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  • richardmitnick 10:49 am on June 25, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "New DNA Technology Is Shaking Up The Branches of The Evolutionary Tree", , Ernest Haeckel, , , , Science Alert (AU), ,   

    From The University of Bath (UK) via “The Conversation (AU)” and “Science Alert (AU)” : “New DNA Technology Is Shaking Up The Branches of The Evolutionary Tree” 

    From The University of Bath (UK)


    “The Conversation (AU)”



    “Science Alert (AU)”

    25 JUNE 2022

    A portion of Ernst Haeckel’s ‘tree of life’ sketch. (Ernst Haeckel)

    If you look different to your close relatives, you may have felt separate from your family. As a child, during particularly stormy fall outs you might have even hoped it was a sign that you were adopted.
    Skip advert

    As our new research shows, appearances can be deceptive when it comes to family. New DNA technology is shaking up the family trees of many plants and animals.

    The primates, to which humans belong, were once thought to be close relatives of bats because of some similarities in our skeletons and brains. However, DNA data now places us in a group that includes rodents (rats and mice) and rabbits. Astonishingly, bats turn out to be more closely related to cows, horses, and even rhinoceroses than they are to us.

    Scientists in Darwin’s time and through most of the 20th century could only work out the branches of the evolutionary tree of life by looking at the structure and appearance of animals and plants. Life forms were grouped according to similarities thought to have evolved together.

    About three decades ago, scientists started using DNA data to build “molecular trees”. Many of the first trees based on DNA data were at odds with the classical ones.

    Sloths and anteaters, armadillos, pangolins (scaly anteaters), and aardvarks were once thought to belong together in a group called edentates (“no teeth”), since they share aspects of their anatomy.

    Molecular trees showed that these traits evolved independently in different branches of the mammal tree. It turns out that aardvarks are more closely related to elephants while pangolins are more closely related to cats and dogs.

    Coming together

    There is another important line of evidence that was familiar to Darwin and his contemporaries. Darwin noted that animals and plants that appeared to share the closest common ancestry were often found close together geographically. The location of species is another strong indicator they are related: species that live near each other are more likely to share a family tree.

    For the first time, our recent paper [Communications Biology] cross-referenced location, DNA data, and appearance for a range of animals and plants. We looked at evolutionary trees based on appearance or on molecules for 48 groups of animals and plants, including bats, dogs, monkeys, lizards, and pine trees.

    Evolutionary trees based on DNA data were two-thirds more likely to match with the location of the species compared with traditional evolution maps. In other words, previous trees showed several species were related based on appearance.

    Our research showed they were far less likely to live near each other compared to species linked by DNA data.

    It may appear that evolution endlessly invents new solutions, almost without limits. But it has fewer tricks up its sleeve than you might think.

    Animals can look amazingly alike because they have evolved to do a similar job [National Library of Medicine] or live in a similar way. Birds, bats and the extinct pterosaurs have, or had, bony wings for flying, but their ancestors all had front legs for walking on the ground instead.

    The color wheels and key indicate where members of each order are found geographically. The molecular tree has these colors grouped together better than the morphological tree, indicating closer agreement of the molecules to biogeography.(Oyston et al., Communication Biology, 2022)

    Similar wing shapes and muscles evolved in different groups because the physics of generating thrust and lift in air are always the same. It is much the same with eyes, which may have evolved 40 times in animals, and with only a few basic “designs”.

    Our eyes are similar to squid’s eyes, with a crystalline lens, iris, retina, and visual pigments. Squid are more closely related to snails, slugs, and clams than us. But many of their mollusk relatives have only the simplest of eyes.

    Moles evolved as blind, burrowing creatures at least four times, on different continents, on different branches of the mammal tree. The Australian marsupial pouched moles (more closely related to kangaroos), African golden moles (more closely related to aardvarks), African mole rats (rodents), and the Eurasian and North American talpid moles (beloved of gardeners, and more closely related to hedgehogs than these other “moles”) all evolved down a similar path.

    Evolution’s roots

    Until the advent of cheap and efficient gene sequencing technology in the 21st century, appearance was usually all evolutionary biologists had to go on.

    While Darwin (1859) showed that all life on Earth is related in a single evolutionary tree, he did little to map out its branches. The anatomist Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919) was one of the first people to draw evolutionary trees that tried to show how major groups of life forms are related.

    (Ernest Haeckel)

    Haeckel’s drawings made brilliant observations of living things that influenced art and design in the 19th and 20th centuries. His family trees were based almost entirely on how those organisms looked and developed as embryos. Many of his ideas about evolutionary relationships were held until recently.

    As it becomes easier and cheaper to obtain and analyze large volumes of molecular data, there will be many more surprises in store.

    See the full article here.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The University of Bath (UK) is a public research university located in Bath, Somerset, United Kingdom. It received its royal charter in 1966, along with a number of other institutions following the Robbins Report. Like the University of Bristol (UK) and University of the West of England-Bristol (UK), Bath can trace its roots to the Merchant Venturers’ Technical College, established in Bristol as a school in 1595 by the Society of Merchant Venturers. The university’s main campus is located on Claverton Down, a site overlooking the city of Bath, and was purpose-built, constructed from 1964 in the modernist style of the time.

    In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, 32% of Bath’s submitted research activity achieved the highest possible classification of 4*, defined as world-leading in terms of originality, significance and rigour. 87% was graded 4*/3*, defined as world-leading/internationally excellent. The annual income of the institution for 2017–18 was £287.9 million of which £37.0 million was from research grants and contracts, with an expenditure of £283.1 million.

    The university is a member of the Association of Commonwealth Universities (UK), the Association of MBAs, the European Quality Improvement System, the European University Association (EU), Universities UK and GW4 (UK).

  • richardmitnick 9:52 am on June 21, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Astronomers Have Detected a 'Missing Link' Shockwave in Merging Galaxies", , , By observing clusters at different stages of merging astronomers can reconstruct how these collisions take place., , Gravity is everywhere and the constant push-pull and interplay results in clusters and superclusters and megaclusters dancing around each other and forming larger and ever larger structures., , Science Alert (AU), , The detection was found in the galaxy cluster Abell 98 which is a large structure made up of three smaller sub-clusters of galaxies located more than 1.2 billion light-years from the Solar System., The University of Kentucky   

    From The University of Kentucky via “Science Alert (AU)” : “Astronomers Have Detected a ‘Missing Link’ Shockwave in Merging Galaxies” 

    From The University of Kentucky


    “Science Alert (AU)”

    20 JUNE 2022

    Composite X-ray and optical image of Abell 98. (Arnab Sarkar)

    The colossal shock wave generated by the first stages of a collision between some of the most massive structures in the Universe has just been seen and imaged for the first time.

    The detection was found in the galaxy cluster Abell 98 which is a large structure made up of three smaller sub-clusters of galaxies located more than 1.2 billion light-years from the Solar System.

    There, a huge filament of gas contains the enormous shock along the merger axis that has been theoretically predicted to be the first ‘contact’ between two sub-clusters of galaxies as they start to merge.

    “With this discovery, we caught two sub-clusters of a galaxy cluster in a crucial early epoch of the merging process, with a strong shock between them, providing a missing link to the formation of the most massive structures in our Universe,” said physicist and astronomer Arnab Sarkar of the University of Kentucky.

    Pressure measurement across the shockwave in Abel 98. (Arnab Sarkar)

    The Universe is constantly in the process of interacting with and arranging itself. Galaxies aren’t isolated entities drifting through space; gravity is everywhere, and the constant push-pull and interplay results in clusters and superclusters and megaclusters and filaments, dancing around each other and forming larger and ever larger structures.

    These interactions aren’t occurring, of course, on anything remotely approaching human timescales; but, by observing clusters at different stages of merging astronomers can reconstruct how these collisions take place.

    Within clusters of galaxies, as you can imagine, the gravitational environment is pretty intense, with sub-clusters merging to form larger structures within the overall cluster.

    In 2014, astronomers noted that two sub-clusters within Abell 98 – named A98N and A98S – appeared to be merging, as evidenced by brightness and temperature signatures in A98N consistent with a merger shock between the two.

    Sarkar and his team, who presented their findings at the 240th meeting of the American Astronomical Society, took a closer look at the region between the two sub-clusters using the Earth-orbiting Chandra X-ray Observatory.

    There, they found what they describe as “definitive evidence” of a shock edge to the south of A98N.

    This, they say, is a huge deal. Although inter- and intra- cluster mergers must be fairly common (because, well, the Universe is full of galaxy clusters) catching one in its early stages is pretty rare. We see a lot in the later stages, including the shock waves generated by these extreme interactions, but very few as the clusters draw together.

    That may be because they’re harder to spot, but the detection made by Sarkar and his colleagues may inform future searches by providing some information about what to look for. And, of course, it fills in some of the crucial gaps in our understanding of how cluster mergers take place, and evolve. That means we’ll be able to make better predictions about the evolution of galaxy clusters.

    “This result is important because different computer simulations seem to be telling us different things about what we should observe early on in a galaxy cluster merger,” Sarkar said. “Here, we have a picture of what this process actually looks like, and that can be used to inform our theoretical models.”

    The team’s research was presented at the 240th meeting of the American Astronomical Society. A paper describing the findings has been submitted to The Astrophysical Journal.

    See the full article here.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The University of Kentucky is a public land-grant research university in Lexington, Kentucky. Founded in 1865 by John Bryan Bowman as the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Kentucky, the university is one of the state’s two land-grant universities (the other being Kentucky State University) and the institution with the highest enrollment in the state, with 30,545 students as of fall 2019.

