Tagged: Harvard Gazette Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • richardmitnick 9:11 am on May 1, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Antarctic Ice Sheet melting to lift sea level higher than thought, , , , Harvard Gazette, ,   

    From Harvard Gazette : “Antarctic Ice Sheet melting to lift sea level higher than thought, study says” 

    From Harvard Gazette

    At

    Harvard University

    1
    An iceberg in the Scotia Sea in 2007. Photo by Michael Weber.

    New calculations show the rise due to warming would be 30% above forecasts.

    Global sea-level rise associated with the possible collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet has been significantly underestimated in previous studies, meaning the sea level in a warming world will be greater than anticipated, according to a new study from Harvard researchers.

    The report, published in Science Advances, features new calculations for what researchers refer to as a water-expulsion mechanism. This occurs when the solid bedrock the West Antarctic Ice Sheet sits on rebounds upward as the ice melts and the total weight of the ice sheet decreases. The bedrock sits below sea level, so when it lifts it pushes water from the surrounding area into the ocean, adding to global sea-level rise.

    The new predictions show that in the case of a total collapse of the ice sheet, global sea-level rise estimates would be amplified by an additional meter, about 3 feet, within the next 1,000 years.

    “The magnitude of the effect shocked us,” said Linda Pan, a Ph.D. student in Earth and planetary science in the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences who co-led the study with fellow graduate student Evelyn Powell. “Previous studies that had considered the mechanism dismissed it as inconsequential.”

    “If the West Antarctic Ice Sheet collapsed, the most widely cited estimate of the resulting global mean sea-level rise that would result is 3.2 meters,” said Powell. “What we’ve shown is that the water-expulsion mechanism will add an additional meter, or 30 percent, to the total.”

    This is not a story about impact that will be felt in hundreds of years. One of the simulations Pan and Powell performed indicated that by the end of this century, global sea-level rise caused by melting of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet would increase 20 percent by the water expulsion mechanism.

    “Every published projection of sea-level rise due to melting of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet that has been based on climate modeling, whether the projection extends to the end of this century or longer into the future, is going to have to be revised upward because of their work,” said Jerry X. Mitrovica, the Frank B. Baird Jr. Professor of Science in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and a senior author on the paper “Every single one.”

    Pan and Powell, both researchers in Mitrovica’s lab, started this research while working on another sea-level change project but switched to this one when they noticed more water expulsion from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet than they were expecting.

    The researchers wanted to investigate how the expulsion mechanism affected sea-level change when the low viscosity, or the easy-flowing material of the Earth’s mantle beneath West Antarctica, is considered. When they incorporated this into their calculations they realized water expulsion occurred much faster than previous models had predicted.

    “No matter what scenario we used for the collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, we always found that this extra one meter of global sea-level rise took place,” Pan said.

    The researchers hope their calculations show that, in order to accurately estimate global sea-level rise associated with melting ice sheets, scientists need to incorporate both the water-expulsion effect and the mantle’s low viscosity beneath Antarctica.

    “Sea-level rise doesn’t stop when the ice stops melting,” Pan said. “The damage we are doing to our coastlines will continue for centuries.”

    This study was partially supported by the Star-Friedman Challenge for Scientific Research, the National Science Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, NASA, the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, the Canada Research Chair, and Fonds de Recherche du Québec–Nature et technologies.

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Harvard University campus

    Harvard University 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 best known landmark.

    Harvard University 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’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 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’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 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.

    Colonial

    Harvard 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 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’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 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’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’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 professors to repeat their lectures for women) began attending Harvard classes alongside men. Women were first admitted to the medical school in 1945. Since 1971, Harvard has controlled essentially all aspects of undergraduate admission, instruction, and housing for Radcliffe women. In 1999, Radcliffe was formally merged into Harvard.

    21st century

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

     
  • richardmitnick 10:48 am on April 26, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Launch of pioneering Ph.D. program bolsters Harvard’s leadership in quantum science and engineering", At the nexus of physics; chemistry; computer science; electrical engineering; quantum science and technology promises to profoundly change the way we acquire; process; and communicate information., Harvard Gazette, Harvard is once again taking a leading role in a scientific and technological revolution — this time in the field of quantum science and engineering., In the middle of the 20th century mathematicians physicists and engineers at Harvard began work that would lay the foundations for a new field of study the applications of which would change the world, Now the University launched one of the world’s first Ph.D. programs in Quantum Science., The new degree is the latest step in the University’s commitment to moving forward as both a leader in research and an innovator in teaching in the field of quantum science and engineering., This cross disciplinary Ph.D. program will prepare students to become the leaders and innovators in the emerging field of quantum science and engineering.   

    From Harvard Gazette : “Launch of pioneering Ph.D. program bolsters Harvard’s leadership in quantum science and engineering” 

    From Harvard Gazette

    at

    Harvard University

    April 26, 2021
    Leah Burrows

    1
    Researchers used atomic-size defects in diamonds to detect and measure magnetic fields generated by spin waves. Images courtesy of Second Bay Studios/Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (US).

    In the middle of the 20th century mathematicians physicists and engineers at Harvard began work that would lay the foundations for a new field of study the applications of which would change the world in ways unimaginable at the time. These pioneering computer scientists helped develop the theory and technology that would usher in the digital age.

    Harvard is once again taking a leading role in a scientific and technological revolution — this time in the field of quantum science and engineering. Today, the University launched one of the world’s first Ph.D. programs in the subject, providing the foundational education for the next generation of innovators and leaders who will transform quantum science and engineering into next-level systems, devices, and applications.

    The new degree is the latest step in the University’s commitment to moving forward as both a leader in research and an innovator in teaching in the field of quantum science and engineering. Harvard launched the Harvard Quantum Initiative in 2018 to foster and grow this new scientific community. And additional future plans call for the creation of a quantum hub on campus to help further integrate efforts and encourage collaboration.

    “This is a pivotal time for quantum science and engineering at Harvard,” said President Larry Bacow. “With institutional collaborators including Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) and industry partners, and the support of generous donors, we are making extraordinary progress in discovery and innovation. Our faculty and students are driving progress that will reshape our world through quantum computing, networking, cryptography, materials, and sensing, as well as emerging areas of promise that will yield advances none of us can yet imagine.”

    “This cross disciplinary Ph.D. program will prepare our students to become the leaders and innovators in the emerging field of quantum science and engineering,” said Emma Dench, dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. “Harvard’s interdisciplinary strength and intellectual resources make it the perfect place for them to develop their ideas, grow as scholars, and make discoveries that will change the world.”

    At the nexus of physics; chemistry; computer science; electrical engineering; quantum science and technology promises to profoundly change the way we acquire; process; and communicate information. Imagine a computer that could sequence a person’s genome in a matter of seconds or an un-hackable communications system that could make data breaches a thing of the past. Quantum technology will usher in game-changing innovations in health care, infrastructure, security, drug development, climate-change prediction, machine learning, financial services, and more.

    2
    Researchers excited and detected spin waves in a quantum Hall ferromagnet, spending them through the insulating material like waves in a pond.

    The University is building partnerships with government agencies and national laboratories to advance quantum technologies and educate the next generation of quantum scientists. Harvard researchers will play a major role in the DOE Quantum Information Science (QIS) U.S. DOE Office of Science(SC) (US), aimed at bolstering the nation’s global competitiveness and security. As part of the centers, Harvard researchers will:

    develop and study the next generation of quantum materials that are resilient, controllable, and scalable;
    use quantum-sensing techniques to explore the exotic properties of quantum materials for applications in numerous quantum technologies;
    construct a quantum simulator out of ultra-cold molecules to attack important problems in materials development and test the performance of new types of quantum computation;
    develop topological quantum materials for manipulating, transferring, and storing information for quantum computers and sensors;
    investigate how quantum computers can meaningfully speed up answers to real-world scientific problems and create new tools to quantify this advantage and performance.

    In partnership with the National Science Foundation (US) (NSF) and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), the Harvard Center for Integrated Quantum Materials (CIQM)(US) has helped develop curriculum and educator activities that will help K‒12 students engage with quantum information science. CIQM is also collaborating with the Learning Center for the Deaf to create quantum science terms in American Sign Language.

    “Breakthrough research happens when you create the right community of scholars around the right ideas at the right time,” said Claudine Gay, the Edgerley Family Dean of the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences. “The Harvard Quantum Initiative builds on Harvard’s historic strength in the core disciplines of quantum science by drawing together cross-cutting faculty talent into a community committed to thinking broadly and boldly about the many problems where quantum innovations may offer a solution. This new approach to quantum science will open the way for new partnerships to advance the field, but perhaps even more importantly, it promises to make Harvard the training ground for the next generation of breakthrough scientists who could change the way we live and work.”

    “Harvard’s missions are to excel at education and research, and these are closely related,” said John Doyle, the Henry B. Silsbee Professor of Physics and co-director of HQI. “Being at — and sometimes defining — the frontier of research keeps our education vibrant and meaningful to students. We aim to teach a broad range of students to think about the physical world in this new, quantum way as this is crucial to creating a strong community of future leaders in science and engineering. Tight focus on both research and teaching in quantum will develop Harvard into the leading institution in this area and keep the country at the forefront of this critical area of knowledge.”

    The University’s location within the Greater Boston ecosystem of innovation and discovery is one of its greatest strengths.

    A recent collaboration between Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and University quantum physicists resulted in a proof-of-concept algorithm to dramatically speed up the analysis of nuclear magnetic resonance (NNMR) readings to identify biomarkers of specific diseases and disorders, reducing the process from days to just minutes.

    A multidisciplinary team of electrical engineers and physicists from Harvard and MIT are building the infrastructure for tomorrow’s quantum internet, including quantum repeaters, quantum memory storage, and quantum networking nodes, and developing the key technologies to connect quantum processors over local and global scales.

