deconstruction, forming the so-called “Yale School”. These included Paul de Man who taught in the Departments of Comparative Literature and French, J. Hillis Miller, Geoffrey Hartman (both taught in the Departments of English and Comparative Literature), and Harold Bloom (English), whose theoretical position was always somewhat specific, and who ultimately took a very different path from the rest of this group. Yale’s history department has also originated important intellectual trends. Historians C. Vann Woodward and David Brion Davis are credited with beginning in the 1960s and 1970s an important stream of southern historians; likewise, David Montgomery, a labor historian, advised many of the current generation of labor historians in the country. Yale’s Music School and Department fostered the growth of Music Theory in the latter half of the 20th century. The Journal of Music Theory was founded there in 1957; Allen Forte and David Lewin were influential teachers and scholars.

    In addition to eminent faculty members, Yale research relies heavily on the presence of roughly 1200 Postdocs from various national and international origin working in the multiple laboratories in the sciences, social sciences, humanities, and professional schools of the university. The university progressively recognized this working force with the recent creation of the Office for Postdoctoral Affairs and the Yale Postdoctoral Association.

    Notable alumni

    Over its history, Yale has produced many distinguished alumni in a variety of fields, ranging from the public to private sector. According to 2020 data, around 71% of undergraduates join the workforce, while the next largest majority of 16.6% go on to attend graduate or professional schools. Yale graduates have been recipients of 252 Rhodes Scholarships, 123 Marshall Scholarships, 67 Truman Scholarships, 21 Churchill Scholarships, and 9 Mitchell Scholarships. The university is also the second largest producer of Fulbright Scholars, with a total of 1,199 in its history and has produced 89 MacArthur Fellows. The U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs ranked Yale fifth among research institutions producing the most 2020–2021 Fulbright Scholars. Additionally, 31 living billionaires are Yale alumni.

    At Yale, one of the most popular undergraduate majors among Juniors and Seniors is political science, with many students going on to serve careers in government and politics. Former presidents who attended Yale for undergrad include William Howard Taft, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush while former presidents Gerald Ford and Bill Clinton attended Yale Law School. Former vice-president and influential antebellum era politician John C. Calhoun also graduated from Yale. Former world leaders include Italian prime minister Mario Monti, Turkish prime minister Tansu Çiller, Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo, German president Karl Carstens, Philippine president José Paciano Laurel, Latvian president Valdis Zatlers, Taiwanese premier Jiang Yi-huah, and Malawian president Peter Mutharika, among others. Prominent royals who graduated are Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, and Olympia Bonaparte, Princess Napoléon.

    Yale alumni have had considerable presence in U.S. government in all three branches. On the U.S. Supreme Court, 19 justices have been Yale alumni, including current Associate Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, and Brett Kavanaugh. Numerous Yale alumni have been U.S. Senators, including current Senators Michael Bennet, Richard Blumenthal, Cory Booker, Sherrod Brown, Chris Coons, Amy Klobuchar, Ben Sasse, and Sheldon Whitehouse. Current and former cabinet members include Secretaries of State John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Cyrus Vance, and Dean Acheson; U.S. Secretaries of the Treasury Oliver Wolcott, Robert Rubin, Nicholas F. Brady, Steven Mnuchin, and Janet Yellen; U.S. Attorneys General Nicholas Katzenbach, John Ashcroft, and Edward H. Levi; and many others. Peace Corps founder and American diplomat Sargent Shriver and public official and urban planner Robert Moses are Yale alumni.