    The institution comprises 16 colleges, a graduate school, 93 undergraduate programs, 99 master programs, 66 doctoral programs, and four professional programs. It is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity”. According to the National Science Foundation, Kentucky spent $393 million on research and development in 2018, ranking it 63rd in the nation.

    The University of Kentucky has fifteen libraries on campus. The largest is the William T. Young Library, a federal depository, hosting subjects related to social sciences, humanities, and life sciences collections. Since 1997, the university has focused expenditures increasingly on research, following a compact formed by the Kentucky General Assembly. The directive mandated that the university become a Top 20 public research institution, in terms of an overall ranking, to be determined by the university itself, by 2020.

    In the early commonwealth of Kentucky, higher education was limited to children from prominent families, disciplined apprentices, and young men seeking entry into clerical, legal, and medical professions. As the first university in the territory that would become Kentucky, Transylvania University was the primary center for education, and became the forerunner of what would become the University of Kentucky.

    John Bryan Bowman founded the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Kentucky (A&M), a publicly chartered department of Kentucky University, after receiving federal support through the Morrill Land-Grant Act in 1865. Courses were offered at Ashland, The Henry Clay Estate. Three years later, James Kennedy Patterson became the first president of the land-grant university and the first degree was awarded. In 1876, the university began to offer master’s degree programs. Two years later, A&M separated from Kentucky University, which is now Transylvania University. For the new school, Lexington donated a 52-acre (210,000 m^2) park and fair ground, which became the core of UK’s present campus. A&M was initially a male-only institution, but began to admit women in 1880.

    In 1892, the official colors of the university, royal blue and white, were adopted. An earlier color set, blue and light yellow, was adopted earlier at a Kentucky-Centre College football game on December 19, 1891. The particular hue of blue was determined from a necktie, which was used to demonstrate the color of royal blue.

    On February 15, 1882, Administration Building was the first building of three to be completed on the present campus. Three years later, the college formed the Agricultural Experiment Station, which researches issues relating to agribusiness, food processing, nutrition, water and soil resources and the environment. This was followed up by the creation of the university’s Agricultural Extension Service in 1910, which was one of the first in the United States. The extension service became a model of the federally mandated programs that were required beginning in 1914.

    In 1997, the Kentucky General Assembly reorganized the community college system, withdrawing the university’s jurisdiction from all but the Lexington Community College. The other colleges were merged with the Kentucky Technical College system and were placed under a separate board of control.

    On April 3, 1998, work began on the William T. Young Library, which was the largest university project at the time of completion.The six-level William T. Young Library was constructed on south campus and the largest book endowment among all public university libraries in the country. William T. Young got his fortune from selling his peanut butter company to Procter & Gamble in 1955. Nine years after the completion of the William T. Young Library, on April 13, 2007, an entire city block of neighborhood homes were demolished and ground was broken for the Biological Pharmaceutical Complex Building, the largest academic building in the state of Kentucky, and one of the largest in the United States.

    The Biological Pharmaceutical Complex Building complements the adjacent Biomedical Biological Science Research Building, and is expected to be part of the new university research campus. Other recent announcements include the construction of the new $450 million Albert B. Chandler Hospital, which will was one of the largest projects in the state’s history in terms of size and economic impact.

    In 1997, the Kentucky General Assembly formed a compact with the university. The Top 20 Plan mandates that the University of Kentucky becomes a Top 20 public research university by 2020. According to the compact, states with “Top 20” universities feature higher average household incomes, higher education attainments, healthier lives and more financial security. As a result, fewer citizens live in poverty and as a result, fewer public dollars are spent on health care. The plan would also spur technological advancements due to university-based research and increase the marketability of the state to investors.

    As part of the “Top 20” plan, the university stated that it plans to,

    Increase enrollment by 7,000 students to 34,000;
    Increase the state’s highest graduation rate by 12% to 72%;
    Increase the number of faculty by 625 to total 2,500;
    Increase research expenditures by $470 million to total $768 million per year; and
    Increase the university’s role in Kentucky’s “schools, farms, businesses and communities.”

    The “Top 20” plan has produced some results,

    Total enrollment increased from 24,061 in 1996 to 26,440 in 2004, an increase of 2,379.
    The six-year graduation rate increased from 59.5 percent in 1998 to 61.2 percent in 2007.
    Research expenditures increased from $124.8 million in 1996 to $297.6 million in 2003. It dipped slightly to $274 million for 2005. It is currently ranked 28th among public universities in sponsored research.
    Endowment increased from $195.1 million in 1997 to $538.4 million in 2005.

    In 2000, to help finance the “Top 20” plan, the university launched The Campaign for the University of Kentucky, a $600 million fundraising effort that was used to “enhance facilities, academic programs, public service, and scholarships.” It passed that goal and the effort was raised to $1 billion. In March 2007, $1.022 billion was raised, months before the fundraising effort was set to end.

    According to the Statewide Facilities Condition Assessment Report released on April 4, 2007, the university needs $12.5 billion to complete the 1997 mandate to become a “Top 20” institution.

    As of 2019, The University of Kentucky has an endowment of 1.407 billion. Prior endowments were 831.8 in 2007, $538.4 million in 2005, and $195.1 million in 1997, the rapid increases partially attributed to the “Top 20” Plan. Currently, the William T. Young Library book endowment is the largest among public universities in the United States.

    In 2018, the new Gatton Student Center was opened on North Campus. The $200 million, 378,000-square-foot facility contains a cinema, a dining facility, several chain restaurants, ballrooms, the UK Bookstore, the renovated UK Federal Credit Union, offices, and more.

    Students are divided into 16 colleges, a graduate school, 93 undergraduate programs, 99 master programs, 66 doctoral programs, and four professional programs. The University of Kentucky has fifteen libraries on campus. The largest is William T. Young Library, a federal depository, hosting subjects related to social sciences, humanities and life sciences collections. In recent years, the university has focused expenditures increasingly on research, following a compact formed by the Kentucky General Assembly in 1997. The directive mandated that the university become a Top 20 public research institution, in terms of an overall ranking to be determined by the university itself, by 2020. The university is ranked tied for 132nd in National Universities and tied for 60th among public universities in the 2020 U.S. News & World Report rankings.

    Students are divided into several colleges based on their interests and specializations:

    College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, founded 1908
    College of Arts and Sciences, founded 1908
    Gatton College of Business and Economics, founded 1925 (originally as the College of Commerce)
    College of Communication & Information, founded 1976
    College of Dentistry, founded 1962
    College of Design, founded 1964 (originally as the College of Architecture)
    College of Education, founded 1923
    College of Engineering, founded 1918 (through a merger of the original Colleges of Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Mines and Metals)
    College of Fine Arts, founded 1976
    College of Health Sciences, founded 1966 (originally as the College of Allied Health Personnel)
    J. David Rosenberg College of Law, founded 1908
    College of Medicine, founded 1954
    College of Nursing, founded 1956
    College of Pharmacy, founded 1947 (originally established in 1870 in Louisville)
    College of Public Health, founded 2004
    College of Social Work, founded 1968
    University of Kentucky Graduate School, founded 1912
    Martin School of Public Policy and Administration
    Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce

    Other colleges no longer in existence at the University of Kentucky include the College of Library Science (separating out of the College of Arts & Sciences in 1968 and incorporated in 2003 into what is now the College of Communication and Information) and the College of Home Economics (created in 1916 and whose founding dean was Mary E. Sweeney) now a School of Human Environmental Sciences located within the College of Agriculture.

  • richardmitnick 10:56 am on March 11, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Geologists Have Closely Analyzed Two Bizarre 'Blobs' Detected Deep Inside Earth", , , , Science Alert (AU),   

    From The Arizona State University (US) via Science Alert (AU) : “Geologists Have Closely Analyzed Two Bizarre ‘Blobs’ Detected Deep Inside Earth” 

    From The Arizona State University (US)



    Science Alert (AU)

    11 MARCH 2022

    3D view of the blob in Earth’s mantle beneath Africa. Credit: Mingming Li/ASU.

    Earth’s interior is not a uniform stack of layers. Deep in its thick middle layer lie two colossal blobs of thermo-chemical material.

    To this day, scientists still don’t know where both of these colossal structures came from or why they have such different heights, but a new set of geodynamic models has landed on a possible answer to the latter mystery.

    These hidden reservoirs are located on opposite sides of the world, and judging from the deep propagation of seismic waves, the blob under the African continent is more than twice as high as the one under the Pacific ocean.

    After running hundreds of simulations, the authors of the new study think the blob under the African continent is less dense and less stable than its Pacific counterpart, and that’s why it’s so much taller.

    “Our calculations found that the initial volume of the blobs does not affect their height,” explains geologist Qian Yuan from Arizona State University.

    “The height of the blobs is mostly controlled by how dense they are and the viscosity of the surrounding mantle.”

    One of the principal layers inside Earth is the hot and slightly goopy mess known as the mantle, a layer of silicate rock that sits between our planet’s core and its crust. While the mantle is mostly solid, it behaves sort of like tar on longer timescales.

    Over time, columns of hot magma rock gradually rise through the mantle and are thought to contribute to volcanic activity on the planet’s surface.

    Understanding what’s going on in the mantle is thus an important endeavor in geology.

    The Pacific and African blobs were first discovered in the 1980s. In scientific terms, these ‘superplumes’ are known as large low-shear-velocity provinces (LLSVPs).

    Compared to the Pacific LLSVP, the current study found the African LLSVP stretches about 1,000 kilometers higher (621 miles), which supports previous estimates.

    This vast height difference suggests both of these blobs have different compositions. How this impacts the surrounding mantle, however, is unclear.

    Perhaps the less stable nature of the African pile, for instance, can explain why there is such intense volcanism in some regions of the continent. It could also impact the movement of tectonic plates, which float on the mantle.

