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  • richardmitnick 10:27 am on January 27, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Why planets have size limits", , , ASU, , ,   

    From Arizona State University via EarthSky: “Why planets have size limits” 

    From Arizona State University

    via

    1

    EarthSky

    January 27, 2020
    Natalie Hinkel, Arizona State University

    Why isn’t there an endless variety of planet sizes in the universe? Why are most planets like those in our solar system: small and rocky, or big and gaseous?

    1
    Artist’s concept of a planet-forming disk made from rock and gas surrounding a young star. Image via NASA/JPL-Caltech/ SwRI/ MSSS/ Gerald Eichstädt/ Seán Doran.

    Scientists have discovered over 4,000 exoplanets outside of our solar system, according to NASA’s Exoplanet Archive.

    Some of these planets orbit multiple stars at the same time. Certain planets are so close to their star that it takes only a handful of days to make one revolution, compared to the Earth which takes 365.25 days. Others slingshot around their star with extremely oblong orbits, unlike the Earth’s circular one. When it comes to how exoplanets behave and where they exist, there are many possibilities.

    And yet, when it comes to sizes of planets, specifically their mass and radius, there are some limitations. And for that, we have physics to blame.

    I am a planetary astrophysicist and I try to understand what makes a planet able to support life. I look at the chemical connection between stars and their exoplanets and how the interior structure and mineralogy of different sized planets compare to each other.

    2
    This sketch illustrates a family tree of exoplanets starting from the protoplanetary disk, which is a swirling disk of gas and dust surrounding a planet (much like a stellar disk but smaller). Gas and dust is pulled onto the planet, depending on the planet’s mass and gravity. Image via NASA/ Ames Research Center/ JPL-Caltech/ Tim Pyle.

    Rocky versus gaseous planets

    In our solar system, we have two kinds of planets: small, rocky, dense planets that are similar to Earth and large, gaseous planets like Jupiter. From what we astrophysicists have detected so far, all planets fall into these two categories.

    In fact, when we look at the data from planet-hunting missions such as the Kepler mission or from the Transiting Exoplanet System Satellite (TESS), there is a gap in the planet sizes.

    NASA/Kepler Telescope, and K2 March 7, 2009 until November 15, 2018

    NASA/MIT TESS replaced Kepler in search for exoplanets

    Namely, there aren’t many planets that fulfill the definition of a super-Earth, with a radius of 1 1/2 to twice Earth’s radius and a mass that is five to 10 times greater.

    So the question is, why aren’t there any super-Earths? Why do astronomers only see small rocky planets and enormous gaseous planets?

    The differences between the two kinds of planets, and the reason for this super-Earth gap, has everything to do with a planet’s atmosphere – especially when the planet is forming.

    When a star is born, a huge ball of gas comes together, starts to spin, collapses in on itself and ignites a fusion reaction within the star’s core. This process isn’t perfect; there is a lot of extra gas and dust left over after the star is formed. The extra material continues to rotate around the star until it eventually forms into a stellar disk: a flat, ring-shaped collection of gas, dust, and rocks.

    During all of this motion and commotion, the dust grains slam into each other, forming pebbles which then grow into larger and larger boulders until they form planets. As the planet grows in size, its mass and therefore gravity increases, allowing it to capture not only the accumulated dust and rocks, but also the gas, which forms an atmosphere.

    There is lots of gas within the stellar disk. After all, hydrogen and helium are the most common elements in stars and in the universe. However, there is considerably less rocky material because only a limited amount was made during star formation.

    3
    Comparison of confirmed super-Earth planets compared to the size of the Earth. Image via NASA/ Ames/ JPL-Caltech.

    The trouble with super-Earths

    If a planet remains relatively small, with a radius less than 1.5 times Earth’s radius, then its gravity is not strong enough to hold onto a huge amount of atmosphere, like what’s on Neptune or Jupiter. If, however, it continues to grow larger, then it captures more and more gas which forms an atmosphere that causes it to swell to the size of Neptune (four times Earth’s radius) or Jupiter (11 times Earth’s radius).

    Therefore, a planet either stays small and rocky, or it becomes a large, gaseous planet. The middle ground, where a super-Earth might be formed, is very difficult because, once it has enough mass and gravitational pull, it needs the exact right circumstances to stop the avalanche of gas from piling onto the planet and puffing it up. This is sometimes referred to as unstable equilibrium, such that when a body (or a planet) is slightly displaced (a little bit more gas is added) it departs further from the original position (and becomes a giant planet).

    Another factor to consider is that once a planet is formed, it doesn’t always stay in the same orbit. Sometimes planets move or migrate towards their host star. As the planet gets closer to the star, its atmosphere heats up, causing the atoms and molecules to move very fast and escape the planet’s gravitational pull. So some of the small rocky planets are actually the cores of bigger planets that have been stripped of their atmosphere.

    So, while there are no super huge rocky planets or small fluffy planets, there is still a huge amount of diversity in planet sizes, geometries and compositions.

    Natalie Hinkel, Planetary Astrophysicist, Senior Research Scientist at the Southwest Research Institute and Co-Investigator for the Nexus for Exoplanet System Science (NExSS), Arizona State University

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

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

    ASU is the largest public university by enrollment in the United States. Founded in 1885 as the Territorial Normal School at Tempe, the school underwent a series of changes in name and curriculum. In 1945 it was placed under control of the Arizona Board of Regents and was renamed Arizona State College. A 1958 statewide ballot measure gave the university its present name.
    ASU is classified as a research university with very high research activity (RU/VH) by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, one of 78 U.S. public universities with that designation. Since 2005 ASU has been ranked among the Top 50 research universities, public and private, in the U.S. based on research output, innovation, development, research expenditures, number of awarded patents and awarded research grant proposals. The Center for Measuring University Performance currently ranks ASU 31st among top U.S. public research universities.

    ASU awards bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in 16 colleges and schools on five locations: the original Tempe campus, the West campus in northwest Phoenix, the Polytechnic campus in eastern Mesa, the Downtown Phoenix campus and the Colleges at Lake Havasu City. ASU’s “Online campus” offers 41 undergraduate degrees, 37 graduate degrees and 14 graduate or undergraduate certificates, earning ASU a Top 10 rating for Best Online Programs. ASU also offers international academic program partnerships in Mexico, Europe and China. ASU is accredited as a single institution by The Higher Learning Commission.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:54 pm on November 6, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Engineers Create Tiny 'Artificial Sunflowers' That Bend Towards The Light", , ASU, Heliotropism, , , SunBOTs, The research team looked to gels and polymers that respond predictably to light or heat.,   

    From UCLA and From Arizona State University via Science Alert: “Engineers Create Tiny ‘Artificial Sunflowers’ That Bend Towards The Light” 

    UCLA bloc

    From UCLA

    and

    ASU Bloc

    From Arizona State University

    via

    ScienceAlert

    Science Alert

    6 NOV 2019
    MIKE MCRAE

    1
    (Qian et al., Nature Nanotechnology, 2019)

    When it comes to squeezing maximum amounts of energy out of the daylight hours, plants have a head start thanks to evolution.

    Now, engineers have designed solar panels that mimic the sunflower’s sun-chasing talent, through clever use of nanotechnology.

    By moulding temperature-sensitive materials into thin, supportive structures, scientists have come up with tiny ‘stems’ that bend towards a bright light source, providing a moving platform that could dramatically improve the efficiency of a range of solar technologies.

