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  • richardmitnick 8:54 pm on July 19, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "A new world of plasma screens?", Australian researchers have used plasma to make a material that could replace a scarce element used in solar cells; touch screens; and a number of other high-tech manufacturing areas., COSMOS (AU), The team used a sputtering technique known as "high power impulse magnetron sputtering" (HiPIMS) to create nanometre-sized coats of atoms on surfaces., , Until now the primary substance for the job has been indium tin oxide or ITO-a substance is made of indium; tin; and oxygen – and indium is a scarce resource.   

    From University of Sydney (AU) via COSMOS (AU) : “A new world of plasma screens?” 

    U Sidney bloc

    From University of Sydney (AU)


    Cosmos Magazine bloc


    19 July 2021
    Ellen Phiddian

    The fourth state of matter can make cheap, smart, waste-free screen components.

    The plasma used to make the coating. Credit: Dr Behnam Akhavan.

    Australian researchers have used plasma to make a material that could replace a scarce element used in solar cells; touch screens; and a number of other high-tech manufacturing areas.

    In order to work, solar cells and phone and tablet screens need to contain a material that is transparent and can conduct electricity. The material in screen dimmers in cars and smart windows also needs to be electrochromic – that is, able to change colour or transparency depending on an externally applied voltage.

    Until now the primary substance for the job has been indium tin oxide or ITO. As the name suggests, this substance is made of indium; tin; and oxygen – and indium is a scarce resource.

    “A very small amount of it is available,” says Dr Behnam Akhavan, a senior lecturer in engineering at the University of Sydney. Demand is growing for indium because of increasing production of touchscreen devices but, even though only tiny amounts are needed, there are fears supply can’t keep up.

    “It’s also very hard to mine, because we don’t have any indium-specific mines,” says Akhavan. “It comes as a by-product of zinc.”

    Materials scientists have been looking for alternatives to ITO that are transparent, conductive and electrochromic. Two years ago, Akhavan’s team created a material that ticked all of these boxes, consisting of four very thin layers of tungsten and silver on glass. They’ve now been able to refine it down to three layers, simplifying production. And the whole thing has been made using plasma.

    The material: layers of tungsten oxide, silver, and silver/tungsten oxide on glass. Credit: Najafi-Ashtiani et al., 2021, Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells.

    While plasma’s not common on the Earth’s surface, “it’s the most common state of matter in the universe,” according to Akhavan. “The sun, stars, lightning – they’re all made of plasma.

    “In my research, I create it in the lab to bring in some really fascinating features that other states of matter don’t have, and use it to create new materials.”

    The team used a sputtering technique known as high power impulse magnetron sputtering (HiPIMS) to create nanometre-sized coats of atoms on surfaces.

    “It detaches atoms from the target, and it deposits them on to any material that we want to be coated, such as glass,” says Akhavan.

    In this case, the researchers covered glass with a deposit deposited 30 nanometres of tungsten oxide, followed by 10 nanometres of pure silver and then another 50 nanometres of a “nanocomposite” of tungsten oxide and silver (nanoparticles of silver mixed into tungsten oxide). The result was a clear 90-nanometre-thick coat on the glass (or about a tenth of the size of a small bacterium) that is both conductive and electrochromic.

    Tungsten and silver, while not exactly abundant, are much less rare than indium.

    Dr Behnam Akhavan in the plasma lab. Credit: Dr Behnam Akhavan.

    Akhavan says an immediate use of the technology is as an anti-reflection coating for mirrors. It could also be used in smart windows, which change their transparency to prevent the in-flow of sunlight. Touchscreens could be another potential avenue for the material – although, as these devices usually don’t need to be electrochromic, Akhavan suggests that tungsten could be swapped out for more abundant titanium.

    Another advantage of the technique is that it’s effectively waste-free.

    “It’s a dry process,” says Akhavan. “No solvents or bench chemistry is involved. That makes it very environmentally friendly, because the amount of waste produced is almost zero.”

    The plasma doesn’t deposit materials onto the glass with 100% efficiency, scattering some around the rest of the vessel during the coating process. But these mis-deposited materials remain in an unaffected state and can be re-used with ease, once taken from the vessel.

    “You don’t have to extract them from a solution,” says Akhavan.

    A paper describing the material will be published in Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    University of Sydney (AU)
    Our founding principle as Australia’s first university, U Sydney was that we would be a modern and progressive institution. It’s an ideal we still hold dear today.

    When Charles William Wentworth proposed the idea of Australia’s first university in 1850, he imagined “the opportunity for the child of every class to become great and useful in the destinies of this country”.

    We’ve stayed true to that original value and purpose by promoting inclusion and diversity for the past 160 years.

    It’s the reason that, as early as 1881, we admitted women on an equal footing to male students. Oxford University didn’t follow suit until 30 years later, and Jesus College at Cambridge University did not begin admitting female students until 1974.

    It’s also why, from the very start, talented students of all backgrounds were given the chance to access further education through bursaries and scholarships.

    Today we offer hundreds of scholarships to support and encourage talented students, and a range of grants and bursaries to those who need a financial helping hand.

    The University of Sydney (AU) is an Australian public research university in Sydney, Australia. Founded in 1850, it is Australia’s first university and is regarded as one of the world’s leading universities. The university is known as one of Australia’s six sandstone universities. Its campus, spreading across the inner-city suburbs of Camperdown and Darlington, is ranked in the top 10 of the world’s most beautiful universities by the British Daily Telegraph and the American Huffington Post.The university comprises eight academic faculties and university schools, through which it offers bachelor, master and doctoral degrees.

    The QS World University Rankings ranked the university as one of the world’s top 25 universities for academic reputation, and top 5 in the world and first in Australia for graduate employability. It is one of the first universities in the world to admit students solely on academic merit, and opened their doors to women on the same basis as men.

    Five Nobel and two Crafoord laureates have been affiliated with the university as graduates and faculty. The university has educated seven Australian prime ministers, two governors-general of Australia, nine state governors and territory administrators, and 24 justices of the High Court of Australia, including four chief justices. The university has produced 110 Rhodes Scholars and 19 Gates Scholars.

    The University of Sydney (AU) is a member of the Group of Eight, CEMS, the Association of Pacific Rim Universities and the Association of Commonwealth Universities.

  • richardmitnick 9:17 pm on June 16, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Kepler 52 and Kepler 968-Young exoplanet siblings", , , , , , COSMOS (AU),   

    From Columbia University (US) via COSMOS (AU) : “Kepler 52 and Kepler 968-Young exoplanet siblings” 

    Columbia U bloc

    From Columbia University (US)


    Cosmos Magazine bloc


    16 June 2021
    Richard A. Lovett

    The exoplanets Kepler 52 and Kepler 968 are really part of a bigger system.

    Two exoplanet systems – Kepler 52 and Kepler 968 – that have been drifting across the galaxy for hundreds of millions of years have proven to be parts of a 400-member star cluster.

    The two systems were discovered several years ago by NASA’s Kepler space telescope, which spotted them when they passed between us and their stars, causing their stars’ light to dim briefly.

    At the time, they were thought to be unrelated. But in 2019, astronomers using data from the European Space Agency’s Gaia space telescope realised they were part of a far-flung cluster called Theia 520, which spans a 20-degree swath across the northern sky.

    This isn’t a cluster you could see on your own. “It’s really diffuse and sprawling,” says Jason Curtis of Columbia University, speaking last week at a virtual meeting of the American Astronomical Society (US).

    Science paper

    It was only the precision of the Gaia space telescope that allowed it to be spotted at all, because Gaia’s hyper-precise star-tracking data revealed all the stars in it to be moving in a single, coherent group. This indicated that they had come from the same birth cluster, now dispersing.

    The next step, Curtis says, was to figure out how old the two planetary systems were. Prior estimates of the ages of their stars had been inconclusive, serving up answers that spanned pretty much the entire age of the universe.

    But once he knew they were both members of a cluster, Curtis says, it was possible to use a different method to determine the age of the cluster, rather than the individual stars.

    To do that, he and a team of high school students used data from Kepler, Gaia, and a 48-inch telescope on Mount Palomar in Southern California to calculate the rotation rates of 130 of Theia 520’s stars, graphing them against the stars’ masses.