    Other seismic models have found the African LLSVP stretches up to 1,500 kilometers above the outer core, whereas the Pacific LLSVP reaches 800 kilometers high at max.

    In lab experiments that seek to replicate Earth’s interior, both the African and Pacific piles appear to oscillate up and down through the mantle.

    The authors of the current study say this supports their interpretation that the African LLSVP is probably unstable, and the same could go for the Pacific LLSVP, although their models didn’t show this.

    The different compositions of the Pacific and African LLSVPs could also be explained by their origins. Scientists still don’t know where these blobs came from, but there are two main theories.

    One is that the piles are made from subducted tectonic plates, which slip into the mantle, are super-heated and gradually fall downwards, contributing to the blob.

    Another theory is that the blobs are remnants of the ancient collision between Earth and the protoplanet Thea, which gave us our Moon.

    The theories are not mutually exclusive, either. For instance, perhaps Thea contributed more to one blob; this could be part of the reason why they look so different today.

    “Our combination of the analysis of seismic results and the geodynamic modeling provides new insights on the nature of the Earth’s largest structures in the deep interior and their interaction with the surrounding mantle,” says Yuan.

    “This work has far-reaching implications for scientists trying to understand the present-day status and the evolution of the deep mantle structure, and the nature of mantle convection.”

    The study was published in Nature Geoscience.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The Arizona State University (US) is a public research university in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Founded in 1885 by the 13th Arizona Territorial Legislature, Arizona State University is one of the largest public universities by enrollment in the U.S.

    One of three universities governed by the Arizona Board of Regents, Arizona State University is a member of the Universities Research Association (US) and classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very High Research Activity.” Arizona State University has nearly 150,000 students attending classes, with more than 38,000 students attending online, and 90,000 undergraduates and more nearly 20,000 postgraduates across its five campuses and four regional learning centers throughout Arizona. Arizona State University offers 350 degree options from its 17 colleges and more than 170 cross-discipline centers and institutes for undergraduates students, as well as more than 400 graduate degree and certificate programs. The Arizona State Sun Devils compete in 26 varsity-level sports in the NCAA Division I Pac-12 Conference and is home to over 1,100 registered student organizations.

    Arizona State University’s charter, approved by the board of regents in 2014, is based on the New American University model created by Arizona State University President Michael M. Crow upon his appointment as the institution’s 16th president in 2002. It defines Arizona State University as “a comprehensive public research university, measured not by whom it excludes, but rather by whom it includes and how they succeed; advancing research and discovery of public value; and assuming fundamental responsibility for the economic, social, cultural and overall health of the communities it serves.” The model is widely credited with boosting Arizona State University’s acceptance rate and increasing class size.

    The university’s faculty of more than 4,700 scholars has included 5 Nobel laureates, 6 Pulitzer Prize winners, 4 MacArthur Fellows, and 19 National Academy of Sciences members. Additionally, among the faculty are 180 Fulbright Program American Scholars, 72 National Endowment for the Humanities fellows, 38 American Council of Learned Societies fellows, 36 members of the Guggenheim Fellowship, 21 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 3 members of National Academy of Inventors, 9 National Academy of Engineering members and 3 National Academy of Medicine members. The National Academies has bestowed “highly prestigious” recognition on 227 ASU faculty members.


    Arizona State University was established as the Territorial Normal School at Tempe on March 12, 1885, when the 13th Arizona Territorial Legislature passed an act to create a normal school to train teachers for the Arizona Territory. The campus consisted of a single, four-room schoolhouse on a 20-acre plot largely donated by Tempe residents George and Martha Wilson. Classes began with 33 students on February 8, 1886. The curriculum evolved over the years and the name was changed several times; the institution was also known as Tempe Normal School of Arizona (1889–1903), Tempe Normal School (1903–1925), Tempe State Teachers College (1925–1929), Arizona State Teachers College (1929–1945), Arizona State College (1945–1958) and, by a 2–1 margin of the state’s voters, Arizona State University in 1958.

    In 1923, the school stopped offering high school courses and added a high school diploma to the admissions requirements. In 1925, the school became the Tempe State Teachers College and offered four-year Bachelor of Education degrees as well as two-year teaching certificates. In 1929, the 9th Arizona State Legislature authorized Bachelor of Arts in Education degrees as well, and the school was renamed the Arizona State Teachers College. Under the 30-year tenure of president Arthur John Matthews (1900–1930), the school was given all-college student status. The first dormitories built in the state were constructed under his supervision in 1902. Of the 18 buildings constructed while Matthews was president, six are still in use. Matthews envisioned an “evergreen campus,” with many shrubs brought to the campus, and implemented the planting of 110 Mexican Fan Palms on what is now known as Palm Walk, a century-old landmark of the Tempe campus.

    During the Great Depression, Ralph Waldo Swetman was hired to succeed President Matthews, coming to Arizona State Teachers College in 1930 from Humboldt State Teachers College where he had served as president. He served a three-year term, during which he focused on improving teacher-training programs. During his tenure, enrollment at the college doubled, topping the 1,000 mark for the first time. Matthews also conceived of a self-supported summer session at the school at Arizona State Teachers College, a first for the school.


    In 1933, Grady Gammage, then president of Arizona State Teachers College at Flagstaff, became president of Arizona State Teachers College at Tempe, beginning a tenure that would last for nearly 28 years, second only to Swetman’s 30 years at the college’s helm. Like President Arthur John Matthews before him, Gammage oversaw the construction of several buildings on the Tempe campus. He also guided the development of the university’s graduate programs; the first Master of Arts in Education was awarded in 1938, the first Doctor of Education degree in 1954 and 10 non-teaching master’s degrees were approved by the Arizona Board of Regents in 1956. During his presidency, the school’s name was changed to Arizona State College in 1945, and finally to Arizona State University in 1958. At the time, two other names were considered: Tempe University and State University at Tempe. Among Gammage’s greatest achievements in Tempe was the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed construction of what is Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium/ASU Gammage. One of the university’s hallmark buildings, Arizona State University Gammage was completed in 1964, five years after the president’s (and Wright’s) death.

    Gammage was succeeded by Harold D. Richardson, who had served the school earlier in a variety of roles beginning in 1939, including director of graduate studies, college registrar, dean of instruction, dean of the College of Education and academic vice president. Although filling the role of acting president of the university for just nine months (Dec. 1959 to Sept. 1960), Richardson laid the groundwork for the future recruitment and appointment of well-credentialed research science faculty.

    By the 1960s, under G. Homer Durham, the university’s 11th president, Arizona State University began to expand its curriculum by establishing several new colleges and, in 1961, the Arizona Board of Regents authorized doctoral degree programs in six fields, including Doctor of Philosophy. By the end of his nine-year tenure, Arizona State University had more than doubled enrollment, reporting 23,000 in 1969.

    The next three presidents—Harry K. Newburn (1969–71), John W. Schwada (1971–81) and J. Russell Nelson (1981–89), including and Interim President Richard Peck (1989), led the university to increased academic stature, the establishment of the Arizona State University West campus in 1984 and its subsequent construction in 1986, a focus on computer-assisted learning and research, and rising enrollment.


    Under the leadership of Lattie F. Coor, president from 1990 to 2002, Arizona State University grew through the creation of the Polytechnic campus and extended education sites. Increased commitment to diversity, quality in undergraduate education, research, and economic development occurred over his 12-year tenure. Part of Coor’s legacy to the university was a successful fundraising campaign: through private donations, more than $500 million was invested in areas that would significantly impact the future of ASU. Among the campaign’s achievements were the naming and endowing of Barrett, The Honors College, and the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts; the creation of many new endowed faculty positions; and hundreds of new scholarships and fellowships.

    In 2002, Michael M. Crow became the university’s 16th president. At his inauguration, he outlined his vision for transforming Arizona State University into a “New American University”—one that would be open and inclusive, and set a goal for the university to meet Association of American Universities (US) criteria and to become a member. Crow initiated the idea of transforming Arizona State University into “One university in many places”—a single institution comprising several campuses, sharing students, faculty, staff and accreditation. Subsequent reorganizations combined academic departments, consolidated colleges and schools, and reduced staff and administration as the university expanded its West and Polytechnic campuses. Arizona State University’s Downtown Phoenix campus was also expanded, with several colleges and schools relocating there. The university established learning centers throughout the state, including the Arizona State University Colleges at Lake Havasu City and programs in Thatcher, Yuma, and Tucson. Students at these centers can choose from several Arizona State University degree and certificate programs.

    During Crow’s tenure, and aided by hundreds of millions of dollars in donations, Arizona State University began a years-long research facility capital building effort that led to the establishment of the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, and several large interdisciplinary research buildings. Along with the research facilities, the university faculty was expanded, including the addition of five Nobel Laureates. Since 2002, the university’s research expenditures have tripled and more than 1.5 million square feet of space has been added to the university’s research facilities.

    The economic downturn that began in 2008 took a particularly hard toll on Arizona, resulting in large cuts to Arizona State University’s budget. In response to these cuts, Arizona State University capped enrollment, closed some four dozen academic programs, combined academic departments, consolidated colleges and schools, and reduced university faculty, staff and administrators; however, with an economic recovery underway in 2011, the university continued its campaign to expand the West and Polytechnic Campuses, and establish a low-cost, teaching-focused extension campus in Lake Havasu City.

    As of 2011, an article in Slate reported that, “the bottom line looks good,” noting that:

    “Since Crow’s arrival, Arizona State University’s research funding has almost tripled to nearly $350 million. Degree production has increased by 45 percent. And thanks to an ambitious aid program, enrollment of students from Arizona families below poverty is up 647 percent.”