    Yale has produced numerous award-winning authors and influential writers, like Nobel Prize in Literature laureate Sinclair Lewis and Pulitzer Prize winners Stephen Vincent Benét, Thornton Wilder, Doug Wright, and David McCullough. Academy Award winning actors, actresses, and directors include Jodie Foster, Paul Newman, Meryl Streep, Elia Kazan, George Roy Hill, Lupita Nyong’o, Oliver Stone, and Frances McDormand. Alumni from Yale have also made notable contributions to both music and the arts. Leading American composer from the 20th century Charles Ives, Broadway composer Cole Porter, Grammy award winner David Lang, and award-winning jazz pianist and composer Vijay Iyer all hail from Yale. Hugo Boss Prize winner Matthew Barney, famed American sculptor Richard Serra, President Barack Obama presidential portrait painter Kehinde Wiley, MacArthur Fellow and contemporary artist Sarah Sze, Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist Garry Trudeau, and National Medal of Arts photorealist painter Chuck Close all graduated from Yale. Additional alumni include architect and Presidential Medal of Freedom winner Maya Lin, Pritzker Prize winner Norman Foster, and Gateway Arch designer Eero Saarinen. Journalists and pundits include Dick Cavett, Chris Cuomo, Anderson Cooper, William F. Buckley, Jr., and Fareed Zakaria.

    In business, Yale has had numerous alumni and former students go on to become founders of influential business, like William Boeing (Boeing, United Airlines), Briton Hadden and Henry Luce (Time Magazine), Stephen A. Schwarzman (Blackstone Group), Frederick W. Smith (FedEx), Juan Trippe (Pan Am), Harold Stanley (Morgan Stanley), Bing Gordon (Electronic Arts), and Ben Silbermann (Pinterest). Other business people from Yale include former chairman and CEO of Sears Holdings Edward Lampert, former Time Warner president Jeffrey Bewkes, former PepsiCo chairperson and CEO Indra Nooyi, sports agent Donald Dell, and investor/philanthropist Sir John Templeton,

    Yale alumni distinguished in academia include literary critic and historian Henry Louis Gates, economists Irving Fischer, Mahbub ul Haq, and Nobel Prize laureate Paul Krugman; Nobel Prize in Physics laureates Ernest Lawrence and Murray Gell-Mann; Fields Medalist John G. Thompson; Human Genome Project leader and National Institutes of Health (US) director Francis S. Collins; brain surgery pioneer Harvey Cushing; pioneering computer scientist Grace Hopper; influential mathematician and chemist Josiah Willard Gibbs; National Women’s Hall of Fame inductee and biochemist Florence B. Seibert; Turing Award recipient Ron Rivest; inventors Samuel F.B. Morse and Eli Whitney; Nobel Prize in Chemistry laureate John B. Goodenough; lexicographer Noah Webster; and theologians Jonathan Edwards and Reinhold Niebuhr.

    In the sporting arena, Yale alumni include baseball players Ron Darling and Craig Breslow and baseball executives Theo Epstein and George Weiss; football players Calvin Hill, Gary Fenick, Amos Alonzo Stagg, and “the Father of American Football” Walter Camp; ice hockey players Chris Higgins and Olympian Helen Resor; Olympic figure skaters Sarah Hughes and Nathan Chen; nine-time U.S. Squash men’s champion Julian Illingworth; Olympic swimmer Don Schollander; Olympic rowers Josh West and Rusty Wailes; Olympic sailor Stuart McNay; Olympic runner Frank Shorter; and others.

  • richardmitnick 9:49 am on July 5, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Aleppo Forever", Ahmed Fatima Kzzo, Archaeology,   

    From University of Zürich (Universität Zürich) (CH): “Aleppo Forever” 

    From University of Zürich (Universität Zürich) (CH)

    5 Jul 2021
    Andres Eberhard

    Ahmed Fatima Kzzo once documented ancient inscriptions in Aleppo that dated back to the Ottoman Empire. Shortly thereafter, large parts of his hometown were reduced to rubble. The Syrian archaeologist is currently researching at UZH under a scholarship.

    Ahmed Fatima Kzzo in Zürich: “I’ve traveled and traveled, basically my whole life.” (Image: Marc Latzel)

    As a boy, Ahmed Fatima Kzzo would often travel across the desert. His father had a job in Saudi Arabia and commuted between there and Aleppo, his family’s hometown. His children often traveled with him, sitting in the back of the car.

    “There was a kind of castle along the road,” recalls Kzzo. “And every time we passed by it, I’d ask my father: ‘Can you stop? I want to see it’.”

    But his father never did. The ruins were most likely too insignificant to warrant a stop. One day, though, while 10-year-old Ahmed was dozing on the back seat, his father did pull over. “My father said, ‘It’s now or never’, and that’s how I ended up climbing over ruins in the middle of the desert, half asleep.”