    All of this was done with publicly available date, easily available online.

    “This underscores the importance of all-sky surveys and public archives,” says Marcel Agüeros, an astronomer at Columbia University and a co-author of the study.

    The results proved that the Kepler 52 and Kepler 968 stars aren’t all that ancient. Instead, Curtis says, they appear to be about 350 million years old.

    That’s because stars in a cluster are born spinning at a fairly wide range of rates, ranging from a few hours to a few days or tens of days. But as they age, they slow down, with faster-rotating stars slowing more quickly than slower-rotating ones, and bigger ones responding differently from smaller ones.

    By graphing the distribution of spin rates against mass, Curtis says, it’s possible to estimate the age of a cluster. “At any age there’s a unique signature,” he says.

    Doing this for clusters with known exoplanet systems is important, he adds, because it helps astronomers understand how planetary systems evolve over time.

    “Planets in clusters provide us with a snapshot in time,” says Elisabeth Newton, an astronomer at Dartmouth College who was not involved in the study. “When we know exactly how old planets are, we can use them to piece together the story of how planets and planetary systems evolve. Knowing that Kepler 52 and 968 are only a few hundred million years old is especially valuable because we haven’t yet found many planets that young.”

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Columbia U Campus
    Columbia University (US) was founded in 1754 as King’s College by royal charter of King George II of England. It is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York and the fifth oldest in the United States.

    University Mission Statement

    Columbia University is one of the world’s most important centers of research and at the same time a distinctive and distinguished learning environment for undergraduates and graduate students in many scholarly and professional fields. The University recognizes the importance of its location in New York City and seeks to link its research and teaching to the vast resources of a great metropolis. It seeks to attract a diverse and international faculty and student body, to support research and teaching on global issues, and to create academic relationships with many countries and regions. It expects all areas of the University to advance knowledge and learning at the highest level and to convey the products of its efforts to the world.

    Columbia University is a private Ivy League research university in New York City. Established in 1754 on the grounds of Trinity Church in Manhattan Columbia is the oldest institution of higher education in New York and the fifth-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. It is one of nine colonial colleges founded prior to the Declaration of Independence, seven of which belong to the Ivy League. Columbia is ranked among the top universities in the world by major education publications.

    Columbia was established as King’s College by royal charter from King George II of Great Britain in reaction to the founding of Princeton College. It was renamed Columbia College in 1784 following the American Revolution, and in 1787 was placed under a private board of trustees headed by former students Alexander Hamilton and John Jay. In 1896, the campus was moved to its current location in Morningside Heights and renamed Columbia University.

    Columbia scientists and scholars have played an important role in scientific breakthroughs including brain-computer interface; the laser and maser; nuclear magnetic resonance; the first nuclear pile; the first nuclear fission reaction in the Americas; the first evidence for plate tectonics and continental drift; and much of the initial research and planning for the Manhattan Project during World War II. Columbia is organized into twenty schools, including four undergraduate schools and 15 graduate schools. The university’s research efforts include the Lamont–Doherty Earth Observatory, the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and accelerator laboratories with major technology firms such as IBM. Columbia is a founding member of the Association of American Universities and was the first school in the United States to grant the M.D. degree. With over 14 million volumes, Columbia University Library is the third largest private research library in the United States.

    The university’s endowment stands at $11.26 billion in 2020, among the largest of any academic institution. As of October 2020, Columbia’s alumni, faculty, and staff have included: five Founding Fathers of the United States—among them a co-author of the United States Constitution and a co-author of the Declaration of Independence; three U.S. presidents; 29 foreign heads of state; ten justices of the United States Supreme Court, one of whom currently serves; 96 Nobel laureates; five Fields Medalists; 122 National Academy of Sciences members; 53 living billionaires; eleven Olympic medalists; 33 Academy Award winners; and 125 Pulitzer Prize recipients.

  • richardmitnick 9:15 am on June 9, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Where a star is born", A planetary nebula is created when certain stars reach the end of their life cycle., , Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array(CL), , , COSMOS (AU), , , , The properties of star-forming clouds depends on where they are located., The team compared the molecular properties and star formation processes at different galactic regions., To understand how stars form we need to link the birth of a single star back to its place in the Universe., Women in STEM-Eva Schinnerer; Annie Hughes   

    From COSMOS (AU) : Women in STEM-Eva Schinnerer; Annie Hughes “Where a star is born” 

    Cosmos Magazine bloc

    From COSMOS (AU)

    9 June 2021
    Amalyah Hart

    Fascinating new insights from the 238th meeting of the American Astronomical Society (US).

    Galaxies. Credit: S. Dagnello (NRAO) Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array(CL) (ESO [Observatoire européen austral][Europäische Südsternwarte] (EU) (CL)/National Astronomical Observatory of Japan [国立天文台](JP)/National Radio Astronomy Observatory (US))/

    Stars like our Sun are born in stellar nurseries – cosmic clouds of dust and gas that churn out thousands of astral progeny in their lifetimes.

    In two new papers [Astrophysical Journal Supplement series] [only one presented here] due to be presented this week at the 238th meeting of the American Astronomical Society, scientists have for the first time charted the stellar nurseries in the nearby Universe, challenging the prevailing notion that all clouds look and act the same.

    For six years between 2013 and 2019, the international team of astronomers used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimetre Array (ALMA) in the Atacama desert of northern Chile to survey 100,000 stellar nurseries across 90 galaxies, with the aim of understanding how they connect to their parent galaxies.

    This was part of the PHANGS (Physics at High Angular Resolution in Nearby GalaxieS) project.

    “To understand how stars form we need to link the birth of a single star back to its place in the Universe,” says Eva Schinnerer, an astronomer at the MPG Institute for Astronomy [MPG Institut für Astronomie](DE), Germany, and principal investigator of PHANGS.

    “It’s like linking a person to their home, neighbourhood, city, and region. If a galaxy represents a city, then the neighbourhood is the spiral arm, the house the star-forming unit, and nearby galaxies are neighbouring cities in the region.

    These observations have taught us that the ‘neighbourhood’ has small but pronounced effects on where and how many stars are born.”

    The team compared the molecular properties and star formation processes at different galactic regions, including galaxy discs, stellar bars, spiral arms and galaxy centres, and confirmed that location plays a key role in star formation.

    Annie Hughes, an astronomer at Research Institute in Astrophysics and Planetology [Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie ](FR), France, says that this is the first time scientists have a snapshot of what star-forming clouds are really like across such a broad range of different galaxies.

    “We found that the properties of star-forming clouds depend on where they are located: clouds in the dense central regions of galaxies tend to be more massive, denser, and more turbulent than clouds that reside in the quiet outskirts of a galaxy.

    “The lifecycle of clouds also depends on their environment. How fast a cloud forms stars and the process that ultimately destroys the cloud both seem to depend on where the cloud lives.”

    Co-author Erik Rosolowsky, a physicist at the University of Alberta (CA) says this complex mapping would not have been possible without ALMA.

    “We are finally seeing the diversity of star-forming gas across many galaxies and are able to understand how they are changing over time. It was impossible to make these detailed maps before ALMA,” says Rosolowsky. “This new atlas contains 90 of the best maps ever made that reveal where the next generation of stars is going to form.”

    This epic cosmic chart is just one of the crowning achievements of ALMA. Another paper, also due for presentation at the AAS meeting, details findings from radio astronomy observations of organic molecules in planetary nebulae.

    A planetary nebula is created when certain stars reach the end of their life cycle: as the dying star sheds its mass into space and becomes a white dwarf, it emits strong UV radiation, which was traditionally believed to break up any molecules into their constituent atoms.

    The team behind the paper, led by Lucy Ziurys at the University of Arizona, used ALMA to observe radio emissions from hydrogen cyanide (HCN), formyl ion (HCO+) and carbon monoxide (CO) in five planetary nebulae: M2-48, M1-7, M3-28, K3-45 and K3-58. They found that organic molecules manage to escape being torn apart, and these nebulae may in fact seed space with the molecules key for the formation of new stars and planets.