    In 2015, the Thunderbird School of Global Management became the fifth Arizona State University campus, as the Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University. Partnerships for education and research with Mayo Clinic established collaborative degree programs in health care and law, and shared administrator positions, laboratories and classes at the Mayo Clinic Arizona campus.

    The Beus Center for Law and Society, the new home of Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, opened in fall 2016 on the Downtown Phoenix campus, relocating faculty and students from the Tempe campus to the state capital.

  • richardmitnick 11:03 am on March 10, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "The First Explosion of Life on Earth Made an Impact Deep Under The Surface", , , , , , , It's a shift potentially caused by the immense changes in the carbon cycle during a time when the biosphere was increasing in mass and diversity., Science Alert (AU), The Cambrian Explosion-around 541 million years ago-was when life and organisms really got going on planet Earth., The new study looked at rare diamond-filled volcanic rocks called kimberlites., The researchers found a shift in the ratio of specific carbon isotopes around 250 million years ago., , This link between the cycling of carbon close to the surface and deeper underground hasn't been easy to measure.   

    From The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich [ETH Zürich] [Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich] (CH) via Science Alert (AU) : “The First Explosion of Life on Earth Made an Impact Deep Under The Surface” 

    From The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich [ETH Zürich] [Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich] (CH)



    Science Alert (AU)

    10 MARCH 2022

    A thin section of a carbonate-​rich kimberlite. (David Swart/Messengers of the Mantle Exhibition).

    The Cambrian Explosion-around 541 million years ago-was when life and organisms really got going on planet Earth. Now new research has revealed how that explosion of life has left behind traces deep within Earth’s mantle.

    For scientists, it shows the connected interplay between Earth’s surface and what lies beneath, as sediments carrying organic material are pushed under the ground over vast geological timescales through subduction.

    The new study looked at rare diamond-filled volcanic rocks called kimberlites. When they’re pushed up to the surface, they tell us what’s happening deep in the mantle, and researchers measured the carbon composition in 144 samples taken from 60 locations around the world.

    A prevailing view among geologists is that carbon trapped inside diamonds doesn’t vary considerably over grand timescales of hundreds of millions of years.

    Yet here the researchers found a shift in the ratio of specific carbon isotopes around 250 million years ago, about the time that sediment from the Cambrian Explosion would’ve been folded into the mantle. It’s a shift potentially caused by the immense changes in the carbon cycle during a time when the biosphere was increasing in mass and diversity.

    “These observations demonstrate that biogeochemical processes at Earth’s surface have a profound influence on the deep mantle, revealing an integral link between the deep and shallow carbon cycles,” write the researchers.

    This link between the cycling of carbon close to the surface and deeper underground hasn’t been easy to measure – and indeed it has changed significantly throughout the billions of years that Earth has been around, rather than staying fixed.

    It does seem clear though that dead creatures trapped in sediment found their way into the mantle through plate tectonics. Their carbon remains mixed with other material before eventually reaching the surface again through events like volcanic eruptions.

    The link was confirmed by further observations of strontium and hafnium in the samples. They matched the carbon pattern, narrowing down the number of possibilities for how these rock compositions were altered.

    “This means that the signature for carbon cannot be explained by other processes such as degassing, because otherwise the isotopes of strontium and hafnium would not be correlated with those of carbon,” says geochemist Andrea Giuliani from ETH Zürich in Switzerland.

    Technically, what we’re dealing with here is sedimentary subduction flux, and these carbon cycle details are important in terms of being aware of what’s happening on our planet – especially as the effects of the climate crisis continue to be felt.

    New studies [Nature Communications] continue to reveal more about how carbon is taken from and released back into the atmosphere, especially through the continuous recycling of the tectonic plates that make up the surface of the planet.

    Scientists know that relatively speaking, only small amounts of sediment ever get pushed deep into the mantle through subduction zones, which means that traces of the Cambrian Explosion must have taken a direct route to the depths of the mantle.

    “This confirms that the subducted rock material in Earth’s mantle is not distributed homogeneously, but moves along specific trajectories,” says Giuliani.

    “Earth is really a complex overall system. And we now want to understand this system in more detail.”

    The research has been published in Science Advances.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    ETH Zurich campus

    The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich [ETH Zürich] [Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich] (CH) is a public research university in the city of Zürich, Switzerland. Founded by the Swiss Federal Government in 1854 with the stated mission to educate engineers and scientists, the school focuses exclusively on science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Like its sister institution The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne [EPFL-École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne](CH) , it is part of The Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology Domain (ETH Domain)) , part of the The Swiss Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research [EAER][Eidgenössisches Departement für Wirtschaft, Bildung und Forschung] [Département fédéral de l’économie, de la formation et de la recherche] (CH).

    The university is an attractive destination for international students thanks to low tuition fees of 809 CHF per semester, PhD and graduate salaries that are amongst the world’s highest, and a world-class reputation in academia and industry. There are currently 22,200 students from over 120 countries, of which 4,180 are pursuing doctoral degrees. In the 2021 edition of the QS World University Rankings ETH Zürich is ranked 6th in the world and 8th by the Times Higher Education World Rankings 2020. In the 2020 QS World University Rankings by subject it is ranked 4th in the world for engineering and technology (2nd in Europe) and 1st for earth & marine science.

    As of November 2019, 21 Nobel laureates, 2 Fields Medalists, 2 Pritzker Prize winners, and 1 Turing Award winner have been affiliated with the Institute, including Albert Einstein. Other notable alumni include John von Neumann and Santiago Calatrava. It is a founding member of the IDEA League and the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU) and a member of the CESAER network.

    ETH Zürich was founded on 7 February 1854 by the Swiss Confederation and began giving its first lectures on 16 October 1855 as a polytechnic institute (eidgenössische polytechnische schule) at various sites throughout the city of Zurich. It was initially composed of six faculties: architecture, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, chemistry, forestry, and an integrated department for the fields of mathematics, natural sciences, literature, and social and political sciences.

    It is locally still known as Polytechnikum, or simply as Poly, derived from the original name eidgenössische polytechnische schule, which translates to “federal polytechnic school”.

    ETH Zürich is a federal institute (i.e., under direct administration by the Swiss government), whereas The University of Zürich [Universität Zürich ] (CH) is a cantonal institution. The decision for a new federal university was heavily disputed at the time; the liberals pressed for a “federal university”, while the conservative forces wanted all universities to remain under cantonal control, worried that the liberals would gain more political power than they already had. In the beginning, both universities were co-located in the buildings of the University of Zürich.

    From 1905 to 1908, under the presidency of Jérôme Franel, the course program of ETH Zürich was restructured to that of a real university and ETH Zürich was granted the right to award doctorates. In 1909 the first doctorates were awarded. In 1911, it was given its current name, Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule. In 1924, another reorganization structured the university in 12 departments. However, it now has 16 departments.

    ETH Zürich, EPFL (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne) [École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne](CH), and four associated research institutes form The Domain of the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology (ETH Domain) [ETH-Bereich; Domaine des Écoles polytechniques fédérales] (CH) with the aim of collaborating on scientific projects.

    Reputation and ranking

    ETH Zürich is ranked among the top universities in the world. Typically, popular rankings place the institution as the best university in continental Europe and ETH Zürich is consistently ranked among the top 1-5 universities in Europe, and among the top 3-10 best universities of the world.

    Historically, ETH Zürich has achieved its reputation particularly in the fields of chemistry, mathematics and physics. There are 32 Nobel laureates who are associated with ETH Zürich, the most recent of whom is Richard F. Heck, awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2010. Albert Einstein is perhaps its most famous alumnus.

    In 2018, the QS World University Rankings placed ETH Zürich at 7th overall in the world. In 2015, ETH Zürich was ranked 5th in the world in Engineering, Science and Technology, just behind the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US), Stanford University (US) and University of Cambridge (UK). In 2015, ETH Zürich also ranked 6th in the world in Natural Sciences, and in 2016 ranked 1st in the world for Earth & Marine Sciences for the second consecutive year.

    In 2016, Times Higher Education World University Rankings ranked ETH Zürich 9th overall in the world and 8th in the world in the field of Engineering & Technology, just behind the Massachusetts Institute of Technology(US), Stanford University(US), California Institute of Technology(US), Princeton University(US), University of Cambridge(UK), Imperial College London(UK) and University of Oxford(UK) .

    In a comparison of Swiss universities by swissUP Ranking and in rankings published by CHE comparing the universities of German-speaking countries, ETH Zürich traditionally is ranked first in natural sciences, computer science and engineering sciences.

    In the survey CHE Excellence Ranking on the quality of Western European graduate school programs in the fields of biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics, ETH Zürich was assessed as one of the three institutions to have excellent programs in all the considered fields, the other two being Imperial College London (UK) and the University of Cambridge (UK), respectively.

  • richardmitnick 10:46 am on March 3, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Scientists Can Now Trace Earth's History in Individual Grains of Sand", , , , , New research reveals that grains of sand on a beach can tell us more than you might think about the history of the planet., , Science Alert (AU), Sedimentology   

    From Curtin University (AU) via Science Alert (AU): “Scientists Can Now Trace Earth’s History in Individual Grains of Sand” 

    From Curtin University (AU)



    Science Alert (AU)

    3 MARCH 2022

    (Sam Mgrdichian/Unsplash)

    New research reveals that grains of sand on a beach can tell us more than you might think about the history of the planet-something to think about the next time you’re heading to the coast for a swim or splash around.

    Scientists have developed a new metric to determine what they call the “age distribution fingerprint” of the mineral zircon in sand. That fingerprint can then be used to reveal more about the evolution of the surface of the Earth across billions of years.

