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  • richardmitnick 10:43 am on April 22, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Martin Rees and Frederick Lamb on humanity’s fate", EarthSky News   

    From EarthSky News: “Martin Rees and Frederick Lamb on humanity’s fate” 

    From EarthSky News

    April 22, 2021
    Kelly Kizer Whitt

    From nuclear weapons to biowarfare to cyberattacks, humanity has much to overcome. Martin Rees and Frederick Lamb discuss the obstacles we must face as we look forward to humanity’s future on Earth.

    What is the fate of humanity – and other living creatures – on planet Earth? In the 21st century, we humans hold the key. Image via National Aeronautics Space Agency (US).

    The American Physical Society (US) met virtually this week, and – on April 19, 2021, at a press gathering – the U.K.’s Astronomer Royal Martin Rees and astrophysicist Frederick Lamb discussed some of the serious obstacles humans must overcome, in order to move forward in this century. Rees commented:

    “Our Earth is 45 million centuries old. But this century is the first when one species – ours – can determine the biosphere’s fate.”

    Rees has been the Astronomer Royal since 1995 and has written a book titled On the Future: Prospects for Humanity. He is also the co-founder of the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk- U Cambridge (UK) at the University of Cambridge (UK). Lamb is an astrophysicist at the University of Illinois (US) and a core faculty member in the Program on Arms Control, Disarmament and International Security.

    Rees said that, through technology, we could improve the state of the Earth, or – through inaction on issues such as climate change and biodiversity loss, among other things – we could end this century with Earth in a much-degraded state for habitation by living things. Two of the great threats we face, according to Rees, are biological and cyber threats. The biological threats of natural pandemics spread globally in a way they never did before, as we have seen with Covid-19. But human-engineered pandemics and misuses of cybertechnology would be even worse nightmares, Rees said. He commented:

    “What really scares me is … it’s possible to make a bioweapon or cause a cyberattack with minimal equipment, standard equipment available to many people. I see the biggest challenge in the next 20 years is to ensure that doesn’t happen.”

    Rees also describes himself as “an optimist.” He believes humans can avoid the risks and achieve a sustainable future, better than the world we live in today. He said:

    “If all of us passengers on ‘spaceship Earth’ want to ensure that we leave it in better shape for future generations we need to promote wise deployment of new technologies, while minimizing the risk of pandemics, cyberthreats, and other global catastrophes.”

    Meanwhile, Lamb has a different focus on the obstacles facing humanity. That is in part because Lamb is an expert in nuclear weapons proliferation and mitigation. He called it “crazy and bizarre” that we allow ourselves to live under a nuclear threat:

    “Why we would want to live in a world due to mishap, misunderstanding, mistake or madness, we could have the whole world destroyed, makes no sense. And we can do something about it.”

    Lamb said that while nuclear arsenals have been reduced between Russia and the United States, there are still some 14,000 weapons that are ready to be launched at a moment’s notice. A few hundred could destroy a country and a few thousand could destroy civilization on the planet. Missile defense has been the goal of many nations, but if just a single weapon gets through a missile defense, a million people can die. A missile defense, for it to work, would have to work perfectly, which is not feasible. Intercept has to occur quickly, in less than 170 seconds for solid-propelled warheads and less than 280 seconds for liquid-propelled warheads. The missile targeting is not even able to accurately distinguish between the exhaust plume and the warhead. In fact, the existence of missile defense systems has driven countries to produce more nuclear weapons in an effort to counteract defense systems. As Lamb put it:

    “Missile defense has never been able to protect against a nuclear attack, and there is no prospect that it could in the foreseeable future. Spending on missile defense has only made us less safe, by causing our potential adversaries to increase their nuclear arsenals.”

    What works? According to Lamb:

    “When we have become more safe, it’s when we’ve made agreements that reduce the number of nuclear weapons that threaten us. This has only been possible when we agreed to limit defenses.”

    But, Lamb asserted, there is one way in which nuclear is still important for humanity’s future, and that is energy production. Lamb – a proponent of nuclear energy, at least in the short term – believes we need to work toward making the technological advances that will allow us to stop using carbon-based fuels:

    “It’s a question of time. We have a limited amount of time to be able to stop the global warming before it becomes really serious … We’re going to, at least in the interim, find a way to use nuclear power to get us through this transition period.”

    Rees agrees with the need for sustainable energy production, and he also sees food as an important issue. With 9 billion people expected to be on the planet by mid-century, we need more efficient food production. Rees hopes we find ways of sustainably and intensively growing plants and vegetables so we don’t encroach on forest and land, and he believes development of artificial meat will be crucial to feeding future populations.

    Lamb and Rees discussed their backgrounds in astrophysics and their concern with the future of the planet. Lamb was interested in physics as a child, and his parents turned to his expertise when the cold war heated up and everyone in the United States was told to build a bomb shelter as protection against a possible nuclear war. After studying the subject at the library, he said to his parents:

    “Mom and Dad, we have to talk. The only solution here is to prevent this from ever happening. If we have any money or time or energy that we would have spent digging a bomb shelter, we should spend it on trying to prevent it from happening.”

    Rees explained how his astronomy background meshes with his concern for humanity’s fate:

    “People often ask does being an astronomer have any effect on one’s attitude toward these things. I think it does in a way, because it makes us aware of the long-range future. We’re aware that it’s taken about 4 billion years for life to evolve from simple beginnings to our biosphere of which we are a part, but we also know that the sun is less than halfway through its life and the universe may go on forever. So we are not the culmination of evolution. Post-humans are going to have far longer to evolve. We can’t conceive what they’d be like, but if life is a rarity in the universe, then, of course, the stakes are very high if we snuff things out this century.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

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

  • richardmitnick 10:37 am on April 16, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Is Jupiter a key to finding dark matter?", EarthSky News, , Jupiter’s large size and cool core make it an excellent target in the search for dark matter., , Stockholm University [Stockholm universitet](SE)   

    From Stanford University(US) and From Stockholm University [Stockholm universitet](SE) via EarthSky News: “Is Jupiter a key to finding dark matter?” 

    Stanford University Name

    From Stanford University(US)


    From Stockholm University [Stockholms universitet](SE)


    EarthSky News

    April 16, 2021
    Kelly Kizer

    Jupiter’s large size and cool core make it an excellent target in the search for dark matter. A team of scientists is analyzing gamma-ray data from the Fermi Telescope looking for signs of the elusive substance.

    The Juno spacecraft captured this image of Jupiter during its 31st close flyby of the giant planet on December 30, 2020. The storm known as the Great Red Spot is visible on the horizon, nearly rotated out of view as Juno sped away from Jupiter at 30 miles (48 km) per second. Citizen scientist Tanya Oleksuik created this color-enhanced image using data from the JunoCam camera. See Juno’s image gallery. Image via National Aeronautics Space Agency (US).

    Two astrophysicists said on April 5, 2021, that Jupiter might serve as an ideal detector in the hunt for Dark Matter, the elusive and mysterious substance thought to make up a substantial fraction of our universe. Stanford University’s Rebecca Leane and Stockholm University’s Tim Linden released a draft version of a new paper, describing how that might work. These scientists list two reasons why our solar system’s largest planet might be an advantageous spot to search for dark matter: its size and its temperature. Leane explained:

    “Because Jupiter has a large surface area compared to other solar system planets, it can capture more dark matter… You might then wonder why not just use the even bigger (and very close by) sun. Well, the second advantage is that because Jupiter has a cooler core than the sun … This in part can stop lighter dark matter from evaporating out of Jupiter, which would have evaporated out of the sun.”

    Leane and Linden analyzed 12 years of data from the Fermi Telescope – a space observatory that sees the universe in high-energy gamma rays – in what they called:

    … the first dedicated gamma-ray analysis of Jupiter.

    They didn’t find robust evidence of gamma-ray emission from Jupiter that would’ve suggested dark matter, but they said Jupiter could be a target for future gamma-ray searches.

    Dark matter is an elusive substance – detectable via its gravitational influence on objects in space – called dark because no one has ever actually seen any. No one knows what dark matter is. According to a popular cosmological model called the Lambda Cold Dark Matter Model (aka the Lambda-CDM model, or sometimes just the Standard Model), ordinary atoms – the building blocks of our own bodies and all we see around us – make up only only around 5% of the universe.

    Lamda Cold Dark Matter Accerated Expansion of The universe http scinotions.com the-cosmic-inflation-suggests-the-existence-of-parallel-universes. Credit: Alex Mittelmann.

    Think of that! Just 5%. The rest of the universe consists of dark energy (68%) and dark matter (27%), according to this popular theory.

    So dark matter is very mysterious. It’s possible that it’s an unidentified subatomic particle that interacts in different ways than scientists are used to.

