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  • richardmitnick 2:01 pm on January 21, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: CMU-Carnegie Mellon University, CREATE Lab, EarthTime, Savvy Use of Data, Technology Tells the Planet's Story   

    From Carnegie Mellon University: “Savvy Use of Data, Technology Tells the Planet’s Story” 


    From Carnegie Mellon University

    January 18, 2019
    Byron Spice

    The story of EarthTime begins on Mars.

    EarthTime today is a technological platform that helps people comprehend massive amounts of data about our planet and come to grips with our biggest global challenges. But 15 years ago, people just wanted to see what the Red Planet looked like.

    When NASA’s Spirit and Opportunity rovers landed on Mars in 2004, they began sending back mesmerizing photos of the bleak landscape. Each of the panoramic images actually was composed of many smaller images, which were electronically stitched together to create a sweeping vista.

    NASA/Mars Spirit Rover

    NASA/Mars Opportunity Rover


    Carnegie Mellon University has created EarthTime, a tool that takes massive data sets from around the world, then creates interactive visualizations for users. It has become an annual mainstay at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

    NASA, Google and Carnegie Mellon University’s CREATE Lab in 2006 would adapt this technique for a system they called GigaPan, which made it possible for any earthling to combine multiple digital images to create detailed panoramas. And in 2011, the CREATE Lab took it a step further by enabling the visual exploration of both space and time, establishing the skeleton of what would eventually be called EarthTime.

    At the time, they called it GigaPan Time Machine. The initial emphasis was on photographic and video imagery, but within a year they added a data set that would lead to conceptual change in the platform’s evolution.

    “We started with a very simple data set that also turns out to be extremely explanatory,” said Randy Sargent, initially a computer scientist at NASA Ames Research Center who split time with CMU and Google during the system’s development and is now a senior systems scientist with the CREATE Lab. “We started with all of the Landsat images from the beginning of [NASA’s] Landsat program, so we could go back to 1984 and show how the surface of the planet had changed.

    NASA Operational Land Imager on LandSat 8


    NASA LandSat 8

    “It shows the changes in cities, the birth of cities. It shows flooding. It shows things like deforestation. It shows the incredible expansion of agriculture. There’s just so many things you get from that data set. And that was the one that kind of brought all of the other data sets together.”

    Now, project leaders no longer focus just on the technology, but also on the process of gathering geolocated data and finding ways to use the data to tell stories.


    Current international refugee infrastructure cannot accommodate the record high number of people in the modern refugee crisis. Carnegie Mellon University’s EarthTime software visualizes the causes and possible solutions.

    “EarthTime is a narrative technique for changing the way people think about the Earth and the people on the Earth,” said Illah Nourbakhsh, the K&L Gates Professor of Ethics and Computational Technologies and director of the Robotics Institute’s CREATE Lab.

    That has meant reaching out to more than 800 researchers and data keepers around the globe — sources such as the United Nations, U.S. Geological Survey and the London School of Health and Tropical Disease. To maintain EarthTime as an authoritative and neutral source of facts, all of this data must be peer-reviewed and defensible and, of course, must be publicly available.

    “It starts with a shake of a hand with somebody who directs that organization, who agrees that they’re going to give us data to make the world a better place,” Nourbakhsh said.

    Data is not only stored in different places, but in different formats — online data bases, Google tables, Excel worksheets. So the CREATE Lab has created a special file system that can digest the data in a form that can be shared through a regular web browser.

    “Almost everyone who gives us data has a hard time looking at their own data, ironically,” Nourbakhsh said. “Once they give it to us and we digest it, we use Carnegie Mellon servers to make that data available to anybody anywhere through a web browser. And that means even those organizations that have given us the data can benefit.”

    2
    As technology changes, Randy Sargent, Paul Dille, Illah Nourbakhsh and Gabriel O’Donnel created have continued to expand and evolve EarthTime.

    The project scientists also work with topic experts who can provide crucial context for understanding the data and use the data to create meaningful stories. All of the data is geolocated so it can be superimposed on a map, but researchers also must find visual tropes that are appropriate for displaying it. Using existing tropes, such as bubbles, dots or color, some data sets can be processed into EarthTime in a matter of days; if new tropes are required, such as a GPS coordinate for every oil tanker on Earth over time, the process can take weeks or months.