    “We are moving forward arm in arm with sister institutions in this region, most notably MIT, to establish Boston as one of the premier centers in the nation for both education and developing technologies that we anticipate will have significant impact on society,” said Christopher Stubbs, science division dean and Samuel C. Moncher Professor of Physics and of Astronomy.

    “We are excited to see the ever-growing opportunities for collaboration in quantum science and engineering at Harvard, in the Boston community, and beyond,” said Evelyn L. Hu, the Tarr-Coyne Professor of Electrical Engineering and Applied Science at SEAS and co-director of the Harvard Quantum Initiative. “Harvard is committed to sustaining that growth and fostering a strong community of students, faculty, and inventors, both locally and nationwide.”

    3
    Fiber-optical networks, the backbone of the internet, rely on high-fidelity information conversion from electrical to the optical domain. The researchers combined the best optical material with innovative nanofabrication and design approaches, to realize, energy-efficient, high-speed, low-loss, electro-optic converters for quantum and classical communications.

    “Building a vibrant community and ecosystem is essential for bringing the benefits of quantum research to different fields of science and society,” said Mikhail Lukin, George Vasmer Leverett Professor of Physics and co-director of HQI. “Quantum at Harvard aims to integrate unique strengths of university research groups, government labs, established companies, and startups to not only advance foundational quantum science and engineering but also to build and to enable broad access to practical quantum systems.”

    To facilitate those collaborations, the University is finalizing plans for the comprehensive renovation of an existing campus building into a new quantum hub — a shared resource for the quantum community with instructional and research labs, seminar and workshop spaces, meeting spaces for students and faculty, and space for visiting researchers and collaborators. The quantum headquarters will integrate the educational, research, and translational aspects of the diverse field of quantum science and engineering in an architecturally cohesive way.

    This critical element of Harvard’s quantum strategy was made possible by a generous gift from Stacey L. and David E. Goel ’93 and gifts from several other alumni who stepped forward to support HQI. David Goel, co-founder and managing general partner of Waltham, Mass.-based Matrix Capital Management Co. and one of Harvard’s most ardent supporters, said his gift was inspired both by recognizing Harvard’s “intellectual dynamism and leadership in quantum” and a sense of the utmost urgency to pursue opportunities in this field. “Our existing technologies are reaching the limit of their capacity and cannot drive the innovation we need for the future, specifically in areas like semiconductors, technology, and the life sciences. Quantum is an enabler, providing a multiplier effect on a logarithmic scale. It is a catalyst that drives the kinds of scientific revolutions and epoch-making paradigm shifts.”

    4
    Electrodes stretch diamond strings to increase the frequency of atomic vibrations to which an electron is sensitive, just like tightening a guitar string increases the frequency or pitch of the string. The tension quiets a qubit’s environment and improves memory from tens to several hundred nanoseconds, enough time to do many operations on a quantum chip.

    Goel credits the academic leaders and their “commitment to ensuring that Harvard’s community will be at the forefront of the science that is already changing the world.”

    The University is also building partnerships with industry partners, ranging from startups to major national corporations, that are preparing to bring quantum technologies to the public.

    “An incredible foundation has been laid in quantum at Harvard, and we are now at an inflection point to accelerate that activity and build on the momentum that has already made Harvard a leader in the field,” said Frank Doyle, SEAS dean and John A. and Elizabeth S. Armstrong Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences. “Research happening right now in Harvard labs is significantly advancing our understanding of quantum science and engineering and positioning us to make breathtaking new discoveries and industry-leading translation breakthroughs.”

    To enable opportunities to move from basic to applied research to translating ideas into products, Doyle described a vision for “integrated partnerships where we invite partners from the private sector to be embedded on the campus to learn from the researchers in our labs and where our faculty connect to the private sector and national labs to learn about the cutting-edge applications, as well as help translate of basic research into useful tools for society.”

    “We are at the early stages of a technological transformation, similar or maybe even grander than the excitement and the promise that came with the birth of computer science — and Harvard is at the forefront,” Stubbs said.

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Harvard University campus

    Harvard University 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 best known landmark.

    Harvard University 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’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 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’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 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.

    Colonial

    Harvard 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 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’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 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’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’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 professors to repeat their lectures for women) began attending Harvard classes alongside men. Women were first admitted to the medical school in 1945. Since 1971, Harvard has controlled essentially all aspects of undergraduate admission, instruction, and housing for Radcliffe women. In 1999, Radcliffe was formally merged into Harvard.

    21st century

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

     
  • richardmitnick 9:40 am on April 5, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "DNA: assemble", A programmable DNA self-assembly strategy that paves the way for multiple applications., , , , DNA nanostructures have great potential for solving various diagnostic; therapeutic; and fabrication challenges due to their high biocompatibility and programmability., Harvard Gazette, Nanobiotechnology, , Using the method called “crisscrosspolymerization” the researchers can initiate the weaving of DNA nanoribbons from elongated single strands of DNA,   

    From Harvard Gazette : “DNA- assemble” 

    Harvard University

    From Harvard Gazette

    and

    Wyss Institute bloc

    From Wyss Institute

    1
    Wyss Founding Core Faculty member William Shih led a new study on DNA nanotechnology. Credit: Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard file photo.

    Planting the seed for DNA nanoconstructs that grow to the micron scale.

    Researchers at Harvard’s Wyss Institute and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI) have developed a programmable DNA self-assembly strategy that paves the way for multiple applications.

    Using the method called “crisscrosspolymerization” the researchers can initiate the weaving of DNA nanoribbons from elongated single strands of DNA, referred to as “slats,” by a strictly seed-dependent nucleation event. The study is published in Nature Communications.

    The team of nanobiotechnologists, led by Wyss Founding Core Faculty member William Shih, are working to solve the key challenge of robust nucleation control with this new technology. Its applications include ultrasensitive diagnostic biomarker detection and scalable fabrication of micrometer-sized structures with nanometer-sized features.

    DNA nanostructures have great potential for solving various diagnostic; therapeutic; and fabrication challenges due to their high biocompatibility and programmability. To function as effective diagnostic devices, for example, a DNA nanostructure might need to specifically respond to the presence of a target molecule by triggering an amplified read-out compatible with low-cost instruments accessible in point-of-care or clinical/laboratory settings.

    Most DNA nanostructures are assembled using one of two main strategies that each have their strengths and limitations. “DNA origami” are formed from a long single-stranded scaffold strand that is stabilized in a two or three-dimensional configuration by numerous shorter staple strands. Their assembly is strictly dependent on the scaffold strand, leading to robust all-or-nothing folding. Although they can be formed with high purity in a broad range of conditions, their maximum size is limited.

    2
    Strictly seed-dependent (green) crisscross polymerization enables the formation of diversely shaped tubes and coiled ribbons (gray), whereby elongating ribbons are closed in various patterns by single-stranded DNA overhangs (yellow and blue). The TEM images show a variety of elongated nanoconstructs. Credit: Wyss Institute/Harvard University.

    “DNA bricks,” on the other hand, can assemble much larger structures from a multitude of short modular strands. However, their assembly requires tightly controlled environmental conditions, can be spuriously initiated in the absence of a seed, and produces a significant proportion of incomplete structures that need to be purified away.

    “The introduction of DNA origami has been the single most impactful advance in the DNA nanotechnology field over the last two decades. The crisscross polymerization approach that we developed in this study builds off this and other foundations to extend controlled DNA self-assembly to much larger length scales,” said Shih, co-leader of the Wyss’ Molecular Robotics Initiative, and professor at Harvard Medical School and DFCI. “We envision that crisscross polymerization will be broadly enabling for all-or-nothing formation of two- and three-dimensional microstructures with addressable nanoscale features, algorithmic self-assembly, and zero-background signal amplification in diagnostic applications that require extreme sensitivity.”

    Planting a seed

    Having experienced the limitations of DNA origami and DNA brick nanostructures, the team started by asking if it was possible to combine the absolute seed-dependence of DNA origami assembly with the boundless size of DNA brick constructions in a third type of DNA nanostructure that grows rapidly and consistently to a large size.

    “We argued that all-or-nothing assembly of micron-scale DNA structures could be achieved by designing a system that has a high free-energy barrier to spontaneous assembly. The barrier can only be bypassed with a seed that binds and arranges a set of ‘nucleating’ slats for joint capture of ‘growth’ slats. This initiates a chain reaction of growth-slat additions that results in long DNA ribbons,” said co-first author Dionis Minev, a postdoctoral fellow on Shih’s team.

    “This type of highly cooperative, strictly seed-dependent nucleation follows some of the same principles governing cytoskeletal actin or microtubule filament initiation and growth in cells.”

    The elongation of cytoskeletal filaments follows strict rules where each incoming monomer binds to several monomers that have previously been incorporated into the polymeric filament and in turn is needed for binding of the next one. “Crisscross polymerization takes this strategy to the next level by enabling non-nearest neighbors to be required for recruitment of incoming monomers. The resulting extreme level of coordination is the secret sauce,” said Minev.

    From concept to actual structure(s)

    Putting their concept into practice, the team designed and validated a system in which a tiny seed structure offers a high starting concentration of pre-formed binding sites in the form of protruding single DNA strands. These can be detected by DNA slats with six — or eight in an alternative crisscross system — available binding sites, each binding to one of six (or eight) neighboring protruding ssDNA strands in a crisscross pattern, and subsequent DNA slats are then continuously added to the elongating structure.

