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  • richardmitnick 8:38 pm on June 16, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Imagining the distant past — and finding keys to the future", , EAPS: MIT’s Department of Earth Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, , , Geochemistry, , , MIT Terrascope, , Terrascope is one of four learning communities offered to first-year MIT students., Working with cores of sediment drilled from the Earth that hold clues to our planet’s climate long before there were records created by humans., You’re able to go basically from mud to a coherent picture of what the atmosphere was doing in the past-what the ocean was doing in the past.   

    From Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) : “Imagining the distant past — and finding keys to the future” 

    MIT News

    From Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US)

    June 16, 2021
    Michaela Jarvis

    MIT earth science professor David McGee studies the atmosphere’s response to paleoclimate changes. “A really basic message that comes from the study of paleoclimate is the sensitivity of the Earth’s system,” he says. “A few degrees of warming or cooling is a really big deal.” Credit: Adam Glanzman.

    The most dramatic moments of David McGee’s research occur when he is working with cores of sediment drilled from the Earth that hold clues to our planet’s climate long before there were records created by humans.

    “Some of the biggest excitement I have,” says McGee, an associate professor in MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences (EAPS), “is when we’re working with sediments that have been taken from 2,000 meters down in the Atlantic Ocean, for example. You’re performing various geochemical measurements on the sediments, you’re using radiocarbon dating to figure how old a core is, and you’re developing records of how the climate has changed over the past thousands of years. You’re able to go basically from mud to a coherent picture of what the atmosphere was doing in the past-what the ocean was doing in the past.”

    Imagining the natural world as it was in the distant past, when no people were around to directly observe or write about it, always fascinated McGee. As a child, before it even occurred to him that there was such a thing as an Earth scientist, he was “constantly wondering about what mountains and beaches would have looked like millions of years ago and what they might look like a million years from now.” Recently, while going through the artifacts of his childhood, he found a rock collection and a creative writing project focused on time travel back to the Precambrian Era. He recalls that once when he was set loose in the school library to find a science project topic, he chose a book on ice ages and tried to develop related hypotheses that he could test.

    Later, stumbling into a geology class in college, as he describes it, McGee was completely taken in by the idea that Earth science involved a sort of detective work to uncover history out in the natural world, using the tools of modern science, such as geochemistry, computation, and close observation.

    “I really fell for it,” he says.

    McGee’s focus on studying paleoclimate and the atmosphere’s response to past climate changes satisfies his lifelong curiosity — and it yields important insights into the climate change the planet is currently undergoing.

    “A really basic message that comes from the study of paleoclimate is the sensitivity of the Earth’s system,” says McGee. “A few degrees of warming or cooling is a really big deal.”

    From the start of his career, McGee has been dedicated to sharing his love of exploration with students. He earned a master’s degree in teaching and spent seven years as a teacher in middle school and high school classrooms before earning his PhD in Earth and environmental sciences from Columbia University. He joined the MIT faculty in 2012 and in 2018 received the Excellence in Mentoring Award from MIT’s Undergraduate Advising and Academic Programming office. In 2019, he was granted tenure.

    In 2016, McGee became the director of MIT’s Terrascope first-year learning community, where he says he has been able to continue to pursue his interest in how students learn.

    MIT Terrascope

    “Part of why Terrascope has been so important to me is it’s a place where there is a lot of great thinking about what makes a meaningful educational experience,” he says.

    Terrascope is one of four learning communities offered to first-year MIT students, allows them to address real-world sustainability issues in interdisciplinary, student-led teams. The projects the students undertake connect them to related experts and professionals, in part so the students can figure out what blend of areas of expertise — such as technology, policy, economics, and human behaviors — will serve them as they head toward their life’s work.

    “Students are often asking themselves, ‘How do I connect what I really like to do, what I’m good at, and what the world actually needs?’” McGee says. “In Terrascope, we try to provide a space for that exploration.”

    McGee’s work with Terrascope was, in part, the basis for his September 2020 appointment to the role of associate department head for diversity, equity, and inclusion within EAPS. On the occasion of McGee’s appointment, EAPS department head Rob van der Hilst said, “David has proven he is a dedicated and compassionate leader, able to build a robust community around collaboration, shared purpose, and deep respect for the strengths each member brings.”

    McGee says Earth science is often unwelcoming to women, members of racial or ethnic minoritized groups, and people who are LGBTQ+. Improved recruitment and retention policies are needed to diversify the field, he says.

    “Earth science is a very white science,” McGee says. “And yet we’re working on problems that affect everyone and disproportionately affect communities of color — things like climate change and natural disasters. It’s really important that the future of Earth science look different than the present in terms of the demographics.”

    One of the things McGee takes from his research experience as he approaches students is his observation that being an Earth scientist represents many different approaches and avenues of study — inherently, the field can extend itself to a wide diversity of talent.

    “The thing I try to make clear to students is there’s no way to be the expert in every aspect of even one Earth science study,” he says. “With the study of paleoclimate, for instance, there’s field geology, careful analytical chemistry, data analysis, computation, the physics of climate systems. You’re constantly on the edge of your learning and working with people who know more than you about a certain aspect of a study. Students are not coming to Earth science to become a carbon copy of any of us.”

    See the full article here .

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    MIT Seal

    USPS “Forever” postage stamps celebrating Innovation at MIT.

    MIT Campus

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

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

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

    Foundation and vision

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

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

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

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

    Early developments

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

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

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

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

    Curricular reforms

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Recent history

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

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

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

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

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

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

    MIT/Caltech Advanced aLigo .

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

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

  • richardmitnick 10:01 am on June 9, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Using a mineral ‘sponge’ to catch uranium", A “sponge-like” mineral that can “soak up” uranium., All forms of uranium are radioactive and it is toxic when ingested., , Calcium apatite, , , Geochemistry, , , The apatite-based approach for uranium remediation has been by far the most effective and long-lasting without any significant negative side effects., There are thousands of sites around the world that are contaminated with radioactive elements.   

    From DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US) : “Using a mineral ‘sponge’ to catch uranium” 

    From DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US)

    June 9, 2021

    Mollie Rappe

    A graphical illustration of the apatite remediation test to absorb uranium conducted by Sandia, Lawrence Berkeley and Pacific Northwest national laboratories researchers. (Graphic by Sandia National Laboratories.)

    A team of researchers from Sandia, DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (US) and DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (US) tested a “sponge-like” mineral that can “soak up” uranium at a former uranium mill near Rifle, Colorado.

    The researchers found that the mineral, calcium apatite, soaks up and binds uranium from the groundwater, reducing it by more than ten-thousandfold.

    “The apatite technology has successfully reduced the concentration of uranium, vanadium and molybdenum in the groundwater at the Rifle site,” said Mark Rigali, the Sandia geochemist leading the project. “Moreover, the levels of uranium have remained below the Department of Energy’s target concentration for more than three years.”

    The contaminated mill site near Rifle is about 180 miles west of Denver. Since 2002, the DOE’s Office of Legacy Management has used the site to test a variety of different uranium-remediation technologies.

    All forms of uranium are radioactive and it is toxic when ingested. Molybdenum and vanadium, on the other hand, are beneficial at very, very low levels, but are toxic at high concentrations. While the Rifle test site is remote, there are thousands of sites around the world that are similarly contaminated with radioactive elements and heavy metals that threaten groundwater, surface water and food supplies.

    Calcium apatite is a mineral commonly used in fertilizer and is also a major component of bones and teeth. The researchers formed a “sponge” in the ground by injecting two inexpensive and nontoxic chemicals, calcium citrate and sodium phosphate, into a well especially designed for injecting solutions underground at the former uranium mill.

    Once in the ground, helpful soil bacteria ate the calcium citrate and excreted calcium in a form that allows it to rapidly react with the sodium phosphate to form calcium apatite, which coated sand and soil particles underground, forming the sponge. The apatite sponge captures contaminants, such as uranium, as it forms on the soil particles around the injection well, and afterward as the groundwater flows through the rough sponge. Once formed, the apatite is incredibly stable, and can hold onto captured contaminants for millennia.

    Soaking up half of the periodic table

    “The apatite-based approach for uranium remediation has been by far the most effective and long-lasting without any significant negative side effects,” said Ken Williams, the environmental remediation and water resources program lead at Lawrence Berkeley. “It’s basically been a win-win-win situation. The first win is the ease of operation with only one injection needed. The next win is uranium being removed to incredibly low levels. The third win is the lack of significant deleterious consequences.”

    Williams has been testing different uranium remediation techniques at the Rifle site for more than a decade, since he was a graduate student. As a student, he was involved in a project at the site where they fed soil bacteria vinegar to remediate uranium that had some unfortunate side effects.

    The apatite remediation technology was invented by former Sandia chemical engineer Robert Moore. It has been used at the DOE’s Hanford Site in southeastern Washington state to protect the Columbia River from strontium-90, another radioactive isotope.

    Geologists know that apatite can capture elements from more than half of the periodic table of elements, Rigali said, but the team conducted initial laboratory-based tests to confirm apatite would bind dissolved uranium. These tests were conducted by Jim Szecsody, a geochemist at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

    In addition to reducing the amount of uranium in groundwater more than ten-thousandfold, Williams and Rigali found that the apatite reduced the amount of vanadium by more than a hundredfold. Vanadium is another contaminant left over from uranium milling, along with molybdenum, selenium and arsenic. Auspiciously, the apatite-based remediation technology captures these other toxic chemicals too, they said.