    No stranger to traveling

    This story tells us two important things about Ahmed Fatima Kzzo, now 37. The first is that he is no stranger to traveling. “I’ve traveled and traveled, basically my whole life,” he says. In 2008, three years before the war, he left Syria, and has since lived in Rome, Bern and Amman. And now in Zürich. But he’s only here until the summer, as that’s when his scholarship from the Zürich Center for the Study of the Ancient World (ZAZH) at the Department of Religious Studies of UZH expires.

    Where will he go next? “No idea.” The Syrian researcher doesn’t sound too preoccupied about his uncertain future plans, though.

    Fascination with historical sites

    The second thing the story about the castle ruins in the desert tells us about Kzzo is that his fascination with historical sites goes way back. Asked why he decided to become an archaeologist, he responds with a laugh: “I have eight siblings. I’m the second youngest. When I joined uni, law and archaeology were the only options left.”

    His answer reveals his keen sense of humor. Of course, it’s no coincidence that Kzzo went into archaeology: “I love discovering historic sites and cultures.”

    Hometown in ruins

    Unfortunately, the past few years have given Kzzo plenty to be sad about. His hometown of Aleppo has been ravaged by three years of war. It has been years since the researcher last saw most of his family. The only family members he’s seen in the past few years are his father and his sister, once in Lebanon. Luckily, Kzzo’s parents and siblings survived the war, but several of his cousins did not.

    In addition to this personal grief, Kzzo is pained by the destruction of his city. Aleppo has become a ghost town. “The city has lost its joy,” the Aleppo native says.

    Designated as a Unesco World Heritage site, the historic city center with its ancient suq (marketplace), its palaces, residential streets, mosques, churches and synagogues – all lie in ruins. Ahmed Kzzo clicks through the photos on his laptop to show the extent of the destruction.

    Minarets used by snipers

    The interior facade of Shaikh Abulhuda Al-Sayyadi’s zawiya (a type of monastery) has been reduced to rubble. A snapshot of him and his friends in the Great Mosque, now a distant memory.

    “It’s a disgrace that all this has been destroyed by the country’s own people,” he says. Who is responsible? “That’s a highly political question. Government forces and Islamist rebels each blame the other side.” It’s obvious, however, that the city’s tall towers and historic minarets were used by snipers at some stage.

    Ottoman mysteries

    In a perhaps ironic twist of fate, in 2007, only a few years before the war, Kzzo and other former students completed a laborious research project in the historic city center of Aleppo. The group of friends volunteered to decipher all the inscriptions that date back to the Ottoman Empire in and around Aleppo. They recorded around 7,000 inscriptions on more than 200 buildings, including mosques, schools, hammams, mausoleums and cemeteries.

    “We had no money, so we had to hitchhike to the more remote places,” recalls the researcher. When asked about his motivation for taking part in this research project, he responds with a laugh: “We just wanted to get our names in the history books.”

    Young and crazy

    Pictures show the young men and women tracing the inscriptions onto transparent paper – amid some daunting circumstances, for example standing on tied-together ladders or sitting atop steep roofs.

    “We were young and crazy,” says Kzzo. Translating the inscriptions proved quite a challenge, since they weren’t only in Arabic, but also in Ottoman Turkish, Armenian and Syriac.

    And it sometimes seemed as if the ancient Ottomans had deliberately wanted to throw off researchers. For instance, rather than a clear date, some foundations featured a line of poetry, with individual letters representing numbers. “Fortunately, the older residents knew about this. Otherwise we would never have figured it out,” says the researcher.

    A three-volume book

    The group’s work was published as a three-volume book in 2010, so in a way, they did end up getting their names in the history books and preserved some of the cultural heritage for posterity.

    A year later the war began, and many of the documented sites were then destroyed. Ahmed Kzzo and his friends are now thinking about setting up a new project using the many pictures they took of the sites all those years ago. “An interactive online map, for example.” Kzzo also gives talks about Aleppo and how it used to look.