    Zircon is something that geologists look out for, because it can be formed when continents crash into each other. These crystals can in some cases be billions of years old, carrying a huge amount of history with them.

    The durability of zircon makes it resistant to geological erosion, and as it forms sediments, it stores information along with it.

    As the crust grinds together, forcing new rocks to congeal, a time stamp of the rock’s age is preserved in its makeup. Even once it crumbles into tiny grains, it’s possible to gather traces of this history.

    “The world’s beaches faithfully record a detailed history of our planet’s geological past, with billions of years of Earth’s history imprinted in the geology of each grain of sand, and our technique helps unlock this information,” says sedimentologist Milo Barham from Curtin University in Australia.

    By figuring out the age distribution of zircon in a sand sample – from infants to the elderly, in geological terms – the new technique enables scientists to work out what mountain-generating events were taking place in the eons leading up to the depositing of that bank of sediment.

    The approach is even able to shed light on how Earth first developed a habitable biosphere, according to the researchers, peering back further in time than other methods of geological analysis.

    Another advantage that this new research technique has over existing methods is that it can be used to understand tectonic movements even when the age of the sediment deposit itself isn’t known (a scenario that researchers often find themselves in).

    The team put their new method to the test with three case studies that highlighted how the age distribution fingerprint works, studying sediment in South America, East Antarctica, and Western Australia.

    “For example, the sediment on the west and east coasts of South America are completely different because there are many young grains on the west side that were created from crust plunging beneath the continent, driving earthquakes and volcanoes in the Andes,” says geochronologist Chris Kirkland from Curtin University.

    “Whereas, on the east coast, all is relatively calm geologically and there is a mix of old and young grains picked up from a diversity of rocks across the Amazon basin.”

    The new analysis matched what previous research had uncovered about the sites. Even individual grains of sand can reveal the tectonic forces that created them, based on the age distribution of the sediment around them, the researchers say.

    The new technique can be used to reanalyze data from older studies, the researchers suggest, as well as to tease out more details from suitable sediment in future research.

    “This new approach allows a greater understanding of the nature of ancient geology in order to reconstruct the arrangement and movement of tectonic plates on Earth through time,” says Barham.

    The research has been published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • richardmitnick 12:54 pm on March 1, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "A Major Signal From 'The First Stars' May Not Have Come From Space at All", , , , Science Alert (AU)   

    From Science Alert (AU): “A Major Signal From ‘The First Stars’ May Not Have Come From Space at All” 


    From Science Alert (AU)

    28 FEBRUARY 2022

    Artist’s impression of the Epoch of Reionization, during the cosmic dawn. (M. Kornmesser/The European Southern Observatory [La Observatorio Europeo Austral] [Observatoire européen austral][Europäische Südsternwarte](EU)(CL))

    A signal interpreted as the first light illuminating the Universe may not be from the far reaches of the Universe after all, a new study has found. In fact, it may not even be from space.

    Far from being a problem, however, this new finding may just set the Universe to rights. The signal, described in two papers in 2018 [Nature, and Nature] had some unexpected features that were difficult to explain under current astrophysics.

    If the signal was not light from the first stars shining in the early darkness, known as “cosmic dawn”, we don’t need to devise new astrophysics to explain it.

    “We report a radiometer measurement of the spectrum of the radio sky in the 55–85 MHz band, which shows that the profile found by Bowman et al. in data taken with the Experiment to Detect the Global Epoch of Reionization Signature (EDGES) low-band instrument is not of astrophysical origin; their best-fitting profile is rejected with 95.3 percent confidence,” writes a team of astronomers led by Saurabh Singh of The Raman Research Institute[रमन अनुसंधान संस्थान](IN).

    “Our non-detection bears out earlier concerns and suggests that the profile found by Bowman et al. is not evidence for new astrophysics or non-standard cosmology.”

    The cosmic dawn is an important, and long-sought, period in our Universe’s history. It covers a period from around 50 million up to about a billion years after the Big Bang. Our Universe didn’t always look like it does today; before stars came along, it was filled with a hot murky fog of ionized gas. Light was unable to travel freely through this fog; it simply scattered off free electrons.

    Once the Universe cooled down enough, protons and electrons started to recombine into neutral hydrogen atoms. This meant light could finally travel through space. As the first stars and galaxies began to form, around 150 million years after the Big Bang, their ultraviolet light gradually reionized the neutral hydrogen ubiquitous throughout the Universe, allowing the entire spectrum of electromagnetic radiation to stream freely.

    By about 1 billion years after the Big Bang, the Universe was completely reionized; earlier than this 1 billion year mark, however, we can’t really see with our current experiments, which makes the reionization process tricky to understand. If we could detect light from the cosmic dawn, it would be an absolute game-changer.

    The EDGES experiment was looking for this signal in low radio frequencies, and got a hit, but the signal received wasn’t what astronomers expected. Instead, the amplitude was almost twice as large as had been predicted, suggesting the hydrogen gas the light had passed through was colder than we thought it could be.

    The only thing that could have cooled the gas to that degree during this stage of the Universe’s lifespan, the research team concluded, was dark matter; in turn, that dark matter’s properties might be very different from our predictions.

    Any extraordinary finding, especially one that may require new science, absolutely warrants further investigation, so Singh and his colleagues used the Shaped Antenna Measurement of the Background Radio Spectrum 3 (SARAS 3) radiometer to see if they could validate the signal.

    In early 2020, they floated SARAS 3 out into the middle of remote lakes in Southern India and probed the sky for the signal detected by EDGES.

    Once the data had been obtained, processed and analyzed, Singh’s team found there was no signal to be found. Nor did their instrument replicate distortion of the radio spectrum seen in the EDGES data.

    “The profile found by Bowman et al. is not detected in the MCMC analysis of the sky spectrum made with the SARAS 3 instrument,” they wrote in their paper.

    “Moreover, the correlation analysis shows that the distortion present in the spectrum made using the EDGES low-band instrument, which was used to derive the best-fitting profile and define the bounds on the parameter space for the profile, is not present in the SARAS 3 spectrum of the sky. These facts suggest that the significant spectral distortion present in the sky spectrum made with the EDGES low-band instrument is a systematic error associated with the instrument.”

    In other words, the signal, Singh and his team suggest, was an error produced by the EDGES antenna, not a signal emanating from deep into the far reaches of space-time. The sensitivity of the SARAS 3 data, they added, ruled out a cosmological origin for the signal. Ouch.

    Generally, when something extraordinarily odd is discovered, the evidence itself also needs to be extraordinary. However, in order to be very certain of whether the signal exists, and what it is, more observations, with different instruments, should be undertaken.

    “We conclude,” Singh and his team wrote, “that continued observations with sensors deployed in such environs, such as the SARAS 3 monocone on large water bodies in remote locales on Earth or a space mission in orbit on the lunar farside, would provide data free from systematics and lead to discovery of the true redshifted 21-centimeter signal from the cosmic dawn.”

    The results have been published in Nature Astronomy.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

  • richardmitnick 12:12 pm on March 1, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Patagonia Is Rapidly Rising Up in The Largest Glacial Adjustment Ever Recorded", , , , Science Alert (AU), Scientists have worked out a gap in tectonic plates that began forming some 18 million years ago underneath now-shrinking ice fields that is likely driving the recent rapid rock uplift seen in Patagon, The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (US), This uplift called “glacial isostatic adjustment” usually occurs over thousands of years not in decades which appears to be happening in Patagonia.   

    From The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (US) via Science Alert (AU): “Patagonia Is Rapidly Rising Up in The Largest Glacial Adjustment Ever Recorded” 

    From The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (US)



    Science Alert (AU)

    1 MARCH 2022

    Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina. (Miriam Duran/Unsplash)

    Patagonian ice fields are among some of the fastest-melting glaciers on the planet. As these glaciers disappear, the earth that once lay beneath them is rebounding upwards at rates much faster than expected.

    Now, scientists have worked out a gap in tectonic plates that began forming some 18 million years ago underneath now-shrinking ice fields is likely driving the recent rapid rock uplift seen in Patagonia, encompassing remote and sparsely populated areas where few seismic studies have been conducted before.

    “Variations in the size of glaciers, as they grow and shrink, combined with the mantle structure that we’ve imaged in this study, are driving rapid and spatially variable uplift in this region,” says geophysicist Hannah Mark of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, who led the study.

    When glaciers melt, the earth that once lay beneath them rebounds and rises, no longer burdened by the colossal weight of miles-thick ice sheets.

    Melting Beauty: The Icefields of Patagonia.

    This uplift, called glacial isostatic adjustment, usually occurs over thousands of years, not in decades, which appears to be happening in Patagonia. Along with the meltwater that gushes from glaciers, it affects how much global sea levels will rise under future climate warming scenarios that scientists are busy modeling.

    Rapid uplift of more than 4 centimeters (1.6 inches) per year has been measured in the thinning northern and southern Patagonian ice fields that are just a fraction of their previous size.

    A toe-length rise might not sound like much, but it’s an extreme, unusual, and sudden change on a continental scale – and the largest present-day glacial adjustment ever recorded.

    In the new study, Mark and colleagues recorded seismic data around the Patagonian ice fields that straddle the Andes Mountains in southern Chile and Argentina, to map what was happening below the surface.

    Data collection ran 10 months longer than initially planned, because the seismic instruments were trapped in Patagonia during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Those measurements, combined with other seismic data from local monitoring stations, revealed how a gap in the down-going tectonic plate almost 100 kilometers (60 miles) beneath Patagonia has enabled hotter, less viscous mantle material to flow underneath the continent.

    These lower-than-usual viscosities in the mantle beneath Patagonian ice fields could quicken the continental uplift associated with melting ice to decades or centuries, if the researchers’ estimates are correct.