    “Our design is remarkable because we achieved fast growth of huge DNA structures, yet with nucleation control that is orders-of-magnitude greater than other approaches. It’s like having your cake and eating it too, because we readily created large-scale assemblies and did so only where and when we so desired,” said co-first author Chris Wintersinger, a Ph.D. student in Shih’s group who collaborated on the project with Minev. “The control we achieved with crisscross greatly exceeds that observed for existing DNA methods where nucleation can only be directed within a narrow window of conditions where growth is exceedingly slow.”

    Using crisscross polymerization, Shih’s team generated DNA ribbons that self-assembled as a result of a single specific seeding event into structures that measured up to tens of micrometers in length, with a mass almost one hundred times larger than a typical DNA origami. Moreover, by leveraging the high programmability of slat conformations and interactions, the researchers created ribbons with distinct turns and twists, resulting in coiled and tube-like structures. In future studies, this could be leveraged to create functionalized structures that can benefit from spatially separated compartments.

    4
    In crisscross polymerization a “seed” structure (green) initiates an all-or-nothing assembly process at the nanoscale (top left). The seed’s exposes binding sites in the form of protruding single strands that can be detected by DNA “slats” (gray) weaving into an elongating nanoribbon. The TEM images show a single tiny seed structure with a ribbon assembled on it (top right) at high magnification, and multiple elongated seed structures (bottom). Credit: Wyss Institute/Harvard University.

    “An immediate application for our crisscross nanoconstruction method is as an amplification strategy in diagnostic assays following the formation of nanoseeds from specific and rare biomarkers,” said co-author Anastasia Ershova, a Ph.D. student mentored by Shih.

    “The development of this new nanofabrication method is a striking example of how the Wyss Institute’s Molecular Robotics Initiative continues to be inspired by biological systems, in this case, growing cytoskeletal filaments, and keeps expanding the possibilities in this exciting field. This advance brings the potential of DNA nanotechnology closer to solving pressing diagnostic challenges for which there currently are no solutions,” said Wyss Founding Director Donald Ingber. Ingber is also the Judah Folkman Professor of Vascular Biology at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital, and professor of bioengineering at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Wyss Institute campus

    Wyss Institute (pronounced “Veese”) Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering uses Nature’s design principles to develop bioinspired materials and devices that will transform medicine and create a more sustainable world.

    Working as an alliance among Harvard’s Schools of Medicine, Engineering, and Arts & Sciences, and in partnership with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston Children’s Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital, the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Tufts University, and Boston University, the Institute crosses disciplinary and institutional barriers to engage in high-risk research that leads to transformative technological breakthroughs.

    Harvard University campus
    Harvard University 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 best known landmark.

    Harvard University 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’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 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.[10] 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’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 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.

    Colonial

    Harvard 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.[22] 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 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’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 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’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’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 professors to repeat their lectures for women) began attending Harvard classes alongside men. Women were first admitted to the medical school in 1945. Since 1971, Harvard has controlled essentially all aspects of undergraduate admission, instruction, and housing for Radcliffe women. In 1999, Radcliffe was formally merged into Harvard.

    21st century

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

     
  • richardmitnick 10:17 am on January 19, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Interplanetary storm chasing", A new 3D model could explain the formation of a hexagon storm on Saturn., , , , , Harvard Gazette,   

    From Harvard Gazette: “Interplanetary storm chasing” 

    Harvard University

    From Harvard Gazette

    October 5, 2020 [Just now in social media.]
    Juan Siliezar

    A new 3D model could explain the formation of a hexagon storm on Saturn.


    Saturn’s hexagon mega-storm

    With its dazzling system of icy rings, Saturn has been a subject of fascination since ancient times. Even now the sixth planet from the sun holds many mysteries, partly because its distance away makes direct observation difficult and partly because this gas giant (which is multiple times the size of our planet) has a composition and atmosphere, mostly hydrogen and helium, so unlike that of Earth. Learning more about it could yield some insights into the creation of the solar system itself.

    One of Saturn’s mysteries involves the massive storm in the shape of a hexagon at its north pole. The six-sided vortex is an atmospheric phenomenon that has been fascinating planetary scientists since its discovery in the 1980s by the American Voyager program, and the subsequent visit in 2006 by the U.S.-European Cassini–Huygens mission. The storm is about 20,000 miles in diameter and is bordered by bands of winds blowing up to 300 miles per hour. A hurricane like it doesn’t exist on any other known planet or moon.

    Two of the many scientists-turned-interplanetary-storm-chasers working to uncover the secrets of this marvel are Jeremy Bloxham, the Mallinckrodt Professor of Geophysics, and research associate Rakesh K. Yadav, who works in Bloxham’s lab in Harvard’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. In a recently published paper in PNAS, the researchers began to wrap their heads around how the vortex came to be.

    “We see storms on Earth regularly and they are always spiraling, sometimes circular, but never something with hexagon segments or polygons with edges,” Yadav said. “That is really striking and completely unexpected. [The question on Saturn is] how did such a large system form and how can such a large system stay unchanged on this large planet?”

    By creating a 3D simulation model of Saturn’s atmosphere, Yadav and Bloxham believe are they closing in on an answer.

    In their paper, the scientists say that the unnatural-looking hurricane occurs when atmospheric flows deep within Saturn create large and small vortices (aka cyclones) that surround a larger horizontal jet stream blowing east near the planet’s north pole that also has a number of storms within it. The smaller storms interact with the larger system and as a result effectively pinch the eastern jet and confine it to the top of the planet. The pinching process warps the stream into a hexagon.

    “This jet is going around and around the planet, and it has to coexist with these localized [smaller] storms,” said Yadav, the study’s lead author. Think of it like this: “Imagine we have a rubber band and we place a bunch of smaller rubber bands around it and then we just squeeze the entire thing from the outside. That central ring is going to be compressed by some inches and form some weird shape with a certain number of edges. That’s basically the physics of what’s happening. We have these smaller storms and they’re basically pinching the larger storms at the polar region and since they have to coexist, they have to somehow find a space to basically house each system. By doing that, they end up making this polygonal shape.”

    The model the researchers created suggests the storm is thousands of kilometers deep, well beneath Saturn’s cloud tops. The simulation imitates the planet’s outer layer and covers only about 10 percent of its radius. In a monthlong experiment the scientists ran, the computer simulation showed that a phenomenon called deep thermal convection — which happens when heat is transferred from one place to another by the movement of fluids or gases — can unexpectedly give rise to atmospheric flows that create large polar cyclones and a high-latitude eastward jet pattern. When these mix at the top it forms the unexpected shape, and because the storms form deep within the planet, the scientists said it makes the hexagon furious and persistent.

    Convection is the same force that causes tornadoes and hurricanes on Earth. It’s similar to boiling a pot of water: The heat from the bottom transfers up to the colder surface, causing the top to bubble. This is what is believed to cause many of the storms on Saturn, which, as a gas giant, doesn’t have a solid surface like Earth’s.

    “The hexagonal flow pattern on Saturn is a striking example of turbulent self-organization,” the researchers wrote in the June paper. “Our model simultaneously and self-consistently produces alternating zonal jets, the polar cyclone, and hexagon-like polygonal structures similar to those observed on Saturn.”

    What the model didn’t produce, however, was a hexagon. Instead, the shape the researchers saw was a nine-side polygon that moved faster than Saturn’s storm. Still, the shape serves as proof of concept for the overall thesis on how the majestic shape is formed and why it has been relatively unchanged for almost 40 years.

    Interest in Saturn’s hexagon storm goes back to 1988, when astronomer David A. Godfrey analyzed flyby data from the Voyager spacecraft’s 1980 and 1981 Saturn passes and reported the discovery. Decades later, from 2004 to 2017, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft captured some of the clearest and best-known images of the anomaly before plunging into the planet.

    NASA/Voyager 1.

    NASA/ESA/ASI Cassini-Huygens Spacecraft.

    Relatively little is known about the storm because the planet takes 30 years to orbit the sun, leaving either pole in darkness for that time. Cassini, for instance, only took thermal images of the storm when it first arrived in 2004. Even when the sun shines on Saturn’s northern pole, the clouds are so thick that light doesn’t penetrate deep into the planet.

    Regardless, many hypotheses exist on how the storm formed. Most center on two schools of thought: One suggests that the hexagon is shallow and only extends hundreds of kilometers deep; the other suggests the zonal jets are thousands of kilometers deep.

    Yadav and Bloxham’s findings build on the latter theory, but need to include more atmospheric data from Saturn and further refine their model to create a more accurate picture of what’s happening with the storm. Overall, the duo hope their findings can help paint a portrait of activity on Saturn in general.

    “From a scientific point of view, the atmosphere is really important in determining how quickly a planet cools. All these things you see on the surface, they’re basically manifestations of the planet cooling down and the planet cooling down tells us a lot about what’s happening inside of the planet,” Yadav said. “The scientific motivation is basically understanding how Saturn came to be and how it evolves over time.”

    This work was supported by the FAS Research Computing, the NASA High-End Computing Program, and the NASA Juno project.

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Harvard University campus
    Harvard University 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 best known landmark.

    Harvard University 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.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:38 am on January 11, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Astrochemist brings search for extraterrestrial life to Center for Astrophysics" Clara Sousa-Silva, A good biosignature has a final characteristic: It has limited or accountable false positives., , , , , Harvard Gazette, Phosphine has a unique spectral signature because the spectrum for phosphine is composed of the behavior of the bonds between hydrogen and phosphorus and that’s a very rare bond in gas molecules.,   

    From Harvard Gazette: “Astrochemist brings search for extraterrestrial life to Center for Astrophysics” Clara Sousa-Silva 

    Harvard University

    From Harvard Gazette

    January 4, 2021
    Alvin Powell

    Clara Sousa-Silva explores telltale biosignature gases on other planets.