    How would Jupiter be a source of dark matter? Rebecca Leane and Tim Linden pointed out that dark matter should be pulled into the gravitational wells of large objects, such as our sun and its largest planets. These scientists said that, eventually, enough dark matter would build up in a star or planet that the dark matter particles would run into each other, causing annihilations of dark matter particles. The gamma rays would be telltale sign of the annihilations. And while we can’t see dark matter, we can see gamma rays, thanks to observatories such as the Fermi Telescope.

    The Fermi Telescope, launched in 2008, looks for gamma radiation across the universe, from right here in our solar system to the farthest reaches of space. Fermi investigates black holes, supernovas, and, yes, Jupiter, where it has accumulated 12 years of data that the scientists mined for evidence of gamma rays that might signal the annihilation of dark matter.

    While Leane and Linden haven’t found dark matter from Jupiter yet, they did find an intriguing excess of gamma rays at low energy levels on the gas giant. They said they hope to study Jupiter with newer, more powerful telescopes that are still in the concept stage. These new telescopes would perform better at the lower end of their studies, where Fermi struggles.

    Leane thinks their method of looking for dark matter could be extrapolated out to exoplanets and brown dwarfs. Future studies would target these objects that are nearer to the center of the galaxy, where scientists believe more dark matter resides. The scientists think these objects would appear hotter in infrared than planets and stars further away, due to more frequent dark matter annihilation in their cores. They hope that the James Webb Space Telescope, which is scheduled to launch later this year, can provide an infrared survey to confirm their theory.

    Thus, despite the dim nature of dark matter, the possibility of future discoveries looks a bit brighter now.

    Top left shows the gamma-ray counts in a 45-degree region around Jupiter. Top right shows the same part of the sky when Jupiter is not there (the background). Bottom left shows the gamma-ray counts leftover when the background is subtracted. Bottom right shows the size and position of Jupiter from the Fermi Telescope. If there was a gamma-ray excess, the bottom-left map should have lit up at Jupiter’s position. At these energy levels, it did not, although it did at lower energy levels, prompting the need for further observation with new telescopes. Credit: Rebecca Leane and Tim Linden.

    Dark Matter Background
    Fritz Zwicky discovered Dark Matter in the 1930s when observing the movement of the Coma Cluster., Vera Rubin a Woman in STEM denied the Nobel, some 30 years later, did most of the work on Dark Matter.

    Fritz Zwicky from http:// palomarskies.blogspot.com.

    Coma cluster via NASA/ESA Hubble.

    In modern times, it was astronomer Fritz Zwicky, in the 1930s, who made the first observations of what we now call dark matter. His 1933 observations of the Coma Cluster of galaxies seemed to indicated it has a mass 500 times more than that previously calculated by Edwin Hubble. Furthermore, this extra mass seemed to be completely invisible. Although Zwicky’s observations were initially met with much skepticism, they were later confirmed by other groups of astronomers.
    Thirty years later, astronomer Vera Rubin provided a huge piece of evidence for the existence of dark matter. She discovered that the centers of galaxies rotate at the same speed as their extremities, whereas, of course, they should rotate faster. Think of a vinyl LP on a record deck: its center rotates faster than its edge. That’s what logic dictates we should see in galaxies too. But we do not. The only way to explain this is if the whole galaxy is only the center of some much larger structure, as if it is only the label on the LP so to speak, causing the galaxy to have a consistent rotation speed from center to edge.
    Vera Rubin, following Zwicky, postulated that the missing structure in galaxies is dark matter. Her ideas were met with much resistance from the astronomical community, but her observations have been confirmed and are seen today as pivotal proof of the existence of dark matter.

    Astronomer Vera Rubin at the Lowell Observatory in 1965, worked on Dark Matter (The Carnegie Institution for Science).

    Vera Rubin measuring spectra, worked on Dark Matter (Emilio Segre Visual Archives AIP SPL).

    Vera Rubin, with Department of Terrestrial Magnetism (DTM) image tube spectrograph attached to the Kitt Peak 84-inch telescope, 1970. https://home.dtm.ciw.edu.

    The Vera C. Rubin Observatory currently under construction on the El Peñón peak 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.

    LSST Data Journey, Illustration by Sandbox Studio, Chicago with Ana Kova.

    See the full article here.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Stockholm University [Stockholms universitet](SE) is a public university in Stockholm, Sweden, founded as a college in 1878, with university status since 1960. With over 33,000 students at four different faculties: law, humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences, it is one of the largest universities in Scandinavia. The institution is regarded as one of the top 100 universities in the world by the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU).

    Stockholm University was granted university status in 1960, making it the fourth oldest Swedish university. As with other public universities in Sweden, Stockholm University’s mission includes teaching and research anchored in society at large.


    The initiative for the formation of Stockholm University was taken by the Stockholm City Council. The process was completed after a decision in December 1865 regarding the establishment of a fund and a committee to “establish a higher education institution in the capital”. The nine members of the Committee were respected and prominent citizens whose work had helped the evolution of science and society.

    The next important step was taken in October 1869, when the Stockholm University College Association was established. Several members of the committee became members of the association – including Professor Pehr Henrik Malmsten. The association’s mission was to establish a college in Stockholm and would “not be dissolved until the college came into being and its future could be considered secure.” The memorandum of the Stockholm University College was adopted in May 1877, and in the autumn semester of the following year, actual operations began.

    In 1878, the university college Stockholms högskola started its operations with a series of lectures on natural sciences, open to curious citizens (a tradition still upheld by yearly publicly open lectures). Notable in the university’s early history is the appointment of Sofia Kovalevskaya to hold a chair in the mathematics department in 1889, making her the third female professor in Europe. In 1904 the college became an official degree granting institution.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Stanford University campus. No image credit

    Stanford University (US)

    Leland and Jane Stanford founded the University to “promote the public welfare by exercising an influence on behalf of humanity and civilization.” Stanford opened its doors in 1891, and more than a century later, it remains dedicated to finding solutions to the great challenges of the day and to preparing our students for leadership in today’s complex world. Stanford, is an American private research university located in Stanford, California on an 8,180-acre (3,310 ha) campus near Palo Alto. Since 1952, more than 54 Stanford faculty, staff, and alumni have won the Nobel Prize, including 19 current faculty members.

    Stanford University, officially Leland Stanford Junior University, is a private research university located in Stanford, California. Stanford was founded in 1885 by Leland and Jane Stanford in memory of their only child, Leland Stanford Jr., who had died of typhoid fever at age 15 the previous year. Stanford is consistently ranked as among the most prestigious and top universities in the world by major education publications. It is also one of the top fundraising institutions in the country, becoming the first school to raise more than a billion dollars in a year.

    Leland Stanford was a U.S. senator and former governor of California who made his fortune as a railroad tycoon. The school admitted its first students on October 1, 1891, as a coeducational and non-denominational institution. Stanford University struggled financially after the death of Leland Stanford in 1893 and again after much of the campus was damaged by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Following World War II, provost Frederick Terman supported faculty and graduates’ entrepreneurialism to build self-sufficient local industry in what would later be known as Silicon Valley.

    The university is organized around seven schools: three schools consisting of 40 academic departments at the undergraduate level as well as four professional schools that focus on graduate programs in law, medicine, education, and business. All schools are on the same campus. Students compete in 36 varsity sports, and the university is one of two private institutions in the Division I FBS Pac-12 Conference. It has gained 126 NCAA team championships, and Stanford has won the NACDA Directors’ Cup for 24 consecutive years, beginning in 1994–1995. In addition, Stanford students and alumni have won 270 Olympic medals including 139 gold medals.

    As of October 2020, 84 Nobel laureates, 28 Turing Award laureates, and eight Fields Medalists have been affiliated with Stanford as students, alumni, faculty, or staff. In addition, Stanford is particularly noted for its entrepreneurship and is one of the most successful universities in attracting funding for start-ups. Stanford alumni have founded numerous companies, which combined produce more than $2.7 trillion in annual revenue, roughly equivalent to the 7th largest economy in the world (as of 2020). Stanford is the alma mater of one president of the United States (Herbert Hoover), 74 living billionaires, and 17 astronauts. It is also one of the leading producers of Fulbright Scholars, Marshall Scholars, Rhodes Scholars, and members of the United States Congress.

    Stanford University was founded in 1885 by Leland and Jane Stanford, dedicated to Leland Stanford Jr, their only child. The institution opened in 1891 on Stanford’s previous Palo Alto farm.

    Jane and Leland Stanford modeled their university after the great eastern universities, most specifically Cornell University. Stanford opened being called the “Cornell of the West” in 1891 due to faculty being former Cornell affiliates (either professors, alumni, or both) including its first president, David Starr Jordan, and second president, John Casper Branner. Both Cornell and Stanford were among the first to have higher education be accessible, nonsectarian, and open to women as well as to men. Cornell is credited as one of the first American universities to adopt this radical departure from traditional education, and Stanford became an early adopter as well.