    Plundered antiquities

    During his guest stay at UZH, Kzzo is focusing on his postdoc project on scroll seals discovered in the ancient Syrian city of Ebla. These seals were used to verify important documents and could hold the key to understanding a previously unknown part of Syrian history.

    The site of Ebla, just 55 kilometers southwest of current-day Aleppo, was excavated by Italian researchers some 50 years ago [“The Archives of Ebla”-Giovani Pettinato; “Ebla”-Paolo Matthiae; “Eblaitica” edited by Gary Rendsburg; “Eblaite Personal Names and Name Giving”- A. Archi]. “Until then, it was believed that Syria had been under Mesopotamian rule in the centuries before our time,” says the archaeologist. Thanks to the excavations, however, we now know of the independent ancient kingdom of Ebla that existed in Syria.

    The seals, which date back to around 2,000 to 1,500 BC, could shed light on the political life back then. “They might also contain clues as to why Aleppo went on to become more important than other cities in Syria,” believes Kzzo.

    Disheartening side note

    But this project too comes with a disheartening side note. Parts of the ancient site were plundered and destroyed by fighters from the so-called Islamic State – it is believed that antiquities trafficking was one of the terrorist group’s source of funding.

    Ebla saw further destruction as the Syrian Arab Army reclaimed lost territory. And the ongoing civil war in his home country means that Ahmed Kzzo has no other option but to analyze the ancient scroll seals from his computer – using photos.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The University of Zürich (Universität Zürich) (CH), located in the city of Zürich, is the largest university in Switzerland, with over 26,000 students. It was founded in 1833 from the existing colleges of theology, law, medicine and a new faculty of philosophy.

    Currently, the university has seven faculties: Philosophy, Human Medicine, Economic Sciences, Law, Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Theology and Veterinary Medicine. The university offers the widest range of subjects and courses of any Swiss higher education institutions.
    Since 1833

    As a member of the League of European Research Universities (EU) (LERU) and Universitas 21 (U21) network, the University of Zürich belongs to Europe’s most prestigious research institutions. In 2017, the University of Zürich became a member of the Universitas 21 (U21) network, a global network of 27 research universities from around the world, promoting research collaboration and exchange of knowledge.

    Numerous distinctions highlight the University’s international renown in the fields of medicine, immunology, genetics, neuroscience and structural biology as well as in economics. To date, the Nobel Prize has been conferred on twelve UZH scholars.

    Sharing Knowledge

    The academic excellence of the University of Zürich brings benefits to both the public and the private sectors not only in the Canton of Zürich, but throughout Switzerland. Knowledge is shared in a variety of ways: in addition to granting the general public access to its twelve museums and many of its libraries, the University makes findings from cutting-edge research available to the public in accessible and engaging lecture series and panel discussions.

    1. Identity of the University of Zürich


    The University of Zürich (UZH) is an institution with a strong commitment to the free and open pursuit of scholarship.

    Scholarship is the acquisition, the advancement and the dissemination of knowledge in a methodological and critical manner.

    Academic freedom and responsibility

    To flourish, scholarship must be free from external influences, constraints and ideological pressures. The University of Zürich is committed to unrestricted freedom in research and teaching.

    Academic freedom calls for a high degree of responsibility, including reflection on the ethical implications of research activities for humans, animals and the environment.


    Work in all disciplines at the University is based on a scholarly inquiry into the realities of our world

    As Switzerland’s largest university, the University of Zürich promotes wide diversity in both scholarship and in the fields of study offered. The University fosters free dialogue, respects the individual characteristics of the disciplines, and advances interdisciplinary work.

    2. The University of Zürich’s goals and responsibilities

    Basic principles

    UZH pursues scholarly research and teaching, and provides services for the benefit of the public.

    UZH has successfully positioned itself among the world’s foremost universities. The University attracts the best researchers and students, and promotes junior scholars at all levels of their academic career.

    UZH sets priorities in research and teaching by considering academic requirements and the needs of society. These priorities presuppose basic research and interdisciplinary methods.

    UZH strives to uphold the highest quality in all its activities.
    To secure and improve quality, the University regularly monitors and evaluates its performance.