    Researchers from the University of California Los Angeles and Arizona State University refer to their system as a sunflower-like biomimetic omnidirectional tracker. Or ‘SunBOT’, if you like your acronyms.

    In biological terms, any general movement in response to specific changes in the environment is described as a nastic behaviour. Flowers that open at dawn and close at dusk are a good example of this.

    Chemists have had little trouble making synthetic nastic materials [International Journal of Smart and Nano Materials] and structures that open and close, or bend and twist in response to changes in light intensity or fluctuating temperatures.

    But nature has another, slightly more complicated behaviour that directs the movements of organisms towards good things and away from threats.

    These tropic behaviours are what we see when sunflowers tilt their flowers to face the Sun, warming their reproductive bits [Science ABC] in order to attract pollinators.

    Sun-chasing actions, or heliotropism, would be mighty handy for things like photovoltaics, which are most efficient when bathed in a dense glow of radiation hitting their surface straight-on, rather than from a more shallow angle.

    In practical terms, compared to rays from an overhead illumination source, light coming in at an angle of around 75 degrees carries as much as 75 percent less energy.

    To solve this problem of oblique-incidence energy-density loss, the research team looked to gels and polymers that respond predictably to light or heat.

    A handful of different materials were selected as candidates worth closer investigation, including a hydrogel containing gold nanoparticles, a tangle of light-sensitive polymers, and a type of liquid crystalline elastomer embedded with a light-absorbing dye.

    Each arrangement was shaped into a millimetre-wide thread several centimetres in length. When targeted by a laser, the tiny artificial stalks responded rapidly to the light’s warmth, shrinking on one side and expanding on the other to cause the thread to kink and lean towards the laser.

    To put their synthetic sunflowers to the test, the researchers assembled an array of SunBOTs and submerged them in water, letting them sit right at the water-air boundary.

    To detect the harvesting capabilities of their invention, the team then determined how much light was converted to heat by measuring the water vapour their setup generated.

    Changes in the amount of vapour indicated that the SunBOTs were up to four times better at harvesting energy at steep angles than a boring old flat, static surface.

    By demonstrating that a variety of materials could serve as a synthetic tropic material, the researchers argue their devices could potentially be a solution for just about any system that experiences a loss of efficiency due to a moving energy source.

    For example, lawns of these miniature sun-worshippers could theoretically be used to tilt just about any solar process towards the light, from itty-bitty solar cells to evaporation devices that can purify water.

    According to the SunBOTs’ designers, the sky (if not beyond!) seems to be the limit for this kind of technology.

    “This work may be useful for enhanced solar harvesters, adaptive signal receivers, smart windows, self-contained robotics, solar sails for spaceships, guided surgery, self-regulating optical devices, and intelligent energy generation (for example, solar cells and biofuels), as well as energetic emission detection and tracking with telescopes, radars and hydrophones,” they write in their report.

    Even if just a handful of those predictions eventuates into real-world use, the future of synthetic tropic materials is certainly looking brighter.

    This research was published in Nature Nanotechnology.

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    ASU is the largest public university by enrollment in the United States. Founded in 1885 as the Territorial Normal School at Tempe, the school underwent a series of changes in name and curriculum. In 1945 it was placed under control of the Arizona Board of Regents and was renamed Arizona State College. A 1958 statewide ballot measure gave the university its present name.
    ASU is classified as a research university with very high research activity (RU/VH) by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, one of 78 U.S. public universities with that designation. Since 2005 ASU has been ranked among the Top 50 research universities, public and private, in the U.S. based on research output, innovation, development, research expenditures, number of awarded.

    UC LA Campus

    For nearly 100 years, UCLA has been a pioneer, persevering through impossibility, turning the futile into the attainable.

    We doubt the critics, reject the status quo and see opportunity in dissatisfaction. Our campus, faculty and students are driven by optimism. It is not naïve; it is essential. And it has fueled every accomplishment, allowing us to redefine what’s possible, time after time.

    This can-do perspective has brought us 12 Nobel Prizes, 12 Rhodes Scholarships, more NCAA titles than any university and more Olympic medals than most nations. Our faculty and alumni helped create the Internet and pioneered reverse osmosis. And more than 100 companies have been created based on technology developed at UCLA.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:13 pm on January 26, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ASU, ASU School of Earth and Space Exploration, , , Star-Planet Activity Research CubeSat or SPARCS for short   

    From ASU: “ASU astronomers to build space telescope to explore nearby stars” 

    ASU Bloc

    ASU

    January 10, 2018
    Robert Burnham

    In 2021, a spacecraft the size of a Cheerios box will carry a small telescope into Earth orbit on an unusual mission. Its task is to monitor the flares and sunspots of small stars to assess how habitable the space environment is for planets orbiting them.

    The spacecraft, known as the Star-Planet Activity Research CubeSat, or SPARCS for short, is a new NASA-funded space telescope.

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    The SPARCS space telescope is CubeSat that will be built at ASU out of six cubical modules, each about four inches on a side. The plan is for students to be involved the design and construction of the spacecraft to provide educational and training opportunities to become future engineers, scientists, and mission leaders. Image by ASU.

    The mission, including spacecraft design, integration and resulting science, is led by Arizona State University’s School of Earth and Space Exploration (SESE).

    “This is a mission to the borderland of astrophysics and astrobiology,” said Evgenya Shkolnik, assistant professor in SESE and principal investigator for the SPARCS mission. “We’re going to study the habitability and high-energy environment around stars that we call M dwarfs.”

    She announced the mission Jan. 10, 2018, at the 231st meeting of the American Astronomical Society, in Washington, D.C.

    “We’re aiming to show that small space telescopes like SPARCS can answer big science questions.”

    — Assistant Professor Evgenya Shkolnik

    The stars that SPARCS will focus on are small, dim, and cool by comparison to the sun. Having less than half the sun’s size and temperature, they shine with barely one percent its brightness.

    The choice of target stars for SPARCS might seem counterintuitive. If astronomers are looking for exoplanets in habitable environments, why bother with stars that are so different from the sun? An answer lies in the numbers.

    To start with, M dwarfs are exceedingly common. They make up three-quarters of all the stars in our Milky Way galaxy, outnumbering sun-like stars 20 to 1.

    Astronomers have discovered that essentially every M dwarf star has at least one planet orbiting it, and about one system in four has a rocky planet located in the star’s habitable zone. This is the potentially life-friendly region where temperatures are neither too hot nor too cold for life as we know it, and liquid water could exist on the planet’s surface.

    Because M dwarfs are so plentiful, astronomers estimate that our galaxy alone contains roughly 40 billion — that’s billion with a B — rocky planets in habitable zones around their stars. This means that most of the habitable-zone planets in our galaxy orbit M dwarfs. In fact, the nearest one, dubbed Proxima b, lies just 4.2 light-years away, which is on our doorstep in astronomical terms.

    So as astronomers begin to explore the environment of exoplanets that dwell in other stars’ habitable zones, M dwarf stars figure large in the search.

    Taking the pulse of active stars

    According to Shkolnik, while M dwarf stars are small and cool, they are more active than the sun, with flares and other outbursts that shoot powerful radiation into space around them. But no one knows exactly how active these small stars are. Over its one-year nominal mission, SPARCS will stare at target stars for weeks at a time in hopes of solving the puzzle.