    “I hope that in three or four years, the process of ingesting data is near automatic,” said Gabriel O’Donnell, principal research programmer. “Anybody or any researcher that has a data set that is complementary to the platform could ingest it without our help.”

    In the early years, researchers needed to hand out copies of their work on hard drives. But last Earth Day, working with the World Economic Forum, the CREATE Lab was able to launch EarthTime as a website, making the tool and its massive database broadly available.

    “The EarthTime system we invented necessarily had to deal with hundreds of data layers and trillions of data points at a level that nobody needed to solve before,” Nourbakhsh said. That required technological innovation in machine learning, graphic design, computer vision and human-computer interaction typified by Carnegie Mellon.

    “One of the things we’re working the hardest on now is the ability for more and more people to author their own stories using the data sets we’ve brought together,” Sargent said. That means reaching out to and training journalists, educators, stakeholder organizations, corporations and even community activists.

    “If a housing activist group needs to explain what’s happening in a particular neighborhood,” Sargent said, “we’d love to have them use this tool.”

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Carnegie Mellon Campus

    Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is a global research university with more than 12,000 students, 95,000 alumni, and 5,000 faculty and staff.
    CMU has been a birthplace of innovation since its founding in 1900.
    Today, we are a global leader bringing groundbreaking ideas to market and creating successful startup businesses.
    Our award-winning faculty members are renowned for working closely with students to solve major scientific, technological and societal challenges. We put a strong emphasis on creating things—from art to robots. Our students are recruited by some of the world’s most innovative companies.
    We have campuses in Pittsburgh, Qatar and Silicon Valley, and degree-granting programs around the world, including Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and Latin America.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:39 pm on January 21, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , CMU's CREATE Lab, CMU-Carnegie Mellon University, Paul Dille, World Economic Forum in Davos   

    From Carnegie Mellon University: “Deep CMU Roots Led CREATE Lab Staffer to EarthTime” Paul Dille 


    From Carnegie Mellon University

    January 18, 2019
    Robert Vickers

    As a Lego-loving child, Paul Dille had visions of being an architect. But the native of Pittsburgh’s North Hills suburbs was always destined for the CREATE Lab at Carnegie Mellon University.

    Dille’s mother worked as an auditor at Carnegie Mellon. And his older brother earned three degrees at the prestigious Pittsburgh university known as a trailblazer in computing, engineering and artificial intelligence.

    “We knew CMU quite well,” said Dille, who graduated in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Information Systems from the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

    But unlike many of his undergraduate peers who jetted off to Silicon Valley to seek their fortunes by founding promising tech startups, Dille had his eye on a more substantive career path.

    “I always wanted to apply my skills to something that could benefit people,” he said. “I didn’t want to work on something where the end goal was to make money. Even if just one person’s life is better from something I’ve created, to me that’s something worthwhile.”

    1

    Dille, a senior software developer at CMU’s CREATE Lab, found the start to his substantive career path during his undergraduate studies.

    “I interned at CREATE Lab when I was in my junior year,” Dille said. “My brother put me in touch with the lab. He’d done a little bit of work here when he was a student. And now it’s become like a family to me.”

    Dille’s adopted CMU family is well known among global thought leaders through EarthTime, a website that enables users to visualize the cumulative effects of local and global influences.

    Illuminating issues such as air pollution, deforestation and trade, EarthTime has become a sought-after feature of the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

    Although Dille draws upon his childhood Lego hobby when building the machines that the CREATE Lab team take to Davos each year, he takes pride in developing the user interface.

    “It’s interesting to me because it’s often the forgotten part and not done well by software developers,” he said. “But that part is going to be what connects the user to your product. And if it’s hard to use, or there’s 10 million ways to do something, the user is not going to want to use it. You could have the fastest algorithm in the world, but if the system hard to use, you’ve failed from day one.”

    Dille hopes to couple the fame EarthTime has built at the World Economic Forum and its early applications to Pittsburgh transit and housing issues to encourage more widespread local use of EarthTime in schools.