    “It was thought that molecular clouds which would give rise to new stellar systems would have to start from scratch and form these molecules from atoms,” says Ziurys. “But if the process starts with molecules instead, it could dramatically accelerate chemical evolution in nascent star systems.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

  • richardmitnick 7:51 pm on May 18, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Microscopic device harvests power from heat", COSMOS (AU), If you can capture heat radiating into deep space then you can get power anytime anywhere., Optical rectennas, Rectennas are composed of an antenna which absorbs light in the form of electromagnetic waves attached to rectifying diodes which convert the received energy into DC power., Rectennas=“rectifying antennas”, The more efficient rectenna works by exploiting an enigmatic property of electrons that allows them to pass through solid matter without using any energy., This process is called resonant tunnelling.,   

    From University of Colorado Boulder (US) via COSMOS (AU): “Microscopic device harvests power from heat” 

    U Colorado

    From University of Colorado Boulder (US)


    Cosmos Magazine bloc


    19 May 2021
    Lauren Fuge

    Scientists have used quantum phenomena to build the most efficient “optical rectennas”.

    Optical rectenna. Older version 2015 Georgia Tech and https://www.mwrf.com

    Credit: wragg / Getty Images.

    US scientists have designed the most efficient “optical rectenna” yet. This tiny device, too small to be seen with the naked eye, can turn excess heat from the environment into usable electricity – and might be a game-changer for renewable energy.

    Rectennas (“rectifying antennas”) have been around for over 50 years – in 1964, they were used to power a small helicopter with microwaves. They’re composed of an antenna which absorbs light in the form of electromagnetic waves attached to rectifying diodes which convert the received energy into DC power.

    However, in order to capture optical wavelengths (as first demonstrated in 2015) rectennas need to be super small – much thinner than a human hair. This is a difficult feat, not least because the smaller an electrical device becomes, the higher its resistance and the lower its power output.

    “You need this device to have very low resistance, but it also needs to be really responsive to light,” explains Amina Belkadi from the University of Colorado Boulder, lead author of the new paper published in Nature Communications.
    [No image of U Colorado device available.]

    “Anything you do to make the device better in one way would make the other worse.”

    But Belkadi and team have now sidestepped the problem entirely, seeking a solution in the quantum realm.

    In traditional rectennas, the power-generation process involves electrons passing through an insulator, which adds resistance to a device and reduces the electricity output.

    Their newer, more efficient rectenna works by exploiting an enigmatic property of electrons that allows them to pass through solid matter without using any energy.

    “They go in like ghosts,” says Belkadi.

    This process, called resonant tunnelling, hasn’t before been applied to rectennas.

    Counter-intuitively, the researchers added two insulators to their device instead of one, creating a quantum “well”. If an electron hits it with the right energy, the particle can simply tunnel right through both insulators without any resistance, like a ghost drifting through walls.

    “If you choose your materials right and get them at the right thickness, then it creates this sort of energy level where electrons see no resistance,” says Belkadi. “They just go zooming through.”

    Researchers had previously suggested that this was possible in theoretical modelling, but this the first time it has been demonstrated in an energy-harvesting optical rectenna.

    In theory, rectennas could harvest otherwise wasted heat from places like factory smokestacks or bakery ovens, turning it into power – although efficiency is an issue.

    Belkadi and team tested a network of 250,000 rectennas on a hot plate in the lab, and found that they could capture less than 1% of the heat produced.

    “Right now, the efficiency is really low, but it’s going to increase,” says co-author Garret Moddel, also from the University of Colorado Boulder. “This innovation makes a significant step toward making rectennas more practical.”

    Modell foresees rectennas in wide use, installed on solar panels on the ground and on lighter-than-air vehicles in the atmosphere.

    “If you can capture heat radiating into deep space then you can get power anytime anywhere.”

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Colorado Campus

    As the flagship university of the state of Colorado University of Colorado Boulder (US), founded in 1876, five months before Colorado became a state. It is a dynamic community of scholars and learners situated on one of the most spectacular college campuses in the country, and is classified as an R1 University, meaning that it engages in a very high level of research activity. As one of 34 U.S. public institutions belonging to the prestigious Association of American Universities (AAU), a selective group of major research universities in North America, – and the only member in the Rocky Mountain region – we have a proud tradition of academic excellence, with five Nobel laureates and more than 50 members of prestigious academic academies.

    CU-Boulder has blossomed in size and quality since we opened our doors in 1877 – attracting superb faculty, staff, and students and building strong programs in the sciences, engineering, business, law, arts, humanities, education, music, and many other disciplines.

    Today, with our sights set on becoming the standard for the great comprehensive public research universities of the new century, we strive to serve the people of Colorado and to engage with the world through excellence in our teaching, research, creative work, and service.

    In 2015, the university comprised nine colleges and schools and offered over 150 academic programs and enrolled almost 17,000 students. Five Nobel Laureates, nine MacArthur Fellows, and 20 astronauts have been affiliated with CU Boulder as students; researchers; or faculty members in its history. In 2010, the university received nearly $454 million in sponsored research to fund programs like the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics and JILA. CU Boulder has been called a Public Ivy, a group of publicly funded universities considered as providing a quality of education comparable to those of the Ivy League.

    The Colorado Buffaloes compete in 17 varsity sports and are members of the NCAA Division I Pac-12 Conference. The Buffaloes have won 28 national championships: 20 in skiing, seven total in men’s and women’s cross country, and one in football. The university has produced a total of ten Olympic medalists. Approximately 900 students participate in 34 intercollegiate club sports annually as well.

    On March 14, 1876, the Colorado territorial legislature passed an amendment to the state constitution that provided money for the establishment of the University of Colorado in Boulder, the Colorado School of Mines(US) in Golden, and the Colorado State University (US) – College of Agricultural Sciences in Fort Collins.

    Two cities competed for the site of the University of Colorado: Boulder and Cañon City. The consolation prize for the losing city was to be home of the new Colorado State Prison. Cañon City was at a disadvantage as it was already the home of the Colorado Territorial Prison. (There are now six prisons in the Cañon City area.)

    The cornerstone of the building that became Old Main was laid on September 20, 1875. The doors of the university opened on September 5, 1877. At the time, there were few high schools in the state that could adequately prepare students for university work, so in addition to the University, a preparatory school was formed on campus. In the fall of 1877, the student body consisted of 15 students in the college proper and 50 students in the preparatory school. There were 38 men and 27 women, and their ages ranged from 12–23 years.

    During World War II, Colorado was one of 131 colleges and universities nationally that took part in the V-12 Navy College Training Program which offered students a path to a navy commission.

    CU hired its first female professor, Mary Rippon, in 1878. It hired its first African-American professor, Charles H. Nilon, in 1956, and its first African-American librarian, Mildred Nilon, in 1962. Its first African American female graduate, Lucile Berkeley Buchanan, received her degree in 1918.

    Research institutes

    CU Boulder’s research mission is supported by eleven research institutes within the university. Each research institute supports faculty from multiple academic departments, allowing institutes to conduct truly multidisciplinary research.

    The Institute for Behavioral Genetics (IBG) is a research institute within the Graduate School dedicated to conducting and facilitating research on the genetic and environmental bases of individual differences in behavior. After its founding in 1967 IBG led the resurging interest in genetic influences on behavior. IBG was the first post-World War II research institute dedicated to research in behavioral genetics. IBG remains one of the top research facilities for research in behavioral genetics, including human behavioral genetics, psychiatric genetics, quantitative genetics, statistical genetics, and animal behavioral genetics.

    The Institute of Cognitive Science (ICS) at CU Boulder promotes interdisciplinary research and training in cognitive science. ICS is highly interdisciplinary; its research focuses on education, language processing, emotion, and higher level cognition using experimental methods. It is home to a state of the art fMRI system used to collect neuroimaging data.

    ATLAS Institute is a center for interdisciplinary research and academic study, where engineering, computer science and robotics are blended with design-oriented topics. Part of CU Boulder’s College of Engineering and Applied Science, the institute offers academic programs at the undergraduate, master’s and doctoral levels, and administers research labs, hacker and makerspaces, and a black box experimental performance studio. At the beginning of the 2018–2019 academic year, approximately 1,200 students were enrolled in ATLAS academic programs and the institute sponsored six research labs.[64]

    In addition to IBG, ICS and ATLAS, the university’s other institutes include Biofrontiers Institute, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, Institute of Arctic & Alpine Research (INSTAAR), Institute of Behavioral Science (IBS), JILA, Laboratory for Atmospheric & Space Physics (LASP), Renewable & Sustainable Energy Institute (RASEI), and the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History.