    The future of apatite remediation

    Computer modeling by Sandia geoscientist Pat Brady suggests that the uranium will remain contained within the apatite mineral for tens of thousands of years — possibly longer than the mill site flood plain will remain in its current location adjacent to the Colorado River, Rigali said.

    Williams will continue measuring the amount of contaminants in the groundwater downstream of the apatite sponge every month until the sponge is “full.” This will allow the research team to learn how much uranium and other contaminants the apatite can hold, and when the sponge would need to be “refreshed” with more apatite, he said.

    The apatite technology is being considered for use at several other contaminated locations, both federally managed and privately owned, said Rigali. Also increasing the potential applicability of apatite remediation is the fact that it can be “tuned” to capture different contaminants of concern including lead and arsenic.

    “The apatite family of minerals is very large,” he added. “And they all have varying abilities to capture and store contaminants. You can literally tune the structure of apatite to go after specific contaminants of concern.”

    Copper apatite, for example, is a great sponge for arsenic.

    “This has been one of the most rewarding projects that I’ve gotten to work on at Sandia,” Rigali said. “It’s great to have these types of opportunities because you feel like you’re doing something that is solving a problem and making a difference. I know this technology could be used at dozens of sites for uranium remediation.”

    The test in Rifle was funded by DOE’s Office of Legacy Management, while the development of original apatite remediation technology was supported by Sandia’s Laboratory Directed Research and Development program.

    See the full article here .


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    Sandia Campus.

    DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US) managed and operated by the National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia (a wholly owned subsidiary of Honeywell International), is one of three National Nuclear Security Administration(US) research and development laboratories in the United States. Their primary mission is to develop, engineer, and test the non-nuclear components of nuclear weapons and high technology. Headquartered in Central New Mexico near the Sandia Mountains, on Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, Sandia also has a campus in Livermore, California, next to DOE’sLawrence Livermore National Laboratory(US), and a test facility in Waimea, Kauai, Hawaii.

    It is Sandia’s mission to maintain the reliability and surety of nuclear weapon systems, conduct research and development in arms control and nonproliferation technologies, and investigate methods for the disposal of the United States’ nuclear weapons program’s hazardous waste.

    Other missions include research and development in energy and environmental programs, as well as the surety of critical national infrastructures. In addition, Sandia is home to a wide variety of research including computational biology; mathematics (through its Computer Science Research Institute); materials science; alternative energy; psychology; MEMS; and cognitive science initiatives.

    Sandia formerly hosted ASCI Red, one of the world’s fastest supercomputers until its recent decommission, and now hosts ASCI Red Storm supercomputer, originally known as Thor’s Hammer.

    Sandia is also home to the Z Machine.

    The Z Machine is the largest X-ray generator in the world and is designed to test materials in conditions of extreme temperature and pressure. It is operated by Sandia National Laboratories to gather data to aid in computer modeling of nuclear guns. In December 2016, it was announced that National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia, under the direction of Honeywell International, would take over the management of Sandia National Laboratories starting on May 1, 2017.

  • richardmitnick 10:25 am on May 27, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "UArizona Geologists to 'X-ray' the Andes", , , , Geochemistry, , , One of the most extensive network of earthquake sensors-seismometers-to ever be installed in the Andes region of South America., Orogeny-mountain building, , TANGO-Trans Andean Great Orogeny, The formation of mountain ranges.,   

    From University of Arizona (US) : “UArizona Geologists to ‘X-ray’ the Andes” 

    From University of Arizona (US)


    Media contact
    Daniel Stolte
    Science Writer, University Communications

    Researcher contact
    Susan Beck
    Department of Geosciences

    A network of seismic stations poised to record images from deep underground will help scientists understand the mechanisms driving the formation of mountain ranges in unprecedented detail.

    Andean Mountain range in Argentina showing the snow-capped peak of Aconcagua, the tallest mountain in the Americas, rising 22,837 feet above sea level. Credit: Peter DeCelles.

    Led by geoscientists at the University of Arizona, an international research team will use data from earthquakes, geology and geochemistry to study, in greater detail than ever before, how mountain ranges are built.

    Supported by a $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation (US), the project will shed light on how the Andes in South America formed, and produce a 3D model of mountain-building based on the Andes as a natural laboratory.

    The project, which is part of the NSF Frontier Research in Earth Science program, is dubbed TANGO, which stands for Trans Andean Great Orogeny. At the heart of the project is one of the most extensive network of earthquake sensors-seismometers-to ever be installed in the Andes region of South America. Scientists will use seismic waves traveling through Earth’s interior from quakes around the globe to better understand the geologic processes underlying the formation of mountain ranges.

    TANGO will focus specifically on the Andes from northern to southern Chile and in Argentina.

    “TANGO is an excellent example of the type of international collaboration that characterizes the University of Arizona’s unique capacity to tackle the grand challenges of our time,” said University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins. “Building on our strengths and ongoing research in the geosciences, our faculty laid the groundwork that allowed them to successfully assemble an international team to help us gain a better understanding of a natural process where there is still a lot to learn.”

    Susan Beck, a UArizona professor of geosciences, will serve as TANGO’s lead principal investigator, with co-principal investigators Barbara Carrapa, Peter DeCelles, Mihai Ducea and Eric Kiser of the UArizona Department of Geosciences.

    A major part of the TANGO project centers around seismic imaging, which works much like medical imaging such as CT scans, which use X-ray images to make tissues visible based on their densities. Just like bone and soft tissue show up as different features, geologic features beneath the Earth’s surface show up distinctly when geologists “X-ray” them by recording shockwaves from earthquakes as they travel through the Andes.

    “Instead of sending X-rays through your head, we use seismic waves,” Beck said. “We deploy our instruments across a large area, and we wait for earthquakes to happen. We might take a year’s worth of data, from which we then assemble a tomographic image of what’s down there.”

    While many of the processes involved in mountain-building — known as orogeny — are known to take place at the surface, other processes take place very deep inside the Earth, hidden from view. Seismic imaging allows researchers to probe the Earth’s interior down to about 700 miles, Beck said.

    “Combined with geologic and geochemistry data from the rocks, we can understand how the Andes formed over the last 90 million years,” she said.

    Along the western edge of South America, a chunk of ocean floor known as the Nazca plate pushes against its neighbor — the plate that contains the South American continent — at a rate of a little over 2 inches per year. This process, known as subduction, causes Earth’s crust to fold up, pushing up mountain peaks up to 20,000 feet in elevation.

    “Subduction affects almost every aspect of our lives,” Beck said. “Think of it as a recycling program for Earth’s crust; it affects where mountains will rise up, where minerals and ores are formed, where tension is released as earthquakes and where the largest volcanic eruptions occur.”

    Piecing Together ‘A Giant Puzzle’

    Geologists still only have a vague idea of the details of mountain-building processes, Beck said, and TANGO is poised to fill some of the gaps.

    “For example, we know that as one plate goes under the other, it causes earthquakes, it drags layers of rock down with it and causes volcanoes to erupt,” she said. “But what happens with that molten rock before it gets to the surface? How deep does the Nazca plate go before it gets assimilated into the mantle?”

    The Andes serve as a giant natural laboratory to study the complex process involved in building a mountain range, Beck said.

    “When you make mountains, rocks erode, and all that eroded rock has to go somewhere,” Beck said. “In a large mountain range like the Andes, that eroded material adds up.”

    As debris from the eroding mountains accumulates in basins on the east side of the Andes, it creates a layered archive of time that “is amazing to unravel,” Beck said, but also presents geologists with head-scratchers.

    The east face of Aconcagua clearly shows the layers of the lavas and volcanic deposits that make up the mountain. The large glacier on the northeast face is known as the Polish Glacier. Credit: Peter DeCelles.

    “We have a decent understanding of the big picture, but we don’t really understand the dynamics of it in detail,” Beck said. “For example, we find deposits from those basins high up in the mountains, and we don’t really know how they ended up there, so it’s like a giant puzzle.”

    Beck said she is excited about the seismic imaging component of TANGO.

    “Each seismic wave has a travel time that we can measure,” she said. “The time it takes a seismic wave to get from the epicenter of an earthquake to our station depends on the materials it travels through at different speeds, and we can unravel that. For example, a seismic wave that goes through a magma body really slows down compared to a wave that doesn’t, and we will see that difference.”

    To record thousands of earthquakes occurring in South America and around the globe, the team will install seismic stations across an area measuring about 800 miles by 400 miles. Deploying the technology in the field will involve many students from UArizona and partner institutions.

    “Some stations are easy, as they are in readily accessible locations and we just need to dig a hole and insert the sensors,” Beck said, “but others are in very remote locations, at high elevations. Some seismic stations require building a vault, mounting solar panels and batteries so the seismic station can run for years.”

    TANGO differs from similar efforts in scope and scale, Beck said.

    “In a typical scenario, people would put these stations out for a month, pull them up and call it good, but we will be going into very remote areas, and we will have to deploy our instruments over many months to years. We look at this as our one-time chance to get the data that could help us answer these fundamental questions. It’s going to be a huge field effort.”

    Since orogenic mechanisms are not unique to the Andes, TANGO will help scientists better understand tectonic processes in other areas as well. Beck said the Andes are a modern analog for what the western margin of North America looked like between 70 and 90 million years ago.

    “Similar processes have happened through geologic time in many places throughout the world,” she said.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    As of 2019, the University of Arizona (US) enrolled 45,918 students in 19 separate colleges/schools, including the UArizona College of Medicine in Tucson and Phoenix and the James E. Rogers College of Law, and is affiliated with two academic medical centers (Banner – University Medical Center Tucson and Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix). UArizona is one of three universities governed by the Arizona Board of Regents. The university is part of the Association of American Universities and is the only member from Arizona, and also part of the Universities Research Association(US). The university is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very High Research Activity”.