    “We’ve hit the point now that we have so much data that we really need to look at how the public can better engage with it,” Dille said. “If a social studies teacher in North Dakota can pull up EarthTime and say: ‘Here are 10 things that fit my lesson plan,’ that would be awesome.”

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Carnegie Mellon Campus

    Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is a global research university with more than 12,000 students, 95,000 alumni, and 5,000 faculty and staff.
    CMU has been a birthplace of innovation since its founding in 1900.
    Today, we are a global leader bringing groundbreaking ideas to market and creating successful startup businesses.
    Our award-winning faculty members are renowned for working closely with students to solve major scientific, technological and societal challenges. We put a strong emphasis on creating things—from art to robots. Our students are recruited by some of the world’s most innovative companies.
    We have campuses in Pittsburgh, Qatar and Silicon Valley, and degree-granting programs around the world, including Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and Latin America.

     
  • richardmitnick 5:57 am on October 8, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Building Better Biomaterials, , CMU-Carnegie Mellon University   

    From CMU: “Building Better Biomaterials” 

    Carnegie Mellon University

    October 06, 2017
    Jocelyn Duffy

    Carnegie Mellon University chemist Krzysztof Matyjaszewski, with collaborators at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Akron, have come up with a methodology that fine tunes the characteristics of brush polymers, allowing them to more closely mimic the characteristics of biological materials. Their technique is published as a letter in the Sept. 28 issue of Nature.

    1
    The mechanical diversity of biological and synthetic materials is illustrated by uniaxial tensile stress–strain curves, which reveal combinations of properties that range from ‘rigid and brittle’ to ‘soft and elastic’ when the material undergoes extension from an initial length L0 to length L.

    2
    Tensile testing (measuring true stress, σtrue, versus uniaxial elongation, λ) of brush-like PDMS elastomers that are defined by different [nsc, ng, nx] triplets demonstrates the mechanical diversity of the brush- and comb-like elastomer library.

    3
    We synthesized PDMS bottlebrushes, combs and plastomers with the mechanical properties of biological materials. This graph shows these properties (circles, bottlebrushes with ng  2; squares, ABA copolymers (plastomers)), along with the properties of brain ( ), arteries ( ), lungs ( ), eye lens ( ) and jellyfish ( ).

    Synthetic chemists have tried for decades to create materials that mimic biological materials for use in medical implants, prosthetics, tissue engineering and soft robotics, but they have struggled to create materials that have the same combinations of strength, flexibility and softness as those found in biological tissue.

    As a rule, when chemists make linear polymers with elastic properties called elastomers, they can make the materials stiff or stretchy, but not both. This makes producing strong, flexible materials like those needed for many biomaterials extremely difficult. In addition, linear polymers are made by trial and error and often involve mixing different chemicals and solvents, which limits chemists’ ability to control the material’s properties and can make the material non-biocompatible by causing inflammation.

    Matyjaszewski and colleagues recommend brush polymers as a more viable candidate for creating biomaterials. Brush polymers are not limited by the strength and elasticity rules of linear polymers. Their well-defined properties can be predicted and altered across three variables: network strand length, side-chain length and grafting density. Additionally, they can be made without the inclusion of fillers or solvents.

    In Nature, the group reports that they used controlled radical polymerization (CRP) methods to create a library of brush polymers. CRP techniques, such as atom transfer radical polymerization – developed by Matyjaszewski more than 20 years ago – allowed them to systematically vary the three variables for each polymer and create a well-defined reference set that researchers can use to reverse engineer a polymer architecture to closely mimic a given biological tissue.

    To demonstrate the effectiveness of the library, the researchers successfully used the catalogue to create replicas of jellyfish tissue and lung and arterial tissue, and plan to expand their studies to other biological materials.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Carnegie Mellon Campus

    Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is a global research university with more than 12,000 students, 95,000 alumni, and 5,000 faculty and staff.
    CMU has been a birthplace of innovation since its founding in 1900.
    Today, we are a global leader bringing groundbreaking ideas to market and creating successful startup businesses.
    Our award-winning faculty members are renowned for working closely with students to solve major scientific, technological and societal challenges. We put a strong emphasis on creating things—from art to robots. Our students are recruited by some of the world’s most innovative companies.
    We have campuses in Pittsburgh, Qatar and Silicon Valley, and degree-granting programs around the world, including Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and Latin America.