    Despite being impacted by earthquakes in both 1906 and 1989, the campus was rebuilt each time. In 1919, The Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace was started by Herbert Hoover to preserve artifacts related to World War I. The Stanford Medical Center, completed in 1959, is a teaching hospital with over 800 beds. The DOE’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory(US)(originally named the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center), established in 1962, performs research in particle physics.


    Most of Stanford is on an 8,180-acre (12.8 sq mi; 33.1 km^2) campus, one of the largest in the United States. It is located on the San Francisco Peninsula, in the northwest part of the Santa Clara Valley (Silicon Valley) approximately 37 miles (60 km) southeast of San Francisco and approximately 20 miles (30 km) northwest of San Jose. In 2008, 60% of this land remained undeveloped.

    Stanford’s main campus includes a census-designated place within unincorporated Santa Clara County, although some of the university land (such as the Stanford Shopping Center and the Stanford Research Park) is within the city limits of Palo Alto. The campus also includes much land in unincorporated San Mateo County (including the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and the Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve), as well as in the city limits of Menlo Park (Stanford Hills neighborhood), Woodside, and Portola Valley.

    Non-central campus

    Stanford currently operates in various locations outside of its central campus.

    On the founding grant:

    Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve is a 1,200-acre (490 ha) natural reserve south of the central campus owned by the university and used by wildlife biologists for research.
    SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory is a facility west of the central campus operated by the university for the Department of Energy. It contains the longest linear particle accelerator in the world, 2 miles (3.2 km) on 426 acres (172 ha) of land.
    Golf course and a seasonal lake: The university also has its own golf course and a seasonal lake (Lake Lagunita, actually an irrigation reservoir), both home to the vulnerable California tiger salamander. As of 2012 Lake Lagunita was often dry and the university had no plans to artificially fill it.

    Off the founding grant:

    Hopkins Marine Station, in Pacific Grove, California, is a marine biology research center owned by the university since 1892.
    Study abroad locations: unlike typical study abroad programs, Stanford itself operates in several locations around the world; thus, each location has Stanford faculty-in-residence and staff in addition to students, creating a “mini-Stanford”.

    Redwood City campus for many of the university’s administrative offices located in Redwood City, California, a few miles north of the main campus. In 2005, the university purchased a small, 35-acre (14 ha) campus in Midpoint Technology Park intended for staff offices; development was delayed by The Great Recession. In 2015 the university announced a development plan and the Redwood City campus opened in March 2019.

    The Bass Center in Washington, DC provides a base, including housing, for the Stanford in Washington program for undergraduates. It includes a small art gallery open to the public.

    China: Stanford Center at Peking University, housed in the Lee Jung Sen Building, is a small center for researchers and students in collaboration with Beijing University [北京大学](CN) (Kavli Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics at Peking University(CN) (KIAA-PKU).

    Administration and organization

    Stanford is a private, non-profit university that is administered as a corporate trust governed by a privately appointed board of trustees with a maximum membership of 38. Trustees serve five-year terms (not more than two consecutive terms) and meet five times annually.[83] A new trustee is chosen by the current trustees by ballot. The Stanford trustees also oversee the Stanford Research Park, the Stanford Shopping Center, the Cantor Center for Visual Arts, Stanford University Medical Center, and many associated medical facilities (including the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital).

    The board appoints a president to serve as the chief executive officer of the university, to prescribe the duties of professors and course of study, to manage financial and business affairs, and to appoint nine vice presidents. The provost is the chief academic and budget officer, to whom the deans of each of the seven schools report. Persis Drell became the 13th provost in February 2017.

    As of 2018, the university was organized into seven academic schools. The schools of Humanities and Sciences (27 departments), Engineering (nine departments), and Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences (four departments) have both graduate and undergraduate programs while the Schools of Law, Medicine, Education and Business have graduate programs only. The powers and authority of the faculty are vested in the Academic Council, which is made up of tenure and non-tenure line faculty, research faculty, senior fellows in some policy centers and institutes, the president of the university, and some other academic administrators, but most matters are handled by the Faculty Senate, made up of 55 elected representatives of the faculty.

    The Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) is the student government for Stanford and all registered students are members. Its elected leadership consists of the Undergraduate Senate elected by the undergraduate students, the Graduate Student Council elected by the graduate students, and the President and Vice President elected as a ticket by the entire student body.

    Stanford is the beneficiary of a special clause in the California Constitution, which explicitly exempts Stanford property from taxation so long as the property is used for educational purposes.

    Endowment and donations

    The university’s endowment, managed by the Stanford Management Company, was valued at $27.7 billion as of August 31, 2019. Payouts from the Stanford endowment covered approximately 21.8% of university expenses in the 2019 fiscal year. In the 2018 NACUBO-TIAA survey of colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, only Harvard University(US), the University of Texas System(US), and Yale University(US) had larger endowments than Stanford.

    In 2006, President John L. Hennessy launched a five-year campaign called the Stanford Challenge, which reached its $4.3 billion fundraising goal in 2009, two years ahead of time, but continued fundraising for the duration of the campaign. It concluded on December 31, 2011, having raised a total of $6.23 billion and breaking the previous campaign fundraising record of $3.88 billion held by Yale. Specifically, the campaign raised $253.7 million for undergraduate financial aid, as well as $2.33 billion for its initiative in “Seeking Solutions” to global problems, $1.61 billion for “Educating Leaders” by improving K-12 education, and $2.11 billion for “Foundation of Excellence” aimed at providing academic support for Stanford students and faculty. Funds supported 366 new fellowships for graduate students, 139 new endowed chairs for faculty, and 38 new or renovated buildings. The new funding also enabled the construction of a facility for stem cell research; a new campus for the business school; an expansion of the law school; a new Engineering Quad; a new art and art history building; an on-campus concert hall; a new art museum; and a planned expansion of the medical school, among other things. In 2012, the university raised $1.035 billion, becoming the first school to raise more than a billion dollars in a year.

    Research centers and institutes

    DOE’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory(US)
    Stanford Research Institute, a center of innovation to support economic development in the region.
    Hoover Institution, a conservative American public policy institution and research institution that promotes personal and economic liberty, free enterprise, and limited government.
    Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, a multidisciplinary design school in cooperation with the Hasso Plattner Institute of University of Potsdam [Universität Potsdam](DE) that integrates product design, engineering, and business management education).
    Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute, which grew out of and still contains the Martin Luther King Jr. Papers Project.
    John S. Knight Fellowship for Professional Journalists
    Center for Ocean Solutions
    Together with UC Berkeley(US) and UC San Francisco(US), Stanford is part of the Biohub, a new medical science research center founded in 2016 by a $600 million commitment from Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg and pediatrician Priscilla Chan.

    Discoveries and innovation

    Natural sciences

    Biological synthesis of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) – Arthur Kornberg synthesized DNA material and won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1959 for his work at Stanford.
    First Transgenic organism – Stanley Cohen and Herbert Boyer were the first scientists to transplant genes from one living organism to another, a fundamental discovery for genetic engineering. Thousands of products have been developed on the basis of their work, including human growth hormone and hepatitis B vaccine.
    Laser – Arthur Leonard Schawlow shared the 1981 Nobel Prize in Physics with Nicolaas Bloembergen and Kai Siegbahn for his work on lasers.
    Nuclear magnetic resonance – Felix Bloch developed new methods for nuclear magnetic precision measurements, which are the underlying principles of the MRI.

    Computer and applied sciences

    ARPANETStanford Research Institute, formerly part of Stanford but on a separate campus, was the site of one of the four original ARPANET nodes.

    Internet—Stanford was the site where the original design of the Internet was undertaken. Vint Cerf led a research group to elaborate the design of the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP/IP) that he originally co-created with Robert E. Kahn (Bob Kahn) in 1973 and which formed the basis for the architecture of the Internet.

    Frequency modulation synthesis – John Chowning of the Music department invented the FM music synthesis algorithm in 1967, and Stanford later licensed it to Yamaha Corporation.

    Google – Google began in January 1996 as a research project by Larry Page and Sergey Brin when they were both PhD students at Stanford. They were working on the Stanford Digital Library Project (SDLP). The SDLP’s goal was “to develop the enabling technologies for a single, integrated and universal digital library” and it was funded through the National Science Foundation, among other federal agencies.

    Klystron tube – invented by the brothers Russell and Sigurd Varian at Stanford. Their prototype was completed and demonstrated successfully on August 30, 1937. Upon publication in 1939, news of the klystron immediately influenced the work of U.S. and UK researchers working on radar equipment.

    RISCARPA funded VLSI project of microprocessor design. Stanford and UC Berkeley are most associated with the popularization of this concept. The Stanford MIPS would go on to be commercialized as the successful MIPS architecture, while Berkeley RISC gave its name to the entire concept, commercialized as the SPARC. Another success from this era were IBM’s efforts that eventually led to the IBM POWER instruction set architecture, PowerPC, and Power ISA. As these projects matured, a wide variety of similar designs flourished in the late 1980s and especially the early 1990s, representing a major force in the Unix workstation market as well as embedded processors in laser printers, routers and similar products.
    SUN workstation – Andy Bechtolsheim designed the SUN workstation for the Stanford University Network communications project as a personal CAD workstation, which led to Sun Microsystems.