  • richardmitnick 7:44 pm on May 17, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Dating the stars- most accurate red giant age yet", , , , COSMOS (AU), Gaia Data Release 2, , The Milky Way had already started making stars before it merged with Gaia-Enceladus.,   

    From University of Birmingham (UK) via COSMOS (AU): “Dating the stars- most accurate red giant age yet” 

    From University of Birmingham (UK)


    Cosmos Magazine bloc


    18 May 2021
    Deborah Devis

    Artist’s impression of the structure of a solar-like star and a red giant. The two images are not to scale – the scale is given in the lower right corner. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

    Researchers have successfully dated some of our galaxy’s oldest stars back to a cosmic collision, using data from Gaia Data Release 2 and other spectroscopic surveys on their oscillations and chemical composition.

    The team, led by Josefina Montalbán of the University of Birmingham, UK, investigated the age of some red giant stars that were originally part of a satellite dwarf galaxy called Gaia-Enceladus, which collided with the Milky Way 11.5 billion years ago.

    In their study, published in Nature Astronomy, the researchers surveyed 100 red giant stars and found that the Gaia-Enceladus stars were all similar in age or slightly younger than the other stars that began life in the Milky Way. This builds on the existing theory that the Milky Way had already started making stars before it merged with Gaia-Enceladus.

    “The chemical composition, location and motion of the stars we can observe today in the Milky Way contain precious information about their origin,” says Montalbán.

    “As we increase our knowledge of how and when these stars were formed, we can start to better understand how the merger of Gaia-Enceladus with the Milky Way affected the evolution of our Galaxy.”

    As part of their analysis, they used a technique called asteroseismology, which measures relative frequency and amplitudes of the natural modes of oscillations of stars. This gives information about the size and internal structure of stars, which then helps estimate star age.

    They combined this data with spectroscopy – a technique that measures light and radiation produced by matter – to identify the chemical composition of the stars, which also reveals information about age.

    “We have shown the huge potential of asteroseismology in combination with spectroscopy to deliver precise, accurate relative ages for individual, very old, stars,” says co-author Andrea Miglio of the University of Bologna [Alma mater studiorum – Università di Bologna](IT).

    “Taken together, these measurements contribute to sharpen our view on the early years of our Galaxy and promise a bright future for Galactic archeoastronomy.”

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    University of Birmingham (UK) has been challenging and developing great minds for more than a century. Characterised by a tradition of innovation, research at the University has broken new ground, pushed forward the boundaries of knowledge and made an impact on people’s lives. We continue this tradition today and have ambitions for a future that will embed our work and recognition of the Birmingham name on the international stage.

    The University of Birmingham is a public research university located in Edgbaston, Birmingham, United Kingdom. It received its royal charter in 1900 as a successor to Queen’s College, Birmingham (founded in 1825 as the Birmingham School of Medicine and Surgery), and Mason Science College (established in 1875 by Sir Josiah Mason), making it the first English civic or ‘red brick’ university to receive its own royal charter. It is a founding member of both the Russell Group (UK) of British research universities and the international network of research universities, Universitas 21.

    The student population includes 23,155 undergraduate and 12,605 postgraduate students, which is the 7th largest in the UK (out of 169). The annual income of the institution for 2019–20 was £737.3 million of which £140.4 million was from research grants and contracts, with an expenditure of £667.4 million.

    The university is home to the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, housing works by Van Gogh, Picasso and Monet; the Shakespeare Institute; the Cadbury Research Library, home to the Mingana Collection of Middle Eastern manuscripts; the Lapworth Museum of Geology; and the 100-metre Joseph Chamberlain Memorial Clock Tower, which is a prominent landmark visible from many parts of the city. Academics and alumni of the university include former British Prime Ministers Neville Chamberlain and Stanley Baldwin, the British composer Sir Edward Elgar and eleven Nobel laureates.

    Scientific discoveries and inventions

    The university has been involved in many scientific breakthroughs and inventions. From 1925 until 1948, Sir Norman Haworth was Professor and Director of the Department of Chemistry. He was appointed Dean of the Faculty of Science and acted as Vice-Principal from 1947 until 1948. His research focused predominantly on carbohydrate chemistry in which he confirmed a number of structures of optically active sugars. By 1928, he had deduced and confirmed the structures of maltose, cellobiose, lactose, gentiobiose, melibiose, gentianose, raffinose, as well as the glucoside ring tautomeric structure of aldose sugars. His research helped to define the basic features of the starch, cellulose, glycogen, inulin and xylan molecules. He also contributed towards solving the problems with bacterial polysaccharides. He was a recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1937.

    The cavity magnetron was developed in the Department of Physics by Sir John Randall, Harry Boot and James Sayers. This was vital to the Allied victory in World War II. In 1940, the Frisch–Peierls memorandum, a document which demonstrated that the atomic bomb was more than simply theoretically possible, was written in the Physics Department by Sir Rudolf Peierls and Otto Frisch. The university also hosted early work on gaseous diffusion in the Chemistry department when it was located in the Hills building.

    Physicist Sir Mark Oliphant made a proposal for the construction of a proton-synchrotron in 1943, however he made no assertion that the machine would work. In 1945, phase stability was discovered; consequently, the proposal was revived, and construction of a machine that could surpass proton energies of 1 GeV began at the university. However, because of lack of funds, the machine did not start until 1953. The DOE’s Brookhaven National Laboratory (US) managed to beat them; they started their Cosmotron in 1952, and had it entirely working in 1953, before the University of Birmingham.

    In 1947, Sir Peter Medawar was appointed Mason Professor of Zoology at the university. His work involved investigating the phenomenon of tolerance and transplantation immunity. He collaborated with Rupert E. Billingham and they did research on problems of pigmentation and skin grafting in cattle. They used skin grafting to differentiate between monozygotic and dizygotic twins in cattle. Taking the earlier research of R. D. Owen into consideration, they concluded that actively acquired tolerance of homografts could be artificially reproduced. For this research, Medawar was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. He left Birmingham in 1951 and joined the faculty at University College London (UK), where he continued his research on transplantation immunity. He was a recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1960.

  • richardmitnick 7:32 pm on April 22, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Spinning stars speedier than expected", , , , , , COSMOS (AU),   

    From University of Birmingham (UK) via COSMOS (AU)</a: "Spinning stars speedier than expected" 

    From University of Birmingham (UK)


    Cosmos Magazine bloc


    23 April 2021
    Lauren Fuge

    The study of vibrations within stars (called asteroseismology) can be used to measure properties such as a star’s rotation, mass and age. Credit: Mark Garlick / University of Birmingham.

    Asteroseismologists confirm older stars rotate faster than previously thought.

    From planets to galaxies, asteroids to black holes, everything in the universe moves and spins, largely thanks to the good old conservation of angular momentum.

    Stars are born spinning too, but as they age, they begin to slow down. Astronomers theorise that this is due to a process called “magnetic braking”, where solar winds are caught by the star’s magnetic field and rob it of angular momentum.

    Now, a new study led by the UK’s University of Birmingham shows that old stars aren’t slowing down as quickly as the magnetic braking theory predicts.

    This confirms previous observations made back in 2016, which studied the spinning of stars by tracking the movement of dark spots across their surface. But this new paper – published in Nature Astronomy – uses a different method called asteroseismology.

    Seismology may be a more familiar field: it’s the study of seismic waves (vibrations) through the Earth’s crust, used to predict and understand earthquakes. Asteroseismology uses a similar principle to study the sound waves that move through the internal structure of stars.

    These waves cause oscillations of certain frequencies, which are visible on the surface of the star as vibrations. As the stars spin, the frequencies change slightly – imagine listening to the sirens of two ambulances change as they drive around a roundabout.

    By observing how the surface vibrations vary over time, the research team could calculate the star’s rate of rotation – as well as other properties like its mass and age.

    “Although we’ve suspected for some time that older stars rotate faster than magnetic braking theories predict, these new asteroseismic data are the most convincing yet to demonstrate that this ‘weakened magnetic braking’ is actually the case,” says lead author Oliver Hall from the University of Birmingham.