    UZH contributes to the increase of knowledge through the pursuit of cutting-edge research.

    UZH is primarily a research institution. As such, it enables and expects its members to conduct research, and supports them in doing so.

    While basic research is the core focus at UZH, the University also pursues applied research.

  • richardmitnick 1:05 pm on May 17, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Climate change could erase ancient Indonesian cave art", , Archaeology, , , The study revealed evidence for salt crystallisation (haloclasty) on Pleistocene-aged rock art panels at 11 limestone cave sites in Maros-Pangkep.   

    From Griffith University (AU): “Climate change could erase ancient Indonesian cave art” 

    Griffith U bloc

    From Griffith University (AU)

    May 14, 2021
    Carley Rosengreen

    Credit: Basran Burhan.

    Griffith University-led research has revealed that some of the world’s earliest known rock art is disappearing at an alarming rate. This includes cave paintings dated to at least 44,000 years ago that are believed to be the oldest surviving artistic depictions of hunting scenes and supernatural beings.

    In a study published in Scientific Reports, a team of Australian and Indonesian archaeological scientists, conservation specialists and heritage managers documented the mechanisms behind increasing loss of painted limestone cave surfaces in southern Sulawesi, Indonesia.

    Staff from the BPCB conservation agency undertaking rock art monitoring in Maros-Pangkep. Credit: Rustan Lebe.

    Their findings indicate that deterioration of these globally significant artworks is accelerating in step with climate change.

    The study revealed evidence for salt crystallisation (haloclasty) on Pleistocene-aged rock art panels at 11 limestone cave sites in Maros-Pangkep.

    Study lead, Dr Jillian Huntley from the Griffith Centre for Social and Cultural Research, specialises in rock art conservation. Her research scientifically describes the properties of rock art and the caves or rock shelter environments where it survives today.

    Dr Huntley said she was shocked by the extent of salt weathering on the painted limestone cave surfaces in Sulawesi.

    “I was gobsmacked by how prevalent the destructive salt crystals and their chemistry were on the rock art panels, some of which we know to be more than 40,000 years old,” she said.

    Unlike the temperate climates where famous European ice age cave art sites such as Altamira and Lascaux are found, the ancient Indonesian paintings are located in the tropics, the most atmospherically dynamic region on the planet. The mid-latitudes act as the heat engine for global climate cycles, and global warming can be up to three times higher in the tropics as a result.

    Dr Huntley said high temperatures and more consecutive dry days were combining with the retention of monsoonal rains in rice fields and aquaculture ponds to provide ideal conditions for stone decay.

    Climate change could erase ancient Indonesian cave art.

    “Our analyses show that haloclasty is not only chemically weakening the cave surfaces, the growth of salt crystals behind ancient rock art is causing it to flake off the walls – it is disappearing before our eyes,” she said.

    “In my opinion, degradation of this incredible rock art is set to worsen the higher global temperatures climb.”

    The research collaboration was undertaken with specialists from Indonesian peak bodies, the National Research Centre for Archaeology (ARKENAS) and Makassar’s culture heritage department, Balai Pelestarian Cagar Budaya (BPCB).

    ARKENAS director I. Made Geria said: “The rock art of Maros-Pangkep provides crucial insight into the world of ancient Indonesia. Preserving this art for future generations requires the cooperation and long-term commitment of scientific research institutions, cultural heritage agencies, government authorities, and local communities. It also requires us to educate people in Indonesia – and throughout the world – about the urgent need to study and safeguard this irreplaceable evidence of past human civilization.”

    Adhi Agus Oktaviana, an Indonesian rock art expert with ARKENAS and Griffith PhD scholar, said the true extent of the region’s rock art remained unknown.

    “We have recorded over 300 cave art sites in Maros-Pangkep. Our teams continue to survey the area, finding new artworks every year. Almost without exception the paintings are exfoliating and in advanced stages of decay. We are in a race against time,” he said.

    Rustan Lebe, a BPCB archaeologist based in Maros-Pangkep, coordinates an emerging program of rock art and microclimate monitoring in the region. According to Rustan “we have recorded rapid loss of hand-sized spall flakes from these ancient art panels over a single season (less than five months)”.