    “Low viscosities mean that the mantle responds to deglaciation on the time scale of tens of years, rather than thousands of years, as we observe in Canada for example,” says seismologist Douglas Wiens of Washington University in St Louis.

    “This explains why GPS has measured large uplift due to the loss of ice mass [in Patagonia].”

    Around and within the tectonic opening, Washington University seismologist Douglas Weins, Mark, and co. also detected very slow seismic velocity, around 8 percent slower than the global average.

    This anomaly indicates warmer mantle temperatures that likely thermally eroded the overlying lithosphere which is thinning underneath the shrinking ice fields.

    Similar shallow, slow mantle velocities and a thinning crust have been detected beneath parts of Antarctica before, and though past research predicts the Patagonian uplift should peak around its current rate, estimates of mantle velocities are uncertain and sensitive to mantle temperatures – so the more measurements the better.

    What’s more, the study found the hottest and least viscous parts of the mantle were close to the gap, or slab window, below the part of the Patagonia ice fields that had opened up most recently.

    “This suggests to us that maybe the mantle dynamics associated with the slab window … have intensified over time, or that the continental plate in the south started out thicker and colder, and so was less affected by the slab window than the part of the plate farther north,” explains Mark.

    Remote as Patagonia is, the ramifications of these glacial and tectonic changes will be felt globally, as fast-melting glaciers contribute to global sea-level rise that already threatens low-lying communities.

    A better understanding of these shifting land masses can improve predictions of sea-level rise, and what scientists learn about glaciers in one part of the world can aid studies of ice masses elsewhere.

    “Understanding the evolution of these glaciers helps us understand what glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica may look like in the future in a much warmer climate,” glaciologist Eric Rignot at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory said of the Patagonian ice fields.

    “With better Earth models, we can do a better job of reconstructing recent changes in the [Patagonian] ice sheets,” adds Wiens.

    The study was published in Geophysical Research Letters.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute

    Mission Statement

    The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (US) is dedicated to advancing knowledge of the ocean and its connection with the Earth system through a sustained commitment to excellence in science, engineering, and education, and to the application of this knowledge to problems facing society.

    Vision & Mission

    The ocean is a defining feature of our planet and crucial to life on Earth, yet it remains one of the planet’s last unexplored frontiers. For this reason, WHOI scientists and engineers are committed to understanding all facets of the ocean as well as its complex connections with Earth’s atmosphere, land, ice, seafloor, and life—including humanity. This is essential not only to advance knowledge about our planet, but also to ensure society’s long-term welfare and to help guide human stewardship of the environment. WHOI researchers are also dedicated to training future generations of ocean science leaders, to providing unbiased information that informs public policy and decision-making, and to expanding public awareness about the importance of the global ocean and its resources.

    The Institution is organized into six departments, the Cooperative Institute for Climate and Ocean Research, and a marine policy center. Its shore-based facilities are located in the village of Woods Hole, Massachusetts(US) and a mile and a half away on the Quissett Campus. The bulk of the Institution’s funding comes from grants and contracts from the National Science Foundation(US) and other government agencies, augmented by foundations and private donations.

    WHOI scientists, engineers, and students collaborate to develop theories, test ideas, build seagoing instruments, and collect data in diverse marine environments. Ships operated by WHOI carry research scientists throughout the world’s oceans. The WHOI fleet includes two large research vessels (R/V Atlantis and R/V Neil Armstrong); the coastal craft Tioga; small research craft such as the dive-operation work boat Echo; the deep-diving human-occupied submersible Alvin; the tethered, remotely operated vehicle Jason/Medea; and autonomous underwater vehicles such as the REMUS and SeaBED.
    WHOI offers graduate and post-doctoral studies in marine science. There are several fellowship and training programs, and graduate degrees are awarded through a joint program with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology(US). WHOI is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (US). WHOI also offers public outreach programs and informal education through its Exhibit Center and summer tours. The Institution has a volunteer program and a membership program, WHOI Associate.

    On October 1, 2020, Peter B. de Menocal became the institution’s eleventh president and director.


    In 1927, a National Academy of Sciences(US) committee concluded that it was time to “consider the share of the United States of America in a worldwide program of oceanographic research.” The committee’s recommendation for establishing a permanent independent research laboratory on the East Coast to “prosecute oceanography in all its branches” led to the founding in 1930 of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution(US).

    A $2.5 million grant from the Rockefeller Foundation supported the summer work of a dozen scientists, construction of a laboratory building and commissioning of a research vessel, the 142-foot (43 m) ketch R/V Atlantis, whose profile still forms the Institution’s logo.

    WHOI grew substantially to support significant defense-related research during World War II, and later began a steady growth in staff, research fleet, and scientific stature. From 1950 to 1956, the director was Dr. Edward “Iceberg” Smith, an Arctic explorer, oceanographer and retired Coast Guard rear admiral.

    In 1977 the institution appointed the influential oceanographer John Steele as director, and he served until his retirement in 1989.

    On 1 September 1985, a joint French-American expedition led by Jean-Louis Michel of IFREMER and Robert Ballard of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution identified the location of the wreck of the RMS Titanic which sank off the coast of Newfoundland 15 April 1912.

    On 3 April 2011, within a week of resuming of the search operation for Air France Flight 447, a team led by WHOI, operating full ocean depth autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) owned by the Waitt Institute discovered, by means of sidescan sonar, a large portion of debris field from flight AF447.

    In March 2017 the institution effected an open-access policy to make its research publicly accessible online.

    The Institution has maintained a long and controversial business collaboration with the treasure hunter company Odyssey Marine. Likewise, WHOI has participated in the location of the San José galleon in Colombia for the commercial exploitation of the shipwreck by the Government of President Santos and a private company.

    In 2019, iDefense reported that China’s hackers had launched cyberattacks on dozens of academic institutions in an attempt to gain information on technology being developed for the United States Navy. Some of the targets included the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The attacks have been underway since at least April 2017.

  • richardmitnick 5:10 pm on February 24, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Colossal Shock Wave Rippling Across Space Is Bigger Than Our Entire Galaxy", Science Alert (AU), The INAF - Institute of Space Astrophysics and Cosmic Physics of Milano [Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica ] (IT),   

    From The University of Hamburg [Universität Hamburg] (DE) and The INAF – Institute of Space Astrophysics and Cosmic Physics of Milano [Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica ] (IT) via Science Alert (AU): “Colossal Shock Wave Rippling Across Space Is Bigger Than Our Entire Galaxy” 

    From The University of Hamburg [Universität Hamburg] (DE)


    The INAF – Institute of Space Astrophysics and Cosmic Physics of Milano [Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica ] (IT)



    Science Alert (AU)

    24 FEBRUARY 2022

    The main shock of Abell 3667 compared to the Milky Way. Credit: Francesco de Gasperin/SARAO – South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SA))

    A billion years ago, an absolutely monstrous collision of two clusters of galaxies produced a pair of shock waves of absolutely epic proportions.

    Today, the structures gleam brightly in radio wavelengths, so huge they could easily engulf the Milky Way galaxy’s estimated 100,000 light-year diameter, stretching up to 6.5 million light-years through intergalactic space.

    Now, using the MeerKAT radio telescope in South Africa, a team of astronomers has made the most detailed study of these radio structures yet, gaining new insight into some of the most massive events in the Universe.

    “These structures are full of surprises and much more complex than what we initially thought,” says astronomer Francesco de Gasperin of the University of Hamburg in Germany and the National Institute for Astrophysics in Italy.

    “The shock waves act as giant particle accelerators that accelerate electrons to speeds close to the speed of light. When these fast electrons cross a magnetic field they emit the radio waves that we see.

    “The shocks are threaded by an intricate pattern of bright filaments that trace the location of giant magnetic field lines and the regions where electrons are accelerated.”

    The magnetic fields of the main shock. Credit: Francesco de Gasperin/SARAO.

    Galaxy clusters are the largest structures in the Universe that are bound together by gravity. They can be absolutely gigantic, containing hundreds or thousands of individual galaxies. Galaxies and galaxy clusters travel along filaments of the cosmic web to cluster nodes, where they join together to form even larger clusters.

    These epic events happen at high velocities, generating cluster-scale shock waves that propagate through space, also at high velocities.

    This particular cluster, called Abell 3667, is still coming together. At least 550 galaxies have been associated with it, and the shock waves are propagating through it at velocities around 1,500 kilometers per second (930 miles per second).

    The shocks that are associated with cluster mergers are known as radio relics, and they can be used to probe the properties of the intergalactic space within the cluster, known as the intracluster medium, and intracluster dynamics.

    Abell 3667, at around 700 million light-years away, is relatively close to us, and also quite massive, which means it’s an excellent target for such probes.

    Both radio relics of Abell 3667. Credit: Francesco de Gasperin/SARAO.

    Because the cluster is in the southern sky, astronomers were able to look at it with one of the most sensitive radio telescopes in the world. MeerKAT is a precursor to and pathfinder for the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) that is currently being developed across Australia and South Africa to provide an unprecedented radio eye on the sky.

    MeerKAT’s observations, and those of the Australian Square Kilometer Array Pathfinder, are giving us a taste of the future; not just for the SKA, projected to see first light in 2027, but what we can find now.

    “Our observations have unveiled the complexity of the interplay between the thermal and non-thermal components in the most active regions of a merging cluster,” the researchers write in their study.

    “Both the intricate internal structure of radio relics and the direct detection of magnetic draping around the merging bullet are powerful examples of the non-trivial magnetic properties of the intracluster medium. Thanks to its sensitivity to polarized radiation, MeerKAT will be transformational in the study of these complex phenomena.”