    Known as the Arizona Wildcats (often shortened to “Cats”), the UArizona’s intercollegiate athletic teams are members of the Pac-12 Conference of the NCAA. UArizona athletes have won national titles in several sports, most notably men’s basketball, baseball, and softball. The official colors of the university and its athletic teams are cardinal red and navy blue.

    After the passage of the Morrill Land-Grant Act of 1862, the push for a university in Arizona grew. The Arizona Territory’s “Thieving Thirteenth” Legislature approved the UArizona in 1885 and selected the city of Tucson to receive the appropriation to build the university. Tucson hoped to receive the appropriation for the territory’s mental hospital, which carried a $100,000 allocation instead of the $25,000 allotted to the territory’s only university (Arizona State University(US) was also chartered in 1885, but it was created as Arizona’s normal school, and not a university). Flooding on the Salt River delayed Tucson’s legislators, and by they time they reached Prescott, back-room deals allocating the most desirable territorial institutions had been made. Tucson was largely disappointed with receiving what was viewed as an inferior prize.

    With no parties willing to provide land for the new institution, the citizens of Tucson prepared to return the money to the Territorial Legislature until two gamblers and a saloon keeper decided to donate the land to build the school. Construction of Old Main, the first building on campus, began on October 27, 1887, and classes met for the first time in 1891 with 32 students in Old Main, which is still in use today. Because there were no high schools in Arizona Territory, the university maintained separate preparatory classes for the first 23 years of operation.


    UArizona is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity”. UArizona is the fourth most awarded public university by National Aeronautics and Space Administration(US) for research. UArizona was awarded over $325 million for its Lunar and Planetary Laboratory (LPL) to lead NASA’s 2007–08 mission to Mars to explore the Martian Arctic, and $800 million for its OSIRIS-REx mission, the first in U.S. history to sample an asteroid.

    The LPL’s work in the Cassini spacecraft orbit around Saturn is larger than any other university globally. The UArizona laboratory designed and operated the atmospheric radiation investigations and imaging on the probe. UArizona operates the HiRISE camera, a part of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. While using the HiRISE camera in 2011, UArizona alumnus Lujendra Ojha and his team discovered proof of liquid water on the surface of Mars—a discovery confirmed by NASA in 2015. UArizona receives more NASA grants annually than the next nine top NASA/JPL-Caltech(US)-funded universities combined. As of March 2016, the UArizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory is actively involved in ten spacecraft missions: Cassini VIMS; Grail; the HiRISE camera orbiting Mars; the Juno mission orbiting Jupiter; Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO); Maven, which will explore Mars’ upper atmosphere and interactions with the sun; Solar Probe Plus, a historic mission into the Sun’s atmosphere for the first time; Rosetta’s VIRTIS; WISE; and OSIRIS-REx, the first U.S. sample-return mission to a near-earth asteroid, which launched on September 8, 2016.

    UArizona students have been selected as Truman, Rhodes, Goldwater, and Fulbright Scholars. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, UArizona is among the top 25 producers of Fulbright awards in the U.S.

    UArizona is a member of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy(US), a consortium of institutions pursuing research in astronomy. The association operates observatories and telescopes, notably Kitt Peak National Observatory(US) just outside Tucson. Led by Roger Angel, researchers in the Steward Observatory Mirror Lab at UArizona are working in concert to build the world’s most advanced telescope. Known as the Giant Magellan Telescope(CL), it will produce images 10 times sharper than those from the Earth-orbiting Hubble Telescope.

    Giant Magellan Telescope, 21 meters, to be at the NOIRLab(US) National Optical Astronomy Observatory(US) Carnegie Institution for Science’s(US) Las Campanas Observatory(CL), some 115 km (71 mi) north-northeast of La Serena, Chile, over 2,500 m (8,200 ft) high.

    The telescope is set to be completed in 2021. GMT will ultimately cost $1 billion. Researchers from at least nine institutions are working to secure the funding for the project. The telescope will include seven 18-ton mirrors capable of providing clear images of volcanoes and riverbeds on Mars and mountains on the moon at a rate 40 times faster than the world’s current large telescopes. The mirrors of the Giant Magellan Telescope will be built at UArizona and transported to a permanent mountaintop site in the Chilean Andes where the telescope will be constructed.

    Reaching Mars in March 2006, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter contained the HiRISE camera, with Principal Investigator Alfred McEwen as the lead on the project. This National Aeronautics and Space Administration(US) mission to Mars carrying the UArizona-designed camera is capturing the highest-resolution images of the planet ever seen. The journey of the orbiter was 300 million miles. In August 2007, the UArizona, under the charge of Scientist Peter Smith, led the Phoenix Mars Mission, the first mission completely controlled by a university. Reaching the planet’s surface in May 2008, the mission’s purpose was to improve knowledge of the Martian Arctic. The Arizona Radio Observatory(US), a part of UArizona Department of Astronomy Steward Observatory(US), operates the Submillimeter Telescope on Mount Graham.

    The National Science Foundation(US) funded the iPlant Collaborative in 2008 with a $50 million grant. In 2013, iPlant Collaborative received a $50 million renewal grant. Rebranded in late 2015 as “CyVerse”, the collaborative cloud-based data management platform is moving beyond life sciences to provide cloud-computing access across all scientific disciplines.
    In June 2011, the university announced it would assume full ownership of the Biosphere 2 scientific research facility in Oracle, Arizona, north of Tucson, effective July 1. Biosphere 2 was constructed by private developers (funded mainly by Texas businessman and philanthropist Ed Bass) with its first closed system experiment commencing in 1991. The university had been the official management partner of the facility for research purposes since 2007.

    U Arizona mirror lab-Where else in the world can you find an astronomical observatory mirror lab under a football stadium?

    University of Arizona’s Biosphere 2, located in the Sonoran desert. An entire ecosystem under a glass dome? Visit our campus, just once, and you’ll quickly understand why the UA is a university unlike any other.

  • richardmitnick 11:27 am on May 15, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Solar Wind From the Centre of the Earth", , Geochemistry, High-precision noble gas analyses indicate that solar wind particles from our primordial Sun were encased in the Earth’s core over 4.5 billion years ago., Isotopic ratios of helium and neon are typical for the solar wind., Noble gas mass spectrometer, The research group has long been measuring solar noble gas isotopes of helium and neon in igneous rock of oceanic islands like Hawaii and Réunion., The scientists found solar noble gases in an iron meteorite they studied., The team postulates that solar wind particles in the primordial Solar System were trapped by the precursor materials of the Washington County parent asteroid.,   

    From U Heidelberg [Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg] (DE): “Solar Wind From the Centre of the Earth” 

    U Heidelberg bloc

    From U Heidelberg [Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg] (DE)

    14 May 2021

    Model for the Earth’s core: Heidelberg researchers verify presence of solar noble gases in metal of an iron meteorite.

    Meteorite example. Washington University of St. Louis.
    [Washington County iron meteorite-no image available.]

    High-precision noble gas analyses indicate that solar wind particles from our primordial Sun were encased in the Earth’s core over 4.5 billion years ago. Researchers from the Institute of Earth Sciences at Heidelberg University have concluded that the particles made their way into the overlying rock mantle over millions of years. The scientists found solar noble gases in an iron meteorite they studied. Because of their chemical composition, such meteorites are often used as natural models for the Earth’s metallic core.

    The rare class of iron meteorites make up only five percent of all known meteorite finds on Earth. Most are fragments from inside larger asteroids that formed metallic cores in the first one to two million years of our Solar System. The Washington County iron meteorite now being studied at the Klaus Tschira Laboratory for Cosmochemistry at the Institute of Earth Sciences was found nearly 100 years ago. Its name comes from the location in Colorado (USA) where it was discovered. It resembles a metal discus, is six cm thick, and weighs approx. 5.7 kilograms, according to Prof. Dr Mario Trieloff, head of the Geo- and Cosmochemistry research group.

    The researchers were finally able to definitively prove the presence of a solar component in the iron meteorite. Using a noble gas mass spectrometer, they determined that the samples from the Washington County meteorite contain noble gases whose isotopic ratios of helium and neon are typical for the solar wind. According to Dr Manfred Vogt, a member of the Trieloff team, ”the measurements had to be extraordinarily accurate and precise to differentiate the solar signatures from the dominant cosmogenic noble gases and atmospheric contamination”. The team postulates that solar wind particles in the primordial Solar System were trapped by the precursor materials of the Washington County parent asteroid. The noble gases captured along with the particles were dissolved into the liquid metal from which the asteroid’s core formed.

    The results of their measurements allowed the Heidelberg researchers to draw a conclusion by analogy that the core of the planet Earth might also contain such noble gas components. Yet another scientific observation supports this assumption. Prof. Trieloff’s research group has long been measuring solar noble gas isotopes of helium and neon in igneous rock of oceanic islands like Hawaii and Réunion. These magmatites derive from a special form of volcanism sourced by mantle plumes rising from thousands of kilometres deep in the Earth’s mantle. Their particularly high solar gas content makes them fundamentally different from the shallow mantle as represented by volcanic activity of submarine mid-ocean mountain ridges. “We always wondered why such different gas signatures could exist at all in a slowly albeit constantly convecting mantle,” states the Heidelberg researcher.

    Their findings appear to confirm the assumption that the solar noble gases in mantle plumes originate in the planet’s core – and hence signify solar wind particles from the centre of the Earth. “Just one to two percent of a metal with a similar composition as the Washington Country meteorite in the Earth’s core would be enough to explain the different gas signatures in the mantle,” states Dr Vogt. The Earth’s core may therefore play a previously underappreciated active role in the geochemical development of the Earth’s mantle.