    “Apart from studying how the salts are forming on the cave walls, it is important to consider the analysis of rock art pigment composition and image production techniques, which could possibly provide insight into why some individual motifs exfoliate more quickly than others.”

    Sulawesian archaeologist and Griffith PhD scholar Basran Burhan was also an integral member of the study team.

    Credit: Linda Siagian.

    “Cave art discoveries are revealing more and more about how advanced the cultural lives of the first peoples living in Sulawesi were. Detailed paintings of animals, hand stencils and narrative scenes of great antiquity show that people have been connected to this place for tens of thousands of years,” he said.

    Aside from the direct impacts associated with industrial development such as mining, altered climate states resulting from global warming are the biggest threat to the preservation of the ice age art of the tropics.

    “The challenges of climate change adaptation for the Indonesian Maritime Continent are complex,” Dr Huntley said.

    “Understanding the mechanisms of rock art weathering is even more critical in this context. Some of the solutions of looming food insecurity such as the expansion of rice fields and aquaculture ponds can have unintended consequences. Holding surface water in these ways enhances humidity, prolonging the seasonal shrink and swell of geological salts, as well as leading to more mineral deposition. All of which leads to rock art degradation.”

    “We urgently need further rock art and conservation research to have the best chance of preserving the Pleistocene cave paintings of Indonesia.”

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Griffith U Campus

    In 1971, Griffith University (AU) was created to be a new kind of university—one that offered new degrees in progressive fields such as Asian studies and environmental science. At the time, these study areas were revolutionary—today, they’re more important than ever.

    Since then, we’ve grown into a comprehensive, research-intensive university, ranking in the top 5% of universities worldwide. Our teaching and research spans five campuses in South East Queensland and all disciplines, while our network of more than 120,000 graduates extends around the world.

    Griffith continues the progressive traditions of its namesake, Sir Samuel Walker Griffith, who was twice the Premier of Queensland, the first Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, and the principal author of the Australian Constitution.


    Griffith researchers work in 38 centres and institutes, investigating areas such as water science, climate change adaptation, criminology and crime prevention, sustainable tourism and health and chronic disease.

    The University’s major research institutes include:

    Advanced Design and Prototyping Technologies Institute (ADaPT)
    Australian Rivers Institute
    Cities Research Institute
    Environmental Futures Research Institute
    Griffith Asia Institute
    Griffith Criminology Institute
    Griffith Institute for Educational Research
    Griffith Institute for Tourism
    Institute for Glycomics
    Institute for Integrated and Intelligent Systems
    Menzies Health Institute Queensland (formerly the Griffith Health Institute)
    Griffith Institute for Drug Discovery (GRIDD)

    Additionally, Griffith hosts several externally supported centres and facilities, including:

    Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention
    National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility
    Smart Water Research Centre
    NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Nursing

    Research commercialisation

    Griffith offers research commercialisation and services for business, industry and government through Griffith Enterprise.

    Other centres

    As well as research centres and institutes, Griffith has a number of cultural and community focused organisations. These include the EcoCentre, which provides a space for environmental education activities, exhibitions, seminars and workshops; and the Centre for Interfaith & Cultural Dialogue (formerly the Multi-Faith Centre).

  • richardmitnick 1:06 pm on February 12, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Stonehenge may be dismantled Welsh stone circle", , Archaeology, , , Waun Mawn stone circle   

    From University College London (UK): “Stonehenge may be dismantled Welsh stone circle” 

    UCL bloc

    From University College London (UK)

    11 February 2021
    Jane Bolger
    +44 (0)20 3108 9040

    The stunning discovery, published in Antiquity, has been secretly documented by filmmakers and is the subject of an exclusive BBC programme, Stonehenge: The Lost Circle Revealed.

    The world-famous monument’s smaller stones, or bluestones, are already known to have come from the Preseli Hills of Wales and are thought to have been first erected 5,000 years ago, centuries before Stonehenge’s larger sarsen stones were brought from just 15 miles away.