    The heart of the SPARCS spacecraft will be a telescope with a diameter of 9 centimeters, or 3.6 inches, plus a camera with two ultraviolet-sensitive detectors to be developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Both the telescope and camera will be optimized for observations using ultraviolet light, which strongly affects the planet’s atmosphere and its potential to harbor life on the surface.

    “People have been monitoring M dwarfs as best they can in visible light. But the stars’ strongest flares occur mainly in the ultraviolet, which Earth’s atmosphere mostly blocks,” Shkolnik said.

    Although the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope can view stars at ultraviolet wavelengths unhindered, its overcrowded observing schedule would let it dedicate only the briefest of efforts to M dwarfs.

    “Hubble provides us with lots of detail on a few stars over a short time. But for understanding their activity we need long looks at many stars instead of snapshots of a few,” said Shkolnik.

    Capturing lengthy observations of M dwarfs will let astronomers study how stellar activity affects planets that orbit the star.

    “Not only are M dwarfs more active than the sun when they are old, they remain more active for longer,” Shkolnik said. “By the time it was 10 million years old, the sun had become much less active and it has been decreasing steadily ever since. But M dwarfs can remain active for 300 to 600 million years, with some of the smallest M stars flaring often essentially forever.”

    Build local, fly global

    SPARCS will follow in the footsteps of other space instruments and probes originating from SESE. Already on its way to asteroid Bennu (arrival August 2018) is the OSIRIS-REx Thermal Emission Spectrometer (OTES).

    NASA OSIRIS REX OTES

    In the pipeline are the Phoenix CubeSat (built by an all-student team to study the local climate effects of cities on Earth), LunaH-Map (to measure lunar hydrogen as a proxy for water), the Europa Thermal Emission Imaging System (to seek temperature anomalies on Jupiter’s moon Europa), the Lucy Thermal Emission Spectrometer (to measure surface properties among Jupiter’s family of trojan asteroids), and Psyche, a mission to study an asteroid made wholly of nickel and iron.

    3
    Phoenix CubeSat 6th iteration of the spacecraft, and the most current as of August 2017

    4
    LunaH-Map

    4
    Europa Clipper Model Payload

    6
    Psyche

    “Building SPARCS at ASU will give students educational and training opportunities to become future engineers, scientists and mission leaders.”

    — Assistant Professor Evgenya Shkolnik

    Like LunaH-Map, SPARCS is a CubeSat built of six cubical units, each about four inches on a side. These are joined to make a spacecraft two units wide by three long in what is termed a 6U spacecraft. Solar power panels extend like wings from one end.

    “In size and shape, SPARCS most resembles a family-size box of Cheerios,” Shkolnik said.

    The spacecraft will contain three major systems — the telescope, the camera, and the operational and science software. Along with Shkolnik, SESE astronomers Paul Scowen, Daniel Jacobs, and Judd Bowman will oversee the development of the telescope and camera, plus the software and the systems engineering to pull it all together.

    The telescope uses a mirror system with coatings optimized for ultraviolet light. Together with the camera, the system can measure very small changes in the brightness of M dwarf stars to carry out the primary science of the mission. The instrument will be tested and calibrated at ASU in preparation for flight before being integrated into the rest of the spacecraft.

    “We’ll have limited radio communications with SPARCS, so we plan to do quite a bit of data processing on board using the central computer,” said Jacobs. “We’ll be writing that software here at ASU, using a prototype of the spacecraft and camera to test our code.”

    After launch, Jacobs said the team will do science operations at ASU, connecting up to SPARCS via a global ground station network.

    A key part of the mission plan, Shkolnik said, is to involve graduate and undergraduate students in various roles. This will give them with educational and training opportunities to become future engineers, scientists, and mission leaders.

    “The fast pace for development — from lab to launch might be as short as a couple of years — works well with student timescales,” Shkolnik said. “They can work on it, start to finish, in the time they’re here at ASU.”

    Small package, big science

    Joining ASU in the SPARCS mission are scientists from the University of Washington, the University of Arizona, Lowell Observatory, the SouthWest Research Institute, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

    “The SPARCS mission will show how, with the right technology, small space telescopes can answer big science questions,” Shkolnik said.

    These include, she says, “How likely is it that we humans are alone in the universe? Where should we look for habitable planets? And can we find a new and more fruitful understanding of what makes an exoplanet system habitable?”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Explore the universe using science and engineering
    The School of Earth and Space Exploration, or SESE (pronounced “see-see”), takes a new approach to education and research and the exploration of our universe.


    ASU School of Earth and Space Exploration campus
    Science and engineering — essential for developing new instruments to explore Earth and space — are the foundation of our programs, which also emphasize the role of technology in advancing scientific knowledge.

    And we believe strongly in the power of cross-disciplinary collaboration. That’s why we bring together scientists from a variety of disciplines within SESE — and collaborate closely with other science and engineering programs at the university — to gain a better understanding of our Earth and the universe beyond.

    We invite you to learn more about our exciting research and groundbreaking projects.

    ASU is the largest public university by enrollment in the United States.[11] Founded in 1885 as the Territorial Normal School at Tempe, the school underwent a series of changes in name and curriculum. In 1945 it was placed under control of the Arizona Board of Regents and was renamed Arizona State College.[12][13][14] A 1958 statewide ballot measure gave the university its present name.
    ASU is classified as a research university with very high research activity (RU/VH) by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, one of 78 U.S. public universities with that designation. Since 2005 ASU has been ranked among the Top 50 research universities, public and private, in the U.S. based on research output, innovation, development, research expenditures, number of awarded patents and awarded research grant proposals. The Center for Measuring University Performance currently ranks ASU 31st among top U.S. public research universities.[15]

    ASU awards bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in 16 colleges and schools on five locations: the original Tempe campus, the West campus in northwest Phoenix, the Polytechnic campus in eastern Mesa, the Downtown Phoenix campus and the Colleges at Lake Havasu City. ASU’s “Online campus” offers 41 undergraduate degrees, 37 graduate degrees and 14 graduate or undergraduate certificates, earning ASU a Top 10 rating for Best Online Programs.[16] ASU also offers international academic program partnerships in Mexico, Europe and China. ASU is accredited as a single institution by The Higher Learning Commission.

    ASU Tempe Campus
    ASU Tempe Campus

     
  • richardmitnick 11:27 am on July 29, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ASU, , , ,   

    From ASU: “ASU astronomers find young galaxies that appeared soon after the Big Bang” 

    ASU Bloc

    ASU

    7.25.17

    Using powerful Dark Energy Camera in Chile, researchers reach the cosmic dawn.

    Dark Energy Survey


    Dark Energy Camera [DECam], built at FNAL


    NOAO/CTIO Victor M Blanco 4m Telescope which houses the DECam at Cerro Tololo, Chile, housing DECam at an altitude of 7200 feet

    ASU astronomers Sangeeta Malhotra and James Rhoads, working with international teams in Chile and China, have discovered 23 young galaxies, seen as they were 800 million years after the Big Bang. The results from this sample have been recently published in The Astrophysical Journal.

    3
    False color image of a 2 square degree region of the LAGER survey field, created from images taken in the optical at 500 nm (blue), in the near-infrared at 920 nm (red), and in a narrow-band filter centered at 964 nm (green). The small white boxes indicate the positions of the 23 LAEs discovered in the survey. The detailed insets (yellow) show two of the brightest LAEs. Credit Zhenya Zheng (SHAO) & Junxian Wang (USTC).