    The research was funded by the Klaus Tschira Foundation. The results of the intricate, high-resolution noble gas measurements were published in the journal Communications Earth and Environment. A researcher from the MPG Institute for Chemistry (Otto Hahn Institute) [MPG Institut für Chemie – Otto Hahn Institut] (DE) in Mainz also assisted with the project.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Heidelberg Campus

    Founded in 1386, From U Heidelberg [Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg] (DE) , a state university of BadenWürttemberg, is Germany’s oldest university. In continuing its timehonoured tradition as a research university of international standing the Ruprecht-Karls-University’s mission is guided by the following principles:
    Firmly rooted in its history, the University is committed to expanding and disseminating our knowledge about all aspects of humanity and nature through research and education. The University upholds the principle of freedom of research and education, acknowledging its responsibility to humanity, society, and nature.

  • richardmitnick 10:21 am on May 15, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Gazing Into a Diamond's Flaws Has Revealed Hidden Clues About How Our Planet Formed", A diamond's structure appears to prevent helium from leaking out allowing the scientists to age these rocks using the rare isotope of helium-4., After a diamond captures something from that moment until millions of years later that material stays the same., , , Dirty-looking gems are where tiny vaults of information lie stuffed with messages from Earth's inner depths., Extreme heat and crushing pressures from all the rock above can force carbon atoms into the neatly ordered structure of a diamond., Geochemistry, , Some cavities in the diamond's structure have captured fluids that once infiltrated the continental lithospheric mantle., The team identified three distinct periods of diamond formation in the subterranean rock masses that eventually squished together to form the mantle of Africa.   

    From Columbia University (US) via Science Alert (AU) : “Gazing Into a Diamond’s Flaws Has Revealed Hidden Clues About How Our Planet Formed” 

    Columbia U bloc

    From Columbia University (US)



    Science Alert (AU)

    15 MAY 2021

    A diamond encapsulating miniscule bits of fluid from Earth’s depths. Credit: Yaakov Weiss/Columbia University.

    More than mere beautiful, coveted stones, diamonds hold another sort of wealth: fragments of Earth’s deep history.

    From flaws within the mineral’s near-perfect lattice, scientists have just worked out how to extract long-hidden records of our planet’s past.

    “We like the ones that no one else really wants,” said geochemist Yaakov Weiss from Columbia University, referring to the diamonds full of impurities that don’t look as clear and shiny as those desired for jewelry.

    These fibrous, dirty-looking gems are where tiny vaults of information lie stuffed with messages from Earth’s inner depths. The carbon structure of a perfect diamond doesn’t contain enough radioisotopes to help researchers date it, but the microinclusions found in its flaws can.

    These flaws can form tiny pockets that may encapsulate the chemicals from which the diamonds birthed.

    “After a diamond captures something, from that moment until millions of years later in my lab, that material stays the same,” explained Weiss back in 2015. “We can look at diamonds as time capsules, as messengers from a place we have no other way of seeing.”

    Sometimes these capsules contain other solids like strange forms of ice, usually inaccessible minerals from the bowels of our world, or even another diamond. These solid messages can be hard to interpret, as the inclusions may have formed at different times from the diamond capsule within which they now rest.

    Other cavities in the diamond’s structure have captured fluids that once infiltrated the continental lithospheric mantle. This layer of Earth is the uppermost part of the mantle (which lies between Earth’s crust and outer core), 150 to 200 kilometers (90 to 120 miles) beneath the surface, and it’s where diamonds are”born”.

    Credit: Tumeggy/Science Photo Library/Getty Images.

    Here, extreme heat and crushing pressures from all the rock above can force carbon atoms into the neatly ordered structure of a diamond. In fact, the fluids that have seeped from above provide the carbon from which the diamonds are formed.

    Now a new technique has allowed the researchers to finally date those fluids within diamonds found in southern Africa.

    “This is the first time we can get reliable ages for these fluids,” said Weiss.

    A diamond used in the study. Credit: Yaakov Weiss.

    A diamond’s structure appears to prevent helium from leaking out allowing Weiss and colleagues to age these rocks using the rare isotope of helium-4 – the ratios between radioactive atoms in the fluid inclusions and a product of their decay.

    Using this new method, the team identified three distinct periods of diamond formation in the subterranean rock masses that eventually squished together to form the mantle of Africa. The diamond-forming fluids changed across the ages, going from rich in carbonate to silicone and, finally, to saline.

    The first phase of diamond formation occurred during the Proterozoic, 2.6 billion to 750 million years ago, when these rocks collided into great mountain ranges. The researchers suspect these collisions allowed the carbonate-rich fluids to sink deep within Earth, but how exactly is still unknown.

    The next phase also coincided with a mountain-forming period, 540 to 300 million years ago during the Paleozoic, producing diamonds with silicone-rich inclusions. By this stage, the beginnings of the African-mantle-to-be were forming.

    Then, 130 to 85 million years ago during the Cretaceous, the fluid became saline rich – suggesting these diamonds were formed from what once was the ocean floor. This was dragged beneath the now-formed continental mass of Africa by subduction, where one continental plate is forced below another where they meet.

    The stones were all then carried closer to Earth’s surface through deep-reaching volcanic activity, such as the kimberlites eruptions 85 million years ago, where miners recently found them.

    “Southern Africa is one of the best-studied places in the world, but we’ve very rarely been able to see beyond the indirect indications of what happened there in the past,” said Columbia University (US) geochemist Cornelia Class, explaining these minuscule drops of fluid are a rare way to link events from deep within Earth with those on the surface.

    It’s worth noting that today, millions of workers rely on diamond mining as a source of income, but the conditions they work within can be brutal and may include human trafficking and child labor. The mines have also polluted soils and waterways relied upon by entire communities.

    The company from which the diamonds in this study were obtained, De Beers, one of the two largest diamond producers in the world, often doesn’t disclose which mines individual diamonds come from.

    So while diamonds can clearly reveal much about our geological history, their extraction from Earth can also come at an incredibly high price.

    This research was published in Nature Communications.

    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 9:21 am on May 10, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Earth may have been a water world 3 billion years ago", According to the researchers’ calculations the amount of water that could have gone down into the Earth’s mantle could potentially be as much as all the present-day oceans combined., , , , , Geochemistry, , Harvard University (US), Mantle water storage capacity, The primordial ocean could have flooded more than 70; 80; and even 90 percent of the early continents.   

    From Harvard Gazette (US) : “Earth may have been a water world 3 billion years ago” 

    From Harvard Gazette (US)


    Harvard University (US)

    Calculations show that Earth’s oceans may have been 1 to 2 times bigger than previously thought and the planet may have been completely covered in water. Credit: Alec Brenner/Harvard University.

    Harvard scientists calculate early ocean may have been 1 to 2 times bigger.

    April 30, 2021
    Juan Siliezar

    In 1995, Universal Studios released what was, at the time, the most expensive movie ever made: Waterworld, a film set in the distant future where the planet Earth was almost completely covered in water and its remaining inhabitants could only dream of mythic dry land. Well, take away the future part, the exorbitant budget, the chain-smoking pirates, and the gill-sporting Kevin Costner and the movie may have been onto something.

    According to a new, Harvard-led study, geochemical calculations about the interior of the planet’s water storage capacity suggests Earth’s primordial ocean 3 to 4 billion years ago may have been one to two times larger than it is today, and possibly covered the planet’s entire surface.

    “It depends on the conditions and parameters we look at in the model, such as the height and distribution of the continents, but the primordial ocean could have flooded more than 70, 80, and even 90 percent of the early continents,” said Junjie Dong, a Ph.D. student in Earth and Planetary Sciences at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, who led the study. “In the extreme scenarios, if we have an ocean that is two times larger than the amount of water we have today, that might have completely flooded the land masses we had on the surface of the early Earth.”

    The research was published in AGU Advances earlier this month. It challenges long-held assumptions that Earth’s ocean volume hasn’t changed too much since the planet’s formation. At its root, the paper delves into understanding the origins of water and the history of how its bodies have evolved.

    “In the geology community, biology community, and even in the astronomy community, they are all interested in the origins of life, and water is one of the most important key elements that has to be considered,” Dong said.

    Researchers weren’t looking for signs of liquid water, but its chemical equivalent, oxygen and hydrogen atoms, which bond to the interior of the planet. They compiled all the data in the scientific literature they could find on minerals that hold these signs and used the figures to calculate how much water there could be in the Earth’s mantle, which makes up the bulk of the planet’s interior. That number is referred to as the planet’s mantle water storage capacity. It changes as the interior of the planet continues to cool.

    The group calculated what that number could be today and how much could have been stored a few billion years ago to see how the number had changed. The capacity back then was significantly less.

    Scientists then compared those numbers to geochemical estimates of how much water is in the mantle today. Analysis found that the actual water content today is likely higher than the maximum water capacity of the mantle a few billion years ago, meaning the water today wouldn’t have been able to fit in the mantle billions of years ago. This suggests the water was someplace else — on the world’s surface. According to the researchers’ calculations the amount of water that could have gone down into the Earth’s mantle could potentially be as much as all the present-day oceans combined.

    “There has been water falling into the Earth’s interior over time, which makes sense because with plate tectonics you have some of the plates on the Earth’s surface that subduct and go down into the interior and bring water down with them,” said Rebecca Fischer, the Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences and the study’s other lead author. “There’s not really anywhere that water could come from besides the oceans on the surface, so that implies that the oceans had to have been larger in the past.”