    Now, the Stones of Stonehenge research team, led by Professor Mike Parker Pearson (UCL Institute of Archaeology), has identified megalith quarries for the bluestones and a dismantled stone circle nearby, pointing to them being taken from the circle and recycled 140 miles away, perhaps as a result of migration.

    Professor Parker Pearson said: “I have been leading projects at Stonehenge since 2003 and this is the culmination of twenty years of research. It’s one of the most important discoveries I’ve ever made.”

    The find goes a long way to solving the mystery of why the Stonehenge bluestones were brought from so far away, when all other stone circles were erected within a short distance of their quarries.

    Only four stones remain at Waun Mawn, which is now revealed as having been the third biggest stone circle in Britain, after Avebury in Wiltshire and Stanton Drew in Somerset, and also one of the earliest.

    Archaeological excavations in 2018 revealed empty stoneholes at Waun Mawn, confirming that the four remaining stones were part of a former circle. Scientific dating of charcoal and sediments in the holes confirmed that it was put up around 3400 BC.

    Significantly too, both Waun Mawn and Stonehenge were aligned on the midsummer solstice sunrise. One of the bluestones at Stonehenge has an unusual cross-section that matches one of the holes left at Waun Mawn. Chippings in that hole are of the same rock type as the Stonehenge stone. In addition, the Welsh circle had a diameter of 110 metres, the same as that of the ditch that encloses Stonehenge.

    Waun Mawn is further evidence that the Preseli region of Wales was an important and densely settled place in Neolithic Britain, within a concentration of megalithic tombs, or dolmens, and large enclosures. Yet, evidence of activity in the thousand years after 3000 BC is almost non-existent.

    Professor Parker Pearson said: “It’s as if they just vanished. Maybe most of the people migrated, taking their stones – their ancestral identities – with them, to start again in this other special place. This extraordinary event may also have served to unite the peoples of east and west Britain.”

    Recent isotopic analysis of people buried at Stonehenge when the bluestones are thought to have arrived reveals that the first people to be buried there came from western Britain, very possibly west Wales.

    Some 43 bluestones survive today at Stonehenge, although many of these are today buried beneath the grass. Another long-distance mover is the Altar Stone, recently confirmed as sourced from the Brecon Beacons in South Wales.

    Professor Parker Pearson wonders if this too may have been part of another Welsh monument: “With an estimated 80 bluestones put up on Salisbury Plain at Stonehenge and nearby Bluestonehenge, my guess is that Waun Mawn was not the only stone circle that contributed to Stonehenge. Maybe there are more in Preseli waiting to be found. Who knows? Someone might be lucky enough to find them.”

    The Stones of Stonehenge research team is led by UCL with Bournemouth University, the University of Southampton, the University of the Highlands & Islands and Aerial-Cam Ltd.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    UCL campus

    UCL (UK) was founded in 1826 to open up higher education in England to those who had been excluded from it – becoming the first university in England to admit women students on equal terms with men in 1878.

    Academic excellence and research that addresses real-world problems inform our ethos to this day and are central to our 20-year strategy.

  • richardmitnick 11:46 am on January 19, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "A New Archaeology for the Anthropocene Era", Addressing such thoroughly modern challenges as biodiversity; conservation; food security and climate change., , , Archaeology, Archaeology today has a great deal to contribute to addressing the challenges of the modern era., Humans in the present era have become one of the great forces shaping nature., Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History (MPI-SHH) [Max-Planck-Institut für Menschheitsgeschichte] (DE),   

    From Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History (MPI-SHH) [Max-Planck-Institut für Menschheitsgeschichte] (DE): “A New Archaeology for the Anthropocene Era” 

    Max Planck Gesellschaft

    From Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History (MPI-SHH) [Max-Planck-Institut für Menschheitsgeschichte] (DE)

    January 18, 2021
    Prof. Nicole Boivin

    Scantily clad tomb raiders and cloistered scholars piecing together old pots – these are the kinds of stereotypes of archaeology that dominate public perception. Yet archaeology in the new millennium is a world away from these images. In a major new report, researchers from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History probe a thoroughly modern and scientific discipline to understand how it is helping to address the considerable challenges of the Anthropocene.