    “Models based on young stars suggest that the change in a star’s spin is consistent throughout their lifetime, which is different to what we see in these new data.”

    The team is now working on understanding how a star’s magnetic field interacts with its rotation, which may be key to solving this inconsistency.

    This kind of research could also help astronomers understand how our Sun will evolve over the next few billion years.

    “This work helps place in perspective whether or not we can expect reduced solar activity and harmful space weather in the future,” concludes co-author Guy Davies, also from the University of Birmingham.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Birmingham (UK) has been challenging and developing great minds for more than a century. Characterised by a tradition of innovation, research at the University has broken new ground, pushed forward the boundaries of knowledge and made an impact on people’s lives. We continue this tradition today and have ambitions for a future that will embed our work and recognition of the Birmingham name on the international stage.

  • richardmitnick 7:14 pm on April 5, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "First continents formed with a dash of mantle water", , COSMOS (AU), , , ,   

    From Curtin University (AU) via COSMOS (AU): “First continents formed with a dash of mantle water” 

    From Curtin University (AU)


    Cosmos Magazine bloc


    5 April 2021

    Chris Kirkland, Curtin University
    Hugh Smithies, Curtin University
    Tim Johnson, Curtin University

    Karijini National Park, in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Credit: TED MEAD / Getty Images.

    Earth is an amazing planet. As far as we know, it’s the only planet in the universe where life exists. It’s also the only planet known to have continents: the land masses on which we live and which host the minerals needed to support our complex lives.

    Experts still vigorously debate how the continents formed. We do know water was an essential ingredient for this — and many geologists have proposed this water would have come from Earth’s surface via subduction zones (as is the case now).

    But our new research [Nature] shows this water would have actually come from deep within the planet. This suggests Earth in its youth behaved very differently to how it does today, containing more primordial water than previously thought.

    How to grow a continent

    The solid Earth is comprised of a series of layers including a dense iron-rich core, thick mantle and a rocky outer layer called the lithosphere.

    But it wasn’t always this way. When Earth first formed about 4.5 billion years ago, it was a ball of molten rock that was regularly pummelled by meteorites.

    As it cooled over a period of a billion years or so, the first continents began to emerge, made of pale-coloured granite. Exactly how they came to be has long intrigued scientists.

    Earth comprises a core, mantle and outer crust. Credit: Shutterstock.

    To make granitic continental crust capable of floating, dark volcanic rocks known as basalts have to be melted. Basalts, which are formed as a result of melting in the mantle, would have covered Earth when the planet was starting out.

    However, to make continental crust from basalt requires another essential ingredient: water. Knowing how this water got into the rocks at enough depth is key to understanding how the first continents formed.

    One mechanism of taking water to depth is through subduction. This is how most new continental crust is produced today, including the Andes mountain range in South America.

    In subduction zones, rocky plates at the bottom of the ocean chill and become increasingly dense until they’re forced under the continents and back into the mantle below, taking ocean water with them.

    When this water interacts with basalt in the mantle, it creates granitic crust. But Earth was much hotter billions of years ago, so many experts have argued subduction (at least in the form we currently understand) couldn’t have operated [Nature].

    Long linear mountain belts such as the Andes contrast starkly with the structure of the granitic crust preserved in the Pilbara region of outback Western Australia.

    This ancient crust viewed from above has a “dome-and-keel” pattern, with balloons (domes) of pale-coloured granite rising into the surrounding darker and denser basalts (the keels).

    Satellite images of the Pilbara Craton, Western Australia. Pale-coloured granite domes are surrounded by dark-coloured basalts. Credit: Google Earth.

    But where did the water needed to produce these domes come from?

    Tiny crystals record Earth’s early history

    Our research, led by scientists at the Geological Survey of Western Australia and Curtin University, addressed this question. We analysed tiny crystals trapped in the ancient magmas that cooled and solidified to form the Pilbara’s granite domes.

    These crystals, made of a mineral called zircon, contain uranium which turns into lead over time. We know the rate of this change, and can measure the amounts of uranium and lead contained within. As such, we can obtain a record of their age.

    Zircon crystals grown in an ancient magma.

    The crystals also contain clues to their origin, which can be unravelled by measuring their oxygen isotope composition. Importantly, zircons that crystallised in molten rocks hydrated by water from Earth’s surface have different compositions to zircons that formed deep in the mantle.

    Measurements show the water required for the most primitive ancient WA granites would have come from deep within Earth’s mantle and not from the surface.

    Chris Kirkland (left) and Tim Johnson loading samples into a secondary-ion mass spectrometer, which shoots a beam of ions into zircon crystals to determine their age and oxygen isotope composition.

    Is the present always the key to the past?

    How the first continents formed is part of a broader debate regarding one of the central tenets of the physical sciences: uniformitarianism. This is the idea that the processes which operated on Earth in the distant past are the same as those observed today.

    Earth today loses heat through plate tectonics, when the ridged lithospheric plates that form the planet’s solid, outer shell move around. This helps regulate its internal temperature, stabilises atmospheric composition, and probably also facilitated the development of complex life.

    Subduction is one of the most important components of this process. But several lines of evidence [Terra Nova] are inconsistent with subduction and plate tectonics on an early Earth. They indicate strongly that our planet behaved very differently in the first two billion years following its formation than it does today.

    So while uniformitarianism is a useful way to think about many geological processes, the present may not always be the key to the past.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Curtin University (AU) (formerly known as Curtin University of Technology and Western Australian Institute of Technology) is an Australian public research university based in Bentley and Perth, Western Australia. The university is named after the 14th Prime Minister of Australia, John Curtin, and is the largest university in Western Australia, with over 58,000 students (as of 2016).

    Curtin would like to pay respect to the indigenous members of our community by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which the Perth campus is located, the Wadjuk people of the Nyungar Nation; and on our Kalgoorlie campus, the Wongutha people of the North-Eastern Goldfields.

    Curtin was conferred university status after legislation was passed by the Parliament of Western Australia in 1986. Since then, the university has been expanding its presence and has campuses in Singapore, Malaysia, Dubai and Mauritius. It has ties with 90 exchange universities in 20 countries. The University comprises five main faculties with over 95 specialists centres. The University formerly had a Sydney campus between 2005 & 2016. On 17 September 2015, Curtin University Council made a decision to close its Sydney campus by early 2017.

    Curtin University is a member of Australian Technology Network (ATN), and is active in research in a range of academic and practical fields, including Resources and Energy (e.g., petroleum gas), Information and Communication, Health, Ageing and Well-being (Public Health), Communities and Changing Environments, Growth and Prosperity and Creative Writing.

    It is the only Western Australian university to produce a PhD recipient of the AINSE gold medal, which is the highest recognition for PhD-level research excellence in Australia and New Zealand.

    Curtin has become active in research and partnerships overseas, particularly in mainland China. It is involved in a number of business, management, and research projects, particularly in supercomputing, where the university participates in a tri-continental array with nodes in Perth, Beijing, and Edinburgh. Western Australia has become an important exporter of minerals, petroleum and natural gas. The Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visited the Woodside-funded hydrocarbon research facility during his visit to Australia in 2005.

  • richardmitnick 8:33 am on February 5, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Tectonic timelapse", , Claude Bernard University Lyon 1 [Université Claude-Bernard Lyon 1] (FR), COSMOS (AU), , , This just in: one billion years of Earth’s history in 40 seconds.   

    From Claude Bernard University Lyon 1 [Université Claude-Bernard Lyon 1] (FR) via COSMOS (AU): “Tectonic timelapse” 

    From Claude Bernard University Lyon 1 [Université Claude-Bernard Lyon 1] (FR)


    Cosmos Magazine bloc


    4 February 2021
    Lauren Fuge

    This just in: one billion years of Earth’s history in 40 seconds.

    It’s not often you can click play and watch deep time unspool before your eyes.

    An international team of scientists has just released [Earth-Science Reviews] the first full tectonic plate reconstruction of the last billion years – spanning nearly a quarter of the Earth’s existence.

    It’s mesmerising: like ill-fitting jigsaw pieces, bits of continents slam together and morph into supercontinents, break apart, and then crash back together in new formations – with each second of the video leaping forward 25 million years.

    According to Alan Collins, a geologist from the University of Adelaide who is part of the research team, this is going to help us understand how complex life began.

    It’s only in the last billion years of the Earth’s 4.5-billion-year history that life worked out how to form cells, combine them, and make complicated creatures.

    “We have a million hypotheses of why this happened, but absolutely none of them are scientific at the moment,” Collins says. “We have no models for what the world looked like.”

    Though scientists know that many of the elements required by life – like the phosphorous in our DNA – came from the deep Earth and must have been hauled up to the surface at some point, we have no big-picture understanding of how the Earth’s many complex, interrelated systems have evolved over time. This lack of framework means we can’t quantify or test models about the Earth’s climate or the evolution of life.

    But this reconstruction – soon to be published in the journal Earth Science Reviews and led by Andrew Merdith from France’s Université of Lyon – could be the answer.

    Researchers from France, Canada, China and Australia pulled together decades of geological data to reconstruct the planet’s tectonic pulse, then input it into a piece of software developed by the EarthByte research group, at the University of Sydney.

    Called GPlates, the software is like GIS – a system for representing data related to positions on the Earth’s surface – but reaches back in time in an attempt to map the world on the grandest possible scale of history: where the plate boundaries were and how they evolved, how continents collided and how they ripped apart.

    Distribution of continental crust, ocean basins and plate boundaries in the plate model at 0 Ma (current day). Credit: Merdith et al. 2021 (Earth Science Reviews).

    “This really is an astonishing result,” says Louis Moresi, a geologist from the Australian National University who was not involved in the research.

    Moresi explains that it’s extremely difficult to figure out what the world looked like in the past, particularly because the seafloor doesn’t last very long: it’s always being recycled into the deep Earth at subduction zones.

    “That means we don’t actually have any plates as old as a billion years – nothing more than about 200 million years – everything is gone five times over!” he says. “So there is a lot of indirect evidence strung together to make this possible.”

    Previous models of plate movement were mostly based on the idea of continental drift by looking at continental rocks. The location of certain rocks at the time of their formation can be determined by looking at their “frozen in” signature of the Earth’s magnetic field. From this signature, paleomagnetic geologists can figure out their original latitude – even if their home continent has drifted thousands of kilometres since.

    But this is a tricky technique. These “time machine” rocks need to contain radioactive materials in order to accurately be dated. It’s also difficult to find old specimens that haven’t been deformed, melted or reset.

    Plus, since it’s hard to figure out where the ancient oceans were, previous plate reconstructions were missing a massive chunk of data.

    Instead, this new research focused on plate boundaries and working out how they shifted over time.

    “The plates are continually shoving the continents around and crashing them into each other,” Moresi explains. “That means the geological record is full of evidence of old plate boundaries and the past actions of plates.

    “We have billions of years of the continental record – for example, old mountain belts leave traces in the rock and sedimentary record even after being eroded – so we have evidence for plates from a billion years ago even though they are long gone into the mantle.”

    This is what the team was looking for: they dug up, scrutinised and synthesised research from over the past few decades, including figuring out where mountains were (indicated by the places continents have hit each other), where ocean basins were (which is where the continents rifted and spread apart), and the bathymetry of the ocean (which is the ocean’s depth relative to sea level; it has all sorts to do with the locations of mid-ocean ridges, and the subduction zones, and trenches).

    “It’s really just data mining on this whole-Earth scale,” Collins says – and when they pieced it together, they produced “a horrendous, four-dimensional jigsaw puzzle: three dimensions on the surface, and then it goes through time as well”.

    In 2017, the collaboration produced a similar full-plate reconstruction stretching 1–0.5 billion years ago, a span of time that encompasses some of the most exciting moments in the history of Earth, including massive climate swings and the explosion of animal life.

    Now, the team have added the most recent 500 million years, bringing us all the way to modern day.

    This work is important not just for pure geological understanding, but to give context to the incredible changes that have swept across the Earth over the past billion years.

    Starting around 720 million years ago, two massive ice ages engulfed the planet in glaciers from pole to equator in an event dubbed Snowball Earth. When we emerged from the ice, protozoa – the first true animals – evolved. By 635 million years ago, the first complex multicellular organisms were flourishing in warm and shallow seas, and then 500 million years ago life exploded with diversity, giving rise to the ancestors of all animals we know today.

    Illustration of the Earth, with the continents in their present form, but with the planet completely iced over. The Snowball Earth hypothesis suggests that, hundreds of millions of years ago, the Earth may have frozen solid like this as a result of severe climate change. Credit: MARK GARLICK/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Getty Images.

    Climate events like Snowball Earth are thought to be interrelated with both plate tectonics and the evolution of life, in an intricate web of cause-and-effect.

    For example, large-scale weathering of mountain chains may have plunged us into an ice age. Global glaciers would have ground down mountains and sent a flood of nutrients out to sea, which may have caused bacteria to bloom and churn out oxygen, changing the composition of the atmosphere to the one we are familiar with today – the atmosphere that life as we know it evolved within.

    “Without plate tectonics, guaranteed we wouldn’t be here,” Collins notes.

    This kind of global plate reconstruction can help scientists begin to understand – and quantify – the complex relationships between the Earth’s system.

    It’s just one thread in the pursuit of an all-encompassing Earth systems theory, asking some of the broadest questions in Earth science: how did the planet come to be? Why does it move and breathe like it does? How did life arise?

    But to more accurately answer these questions, this model needs to be a lot more detailed: right now, it’s largely 2D, showing the size and position of the plates on the Earth’s surface over time. The next step is to build upwards, figuring out where mountains were at what time, and how long the mountain ranges were at different altitudes, as this is key to understanding their influence on climate.

    The model will also undoubtedly change as it is subject to scrutiny, feedback and collaboration by other researchers around the world, who will hopefully help expand the dataset and refine the map.

    “I would imagine the more recent part of the model is very robust, [while] the more ancient parts will be less well constrained,” Moresi notes.

    Collins readily admits that there was a fair bit of guesswork involved in producing the model – which is why it’s never been done before.

    “No one’s put their neck out enough to get it cut off by trying to produce these models – because everything on them is controversial,” he explains. “For every interpretation of every rock in the middle of Africa or whatever, somebody else will have a different age, or think it was formed in a different tectonic setting.”

    But even building this model is a step forward, because they have put it into a format that other researchers can work on. The software, GPlates, is intentionally user-friendly and open source. Anyone can come in and disagree – push a date back a few hundred million years, or interpret a piece of data as a rift margin rather than a subduction zone – then play around with the model based on their expertise.

    This model is very much a first step, Collins says, “but you’ve got to start somewhere”.

    There’s also potential to reach back and reconstruct the Earth even more distantly in time, to two billion years ago and beyond.

    “There’s so much we don’t know about,” Collins says. “Geology is really young – plate tectonics as a theory is only 50 or 50 years old, so we’re still working out all these things about the modern earth, let alone how it was 300 million years ago.

    “But the beautiful thing is, the evidence is all there. It’s all in the rocks around the continents – it’s just about learning new ways to read them.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Claude Bernard University Lyon 1 [Université Claude-Bernard Lyon], is one of the three public universities of Lyon, France. It is named after the French physiologist Claude Bernard and specialises in science and technology, medicine, and sports science. It was established in 1971 by the merger of the “faculté des sciences de Lyon” with the “faculté de médecine”.

    The main administrative, teaching and research facilities are located in Villeurbanne, with other campuses located in Gerland, Rockefeller, and Laennec in the 8th arrondissement of Lyon. Attached to the University are the Hospices Civils de Lyon, including the “Centre Hospitalier Lyon-Sud”, which is the largest teaching hospital in the Rhône-Alpes region and the second-largest in France.[citation needed]

    Of the 2630 faculty, 700 are medical practitioners at local teaching hospitals. The university has been independent since January 2009 and has an annual budget of over €420 million.

    On 17 March 1808, Napoleon I founded the University of France, a national organisation with responsibility for formal education from primary through to university level. This decree created the Academy of Lyon within the University and established the Lyon Faculty of Science. The Lyon Faculty of Medicine was founded on 8 November 1874 and was later merged with the Faculty of Science on 8 December 1970 to create Claude Bernard University.