    Businesses and entrepreneurship

    Stanford is one of the most successful universities in creating companies and licensing its inventions to existing companies; it is often held up as a model for technology transfer. Stanford’s Office of Technology Licensing is responsible for commercializing university research, intellectual property, and university-developed projects.

    The university is described as having a strong venture culture in which students are encouraged, and often funded, to launch their own companies.

    Companies founded by Stanford alumni generate more than $2.7 trillion in annual revenue, equivalent to the 10th-largest economy in the world.

    Some companies closely associated with Stanford and their connections include:

    Hewlett-Packard, 1939, co-founders William R. Hewlett (B.S, PhD) and David Packard (M.S).
    Silicon Graphics, 1981, co-founders James H. Clark (Associate Professor) and several of his grad students.
    Sun Microsystems, 1982, co-founders Vinod Khosla (M.B.A), Andy Bechtolsheim (PhD) and Scott McNealy (M.B.A).
    Cisco, 1984, founders Leonard Bosack (M.S) and Sandy Lerner (M.S) who were in charge of Stanford Computer Science and Graduate School of Business computer operations groups respectively when the hardware was developed.[163]
    Yahoo!, 1994, co-founders Jerry Yang (B.S, M.S) and David Filo (M.S).
    Google, 1998, co-founders Larry Page (M.S) and Sergey Brin (M.S).
    LinkedIn, 2002, co-founders Reid Hoffman (B.S), Konstantin Guericke (B.S, M.S), Eric Lee (B.S), and Alan Liu (B.S).
    Instagram, 2010, co-founders Kevin Systrom (B.S) and Mike Krieger (B.S).
    Snapchat, 2011, co-founders Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy (B.S).
    Coursera, 2012, co-founders Andrew Ng (Associate Professor) and Daphne Koller (Professor, PhD).

    Student body

    Stanford enrolled 6,996 undergraduate and 10,253 graduate students as of the 2019–2020 school year. Women comprised 50.4% of undergraduates and 41.5% of graduate students. In the same academic year, the freshman retention rate was 99%.

    Stanford awarded 1,819 undergraduate degrees, 2,393 master’s degrees, 770 doctoral degrees, and 3270 professional degrees in the 2018–2019 school year. The four-year graduation rate for the class of 2017 cohort was 72.9%, and the six-year rate was 94.4%. The relatively low four-year graduation rate is a function of the university’s coterminal degree (or “coterm”) program, which allows students to earn a master’s degree as a 1-to-2-year extension of their undergraduate program.

    As of 2010, fifteen percent of undergraduates were first-generation students.


    As of 2016 Stanford had 16 male varsity sports and 20 female varsity sports, 19 club sports and about 27 intramural sports. In 1930, following a unanimous vote by the Executive Committee for the Associated Students, the athletic department adopted the mascot “Indian.” The Indian symbol and name were dropped by President Richard Lyman in 1972, after objections from Native American students and a vote by the student senate. The sports teams are now officially referred to as the “Stanford Cardinal,” referring to the deep red color, not the cardinal bird. Stanford is a member of the Pac-12 Conference in most sports, the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation in several other sports, and the America East Conference in field hockey with the participation in the inter-collegiate NCAA’s Division I FBS.

    Its traditional sports rival is the University of California, Berkeley, the neighbor to the north in the East Bay. The winner of the annual “Big Game” between the Cal and Cardinal football teams gains custody of the Stanford Axe.

    Stanford has had at least one NCAA team champion every year since the 1976–77 school year and has earned 126 NCAA national team titles since its establishment, the most among universities, and Stanford has won 522 individual national championships, the most by any university. Stanford has won the award for the top-ranked Division 1 athletic program—the NACDA Directors’ Cup, formerly known as the Sears Cup—annually for the past twenty-four straight years. Stanford athletes have won medals in every Olympic Games since 1912, winning 270 Olympic medals total, 139 of them gold. In the 2008 Summer Olympics, and 2016 Summer Olympics, Stanford won more Olympic medals than any other university in the United States. Stanford athletes won 16 medals at the 2012 Summer Olympics (12 gold, two silver and two bronze), and 27 medals at the 2016 Summer Olympics.


    The unofficial motto of Stanford, selected by President Jordan, is Die Luft der Freiheit weht. Translated from the German language, this quotation from Ulrich von Hutten means, “The wind of freedom blows.” The motto was controversial during World War I, when anything in German was suspect; at that time the university disavowed that this motto was official.
    Hail, Stanford, Hail! is the Stanford Hymn sometimes sung at ceremonies or adapted by the various University singing groups. It was written in 1892 by mechanical engineering professor Albert W. Smith and his wife, Mary Roberts Smith (in 1896 she earned the first Stanford doctorate in Economics and later became associate professor of Sociology), but was not officially adopted until after a performance on campus in March 1902 by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
    “Uncommon Man/Uncommon Woman”: Stanford does not award honorary degrees, but in 1953 the degree of “Uncommon Man/Uncommon Woman” was created to recognize individuals who give rare and extraordinary service to the University. Technically, this degree is awarded by the Stanford Associates, a voluntary group that is part of the university’s alumni association. As Stanford’s highest honor, it is not conferred at prescribed intervals, but only when appropriate to recognize extraordinary service. Recipients include Herbert Hoover, Bill Hewlett, Dave Packard, Lucile Packard, and John Gardner.
    Big Game events: The events in the week leading up to the Big Game vs. UC Berkeley, including Gaieties (a musical written, composed, produced, and performed by the students of Ram’s Head Theatrical Society).
    “Viennese Ball”: a formal ball with waltzes that was initially started in the 1970s by students returning from the now-closed Stanford in Vienna overseas program. It is now open to all students.
    “Full Moon on the Quad”: An annual event at Main Quad, where students gather to kiss one another starting at midnight. Typically organized by the Junior class cabinet, the festivities include live entertainment, such as music and dance performances.
    “Band Run”: An annual festivity at the beginning of the school year, where the band picks up freshmen from dorms across campus while stopping to perform at each location, culminating in a finale performance at Main Quad.
    “Mausoleum Party”: An annual Halloween Party at the Stanford Mausoleum, the final resting place of Leland Stanford Jr. and his parents. A 20-year tradition, the “Mausoleum Party” was on hiatus from 2002 to 2005 due to a lack of funding, but was revived in 2006. In 2008, it was hosted in Old Union rather than at the actual Mausoleum, because rain prohibited generators from being rented. In 2009, after fundraising efforts by the Junior Class Presidents and the ASSU Executive, the event was able to return to the Mausoleum despite facing budget cuts earlier in the year.
    Former campus traditions include the “Big Game bonfire” on Lake Lagunita (a seasonal lake usually dry in the fall), which was formally ended in 1997 because of the presence of endangered salamanders in the lake bed.

    Award laureates and scholars

    Stanford’s current community of scholars includes:

    19 Nobel Prize laureates (as of October 2020, 85 affiliates in total)
    171 members of the National Academy of Sciences
    109 members of National Academy of Engineering
    76 members of National Academy of Medicine
    288 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
    19 recipients of the National Medal of Science
    1 recipient of the National Medal of Technology
    4 recipients of the National Humanities Medal
    49 members of American Philosophical Society
    56 fellows of the American Physics Society (since 1995)
    4 Pulitzer Prize winners
    31 MacArthur Fellows
    4 Wolf Foundation Prize winners
    2 ACL Lifetime Achievement Award winners
    14 AAAI fellows
    2 Presidential Medal of Freedom winners

    Stanford University Seal

  • richardmitnick 8:52 am on April 15, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Yellowballs offer insights into star formation", , , , EarthSky News, , Planetary Science Institute (US)   

    From Planetary Science Institute (US) via EarthSky News : “Yellowballs offer insights into star formation” 

    From Planetary Science Institute (US)


    EarthSky News

    April 15, 2021
    Amy Oliver

    The unexpected discovery of yellowballs by citizen scientists – in 2011 and 2012 – is shaking up astronomers’ ideas about how stars and star clusters form. It’s giving scientists a new window into the birth and evolution of young stars.

    This false-color infrared image shows a swath of the Milky Way, our home galaxy, used in an analysis of what astronomers call yellowballs (circled in this image). They appear to be places where young stars are heating the leftover gas and dust from which they were born. Image via Charles Kerton, Iowa State University (US)/ National Aeronautics Space Agency(US)/ NASA Spitzer Infared Space Telescope/ PSI.