     
  • richardmitnick 4:41 pm on August 4, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , CMU-Carnegie Mellon University, , , , Scott Dodelson   

    From CMU: “Scott Dodelson Appointed Head of Department of Physics” 

    Carnegie Mellon University logo
    Carnegie Mellon University

    [It is rare that I would post about such an appointment. But Scott Dodelson is a rare bird.]
    [This post is dedicated to J.L.T. Jack, keep your eye on this guy and CMU.]

    August 3, 2017
    Jocelyn Duffy

    1
    Scott Dodelson

    Renowned physicist Scott Dodelson has been named the head of the Department of Physics in Carnegie Mellon University’s Mellon College of Science.

    Dodelson conducts research at the interface between particle physics and cosmology, examining the phenomena of dark energy, dark matter, inflation and cosmological neutrinos.

    He is the co-chair of the Science Committee for the Dark Energy Survey (DES), an international collaboration that aims to map hundreds of millions of galaxies, detect thousands of supernovae and find patterns of cosmic structure in an attempt to reveal the nature of dark energy.

    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

    On Aug. 3, the DES released results that measured the structure of the universe to the highest level of precision yet.

    Dodelson also works with the South Pole Telescope and the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST).

    South Pole Telescope

    The South Pole Telescope studies the Cosmic Microwave Background to gain a better understanding of inflation, dark energy and neutrinos. The LSST, which is currently being built in Chile, will survey the sky for a decade, creating an enormous data set that will help scientists determine the properties of dark energy and dark matter and the composition and history of our solar system.

    LSST


    LSST Camera, built at SLAC



    LSST telescope, currently under construction at Cerro Pachón Chile, a 2,682-meter-high mountain in Coquimbo Region, in northern Chile, alongside the existing Gemini South and Southern Astrophysical Research Telescopes.

    Dodelson was attracted to CMU in part by the physics department’s varied areas of strength and the leadership role the department’s McWilliams Center for Cosmology and its faculty play in a number of large, international cosmological surveys, including LSST and the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.

    “Within the McWilliams Center, I found kindred spirits in the faculty who are leading scientific projects aimed at understanding the universe, but I was equally attracted to the department’s strong groups in biological physics, condensed matter and nuclear and particle physics,” said Dodelson. “I’m excited to learn about these diverse fields and connect with other departments throughout the university.”

    Under Dodelson’s leadership, the physics department will partner with other departments within the Mellon College of Science through a new theory center and continue to collaborate with colleagues in statistics, computer science and engineering. Dodelson also hopes to increase the department’s partnerships with other universities and research initiatives worldwide and bring physics to the community through outreach programs.

    “I was drawn by the university’s enthusiasm for foundational research,” Dodelson said. “The physics department will strive to bring this excitement to students, alumni and the broader community.”

    Dodelson comes to Carnegie Mellon from the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), where he was a distinguished scientist, and the University of Chicago where he was a professor in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics and Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics. While at Fermilab, Dodelson served as head of the Theoretical Astrophysics Group and co-founder and interim director of the Center for Particle Astrophysics.

    Dodelson earned a joint B.A./B.S. degree in applied physics and a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Columbia University. He completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Harvard University.

    Dodelson will assume the position of department head from Stephen Garoff who has served as head since 2013.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Carnegie Mellon Campus

    Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is a global research university with more than 12,000 students, 95,000 alumni, and 5,000 faculty and staff.
    CMU has been a birthplace of innovation since its founding in 1900.
    Today, we are a global leader bringing groundbreaking ideas to market and creating successful startup businesses.
    Our award-winning faculty members are renowned for working closely with students to solve major scientific, technological and societal challenges. We put a strong emphasis on creating things—from art to robots. Our students are recruited by some of the world’s most innovative companies.
    We have campuses in Pittsburgh, Qatar and Silicon Valley, and degree-granting programs around the world, including Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and Latin America.

     
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