    1
    Although the size and mass of Venus are similar to the Earth, its thick carbon-dioxide atmosphere has trapped heat so efficiently that the surface temperature usually exceeds 700 kelvins, hot enough to melt lead. Credit: SSV, MIPL, Magellan Team, NASA.

    In September, a team of astronomers announced a breathtaking finding: They had detected a molecule called phosphine high in the clouds of Venus, possibly indicating evidence of life [Nature Astronomy].

    That discovery shook the scientific establishment. Once thought of as Earth’s twin, Venus — though nearby and rocky — is now known to have a hellish environment, with a thick atmosphere that traps solar radiation, cranking surface temperatures high enough to melt metal, and accompanied by surface pressure akin to that thousands of feet below Earth’s ocean surface.

    But the detection, led by researchers from Cardiff University in Wales, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of Manchester in England, was high in the atmosphere, where conditions are far more hospitable and the idea of microbial life more plausible. It was accomplished using spectroscopy, a method of determining the presence of different molecules in a planet’s atmosphere by analyzing how those molecules alter the light reflected from the planet. A key member of the team was fellow Clara Sousa-Silva, who had spent years studying the molecule’s spectroscopic signature and who believes that phosphine is a promising way to track the presence of extraterrestrial life.

    Sousa-Silva shifted her fellowship from MIT to the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian and will spend the next two years advancing her work on biosignatures and life on other planets.

    She spoke with the Gazette about the recent discovery and what the future of the search for life may hold.

    Q&A
    Clara Sousa-Silva

    GAZETTE: You study biosignature gases, and your website says phosphine is your favorite. What is a biosignature gas and what’s so special about phosphine?

    SOUSA-SILVA: A biosignature gas is any gas in the planetary atmosphere that is produced by life. That by itself is not particularly interesting because molecules that can be produced by life can often be produced by many other things. So another question is: What is a good biosignature? And the answer to that also explains why phosphine is my favorite.

    A good biosignature isn’t just produced by life and released into an atmosphere. It is also able to survive in that atmosphere and be both detectable and distinguishable. So, if we’re looking at an atmosphere from far away, say from a different planet, and we detect an interesting molecule, that’s great. But maybe, because of low resolution in the instruments, lots of molecules look very similar to one another and the spectral signature also corresponds to a different molecule than one we thought we saw. So, you want a biosignature to be distinguishable.

    A good biosignature has a final characteristic: It has limited or accountable false positives. That means if it is produced by life, if it survives in the atmosphere, and you can detect it unambiguously, you still need to know if it was in fact produced by life or if it was accidentally produced by some other nonbiological process like photochemistry or volcanism. So, a good biosignature is all of these things: It is produced by life in large quantities and survives; it’s unambiguously detectable; and is unambiguously assigned to life.

    Famous biosignatures like oxygen and methane rank very well in the first few of these parameters. But methane, for example, looks an awful lot like every other hydrocarbon. And so knowing if you’re looking at methane versus a different molecule that also has carbons and hydrogens is quite hard. And even if you can unambiguously assign the thing you saw to methane, you don’t know if you can unambiguously assign it to life.

    Phosphine has a unique spectral signature, because the spectrum for phosphine is composed of the behavior of the bonds between hydrogen and phosphorus, and that’s a very rare bond in gas molecules. So phosphine is quite easy to distinguish, meaning it’s easy-ish to detect, and it is also produced by life. But it’s not produced by life in large quantities, so that’s a negative point for phosphine. But then, it’s so hard to produce without the intervention of life on rocky planets that it’s very low on false positives. I think phosphine is a well-balanced biosignature: produced in detectable quantities by life, being distinguishable, and having low false positives. That’s why it’s my favorite.

    2
    Clara Sousa-Silva, a fellow who grabbed headlines in September because of new findings of a potential signature for life on Venus, discusses that research. Credit: Kris Snibbe/Harvard.

    GAZETTE: Your site also says that phosphine is toxic to life that uses oxygen metabolism. So why is it a likely sign of life on Venus?

    SOUSA-SILVA: I don’t know if it’s likely. I wouldn’t dare put a probability on that. It is toxic to life on Earth that uses oxygen. And that is, obviously, us and everything we love. But lots of life on Earth does not rely on oxygen, and for the majority of time that life existed on Earth it also didn’t rely on oxygen. Granted, it wasn’t the most thrilling life. It wasn’t writing great works of literature, but it was nevertheless popular on Earth and seemingly very happy, thriving in forms that had no need for oxygen.

    The reason why phosphine on Venus, if it’s there, may signify life is more that we cannot explain it in any other way. We have no good explanation for the presence of phosphine on Venus, and we do know it can be produced by life. That doesn’t mean that’s what’s happening on Venus. That’s just, as extraordinary as it might sound, the best guess we have at this point.

    GAZETTE: Let’s talk specifically about the findings from September. What did you and your colleagues find on Venus?

    SOUSA-SILVA: It was an analysis of two separate observations done about 18 months apart. One was done with the JCMT, the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope, which is on Mauna Kea [in Hawaii].

    East Asia Observatory James Clerk Maxwell telescope, Mauna Kea, Hawaii, USA,4,207 m (13,802 ft) above sea level.

    That observation has a tentative signal that could be assigned to phosphine. We then applied for time on ALMA [Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array in Chile], which is a much more powerful array of telescopes and which seemingly got a slightly stronger signal that also corresponded to phosphine.

    ESO/NRAO/NAOJ ALMA Array in Chile in the Atacama at Chajnantor plateau, at 5,000 metres.

    This is encouraging because the odds that a random signal will appear in the same place 18 months apart, using two different instruments, are very slim.

    The analysis was figuring out: One, is the signal real, because both of these instruments were collecting data very much at the limits of their capabilities. Two, if the signal is real, is the most plausible candidate phosphine rather than a different molecule? And three, if indeed the signal is real and it is phosphine, who or what is making it? Those are the three steps of the main article. This was about two years of work on top of my many years of work investigating phosphine as a biosignature.

    It took a long time and a large international team, including Anita [Richards, of the University of Manchester, U.K.] and Jane [Greaves, of Cardiff University (UK)]. Jane is the lead author of the paper that came out in September specifically extracting the signal from the data. Then lots of us were trying to figure out if the signal belongs to phosphine and if so, at what abundances. My contribution is that I know the pure spectroscopy of phosphine very well. My entire Ph.D. was dedicated to the spectroscopy of phosphine. So I was able to help figure out, if it was phosphine, what kind of abundances it was present in.

    I was also able to provide a list of other candidate molecules that could mimic the signal. The most promising one is phosphine, but the second-most-promising one is SO2 (sulphur dioxide), which would be a strange molecule to find in that location of Venus, but not anywhere near as strange as finding phosphine. So it was an important candidate to check. Then, if it is indeed phosphine and the signal is real, figuring out what is producing it was led by William Bains [at MIT]. It was also a large team, figuring out every process that might make phosphine and excluding a near-infinite list of negatives. It’s very, very hard to know if you’ve reached the end of that list.

    GAZETTE: So they’re working through the ways you might make phosphine that likely didn’t occur on Venus?

    SOUSA-SILVA: We’re trying to find an explanation, any explanation, and we did find a few methods that could produce small amounts of phosphine, but they were always quite trivial and always many orders of magnitude below what our estimates were for the signal detected in the clouds of Venus.

    GAZETTE: Is this discovery a warmup for finding phosphine and detecting biosignatures on planets around other stars?

    SOUSA-SILVA: I think it’s exactly a warmup for the search for life. It’s an excellent case study in the world of astrobiology.

    The odds that we find life beyond Earth from a booming, unambiguous, intelligent signal from the heavens is very slim. It’s likely, if we ever find life, that it is going to be something with quite a lot of uncertainty, and it will be really hard to even estimate that uncertainty. We won’t be able to say, “Oh, we found life with 80 percent certainty.” Those numbers are not ones we can do right now.

    What we can do is look at planets that have potentially habitable environments, look for molecules that can be associated with life, and then try to explain what’s going on there. We found a biomarker in a place that is potentially habitable. That’s a crucial first step, but it’s very far from the final step. We now need to figure out what other molecules would that biosphere produce? How will they interact with one another? How do we disentangle those behaviors from the spontaneous behaviors of a dead atmosphere?

    So, it’ll take a lot of work. We are very lucky to have Venus right next door so that we can use it as a lab. We can test all these theories in a way that we won’t be able to when we find a biomarker on an exoplanet, where there’s no hope of actually going in and probing the atmosphere to check. So this is a really important step.

    This has been reasonably controversial — and it should be — but we will have to do this many times. And every time we hope to be better prepared and have a better tool kit so that there’s less uncertainty. But it’ll take a long time before we can unambiguously confirm life elsewhere.

    GAZETTE: Before this discovery, Venus had been largely dismissed as a place for life because of its surface conditions. Your discovery has highlighted that a biosphere can be in places that may not immediately come to mind: high in the clouds where conditions are different. Is there a lesson here for thinking unconventionally when we evaluate places for life, especially since even here on Earth we’ve found life to be tough and enduring and in surprising places?

    SOUSA-SILVA: Life is very resilient and very resourceful on Earth and there’s no reason to think that’s some special characteristic of life on Earth rather than of life itself. We have ignored Venus because Venus is quite horrid to us. When we sent probes, they melted dramatically so we didn’t feel particularly welcome. It seems easier to imagine a place like Mars as habitable, even though actually there’s so little atmosphere and so little protection from the sun’s radiation that it’s really not an easily habitable surface.