    Stars are born from clouds of gas and dust in space. What astronomers call yellowballs are thought to be clusters of still-forming young stars, heating the gas and dust of their surroundings. Citizen scientists in the Zooniverse-based Milky Way Project first noticed yellowballs in 2011 and 2012. These regions don’t appear yellow to the eye; they’re observable so far only in the infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Astronomers said on April 12, 2021 that yellowballs are helping them understand the diverse cosmic environments that form stars and star clusters, very early in their development, when the stars are only about 100,000 years into their lifespans of billions of years. Grace Wolf-Chase at the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona, led the study. She explained:

    “This is the point at which their presence is first revealed, but they remain embedded in their dusty birth cocoons. This allows us to link the properties of stars with their birth environments, as if a human were giving birth to a hundred or so infants at once.”

    The peer-reviewed The Astrophysical Journal published the new yellowballs study on April 12.

    This new research shows that forming star clusters – sometimes called protoclusters – containing stars in a range of different masses go through a yellowball stage. The scientists’ statement explained that some of these protoclusters form massive stars greater than 10 solar masses that will sculpt their environments into what are called bubbles, which form because strong stellar winds and harsh ultraviolet radiation push out the surrounding dust and ga. A typical yellowball has a diameter of about a light-year. Meanwhile, over the course of a million years, the bubbles associated with star formation can expand to tens of light-years across.

    These cosmic bubbles were a focus of the original Zooniverse Milky Way Project. Yellowballs, when they were first spotted, were thought to become bubbles over time. Wolf-Chase told EarthSky:

    “We developed the Milky Way Project to have citizen scientists identify and measure the sizes of bubbles. We wanted to catalog these features across the Milky Way because massive stars are so important to the evolution of stars and chemical elements in general. Massive stars build heavy elements through nuclear fusion in their cores over the course of a few million years and then explode as supernovae, enriching their surroundings with these heavy elements. These heavy elements can be incorporated in future generations of stars.”

    Yellowballs (left) are compact objects in the evolution of a star, with a diameter of about a light-year. Bubbles (right) can grow to tens of light-years as they expand outward. Seen here in infrared images from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, the false-color application of red-blue-green allows for the identification of Yellowballs, which are otherwise not prominent. Image via PSI/ NASA/JPL-Caltech.

    Bubbles, as Wolf-Chase noted, develop when young massive stars – more than 10 times our sun’s mass – are present. This, in turn, destroys the material closest to the stars, leaving behind a rim of infrared light that looks a lot like a bubble.

    The scientists’ statement explained:

    “During the course of searching for ‘bubbles’ in the Milky Way Project, citizen scientists used the project’s discussion board to tag small, roundish objects that appear ‘yellow’ in the representative color infrared images.”

    Wolf-Chase explained:

    “Scientists initially thought these might be very young versions of the bubbles and we included identifying yellowballs as a principal goal in a version of the Milky Way Project that was launched in 2016. This resulted in the identification of 6,176 yellowballs over more than 1/3 of the Milky Way. Their distinctive ‘yellow’ appearance relates to wavelengths that trace complex organic molecules and dust as they are warmed by very young stars embedded in their birth clouds.

    Our paper analyzes a subset of 516 yellowballs and shows only about 20% of yellowballs will form the bubbles associated with massive stars, while about 80% of these objects pinpoint the location of regions forming less massive stars.”

    This work shows the great value of citizen science in opening a new window into our understanding of star formation.

    See the full article here.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The Planetary Science Institute (PSI) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit research institute based in Tucson, Arizona, focusing on planetary science.

    Founded in 1972, PSI is involved in many NASA missions, the study of Mars, asteroids, comets, interplanetary dust, the formation of the Solar System, extrasolar planets, the origin of life, and other scientific topics. It actively participated in the Dawn mission, which explored Vesta between 2011 and 2012, and Ceres between 2015 and 2018. It managed the spacecraft’s Gamma Ray and Neutron Detector, which mapped the surfaces of the two minor planets to determine how they were formed and evolved.

    PSI’s orbit@home was a distributed computing project through which the public can help in the search for near-Earth objects. The Institute is also involved in science education through school programs, popular science books and art.

  • richardmitnick 8:53 am on April 10, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Scientists detect X-rays from Uranus", , , , EarthSky News, ,   

    From University College London (UK) via EarthSky News : “Scientists detect X-rays from Uranus” 

    UCL bloc

    From University College London (UK)


    EarthSky News

    April 7, 2021
    Paul Scott Anderson

    For the first time, scientists have detected X-rays being emitted by the planet Uranus. The discovery was made by a new analysis of data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory.

    The planet Uranus is surrounded by thin rings. This world rotates on its side with respect to the plane of our solar system. This composite image is composed of both X-ray and visible light images. The X-ray emission appears here as pink, and the visible light as blue. Image via National Aeronautics Space Agency(US)/ NASA Chandra X-ray Space Telescope(US).

    A Quick Look at: Uranus

    Many objects in space emit X-rays, including black holes, neutron stars, a special class of binary stars known as X-ray binaries, exploding stars called supernovae and their remnants, and our own sun. Most of the planets in our solar system, and even some of Jupiter’s moons are also known to give off X-rays. But, until now, when astronomers looked for X-rays from the ice giant worlds Uranus and Neptune, they found nothing – nada – zilch. Now, for the first time, astronomers have used NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory to detect X-rays coming from one of the ice giants, Uranus, in the outer solar system.

    The space agency made the announcement on March 31, 2021, and the researchers published their discovery in the April 2021 issue of the the peer-reviewed Journal of Geophysical Research.

    While X-ray emissions were known to be common among objects in the solar system, Uranus and Neptune had still been little studied in this regard, so not much was known about whether they also emitted X-rays. The researchers, led by William Dunn at University College London (UK) in the U.K., decided to take a closer look at data about Uranus from Chandra. One set of observations was from 2002 and the other was from 2017.

    They saw a prominent detection from the first observation, and a possible one from the second.

    One surprise is that there seems to be evidence for more than one source of the X-rays. It had been assumed that they would be the result of scattering, where X-rays from the sun are scattered by Uranus’ atmosphere. The same kind of thing happens in Earth’s atmosphere. But there may be another, still unknown source of X-rays on Uranus.

    This is a view of Uranus from Chandra as seen only in X-ray wavelengths. Image via National Aeronautics and Space Administration(US)/ Chandra X-ray telescope(US).

    One possibility is that they are produced by auroras in the planet’s atmosphere – caused by charged particles that interact with gas particles in the atmosphere, setting off spectacular bursts of light – which have been seen before by the Voyager 2 spacecraft and the Hubble Space Telescope.

    Or, they could even be produced by Uranus’ rings. The region of space around Uranus contains charged particles such as electrons and protons. They could collide with particles in the rings, creating X-rays. Saturn’s rings are known to produce X-rays when they are hit by charged particles from the sun, so perhaps the same thing is happening at Uranus, even though the planet only has two sets of thinner rings, not nearly as prominent as Saturn’s.

    Scientists are particularly interested in Uranus’ X-rays since the planet itself is so unusual. Unlike all the other planets in the solar system, the rotation axis of Uranus is tilted at 98 degrees, almost perpendicular to its orbital path around the sun. In other words, it rotates on its side. The planet’s magnetic field, however, is tilted at 59 degrees and is also offset from the center of the planet. Scientists think this may cause auroras that are uniquely complex and variable, which may contribute to the production of X-rays.

    Right now, scientists still aren’t sure what causes Uranus’ auroras. If it can be confirmed that they do, in fact, contribute to the planet’s X-ray emissions, that could provide valuable clues as to how the auroras themselves are produced.

    Auroras are also common on other planets in the solar system, including, of course, Earth. On our planet, X-rays occur in auroras when energetic electrons travel down the magnetic field lines to the poles.

    Researchers want to continue observing Uranus with Chandra, to help narrow down the locations of the X-rays and identify their sources. From the paper:

    Further, and longer, observations with Chandra would help to produce a map of X-ray emission across Uranus and to identify, with better signal-to-noise, the source locations for the X-rays, constraining possible contributions from the rings and aurora. Such longer timescale observations would also permit exploration of whether the emissions vary in phase with rotation, potentially suggestive of auroral emissions rotating in and out of view.

    Other upcoming missions that could study Uranus’ X-rays include the European Space Agency’s Advanced Telescope for High Energy Astrophysics (ATHENA), due to launch in 2031, and NASA’s Lynx X-ray Observatory mission, which is still in the concept stage.

    Figuring out exactly what causes Uranus’ X-rays could help researchers better understand this enigmatic world. If X-rays were to be discovered on Neptune as well, as seemingly likely, it would also be interesting to compare their nature on each of these ice giant worlds.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    UCL campus

    University College London (UK)</a, is a public research university located in London, United Kingdom, and a member institution of the federal University of London(UK). It is the largest university in the United Kingdom by total enrollment apart from the Open University, and the largest by postgraduate enrollment.