    Long ago, about 300,000 years after the beginning of the universe (the Big Bang), the universe was dark. There were no stars or galaxies, and the universe was filled with neutral hydrogen gas. In the next half-billion years or so, the first galaxies and stars appeared. Their energetic radiation ionized their surroundings, illuminating and transforming the universe.

    This dramatic transformation, known as re-ionization, occurred sometime in the interval between 300 million years and 1 billion years after the Big Bang. Astronomers are trying to pinpoint this milestone more precisely, and the galaxies found in this study help in this determination.

    “Before re-ionization, these galaxies were very hard to see, because their light is scattered by gas between galaxies, like a car’s headlights in fog,” Malhotra said. “As enough galaxies turn on and ‘burn off the fog’ they become easier to see. By doing so, they help provide a diagnostic to see how much of the ‘fog’ remains at any time in the early universe.”

    ALMA Schematic diagram of the history of the Universe. The Universe is in a neutral state at 400 thousand years after the Big Bang, until light from the first generation of stars starts to ionise the hydrogen. After several hundred million years, the gas in the Universe is completely ionised. Credit. NAOJ

    The galaxy search using the ASU-designed filter and DECam is part of the ongoing “Lyman Alpha Galaxies in the Epoch of Reionization” project (LAGER). It is the largest uniformly selected sample that goes far enough back in the history of the universe to reach cosmic dawn.

    “The combination of large survey size and sensitivity of this survey enables us to study galaxies that are common but faint, as well as those that are bright but rare, at this early stage in the universe,” said Malhotra.

    Junxian Wang, a co-author on this study and the lead of the Chinese LAGER team, adds that “our findings in this survey imply that a large fraction of the first galaxies that ionized and illuminated the universe formed early, less than 800 million years after the Big Bang.”

    The next steps for the team will be to build on these results. They plan to continue to search for distant star-forming galaxies over a larger volume of the universe and to further investigate the nature of some of the first galaxies in the universe.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    ASU is the largest public university by enrollment in the United States.[11] Founded in 1885 as the Territorial Normal School at Tempe, the school underwent a series of changes in name and curriculum. In 1945 it was placed under control of the Arizona Board of Regents and was renamed Arizona State College.[12][13][14] A 1958 statewide ballot measure gave the university its present name.
    ASU is classified as a research university with very high research activity (RU/VH) by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, one of 78 U.S. public universities with that designation. Since 2005 ASU has been ranked among the Top 50 research universities, public and private, in the U.S. based on research output, innovation, development, research expenditures, number of awarded patents and awarded research grant proposals. The Center for Measuring University Performance currently ranks ASU 31st among top U.S. public research universities.[15]

    ASU awards bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in 16 colleges and schools on five locations: the original Tempe campus, the West campus in northwest Phoenix, the Polytechnic campus in eastern Mesa, the Downtown Phoenix campus and the Colleges at Lake Havasu City. ASU’s “Online campus” offers 41 undergraduate degrees, 37 graduate degrees and 14 graduate or undergraduate certificates, earning ASU a Top 10 rating for Best Online Programs.[16] ASU also offers international academic program partnerships in Mexico, Europe and China. ASU is accredited as a single institution by The Higher Learning Commission.

    ASU Tempe Campus
    ASU Tempe Campus

     
  • richardmitnick 1:04 pm on December 30, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: apolipoprotein E (ApoE) gene, , ASU, ,   

    From ASU via phys.org: “New study shows cognitive decline may be influenced by interaction of genetics and… worms” 

    ASU Bloc

    ASU

    phys.org

    phys.org

    1
    A depiction of the double helical structure of DNA. Its four coding units (A, T, C, G) are color-coded in pink, orange, purple and yellow. Credit: NHGRI

    You’ve likely heard about being in the right place at the wrong time, but what about having the right genes in the wrong environment? In other words, could a genetic mutation (or allele) that puts populations at risk for illnesses in one environmental setting manifest itself in positive ways in a different setting?

    That’s the question behind a recent paper published in The FASEB Journal by several researchers including lead author Ben Trumble, an assistant professor at Arizona State University’s School of Human Evolution and Social Change and ASU’s Center for Evolution and Medicine.

    These researchers examined how the apolipoprotein E (ApoE) gene might function differently in an infectious environment than in the urban industrialized settings where ApoE has mostly been examined. All ApoE proteins help mediate cholesterol metabolism, and assist in the crucial activity of transporting fatty acids to the brain. But in industrialized societies, ApoE4 variant carriers also face up to a four-fold higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease and other age-related cognitive declines, as well as a higher risk for cardiovascular disease.

    The goal of this study, Trumble explains, was to reexamine the potentially detrimental effects of the globally-present ApoE4 allele in environmental conditions more typical of those experienced throughout our species’ existence—in this case, a community of Amazonian forager-horticulturalists called the Tsimane.

    “For 99% of human evolution, we lived as hunter gatherers in small bands and the last 5,000-10,000 years—with plant and animal domestication and sedentary urban industrial life—is completely novel,” Trumble says. “I can drive to a fast-food restaurant to ‘hunt and gather’ 20,000 calories in a few minutes or go to the hospital if I’m sick, but this was not the case throughout most of human evolution.”

    Due to the tropical environment and a lack of sanitation, running water, or electricity, remote populations like the Tsimane face high exposure to parasites and pathogens, which cause their own damage to cognitive abilities when untreated.

    As a result, one might expect Tsimane ApoE4 carriers who also have a high parasite burden to experience faster and more severe mental decline in the presence of both these genetic and environmental risk factors.

    But when the Tsimane Health and Life History Project tested these individuals using a seven-part cognitive assessment and a medical exam, they discovered the exact opposite.

    In fact, Tsimane who both carried ApoE4 and had a high parasitic burden displayed steadier or even improved cognitive function in the assessment versus non-carriers with a similar level of parasitic exposure. The researchers controlled for other potential confounders like age and schooling, but the effect still remained strong. This indicated that the allele potentially played a role in maintaining cognitive function even when exposed to environmental-based health threats.

    For Tsimane ApoE4 carriers without high parasite burdens, the rates of cognitive decline were more similar to those seen in industrialized societies, where ApoE4 reduces cognitive performance.

    “It seems that some of the very genetic mutations that help us succeed in more hazardous time periods and environments may actually become mismatched in our relatively safe and sterile post-industrial lifestyles,” Trumble explains.

    Still, the ApoE4 variant appears to be much more than an evolutionary leftover gone bad, he adds. For example, several studies have shown potential benefits of ApoE4 in early childhood development, and ApoE4 has also been shown to eliminate some infections like giardia and hepatitis.

    “Alleles with harmful effects may remain in a population if such harm occurs late in life, and more so if those same alleles have other positive effects,” adds co-author Michael Gurven, professor of anthropology at University of California, Santa Barbara. “Exploring the effects of genes associated with chronic disease, such as ApoE4, in a broader range of environments under more infectious conditions is likely to provide much-needed insight into why such ‘bad genes’ persist.”