    Mars is mostly uninhabitable, like Venus, just in a much quieter way. Mars will kill you, but it doesn’t melt you, so it feels more habitable, though I have no loyalty to either planet as a place to find life. This is hopefully going to help us think of habitability in a less anthropocentric way — or at least a less terra-centric way — and to think of habitability not just as a rocky planet with liquid water on the surface, but to think of subterranean habitats, moons of gas giants — something people already consider — and envelopes of an atmosphere as potentially habitable places in an otherwise uninhabitable planet.

    GAZETTE: What did you think when it became apparent that it might be life on Venus? Was that an exciting moment?

    SOUSA-SILVA: It was kind of a strange reversal. I had for years been working on this completely hypothetical investigation: If we found phosphine on a terrestrial planet what would it mean? I had concluded that because it has so few false positives on terrestrial planets that it could only mean life. I submitted the paper with this conclusion, and it was not controversial. The reviewers were fine with the idea — they had issues with other parts of the paper, but this didn’t bother them at all. No one cared because it was hypothetical: I was imagining this exotic, distant planet.

    When I was contacted by Jane, who had this tentative detection of phosphine on Venus, my not-so-controversial statement was now really extraordinary. And Venus is next door, so my hypothetical scenario became very concrete, very quickly. That was two years ago. We spent about a year and a half basically redoing and refining the analysis that we had done for my paper. This was, again, led by William Bains to try to figure out whether this is what happened on Venus. Venus is not your classic, potentially habitable exoplanet. It’s a pretty infernal place and maybe there phosphine could be made abiotically. So I never got to be as excited as I might at the first mention that phosphine had been found on a terrestrial planet. I expected this to happen hopefully before I die, but probably after I retire, not within months of submitting my hypothesis.

    I also immediately felt like I could not be trusted because I’m so biased. I’ve been working on phosphine for so long. I am a junior scientist without a permanent job. It would be so valuable to me for it to be life that I can’t be trusted to assess this accurately. So I was very careful to not get too excited. I had a strong glass of whiskey that evening, but that was it. Then I went and did the same work that we always do, which was to check every possible mechanism that can make phosphine, every possible molecule that can mimic the signal, and look again at everything I’ve done before and check for mistakes. It was nerve-racking to explore this expression of my prediction so nearby, so quickly.

    GAZETTE: Have you had a chance since the original paper was published?

    SOUSA-SILVA: Well, we did a good thing and paid a cost. Unlike a lot of observations of this kind, we published all our data and all our code. Everything was ready for people to come and tear it apart. So people did, which meant I never did get a little time off to enjoy it. It was great because they found a calibration mistake, and ALMA was able to rectify that, which allowed our team to reanalyze the data — they’re still doing it now. There was just way too much press and then way too much criticism, and I still haven’t taken time off.

    GAZETTE: About the scientific debate, how to you respond to the failure of other research groups to replicate the results?

    SOUSA-SILVA: This is the part of the work where I’m only tangentially involved, since I’m not doing any data reduction [of readings from Venus’ atmosphere]. This debate is a consequence of working at the edge of instrument capabilities, and the data are always going to be very noisy and delicate until we have better telescopes. Any discoveries made from these data, from the edges of our ability, are always going to be up for discussion. It’ll be nice when there’s a gold standard method for reducing these data, but there isn’t, so people disagree on the best way of extracting a signal without introducing spurious signals.

    The disagreement comes in a variety of forms, but the teams that didn’t replicate the results, don’t replicate the results in different ways. For example, the [Ignas] Snellen team [from Leiden University in the Netherlands] looked at the ALMA data before the calibration error had been corrected. I’m looking forward to seeing their revised analysis of the better data. The Villanueva team [led by Geronimo Villanueva at the NASA-Goddard Space Flight Center] that looked at both the ALMA data and the JCMT data, did find signals in the JCMT data, which, of course, begs the question of “Where does the signal go in the ALMA data?”

    They do disagree on the source of the JCMT signal, though. SO2 [sulfur dioxide], our second-most-plausible candidate, is their first-most-plausible candidate. And that is an even more complicated question of how you choose between two molecules that can simulate the same signal at these resolutions. Our team’s argument is that the SO2 [spectra] is a little off — you would expect SO2 to show up in different areas of the white bandpass. There also isn’t enough SO2 to justify the signal, so phosphine would need to complement the size of the signal. It’s a difficult argument to make — and we’re at the edge of the statistical significance of the signal — but it’s a totally valid argument.

    Then there’s the archival Pioneer data that was revisited and that they think could correspond to phosphine. It’s hard to bring all of this data to a place where they agree with one another, sadly, because people want to know the truth — I do, too. But the only real conclusion we have is that we don’t know Venus well enough, and we need more data. We need more observations that are not at the edge of instrument capabilities so that there’s no ambiguity in what we’re looking at.

    GAZETTE: Let’s talk a little bit about what you’ll be doing here at Harvard. You’ve been a fellow at MIT. Is the fellowship split between there and here?

    SOUSA-SILVA: No, I moved it. I am 100 percent Harvard — for the last two months, I think. It’s very new.

    GAZETTE: Who will you be working with and what will you be doing?

    SOUSA-SILVA: The 51 Pegasi b Fellowship is a wonderful three-year prize fellowship that is provided by the Heising-Simons Foundation. I did one year at MIT, and I’ve moved to Harvard for the last two years of the fellowship. My host is Dave Charbonneau — part of the reason I moved to Harvard is because of the expertise he has — and the team that surrounds him — on exoplanet atmospheres. There’s also the HITRAN [High resolution Transmission molecular absorption database] group, led by Iouli Gordon — and previously, Larry Rothman — who are world leaders in spectroscopic databases, which is the bread and butter of my work. So that combination of expertise made Harvard perfect.

    GAZETTE: Are you doing most of your work out of your home now or are you able to commute to the CfA physically?

    SOUSA-SILVA: No, I don’t even know where my office is yet. I would love to be commuting to the CfA, but because my work can be done remotely, it shall be done remotely.

    GAZETTE: Are you continuing to work on phosphine and Venus or are you moving on to other topics?

    SOUSA-SILVA: I’ll give it the same percentage of my time as I have in the past. Phosphine is very much my expert molecule, but 50 percent of my work is pushing against the notion of looking for single indicators of life. Because unless we get a radio signal in prime numbers or an unambiguous sign of CFCs [chlorofluorocarbons] or other really complex pollutants, we are going to need more than one molecule; we’re going to need a whole array of molecules that together paint the picture of a biosphere with all its complexity and interactions.

    So most of my work is trying to provide a tool kit that can detect every molecule that could potentially be in a habitable atmosphere. I started the work at MIT. They had come up with a list of all the possible molecules that could form in the context of a biosphere: 16,367. I know that number because I’ve been working on it for so long.

    Out of those thousands, we have spectra of some quality — and some of them are rough — for less than 4 percent of them. For the majority of molecules, we don’t even have even a crude ability to detect them. So most of my work is trying to simulate that spectra so we have at least some idea of what these molecules look like. That’s the connection to HITRAN. They have extremely high accuracy and extremely careful data on a handful of molecules, a little over 50. That is wonderful, but only a small dent in the list of 16,000-plus.

    I created a small program called RASCALL, for Rapid Approximate Spectral Calculations for All. The idea is to make really rough, very quick spectra for all of these molecules, and then build on it. Without RASCALL, the way I did my phosphine spectra took me a bit over four years and many extremely expensive supercomputers. I can’t repeat that for the 16,000 molecules. I calculated that it would take me over 62,000 years. I’m trying to shorten that timescale into something that resembles my lifetime, and that’s where RASCALL comes in.

    GAZETTE: Folks like you will be helping answer an interesting question in the decades to come: whether life is something rare or whether it’s not really that rare after all. It seems the thinking on that has been shifting in recent decades.

    SOUSA-SILVA: I do like that the shift is happening and that people are thinking that life is more common. I’m hoping that shift will go so far as thinking that life is not that special. It’s just an inevitable occurrence in a variety of contexts. If it can appear in places as different as Earth and Venus, which are at first glance similar because of their size and location but otherwise very different, then it must be extremely common because it would be the height of hubris to think that only the solar system can have life, but it has arisen twice in totally different environments.

    That seems really implausible. The sun is average, rocky planets are extremely common, the molecular cloud that formed the solar system was not special. Life on Earth came to be in a huge diversity of forms, and life changed Earth’s atmosphere many times. We only have one planet where we know life existed, but Earth has been many planets, which is something an astronomer colleague of mine, Sarah Rugheimer, likes to say. We have quite a lot of data points that basically show that life is pretty good at making itself happen in many ways throughout history.

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Harvard University campus
    Harvard University 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 best known landmark.

    Harvard University 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.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:56 pm on January 8, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "To Serve Better — Sea change", Harvard Gazette, Jonathan Stone- "Save the Bay", , Rhode Island, The Newport Bridge, With abundant beaches; wildlife habitats and an ocean that feeds the state’s essential seafood industry Narragansett Bay brings great benefits to those who live in and visit Rhode Island.   

    From Harvard Gazette: “To Serve Better — Sea change” 

    Harvard University

    From Harvard Gazette

    1.7.21
    Jonathan Stone

    1
    Rhode Island

    The Newport Bridge, connecting Jamestown and Newport, spans the East Passage of Narragansett Bay, a natural resource Jonathan Stone fights hard to protect for generations of Rhode Islanders. Photo courtesy of Save the Bay.

    Jonathan Stone, Harvard Business School
    “I think I can say without hesitation that everyone who works at Save the Bay views it as a privilege — we’re doing something we love.”

    It isn’t difficult to understand why Rhode Island is called the Ocean State. At just over 1,210 square miles, the smallest state in the nation has a disproportionately massive coastline that runs along the Narragansett Bay for nearly 400 miles.