  • richardmitnick 11:29 am on February 3, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Turbulence trouble", , Collectively referred to as the The Australian Quantum Vortex Team- they comprise another research group at UQ plus a team at Monash University in Melbourne., COSMOS (AU), , , Solving the last great problem of classical physics., The Great Red Spot – a massive cyclone on Jupiter, Turbulence has always been too complex to accurately analyse or even measure., , We don’t even know if there are unique solutions to the problem of turbulence at all or whether it can be solved.   

    From University of Queensland (AU) via COSMOS (AU): “Turbulence trouble” 


    From University of Queensland (AU)


    Cosmos Magazine bloc


    3 February 2021
    Lauren Fuge

    Solving the last great problem of classical physics.

    Illustration of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot. Credit: Mark Garlick / Getty Images.

    “When I meet God,” physicist Werner Heisenberg allegedly once said, “I’m going to ask him two questions: why relativity? And why turbulence? I really believe he’ll have an answer for the first.”

    Although the quote is almost certainly fictional, it captures the sheer frustration many physicists feel about turbulence: the complex, chaotic, unpredictable flows in fluids.

    This phenomenon surrounds us: swirling gases in the atmosphere disrupting our flights; the movement of rivers around rocks; the flow of blood through our arteries. We also see it on cosmic scales, explains quantum physicist Warwick Bowen from the University of Queensland (UQ), from gas flowing in galaxy clusters to the Great Red Spot – a massive cyclone on Jupiter.

    “You could fit our planet within this one storm, and it’s existed for many hundreds of years – for the whole time that we’ve been able to observe Jupiter,” Bowen says.

    This long-term stability is typical of turbulent phenomena but is utterly perplexing to physicists like Bowen, who are used to seeing order dissipate into disorder.

    “There’s a natural tendency in physics for structures that are large to break down into smaller structures and eventually disappear,” he says. “But it seems that in the Great Red Spot of Jupiter, that doesn’t happen – these large structures are stable over very long periods of time.”

    University of Queensland researchers standing in front of an ultra-cold refrigerator, cooled to a few thousandths of a degree above absolute zero. The team place nanofabricated devices within the refrigerator that allow laser control of quantum vortex dynamics in superfluid helium. Credit: Nitika Davis.

    And we still don’t know why. Turbulence has always been too complex to accurately analyse or even measure. Even after centuries of study, physicists have no general theoretical description of it – it’s been described as the last great outstanding problem of classical physics.

    According to Bowen, who wrestles with very tiny turbulent systems in his lab in Brisbane, this gaping hole in theory is “kind of crazy”.

    The most commonly used equations to describe fluid flow were first developed by Swiss polymath Leonhard Euler in 1757. But in the intervening 300 years, no one has managed to solve the equations to describe realistic conditions. They rapidly become unstable and intractably tangled, for the same reason it’s difficult to precisely predict the weather: very small changes have enormous effects, so an infinitesimal inaccuracy could throw off predictions of the system’s evolution.

    “We don’t even know if there are unique solutions to the problem of turbulence at all, or whether it can be solved,” Bowen admits.

    That doesn’t mean researchers haven’t tried. It is, after all, one of the Clay Institute’s seven unsolved “Millennium Prize” problems, meaning there’s a cool million dollars waiting for the first scientist to solve these equations.

    But Bowen’s team isn’t so interested in taking a pen-and-paper approach – instead, they use lasers to observe turbulence in an ultra-cold quantum fluid in their lab.

    His lab was one of three Australian teams who produced a suite of landmark papers in Science in 2019, describing the very first experimental demonstration of the microscopic origins of turbulence. Specifically, they showed that vortices can emerge on the quantum scale and then form into more complex and stable systems – verifying a 70-year-old prediction.

    Australian Quantum Vortex Team research papers in Science:

    Giant vortex clusters in a two-dimensional quantum fluid
    Evolution of large-scale flow from turbulence in a two-dimensional superfluid
    Coherent vortex dynamics in a strongly-interacting superfluid on a silicon chip

    Collectively referred to as the Australian Quantum Vortex Team, they comprise another research group at UQ plus a team at Monash University, in Melbourne. Their work earned them a nomination for the 2020 Eureka Prize – the “Oscars” of Australian science.

    Despite this, Bowen’s lab didn’t actually set out to study turbulence – it found them.

    Part of the UQ Precision Sensing Initiative, the lab focused on using the properties of superfluid helium to build quantum technologies, such as extremely precise inertial sensors and ultrafast quantum computing networks.

    “We have a very, very cold fridge that gets us down to about a fiftieth of a degree away from absolute zero – about twenty millikelvin,” Bowen explains – and in this fridge they keep a box of this bizarre quantum fluid.

    So what exactly is superfluid helium?

    “We don’t 100% understand ourselves,” Bowen admits.

    Here’s the gist: if you cool any material to a low enough temperature, it will become a solid – except for helium. A quirk of quantum mechanics means that materials always have a miniscule amount of “quantum zero-point energy”, even when they’re at absolute zero.

    Illustration of the concept of confining a quantum vortex, motivated by the idea of “a storm in a teacup”. Credit: Dr Christopher Baker.

    “For helium, that energy is enough to melt the solid,” Bowen explains. “In some sense, quantum mechanics is melting the helium and causing it to be a very different type of fluid.”

    Superfluids have a range of delightfully peculiar properties, including the fact they have no way to dissipate energy flow. If a physicist set up a flow in a tub full of superfluid helium then went away on a year-long sabbatical, it would still be flowing on their return.

    Superfluid helium is also an example of a “matter wave”, another quantum property in which its atoms act more like a wave than a particle, giving rise to the strange flows. It’s this property that Bowen’s lab wants to exploit in quantum technologies.

    But to do so, they must observe, control and understand the turbulent flows within this superfluid – and thus grapple with one of the most stubborn mysteries in physics.

    “Turbulence is a problem for us, really – we don’t want it!” Bowen says, chuckling. “In our particular case we’d like to understand it just so we can remove it.”

    Turns out, superfluid helium is an excellent medium in which to study how turbulent phenomena form and evolve, as evidenced by the lab’s contribution to the landmark demonstrations made in 2019.

    They provided the first experimental proof of a prediction made by Nobel-Prize-winning physical chemist Lars Onsager, who in 1949 proposed that turbulence in 2D systems could be understood by observing it on nanoscales. These systems are made up of miniscule working parts called quantum vortices – the quantum equivalent of a tornado or a vortex in water – and Onsager suggested that over time, vortices rotating in the same direction would cluster to form larger ones, making the system become more stable.

    By studying the interactions between quantum vortices, he predicted we could understand many characteristics of the system as a whole – such as “why you get these large-scale pattern formations like in the Great Red Spot or in cyclones, and it explains why it persists”, Bowen explains.

    Each of the three studies in Science created quantised vortices from a different material and watched as they evolved and stabilised. Bowen’s lab observed this in superfluid helium, using lasers to measure the fluid’s dynamics, while the other two labs used Bose-Einstein condensates, a quantum state that exists at ultra-low temperatures.

    What’s counter-intuitive about these vortices, according to Bowen, is that the fluid is only allowed to take particular speeds.

    “If I stir a pot, then in a classical system that fluid can take any velocity it likes, but in superfluids it can only take very specific velocities,” he explains. “When I stir it, initially nothing happens – it just ignores the fact that I’m stirring. Then if I increase my speed, at some point it steps up to a specific new velocity, and if I keep stirring it steps up again. But you can only have discrete values.

    “It’s a weird behavior. It comes straight out of quantum mechanics and the fact that the atoms are behaving more like a wave than an atom.”

    His team observed small clusters of these wacky vortices in superfluid helium by using lasers to “listen” to the vortices, measuring the ripple effects they have on the superfluid’s surface.

    “The frequency of that ripple changes when the vortex appears, and we use lasers to hear that,” Bowen explains. “We’re not optically imaging it – we’re acoustically imaging.”

    The next goal is to use this technique to see a single quantised vortex – which, remarkably, has never been directly observed, despite the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physics being awarded to a team of physicists who recognised and explained the existence of quantised vortices in 2D films of superfluids.

    Bowen’s team didn’t even observe a single vortex in their 2019 study; they only observed ensembles of vortices, then analysed the data assuming the vortices were quantised in order for the results to make sense.