    The abstract and full research paper “Apolipoprotein E4 is associated with improved cognitive function in Amazonian forager-horticulturalists with a high parasite burden” can be viewed here in The FASEB Journal

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    ASU is the largest public university by enrollment in the United States.[11] Founded in 1885 as the Territorial Normal School at Tempe, the school underwent a series of changes in name and curriculum. In 1945 it was placed under control of the Arizona Board of Regents and was renamed Arizona State College.[12][13][14] A 1958 statewide ballot measure gave the university its present name.
    ASU is classified as a research university with very high research activity (RU/VH) by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, one of 78 U.S. public universities with that designation. Since 2005 ASU has been ranked among the Top 50 research universities, public and private, in the U.S. based on research output, innovation, development, research expenditures, number of awarded patents and awarded research grant proposals. The Center for Measuring University Performance currently ranks ASU 31st among top U.S. public research universities.[15]

    ASU awards bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in 16 colleges and schools on five locations: the original Tempe campus, the West campus in northwest Phoenix, the Polytechnic campus in eastern Mesa, the Downtown Phoenix campus and the Colleges at Lake Havasu City. ASU’s “Online campus” offers 41 undergraduate degrees, 37 graduate degrees and 14 graduate or undergraduate certificates, earning ASU a Top 10 rating for Best Online Programs.[16] ASU also offers international academic program partnerships in Mexico, Europe and China. ASU is accredited as a single institution by The Higher Learning Commission.

    ASU Tempe Campus
    ASU Tempe Campus

     
  • richardmitnick 3:48 pm on October 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ASU, , TolTEC camera   

    From ASU: “In international experiment, ASU astronomers explore mysteries of star formation” 

    ASU Bloc

    ASU

    Uniquely sensitive camera, with optics and electronics designed and built at ASU, will probe into giant clouds of interstellar dust.

    How do stars form deep inside clouds of molecular gas? What’s the history of star formation throughout cosmic time? When did the first stars form? And how did they produce the materials necessary for life on Earth?

    A group of astronomers at Arizona State University is seeking answers to such questions as part of an international experiment that has been awarded more than $6 million in funding from the National Science Foundation to help build a uniquely sensitive camera, called TolTEC, to probe these mysteries.

    “Half the light from stars in the universe is absorbed by clouds of interstellar dust and then re-radiated at long wavelengths invisible to the human eye,” said Philip Mauskopf, of Arizona State University’s School of Earth and Space Exploration (SESE). “Astronomical observations at these wavelengths can let us see into the cores of stellar nurseries where new stars are forming.”

    Mauskopf, a professor in SESE, is the leader of the ASU team that will design and construct the optics for the new camera. The team will also develop the electronics for producing images from the instrument’s superconducting detectors.

    Big eye

    The new camera will be attached to a giant telescope in Mexico. On top of the 15,000-foot Sierra Negra in the state of Puebla sits the Large Millimeter Telescope , with a 50-meter (164-foot) diameter main mirror.

    Large Millimeter Telescope Alfonso Serrano, Mexico
    Large Millimeter Telescope Alfonso Serrano, Mexico

    It is the largest telescope in the world designed to operate at a wavelength of 1 millimeter, ideal for making detailed study of the dusty universe. The construction of this telescope, with contributions from the University of Massachusetts, has been the biggest scientific project in the history of Mexico.

    In addition to Mauskopf, the ASU team includes postdoctoral scholar Sean Bryan, electrical engineer Hamdi Mani, mechanical engineer Matt Underhill as well as graduate student and NASA Earth and Space Science fellow Sam Gordon and Barrett Honors College student Rhys Kelso.

    “To get the best images, we have to supercool the optics and the superconducting detectors,” Mauskopf said. “While developing this kind of superconducting technology can be difficult, the detectors and readout electronics we are using for TolTEC are very similar to ones we have already developed for use on balloon-borne telescopes at shorter wavelengths.”

    Once the TolTEC camera is completed, it will be mounted on the Large Millimeter Telescope and begin a two-year program of three large sky surveys covering hundreds of square degrees. These surveys will target regions where there are known dust clouds in our own galaxy. They will also target regions where there is relatively little local dust so that more distant objects are visible for comparison with deep optical images containing large numbers of galaxies.

    Major step forward

    Observations that require today’s telescopes five years to complete will be done in a little more than a week with TolTEC.

    “It’s hard to grasp the increased capabilities of the new instrument,” said Grant Wilson of UMass, principal investigator for TolTEC. “The combination of the new camera and the LMT requires a new outlook on what types of investigations are possible.”

    The details of the TolTEC surveys will be worked out in consultation with the international astronomical community through a series of workshops led by members of the TolTEC scientific advisory board. Data from the surveys will be made public as quickly as possible to allow the maximum scientific return.

    The data from TolTEC will enable cosmologists, such as SESE’s Evan Scannapieco, to trace the mysterious mechanism that is shutting off star formation in giant galaxies. It will also help astronomers including SESE’s Judd Bowman, Rogier Windhorst, James Rhoads and Sangeeta Malhotra, who are using other methods to directly observe the oldest and most distant galaxies responsible for the re-ionization of the hydrogen gas in the early universe.

    “Designing and building this camera will be a wonderful hands-on opportunity for SESE students and researchers,” Mauskopf said. “And the end result will be a powerful new tool for studying the universe.”

    Other partners in TolTEC include the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Northwestern University, the University of Michigan, Cardiff University (UK), and the National Institute of Astrophysics, Optics and Electronics in Mexico.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    ASU is the largest public university by enrollment in the United States.[11] Founded in 1885 as the Territorial Normal School at Tempe, the school underwent a series of changes in name and curriculum. In 1945 it was placed under control of the Arizona Board of Regents and was renamed Arizona State College.[12][13][14] A 1958 statewide ballot measure gave the university its present name.
    ASU is classified as a research university with very high research activity (RU/VH) by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, one of 78 U.S. public universities with that designation. Since 2005 ASU has been ranked among the Top 50 research universities, public and private, in the U.S. based on research output, innovation, development, research expenditures, number of awarded patents and awarded research grant proposals. The Center for Measuring University Performance currently ranks ASU 31st among top U.S. public research universities.[15]

    ASU awards bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in 16 colleges and schools on five locations: the original Tempe campus, the West campus in northwest Phoenix, the Polytechnic campus in eastern Mesa, the Downtown Phoenix campus and the Colleges at Lake Havasu City. ASU’s “Online campus” offers 41 undergraduate degrees, 37 graduate degrees and 14 graduate or undergraduate certificates, earning ASU a Top 10 rating for Best Online Programs.[16] ASU also offers international academic program partnerships in Mexico, Europe and China. ASU is accredited as a single institution by The Higher Learning Commission.

    ASU Tempe Campus
    ASU Tempe Campus

     
  • richardmitnick 12:15 pm on June 23, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ASU, ,   

    From ASU: “Psyche: Journey to a Metal World” 

    ASU Bloc

    ASU

    Undated entry
    No writer credit

    1
    Psyche is both the name of an asteroid orbiting between Mars and Jupiter — and the name of an ASU-proposed mission to visit that asteroid. The mission was chosen by NASA as a semi-finalist for the agency’s Discovery Program, a series of low-cost missions to solar system targets. NASA is expected to make its decision by late 2016.

    If the Psyche Mission is chosen for flight, the spacecraft will likely launch in 2020 and travel to the asteroid using solar-electric (low-thrust) propulsion. After a six-year cruise, the mission plan calls for one Earth year spent in orbit around the asteroid, mapping it and studying its properties.

    Psyche, the asteroid

    Only the 16th minor planet to be discovered — hence its formal designation, 16 Psyche — the asteroid was found in 1852 by Italian astronomer Annibale de Gasparis, who named it for the Greek mythological figure Psyche.

    What gives 16 Psyche great scientific interest is that it is made of metal. It appears to be the exposed nickel-iron core of a protoplanet, one of the building blocks of the Sun’s planetary system. At 16 Psyche scientists will explore, for the first time ever, a world made not of rock or ice, but of metal.

    The asteroid is most likely a survivor of violent hit-and-run collisions, common when the solar system was forming. Thus 16 Psyche may be able to tell us how Earth’s core and the cores of the other terrestrial planets came to be.

    Every world explored so far by humans has a surface of ice or rock or a mixture of the two. Deep within the terrestrial planets, including Earth, scientists infer the presence of metallic cores, but these lie unreachably far below the planets’ rocky mantles and crusts. Because we cannot see or measure Earth’s core directly, 16 Psyche offers a unique window into the violent history of collisions and accretion that created the terrestrial planets.

    2

    16 Psyche follows an orbit in the outer part of the main asteroid belt, at an average distance from the Sun of 3 astronomical units (AU); Earth orbits at 1 AU. Psyche is large (about 150 miles in diameter), dense (7,000 kg/m³), and made almost entirely of nickel-iron metal. It is the only known place in our solar system where we can examine directly what is almost certainly a metallic core.

    What is Psyche’s story? One scenario is that long ago, a protoplanet that had separated internally into a rocky mantle and iron core suffered violent impacts that stripped away its mantle, leaving only the metal core. Or is Psyche a survivor of some more unusual process not yet imagined? What can it tell us about how planets everywhere form and about what’s inside the Earth, Mars, Venus, and Mercury?

    The science goals of the Psyche Mission are to understand these building blocks of planet formation and to explore first-hand a wholly new and unexplored type of world. The mission team seeks to determine whether Psyche really is a protoplanetary core, how old it is, whether it formed in similar ways to the Earth’s core, and what its surface is like.

    Psyche, the mission

    If selected by NASA for flight, the Psyche Mission will launch in November 2020. Following a six-year cruise to 16 Psyche, the spacecraft will arrive in 2026. Plans calls for it to spend 12 months at the asteroid, performing science operations from four staging orbits, which become successively closer.

    3

    The spacecraft’s instrument payload includes magnetometers, multispectral imagers, a gamma ray and neutron spectrometer, and a radio-science experiment.

    4

    The Psyche Multispectral Imager
    The Multispectral Imager provides high-resolution images using filters to discriminate between 16 Psyche’s metallic and silicate constituents. The instrument consists of a pair of identical cameras designed to acquire geologic, compositional, and topographic data. The purpose of the second camera is to provide redundancy for mission-critical optical navigation. The science team is based at Arizona State University.

    • Psyche Gamma Ray and Neutron Spectrometer
    The Gamma Ray and Neutron Spectrometer will detect, measure, and map 16 Psyche’s elemental composition. The instrument is mounted on a 2-m boom to distance the sensors from background radiation created by energetic particles interacting with the spacecraft and to provide an unobstructed field of view. The science team is based at the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University.

    • Psyche Magnetometer
    The Psyche Magnetometer is designed to detect and measure the remanent magnetic field of the asteroid. It is composed of two identical high-sensitivity magnetic field sensors located at the middle and outer end of a 2-m (6-foot) boom. The science team is based at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California Los Angeles.

    • Radio Science
    The Psyche mission will use the X-band radio telecommunications system to measure 16 Psyche’s gravity field to high precision. When combined with topography derived from onboard imagery, this will provide information on the interior structure of Psyche. The science team is based at MIT and JPL.
    Science team

    Principal investigator Lindy Elkins-Tanton, director of ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration (SESE), heads the Psyche Mission scientific team. Other SESE scientists include Jim Bell (deputy principal investigator and co-investigator), Erik Asphaug (co-investigator), and David Williams (co-investigator).

    Other co-investigators are David Bercovici (Yale), Bruce Bills (JPL), Richard Binzel (MIT), William Bottke (SwRI), Ralf Jaumann (DLR), Insoo Jun (JPL), David Lawrence (APL), Simon Marchi (SwRI), Timothy McCoy (Smithsonian), Ryan Park (JPL), Patrick Peplowski (APL), Carol Polanskey (JPL), Carol Raymond (JPL), Benjamin Weiss (MIT), Dan Wenkert (JPL), Mark Wieczorek (IPGP), and Maria Zuber (MIT).
    Science partners

    Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR), General Dynamics, Glenn Research Center (GRC), Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (IPGP), Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Malin Space Science Systems (MSSS), Planetary Science Institute (PSI), Smithsonian Institution, Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), Space Systems/Loral (SSL), Tesat Spacecom, University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), Yale University.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    ASU is the largest public university by enrollment in the United States.[11] Founded in 1885 as the Territorial Normal School at Tempe, the school underwent a series of changes in name and curriculum. In 1945 it was placed under control of the Arizona Board of Regents and was renamed Arizona State College.[12][13][14] A 1958 statewide ballot measure gave the university its present name.
    ASU is classified as a research university with very high research activity (RU/VH) by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, one of 78 U.S. public universities with that designation. Since 2005 ASU has been ranked among the Top 50 research universities, public and private, in the U.S. based on research output, innovation, development, research expenditures, number of awarded patents and awarded research grant proposals. The Center for Measuring University Performance currently ranks ASU 31st among top U.S. public research universities.[15]

    ASU awards bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in 16 colleges and schools on five locations: the original Tempe campus, the West campus in northwest Phoenix, the Polytechnic campus in eastern Mesa, the Downtown Phoenix campus and the Colleges at Lake Havasu City. ASU’s “Online campus” offers 41 undergraduate degrees, 37 graduate degrees and 14 graduate or undergraduate certificates, earning ASU a Top 10 rating for Best Online Programs.[16] ASU also offers international academic program partnerships in Mexico, Europe and China. ASU is accredited as a single institution by The Higher Learning Commission.

    ASU Tempe Campus
    ASU Tempe Campus

     
  • richardmitnick 1:18 pm on May 9, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ASU, , Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek joins ASU,   

    From ASU: “Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek joins ASU” 

    ASU Bloc

    ASU

    5.9.16

    1

    Frank Wilczek, a theoretical physicist and mathematician who shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2004, is joining Arizona State University as a professor in the physics department.

    Wilczek will work on a variety of important issues in theoretical physics. He will also be organizing workshops to gather the best and brightest physicists worldwide at ASU to help propel the advancement of the discipline. He is the second Nobel Prize-winning professor to join ASU in the last week.

    “At a minimum I will be giving lectures to advance students on frontier topics, basically what I’m working on,” he said. “It’s also quite possible I will try to involve students at earlier stages in some of the more practical work, where they don’t need as much theoretical background.”

    Wilczek said he’s looking for a new adventure, and his move to Arizona State will be another step in the evolution of an existing relationship.

    “(My wife) Betsy and I have visited ASU regularly for the past several years,” he said. “We’ve had many great experiences in the Tempe and Phoenix community already. We’ve been impressed with the visionary ambition and dynamism of the university in general, and with its encouragement of new scientific and cross-disciplinary initiatives in particular. I’m looking forward to exciting adventures in advancing the frontiers of science, sharing it and putting it to use in coming years.”

    Wilczek received his bachelor of science in mathematics at the University of Chicago in 1970, a master of arts in mathematics at Princeton University in 1972, and a PhD in physics at Princeton University in 1974. Currently he is the Herman Feshbach professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

    Wilczek, along with David Gross and H. David Politzer, was awarded the Nobel for their discovery of asymptotic freedom in the theory of the strong interaction.