    Established in 1826, as London University by founders inspired by the radical ideas of Jeremy Bentham, UCL was the first university institution to be established in London, and the first in England to be entirely secular and to admit students regardless of their religion. UCL also makes contested claims to being the third-oldest university in England and the first to admit women. In 1836, UCL became one of the two founding colleges of the University of London, which was granted a royal charter in the same year. It has grown through mergers, including with the Institute of Ophthalmology (in 1995); the Institute of Neurology (in 1997); the Royal Free Hospital Medical School (in 1998); the Eastman Dental Institute (in 1999); the School of Slavonic and East European Studies (in 1999); the School of Pharmacy (in 2012) and the Institute of Education (in 2014).

    UCL has its main campus in the Bloomsbury area of central London, with a number of institutes and teaching hospitals elsewhere in central London and satellite campuses in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, east London and in Doha, Qatar. UCL is organised into 11 constituent faculties, within which there are over 100 departments, institutes and research centres. UCL operates several museums and collections in a wide range of fields, including the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology and the Grant Museum of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy, and administers the annual Orwell Prize in political writing. In 2019/20, UCL had around 43,840 students and 16,400 staff (including around 7,100 academic staff and 840 professors) and had a total income of £1.54 billion, of which £468 million was from research grants and contracts.

    UCL is a member of numerous academic organisations, including the Russell Group(UK) and the League of European Research Universities, and is part of UCL Partners, the world’s largest academic health science centre, and is considered part of the “golden triangle” of elite, research-intensive universities in England.

    UCL has many notable alumni, including the respective “Fathers of the Nation” of India; Kenya and Mauritius; the founders of Ghana; modern Japan; Nigeria; the inventor of the telephone; and one of the co-discoverers of the structure of DNA. UCL academics discovered five of the naturally occurring noble gases; discovered hormones; invented the vacuum tube; and made several foundational advances in modern statistics. As of 2020, 34 Nobel Prize winners and 3 Fields medalists have been affiliated with UCL as alumni, faculty or researchers.


    UCL was founded on 11 February 1826 under the name London University, as an alternative to the Anglican universities of the University of Oxford(UK) and University of Cambridge(UK). London University’s first Warden was Leonard Horner, who was the first scientist to head a British university.

    Despite the commonly held belief that the philosopher Jeremy Bentham was the founder of UCL, his direct involvement was limited to the purchase of share No. 633, at a cost of £100 paid in nine installments between December 1826 and January 1830. In 1828 he did nominate a friend to sit on the council, and in 1827 attempted to have his disciple John Bowring appointed as the first professor of English or History, but on both occasions his candidates were unsuccessful. This suggests that while his ideas may have been influential, he himself was less so. However, Bentham is today commonly regarded as the “spiritual father” of UCL, as his radical ideas on education and society were the inspiration to the institution’s founders, particularly the Scotsmen James Mill (1773–1836) and Henry Brougham (1778–1868).

    In 1827, the Chair of Political Economy at London University was created, with John Ramsay McCulloch as the first incumbent, establishing one of the first departments of economics in England. In 1828 the university became the first in England to offer English as a subject and the teaching of Classics and medicine began. In 1830, London University founded the London University School, which would later become University College School. In 1833, the university appointed Alexander Maconochie, Secretary to the Royal Geographical Society, as the first professor of geography in the British Isles. In 1834, University College Hospital (originally North London Hospital) opened as a teaching hospital for the university’s medical school.

    1836 to 1900 – University College, London

    In 1836, London University was incorporated by royal charter under the name University College, London. On the same day, the University of London was created by royal charter as a degree-awarding examining board for students from affiliated schools and colleges, with University College and King’s College, London being named in the charter as the first two affiliates.[23]

    The Slade School of Fine Art was founded as part of University College in 1871, following a bequest from Felix Slade.

    In 1878, the University of London gained a supplemental charter making it the first British university to be allowed to award degrees to women. The same year, UCL admitted women to the faculties of Arts and Law and of Science, although women remained barred from the faculties of Engineering and of Medicine (with the exception of courses on public health and hygiene). While UCL claims to have been the first university in England to admit women on equal terms to men, from 1878, the University of Bristol(UK) also makes this claim, having admitted women from its foundation (as a college) in 1876. Armstrong College, a predecessor institution of Newcastle University(UK), also allowed women to enter from its foundation in 1871, although none actually enrolled until 1881. Women were finally admitted to medical studies during the First World War in 1917, although limitations were placed on their numbers after the war ended.

    In 1898, Sir William Ramsay discovered the elements krypton; neon; and xenon whilst professor of chemistry at UCL.

    1900 to 1976 – University of London, University College

    In 1900, the University of London was reconstituted as a federal university with new statutes drawn up under the University of London Act 1898. UCL, along with a number of other colleges in London, became a school of the University of London. While most of the constituent institutions retained their autonomy, UCL was merged into the University in 1907 under the University College London (Transfer) Act 1905 and lost its legal independence. Its formal name became University of London, University College, although for most informal and external purposes the name “University College, London” (or the initialism UCL) was still used.

    1900 also saw the decision to appoint a salaried head of the college. The first incumbent was Carey Foster, who served as Principal (as the post was originally titled) from 1900 to 1904. He was succeeded by Gregory Foster (no relation), and in 1906 the title was changed to Provost to avoid confusion with the Principal of the University of London. Gregory Foster remained in post until 1929. In 1906, the Cruciform Building was opened as the new home for University College Hospital.

    As it acknowledged and apologized for in 2021, UCL played “a fundamental role in the development, propagation and legitimisation of eugenics” during the first half of the 20th century. Among the prominent eugenicists who taught at UCL were Francis Galton, who coined the term “eugenics”, and Karl Pearson, and eugenics conferences were held at UCL until 2017.

    UCL sustained considerable bomb damage during the Second World War, including the complete destruction of the Great Hall and the Carey Foster Physics Laboratory. Fires gutted the library and destroyed much of the main building, including the dome. The departments were dispersed across the country to Aberystwyth; Bangor; Gwynedd; Cambridge; Oxford; Rothamsted near Harpenden; Hertfordshire; and Sheffield, with the administration at Stanstead Bury near Ware, Hertfordshire. The first UCL student magazine, Pi, was published for the first time on 21 February 1946. The Institute of Jewish Studies relocated to UCL in 1959.

    The Mullard Space Science Laboratory(UK) was established in 1967. In 1973, UCL became the first international node to the precursor of the internet, the ARPANET.

    Although UCL was among the first universities to admit women on the same terms as men, in 1878, the college’s senior common room, the Housman Room, remained men-only until 1969. After two unsuccessful attempts, a motion was passed that ended segregation by sex at UCL. This was achieved by Brian Woledge (Fielden Professor of French at UCL from 1939 to 1971) and David Colquhoun, at that time a young lecturer in pharmacology.

    1976 to 2005 – University College London

    In 1976, a new charter restored UCL’s legal independence, although still without the power to award its own degrees. Under this charter the college became formally known as University College London. This name abandoned the comma used in its earlier name of “University College, London”.

    In 1986, UCL merged with the Institute of Archaeology. In 1988, UCL merged with the Institute of Laryngology & Otology; the Institute of Orthopaedics; the Institute of Urology & Nephrology; and Middlesex Hospital Medical School.

    In 1993, a reorganisation of the University of London meant that UCL and other colleges gained direct access to government funding and the right to confer University of London degrees themselves. This led to UCL being regarded as a de facto university in its own right.

    In 1994, the University College London Hospitals NHS Trust was established. UCL merged with the College of Speech Sciences and the Institute of Ophthalmology in 1995; the Institute of Child Health and the School of Podiatry in 1996; and the Institute of Neurology in 1997. In 1998, UCL merged with the Royal Free Hospital Medical School to create the Royal Free and University College Medical School (renamed the UCL Medical School in October 2008). In 1999, UCL merged with the School of Slavonic and East European Studies and the Eastman Dental Institute.

    The UCL Jill Dando Institute of Crime Science, the first university department in the world devoted specifically to reducing crime, was founded in 2001.

    Proposals for a merger between UCL and Imperial College London(UK) were announced in 2002. The proposal provoked strong opposition from UCL teaching staff and students and the AUT union, which criticised “the indecent haste and lack of consultation”, leading to its abandonment by UCL provost Sir Derek Roberts. The blogs that helped to stop the merger are preserved, though some of the links are now broken: see David Colquhoun’s blog and the Save UCL blog, which was run by David Conway, a postgraduate student in the department of Hebrew and Jewish studies.

    The London Centre for Nanotechnology was established in 2003 as a joint venture between UCL and Imperial College London. They were later joined by King’s College London(UK) in 2018.

    Since 2003, when UCL professor David Latchman became master of the neighbouring Birkbeck, he has forged closer relations between these two University of London colleges, and personally maintains departments at both. Joint research centres include the UCL/Birkbeck Institute for Earth and Planetary Sciences; the UCL/Birkbeck/IoE Centre for Educational Neuroscience; the UCL/Birkbeck Institute of Structural and Molecular Biology; and the Birkbeck-UCL Centre for Neuroimaging.