    Information from disciplines like archaeology, history, historical ecology and palaeoecology has an important role to play in shaping sustainable solutions to the challenges of the Anthropocene. Credit: Michelle O’Reilly, MPI-SHH.

    Indiana Jones and Lara Croft have a lot to answer for. Public perceptions of archaeology are often thoroughly outdated, and these characterisations do little to help.

    Yet archaeology as practiced today bears virtually no resemblance to the tomb raiding portrayed in movies and video games. Indeed, it bears little resemblance to even more scholarly depictions of the discipline in the entertainment sphere.

    A paper published today in Nature Ecology and Evolution aims to give pause to an audience that has been largely prepared to take such out-of-touch depictions at face value. It reveals an archaeology practiced by scientists in white lab coats, using multi-million-euro instrumentation and state of the art computers.

    It also reveals an archaeology poised to contribute in major ways to addressing such thoroughly modern challenges as biodiversity conservation, food security and climate change.

    “Archaeology today is a dramatically different discipline to what it was a century ago,” observes Nicole Boivin, lead author of the study and Director of the Institute’s Department of Archaeology. “While the tomb raiding we see portrayed in movies is over the top, the archaeology of the past was probably closer to this than to present-day archaeology. Much archaeology today is in contrast highly scientific in orientation, and aimed at addressing modern-day issues.”

    Around the world today, we can find many examples of how past cultural and technological practices and solutions are being revived to address pressing environmental and land management challenges. Examples include (left to right) mobilization of ancient terra preta (anthropogenic dark earth) technology, revitalization of landesque capital (long-term landscape investments) and adoption of traditional fire management regimes. Credit: Michelle O’Reilly, MPI-SHH.

    Examining the research contributions of the field over the past few decades, the authors reach a clear conclusion – archaeology today has a great deal to contribute to addressing the challenges of the modern era.

    “Humans in the present era have become one of the great forces shaping nature,” emphasizes Alison Crowther, coauthor and researcher at both the University of Queensland and the MPI Science of Human History. “When we say we have entered a new, human-dominated geological era, the Anthropocene, we acknowledge that role.”

    How can archaeology, a discipline focused on the past, hope to address the challenges we face in the Anthropocene?

    “It is clear that the past offers a vast repertoire of cultural knowledge that we cannot ignore,” highlights Professor Boivin.

    The two researchers show the many ways that data about the past can serve the future. By analysing what worked and didn’t work in the past – effectively offering long-term experiments in human society – archaeologists gain insight into the factors that support sustainability and resilience, and the factors that work against them. They also highlight ancient solutions to modern problems.

    “We show how researchers have improved the modern world by drawing upon information about the ways people in the past enriched soils, prevented destructive fires, created greener cities and transported water without fossil fuels,” notes Dr. Crowther.

    People also continue to use, and adapt, ancient technologies and infrastructure, including terrace and irrigation systems that are in some cases centuries or even millennia old.

    But the researchers are keen to highlight the continued importance of technological and social solutions to climate change and the other challenges of the Anthropocene.

    “It’s not about glorifying the past, or vilifying progress,” emphasizes Professor Boivin. “Instead, it’s about bringing together the best of the past, present and future to steer a responsible and constructive course for humanity.”

    See the full article here.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History (MPI-SHH)[Max-Planck-Institut für Menschheitsgeschichte] (DE) in Jena was founded in 2014 to target fundamental questions of human history and evolution since the Paleolithic. It currently consists of three interdisciplinary research departments that integrate methods and research questions from the natural sciences and the humanities: the Department of Archaeology, the Department of Archaeogenetics, and the Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution.

    The MPI-SHH assembles experts, and large datasets, from research areas as diverse as archaeological science, anthropology, bioinformatics, proteomics, ancient genetics, quantitative linguistics, and others, to explore big questions of the human past:

    the settlement history of the world through past human migrations and genetic admixture events
    the impact of climatic and environmental change on human subsistence in different world regions
    human modification of ecosystems
    past human nutrition
    the spread and diversification of human-associated microbes and infectious diseases
    the spread and diversification of languages, cultures, and social practices
    the co-evolution of genes and culture

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