    Theoretical physicist and cosmologist Lawrence KraussKrauss is a Foundation Professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and director of its Origins Project. called Wilczek the pre-eminent theoretical physicist of his generation.

    “Yes, he won the Nobel Prize for work he did as a graduate student when he was 21, but that just tells a small part of the story,” Krauss said. “He is a true polymath, working in and mastering almost every area of physics, but his interests range far more broadly. …

    “What has interested Frank in ASU in particular is the breadth of work being done here, the highly interactive transdisciplinary atmosphere — which Origins in particular benefits from — and the openness of the university, from the president on down, to new ideas.”

    Ferran Garcia-Pichel, dean of natural sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, said he looked forward to Wilczek’s contributions to the university.

    “He is sure to contribute seminally to the development of theoretical physics at ASU and to the teaching and mentoring of our students, as he has already done during previous stays as a visiting professor,” Garcia-Pichel said. “He will definitely help us attract the field’s center of gravity closer to home.”

    Garcia-Pichel announced Wednesday that Sidney Altman, who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1989, will join the School of Life Sciences at ASU.

    On a trip to Arizona this past January, Wilczek toured an art installation called “Field of Lights” at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix.

    The display, by the artist Bruce Munro, consists of thousands of spheres of colored light, slowly pulsating and strewn across the desert.

    Wilczek wrote in a column for the Wall Street Journal that as he walked among the lights, “I felt I’d gotten an inkling of what thought looks like.”

    That experience, he wrote, changed the way he thinks about the brain, and himself, and it helped him conceive of a potentially innovative way of teaching the complexity of the brain.

    “Frank Wilczek’s quest for different ways of examining some of the most complicated questions and ideas fits perfectly with ASU’s distinguished faculty and the university’s principles of finding your own path to discovery, both in learning and research,” said Mark Searle, ASU’s executive vice president and university provost.

    Wilczek’s Nobel Prize-winning work focused on the strong force, one of the four fundamental forces in nature, together with gravity, electromagnetism and the weak force.

    “At the early part of the 20th century, when people looked at the interior of atoms, they found that the classic forces — gravity and electromagnetism — were inadequate,” Wilczek said. “Two new forces were required — the strong and the weak force. … There was a long period of exploration. It’s not easy to access the new forces, because nuclei are so small. [In the Nobel Prize-winning work] we put together some key experimental observations, together with the principles of quantum mechanics and relativity, to propose a complete, precise set of equations for the strong force: the theory known as quantum chromodynamics, or QCD. We made many predictions based on this work, which proved to be correct.”

    Wilczek and his colleagues discovered, theoretically, new subatomic particles called color gluons, which, he said, “hold atomic nuclei together.” Color gluons were subsequently observed experimentally.

    His current research strikes a balance between theoretical ideas and observable phenomena, like applying particle physics to cosmology and the application of field theory techniques to condensed matter physics. He described it as “more nitty-gritty experimental realities.”

    “If anything, in recent years my work has gotten more down to earth,” Wilczek said. “As time has gone on, my interests have expanded. I haven’t lost my interest in fundamental cosmology. … What I hope to accomplish is to continue the same sort of thing I’ve always done, which is look for new opportunities.

    “I’m a theorist, not an experimentalist, so it doesn’t take me long to change from one subject to another. … I’m going to be looking into applications that are driven by our increasing control of the quantum world. I’ve also been exploring classical applications, like the physical basis of perception.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    ASU is the largest public university by enrollment in the United States.[11] Founded in 1885 as the Territorial Normal School at Tempe, the school underwent a series of changes in name and curriculum. In 1945 it was placed under control of the Arizona Board of Regents and was renamed Arizona State College.[12][13][14] A 1958 statewide ballot measure gave the university its present name.
    ASU is classified as a research university with very high research activity (RU/VH) by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, one of 78 U.S. public universities with that designation. Since 2005 ASU has been ranked among the Top 50 research universities, public and private, in the U.S. based on research output, innovation, development, research expenditures, number of awarded patents and awarded research grant proposals. The Center for Measuring University Performance currently ranks ASU 31st among top U.S. public research universities.[15]

    ASU awards bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in 16 colleges and schools on five locations: the original Tempe campus, the West campus in northwest Phoenix, the Polytechnic campus in eastern Mesa, the Downtown Phoenix campus and the Colleges at Lake Havasu City. ASU’s “Online campus” offers 41 undergraduate degrees, 37 graduate degrees and 14 graduate or undergraduate certificates, earning ASU a Top 10 rating for Best Online Programs.[16] ASU also offers international academic program partnerships in Mexico, Europe and China. ASU is accredited as a single institution by The Higher Learning Commission.

    ASU Tempe Campus
    ASU Tempe Campus

     
  • richardmitnick 8:21 am on February 23, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ASU, , High pressure technology, Origin of Earth's Water   

    From ASU: “ASU receives $1.5M Keck Foundation award to study the origin of Earth’s water” 

    ASU Bloc

    Arizona State University

    February 16, 2016
    Karin Valentine
    480-965-9345
    Karin.Valentine@asu.edu

    Arizona State University has received a $1.5 million award from the W.M. Keck Foundation’s Science and Engineering Research Grant Program to study the origin of Earth’s water and hydrogen.

    The project, entitled “Water from the Heavens: The Origins of Earth’s Hydrogen,” will be headed by Principal Investigator and Regents’ Professor Peter Buseck, of the School of Earth and Space Exploration and the School of Molecular Sciences.

    “True to the Sun Devil spirit, Professor Buseck’s team proposal was ambitious in scope, innovative in approach, and ripe with transformative potential. We are delighted to see the Keck Foundation’s decided endorsement of this attempt to tackle one of the most intriguing controversies in planetary genesis,” says CLAS Natural Science Dean Ferran Garcia-Pichel.

    Buseck and his team will seek to answer the fundamental question of where the water on Earth originally came from. The path to understanding this leads to experiments that measure how hydrogen behaved among the metallic elements in the core and mantle of the early Earth.

    “The origin of Earth’s water and hydrogen is a long-debated, yet unsolved mystery,” says Buseck.

    While current models dismiss the theory that a significant source of hydrogen is from the early Earth’s gas cloud, the team’s theory, referred to as the “ingassing hypothesis” would require that substantial amounts of hydrogen be removed from the mantle and stored in the core. This has not been an easy theory to test, however, because of the complexity of simulating the extreme pressure and temperature deep within Earth.

    To overcome these challenges, Buseck and his team have developed breakthrough high-pressure techniques using transmission electron microscopes and diamond-anvil cells, both located on the ASU Tempe campus.

    Diamond Anvil cell
    Greatly enlarged pair of diamonds used to squeeze a spherical carbon container (shown schematically with a chicken-wire appearance) that will provide high pressures to the enclosed iron metal (show in red). Photo Credit: S.-H. Shim and Jun Wu.

    If successful, the method would significantly advance high-pressure technology.

    “Support for the hypothesis would be a cosmochemical game-changer, potentially shifting the framework of our understanding of the origin of water, noble gases, and other volatiles on Earth and rocky exoplanets,” says Buseck. “This could have significant consequences for our understanding of planetary habitability.”

    The Experiment team is led by Buseck and Assistant Research Professor Jun Wu, with Associate Professor Sang-Heon Shim and Associate Research Professional Kurt Leinenweber.