    “Of course, they must exist,” he says. “If we discovered that there wasn’t such as a thing as quantised vortices, all kinds of physics would have massive problems.”

    To observe a single vortex, Bowen and team will shrink their experiments right down. At the moment, they’re working on scales of hundreds of microns (equivalent to the width of a few human hairs), but they’re aiming for single micron scales (about the size of bacteria).

    Pushing vortices into a tiny space will make them interact more strongly, increasing the frequency shift of their “sound” – that is, the ripples they make in the superfluid.

    “What I’d like to do,” Bowen says, “is to listen to that sound wave with no vortex at a certain frequency, then add a vortex and see it jump to another frequency.”

    Simulation of vortex dynamics. Credit: Dr Matthew Reeves.

    This distinct jump would prove the vortex’s quantised nature, directly verifying the assumption underpinning the 2016 Nobel Prize. Bowen’s lab is in the perfect position to achieve this.

    “At least in terms of superfluid helium, we’re the only lab in the world able to do what we do,” he says. “We are the field.”

    They have the unique capability to combine quantum liquids and silicon-chip technology, by mapping turbulent behaviour onto a thin film of superfluid helium on a chip.

    “Normally if you want to understand turbulence, such as the weather, you go to your computer and code in everything you know about the system and then simulate it,” Bowen says.

    “This is a completely different way of modelling the turbulence you see in nature, because we can actually build physical objects that display it. There’s no code, no model – we just create the turbulence in miniature and then watch what it does.”

    Further experiments with microscopic turbulence will hopefully lead to better models of turbulent phenomena in the world around us.

    “The interesting question is, how much can you scale it up to become a useful tool to learn about classical turbulence?” Bowen muses. “I think it’s fair to say we don’t know the answer to that question – yet.”

    In the meantime, understanding turbulence will pave the way for Bowen’s lab to create new quantum technologies. They hope to revolutionise inertial sensors, which continually calculate position and velocity to aid in the navigation of aircraft, submarines, ships, spacecraft and even smartphones. Cutting-edge sensors are currently based on lasers – but Bowen reckons that atoms could do the job better, since they interact much more strongly with gravity.

    Replacing light waves with matter waves – such as superfluid helium – could improve the sensitivity of inertial sensors by a factor of ten billion.

    “In practice we’re a long way from achieving that,” Bowen notes. But in principle, their research could lead to much smaller navigation devices with phenomenal sensitivity.

    Their work could also use superfluid flow to solve fundamental challenges in creating a quantum internet, as well as to understand exotic natural phenomena – like the mysterious “chirps” heard from pulsars, which contain a neutron superfluid at their core.

    They could even probe the nature of quantum mechanics itself.

    Currently we don’t know where the interface between the classical and quantum world is, if there’s an interface at all, or whether there’s a unifying theory to tie everything together.

    Theoretically, Bowen’s team could compress their quantum fluid until it starts to mimic the behaviour of a single atom, emitting characteristic frequencies of sound instead of light. By pushing quantum behaviours up to larger and larger scales, we can begin to answer fundamental questions.

    The trickiest thing, Bowen says, is choosing what to do. While there are many clear goals being chased by quantum physicists around the world, his lab possesses a completely different technological platform.

    “We’re in a unique position,” he says. “My feeling is we should be asking different questions to everyone else and doing something new, something really out there.”

    The most exciting thing about being in this field right now, he says, is the unknown.

    “We’ve really pushed the frontiers of what you can measure in superfluid helium and how you can control it, far beyond what has been possible before, and that’s opened up this frontier that we can explore and make genuine and important fundamental discoveries.

    “The challenge is not ‘What should I do?’ but rather ‘Which of the many things I’d like to do should I do first?’”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition


    The University of Queensland (AU) is one of Australia’s leading research and teaching institutions. We strive for excellence through the creation, preservation, transfer and application of knowledge. For more than a century, we have educated and worked with outstanding people to deliver knowledge leadership for a better world.

    UQ ranks in the top 50 as measured by the QS World University Rankings and the Performance Ranking of Scientific Papers for World Universities. The University also ranks 52 in the US News Best Global Universities Rankings, 60 in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings and 55 in the Academic Ranking of World Universities.

  • richardmitnick 7:14 pm on January 24, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Precious metal", 55% of the world’s lithium supply is currently coming from Australia., , , COSMOS (AU), , Lithium derived from salt brines-the main source of South American reserves-requires a large amount of water for processing., Lithium metal is the “ultimate choice” for use in a battery., Lithium will not become critically scarce anytime soon., , More than half of the world’s reserves are in the “Lithium Triangle”: Chile; Argentina; and Bolivia., The least value is within mining-the largest profit is within the final products., The total amount of lithium that [Australia has] is about 200 million tonnes – that we know about now., There may be great value in bringing more of the battery supply chain to Australia., There’s surprisingly very little lithium metal itself in any lithium-ion battery – just 2% as it works more effectively as a composite.   

    From COSMOS (AU): “Precious metal” 

    Cosmos Magazine bloc

    From COSMOS (AU)

    25 January 2021

    Lithium. From the Periodic Table.

    A sample of the mineral lepidolite, a key source of lithium, mined in Finland. Credit: iStock/ekakoskinen via LBNL.

    Experts discuss the future of lithium, much desired for renewable energy needs.

    As the demand for renewable-energy technologies skyrockets, we need to think about how to source their constituent materials without further damaging the world we’re trying to save, according to yesterday’s Cosmos Briefing.

    Rick Valenta, from the Sustainable Minerals Institute at the University of Queensland, and Mahdokht Shaibani, a research fellow at Melbourne’s Monash University, discussed the future of lithium – a key component of batteries. With 55% of the world’s lithium supply currently coming from Australia, they highlight our nation’s responsibility to mine it in a sustainable way.

    The session was hosted by the Royal Institution of Australia’s lead scientist, Alan Duffy.

    According to Shaibani, lithium metal is the “ultimate choice” for use in a battery, with “the highest theoretical capacity and the lowest electrochemical potential”. This means that it stores a large amount of energy for its weight, and it also can cycle – charge and discharge – several hundred times with a very small degradation in the battery’s capacity.

    But there’s surprisingly very little lithium metal itself in any lithium-ion battery – just 2%, as it works more effectively as a composite. Small percentages add up, however, resulting in a huge ongoing effort around the world to source this valuable metal.

    So where do we find it?

    According to Valenta, although Australia currently supplies a large chunk of the world’s lithium, more than half of the world’s reserves are in the “Lithium Triangle”: Chile, Argentina and Bolivia.

    “The total amount of lithium that [Australia has] is about 200 million tonnes – that we know about now,” Valenta adds. “That’s an important distinction, because we’ve hardly started looking for it.”

    He points out that the process of lithium mining poses many challenges, from intensive energy use, to potentially contaminating chemicals, to high water usage.

    While lithium derived from hard-rock mining has a larger carbon footprint, lithium derived from salt brines – the main source of the large South American reserves – requires a large amount of water for processing, which may have social ramifications for regions already under severe water stress.

    “We [in Australia] are better equipped to deal with those sorts of challenges than most other jurisdictions would be,” says Valenta, both in terms of technology and environmental regulations.

    Right now, Australia exports its lithium overseas for refining, but there may be great value in bringing more of the battery supply chain onto home soil, as we have all of the 10 mineral elements that are required to make lithium-ion battery electrodes.

    “Like any other supply chain, the least value is within mining,” Shaibani says, “and the largest profit is within the final products – so unfortunately, we’re not benefiting that much from this … massive market.”

    She suggests we could not only refine lithium here but also manufacture batteries, which would significantly bring down their cost.

    “That’s probably when we will be able to see the mass adoption of renewable energies by residentials,” Shaibani says – such as batteries connected to rooftop solar panels.

    “The critical thing is that there are a whole range of commodities or elements that you need in order to accomplish the energy transition,” Valenta says. “We’ve really got two ambitious things in front of us: the energy transition and the achievement of sustainable development goals – bringing the other 7 billion or so people closer to the standard [of living] that we enjoy.”

    Valenta says that unlike other elements needed for the energy transition, such as cobalt, lithium will not become critically scarce anytime soon.

    “We’ve got a lot, so we really have the luxury of being able to choose the sources that have the least environmental social footprint,” he concludes.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

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