    The research has been published in Astronomy & Astrophysics.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition


    The University of Hamburg [Universität Hamburg] (DE) is the largest institution for research and education in northern Germany. As one of the country’s largest universities, we offer a diverse range of degree programs and excellent research opportunities. The University boasts numerous interdisciplinary projects in a broad range of fields and an extensive partner network of leading regional, national, and international higher education and research institutions.
    Sustainable science and scholarship

    Universität Hamburg is committed to sustainability. All our faculties have taken great strides towards sustainability in both research and teaching.
    Excellent research

    As part of the Excellence Strategy of the Federal and State Governments, Universität Hamburg has been granted clusters of excellence for 4 core research areas: Advanced Imaging of Matter (photon and nanosciences), Climate, Climatic Change, and Society (CliCCS) (climate research), Understanding Written Artefacts (manuscript research) and Quantum Universe (mathematics, particle physics, astrophysics, and cosmology).

    An equally important core research area is Infection Research, in which researchers investigate the structure, dynamics, and mechanisms of infection processes to promote the development of new treatment methods and therapies.
    Outstanding variety: over 170 degree programs

    Universität Hamburg offers approximately 170 degree programs within its eight faculties:

    Faculty of Law
    Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences
    Faculty of Medicine
    Faculty of Education
    Faculty of Mathematics, Informatics and Natural Sciences
    Faculty of Psychology and Human Movement Science
    Faculty of Business Administration (Hamburg Business School).

    Universität Hamburg is also home to several museums and collections, such as the Zoological Museum, the Herbarium Hamburgense, the Geological-Paleontological Museum, the Loki Schmidt Garden, and the Hamburg Observatory.

    Universität Hamburg was founded in 1919 by local citizens. Important founding figures include Senator Werner von Melle and the merchant Edmund Siemers. Nobel Prize winners such as the physicists Otto Stern, Wolfgang Pauli, and Isidor Rabi taught and researched at the University. Many other distinguished scholars, such as Ernst Cassirer, Erwin Panofsky, Aby Warburg, William Stern, Agathe Lasch, Magdalene Schoch, Emil Artin, Ralf Dahrendorf, and Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker, also worked here.

  • richardmitnick 2:52 pm on February 22, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "A Forgotten Continent From 40 Million Years Ago May Have Just Been Rediscovered", , Balkanatolia, , , , , Science Alert (AU)   

    From CNRS-The National Center for Scientific Research [Centre national de la recherche scientifique] (FR) via Science Alert (AU): “A Forgotten Continent From 40 Million Years Ago May Have Just Been Rediscovered” 

    From CNRS-The National Center for Scientific Research [Centre national de la recherche scientifique] (FR)



    Science Alert (AU)

    22 FEBRUARY 2022

    Balkanatolia. Credit: Alexis Licht, Grégoire Métais/CNRS.

    A low-lying continent that existed some 40 million years ago and was home to exotic fauna may have “paved the way” for Asian mammals to colonize southern Europe, new research suggests.

    Wedged between Europe, Africa and Asia, this forgotten continent – which researchers have dubbed “Balkanatolia” – became a gateway between Asia and Europe when sea levels dropped and a land bridge formed, around 34 million years ago.

    “When and how the first wave of Asian mammals made it to south-eastern Europe remains poorly understood,” palaeogeologist Alexis Licht and colleagues write in their new study [Earth-Science Reviews].

    But the result was nothing short of dramatic. Around 34 million years ago, at the end of the Eocene epoch, huge numbers of native mammals disappeared from Western Europe as new Asian mammals emerged, in a sudden extinction event now known as the Grande Coupure.

    Recent fossil findings in the Balkans, however, have upended that timeline, pointing towards a ‘peculiar’ bioregion that appears to have enabled Asian mammals to colonize southeastern Europe as much as 5 to 10 million years before the Grande Coupure occurred.

    To investigate, Licht, of the French National Centre for Scientific Research, and colleagues re-examined the evidence from all known fossil sites in the area, which covers the present-day Balkan peninsula and Anatolia, the westernmost protrusion of Asia.

    The age of these sites was revised based on current geological data, and the team reconstructed paleogeographic changes that transpired in the region, which has a “complex history of episodic drowning and re-emergence”.

    What they found suggests Balkanatolia served as a stepping stone for animals to move from Asia into western Europe, with the transformation of the ancient landmass from standalone continent to land bridge – and subsequent invasion with Asian mammals – coinciding with some “dramatic paleogeographic changes”.

    Balkanatolia, 40 million years ago, and at the present day. Credit: Alexis Licht, Grégoire Métais/CNRS.

    Around 50 million years ago, Balkanatolia was an isolated archipelago, separate from the neighboring continents, where a unique collection of animals distinct from those of Europe and eastern Asia thrived, the analysis found.

    Then a combination of falling sea levels, growing Antarctic ice sheets and tectonic shifts connected the Balkanatolia continent to Western Europe, between 40 to 34 million years ago.

    This allowed Asian mammals including rodents and four-legged hoofed mammals (aka ungulates) to adventure westward and invade Balkanatolia, the fossil record shows.

    Adding to that record, Licht and colleagues also discovered fragments of a jawbone belonging to a rhinoceros-like animal at a new fossil site in Turkey, which they dated to around 38 to 35 million years ago.

    Upper molar of an Asian Brontothere mammal. Credit: Alexis Licht, Grégoire Métais/CNRS.

    The fossil is, arguably, the oldest Asian-like ungulate discovered in Anatolia to date and predates the Grande Coupure by at least 1.5 million years, suggesting that Asian mammals were well on their way to Europe via Balkanatolia.

    This southern pathway to Europe across Balkanatolia was perhaps more favorable for adventurous animals than traversing higher-latitude routes through Central Asia which at the time were drier, cooler, desert steppes, Licht and colleagues also suggest.

    However, they point out in their paper that the “past connectivity between individual Balkanatolian islands and the existence of this southern dispersal route remain debated”, and that the story pieced together thus far “is only built on mammalian fossils and a more complete picture of past Balkanatolian biodiversity remains to be drawn”.

    Many of the geological changes that gave rise to Balkanatolia have yet to be fully understood, and it’s important to note that this review is just one team’s interpretation of the fossil record.

    That said, the fossil record of mammals and other vertebrates living on islands is usually sparse and patchy, whereas the rich terrestrial fossil record of Balkanatolia “provides a unique opportunity to document the evolution and demise of island biotas in deep time,” the team concludes.

    See the full article here.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    CNRS-The National Center for Scientific Research [Centre national de la recherche scientifique](FR) is the French state research organisation and is the largest fundamental science agency in Europe.

    In 2016, it employed 31,637 staff, including 11,137 tenured researchers, 13,415 engineers and technical staff, and 7,085 contractual workers. It is headquartered in Paris and has administrative offices in Brussels; Beijing; Tokyo; Singapore; Washington D.C.; Bonn; Moscow; Tunis; Johannesburg; Santiago de Chile; Israel; and New Delhi.

    The CNRS was ranked No. 3 in 2015 and No. 4 in 2017 by the Nature Index, which measures the largest contributors to papers published in 82 leading journals.

    The CNRS operates on the basis of research units, which are of two kinds: “proper units” (UPRs) are operated solely by the CNRS, and “joint units” (UMRs – French: Unité mixte de recherche)[9] are run in association with other institutions, such as universities or INSERM. Members of joint research units may be either CNRS researchers or university employees (maîtres de conférences or professeurs). Each research unit has a numeric code attached and is typically headed by a university professor or a CNRS research director. A research unit may be subdivided into research groups (“équipes”). The CNRS also has support units, which may, for instance, supply administrative, computing, library, or engineering services.

    In 2016, the CNRS had 952 joint research units, 32 proper research units, 135 service units, and 36 international units.

    The CNRS is divided into 10 national institutes:

    Institute of Chemistry (INC)
    Institute of Ecology and Environment (INEE)
    Institute of Physics (INP)
    Institute of Nuclear and Particle Physics (IN2P3)
    Institute of Biological Sciences (INSB)
    Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences (INSHS)
    Institute for Computer Sciences (INS2I)
    Institute for Engineering and Systems Sciences (INSIS)
    Institute for Mathematical Sciences (INSMI)
    Institute for Earth Sciences and Astronomy (INSU)

    The National Committee for Scientific Research, which is in charge of the recruitment and evaluation of researchers, is divided into 47 sections (e.g. section 41 is mathematics, section 7 is computer science and control, and so on).Research groups are affiliated with one primary institute and an optional secondary institute; the researchers themselves belong to one section. For administrative purposes, the CNRS is divided into 18 regional divisions (including four for the Paris region).

    Some selected CNRS laboratories

    APC laboratory
    Centre d’Immunologie de Marseille-Luminy
    Centre d’Etude Spatiale des Rayonnements
    Centre européen de calcul atomique et moléculaire
    Centre de Recherche et de Documentation sur l’Océanie
    CINTRA (joint research lab)
    Institut de l’information scientifique et technique
    Institut de recherche en informatique et systèmes aléatoires
    Institut d’astrophysique de Paris
    Institut de biologie moléculaire et cellulaire
    Institut Jean Nicod
    Laboratoire de Phonétique et Phonologie
    Laboratoire d’Informatique, de Robotique et de Microélectronique de Montpellier
    Laboratory for Analysis and Architecture of Systems
    Laboratoire d’Informatique de Paris 6
    Laboratoire d’informatique pour la mécanique et les sciences de l’ingénieur
    Observatoire océanologique de Banyuls-sur-Mer

  • richardmitnick 4:41 pm on February 15, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "The Biggest Galaxy Ever Found Has Just Been Discovered And It Will Break Your Brain", Alcyoneus - a giant radio galaxy, , , , , , , Science Alert (AU), The Leiden Observatory[Sterrewacht Leiden](NL)   

    From The Leiden Observatory[Sterrewacht Leiden](NL) via Science Alert (AU): “The Biggest Galaxy Ever Found Has Just Been Discovered And It Will Break Your Brain” 


    From The Leiden Observatory[Sterrewacht Leiden](NL)



    Science Alert (AU)

    15 FEBRUARY 2022

    The radio lobes of Alcyoneus. (Astronomy & Astrophysics)

    Astronomers have just found an absolute monster of a galaxy.