    2005 to 2010

    In 2005, UCL was finally granted its own taught and research degree awarding powers and all UCL students registered from 2007/08 qualified with UCL degrees. Also in 2005, UCL adopted a new corporate branding under which the name University College London was replaced by the initialism UCL in all external communications. In the same year, a major new £422 million building was opened for University College Hospital on Euston Road, the UCL Ear Institute was established and a new building for the UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies was opened.

    In 2007, the UCL Cancer Institute was opened in the newly constructed Paul O’Gorman Building. In August 2008, UCL formed UCL Partners, an academic health science centre, with Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Trust; Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust; Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust; and University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. In 2008, UCL established the UCL School of Energy & Resources in Adelaide, Australia, the first campus of a British university in the country. The School was based in the historic Torrens Building in Victoria Square and its creation followed negotiations between UCL Vice Provost Michael Worton and South Australian Premier Mike Rann.

    In 2009, the Yale UCL Collaborative was established between UCL; UCL Partners; Yale University(US); Yale School of Medicine; and Yale – New Haven Hospital. It is the largest collaboration in the history of either university, and its scope has subsequently been extended to the humanities and social sciences.

    2010 to 2015

    In June 2011, the mining company BHP Billiton agreed to donate AU$10 million to UCL to fund the establishment of two energy institutes – the Energy Policy Institute; based in Adelaide, and the Institute for Sustainable Resources, based in London.

    In November 2011, UCL announced plans for a £500 million investment in its main Bloomsbury campus over 10 years, as well as the establishment of a new 23-acre campus next to the Olympic Park in Stratford in the East End of London. It revised its plans of expansion in East London and in December 2014 announced to build a campus (UCL East) covering 11 acres and provide up to 125,000m^2 of space on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. UCL East will be part of plans to transform the Olympic Park into a cultural and innovation hub, where UCL will open its first school of design, a centre of experimental engineering and a museum of the future, along with a living space for students.

    The School of Pharmacy, University of London merged with UCL on 1 January 2012, becoming the UCL School of Pharmacy within the Faculty of Life Sciences. In May 2012, UCL, Imperial College London and the semiconductor company Intel announced the establishment of the Intel Collaborative Research Institute for Sustainable Connected Cities, a London-based institute for research into the future of cities.

    In August 2012, UCL received criticism for advertising an unpaid research position; it subsequently withdrew the advert.

    UCL and the Institute of Education formed a strategic alliance in October 2012, including co-operation in teaching, research and the development of the London schools system. In February 2014, the two institutions announced their intention to merge, and the merger was completed in December 2014.

    In September 2013, a new Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy (STEaPP) was established within the Faculty of Engineering, one of several initiatives within the university to increase and reflect upon the links between research and public sector decision-making.

    In October 2013, it was announced that the Translation Studies Unit of Imperial College London would move to UCL, becoming part of the UCL School of European Languages, Culture and Society. In December 2013, it was announced that UCL and the academic publishing company Elsevier would collaborate to establish the UCL Big Data Institute. In January 2015, it was announced that UCL had been selected by the UK government as one of the five founding members of the Alan Turing Institute(UK) (together with the universities of Cambridge, University of Edinburgh(SCL), Oxford and University of Warwick(UK)), an institute to be established at the British Library to promote the development and use of advanced mathematics, computer science, algorithms and big data.

    2015 to 2020

    In August 2015, the Department of Management Science and Innovation was renamed as the School of Management and plans were announced to greatly expand UCL’s activities in the area of business-related teaching and research. The school moved from the Bloomsbury campus to One Canada Square in Canary Wharf in 2016.

    UCL established the Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS) in 2015 to promote interdisciplinary research in humanities and social sciences. The prestigious annual Orwell Prize for political writing moved to the IAS in 2016.

    In June 2016 it was reported in Times Higher Education that as a result of administrative errors hundreds of students who studied at the UCL Eastman Dental Institute between 2005–06 and 2013–14 had been given the wrong marks, leading to an unknown number of students being attributed with the wrong qualifications and, in some cases, being failed when they should have passed their degrees. A report by UCL’s Academic Committee Review Panel noted that, according to the institute’s own review findings, senior members of UCL staff had been aware of issues affecting students’ results but had not taken action to address them. The Review Panel concluded that there had been an apparent lack of ownership of these matters amongst the institute’s senior staff.

    In December 2016 it was announced that UCL would be the hub institution for a new £250 million national dementia research institute, to be funded with £150 million from the Medical Research Council and £50 million each from Alzheimer’s Research UK and the Alzheimer’s Society.

    In May 2017 it was reported that staff morale was at “an all time low”, with 68% of members of the academic board who responded to a survey disagreeing with the statement “UCL is well managed” and 86% with “the teaching facilities are adequate for the number of students”. Michael Arthur, the Provost and President, linked the results to the “major change programme” at UCL. He admitted that facilities were under pressure following growth over the past decade, but said that the issues were being addressed through the development of UCL East and rental of other additional space.

    In October 2017 UCL’s council voted to apply for university status while remaining part of the University of London. UCL’s application to become a university was subject to Parliament passing a bill to amend the statutes of the University of London, which received royal assent on 20 December 2018.

    The UCL Adelaide satellite campus closed in December 2017, with academic staff and student transferring to the University of South Australia(AU). As of 2019 UniSA and UCL are offering a joint masters qualification in Science in Data Science (international).

    In 2018, UCL opened UCL at Here East, at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, offering courses jointly between the Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment and the Faculty of Engineering Sciences. The campus offers a variety of undergraduate and postgraduate master’s degrees, with the first undergraduate students, on a new Engineering and Architectural Design MEng, starting in September 2018. It was announced in August 2018 that a £215 million contract for construction of the largest building in the UCL East development, Marshgate 1, had been awarded to Mace, with building to begin in 2019 and be completed by 2022.

    In 2017 UCL disciplined an IT administrator who was also the University and College Union (UCU) branch secretary for refusing to take down an unmoderated staff mailing list. An employment tribunal subsequently ruled that he was engaged in union activities and thus this disciplinary action was unlawful. As of June 2019 UCL is appealing this ruling and the UCU congress has declared this to be a “dispute of national significance”.

    2020 to present

    In 2021 UCL formed a strategic partnership with Facebook AI Research (FAIR), including the creation of a new PhD programme.


    UCL has made cross-disciplinary research a priority and orientates its research around four “Grand Challenges”, Global Health, Sustainable Cities, Intercultural Interaction and Human Wellbeing.

    In 2014/15, UCL had a total research income of £427.5 million, the third-highest of any British university (after the University of Oxford and Imperial College London). Key sources of research income in that year were BIS research councils (£148.3 million); UK-based charities (£106.5 million); UK central government; local/health authorities and hospitals (£61.5 million); EU government bodies (£45.5 million); and UK industry, commerce and public corporations (£16.2 million). In 2015/16, UCL was awarded a total of £85.8 million in grants by UK research councils, the second-largest amount of any British university (after the University of Oxford), having achieved a 28% success rate. For the period to June 2015, UCL was the fifth-largest recipient of Horizon 2020 EU research funding and the largest recipient of any university, with €49.93 million of grants received. UCL also had the fifth-largest number of projects funded of any organisation, with 94.

    According to a ranking of universities produced by SCImago Research Group, UCL is ranked 12th in the world (and 1st in Europe) in terms of total research output. According to data released in July 2008 by ISI Web of Knowledge, UCL is the 13th most-cited university in the world (and most-cited in Europe). The analysis covered citations from 1 January 1998 to 30 April 2008, during which 46,166 UCL research papers attracted 803,566 citations. The report covered citations in 21 subject areas and the results revealed some of UCL’s key strengths, including: Clinical Medicine (1st outside North America); Immunology (2nd in Europe); Neuroscience & Behaviour (1st outside North America and 2nd in the world); Pharmacology & Toxicology (1st outside North America and 4th in the world); Psychiatry & Psychology (2nd outside North America); and Social Sciences, General (1st outside North America).

    UCL submitted a total of 2,566 staff across 36 units of assessment to the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) assessment, in each case the highest number of any UK university (compared with 1,793 UCL staff submitted to the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE 2008)). In the REF results 43% of UCL’s submitted research was classified as 4* (world-leading); 39% as 3* (internationally excellent); 15% as 2* (recognised internationally) and 2% as 1* (recognised nationally), giving an overall GPA of 3.22 (RAE 2008: 4* – 27%, 3* – 39%, 2* – 27% and 1* – 6%). In rankings produced by Times Higher Education based upon the REF results, UCL was ranked 1st overall for “research power” and joint 8th for GPA (compared to 4th and 7th respectively in equivalent rankings for the RAE 2008).

  • richardmitnick 9:30 am on April 8, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Guatemala’s Pacaya volcano still erupting", , , EarthSky News, ,   

    EarthSky News: “Guatemala’s Pacaya volcano still erupting” 

    EarthSky News

    April 7, 2021
    Eleanor Imster

    The Pacaya volcano in Guatemala is still erupting, spewing rivers of lava and ash clouds. See photos, video, and satellite images.

    Falling ash from the Pacaya volcano forced the closure of Guatemala’s only international airport on March 23 for almost 24 hours. Image via Phys.org.

    Guatemala’s Pacaya volcano is maintaining high levels of activity, with strong eruptions spewing rivers of lava and ash clouds, officials said today (April 7, 2021). The national disaster coordination body said that the advancing lava has caused wildfires and the destruction of coffee and avocado plantations.

    The 8,200-foot (2,500-meter) Pacaya volcano, one of the most active of the country’s 38 volcanoes, lies about 15 miles (25 km) south of the capital city of Guatemala City. After being dormant for over 70 years, Pacaya began erupting vigorously in 1961 and has been erupting frequently

    In recent weeks, Pacaya’s fiery reach has stretched closer to human settlements in Guatemala. The volcano has been displaying what scientists refer to as strombolian activity – short-lived, explosive outbursts of lava – fueling lava fountains and flows, and spewing plumes into the air. According to a NASA report, plumes of gas and ash have risen as high as 13,000 feet (4,500 meters) above sea level from the volcano’s Mackenney summit crater, which stands at 8,000 feet (2500 meters). Lava has flowed 1.5 to 2 miles (2 to 3 km) down the west flank of Pacaya. Stay updated on Pacaya here. since then. It has been steadily active in 2021, with two strong explosions at the end of last month (March 24-30, 2021).

    Lava flows from Pacaya inundating bush land on March 29. Image via Berner Villela Fotografía / Volcano Discovery.

    On March 29, 2021, NASA’s Landsat 8 satellite acquired this image of the eruption. The image combines shortwave infrared and red light (OLI bands 7-6-4) to better distinguish the heat signature of volcanic lava amid the vegetation and clouds. Image via NASA Earth Observatory.

    Pacaya volcano erupts, lava approaches residents in Guatemala 🇬🇹 April 2 2021.

    Lava flowing out of the Pacaya volcano, 15 miles (25 km) south of Guatemala City on March 25, 2021. Image via Phys.org.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

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

  • richardmitnick 9:00 am on April 7, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Alpha Centauri- star system closest to our sun", , , , , EarthSky News   

    From EarthSky News: “Alpha Centauri- star system closest to our sun” 

    EarthSky News

    April 7, 2021
    Larry Sessions
    Shireen Gonzaga

    Alpha Centauri, the third-brightest star in the sky, photographed in Coonabarabran, NSW, Australia, by Alan Dyer. A faint swarm of stars to the right is the star cluster NGC 5617. Across the field, patches of dark interstellar dust clouds obscure stars in our Milky Way Galaxy. Image via Alan Dyer/ AmazingSKY.

    Centauris Alpha Beta Proxima, 27 February 2012. Skatebiker.

    Alpha Centauri is the third-brightest star in our night sky – a famous southern star – and the nearest star system to our sun. Through a small telescope, the single star we see as Alpha Centauri resolves into a double star. This pair is just 4.37 light-years away from us. In orbit around them is Proxima Centauri, too faint to be visible to the unaided eye. At a distance of 4.25 light years, Proxima is the closest-known star to our solar system.

    Science of the Alpha Centauri system

    The two stars that make up Alpha Centauri, Rigil Kentaurus and Toliman, are quite similar to our sun. Rigil Kentaurus, also known as Alpha Centauri A, is a yellowish star, slightly more massive than the sun and about 1.5 times brighter. Toliman, or Alpha Centauri B, has an orangish hue; it’s a bit less massive and half as bright as the sun. Studies of their mass and spectroscopic features indicate that both these stars are about 5 to 6 billion years old, slightly older than our sun.

    Alpha Centauri A and B are gravitationally bound together, orbiting about a common center of mass every 79.9 years at a relatively close proximity, between 40 to 47 astronomical units (that is, 40 to 47 times the distance between the Earth and our sun).

    In comparison, Proxima Centauri is a bit of an outlier. This dim reddish star, weighing in at just 12 percent of the sun’s mass, is currently about 13,000 astronomical units from Alpha Centauri A and B. Recent analysis of ground- and space-based data, published in 2017, has shown that Proxima is gravitationally bound to its bright companions, with a 550,000-year-long orbital period.

    Proxima Centauri belongs to a class of low mass stars with cooler surface temperatures, known as red dwarfs. It’s also what’s know as a flare star, where it randomly displays sudden bursts of brightness due to strong magnetic activity.

    In the past decade, astronomers have been searching for planets around the Alpha Centauri stars; they are, after all, the closest stars to us so the odds of detecting planets, if any existed, would be higher. So far, two planets have been found orbiting Proxima Centauri, one in 2016 and another in 2019. A paper published in February 2021 [Nature Communications] volume reported tantalizing evidence of a Neptune-sized planet around Alpha Centauri A, but so far, it has not been definitively confirmed.

    NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope(US) image of Proxima Centauri, the closest known star to the sun.

    How to see Alpha Centauri. Unluckily for many of us in the Northern Hemisphere, Alpha Centauri is located too far to the south on the sky’s dome. Most North Americans never see it; the cut-off latitude is about 29° north, and anyone north of that is out of luck. In the U.S. that latitudinal line passes near Houston and Orlando, but even from the Florida Keys, the star never rises more than a few degrees above the southern horizon. Things are a little better in Hawaii and Puerto Rico, where it can get 10° or 11° high.

    But for observers located far enough south in the Northern Hemisphere, Alpha Centauri may be visible at roughly 1 a.m. (local daylight saving time) in early May. That is when the star is highest above the southern horizon. By early July, it reaches its highest point to the south at nightfall. Even so, from these vantage points, there are no good pointer stars to Alpha Centauri. For those south of 29° N. latitude, when the bright star Arcturus is high overhead, look to the extreme south for a glimpse of Alpha Centauri.

    The southern constellation Centaurus. Image via Wikimedia/ International Astronomical Union/ Sky & Telescope

    Observers in the tropical and subtropical regions of the Northern Hemisphere can find Alpha Centauri by first identifying the distinctive Southern Cross.

    View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Kannan A in Woodlands, Singapore, captured this photo of the Southern Cross on March 8, 2021. He wrote: “The Southern Cross constellation seen here in the morning in Singapore looking south. On the left of this cross are the 2 pointer stars, Alpha Centauri (Rigel Kentaurus) and Beta Centauri (Hadar). They point to the Southern Cross.” Thanks, Kannan!

    A short line drawn through the crossbar (Delta and Beta Crucis) eastward first comes to Hadar (Beta Centauri), then Alpha Centauri. Meanwhile, in Australia and much of the Southern Hemisphere, Alpha Centauri is circumpolar, meaning that it never sets.

    In this image taken at the European Southern Observatory’s (EU) La Silla Observatory (CL), the Southern Cross is clearly visible, with the yellowish star, closest to the dome, marking the top of the cross. Drawing a line downward through the crossbar stars takes you to the bluish star, Beta Centauri, and then to the yellowish Alpha Centauri. Image via ESO / Wikimedia Commons.

    Image shot over the 1.52m Telescope at La Silla (CL).

    Alpha Centauri in mythology.

    Alpha Centauri has played a prominent role in the mythology of cultures across the Southern Hemisphere. For the Ngarrindjeri indigenous people of South Australia, Alpha and Beta Centauri were two sharks pursuing a sting ray represented by stars of the Southern Cross. Some Australian aboriginal cultures also associated stars with family relationships and marriage traditions; for instance, two stars of the Southern Cross were through to be the parents of Alpha Centauri.

    Astronomy and navigation were deeply intertwined in the lives of ancient seafaring Polynesians as they sailed between islands in the vast expanse of the South Pacific. These ancient mariners navigated using the stars, with cues from nature such as bird movements, waves, and wind direction. Alpha Centauri and nearby Beta Centauri, known as Kamailehope and Kamailemua, respectively, were important signposts used for orientation in the open ocean.

    For ancient Incas, a llama graced the sky, traced out by stars and dark dust lanes in the Milky Way from Scorpius to the Southern Cross, with Alpha Centauri and Beta Centauri representing its eyes.

    Ancient Egyptians revered Alpha Centauri, and may have built temples aligned to its rising point. In southern China, it was part of a star group known as the South Gate.

    Alpha Centauri is the brightest star in the constellation Centaurus, named after the mythical half human, half horse creature. It was thought to represent an uncharacteristically wise centaur that figured in the mythology of Heracles and Jason. The centaur was accidentally wounded by Heracles, and placed into the sky after death by Zeus. Alpha Centauri marked the right front hoof of the centaur, although little is known of its mythological significance, if any.
    Antique etching of half-man-half-horse in field of stars in black on white.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

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

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