    The study isn’t the first to suggest Earth could have been a water world, but the researchers believe it to be the first offering quantitative evidence based on the water storage capacity of the mantle.

    The researchers point out some caveats in the study, the main one being that data on the minerals used to determine the amount of water in the planet’s mantle is limited when it comes to its deeper parts, which go down thousands of kilometers.

    In their next project, Dong and Fischer are looking toward Mars. They plan to use a similar model to determine the amount of water that could have been stored in its interior.

    “Evidence seems to point out that the early Mars had a significant amount of water on its surface,” Dong said. “We want to investigate whether that surface water had some relations with the water that could possibly have been stored in its interior.”

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Harvard University campus

    Harvard University (US) is the oldest institution of higher education in the United States, established in 1636 by vote of the Great and General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. It was named after the College’s first benefactor, the young minister John Harvard of Charlestown, who upon his death in 1638 left his library and half his estate to the institution. A statue of John Harvard stands today in front of University Hall in Harvard Yard, and is perhaps the University’s bestknown landmark.

    Harvard University (US) has 12 degree-granting Schools in addition to the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. The University has grown from nine students with a single master to an enrollment of more than 20,000 degree candidates including undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. There are more than 360,000 living alumni in the U.S. and over 190 other countries.

    The Massachusetts colonial legislature, the General Court, authorized Harvard University (US)’s founding. In its early years, Harvard College primarily trained Congregational and Unitarian clergy, although it has never been formally affiliated with any denomination. Its curriculum and student body were gradually secularized during the 18th century, and by the 19th century, Harvard University (US) had emerged as the central cultural establishment among the Boston elite. Following the American Civil War, President Charles William Eliot’s long tenure (1869–1909) transformed the college and affiliated professional schools into a modern research university; Harvard became a founding member of the Association of American Universities in 1900. James B. Conant led the university through the Great Depression and World War II; he liberalized admissions after the war.

    The university is composed of ten academic faculties plus the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Arts and Sciences offers study in a wide range of academic disciplines for undergraduates and for graduates, while the other faculties offer only graduate degrees, mostly professional. Harvard has three main campuses: the 209-acre (85 ha) Cambridge campus centered on Harvard Yard; an adjoining campus immediately across the Charles River in the Allston neighborhood of Boston; and the medical campus in Boston’s Longwood Medical Area. Harvard University (US)’s endowment is valued at $41.9 billion, making it the largest of any academic institution. Endowment income helps enable the undergraduate college to admit students regardless of financial need and provide generous financial aid with no loans The Harvard Library is the world’s largest academic library system, comprising 79 individual libraries holding about 20.4 million items.

    Harvard University (US) has more alumni, faculty, and researchers who have won Nobel Prizes (161) and Fields Medals (18) than any other university in the world and more alumni who have been members of the U.S. Congress, MacArthur Fellows, Rhodes Scholars (375), and Marshall Scholars (255) than any other university in the United States. Its alumni also include eight U.S. presidents and 188 living billionaires, the most of any university. Fourteen Turing Award laureates have been Harvard affiliates. Students and alumni have also won 10 Academy Awards, 48 Pulitzer Prizes, and 108 Olympic medals (46 gold), and they have founded many notable companies.


    Harvard University (US) was established in 1636 by vote of the Great and General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. In 1638, it acquired British North America’s first known printing press. In 1639, it was named Harvard College after deceased clergyman John Harvard, an alumnus of the University of Cambridge(UK) who had left the school £779 and his library of some 400 volumes. The charter creating the Harvard Corporation was granted in 1650.

    A 1643 publication gave the school’s purpose as “to advance learning and perpetuate it to posterity, dreading to leave an illiterate ministry to the churches when our present ministers shall lie in the dust.” It trained many Puritan ministers in its early years and offered a classic curriculum based on the English university model—many leaders in the colony had attended the University of Cambridge—but conformed to the tenets of Puritanism. Harvard University (US) has never affiliated with any particular denomination, though many of its earliest graduates went on to become clergymen in Congregational and Unitarian churches.

    Increase Mather served as president from 1681 to 1701. In 1708, John Leverett became the first president who was not also a clergyman, marking a turning of the college away from Puritanism and toward intellectual independence.

    19th century

    In the 19th century, Enlightenment ideas of reason and free will were widespread among Congregational ministers, putting those ministers and their congregations in tension with more traditionalist, Calvinist parties. When Hollis Professor of Divinity David Tappan died in 1803 and President Joseph Willard died a year later, a struggle broke out over their replacements. Henry Ware was elected to the Hollis chair in 1805, and the liberal Samuel Webber was appointed to the presidency two years later, signaling the shift from the dominance of traditional ideas at Harvard to the dominance of liberal, Arminian ideas.

    Charles William Eliot, president 1869–1909, eliminated the favored position of Christianity from the curriculum while opening it to student self-direction. Though Eliot was the crucial figure in the secularization of American higher education, he was motivated not by a desire to secularize education but by Transcendentalist Unitarian convictions influenced by William Ellery Channing and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

    20th century

    In the 20th century, Harvard University (US)’s reputation grew as a burgeoning endowment and prominent professors expanded the university’s scope. Rapid enrollment growth continued as new graduate schools were begun and the undergraduate college expanded. Radcliffe College, established in 1879 as the female counterpart of Harvard College, became one of the most prominent schools for women in the United States. Harvard University (US) became a founding member of the Association of American Universities in 1900.

    The student body in the early decades of the century was predominantly “old-stock, high-status Protestants, especially Episcopalians, Congregationalists, and Presbyterians.” A 1923 proposal by President A. Lawrence Lowell that Jews be limited to 15% of undergraduates was rejected, but Lowell did ban blacks from freshman dormitories.

    President James B. Conant reinvigorated creative scholarship to guarantee Harvard University (US)’s preeminence among research institutions. He saw higher education as a vehicle of opportunity for the talented rather than an entitlement for the wealthy, so Conant devised programs to identify, recruit, and support talented youth. In 1943, he asked the faculty to make a definitive statement about what general education ought to be, at the secondary as well as at the college level. The resulting Report, published in 1945, was one of the most influential manifestos in 20th century American education.

    Between 1945 and 1960, admissions were opened up to bring in a more diverse group of students. No longer drawing mostly from select New England prep schools, the undergraduate college became accessible to striving middle class students from public schools; many more Jews and Catholics were admitted, but few blacks, Hispanics, or Asians. Throughout the rest of the 20th century, Harvard became more diverse.

    Harvard University (US)’s graduate schools began admitting women in small numbers in the late 19th century. During World War II, students at Radcliffe College (which since 1879 had been paying Harvard University (US) professors to repeat their lectures for women) began attending Harvard University (US) classes alongside men. Women were first admitted to the medical school in 1945. Since 1971, Harvard University (US) has controlled essentially all aspects of undergraduate admission, instruction, and housing for Radcliffe women. In 1999, Radcliffe was formally merged into Harvard University (US).

    21st century

    Drew Gilpin Faust, previously the dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, became Harvard University (US)’s first woman president on July 1, 2007. She was succeeded by Lawrence Bacow on July 1, 2018.

  • richardmitnick 8:52 am on May 10, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Stanford study finds climate warnings in ancient seas", A fossil study from Stanford University suggests the diversity of life in the world’s oceans declined time and again over the past 145 million years during periods of extreme warming., Geochemistry, , Many tropical ocean species will have to migrate to cooler waters or perish as the world warms., , Not only are you having a loss of diversity when ocean temperatures rise but that pattern is maintained over millions of years., , The findings paint a grim future for tropical marine ecosystems – and the many coastal communities who rely on them for food., The team found evidence for that pattern in fossil records for marine mollusks going back to the Early Cretaceous., Until now little has been known about how the relationship between ocean temperature and marine biodiversity has played out through geological time.   

    From Stanford University (US) : “Stanford study finds climate warnings in ancient seas” 

    Stanford University Name

    From Stanford University (US)

    May 7, 2021
    Josie Garthwaite

    Many other factors are also expected to negatively impact habitat viability during hyperthermal events, such as physical changes to coral reef habitats. Credit: iStock.

    A fossil study from Stanford University suggests the diversity of life in the world’s oceans declined time and again over the past 145 million years during periods of extreme warming.

    The research, published May 6 in Current Biology, adds to evidence that the ocean temperatures projected to result if global warming is left unchecked in the coming centuries would kill off many species of marine animals and shift most survivors away from the equator.

    In modern oceans, equatorial waters have generally boasted the greatest biodiversity. Scientists for decades have warned that many tropical ocean species are close to their physiological limits at current temperatures, meaning they’ll have to migrate to cooler waters or perish as the world warms. And recent research suggests climate change is already driving a global shift in the distribution of modern marine species.

    But until now, little has been known about how the relationship between ocean temperature and marine biodiversity has played out through geological time.

    “What’s important about our study is it shows not only are you having a loss of diversity when ocean temperatures rise but that pattern is maintained over millions of years,” said geologist Thomas Boag, who co-authored the study with William Gearty and Richard Stockey while all three were PhD students at Stanford University’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences (Stanford Earth).

    The team found evidence for that pattern in fossil records for marine mollusks going back to the Early Cretaceous, around the time when the first flowering plants appeared and the Rocky Mountains began to rise. They used cal data as a proxy for past temperature. “There are some elements and molecules that can record the temperature of different places on Earth at a given time, and then they get preserved in the rock record,” explained Gearty, who is now a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln (US). “Measures of those molecules tell us roughly what the temperature was at the time and place on Earth where the rock was formed.”