    “If you ask the average Rhode Islander from any part of the state what the most important natural resource is in the state, you’re going to get one answer – Narragansett Bay,” says Jonathan Stone, executive director of Save the Bay.

    With abundant beaches, wildlife habitats, and an ocean that feeds the state’s essential seafood industry, Narragansett Bay brings great benefits to those who live in and visit Rhode Island; it also brings a responsibility to maintain the resource. Save the Bay has worked for 50 years to protect the water, restore habitats, educate the public, and advocate for smarter environmental policies to preserve the bay for generations of Rhode Islanders.

    Since 2009, Stone has led the organization, one he has been a part of as a member and volunteer since 1989 because of a love for the ocean and commitment to help protect the resource.

    “I think I can say without hesitation that everyone who works at Save the Bay views it as a privilege — we’re doing something we love,” says Stone. “From the receptionist to our educators to me and our policy team — we’re there for the mission, we just care a lot about it. More than that, we all use the resource. We have surfers, swimmers, fishermen, and sailors on staff, and what motivates all of us is getting stuff done. No one is there just to punch a clock.”

    While he counts his current job as more rewarding than his time in corporate America, working in manufacturing and finance, Stone does apply what he learned there to running the largest environmental organization in Rhode Island. “My life experience prior to landing at Save the Bay has been informed by interacting with lots of different people in different disciplines and different sectors and figuring out how to connect with them on a level where we can find common ground.”

    That approach serves him well as Save the Bay works with cities and towns in Rhode Island and Massachusetts that may not have the capacity to identify and focus on environmental projects.

    “It’s up to outside entities like Save the Bay to identify a problem, engage the [municipality] and share how the project will benefit the community,” says Stone. “Then comes the work of cobbling together the funding for everything from feasibility studies and permitting to actual project design, and all of that has to come together and it takes a long time.”

    2
    In his work with Save the Bay, Stone is quick to point out that Narragansett Bay is one of the most important natural resources for Rhode Island. Photos courtesy of Save the Bay.

    3
    Young volunteers participating in a Save the Bay organized Narragansett Bay clean up project. Photo courtesy of Save the Bay.

    Like other nonprofits and businesses, Save the Bay had to modify their operations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. A major component of their work is environmental education for young people in Rhode Island and Massachusetts; they provide classes to approximately 15,000 kids in both states each year.

    Starting in March those classes looked a bit different when Save the Bay’s educators pivoted to producing content they would stream live on their Facebook page. For three months through June, each weekday at 10 a.m. they would host a program called “Breakfast by the Bay,” which allowed viewers to ask questions of the team of experts who work for Save the Bay. Producing this helped them get their feet under them and fine tune their virtual programming, something that will continue to be important as schools in Rhode Island and Massachusetts head back to the classroom in a hybrid in-person and digital model.

    Other aspects of their work changed as well. Their volunteer program pressed paused to adhere to social distancing guidelines, their 50th anniversary celebration was postponed to next year, and annual events such as their swim from Jamestown, R.I., to Newport, R.I., pivoted to a digital event where participants completed the miles on their own time.

    Stone, who originally joined Save the Bay as a volunteer, noted the undeterred enthusiasm he has felt from their members. Just last month they were able to resume some aspects of their volunteer program with modified safety guidelines, and sent out individuals to participate in their beach clean-up program.

    “People are really excited [to volunteer again] — they are chomping at the bit to get outdoors,” says Stone. “Everyone is interested and cares about the natural resource that we have.”

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Harvard University campus
    Harvard University 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 best known landmark.

    Harvard University 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.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:38 am on January 4, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Harvard to launch center for autism research", Another group of researchers will examine the role of factors arising from organs and organ systems outside the brain that may drive autism risk., , Autism-spectrum disorders are marked by a cluster of symptoms; impaired social interactions; and compromised communication skills., Exactly what portion of these cases are strictly rooted in genetic mutations and how they are influenced by environmental factors is an area of lingering uncertainty., Harvard Gazette, Heightened sensitivity to even light touch is a common feature in autism and one of the disorder’s many perplexing symptoms., , One group of researchers will focus on understanding precisely what goes awry during critical windows in the first two years of life.   

    From Harvard Gazette: “Harvard to launch center for autism research” 

    Harvard University

    From Harvard Gazette

    October 10, 2019 [Referred by another article.]
    Ekaterian Pesheva

    Created with $20M gift from K. Lisa Yang and Hock E. Tan, initiative aims to unravel the basic biology of autism and related disorders.

    Autism and related disorders — a constellation of neurodevelopmental conditions affecting one in 59 children in the U.S. alone — have joined the ranks of modern medicine’s most confounding mysteries. The conditions are believed to arise from the complex interplay between genes and environment, yet their basic biology remains largely a black box.

    Now, a new research effort at Harvard University led by Harvard Medical School (HMS) is poised to identify the biologic roots and molecular changes that give rise to autism-related disorders with the goal of informing the development of better diagnostic tools and new therapies.

    Harvard has received a $20 million gift from philanthropists Lisa Yang and Hock Tan, M.B.A. ’79, to establish the Hock E. Tan and K. Lisa Yang Center for Autism Research at Harvard Medical School. The latest gift brings the total autism-related research funding Yang and Tan have provided to nearly $70 million.

    The center will serve as the hub that brings together the diverse expertise of scientists and clinicians working throughout Harvard University, HMS, and the Harvard-affiliated hospitals.

    2
    1
    Hock Tan, M.B.A. ’79, (above) and K. Lisa Yang (lower center) have given a $20 million gift to establish The Hock E. Tan and K. Lisa Yang Center for Autism Research at Harvard Medical School. With Yang are Professor Mike Greenberg (left) and HMS Dean George Daley. Courtesy of Hock Tan; Credit:Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer.

    Under the premise that autism’s complexity demands the cross-pollination of knowledge across different modes of scientific inquiry, the center will encompass the efforts of basic, translational, and clinical scientists from the entire Harvard ecosystem. The center will have its administrative home within the Harvard Brain Science Initiative, which brings together researchers from HMS and its affiliated hospitals, as well as from the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering.

    “Neuroscience has reached a unique inflection point. Advances such as single-cell analysis and optogenetics, coupled with an unprecedented ability to visualize molecular mechanisms down to the minutest level, will enable today’s researchers to tackle a disorder as dauntingly complex as autism,” said Harvard Medical School Dean George Q. Daley.

    “Medical history has taught us that truly transformative therapies flow only from a clear understanding of the fundamental biology that underlies a condition,” Daley added. “This gift will allow our researchers to generate critical insights about autism and related disorders.”

    Investigators at the new Harvard center will collaborate with peer researchers at MIT and complement efforts already underway at the Hock E. Tan and K. Lisa Yang Center for Autism Research at MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research, with the strengths of each institution converging toward a shared goal: understanding the roots of autism, explaining the condition’s behavior and evolution, and translating those insights into novel approaches to treat its symptoms.

    “In a short time, the Tan-Yang Center at the McGovern Institute has supported groundbreaking research we believe will change our understanding of autism,” said Robert Desimone, the director of the center at MIT. “We look forward to joining forces with the new center at Harvard, to greatly accelerate the pace of autism-related research.”

    “We are excited and hopeful that these sibling centers at Harvard and MIT — two powerhouses of biomedical research — will continue to collaborate in a synergistic way and bring about critical new insights to our understanding of autism,” Yang said.

    Yang is a former investment banker who has devoted much of her time to mental health advocacy. Tan is CEO of Broadcom, a global infrastructure technology company.

    Autism-spectrum disorders are neurodevelopmental conditions that typically emerge in the first few years of life. They are marked by a cluster of symptoms, impaired social interactions, and compromised communication skills. Yet exactly what portion of these cases are strictly rooted in genetic mutations and how they are influenced by environmental factors is an area of lingering uncertainty. Another key area for exploration is how much of autism’s fundamental features arise in the brain and what role organs and systems outside of the brain might play.

    Two of the new center’s initial areas of inquiry will address these critical gaps in knowledge.

    One group of researchers will focus on understanding precisely what goes awry during critical windows in the first two years of life — a period marked by rapid brain development, great neuroplasticity, and intense wiring of the brain’s circuits. This is also the typical window of autism diagnosis. The scientists will try to understand what molecular, cellular, or neural-circuitry changes underlie autism-fueling processes during this stage. Identifying such critical changes can help illuminate how experiences modulate brain development in individuals with autism.

    Another group of researchers will examine the role of factors arising from organs and organ systems outside the brain that may drive autism risk. For example, the peripheral nervous system — made up of nerve cells throughout the body that act as nodes that collect and transmit signals to the brain — has emerged as a central player in the development of autism.

    Heightened sensitivity to even light touch is a common feature in autism and one of the disorder’s many perplexing symptoms. Recent research from neurobiologists and geneticists at HMS has not only identified the molecular changes that give rise to heightened touch sensitivity in autism-spectrum disorders, but also points to a possible treatment for the condition.

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Harvard University campus
    Harvard University 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 best known landmark.

    Harvard University 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.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:09 am on January 4, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "New technology to investigate autism spectrum disorder", , Genetic studies have identified a multitude of risk genes that are associated with the development of autism spectrum disorder., Harvard Gazette, , Researchers used CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing to make precise changes- perturbations- in 35 different genes linked to autism spectrum disorder risk., The “Perturb-Seq” method investigates the function of many different genes in many different cell types at once in a living organism.   

    From Harvard Gazette: “New technology to investigate autism spectrum disorder” 

    Harvard University

    From Harvard Gazette

    December 2, 2020
    Jessica Lau

    1
    Researchers applied the Perturb-Seq method to the developing mouse brain by introducing multiple genetic changes to cells (in red) and measuring how gene expression changed in individual cells. Credit: Paola Arlotta laboratory/Harvard University.