    The Analysis team is led by Assistant Research Scientist Stephen Romaniello and President’s Professor Ariel Anbar, along with Regents’ Professor and Center for Stable Isotopes Director Zachary Sharp at the University of New Mexico.

    The Theory team is led by Professor Steven Desch and Foundation Professor Linda Elkins-Tanton.

    ASU is one of only six universities this year to receive a Keck Foundation award in the Science and Engineering Research Grant category.

    The W. M. Keck Foundation was established in 1954 by William Myron Keck, founder of The Superior Oil Company. Mr. Keck envisioned a philanthropic institution that would provide far-reaching benefits for humanity, supporting pioneering discoveries in science, engineering and medical research.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    ASU is the largest public university by enrollment in the United States.[11] Founded in 1885 as the Territorial Normal School at Tempe, the school underwent a series of changes in name and curriculum. In 1945 it was placed under control of the Arizona Board of Regents and was renamed Arizona State College.[12][13][14] A 1958 statewide ballot measure gave the university its present name.
    ASU is classified as a research university with very high research activity (RU/VH) by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, one of 78 U.S. public universities with that designation. Since 2005 ASU has been ranked among the Top 50 research universities, public and private, in the U.S. based on research output, innovation, development, research expenditures, number of awarded patents and awarded research grant proposals. The Center for Measuring University Performance currently ranks ASU 31st among top U.S. public research universities.[15]

    ASU awards bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in 16 colleges and schools on five locations: the original Tempe campus, the West campus in northwest Phoenix, the Polytechnic campus in eastern Mesa, the Downtown Phoenix campus and the Colleges at Lake Havasu City. ASU’s “Online campus” offers 41 undergraduate degrees, 37 graduate degrees and 14 graduate or undergraduate certificates, earning ASU a Top 10 rating for Best Online Programs.[16] ASU also offers international academic program partnerships in Mexico, Europe and China. ASU is accredited as a single institution by The Higher Learning Commission.

    ASU Tempe Campus
    ASU Tempe Campus

     
  • richardmitnick 9:03 am on December 17, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ASU, ,   

    From Sandia: “Sandia, ASU collaborate on algae computational modeling, look for algae pond predators” 


    Sandia Lab

    December 17, 2015
    Michael Padilla
    mjpadil@sandia.gov
    (925) 294-2447

    1
    Sandia National Laboratories researcher Jerilyn Timlin serves as a principal investigator for the Algal Predator and Pathogen Signature Verification project. (Photo by Randy Montoya)

    Work part of a broader framework for funding energy-related science, technology

    Sandia National Laboratories and Arizona State University (ASU) have teamed up to further improve computational models of algae growth in raceway ponds that can predict performance, improve pond design and operation and discover ways to improve algae yield outdoors.

    Such ponds consist of an oval-shaped closed-loop channel — or raceway — in which the cultivation mixture of water and algae is propelled to flow around the raceway and undergo mixing by a paddlewheel powered by an electric motor.

    In addition, Sandia and ASU will further develop spectroradiometric techniques to optically monitor the growth and health of algae pond cultivation in real-time and detect early warnings of predators and pathogens in outdoor algal ponds.

    The work is part of a newly signed Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) between ASU and Sandia to collaborate on algae-based biofuels, solar fuels, concentrating solar technologies, photovoltaics, electric grid modernization and the energy-water nexus. The umbrella CRADA also covers international applications of the technologies and science and engineering education. The topics were first identified in a 2013 memo of understanding between Sandia and ASU focusing on collaborations to support science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, fields.

    This is the first CRADA Sandia has executed with a university in nearly 15 years and is currently the only active umbrella CRADA with an institution of higher education. The algae cultivation modeling and monitoring projects are the first two efforts funded under this umbrella CRADA.

    Sandia researcher Ron Pate said Sandia brings distinctive capabilities for physics-based modeling of algae cultivation systems performance and for remote spectroradiometric monitoring and diagnostics of algae growth and state of health, while ASU has a variety of algae species under cultivation in outdoor ponds in a range of scales in which to take measurements.

    “Sandia is excited about the collaboration with ASU,” Pate said. “This agreement allows Sandia to continue modeling and monitoring work that we have been pursuing with ASU since 2013 under the original ATP3 (Algae Testbed Public-Private Partnership) project.” Pate serves as deputy director for ATP3, overseeing Sandia technical tasks under the project.

    The ATP3 project was established to support the algae research and development community and industry to advance the field and help accelerate progress toward more rapid and successful commercialization of algae-based technologies for fuels and products. ATP3 is funded by the DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Bioenergy Technologies Office. ATP3 partners include Sandia, ASU, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta and the algae companies San Diego-based Cellana Inc. with algae cultivation facilities in Kona, Hawaii, Commercial Algae Management in Franklin, North Carolina and Florida Algae in Vero Beach, Florida.

    Two projects exercise new Sandia, ASU CRADA

    The first project under the agreement, Algal Cultivation Growth Dynamic Modeling and Analysis, focuses on the further development of a Sandia algae growth model based on the effect of light, temperature, nutrients, pH and salinity integrated into an open raceway pond hydrodynamic computational fluid dynamics model. The algae growth model has been partially validated utilizing multiple data sets from partners involved in ATP3. Under the CRADA, the modeling will be further refined through improvement of the paddlewheel driven pond circulation flow and mixing portion of the model based on the application of hydrodynamic measurement data taken from experimental testing with progressively larger scale outdoor ponds operated by ATP3 partners.

    The 12-month project, led by principal investigators Patricia Gharagozloo from Sandia and John McGowen from ASU, will be conducted in two phases. The first phase will study the flow dynamics of turbulence models and control parameters in open raceway ponds, which are currently the most promising outdoor cultivation system approach for cost-effectively growing algae at the large scales required for producing fuels. In this phase, ASU will measure the spatial variations in velocity of the flow of algae-water mix in the ponds at various paddlewheel speeds.

    The second phase will calibrate the model and verify the appropriate turbulence physics to be accounted for at certain scales of ponds for one paddlewheel speed. After the two phases, a study will be conducted to compare the data with model results at additional paddlewheel speeds.

    The second 12-month project, Algal Predator and Pathogen Signature Verification, looks at exploring and exploiting the various detailed optical signatures that arise when the algae cultivation pond surface is monitored using Sandia’s optical spectroradiometric techniques. These techniques can differentiate algae growth and state of health and provide an early warning of the active presence of predators and pathogens in outdoor algal ponds. Sandia researcher Jerilyn Timlin and McGowen are the principal investigators for this project. Sandia researcher Tom Reichardt, who pioneered the original technology as part of a bioscience Laboratory Directed Research & Development project, also serves as technical contributor to the project.

    During the first phase of this project, controlled experiments will be conducted in the laboratory with a host-pathogen-predator pair that the team has seen cause problems in the field in order to understand the parameters that control culture collapse and identify spectral markers that indicate the presence of the pathogen or predator. The second phase will consist of experiments in the field to determine how well the identified spectral markers predict the presence of the pathogen or predator in the challenges of an outdoor environment.

    “The continuation of the technical work related to algae biofuels, which began under the ATP3 project, is a great opportunity to exercise this new Sandia-ASU CRADA,” Pate said. “However, collaborative work on the other STEM topic areas could also be pursued in the future as funding becomes available and the mutual interest exists at ASU and Sandia.”

    See the full article here .

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    Sandia National Laboratory

    Sandia National Laboratories is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corporation, for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies, and economic competitiveness.
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