    In colder periods with temperatures akin to those in the modern era, diversity tends to peak at low latitudes. During hot periods such as the Early Eocene or Late Paleocene, when average annual temperatures climbed well past 27 degrees Celsius (80 degrees Fahrenheit), the researchers found biodiversity peaks at much higher latitudes and steeply declines near the equator.

    Why biodiversity drops off

    Armed with these data, the team developed a numerical model of the relationships between ocean surface temperature and biodiversity of cold-blooded marine animals, including mollusks. Building on a growing effort to apply knowledge from animal physiology to understand the fossil record in the context of a changing environment, the team then applied principles of thermodynamics and physiology to explain that relationship.

    The results suggest ocean biodiversity increases exponentially with sea surface temperature up to about 20-25 C (68-77 F). Beyond that threshold, biodiversity drops off due to the limits of aerobic metabolism: As temperatures rise, water’s oxygen content falls, while animals’ need for oxygen grows.

    This is similar to the way a mountain climber might need extra oxygen to reach the summit due to a combination of physical exertion and thin air at high altitude. Mountaineers have the option to carry an oxygen tank, but marine animals – particularly cold-blooded species that rely on the external environment to regulate their body temperature and metabolism – are pushed to migrate. Stationary and slow-moving creatures, such as sponges or sea stars, would more likely face extinction. “Cold-blooded animals in the ocean are a critical group when considering climate change,” said Boag, who is now a postdoctoral scholar at Yale. “They have a much more direct physiological response to climate change than warm-blooded animals do.”

    While changes in the temperature of the water at the ocean surface vary by region, the global average is an important climate change indicator [EPA] – and it has been consistently higher since around 1970 than at any other time since reliable observations began in 1880.

    According to the authors, temperatures that make it hard for cold-blooded sea creatures to breathe have likely been among the biggest drivers for shifts in the distribution of marine biodiversity for at least 145 million years. “During global change events, the real killer is usually temperature and oxygen synergistically working together, as opposed to the oceans becoming really acidic or salinity changing rapidly, or loss of continental shelf area,” Boag said.

    The findings paint a grim future for tropical marine ecosystems – and the many coastal communities who rely on them for food – in the absence of action to dramatically slow global warming. Stockey said, “Our analyses indicate that many equatorial marine animals are living close to their thermal limits in the modern ocean and are unlikely to be able to adapt to warming oceans over the coming centuries.”

    This research was supported by the National Science Foundation (US).

    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 2:01 pm on April 4, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Deep diamonds contain evidence of deep-Earth recycling processes", , , , Geochemistry, , , Serpentinite-a rock that forms from peridotite-the main rock type in Earth’s mantle can carry surface water as far as 700 kilometers deep by plate tectonic processes., Subduction-how the Earth recycles its materials.   

    From Carnegie Institution for Science (US) : “Deep diamonds contain evidence of deep-Earth recycling processes” 

    Carnegie Institution for Science

    From Carnegie Institution for Science (US)

    March 31, 2021

    Diamonds that formed deep in the Earth’s mantle contain evidence of chemical reactions that occurred on the seafloor. Probing these gems can help geoscientists understand how material is exchanged between the planet’s surface and its depths.

    Given that the bottom of the ocean is just 11 kilometers (6.8 miles) down at its deepest point, this may seem rather odd – but those diamonds are a really valuable clue for understanding the exchange of material between Earth’s surface and its crushing depths, researchers say.

    An illustration showing how diamonds can offer researchers a glimpse into the processes occurring inside our planet, including deep-Earth recycling of surface material. Credit: Katherine Cain/Carnegie Institution for Science.

    Examples of rough CLIPPIR diamonds from the Letseng mine, Lesotho. These are the same kinds of diamonds as the ones analyzed in this study. Largest stone is 91.07 carats. Credit: Robert Weldon; copyright GIA; courtesy of Gem Diamonds Ltd.

    New work published in Science Advances confirms that serpentinite—a rock that forms from peridotite, the main rock type in Earth’s mantle, when water penetrates cracks in the ocean floor—can carry surface water as far as 700 kilometers deep by plate tectonic processes.

    “Nearly all tectonic plates that make up the seafloor eventually bend and slide down into the mantle—a process called subduction, which has the potential to recycle surface materials, such as water, into the Earth,” explained Carnegie’s Peng Ni, who co-led the research effort with Evan Smith of the Gemological Institute of America.

    Diamonds are prized for their beauty when shaped into faceted gems, but the little clear lumps of carbon can tell us a lot about the conditions in which they formed. Not all diamonds are perfectly clear; some contain what we call inclusions, fragments of other minerals that got caught up in the diamond formation process (and, once, a whole other diamond).

    Sometimes, we can tell these inclusions are from the deep environment where the diamond formed; calcium silicate perovskite, for instance, is unstable at depths above about 650 kilometers except when it’s been trapped in a diamond, so it’s unlikely to have formed at the surface.

    Where commercial diamond companies see impurities, scientists see inclusions, and the team took this opportunity to study the planet’s interior. Instead of deep minerals, though, the researchers found heavy isotopes of iron, outside the known values for iron from those mantle depths, or the products of reactions we’d expect at those depths.

    This, they say, is the first evidence confirming a geochemical pathway to capture and transport surface materials deep into the mantle.

    Serpentinite residing inside subducting plates may be one of the most significant, yet poorly known, geochemical pathways by which surface materials are captured and conveyed into the Earth’s depths. The presence of deeply-subducted serpentinites was previously suspected—due to Carnegie and GIA research about the origin of blue diamonds and to the chemical composition of erupted mantle material that makes up mid-ocean ridges, seamounts, and ocean islands. But evidence demonstrating this pathway had not been fully confirmed until now.

    The research team—which also included Carnegie’s Steven Shirey, and Anat Shahar, as well as GIA’s Wuyi Wang and Stephen Richardson of the University of Cape Town (SA)—found physical evidence to confirm this suspicion by studying a type of large diamonds that originate deep inside the planet.

    “Some of the most famous diamonds in the world fall into this special category of relatively large and pure gem diamonds, such as the world-famous Cullinan,” Smith said. “They form between 360 and 750 kilometers down, at least as deep as the transition zone between the upper and lower mantle.”

    Sometimes they contain inclusions of tiny minerals trapped during diamond crystallization that provide a glimpse into what is happening at these extreme depths.

    This cartoon shows a subducting oceanic plate traveling like a conveyor belt from the surface down to the lower mantle. The white arrows show the comparatively well-established shallow recycling pathway in the top layer of the plate (crust and sediments), that feeds into arc volcanoes. Our new findings from studying diamonds reveal a deeper recycling pathway, shown in light blue. Water infiltrating fractures in the seafloor hydrates the rocks in the interior of the plate (forming “serpentinite”), and these hydrated rocks can sometimes be carried down to the top of the lower mantle. This is a major pathway that transfers water, carbon, and other surficial elements deep down into the mantle. Credit: Wenjia Fan/ W. Design Studio.

    “Studying small samples of minerals formed during deep diamond crystallization can teach us so much about the composition and dynamics of the mantle, because diamond protects the minerals from additional changes on their path to the surface,” Shirey explained.

    In this instance, the researchers were able to analyze the isotopic composition of iron in the metallic inclusions. Like other elements, iron can have different numbers of neutrons in its nucleus, which gives rise to iron atoms of slightly different mass, or different “isotopes” of iron. Measuring the ratios of “heavy” and “light” iron isotopes gives scientists a sort of fingerprint of the iron.

    The diamond inclusions studied by the team had a higher ratio of heavy to light iron isotopes than typically found in most mantle minerals. This indicates that they probably didn’t originate from deep-Earth geochemical processes. Instead, it points to magnetite and other iron-rich minerals formed when oceanic plate peridotite transformed to serpentinite on the seafloor. This hydrated rock was eventually subducted hundreds of kilometers down into the mantle transition zone, where these particular diamonds crystallized.

    “Our findings confirm a long-suspected pathway for deep-Earth recycling, allowing us to trace how minerals from the surface are drawn down into the mantle and create variability in its composition,” Shahar concluded.


    This work was supported by the Diamonds and Mantle Geodynamics Group of the Deep Carbon Observatory, a U.S. National Science Foundation grant, and the research program of the Gemological Institute of America.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Carnegie Institution of Washington Bldg

    Carnegie Institution for Science (US)

    Andrew Carnegie established a unique organization dedicated to scientific discovery “to encourage in the broadest and most liberal manner investigation; research; and discovery and the application of knowledge to the improvement of mankind…” The philosophy was and is to devote the institution’s resources to “exceptional” individuals so that they can explore the most intriguing scientific questions in an atmosphere of complete freedom. Carnegie and his trustees realized that flexibility and freedom were essential to the institution’s success and that tradition is the foundation of the institution today as it supports research in the Earth, space, and life sciences.

    The Carnegie Institution of Washington (US) (the organization’s legal name), known also for public purposes as the Carnegie Institution for Science (US) (CIS), is an organization in the United States established to fund and perform scientific research. The institution is headquartered in Washington, D.C. As of June 30, 2020, the Institution’s endowment was valued at $926.9 million. In 2018 the expenses for scientific programs and administration were $96.6 million.


    When the United States joined World War II Vannevar Bush was president of the Carnegie Institution. Several months before on June 12, 1940 Bush had been instrumental in persuading President Franklin Roosevelt to create the National Defense Research Committee (later superseded by the Office of Scientific Research and Development) to mobilize and coordinate the nation’s scientific war effort. Bush housed the new agency in the Carnegie Institution’s administrative headquarters at 16th and P Streets, NW, in Washington, DC, converting its rotunda and auditorium into office cubicles. From this location Bush supervised, among many other projects the Manhattan Project. Carnegie scientists cooperated with the development of the proximity fuze and mass production of penicillin.