    Lurking some 3 billion light-years away, Alcyoneus is a giant radio galaxy reaching 5 megaparsecs into space. That’s 16.3 million light-years long, and constitutes the largest known structure of galactic origin.

    The discovery highlights our poor understanding of these colossi, and what drives their incredible growth. But it could provide a pathway to better understanding, not just of giant radio galaxies, but the intergalactic medium that drifts in the yawning voids of space.

    Giant radio galaxies are yet another mystery in a Universe full of mysteries. They consist of a host galaxy (that’s the cluster of stars orbiting a galactic nucleus containing a supermassive black hole), as well as colossal jets and lobes that erupt forth from the galactic center.

    These jets and lobes, interacting with the intergalactic medium, act as a synchrotron to accelerate electrons that produce radio emission.

    We are pretty sure we know what produces the jets: an active supermassive black hole at the galactic center. We refer to a black hole as ‘active’ when it’s guzzling down (or ‘accreting’) material from a giant disk of material around it.

    Not all the material in the accretion disk swirling into an active black hole inevitably ends up beyond the event horizon. A small fraction of it somehow gets funneled from the inner region of the accretion disk to the poles, where it is blasted into space in the form of jets of ionized plasma, at speeds a significant percentage of the speed of light.

    These jets can travel enormous distances before spreading out into giant radio-emitting lobes.

    The radio lobes of Alcyoneus. (Astronomy & Astrophysics)

    This process is pretty normal. Even the Milky Way has radio lobes. What we don’t really have a good handle on is why, in some galaxies, they grow to absolutely gargantuan sizes, on megaparsec scales. These are called giant radio galaxies, and the most extreme examples could be key to understanding what drives their growth.

    “If there exist host galaxy characteristics that are an important cause for giant radio galaxy growth, then the hosts of the largest giant radio galaxies are likely to possess them,” the researchers, led by astronomer Martijn Oei of Leiden Observatory in the Netherlands, explain in their paper, which has been accepted for publication in Astronomy & Astrophysics.

    “Similarly, if there exist particular large-scale environments that are highly conducive to giant radio galaxy growth, then the largest giant radio galaxies are likely to reside in them.”

    The team went looking for these outliers in data collected by the LOw Frequency ARray (LOFAR) in Europe, an interferometric network consisting of around 20,000 radio antennas, distributed throughout 52 locations across Europe.

    ASTRON (NL) LOFAR-an interferometric network consisting of around 20,000 radio antennas, distributed throughout 52 locations across Europe.

    They reprocessed the data through a new pipeline, removing compact radio sources that might interfere with detections of diffuse radio lobes, and correcting for optical distortion.

    The resulting images, they say, represents the most sensitive search ever conducted for radio galaxy lobes. Then, they used the best pattern recognition tool available for locating their target: their own eyes.

    This is how they found Alcyoneus, spewing forth from a galaxy a few billion light-years away.

    “We have discovered what is in projection the largest known structure made by a single galaxy – a giant radio galaxy with a projected proper length [of] 4.99 ± 0.04 megaparsecs. The true proper length is at least … 5.04 ± 0.05 megaparsecs,” they write.

    Once they had measured the lobes, the researchers used the Sloan Digital Sky Survey to try to understand the host galaxy.
    Apache Point Observatory
    SDSS Telescope at Apache Point Observatory, near Sunspot NM, USA, Altitude 2,788 meters (9,147 ft).

    Apache Point Observatory near Sunspot, New Mexico Altitude 2,788 meters (9,147 ft).

    They found that it’s a fairly normal elliptical galaxy, embedded in a filament of the cosmic web, clocking in at around 240 billion times the mass of the Sun, with a supermassive black hole at its center around 400 million times the mass of the Sun.

    Both of these parameters are actually at the low end for giant radio galaxies, which could provide some clues as to what drives the growth of radio lobes.

    “Beyond geometry, Alcyoneus and its host are suspiciously ordinary: the total low-frequency luminosity density, stellar mass and supermassive black hole mass are all lower than, though similar to, those of the medial giant radio galaxies,” the researchers write.

    “Thus, very massive galaxies or central black holes are not necessary to grow large giants, and, if the observed state is representative of the source over its lifetime, neither is high radio power.”

    It could be that Alcyoneus is sitting in a region of space that is lower density than average, which could enable its expansion – or that interaction with the cosmic web plays a role in the object’s growth.

    Whatever is behind it, though, the researchers believe that Alcyoneus is still growing even bigger, far away in the cosmic dark.

    The research has been accepted for publication in Astronomy & Astrophysics.

    See the full article here.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Leiden Observatory

    The Leiden Observatory [Sterrewacht Leiden](NL) is an astronomical institute of The Leiden University [Universiteit Leiden](NL). Established in 1633 to house the quadrant of Rudolph Snellius, it is the oldest operating university observatory in the world, with the only older still existing observatory being the Vatican Observatory (VCS).

    The observatory was initially located on the university building in the centre of Leiden before a new observatory building and dome were constructed in the university’s botanical garden in 1860. It remained there until 1974 when the department moved to the science campus north-west of the city. Notable astronomers that have worked or directed the observatory include Willem de Sitter, Ejnar Hertzsprung and Jan Oort.

    Leiden University established the observatory in 1633; astronomy had been on the curriculum for a long time, and due to possession of a large quadrant built by Rudolph Snellius, Jacobus Golius requested an observatory in which to use it.

    Credit: Museum Boerhaave Leiden.The quadrant of Rudolph Snellius.

    The observatory was one of the first purpose-built observatories in Europe. Though Golius used the observatory regularly, no publications came from its use by him. It is not known whether Golius had any instrumentation other than Snellius’ quadrant at the observatory.

    In 1682 Burchardus de Volder became professor of mathematics at the university and thus took over responsibility for the observatory. During his tenure, the observatory was enlarged, including a second turret to house a brass sextant which he purchased, and the rebuilding of the old turret. Both turrets had rotating roofs. Upon retiring in 1705, de Volder handed over a catalogue of instruments which showed that the observatory owned two other quadrants, a 12-inch telescope, two objectives, and several smaller telescopes. For the next two years, Lotharius Zumbach de Coesfeld ran the observatory until his appointment as professor of mathematics in Kassel in 1708. Between then and 1717 the observatory went without a director until Willem’s Gravesande was appointed director. During his time at the observatory, ‘s Gravesande purchased a number of new instruments including new telescopes and tools, before his death in 1742.

    Willem’s Gravesande’s successor was Johan Lulofs who used the observatory to observe Halley’s comet in 1759 and solar transits of Mercury in 1743 and 1753 and Venus in 1761. In November 1768 when Lulofs died, Dionysius van de Wijnpersse took over responsibility for the observatory until Pieter Nieuwland became its director in 1793 for a year until he died in 1794. For a number of years the curators attempted to find a suitable astronomer to look after the observatory, eventually employing Jan Frederik van Beeck Calkoen in 1799, who left in 1805.

    In 1817 the observatory towers were pulled down and rebuilt. Frederik Kaiser was appointed lecturer of astronomy and director of the observatory in 1837, and again renovated the observatory, providing the towers with rotatable roofs with full shutters, and reinforcing the north-western tower. Kaiser also acquired a number of new instruments and telescopes with which he made observations including that of comets, planets, and binary stars.

    As a result of the increased interest in astronomy brought about due to Kaiser’s popular writings and teachings, a commission was founded in 1853 to fund a new observatory. From 1859 to 1909 the Netherlands civil time was set according to the local civil time at the observatory; communicated using the telegraphic network.

    By 1860 the new observatory building was completed. The new building was constructed in a quiet side of the city inside the university’s botanical gardens. It consisted of a number of offices, living quarters for astronomers, and a number of observing domes containing telescopes. In 1873 two new rooms were added to the building in order to house the tools required to verify nautical instruments; tools used to test compasses, sextants and other instruments. Two of the domes were rebuilt, one in 1875 and the other in 1889.

    More new buildings were constructed before the end of the 19th century including the Western tower in 1878, one to the East in 1898, and another small building to house a gas engine in the same year (used for electricity until the observatory was connected to the city grid). In 1896 the observatory purchased their first photographic telescope, with a dome being built to house it between then and 1898.

    In 1923 the observatory formed a research agreement with Union Observatory to allow researchers use of both facilities. The first visitor from Leiden was Ejnar Hertzsprung. In 1954 the telescopes were moved to Hartbeespoort. The collaboration lasted until 1972.

    The old Observatory building of this period was restored from 2008 to 2012, and in the 2010s houses a visitor center and also has tours.

    The astronomy department moved to the science campus north-west of the city centre in 1974. Although professional astronomical observations are no longer carried out from Leiden itself, the department still calls itself Leiden Observatory. In much of astronomy, the data came from elsewhere and could be analyzed and studied on the campus; for example in modern times the instruments may even be located in space, with data transmitted back to Earth and then studied on a computer display. (An example of this was the Astronomical Netherlands Satellite, launched in 1974)

    The archive of the Leiden Observatory is available at Leiden University Library and digitally accessible through Digital Collections.

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