    Technology to identify potential biological mechanisms underlying autism spectrum disorder has been developed by scientists at Harvard University, the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, and MIT.

    The “Perturb-Seq” method investigates the function of many different genes in many different cell types at once, in a living organism. Scientists applied the large-scale method to study dozens of genes that are associated with autism spectrum disorder, identifying how specific cell types in the developing mouse brain are impacted by mutations.

    Published in the journal Science, the method is also broadly applicable to other organs, enabling scientists to better understand a wide range of disease and normal processes.

    “For many years, genetic studies have identified a multitude of risk genes that are associated with the development of autism spectrum disorder,” said said co-senior author Paola Arlotta, the Golub Family Professor of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology at Harvard. “The challenge in the field has been to make the connection between knowing what the genes are, to understanding how the genes actually affect cells and ultimately behavior.

    “We applied the Perturb-Seq technology to an intact developing organism for the first time, showing the potential of measuring gene function at scale to better understand a complex disorder,” Arlotta explained.

    The study was also led by co-senior authors Aviv Regev, who was a core member of the Broad Institute during the study and is currently executive vice president of Genentech Research and Early Development, and Feng Zhang, a core member of the Broad Institute and an investigator at MIT’s McGovern Institute.

    To investigate gene function at a large scale, the researchers combined two powerful genomic technologies. They used CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing to make precise changes, or perturbations, in 35 different genes linked to autism spectrum disorder risk. Then, they analyzed changes in the developing mouse brain using single-cell RNA sequencing, which allowed them to see how gene expression changed in over 40,000 individual cells.

    By looking at the level of individual cells, the researchers could compare how the risk genes affected different cell types in the cortex — the part of the brain responsible for complex functions including cognition and sensation. They analyzed networks of risk genes together to find common effects.

    “We found that both neurons and glia — the non-neuronal cells in the brain — are directly affected by different sets of these risk genes,” said Xin Jin, lead author of the study and a Junior Fellow of the Harvard Society of Fellows. “Genes and molecules don’t generate cognition per se — they need to impact specific cell types in the brain to do so. We are interested in understanding how these different cell types can contribute to the disorder.”

    To get a sense of the model’s potential relevance to the disorder in humans, the researchers compared their results to data from post-mortem human brains. In general, they found that in the post-mortem human brains with autism spectrum disorder, some of the key genes with altered expression were also affected in the Perturb-seq data.

    “We now have a really rich dataset that allows us to draw insights, and we’re still learning a lot about it every day,” Jin said. “As we move forward with studying disease mechanisms in more depth, we can focus on the cell types that may be really important.”

    “The field has been limited by the sheer time and effort that it takes to make one model at a time to test the function of single genes. Now, we have shown the potential of studying gene function in a developing organism in a scalable way, which is an exciting first step to understanding the mechanisms that lead to autism spectrum disorder and other complex psychiatric conditions, and to eventually develop treatments for these devastating conditions,” said Arlotta, who is also an institute member of the Broad Institute and part of the Broad’s Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research. “Our work also paves the way for Perturb-Seq to be applied to organs beyond the brain, to enable scientists to better understand the development or function of different tissue types, as well as pathological conditions.”

    “Through genome sequencing efforts, a very large number of genes have been identified that, when mutated, are associated with human diseases. Traditionally, understanding the role of these genes would involve in-depth studies of each gene individually. By developing Perturb-seq for in vivo applications, we can start to screen all of these genes in animal models in a much more efficient manner, enabling us to understand mechanistically how mutations in these genes can lead to disease,” said Zhang, who is also the James and Patricia Poitras Professor of Neuroscience at MIT and a professor of brain and cognitive sciences and biological engineering at MIT.

    This research was supported by the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at the Broad Institute, the National Institutes of Health, the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation’s NARSAD Young Investigator Grant, Harvard University’s William F. Milton Fund, the Klarman Cell Observatory, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, a Center for Cell Circuits grant from the National Human Genome Research Institute’s Centers of Excellence in Genomic Science, the New York Stem Cell Foundation, the Mathers Foundation, the Poitras Center for Affective Disorders Research at MIT, the Hock E. Tan and K. Lisa Yang Center for Autism Research at MIT, and J. and P. Poitras.

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Harvard University campus
    Harvard University 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 best known landmark.

    Harvard University 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.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:24 am on December 13, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "When tectonic plates began to shift", , , , Harvard Gazette   

    From Harvard Gazette: “When tectonic plates began to shift” 

    Harvard University

    From Harvard Gazette

    April 28, 2020 [Just found this]
    Juan Siliezar

    1
    An artistic cross-section through forming crust approximately 3-4 billion years ago. The presence or absence of plate tectonics during this time is a topic of vigorous scientific debate. A study led by Harvard geologists has found evidence that the crust moved quickly over Earth’s surface in the deep past, a hallmark of modern plate tectonics. This suggests that plate motion could have been a meaningful process in early Earth history. Credit: Alec Brenner/Harvard University.

    New study suggests it began much earlier than thought, launching the creation of continents, oceans, and other landforms.

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

    An enduring question in geology involves the question of when the tectonic plates of the Earth’s crust began pushing and pulling in a process that formed the planet’s continents, oceans, and other landforms. Some researchers theorize it happened about 4 billion years ago. Others say it was closer to 1 billion.

    Clues can be found in very old rocks. Looking at some, a team led by Harvard researchers show that these plates were moving at least 3.2 billion years ago on the early Earth.

    In a portion of the Pilbara Craton in Western Australia, one of the oldest pieces of the Earth’s crust, scientists found a latitudinal drift of about 2.5 centimeters a year. They found the motion went back 3.2 billion years and confirmed it using a novel magnetic microscope.

    The researchers believe this shift is the earliest proof that modern-like plate motion happened between 2 and 4 billion years ago, suggesting that the plates pushed and pulled in ways unlike those seen earlier periods, when the Earth’s crust moved less. It adds to growing research that tectonic movement occurred on the early Earth and offers hints about the conditions under which the earliest forms of life developed.

    The work was published in Science Advances on Earth Day.

    “Basically, this is one piece of geological evidence to extend the record of plate tectonics on Earth further back in Earth history,” said Alec Brenner, one of the paper’s lead authors and a member Harvard’s Paleomagnetics Lab. “Based on the evidence we found, it looks like plate tectonics is a much more likely process to have occurred on the early Earth, and that argues for an Earth that looks a lot more similar to today’s than a lot of people think.”

    2
    A geologic map of the Pilbara Craton in Western Australia. The rocks exposed here range from 2.5 to 3.5 billion years ago, offering a uniquely well-preserved window into Earth’s deep past. The authors of the study spent two field seasons in the Pilbara sampling lavas (shown in green shades) dated to 3.2 billion years ago. For scale, the image is about 500 kilometers across, covering approximately the same area as the state of Pennsylvania. Map data from the Geological Survey of Western Australia. Credit: Alec Brenner, Harvard University.

    Plate tectonics is key to the evolution of life and the development of the planet. Today, the Earth’s outer shell consists of about 15 shifting blocks of crust. On them sit the planet’s continents and oceans. As Earth formed, the plates drifted into each other and apart, exposing new rocks to the atmosphere, which led to chemical reactions that stabilized Earth’s surface temperature over billions of years. A stable climate is crucial to the evolution of life, and the study suggests that early forms of life came about in a more moderate environment.

    “We’re trying to understand the geophysical principles that drive the Earth,” said Roger Fu, one of the paper’s lead authors and an assistant professor of Earth and planetary sciences in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. “Plate tectonics cycles elements that are necessary for life into the Earth and out of it.”

    Plate tectonics helps planetary scientists understand worlds beyond this one, too.

    “Currently, Earth is the only known planetary body that has robustly established plate tectonics of any kind,” said Brenner, a third-year graduate student in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. “It really behooves us as we search for planets in other solar systems to understand the whole set of processes that led to plate tectonics on Earth and what driving forces transpired to initiate it. That hopefully would give us a sense of how easy it is for plate tectonics to happen on other worlds, especially given all the linkages between plate tectonics, the evolution of life, and the stabilization of climate.”

    For the study, members of the project traveled to the Pilbara Craton. A craton is a primordial, thick, and very stable piece of crust. They are usually found in the middle of tectonic plates and are the ancient hearts of the Earth’s continents, which makes them the natural place to go to study the early Earth. The Pilbara Craton stretches about 300 miles across, covering approximately the same area as the state of Pennsylvania.

    Fu and Brenner drilled into rocks from a portion called the Honeyeater Basalt and collected core samples about an inch wide in 2017. They brought them back to Fu’s lab in Cambridge and placed them into magnetometers and demagnetizing equipment. Certain minerals in rocks lock in the direction and intensity of the Earth’s magnetic field at the time they are formed. That field shifts over time, so by examining layers, scientists glean evidence for a kind of timeline of when rocks were formed and when they shifted in the plates. These instruments told them the rock’s magnetic history — the most stable bit being when the rock formed, which was 3.2 billion years ago.

    3
    Roger Fu, an author on the study, poses on an outcrop of the Honeyeater Basalt in Western Australia’s Pilbara Craton. The ancient lavas exposed here showed the study’s authors that the Pilbara Craton moved over the Earth’s surface some 3.2 billion years ago. Credit: Alec Brenner/Harvard University.

    The team then used their data and data from other researchers, who have demagnetized rocks in nearby areas, to date when the rocks shifted from one point to another. They found a drift of 2.5 centimeters a year.

    Fu and Brenner’s work differs from most studies because the scientists focused on measuring the position of the rocks over time while other work tends to focus on chemical structures in the rocks that suggest tectonic movement.