    Carnegie scientists continue to be involved with scientific discovery. Composed of six scientific departments on the East and West Coasts the Carnegie Institution for Science is involved presently with six main topics: Astronomy at the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism (Washington, D.C.) and the Observatories of the Carnegie Institution of Washington (Pasadena, CA and Las Campanas, Chile); Earth and planetary science also at the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism and the Geophysical Laboratory (Washington, D.C.); Global Ecology at the Department of Global Ecology (Stanford, CA); Genetics and developmental biology at the Department of Embryology (Baltimore, MD); Matter at extreme states also at the Geophysical Laboratory; and Plant science at the Department of Plant Biology (Stanford, CA).

    Carnegie 6.5 meter Magellan Baade and Clay Telescopes located at Carnegie’s Las Campanas Observatory, Chile. over 2,500 m (8,200 ft) high.

    Carnegie Las Campanas 2.5 meter Irénée Dupont telescope, Atacama Desert, over 2,500 m (8,200 ft) high approximately 100 kilometres (62 mi) northeast of the city of La Serena,Chile.

    Carnegie Institution 1-meter Swope telescope at Las Campanas, Chile, 100 kilometres (62 mi) northeast of the city of La Serena, near the north end of a 7 km (4.3 mi) long mountain ridge, Cerro Las Campanas, near the southern end and over 2,500 m (8,200 ft) high, at Las Campanas, Chile.

  • richardmitnick 11:31 pm on December 18, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Geochemistry, ,   

    From National Science Foundation: “New study helps pinpoint when Earth’s plate subduction began” 

    From National Science Foundation

    December 17, 2020

    Rocks billions of years old record transition from alien landscape to continents, oceans, life. Credit: CC0 Public Domain.

    A U.S. National Science Foundation-funded study by scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the University of Chicago sheds light on a major question in Earth sciences: When did tectonic plate subduction begin?

    The tectonic plates of the world were mapped in 1996, USGS.

    Plate subduction occurs when oceanic crust and continental crust collide, pushing oceanic crust downward into Earth’s mantle. According to findings published in the journal Science Advances, this process could have started 3.75 billion years ago, reshaping Earth’s surface and setting the stage for a planet hospitable to life.

    For geochemists such as lead author Sarah Aarons of Scripps, the clues to Earth’s earliest habitability lie in the elements ancient rocks are composed of — specifically titanium.

    Aarons analyzed samples of Earth’s oldest-known rocks from the Acasta Gneiss Complex in the Canadian tundra, an outcrop of gneisses 4.02 billion years old. The rocks are dated from the Hadean eon, which started at the beginning of Earth’s formation and was defined by hellish conditions on a planet that would look alien to our modern eyes.

    Studying the history and onset of ancient subduction zones is notoriously difficult. Rocks are constantly destroyed as crust is driven inward into the mantle, leaving behind few samples that date back to Earth’s earliest history.

    Scientists have long debated when plate tectonics and subduction began, with estimates ranging from 0.85 to 4.2 billion years ago — more than two-thirds of the planet’s history.

    In four-billion-year-old rock samples, Aarons saw similarities to modern rocks that are formed in plume settings, such as Hawaii and Iceland, where a landmass is drifting over a hot spot. However, in rocks aged at 3.75 billion years, she noticed a shift to rocks that are formed similarly to those in modern subduction zones, suggesting that subduction zones began at about that time in Earth’s history.

    The technique used in this study could be applied to other ancient rock formations around the world to gain more information about the composition and evolution of Earth’s lands through time, the scientists say.

    “This groundbreaking work advances our understanding of the topographic and chemical evolution of Earth’s surface,” says Justin Lawrence, a program director in NSF’s Division of Earth Sciences.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition
    The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 “to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense…we are the funding source for approximately 24 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America’s colleges and universities. In many fields such as mathematics, computer science and the social sciences, NSF is the major source of federal backing.

    We fulfill our mission chiefly by issuing limited-term grants — currently about 12,000 new awards per year, with an average duration of three years — to fund specific research proposals that have been judged the most promising by a rigorous and objective merit-review system. Most of these awards go to individuals or small groups of investigators. Others provide funding for research centers, instruments and facilities that allow scientists, engineers and students to work at the outermost frontiers of knowledge.

    NSF’s goals — discovery, learning, research infrastructure and stewardship — provide an integrated strategy to advance the frontiers of knowledge, cultivate a world-class, broadly inclusive science and engineering workforce and expand the scientific literacy of all citizens, build the nation’s research capability through investments in advanced instrumentation and facilities, and support excellence in science and engineering research and education through a capable and responsive organization. We like to say that NSF is “where discoveries begin.”

    Many of the discoveries and technological advances have been truly revolutionary. In the past few decades, NSF-funded researchers have won some 236 Nobel Prizes as well as other honors too numerous to list. These pioneers have included the scientists or teams that discovered many of the fundamental particles of matter, analyzed the cosmic microwaves left over from the earliest epoch of the universe, developed carbon-14 dating of ancient artifacts, decoded the genetics of viruses, and created an entirely new state of matter called a Bose-Einstein condensate.

    NSF also funds equipment that is needed by scientists and engineers but is often too expensive for any one group or researcher to afford. Examples of such major research equipment include giant optical and radio telescopes, Antarctic research sites, high-end computer facilities and ultra-high-speed connections, ships for ocean research, sensitive detectors of very subtle physical phenomena and gravitational wave observatories.

    Another essential element in NSF’s mission is support for science and engineering education, from pre-K through graduate school and beyond. The research we fund is thoroughly integrated with education to help ensure that there will always be plenty of skilled people available to work in new and emerging scientific, engineering and technological fields, and plenty of capable teachers to educate the next generation.

    No single factor is more important to the intellectual and economic progress of society, and to the enhanced well-being of its citizens, than the continuous acquisition of new knowledge. NSF is proud to be a major part of that process.

    Specifically, the Foundation’s organic legislation authorizes us to engage in the following activities:

    Initiate and support, through grants and contracts, scientific and engineering research and programs to strengthen scientific and engineering research potential, and education programs at all levels, and appraise the impact of research upon industrial development and the general welfare.
    Award graduate fellowships in the sciences and in engineering.
    Foster the interchange of scientific information among scientists and engineers in the United States and foreign countries.
    Foster and support the development and use of computers and other scientific methods and technologies, primarily for research and education in the sciences.
    Evaluate the status and needs of the various sciences and engineering and take into consideration the results of this evaluation in correlating our research and educational programs with other federal and non-federal programs.
    Provide a central clearinghouse for the collection, interpretation and analysis of data on scientific and technical resources in the United States, and provide a source of information for policy formulation by other federal agencies.
    Determine the total amount of federal money received by universities and appropriate organizations for the conduct of scientific and engineering research, including both basic and applied, and construction of facilities where such research is conducted, but excluding development, and report annually thereon to the President and the Congress.
    Initiate and support specific scientific and engineering activities in connection with matters relating to international cooperation, national security and the effects of scientific and technological applications upon society.
    Initiate and support scientific and engineering research, including applied research, at academic and other nonprofit institutions and, at the direction of the President, support applied research at other organizations.
    Recommend and encourage the pursuit of national policies for the promotion of basic research and education in the sciences and engineering. Strengthen research and education innovation in the sciences and engineering, including independent research by individuals, throughout the United States.
    Support activities designed to increase the participation of women and minorities and others underrepresented in science and technology.

    At present, NSF has a total workforce of about 2,100 at its Alexandria, VA, headquarters, including approximately 1,400 career employees, 200 scientists from research institutions on temporary duty, 450 contract workers and the staff of the NSB office and the Office of the Inspector General.

    NSF is divided into the following seven directorates that support science and engineering research and education: Biological Sciences, Computer and Information Science and Engineering, Engineering, Geosciences, Mathematical and Physical Sciences, Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences, and Education and Human Resources. Each is headed by an assistant director and each is further subdivided into divisions like materials research, ocean sciences and behavioral and cognitive sciences.

    Within NSF’s Office of the Director, the Office of Integrative Activities also supports research and researchers. Other sections of NSF are devoted to financial management, award processing and monitoring, legal affairs, outreach and other functions. The Office of the Inspector General examines the foundation’s work and reports to the NSB and Congress.

    Each year, NSF supports an average of about 200,000 scientists, engineers, educators and students at universities, laboratories and field sites all over the United States and throughout the world, from Alaska to Alabama to Africa to Antarctica. You could say that NSF support goes “to the ends of the earth” to learn more about the planet and its inhabitants, and to produce fundamental discoveries that further the progress of research and lead to products and services that boost the economy and improve general health and well-being.

    As described in our strategic plan, NSF is the only federal agency whose mission includes support for all fields of fundamental science and engineering, except for medical sciences. NSF is tasked with keeping the United States at the leading edge of discovery in a wide range of scientific areas, from astronomy to geology to zoology. So, in addition to funding research in the traditional academic areas, the agency also supports “high risk, high pay off” ideas, novel collaborations and numerous projects that may seem like science fiction today, but which the public will take for granted tomorrow. And in every case, we ensure that research is fully integrated with education so that today’s revolutionary work will also be training tomorrow’s top scientists and engineers.

    Unlike many other federal agencies, NSF does not hire researchers or directly operate our own laboratories or similar facilities. Instead, we support scientists, engineers and educators directly through their own home institutions (typically universities and colleges). Similarly, we fund facilities and equipment such as telescopes, through cooperative agreements with research consortia that have competed successfully for limited-term management contracts.

    NSF’s job is to determine where the frontiers are, identify the leading U.S. pioneers in these fields and provide money and equipment to help them continue. The results can be transformative. For example, years before most people had heard of “nanotechnology,” NSF was supporting scientists and engineers who were learning how to detect, record and manipulate activity at the scale of individual atoms — the nanoscale. Today, scientists are adept at moving atoms around to create devices and materials with properties that are often more useful than those found in nature.

    Dozens of companies are gearing up to produce nanoscale products. NSF is funding the research projects, state-of-the-art facilities and educational opportunities that will teach new skills to the science and engineering students who will make up the nanotechnology workforce of tomorrow.

    At the same time, we are looking for the next frontier.

    NSF’s task of identifying and funding work at the frontiers of science and engineering is not a “top-down” process. NSF operates from the “bottom up,” keeping close track of research around the United States and the world, maintaining constant contact with the research community to identify ever-moving horizons of inquiry, monitoring which areas are most likely to result in spectacular progress and choosing the most promising people to conduct the research.

    NSF funds research and education in most fields of science and engineering. We do this through grants and cooperative agreements to more than 2,000 colleges, universities, K-12 school systems, businesses, informal science organizations and other research organizations throughout the U.S. The Foundation considers proposals submitted by organizations on behalf of individuals or groups for support in most fields of research. Interdisciplinary proposals also are eligible for consideration. Awardees are chosen from those who send us proposals asking for a specific amount of support for a specific project.

    Proposals may be submitted in response to the various funding opportunities that are announced on the NSF website. These funding opportunities fall into three categories — program descriptions, program announcements and program solicitations — and are the mechanisms NSF uses to generate funding requests. At any time, scientists and engineers are also welcome to send in unsolicited proposals for research and education projects, in any existing or emerging field. The Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG) provides guidance on proposal preparation and submission and award management. At present, NSF receives more than 42,000 proposals per year.

    To ensure that proposals are evaluated in a fair, competitive, transparent and in-depth manner, we use a rigorous system of merit review. Nearly every proposal is evaluated by a minimum of three independent reviewers consisting of scientists, engineers and educators who do not work at NSF or for the institution that employs the proposing researchers. NSF selects the reviewers from among the national pool of experts in each field and their evaluations are confidential. On average, approximately 40,000 experts, knowledgeable about the current state of their field, give their time to serve as reviewers each year.

    The reviewer’s job is to decide which projects are of the very highest caliber. NSF’s merit review process, considered by some to be the “gold standard” of scientific review, ensures that many voices are heard and that only the best projects make it to the funding stage. An enormous amount of research, deliberation, thought and discussion goes into award decisions.

    The NSF program officer reviews the proposal and analyzes the input received from the external reviewers. After scientific, technical and programmatic review and consideration of appropriate factors, the program officer makes an “award” or “decline” recommendation to the division director. Final programmatic approval for a proposal is generally completed at NSF’s division level. A principal investigator (PI) whose proposal for NSF support has been declined will receive information and an explanation of the reason(s) for declination, along with copies of the reviews considered in making the decision. If that explanation does not satisfy the PI, he/she may request additional information from the cognizant NSF program officer or division director.

    If the program officer makes an award recommendation and the division director concurs, the recommendation is submitted to NSF’s Division of Grants and Agreements (DGA) for award processing. A DGA officer reviews the recommendation from the program division/office for business, financial and policy implications, and the processing and issuance of a grant or cooperative agreement. DGA generally makes awards to academic institutions within 30 days after the program division/office makes its recommendation.

  • richardmitnick 8:21 am on August 26, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Algae needs sunlight to grow so while the rocks were from about 1000 m down today in the past they were at sea level. This highlights how sea levels have changed over time., , Bathymetry, Birdlife Australia, , , Geochemistry, Kleptoparasite – it steals food from other birds., , Sampling in the waters of Australia; Papua New Guinea; Solomon Islands; and New Caledonia, Sea plates, , Since the start of the voyage more than 6000 individuals from 23 species of bird have been logged.   

    From CSIROscope: “Every week is science week on RV Investigator!” 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope

    CSIRO RV Investigator. CSIRO Australia

    The secrets of the Coral Sea are not given up easily. But the scientists, research assistants and crew on RV Investigator are more than equipped to delve deep for answers.

    Those onboard are an industrious and intrepid bunch, finding ways to overcome the challenges of remote work at sea. But what have they been up to in the last few weeks since the voyage began?

    Our 94-metre floating laboratory is now drawing a picture of a chain of ancient seafloor volcanoes. The researchers will then describe the interplay of the sea plates, which are the focus of this voyage.

    Analyse this!

    A typical geoscience voyage on Investigator comes with all the trappings of using dredges to sample the seafloor. This includes snagged dredging equipment 2500 m below the surface, broken shear pins which upend the basket carrying rock samples (sending them back to the seafloor), a two-to-three metre sea swell and 25 knot (46 km/hr) winds blowing for three straight days.

    So far on this voyage, there have been 22 dredges of the seafloor from sites starting about 1000 km south-east of Cairns. By the end of this voyage, it is hoped more than 36 sites will have been surveyed and sampled in the waters of Australia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and New Caledonia.

    This work has been released into the public domain by its author, Kahuroa. Wikipedia.

    Voyage Chief Scientist, Associate Professor Jo Whittaker from the University of Tasmania, said while most of the rocks being hauled to the surface were what was expected, the real value came when the ship arrives back at port.

    “There is a lot of geochemistry to be done and age dating,” Jo said.

    “We have basalt, lavas and carbonates. What we don’t have so far is continental rocks – rocks which could show that a large area of the seafloor out here was rifted from continental Australia millions of years ago.

    “Early in the voyage, we did get some cool carbonate rocks which had alternate layers of algal and coral fossils. Algae needs sunlight to grow, so while the rocks were from about 1000 m down today, in the past they were at sea level. This highlights how sea levels have changed over time.”

    A bathymetry image (seafloor image) of Frederick Reef. The scientists use this to pick rock dredge sites and better understand the seamounts deep below.

    The early bird catches the flying fish

    The science on Investigator is all around you, and around the clock. The science team, as they are known, work alternating 12-hour shifts. Everywhere you look, there are scientists, researchers and students busy with their work 24 hours a day.

    Sitting in a small enclosed deck 25 m above the waterline is a dedicated trio of bird and mammal observers from Birdlife Australia. Led by Principal Investigator and BirdLife Tasmania Convenor, Dr Eric Woehler, the team (which includes volunteer observers Jessica Bolin and Josie Lumley) scan the horizon from dawn to dusk. They’re spotting, identifying and logging marine birds and mammals. And any plastic or other jetsam (rubbish from ships) that passes within range.

    Since the start of the voyage, more than 6000 individuals from 23 species of bird have been logged. Red-footed, brown and masked boobies have been the main species. But winging their way around the ship have also been storm petrels, wedge-tailed shearwaters, and frigatebirds. With the ship heading further north toward Papua New Guinea, the eagle-eyed observers are now seeing white-tailed tropicbirds.

    Eric has more than earned his sea legs and bird skills. He has clocked up more than 400 days at sea on the Australian Antarctic Division’s research and supply vessel (RSV) Aurora Australis. He’s been spotting, identifying and logging birds across the Southern Ocean from Australia to Antarctica. Now on his tenth voyage on Investigator, when Eric steps ashore from a voyage in January next year, he would have logged more than 140 days onboard and circumnavigated Australia in the process.

    Look up! The scientists aren’t just looking deep below for the answers. Image: Huw Morgan

    Extreme birdwatching

    Eric’s enthusiasm for birds is matched by his passion for inspiring and educating anyone who comes within range on the life and times of seabirds.

    “Australia has about 130 to 140 seabird species and I would expect we will see about 40 of those on this voyage,” Eric says from behind binoculars which seem glued to his face.

    As he speaks, what seems like a black blur passes overhead.

    “The lesser frigatebird – an amazing bird,” Eric reveals.

    “They have the lowest body mass to wing-loading ratio of any bird. They hardly have to flap their wings at all.”

    “It’s a kleptoparasite – it steals food from other birds.”

    Pilot whales, dolphins, a 2.5 m hammerhead shark, and a lone whale shark have also made appearances.

    Lying about 1000 km east of Cairns, the ship is currently drawing near the very remote Mellish Reef. About 10 km long and 3 km wide, the reef has only a small area of land permanently above the highwater mark. This speck of land is the nesting ground for thousands of birds.

    Before we reach the reef, Eric hurries outside to the open deck with his camera and captures a truly remarkable image of a pair of red-footed boobies right on the tail of a flying fish spooked out of the sea by the ship.

    The booby wins.

    Red-footed Booby vs flying fish – some of the sights on RV Investigator. Image: Eric Woehler, BirdLife Tasmania

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SKA/ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Mid West region of Western Australia

    So what can we expect these new radio projects to discover? We have no idea, but history tells us that they are almost certain to deliver some major surprises.

    Making these new discoveries may not be so simple. Gone are the days when astronomers could just notice something odd as they browse their tables and graphs.

    Nowadays, astronomers are more likely to be distilling their answers from carefully-posed queries to databases containing petabytes of data. Human brains are just not up to the job of making unexpected discoveries in these circumstances, and instead we will need to develop “learning machines” to help us discover the unexpected.

    With the right tools and careful insight, who knows what we might find.

    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

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