    Researchers used the novel Quantum Diamond Microscope to confirm their findings. That instrument images the magnetic fields and particles of a sample. It was developed in a collaboration between researchers at Harvard and MIT.

    In the paper, the researchers point out they weren’t able to rule out a phenomenon called “true polar wander.” It can also cause the Earth’s surface to shift. Their results lean more toward plate tectonic motion because of the time interval of this geological movement.

    Fu and Brenner plan to keep analyzing data from the Pilbara Craton and other samples from around the world in future experiments. A love of the outdoors drives both of them, and so does an academic need to understand the Earth’s planetary history.

    “This is part of our heritage,” Brenner said.

    This research was supported by the National Science Foundation.

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Harvard University campus
    Harvard University 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 best known landmark.

    Harvard University 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.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:54 am on December 7, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Cora Dvorkin, , , Harvard Gazette, ,   

    From Harvard Gazette: “Digging into the history of the cosmos” Cora Dvorkin 

    Harvard University

    From Harvard Gazette

    November 5, 2020
    Juan Siliezar


    A sense of discovery and adventure has come to define much of Cora Dvorkin’s work as an associate professor in the Department of Physics. Credit: Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer.

    Lab members say award-winning cosmologist is equally invested in futures.

    Cora Dvorkin’s fascination with math and the cosmos started with her father, a family friend, and famed theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking.

    Drawn to math at an early age, Dvorkin remembers long discussions with her father and his friend about abstract mathematical concepts like the origin of infinity or zero and was 10 years old when first handed Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. It didn’t take long for a young Dvorkin, growing up in Buenos Aires, to become enthralled with the kinds of connections Hawkings was making.

    “I realized that I could access the kind of questions that I was interested in with the tool of mathematics,” Dvorkin said. “I had fun when my mind went out [in search of big answers] and then it came back, and I realized I was physically at this place, but I was flying somewhere else.”

    That sense of discovery and adventure has come to define much of her work as an associate professor in the FAS’ Department of Physics. There, the theoretical cosmologist uses advanced algorithms and machine learning to analyze data from satellites and telescopes all over the world to study the origins and composition of the early universe. Her lab’s main goal is trying to understand the nature of one of the universe’s most important and puzzling features: dark matter.

    “We use our computers to simulate the universe and to do our calculations,” said Dvorkin, who came to Harvard in 2014 as a fellow for the Institute for Theory and Computation at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian. “The data that we use are either from the cosmic microwave background [CMB], which is the afterglow from the Big Bang, or data from what is known as the large-scale structure of the universe, such as galaxy surveys or gravitational lensing, which is the light coming towards us [from distant galaxies] that’s deflected [and distorted] because of massive structures along the way.”

    CMB per ESA/Planck

    Laniakea supercluster. From Nature The Laniakea supercluster of galaxies R. Brent Tully, Hélène Courtois, Yehuda Hoffman & Daniel Pomarède at http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v513/n7516/full/nature13674.html. Milky Way is the red dot.

    Gravitational Lensing

    Gravitational Lensing NASA/ESA.

    A lot of these structures are what’s known as Dark Matter*. Scientists believe dark matter is the glue holding galaxies together and the organizing force giving the universe its overall structure. It comprises around 80 percent of all mass.

    Catching a glimpse of it is exceedingly difficult, however. Dark matter doesn’t emit, reflect, or absorb light, making it essentially invisible to current instruments. Researchers instead infer things about dark matter through what its powerful gravity allows it to do: bend and focus the light around it, a phenomenon called gravitational lensing.

    In recent years, Dvorkin’s lab has been a leader in finding new approaches to learn about dark matter. One study published last year [Physical Review D], for instance involved, using a novel machine learning method to detect what’s known as subhalos, or small clumps of dark matter that live within larger halos of the dark matter holding a galaxy together. The halos basically create pockets where certain stars are confined. While they can’t be seen, these subhalos can be traced by analyzing the light distortion from the lensing effect. The problem is that the analysis is often expensive and can take weeks.

    “Most of the time you get no detections, so what I have been working on with a graduate student and now with a postdoc is if we can automate a procedure like direct detection, for example, using convolutional neural networks, making this process of detecting subhalos much faster,” Dvorkin said.

    The lab showed their strategy using machine learning can reduce the analysis to a few seconds rather than a few weeks using traditional methods.

    Other dark matter research involves looking at the early universe, which has included using cosmic microwave background observations to study the structure of dark matter and pioneering a method for investigating the shape of an aspect inflation known as “Generalized Slow Roll.” Along with colleagues at Harvard, MIT, and other universities, Dvorkin helped launch a new National Science Foundation institute for artificial intelligence, where she’ll apply some of her methods for detecting dark matter.

    Her current and past work has turned heads. Dvorkin received the Department of Energy Early Career award in 2019. She snagged the Scientist of the Year award given by the students interns and faculty at The Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations in 2018 for her contributions to physics, cosmology and STEM Education. Dvorkin was named a Radcliffe Institute Fellowship from 2018 to 2019. And in 2012, she was given the Martin and Beate Block Award, an international prize given out annually to a promising young physicist by the Aspen Center for Physics.

    Professor of astronomy and physics Douglas Finkbeiner considers himself among Dvorkin’s fans — not only because her stellar work has led to a good-looking trophy case but also because of how she champions her collaborators, especially future scientists.

    “Cora is not just a builder of theories, but a builder of people,” he said. “It has been a joy to watch her students [and research associates] grow and mature into top-notch scientists.”

    The Dvorkin Group is comprised of 11 members, including seven graduate students and one undergrad.

    “We’ve got a really big group in comparison to any other research groups that I have been a part of,” said Bryan Ostdiek, one of the lab’s three postdoctoral fellows. “This makes everything very lively” and collaborative on projects, he said. It was especially evident before the pandemic, but still happens now through Zoom and Slack messaging.

    And that’s just the way Dvorkin likes it.

    “I still remember the time when I was a graduate student,” Dvorkin said. “I benefited a lot from discussions with my adviser, but I also benefited from discussions with other group members. I have tried to give postdocs the opportunity to work with students because at some point they will be applying for faculty jobs.”

    When it comes to projects lab members say Dvorkin is as hands-on as they need her to be, but that she also gives them the freedom they need to evaluate data or come up with their own ideas for research.

    Ana Diaz Rivero, A.M. ’18, a physics Ph.D. candidate at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, says she’s been able to get early experience authoring scientific papers through her work at the lab, including in leading journals like The Astrophysical Journal and Physical Review D. She’s also been invited to give a number of talks, including an upcoming one at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics.

    Rivero says she’s been working with Dvorkin since the start of her graduate experience at Harvard in 2016.

    “I got accepted into Harvard, and on the day of my acceptance she sent me an email saying congrats on getting into Harvard, and we set up a time to talk,” Rivero said. The pair had met at Columbia University at a talk Dvorkin was giving. “When I came to visit at Open House, I spoke to her, and I really liked her, and I told her what ideas I had, and she was super supportive of me working on them in her group. So, on Day One of Harvard, I started out on a research project with her, and we’ve written a lot of papers together since.”

    Outreach like that is important to Dvorkin, especially to increase inclusion and diversity in the field. It’s why in the past she’s given talks at the Harvard Foundation’s annual Albert Einstein Science Conference: Advancing Minorities and Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics and why, more recently, she’s been in contact with the Black National Society of Physicists.

    “I’m very concerned about these topics, and I’m trying my best to do whatever I can to fight this problem,” Dvorkin said.

    Reasons like this is why the group’s youngest lab member says Dvorkin not only serves as an excellent mentor but as a role model for female scientists like herself.

    “In general, there aren’t a lot of women in physics and, in particular, there aren’t a lot of women in theoretical physics, so I really, really appreciate having her as a mentor,” said Maya Burhanpurkar ’22, a Harvard undergrad studying physics and computer science. “It shows me what’s possible as a woman in the field.”

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

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

    Coma cluster via NASA/ESA Hubble.

    In modern times, it was astronomer Fritz Zwicky, in the 1930s, who made the first observations of what we now call dark matter. His 1933 observations of the Coma Cluster of galaxies seemed to indicated it has a mass 500 times more than that previously calculated by Edwin Hubble. Furthermore, this extra mass seemed to be completely invisible. Although Zwicky’s observations were initially met with much skepticism, they were later confirmed by other groups of astronomers.

    Thirty years later, astronomer Vera Rubin provided a huge piece of evidence for the existence of dark matter. She discovered that the centers of galaxies rotate at the same speed as their extremities, whereas, of course, they should rotate faster. Think of a vinyl LP on a record deck: its center rotates faster than its edge. That’s what logic dictates we should see in galaxies too. But we do not. The only way to explain this is if the whole galaxy is only the center of some much larger structure, as if it is only the label on the LP so to speak, causing the galaxy to have a consistent rotation speed from center to edge.

    Vera Rubin, following Zwicky, postulated that the missing structure in galaxies is dark matter. Her ideas were met with much resistance from the astronomical community, but her observations have been confirmed and are seen today as pivotal proof of the existence of dark matter.

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


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


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

    The Vera C. Rubin Observatory currently under construction on the El Peñón peak at Cerro Pachón Chile, a 2,682-meter-high mountain in Coquimbo Region, in northern Chile, alongside the existing Gemini South and Southern Astrophysical Research Telescopes.

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

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Harvard University campus
    Harvard University 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 best known landmark.

    Harvard University 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.

     
c
Compose new post
j
Next post/Next comment
k
Previous post/Previous comment
r
Reply
e
Edit
o
Show/Hide comments
t
Go to top
l
Go to login
h
Show/Hide help
shift + esc
Cancel
%d bloggers like this: