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  • richardmitnick 7:59 am on June 1, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Stephen Hawking's Priceless Scientific Works to Be Preserved in Special Archive", , , , , , , Science Alert (AU),   

    From University of Cambridge (UK) via Science Alert (AU) : “Stephen Hawking’s Priceless Scientific Works to Be Preserved in Special Archive” 

    U Cambridge bloc

    From University of Cambridge (UK)



    Science Alert (AU)

    1 JUNE 2021

    Credit: University of Cambridge.

    The legacy of one of the brightest stars in the physics firmament has been secured.

    Around 10,000 pages of the writings and other papers of legendary theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking will be preserved in a special archive by the Cambridge University Library in the UK. This will include a digitization project, to be made freely available online.

    In addition, Hawking’s office and personal items have been acquired by the UK Science Museum.

    The two acquisitions have been made as part of a financial agreement, in which heirs to an estate can offset their inheritance tax by donating significant items to the country. In this case, the papers have been valued at £2.8 million (almost US$4 million), and the office at £1.4 million.

    Of course, these sums are vastly exceeded by the priceless cultural value of Professor Hawking’s work. No scientist operates in a vacuum, but Hawking is widely regarded as one of the greatest scientific minds in history.

    Having access to his personal papers – including an early draft of his best-selling popular science book, A Brief History of Time – gives us an intimate glimpse at how this startling mind worked.

    “The archive allows us to step inside Stephen’s mind and to travel with him around the cosmos to, as he said, ‘better understand our place in the Universe’,” said Cambridge University Librarian Jessica Gardner.

    “It gives extraordinary insight into the evolution of Stephen’s scientific life, from childhood to research student, from disability activist to ground-breaking, world-renowned scientist.”

    The collection of personal items, to be housed at the Science Museum, include voice synthesizers, six personalized wheelchairs, reference books, Star Trek memorabilia, and a rowing jacket a young Hawking was wearing when thrown into a river.

    The Science Museum plans to put some of these items on display, and eventually reconstruct the office as Hawking used it.

    “By preserving Hawking’s office and its historic contents as part of the Science Museum Group Collection, future generations will be able to delve deep into the world of a world-leading theoretical physicist who defied the laws of medicine to rewrite the laws of physics and touch the heart of millions,” said Sir Ian Blatchford, Director of the Science Museum Group.

    A blackboard in Professor Hawking’s former department. Credit: University of Cambridge.

    The papers include correspondences, drafts of scientific papers and essays, photographs of Hawking with notable figures, and scripts from The Simpsons (on which Hawking guest-starred four times).

    These will be housed alongside the archives of Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin, between whose graves Hawking’s ashes were interred, following his death at the age of 76 in 2018.

    “Our hope is that our father’s scientific career will continue to inspire generations of future scientists to find new insights into the nature of the universe, based on the outstanding work he produced in his lifetime,” said Hawking’s children, Lucy, Tim, and Robert, in a statement.

    “For decades, our father was part of the fabric of life at Cambridge University and was a distinguished fellow of the Science Museum, so it seems right that these relationships, so dear to him and us, will continue for many more years to come.”

    Who knows what future generations will be able to achieve, with the shoulders of this giant on which to stand.

    You can learn more about the archive on the Cambridge University website.

    The Stephen Hawking Archive.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Cambridge Campus

    The University of Cambridge (UK) [legally The Chancellor, Masters, and Scholars of the University of Cambridge] is a collegiate public research university in Cambridge, England. Founded in 1209 Cambridge is the second-oldest university in the English-speaking world and the world’s fourth-oldest surviving university. It grew out of an association of scholars who left the University of Oxford(UK) after a dispute with townsfolk. The two ancient universities share many common features and are often jointly referred to as “Oxbridge”.

    Cambridge is formed from a variety of institutions which include 31 semi-autonomous constituent colleges and over 150 academic departments, faculties and other institutions organised into six schools. All the colleges are self-governing institutions within the university, each controlling its own membership and with its own internal structure and activities. All students are members of a college. Cambridge does not have a main campus and its colleges and central facilities are scattered throughout the city. Undergraduate teaching at Cambridge is organised around weekly small-group supervisions in the colleges – a feature unique to the Oxbridge system. These are complemented by classes, lectures, seminars, laboratory work and occasionally further supervisions provided by the central university faculties and departments. Postgraduate teaching is provided predominantly centrally.

    Cambridge University Press a department of the university is the oldest university press in the world and currently the second largest university press in the world. Cambridge Assessment also a department of the university is one of the world’s leading examining bodies and provides assessment to over eight million learners globally every year. The university also operates eight cultural and scientific museums, including the Fitzwilliam Museum, as well as a botanic garden. Cambridge’s libraries – of which there are 116 – hold a total of around 16 million books, around nine million of which are in Cambridge University Library, a legal deposit library. The university is home to – but independent of – the Cambridge Union – the world’s oldest debating society. The university is closely linked to the development of the high-tech business cluster known as “Silicon Fe”. It is the central member of Cambridge University Health Partners, an academic health science centre based around the Cambridge Biomedical Campus.

    By both endowment size and consolidated assets Cambridge is the wealthiest university in the United Kingdom. In the fiscal year ending 31 July 2019, the central university – excluding colleges – had a total income of £2.192 billion of which £592.4 million was from research grants and contracts. At the end of the same financial year the central university and colleges together possessed a combined endowment of over £7.1 billion and overall consolidated net assets (excluding “immaterial” historical assets) of over £12.5 billion. It is a member of numerous associations and forms part of the ‘golden triangle’ of English universities.

    Cambridge has educated many notable alumni including eminent mathematicians; scientists; politicians; lawyers; philosophers; writers; actors; monarchs and other heads of state. As of October 2020 121 Nobel laureates; 11 Fields Medalists; 7 Turing Award winners; and 14 British prime ministers have been affiliated with Cambridge as students; alumni; faculty or research staff. University alumni have won 194 Olympic medals.


    By the late 12th century the Cambridge area already had a scholarly and ecclesiastical reputation due to monks from the nearby bishopric church of Ely. However it was an incident at Oxford which is most likely to have led to the establishment of the university: three Oxford scholars were hanged by the town authorities for the death of a woman without consulting the ecclesiastical authorities who would normally take precedence (and pardon the scholars) in such a case; but were at that time in conflict with King John. Fearing more violence from the townsfolk scholars from the University of Oxford started to move away to cities such as Paris; Reading; and Cambridge. Subsequently enough scholars remained in Cambridge to form the nucleus of a new university when it had become safe enough for academia to resume at Oxford. In order to claim precedence it is common for Cambridge to trace its founding to the 1231 charter from Henry III granting it the right to discipline its own members (ius non-trahi extra) and an exemption from some taxes; Oxford was not granted similar rights until 1248.

    A bull in 1233 from Pope Gregory IX gave graduates from Cambridge the right to teach “everywhere in Christendom”. After Cambridge was described as a studium generale in a letter from Pope Nicholas IV in 1290 and confirmed as such in a bull by Pope John XXII in 1318 it became common for researchers from other European medieval universities to visit Cambridge to study or to give lecture courses.

    Foundation of the colleges

    The colleges at the University of Cambridge were originally an incidental feature of the system. No college is as old as the university itself. The colleges were endowed fellowships of scholars. There were also institutions without endowments called hostels. The hostels were gradually absorbed by the colleges over the centuries; but they have left some traces, such as the name of Garret Hostel Lane.

    Hugh Balsham, Bishop of Ely, founded Peterhouse – Cambridge’s first college in 1284. Many colleges were founded during the 14th and 15th centuries but colleges continued to be established until modern times. There was a gap of 204 years between the founding of Sidney Sussex in 1596 and that of Downing in 1800. The most recently established college is Robinson built in the late 1970s. However Homerton College only achieved full university college status in March 2010 making it the newest full college (it was previously an “Approved Society” affiliated with the university).

    In medieval times many colleges were founded so that their members would pray for the souls of the founders and were often associated with chapels or abbeys. The colleges’ focus changed in 1536 with the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Henry VIII ordered the university to disband its Faculty of Canon Law and to stop teaching “scholastic philosophy”. In response, colleges changed their curricula away from canon law and towards the classics; the Bible; and mathematics.

    Nearly a century later the university was at the centre of a Protestant schism. Many nobles, intellectuals and even commoners saw the ways of the Church of England as too similar to the Catholic Church and felt that it was used by the Crown to usurp the rightful powers of the counties. East Anglia was the centre of what became the Puritan movement. In Cambridge the movement was particularly strong at Emmanuel; St Catharine’s Hall; Sidney Sussex; and Christ’s College. They produced many “non-conformist” graduates who, greatly influenced by social position or preaching left for New England and especially the Massachusetts Bay Colony during the Great Migration decade of the 1630s. Oliver Cromwell, Parliamentary commander during the English Civil War and head of the English Commonwealth (1649–1660), attended Sidney Sussex.

    Modern period

    After the Cambridge University Act formalised the organisational structure of the university the study of many new subjects was introduced e.g. theology, history and modern languages. Resources necessary for new courses in the arts architecture and archaeology were donated by Viscount Fitzwilliam of Trinity College who also founded the Fitzwilliam Museum. In 1847 Prince Albert was elected Chancellor of the University of Cambridge after a close contest with the Earl of Powis. Albert used his position as Chancellor to campaign successfully for reformed and more modern university curricula, expanding the subjects taught beyond the traditional mathematics and classics to include modern history and the natural sciences. Between 1896 and 1902 Downing College sold part of its land to build the Downing Site with new scientific laboratories for anatomy, genetics, and Earth sciences. During the same period the New Museums Site was erected including the Cavendish Laboratory which has since moved to the West Cambridge Site and other departments for chemistry and medicine.

    The University of Cambridge began to award PhD degrees in the first third of the 20th century. The first Cambridge PhD in mathematics was awarded in 1924.

    In the First World War 13,878 members of the university served and 2,470 were killed. Teaching and the fees it earned came almost to a stop and severe financial difficulties followed. As a consequence the university first received systematic state support in 1919 and a Royal Commission appointed in 1920 recommended that the university (but not the colleges) should receive an annual grant. Following the Second World War the university saw a rapid expansion of student numbers and available places; this was partly due to the success and popularity gained by many Cambridge scientists.

  • richardmitnick 7:36 am on June 1, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "We've Detected the Closest Extragalactic FRB Yet, A newly discovered repeating fast radio burst (FRB) named FRB 20200120E, , , but It's From an Unexpected Place", , , Science Alert (AU)   

    From Science Alert (AU) : “We’ve Detected the Closest Extragalactic FRB Yet, but It’s From an Unexpected Place” 


    From Science Alert (AU)

    1 JUNE 2021

    Messier 81, as imaged by the Spitzer Space Telescope. (National Aeronautics Space Agency (US)/JPL-Caltech (US))

    A newly discovered repeating fast radio burst (FRB) named FRB 20200120E is deepening the mystery of these already deeply mysterious space signals.

    Astronomers have tracked its location to a galaxy 11.7 million light-years away, which makes it the closest known fast radio burst, 40 times closer than the next-closest extragalactic signal. But it also appears in a globular cluster – a clump of very old stars, not the sort of place at all one might expect to find the type of star spitting out FRBs.

    Its discovery suggests a different formation mechanism for these stars, suggesting that FRBs could emerge from a wider range of environments than we thought.

    FRBs have been deviling scientists since the first one was discovered back in 2007. They consist of extremely powerful signals from deep space millions of light-years away, some discharging more energy than 500 million Suns and only detected in radio wavelengths.

    Yet these bursts are shockingly brief, less than the blink of an eye – mere milliseconds in duration – and most of them don’t repeat, making them very hard to predict, trace, and therefore understand.

    By analyzing the fine structure of these radio signals, astronomers have been homing in on the type of object they thought might cause them, with compact objects such as neutron stars the leading theory. Then, last year, came a massive breakthrough. An FRB was finally detected from inside the Milky Way galaxy, emitted by a magnetar.

    Magnetars – of which only 24 have been confirmed to date – are a rare type of neutron star, the collapsed core of a dead star that started out between 8 and 30 times the mass of the Sun. Neutron stars are small and dense, about 20 kilometres (12 miles) in diameter, with a maximum mass of about two Suns.

    Magnetars, as the name suggests, add something else to the mix: an absolutely insaneballs magnetic field – around a quadrillion times more powerful than Earth’s magnetic field, and a thousand times more powerful than that of a normal neutron star.

    This brings us back to FRB 20200120E. It’s a minority among FRBs, one that repeats, but aside from that fits the profile perfectly. Because it repeats, though, astronomers were more easily able to pinpoint the location on the sky from which it originated. By analyzing other properties of the signal, they were able to determine that it had traveled a relatively short distance.

    This brought them, earlier this year, to a grand design spiral galaxy called M81, although with a degree of uncertainty. More specifically, the researchers believed they had tracked FRB 20200120E to a globular cluster.

    In a new preprint currently awaiting peer review, a team of astronomers have confirmed that location.

    Here’s why that’s a problem. Globular clusters are compact groups of stars that tend to be very old and long-lived, as well as low mass, none greater than the mass of the Sun. All their stars are thought to have formed from the same cloud of gas at the same time; just like a small town, these stars then live out their mostly quiet existences together.

    Neutron stars, as we mentioned earlier, tend to form from higher mass stars, which also tend to have much shorter main-sequence (hydrogen-burning) lifespans – those of the OB type. So, as a general rule of thumb, you wouldn’t expect to find neutron stars or magnetars in a globular cluster.

    “Here we conclusively prove that FRB 20200120E is associated with a globular cluster in the M81 galactic system, thereby confirming that it is 40 times closer than any other known extragalactic FRB,” the researchers wrote.

    “Because such globular clusters host old stellar populations, this association challenges FRB models that invoke magnetars formed in a core-collapse supernova as powering FRB emission.”

    Fear not, however – because there is an interesting precedent.

    Every now and again, a globular cluster has been found to host a type of rapidly rotating neutron star known as a millisecond pulsar. Because globular clusters are so densely populated, stars can interact and even collide with each other, producing objects such as low-mass X-ray binaries and pulsars.

    According to the research team, this introduces other interesting mechanisms for magnetar formation beyond the core-collapse supernova of a massive star. A low-mass white dwarf interacting with and accreting material from another star could gain enough mass to collapse into a neutron star; or two white dwarfs could merge, to the same end.

    It’s also possible that the source of the FRB isn’t a magnetar at all, but a low-mass X-ray binary, such as a white dwarf and a neutron star, or a neutron star and an exoplanet. It may also be an accreting black hole. The evidence for these explanations is lacking – there’s no X-ray or gamma-ray activity that typically would accompany these systems – but they still can’t be ruled out.

    Whatever the answer is, though, it seems like FRB 20200120E is set to shake things up. Either it will teach us something new about star interactions in globular clusters, or it will give us a new formation channel for FRBs.

    Since it is a repeating FRB, so close to us, it represents a rare opportunity to probe these mystery signals in detail.

    The paper is available here.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

  • richardmitnick 11:57 am on May 30, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Weird Electromagnetic Bursts Appear Before Earthquakes – And We May Finally Know Why", , , Brief subtle anomalies in underground electrical fields lead up to an earthquake, Early Warning Labs Earthquake EWL Labs mobile app, , , , , , , Science Alert (AU), ,   

    From Science Alert (AU) : “Weird Electromagnetic Bursts Appear Before Earthquakes – And We May Finally Know Why” 


    From Science Alert (AU)

    30 MAY 2021

    Credit: jamievanbuskirk/E+/Getty Images.

    For some time, seismologists have been aware of brief subtle anomalies in underground electrical fields leading up to an earthquake, sometimes occurring as soon as a few weeks before the quake happens.

    It’s tempting to think these electromagnetic bursts could be used to predict when a quake will strike. Up until now, however, the cause of the strange bursts hasn’t been clear.

    New research suggests that the key lies in the gases that get trapped in what’s known as a fault valve and can build up ahead of an earthquake. These impermeable layers of rock can slip across a fault, effectively creating a gate that blocks the flow of underground water.

    When the fault valve eventually cracks and pressure decreases, carbon dioxide or methane dissolved in the trapped water is released, expanding in volume and pushing the cracks in the fault. As the gas emerges, it also gets electrified, with electrons released from the cracked surfaces attaching themselves to gas molecules and generating a current as they move upwards.

    “The results supported the validity of the present working hypothesis, that coupled interaction of fracturing rock with deep Earth gases during quasi-static rupture of rocks in the focal zone of a fault might play an important role in the generation of pre- and co-seismic electromagnetic phenomena,” write the researchers in their published paper .

    From the cited science paper.

    Using a customized lab setup, the team was able to test the reactions of quartz diorite, gabbro, basalt, and fine-grained granite in scaled-down earthquake-like simulations. They showed that electrified gas currents could indeed be linked to rock fracture.

    The type of rock does make a difference, the scientists found. Rocks including granite have lattice defects that capture unpaired electrons over time through natural radiation rising from below the surface, and that leads to a larger current.

    And the type of fault seems to have an effect as well. The study backs up previous research [Scientific Reports] from the same scientists into seismo-electromagnetics, showing how carbon dioxide released from an earthquake fault could be electrified and produce magnetic fields.

    Other hypotheses [Science] about the electromagnetic bursts include the idea that the rocks themselves could become semiconductors under enough strain and with enough heat, while other experts don’t think these weird bursts are predictors at all.

    Until an earthquake is actually predicted by unusual electromagnetic activity – activity that happens a lot on our planet as a matter of course anyway – the jury is still out. But if this idea is backed up by future research, it could give us a life-saving method for getting a heads up on future quakes.

    “As a result of this laboratory experiment, it might be possible to detect the electric signal accompanying an earthquake by observing the telluric potential/current induced in a conductor, such as a steel water pipe buried underground,” conclude the researchers.

    “Such an approach is now undergoing model field tests.”

    The research has been published in Earth, Planets and Space.


    Earthquake Alert


    Earthquake Alert

    Earthquake Network project is a research project which aims at developing and maintaining a crowdsourced smartphone-based earthquake warning system at a global level. Smartphones made available by the population are used to detect the earthquake waves using the on-board accelerometers. When an earthquake is detected, an earthquake warning is issued in order to alert the population not yet reached by the damaging waves of the earthquake.

    The project started on January 1, 2013 with the release of the homonymous Android application Earthquake Network. The author of the research project and developer of the smartphone application is Francesco Finazzi of the University of Bergamo, Italy.

    Get the app in the Google Play store.

    Smartphone network spatial distribution (green and red dots) on December 4, 2015

    Meet The Quake-Catcher Network

    QCN bloc

    Quake-Catcher Network

    The Quake-Catcher Network is a collaborative initiative for developing the world’s largest, low-cost strong-motion seismic network by utilizing sensors in and attached to internet-connected computers. With your help, the Quake-Catcher Network can provide better understanding of earthquakes, give early warning to schools, emergency response systems, and others. The Quake-Catcher Network also provides educational software designed to help teach about earthquakes and earthquake hazards.

    After almost eight years at Stanford University (US), and a year at California Institute of Technology (US), the QCN project is moving to the University of Southern California (US) Dept. of Earth Sciences. QCN will be sponsored by the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS) and the Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC).

    The Quake-Catcher Network is a distributed computing network that links volunteer hosted computers into a real-time motion sensing network. QCN is one of many scientific computing projects that runs on the world-renowned distributed computing platform Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC).

    The volunteer computers monitor vibrational sensors called MEMS accelerometers, and digitally transmit “triggers” to QCN’s servers whenever strong new motions are observed. QCN’s servers sift through these signals, and determine which ones represent earthquakes, and which ones represent cultural noise (like doors slamming, or trucks driving by).

    There are two categories of sensors used by QCN: 1) internal mobile device sensors, and 2) external USB sensors.

    Mobile Devices: MEMS sensors are often included in laptops, games, cell phones, and other electronic devices for hardware protection, navigation, and game control. When these devices are still and connected to QCN, QCN software monitors the internal accelerometer for strong new shaking. Unfortunately, these devices are rarely secured to the floor, so they may bounce around when a large earthquake occurs. While this is less than ideal for characterizing the regional ground shaking, many such sensors can still provide useful information about earthquake locations and magnitudes.

    USB Sensors: MEMS sensors can be mounted to the floor and connected to a desktop computer via a USB cable. These sensors have several advantages over mobile device sensors. 1) By mounting them to the floor, they measure more reliable shaking than mobile devices. 2) These sensors typically have lower noise and better resolution of 3D motion. 3) Desktops are often left on and do not move. 4) The USB sensor is physically removed from the game, phone, or laptop, so human interaction with the device doesn’t reduce the sensors’ performance. 5) USB sensors can be aligned to North, so we know what direction the horizontal “X” and “Y” axes correspond to.

    If you are a science teacher at a K-12 school, please apply for a free USB sensor and accompanying QCN software. QCN has been able to purchase sensors to donate to schools in need. If you are interested in donating to the program or requesting a sensor, click here.

    BOINC is a leader in the field(s) of Distributed Computing, Grid Computing and Citizen Cyberscience.BOINC is more properly the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing, developed at UC Berkeley.

    Earthquake safety is a responsibility shared by billions worldwide. The Quake-Catcher Network (QCN) provides software so that individuals can join together to improve earthquake monitoring, earthquake awareness, and the science of earthquakes. The Quake-Catcher Network (QCN) links existing networked laptops and desktops in hopes to form the worlds largest strong-motion seismic network.

    Below, the QCN Quake Catcher Network map
    QCN Quake Catcher Network map



    About Early Warning Labs, LLC

    Early Warning Labs, LLC (EWL) is an Earthquake Early Warning technology developer and integrator located in Santa Monica, CA. EWL is partnered with industry leading GIS provider ESRI, Inc. and is collaborating with the US Government and university partners.

    EWL is investing millions of dollars over the next 36 months to complete the final integration and delivery of Earthquake Early Warning to individual consumers, government entities, and commercial users.

    EWL’s mission is to improve, expand, and lower the costs of the existing earthquake early warning systems.

    EWL is developing a robust cloud server environment to handle low-cost mass distribution of these warnings. In addition, Early Warning Labs is researching and developing automated response standards and systems that allow public and private users to take pre-defined automated actions to protect lives and assets.

    EWL has an existing beta R&D test system installed at one of the largest studios in Southern California. The goal of this system is to stress test EWL’s hardware, software, and alert signals while improving latency and reliability.

    ShakeAlert: An Earthquake Early Warning System for the West Coast of the United States

    The U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) along with a coalition of State and university partners is developing and testing an earthquake early warning (EEW) system called ShakeAlert for the west coast of the United States. Long term funding must be secured before the system can begin sending general public notifications, however, some limited pilot projects are active and more are being developed. The USGS has set the goal of beginning limited public notifications in 2018.

    Watch a video describing how ShakeAlert works in English or Spanish.

    The primary project partners include:

    United States Geological Survey
    California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES)
    California Geological Survey
    California Institute of Technology
    University of California Berkeley
    University of Washington
    University of Oregon
    Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

    The Earthquake Threat

    Earthquakes pose a national challenge because more than 143 million Americans live in areas of significant seismic risk across 39 states. Most of our Nation’s earthquake risk is concentrated on the West Coast of the United States. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has estimated the average annualized loss from earthquakes, nationwide, to be $5.3 billion, with 77 percent of that figure ($4.1 billion) coming from California, Washington, and Oregon, and 66 percent ($3.5 billion) from California alone. In the next 30 years, California has a 99.7 percent chance of a magnitude 6.7 or larger earthquake and the Pacific Northwest has a 10 percent chance of a magnitude 8 to 9 megathrust earthquake on the Cascadia subduction zone.

    Part of the Solution

    Today, the technology exists to detect earthquakes, so quickly, that an alert can reach some areas before strong shaking arrives. The purpose of the ShakeAlert system is to identify and characterize an earthquake a few seconds after it begins, calculate the likely intensity of ground shaking that will result, and deliver warnings to people and infrastructure in harm’s way. This can be done by detecting the first energy to radiate from an earthquake, the P-wave energy, which rarely causes damage. Using P-wave information, we first estimate the location and the magnitude of the earthquake. Then, the anticipated ground shaking across the region to be affected is estimated and a warning is provided to local populations. The method can provide warning before the S-wave arrives, bringing the strong shaking that usually causes most of the damage.

    Studies of earthquake early warning methods in California have shown that the warning time would range from a few seconds to a few tens of seconds. ShakeAlert can give enough time to slow trains and taxiing planes, to prevent cars from entering bridges and tunnels, to move away from dangerous machines or chemicals in work environments and to take cover under a desk, or to automatically shut down and isolate industrial systems. Taking such actions before shaking starts can reduce damage and casualties during an earthquake. It can also prevent cascading failures in the aftermath of an event. For example, isolating utilities before shaking starts can reduce the number of fire initiations.

    System Goal

    The USGS will issue public warnings of potentially damaging earthquakes and provide warning parameter data to government agencies and private users on a region-by-region basis, as soon as the ShakeAlert system, its products, and its parametric data meet minimum quality and reliability standards in those geographic regions. The USGS has set the goal of beginning limited public notifications in 2018. Product availability will expand geographically via ANSS regional seismic networks, such that ShakeAlert products and warnings become available for all regions with dense seismic instrumentation.

    Current Status

    The West Coast ShakeAlert system is being developed by expanding and upgrading the infrastructure of regional seismic networks that are part of the Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS); the California Integrated Seismic Network (CISN) is made up of the Southern California Seismic Network, SCSN) and the Northern California Seismic System, NCSS and the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network (PNSN). This enables the USGS and ANSS to leverage their substantial investment in sensor networks, data telemetry systems, data processing centers, and software for earthquake monitoring activities residing in these network centers. The ShakeAlert system has been sending live alerts to “beta” users in California since January of 2012 and in the Pacific Northwest since February of 2015.

    In February of 2016 the USGS, along with its partners, rolled-out the next-generation ShakeAlert early warning test system in California joined by Oregon and Washington in April 2017. This West Coast-wide “production prototype” has been designed for redundant, reliable operations. The system includes geographically distributed servers, and allows for automatic fail-over if connection is lost.

    This next-generation system will not yet support public warnings but does allow selected early adopters to develop and deploy pilot implementations that take protective actions triggered by the ShakeAlert notifications in areas with sufficient sensor coverage.


    The USGS will develop and operate the ShakeAlert system, and issue public notifications under collaborative authorities with FEMA, as part of the National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program, as enacted by the Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act of 1977, 42 U.S.C. §§ 7704 SEC. 2.

    For More Information

    Robert de Groot, ShakeAlert National Coordinator for Communication, Education, and Outreach

    Learn more about EEW Research

    ShakeAlert Fact Sheet

    ShakeAlert Implementation Plan

    Earthquake Early Warning Introduction

    The United States Geological Survey (USGS), in collaboration with state agencies, university partners, and private industry, is developing an earthquake early warning system (EEW) for the West Coast of the United States called ShakeAlert. The USGS Earthquake Hazards Program aims to mitigate earthquake losses in the United States. Citizens, first responders, and engineers rely on the USGS for accurate and timely information about where earthquakes occur, the ground shaking intensity in different locations, and the likelihood is of future significant ground shaking.

    The ShakeAlert Earthquake Early Warning System recently entered its first phase of operations. The USGS working in partnership with the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) is now allowing for the testing of public alerting via apps, Wireless Emergency Alerts, and by other means throughout California.

    ShakeAlert partners in Oregon and Washington are working with the USGS to test public alerting in those states sometime in 2020.

    ShakeAlert has demonstrated the feasibility of earthquake early warning, from event detection to producing USGS issued ShakeAlerts ® and will continue to undergo testing and will improve over time. In particular, robust and reliable alert delivery pathways for automated actions are currently being developed and implemented by private industry partners for use in California, Oregon, and Washington.

    Earthquake Early Warning Background

    The objective of an earthquake early warning system is to rapidly detect the initiation of an earthquake, estimate the level of ground shaking intensity to be expected, and issue a warning before significant ground shaking starts. A network of seismic sensors detects the first energy to radiate from an earthquake, the P-wave energy, and the location and the magnitude of the earthquake is rapidly determined. Then, the anticipated ground shaking across the region to be affected is estimated. The system can provide warning before the S-wave arrives, which brings the strong shaking that usually causes most of the damage. Warnings will be distributed to local and state public emergency response officials, critical infrastructure, private businesses, and the public. EEW systems have been successfully implemented in Japan, Taiwan, Mexico, and other nations with varying degrees of sophistication and coverage.

    Earthquake early warning can provide enough time to:

    Instruct students and employees to take a protective action such as Drop, Cover, and Hold On
    Initiate mass notification procedures
    Open fire-house doors and notify local first responders
    Slow and stop trains and taxiing planes
    Install measures to prevent/limit additional cars from going on bridges, entering tunnels, and being on freeway overpasses before the shaking starts
    Move people away from dangerous machines or chemicals in work environments
    Shut down gas lines, water treatment plants, or nuclear reactors
    Automatically shut down and isolate industrial systems

    However, earthquake warning notifications must be transmitted without requiring human review and response action must be automated, as the total warning times are short depending on geographic distance and varying soil densities from the epicenter.

    GNSS-Global Navigational Satellite System

    GNSS station | Pacific Northwest Geodetic Array, Central Washington University (US)


    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

  • richardmitnick 9:43 am on May 27, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Hints of Hidden Volcanoes Deep Inside Europa Boost Its Chances of Hosting Alien Life", , , Science Alert (AU),   

    From Charles University in Prague [Univerzita Karlova](CZ) via Science Alert (AU) : “Hints of Hidden Volcanoes Deep Inside Europa Boost Its Chances of Hosting Alien Life” 

    From Charles University in Prague [Univerzita Karlova](CZ)



    Science Alert (AU)

    27 MAY 2021

    Europa. (National Aeronautics Space Agency (US)/JPL-Caltech (US)/SETI Institute (US))

    Jupiter’s ice-encrusted moon Europa is increasingly looking like the best place in the Solar System to search for extraterrestrial life.

    New modeling suggests that the rocky mantle, deep below the thick ice and salty ocean, could actually be hot enough for volcanic activity. Moreover, it could have been this hot over most of its 4.5-billion year lifespan.

    The finding has direct implications for the possibility of life lurking on Europa’s seafloor.

    “Our findings provide additional evidence that Europa’s subsurface ocean may be an environment suitable for the emergence of life,” said geophysicist Marie Běhounková of Charles University in Prague [Univerzita Karlova](CZ).

    “Europa is one of the rare planetary bodies that might have maintained volcanic activity over billions of years, and possibly the only one beyond Earth that has large water reservoirs and a long-lived source of energy.”

    You might think an icy world far from the life-sustaining warmth of the Sun – where surface temperatures tend to peak at around -140 degrees Celsius (-225 degrees Fahrenheit) – would be an unlikely place to find living organisms, but there’s actually precedent right here on Earth.

    True, most life here does rely on a food web based on photosynthesis… but in some extreme environments, where the Sun never shines, life has found another way.

    In the dark depths of the ocean, too deep for sunlight to penetrate, volcanic vents seep heat into the waters around them. There, life is built on chemosynthesis, bacteria that harness the energy within geochemistry rather than solar energy to produce food.

    With the bacteria come other organisms that can eat them, thus creating an entire ecosystem down there in the dark.

    We know that Europa, beneath its thick shell of ice, harbors a global ocean – we’ve seen liquid water shooting out of cracks in the ice in the form of geysers. We’ve also detected what is very probably salt. This answers some of the conditions for chemosynthetic hydrothermal life as we know it.

    What we don’t know is whether Europa has volcanic activity below its seafloor, opening into vents like they do here on Earth.

    It’s possible; Jupiter’s moon Io is the most volcanic world in the Solar System, due to the constant stresses placed by Jupiter’s gravitational tugging (and possibly the gravitational tugging of the other Jovian moons) that heat the interior.

    Given that Europa is farther from Jupiter than Io, though, doubt remains – so Běhounková and her colleagues decided to try and figure it out.

    They used detailed modeling to simulate the evolution and heating of Europa’s interior from the time of its formation. They found several mechanisms at play that could be working to keep the planet from freezing completely.

    Firstly, heat released by radioactive decay of elements in the mantle likely contributed a significant fraction of the moon’s internal heat, especially early in Europa’s history.

    Over time, though, the changing stresses generated by tidal forces exerted by the moon’s elliptical orbit around Jupiter should have produced ongoing flexing in Europa’s interior.

    This flexing, in turn, produces heat – and it should be sufficient heat to melt rock into magma, resulting in volcanic activity that could be ongoing today, especially in the higher latitudes close to the polar regions.

    These simulations have given scientists signs of this activity to look for when probes such as NASA’s Europa Clipper and the European Space Agency’s JUpiter ICy moons Explorer (JUICE) mission (due to launch in 2024 and next year respectively) get up close and personal with Europa.

    Gravitational anomalies could suggest the presence of deep magmatic activity, and the anomalous presence of hydrogen and methane in Europa’s thin atmosphere could be the result of chemical reactions occurring at hydrothermal vents. Deposits of fresh oceanic materials on Europa’s surface could indicate subsurface activity too.

    “The prospect for a hot, rocky interior and volcanoes on Europa’s seafloor increases the chance that Europa’s ocean could be a habitable environment,” said Europa Clipper Project Scientist Robert Pappalardo of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who wasn’t involved in the research.

    “We may be able to test this with Europa Clipper’s planned gravity and compositional measurements, which is an exciting prospect.”

    First, however, we’ll have to wait a few more years for the spacecraft to get there. Curse the tyranny of distance!

    The team’s research has been published in Geophysical Research Letters.

    See the full article here.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Charles University [Univerzita Karlova (CZ)] is the oldest and largest university in the Czech Republic. It is one of the oldest universities in Europe in continuous operation. Today, the university consists of 17 faculties located in Prague, Hradec Králové, and Pilsen. The Charles University belongs to top three universities in Central and Eastern Europe. It is ranked around 200-300 in the world.


    Among the four original faculties of Charles University were: the faculty of law, medicine, art (philosophy) and theology (now catholic theology). Today, Charles University consists of 17 faculties, based primarily in Prague, two houses in Hradec Králové and one in Plzeň.

    Catholic Theological Faculty
    Protestant Theological Faculty
    Hussite Theological Faculty
    Faculty of Law
    First Faculty of Medicine
    Second Faculty of Medicine
    Third Faculty of Medicine
    Faculty of Medicine in Plzeň
    Faculty of Medicine in Hradec Králové
    Faculty of Pharmacy in Hradec Králové
    Faculty of Arts
    Faculty of Science
    Faculty of Mathematics and Physics
    Faculty of Education
    Faculty of Social Sciences
    Faculty of Physical Education and Sport
    Faculty of Humanities

    Academic Institutes

    Institute of the History of Charles University and Archive of Charles University
    Center for Theoretical Study
    Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education (CERGE-EI) together with Czech Academy of Sciences)
    Environment Center

    Other units

    Computer Science Centre
    Centre for Transfer of Knowledge and Technology
    Institute for Language and Preparatory Studies
    Central Library of Charles University
    Agency of the Council of Higher Education Institutions

    Joint research centres of Charles University and the Czech Academy of Sciences

    Centre for Biblical Studies
    Centre for Medieval Studies
    Center for Theoretical Study

  • richardmitnick 11:16 am on May 22, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Giant Now Sunken Islands Could Explain Ancient Migration in The Americas", , CNRS Géosciences Montpellier | Université des Antilles, , Despite decades of studies the phylogenetic origins and historical biogeography of this astonishing biodiversity remain controversial., , , Here's a mystery: Ancient fossils show animals originating from South America in the Antilles islands off Central America but how did they get over the sea?, Science Alert (AU), Tectonic plate movements and the spreading and shrinking of glaciers over the course of millions of years could have provided a path for wildlife to travel over., The answer is via land masses that have long since sunk from view under the ocean according to a new study., The emergence and disappearance of these archipelagos and "mega-islands" would also have been affected by the rise and fall of the sea level., There was once a connection between Russia and Canada for instance; and between the UK and the rest of Europe., These land bridges are more common than you might think existing for millions of years and then disappearing for millions more.   

    From CNRS Géosciences Montpellier | Université des Antilles via CNRS-The National Center for Scientific Research [Centre national de la recherche scientifique] (FR) and Science Alert (AU) : “Giant Now Sunken Islands Could Explain Ancient Migration in The Americas” 

    From CNRS Géosciences Montpellier | Université des Antilles


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



    Science Alert (AU)

    21 MAY 2021

    Credit: Roberto Moiola/Sysaworld/Moment/Getty Images.

    Here’s a mystery: Ancient fossils show animals originating from South America in the Antilles islands off Central America but how did they get over the sea? The answer is via land masses that have long since sunk from view under the ocean according to a new study.

    These animals certainly couldn’t have swum across several hundred kilometers of the Caribbean Sea, so they either floated over on matted vegetation running down rivers, or there were once land bridges in place that have now vanished.

    The new research backs the second hypothesis, suggesting that tectonic plate movements and the spreading and shrinking of glaciers over the course of millions of years could have provided a path for wildlife to travel over.

    The study area is shown in the white rectangle.Credit: Cornée et al., Earth-Science Reviews, 2021.

    “The Caribbean, including the Greater and Lesser Antilles located at the northeastern edge of the Caribbean Plate, are regarded as one of the most important centers of insular biodiversity,” write the researchers in their published paper.

    “Despite decades of studies the phylogenetic origins and historical biogeography of this astonishing biodiversity remain controversial.”

    The team modeled some 40 million years of tectonic plate movement around the junction between the Lesser Antilles, the Greater Antilles, and the Aves Ridge underwater mountain, demonstrating how landmasses could be formed and broken down again.

    The emergence and disappearance of these archipelagos and “mega-islands” would also have been affected by the rise and fall of the sea level, controlled by glacial melt – something else the scientists modeled across a period of 1.5 million years.

    Researchers factored seismic data collected from the region over the last 40 years into the calculations, as well as the current geography of the islands. The team was able to work backwards to the late Eocene period, matching island shorelines with the era when they would have emerged from the ocean.

    “These periods of emergence may have favored the existence of episodic mega-islands and transient terrestrial connections between the Greater Antilles, the Lesser Antilles, and the northern part of the Aves Ridge (Saba Bank),” write the researchers.

    “During the Pleistocene, archipelagos, and mega-islands formed repeatedly during glacial maximum episodes.”

    These land bridges are more common than you might think existing for millions of years and then disappearing for millions more. There was once a connection between Russia and Canada for instance; and between the UK and the rest of Europe.

    While the idea of landmasses in the Antilles region has been proposed before, no one has looked in this much detail at this particular area. In the future, the researchers want to use the same techniques to extend their models southwards and cover the entire Caribbean Plate.

    For now, there’s still work to be done around the Lesser Antilles – a more complete terrestrial fossil record and a better reconstruction of the ancient geography of the area between Guadeloupe and Venezuela is required to more accurately lay out the pathways that once existed.

    “The role of the Lesser Antilles in the dispersal of land fauna during the last 40 million years must therefore be reassessed,” conclude the researchers.

    The research has been published in Earth-Science Reviews.

    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 1:30 pm on May 21, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Physicists Have Broken The Speed of Light With Pulses Inside Hot Plasma", , , , , Science Alert (AU),   

    From DOE’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (US) and From University of Rochester (US) via Science Alert (AU) : “Physicists Have Broken The Speed of Light With Pulses Inside Hot Plasma” 

    From DOE’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (US)


    From University of Rochester (US)



    Science Alert (AU)

    21 MAY 202

    (oxygen/Moment/Getty Images)

    Sailing through the smooth waters of vacuum, a photon of light moves at around 300 thousand kilometers (186 thousand miles) a second. This sets a firm limit on how quickly a whisper of information can travel anywhere in the Universe.

    While this law isn’t likely to ever be broken, there are features of light which don’t play by the same rules. Manipulating them won’t hasten our ability to travel to the stars, but they could help us clear the way to a whole new class of laser technology.

    Physicists have been playing hard and fast with the speed limit of light pulses for a while, speeding them up and even slowing them to a virtual stand-still using various materials like cold atomic gases, refractive crystals, and optical fibers.

    This time, researchers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and the University of Rochester in New York have managed it inside hot swarms of charged particles, fine-tuning the speed of light waves within plasma to anywhere from around one-tenth of light’s usual vacuum speed to more than 30 percent faster.

    This is both more – and less – impressive than it sounds.

    To break the hearts of those hoping it’ll fly us to Proxima Centauri and back in time for tea, this superluminal travel is well within the laws of physics. Sorry.

    A photon’s speed is locked in place by the weave of electrical and magnetic fields referred to as electromagnetism. There’s no getting around that, but pulses of photons within narrow frequencies also jostle in ways that create regular waves.

    The rhythmic rise and fall of whole groups of light waves moves through stuff at a rate described as group velocity, and it’s this ‘wave of waves’ that can be tweaked to slow down or speed up, depending on the electromagnetic conditions of its surrounds.

    By stripping electrons away from a stream of hydrogen and helium ions with a laser, the researchers were able to change the group velocity of light pulses sent through them by a second light source, putting the brakes on or streamlining them by adjusting the gas’s ratio and forcing the pulse’s features to change shape.

    The overall effect was due to refraction from the plasma’s fields and the polarized light from the primary laser used to strip them down. The individual light waves still zoomed along at their usual pace, even as their collective dance appeared to accelerate.

    From a theoretical standing, the experiment helps flesh out the physics of plasmas and put new constraints on the accuracy of current models.

    Practically speaking, this is good news for advanced technologies waiting in the wings for clues on how to get around obstacles preventing them from being turned into reality.

    Lasers would be the big winners here, especially the insanely powerful variety. Old-school lasers rely on solid-state optical materials, which tend to get damaged as the energy cranks up. Using streams of plasma to amplify or change light characteristics would get around this issue, but to make the most of it we really need to model their electromagnetic characteristics.

    It’s no coincidence that Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is keen to understand the optical nature of plasmas, being home to some of the world’s most impressive laser technology.

    Ever more powerful lasers are just what we need for a whole bunch of applications, from ramping up particle accelerators to improving clean fusion technology.

    It might not help us move through space any faster, but it’s these very discoveries that will hasten us towards the kind of future we all dream of.

    This research was published in Physical Review Letters.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Rochester

    The University of Rochester (US) is a private research university in Rochester, New York. The university grants undergraduate and graduate degrees, including doctoral and professional degrees.

    The University of Rochester (US) enrolls approximately 6,800 undergraduates and 5,000 graduate students. Its 158 buildings house over 200 academic majors. According to the National Science Foundation (US), Rochester spent $370 million on research and development in 2018, ranking it 68th in the nation. The university is the 7th largest employer in the Finger lakes region of New York.

    The College of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering is home to departments and divisions of note. The Institute of Optics was founded in 1929 through a grant from Eastman Kodak and Bausch and Lomb as the first educational program in the US devoted exclusively to optics and awards approximately half of all optics degrees nationwide and is widely regarded as the premier optics program in the nation and among the best in the world. The Departments of Political Science and Economics have made a significant and consistent impact on positivist social science since the 1960s and historically rank in the top 5 in their fields. The Department of Chemistry is noted for its contributions to synthetic organic chemistry, including the first lab based synthesis of morphine. The Rossell Hope Robbins Library serves as the university’s resource for Old and Middle English texts and expertise. The university is also home to Rochester’s Laboratory for Laser Energetics, a Department of Energy (US) supported national laboratory.

    The University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music (US) ranks first among undergraduate music schools in the U.S. The Sibley Music Library at Eastman is the largest academic music library in North America and holds the third largest collection in the United States.

    In its history university alumni and faculty have earned 13 Nobel Prizes; 13 Pulitzer Prizes; 45 Grammy Awards; 20 Guggenheim Awards; 5 National Academy of Sciences; 4 National Academy of Engineering; 3 Rhodes Scholarships; 3 National Academy of Inventors; and 1 National Academy of Inventors Hall of Fame.


    Early history

    The University of Rochester traces its origins to The First Baptist Church of Hamilton (New York) which was founded in 1796. The church established the Baptist Education Society of the State of New York later renamed the Hamilton Literary and Theological Institution in 1817. This institution gave birth to both Colgate University(US) and the University of Rochester. Its function was to train clergy in the Baptist tradition. When it aspired to grant higher degrees it created a collegiate division separate from the theological division.

    The collegiate division was granted a charter by the State of New York in 1846 after which its name was changed to Madison University. John Wilder and the Baptist Education Society urged that the new university be moved to Rochester, New York. However, legal action prevented the move. In response, dissenting faculty, students, and trustees defected and departed for Rochester, where they sought a new charter for a new university.

    Madison University was eventually renamed as Colgate University (US).


    Asahel C. Kendrick- professor of Greek- was among the faculty that departed Madison University for Rochester. Kendrick served as acting president while a national search was conducted. He reprised this role until 1853 when Martin Brewer Anderson of the Newton Theological Seminary in Massachusetts was selected to fill the inaugural posting.

    The University of Rochester’s new charter was awarded by the Regents of the State of New York on January 31, 1850. The charter stipulated that the university have $100,000 in endowment within five years upon which the charter would be reaffirmed. An initial gift of $10,000 was pledged by John Wilder which helped catalyze significant gifts from individuals and institutions.

    Classes began that November with approximately 60 students enrolled including 28 transfers from Madison. From 1850 to 1862 the university was housed in the old United States Hotel in downtown Rochester on Buffalo Street near Elizabeth Street- today West Main Street near the I-490 overpass. On a February 1851 visit Ralph Waldo Emerson said of the university:

    “They had bought a hotel, once a railroad terminus depot, for $8,500, turned the dining room into a chapel by putting up a pulpit on one side, made the barroom into a Pythologian Society’s Hall, & the chambers into Recitation rooms, Libraries, & professors’ apartments, all for $700 a year. They had brought an omnibus load of professors down from Madison bag and baggage… called in a painter and sent him up the ladder to paint the title “University of Rochester” on the wall, and they had runners on the road to catch students. And they are confident of graduating a class of ten by the time green peas are ripe.

    For the next 10 years the college expanded its scope and secured its future through an expanding endowment; student body; and faculty. In parallel a gift of 8 acres of farmland from local businessman and Congressman Azariah Boody secured the first campus of the university upon which Anderson Hall was constructed and dedicated in 1862. Over the next sixty years this Prince Street Campus grew by a further 17 acres and was developed to include fraternities houses; dormitories; and academic buildings including Anderson Hall; Sibley Library; Eastman and Carnegie Laboratories the Memorial Art Gallery and Cutler Union.

    Twentieth century


    The first female students were admitted in 1900- the result of an effort led by Susan B. Anthony and Helen Barrett Montgomery. During the 1890s a number of women took classes and labs at the university as “visitors” but were not officially enrolled nor were their records included in the college register. President David Jayne Hill allowed the first woman- Helen E. Wilkinson- to enroll as a normal student although she was not allowed to matriculate or to pursue a degree. Thirty-three women enrolled among the first class in 1900 and Ella S. Wilcoxen was the first to receive a degree in 1901. The first female member of the faculty was Elizabeth Denio who retired as Professor Emeritus in 1917. Male students moved to River Campus upon its completion in 1930 while the female students remained on the Prince Street campus until 1955.


    Major growth occurred under the leadership of Benjamin Rush Rhees over his 1900-1935 tenure. During this period George Eastman became a major donor giving more than $50 million to the university during his life. Under the patronage of Eastman the Eastman School of Music (US) was created in 1921. In 1925 at the behest of the General Education Board and with significant support for John D. Rockefeller George Eastman and Henry A. Strong’s family medical and dental schools were created. The university award its first Ph.D that same year.

    During World War II Rochester was one of 131 colleges and universities nationally that took part in the V-12 Navy College Training Program which offered students a path to a Navy commission. In 1942, the university was invited to join the Association of American Universities(US) as an affiliate member and it was made a full member by 1944. Between 1946 and 1947 in infamous uranium experiments researchers at the university injected uranium-234 and uranium-235 into six people to study how much uranium their kidneys could tolerate before becoming damaged.

    In 1955 the separate colleges for men and women were merged into The College on the River Campus. In 1958 three new schools were created in engineering; business administration and education. The Graduate School of Management was named after William E. Simon- former Secretary of the Treasury in 1986. He committed significant funds to the school because of his belief in the school’s free market philosophy and grounding in economic analysis.

    Financial decline and name change controversy

    Following the princely gifts given throughout his life George Eastman left the entirety of his estate to the university after his death by suicide. The total of these gifts surpassed $100 million before inflation and as such Rochester enjoyed a privileged position amongst the most well endowed universities. During the expansion years between 1936 and 1976 the University of Rochester’s financial position ranked third, near Harvard University’s(US) endowment and the University of Texas (US) System’s Permanent University Fund. Due to a decline in the value of large investments and a lack of portfolio diversity the university’s place dropped to the top 25 by the end of the 1980s. At the same time the preeminence of the city of Rochester’s major employers began to decline.

    In response the University commissioned a study to determine if the name of the institution should be changed to “Eastman University” or “Eastman Rochester University”. The study concluded a name change could be beneficial because the use of a place name in the title led respondents to incorrectly believe it was a public university, and because the name “Rochester” connoted a “cold and distant outpost.” Reports of the latter conclusion led to controversy and criticism in the Rochester community. Ultimately, the name “University of Rochester” was retained.

    Renaissance Plan

    In 1995 university president Thomas H. Jackson announced the launch of a “Renaissance Plan” for The College that reduced enrollment from 4,500 to 3,600 creating a more selective admissions process. The plan also revised the undergraduate curriculum significantly creating the current system with only one required course and only a few distribution requirements known as clusters. Part of this plan called for the end of graduate doctoral studies in chemical engineering; comparative literature; linguistics; and mathematics the last of which was met by national outcry. The plan was largely scrapped and mathematics exists as a graduate course of study to this day.

    Twenty-first century

    Meliora Challenge

    Shortly after taking office university president Joel Seligman commenced the private phase of the “Meliora Challenge”- a $1.2 billion capital campaign- in 2005. The campaign reached its goal in 2015- a year before the campaign was slated to conclude. In 2016, the university announced the Meliora Challenge had exceeded its goal and surpassed $1.36 billion. These funds were allocated to support over 100 new endowed faculty positions and nearly 400 new scholarships.

    The Mangelsdorf Years

    On December 17, 2018 the University of Rochester announced that Sarah C. Mangelsdorf would succeed Richard Feldman as President of the University. Her term started in July 2019 with a formal inauguration following in October during Meliora Weekend. Mangelsdorf is the first woman to serve as President of the University and the first person with a degree in psychology to be appointed to Rochester’s highest office.

    In 2019 students from China mobilized by the Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA) defaced murals in the University’s access tunnels which had expressed support for the 2019 Hong Kong Protests, condemned the oppression of the Uighurs, and advocated for Taiwanese independence. The act was widely seen as a continuation of overseas censorship of Chinese issues. In response a large group of students recreated the original murals. There have also been calls for Chinese government run CSSA to be banned from campus.


    Rochester is a member of the Association of American Universities (US) and is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very High Research Activity”. Rochester had a research expenditure of $370 million in 2018. In 2008 Rochester ranked 44th nationally in research spending but this ranking has declined gradually to 68 in 2018. Some of the major research centers include the Laboratory for Laser Energetics, a laser-based nuclear fusion facility, and the extensive research facilities at the University of Rochester Medical Center. Recently the university has also engaged in a series of new initiatives to expand its programs in biomedical engineering and optics including the construction of the new $37 million Robert B. Goergen Hall for Biomedical Engineering and Optics on the River Campus. Other new research initiatives include a cancer stem cell program and a Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute. UR also has the ninth highest technology revenue among U.S. higher education institutions with $46 million being paid for commercial rights to university technology and research in 2009. Notable patents include Zoloft and Gardasil. WeBWorK, a web-based system for checking homework and providing immediate feedback for students was developed by University of Rochester professors Gage and Pizer. The system is now in use at over 800 universities and colleges as well as several secondary and primary schools. Rochester scientists work in diverse areas. For example, physicists developed a technique for etching metal surfaces such as platinum; titanium; and brass with powerful lasers enabling self-cleaning surfaces that repel water droplets and will not rust if tilted at a 4 degree angle; and medical researchers are exploring how brains rid themselves of toxic waste during sleep.

    Operated by Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC, for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration

    DOE’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) (US) is an American federal research facility in Livermore, California, United States, founded by the University of California-Berkeley (US) in 1952. A Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC), it is primarily funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and managed and operated by Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC (LLNS), a partnership of the University of California, Bechtel, BWX Technologies, AECOM, and Battelle Memorial Institute in affiliation with the Texas A&M University System (US). In 2012, the laboratory had the synthetic chemical element livermorium named after it.

    LLNL is self-described as “a premier research and development institution for science and technology applied to national security.” Its principal responsibility is ensuring the safety, security and reliability of the nation’s nuclear weapons through the application of advanced science, engineering and technology. The Laboratory also applies its special expertise and multidisciplinary capabilities to preventing the proliferation and use of weapons of mass destruction, bolstering homeland security and solving other nationally important problems, including energy and environmental security, basic science and economic competitiveness.

    The Laboratory is located on a one-square-mile (2.6 km^2) site at the eastern edge of Livermore. It also operates a 7,000 acres (28 km2) remote experimental test site, called Site 300, situated about 15 miles (24 km) southeast of the main lab site. LLNL has an annual budget of about $1.5 billion and a staff of roughly 5,800 employees.

    LLNL was established in 1952 as the University of California Radiation Laboratory at Livermore, an offshoot of the existing UC Radiation Laboratory at Berkeley. It was intended to spur innovation and provide competition to the nuclear weapon design laboratory at Los Alamos in New Mexico, home of the Manhattan Project that developed the first atomic weapons. Edward Teller and Ernest Lawrence, director of the Radiation Laboratory at Berkeley, are regarded as the co-founders of the Livermore facility.

    The new laboratory was sited at a former naval air station of World War II. It was already home to several UC Radiation Laboratory projects that were too large for its location in the Berkeley Hills above the UC campus, including one of the first experiments in the magnetic approach to confined thermonuclear reactions (i.e. fusion). About half an hour southeast of Berkeley, the Livermore site provided much greater security for classified projects than an urban university campus.

    Lawrence tapped 32-year-old Herbert York, a former graduate student of his, to run Livermore. Under York, the Lab had four main programs: Project Sherwood (the magnetic-fusion program), Project Whitney (the weapons-design program), diagnostic weapon experiments (both for the DOE’s Los Alamos National Laboratory(US) and Livermore laboratories), and a basic physics program. York and the new lab embraced the Lawrence “big science” approach, tackling challenging projects with physicists, chemists, engineers, and computational scientists working together in multidisciplinary teams. Lawrence died in August 1958 and shortly after, the university’s board of regents named both laboratories for him, as the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory.

    Historically, the DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (US) and Livermore laboratories have had very close relationships on research projects, business operations, and staff. The Livermore Lab was established initially as a branch of the Berkeley laboratory. The Livermore lab was not officially severed administratively from the Berkeley lab until 1971. To this day, in official planning documents and records, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is designated as Site 100, Lawrence Livermore National Lab as Site 200, and LLNL’s remote test location as Site 300.[3]

    The laboratory was renamed Lawrence Livermore Laboratory (LLL) in 1971. On October 1, 2007 LLNS assumed management of LLNL from the University of California, which had exclusively managed and operated the Laboratory since its inception 55 years before. The laboratory was honored in 2012 by having the synthetic chemical element livermorium named after it. The LLNS takeover of the laboratory has been controversial. In May 2013, an Alameda County jury awarded over $2.7 million to five former laboratory employees who were among 430 employees LLNS laid off during 2008.The jury found that LLNS breached a contractual obligation to terminate the employees only for “reasonable cause.” The five plaintiffs also have pending age discrimination claims against LLNS, which will be heard by a different jury in a separate trial. There are 125 co-plaintiffs awaiting trial on similar claims against LLNS. The May 2008 layoff was the first layoff at the laboratory in nearly 40 years.

    On March 14, 2011, the City of Livermore officially expanded the city’s boundaries to annex LLNL and move it within the city limits. The unanimous vote by the Livermore city council expanded Livermore’s southeastern boundaries to cover 15 land parcels covering 1,057 acres (4.28 km^2) that comprise the LLNL site. The site was formerly an unincorporated area of Alameda County. The LLNL campus continues to be owned by the federal government.


    DOE Seal


  • richardmitnick 12:33 pm on May 17, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "The Mediterranean's Largest Ever Earthquake Wasn't What We Thought Scientists Say", , , , , Science Alert (AU)   

    From Science Alert (AU) : “The Mediterranean’s Largest Ever Earthquake Wasn’t What We Thought Scientists Say” 


    From Science Alert (AU)

    16 MAY 2021

    Crete. Credit: NASA Earth Observatory (US).

    History tells us that in the year 365 CE, the Mediterranean region was rocked by a thunderous earthquake estimated as a magnitude 8.0 or higher. The quake and subsequent tsunami killed tens of thousands of people, destroying Alexandria in Egypt and several other cities.

    However, new research now suggests some previous assumptions about the quake and its seismic legacy might not be correct – and the findings could mean drastic changes for earthquake and tsunami modeling in the region today.

    Up until now, the general consensus has been that the Hellenic subduction zone underneath Crete caused the giant quake, but the latest evidence suggests a cluster of ‘normal faults’ offshore of western and southwestern Crete may have been behind the uplift of vast stretches of exposed ‘fossil beach’ along the Crete coastline.

    Fossil shoreline around Crete, showing the ground level rise. Credit: Richard Ott.

    “Our findings collectively favor the interpretation that damaging earthquakes and tsunamis in the Eastern Mediterranean can originate on normal faults, highlighting the potential hazard from tsunamigenic upper plate normal fault earthquakes,” the researchers write in their paper.

    By studying fossil shorelines exposed by seismic uplift and applying radiocarbon dating techniques, researchers were able to work backwards to figure out with more precision how the ground actually shifted to produce the ruptured landscape.

    The rise of the ground around the beaches – to a height of some 9 meters, or nearly 30 feet in some places – exposed and killed off huge amounts of marine organisms, the shells and skeletons of which reveal vital clues.

    Vermetids and corals were gathered from a total of eight sites around Crete, giving the researchers 32 new data points in terms of geological ages. Computer modeling was then used to fit these dates and locations in with possible seismic activity, with historical writings about earthquakes in the area also taken into consideration.

    The results suggest a series of quakes in the first centuries of the millennium likely caused the uplift, prior to the legendary 365 CE quake, which was previously assumed to be the culprit.

    The new hypothesis is backed up by some other evidence, including the apparent abandonment of the ancient harbor at Phalasarna around 66 CE – though the research team admits that the data is by no means conclusive at this stage.

    In other words, normal faults in the region might be capable of more destruction than was previously thought, and the 365 CE earthquake – which doesn’t seem to have exposed these sections of fossil beach after all – may have originated from normal faults, not the Hellenic subduction zone as many used to think.

    This isn’t just historical curiosity either: it means that modern-day earthquake predictions and modeling might need to be adjusted.

    While the danger from the Hellenic subduction zone might be less than previously thought, the danger from multiple normal faults could be greater than we realized – especially in terms of the clustered timing, which has been noted in studies before [JGR Solid Earth].

    The researchers want to see more seismic measurements and recordings taken around the Mediterranean region, particularly away from shorelines (where the bulk of the data from this study was taken).

    “Based on these findings and the better consistency with the long‐term record of crustal extension in the region, we favor a normal faulting origin for the 365 CE and earlier earthquakes,” conclude the researchers in their published paper.

    “However, we note that more research, and especially geophysical imaging, is required to adequately understand the tectonics and seismic hazard of the Hellenic subduction zone.”

    The research has been published in AGU Advances.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

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

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

    Columbia U bloc

    From Columbia University (US)



    Science Alert (AU)

    15 MAY 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Credit: Tumeggy/Science Photo Library/Getty Images.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    This research was published in Nature Communications.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

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

    University Mission Statement

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

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

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

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

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

  • richardmitnick 8:01 am on May 14, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , Science Alert (AU), ,   

    From Australian National University (AU) and From Science Alert (AU) : “Alien radioactive element prompts creation rethink” 

    ANU Australian National University Bloc

    From Australian National University (AU)



    From Science Alert (AU)

    From Australian National University (AU)
    14 May 2021

    National Aeronautics Space Agency (US) JPL-Caltech (US)/Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (US).

    The first-ever discovery of an extraterrestrial radioactive isotope on Earth has scientists rethinking the origins of the elements on our planet.

    The tiny traces of plutonium-244 were found in ocean crust alongside radioactive iron-60. The two isotopes are evidence of violent cosmic events in the vicinity of Earth millions of years ago.

    Star explosions, or supernovae create many of the heavy elements in the periodic table, including those vital for human life, such as iron, potassium and iodine.

    To form even heavier elements, such as gold, uranium and plutonium it was thought that a more violent event may be needed, such as two neutron stars merging.

    However, a study led by Professor Anton Wallner from The Australian National University (ANU) suggests a more complex picture.

    “The story is complicated – possibly this plutonium-244 was produced in supernova explosions or it could be left over from a much older, but even more spectacular event such as a neutron star detonation,” lead author of the study, Professor Wallner said.

    Any plutonium-244 and iron-60 that existed when the Earth formed from interstellar gas and dust over four billion years ago has long since decayed, so current traces of them must have originated from recent cosmic events in space.

    The dating of the sample confirms two or more supernova explosions occurred near Earth.

    “Our data could be the first evidence that supernovae do indeed produce plutonium-244,” Professor Wallner said

    “Or perhaps it was already in the interstellar medium before the supernova went off, and it was pushed across the solar system together with the supernova ejecta.”

    Professor Wallner also holds joint positions at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) and Dresden University of Technology [Technische Universität Dresden] (DE) in Germany, and conducted this work with researchers from Australia, Israel, Japan, Switzerland and Germany.

    The VEGA accelerator at Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, (ANSTO) in Sydney (AU) was used to identify the tiny traces of the plutonium-244.

    VEGA accelerator. Credit: ANSTO .

    The study has been published in Science.

    From Science Alert (AU)
    14 MAY 2021

    Credit: MEHAU KULYK/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images.

    Far down in the periodic table you’ll find a list of heavy elements born in chaos.

    The kind of chaos you might find in an exploding star perhaps, or a collision between two neutron stars.

    Physicists have uncovered a pair of large, still-radioactive isotopes in samples of deep-sea crust pulled up from 1,500 meters (nearly 5,000 feet) below the Pacific Ocean.

    We’d expect to see many heavyweight elements in the swirl of dust and gas that formed our planet eons ago – but most should have decayed into more stable forms long before now. So finding examples in Earth’s crust close to the surface today raises some interesting questions.

    The finding could tell us a thing or two about cataclysmic cosmic events taking place within a few hundred light-years from Earth, and relatively recently in our geological history. It could also shine a light on the way atomic heavyweights form.

    You see, building atoms takes a lot of energy. Protons can be squeezed into helium under the kind of gravity you’d find in a star, but stellar fusion will only take you so far. To build a chunky behemoth such as plutonium, you’ll need the kind of energy that can deliver a machine-gun burst of neutrons.

    There are a few conditions in the Universe under which this ‘rapid neutron capture’, or r-process, can occur, including supernovae and neutron star mergers.

    Over the history of the Universe, plenty of stars have crashed and popped to spill a thick dust of iron, uranium, plutonium, gold, and other fat atoms throughout the galaxy. So it’s to be expected that planets like Earth would have scooped up a good amount of them.

    But not all elements are born the same. Variations in the number of their neutrons make some more stable than others. Iron 60, for example, is a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ kind of isotope if you view it on the cosmic scale, with a half-life of just 2.6 million years before it decays into nickel.

    Finding this short-lived isotope on our planet today – especially in the crust, just out of reach of modern artificial processes – would imply a relatively recent delivery of iron fresh from the cosmos.

    Iron 60 has appeared in rock samples before, dating back just a couple of million years. It’s also been seen in materials brought back from the lunar surface.

    But to get a good sense of the specific kind of r-process that produced these specimens, it would pay to see what other isotopes rained down with them.

    Physicist Anton Wallner from the Australian National University led a team of researchers in search of new samples of iron 60 to see if they could identify isotopes of other heavy elements close by.

    What they found was plutonium 244, an isotope with a half-life of just over 80 million years – stable for plutonium, but hardly the kind of element you’d expect to stick around since our planet came together 4.5 billion years ago.

    In all, the team discovered two distinct influxes of iron 60 which had to have arrived within the past 10 million years. Both samples were accompanied by small but significant quantities of plutonium 244, each in a similar ratio.

    Finding them together adds more detail than finding either apart. The amount of plutonium in them is lower than would be expected if supernovae were primarily responsible for their production, pointing to contributions from other r-processes.

    Exactly what was behind this particular sprinkle of alien space dust is left up to our imagination for now.

    “The story is complicated,” says Wallner.

    “Possibly this plutonium-244 was produced in supernova explosions or it could be left over from a much older, but even more spectacular event such as a neutron star detonation.”

    By measuring their respective radioactive fuses and making a few assumptions on the astrophysics behind their distribution, the researchers speculate the production of iron 60 is compatible with two to four supernova events going off between 50 and 100 parsecs (around 160 and 330 light years) of Earth.

    This isn’t the first time iron 60 has indicated a supernova taking place perilously close by in recent history.

    By looking at the isotope in connection with other elements, we could slowly build a signature that tells us more about the crash-bang conditions of our neighborhood in the millions of years before humans started to pay close attention.

    It’ll take more hunting for alien isotopes, though.

    “Our data could be the first evidence that supernovae do indeed produce plutonium-244,” says Wallner.

    “Or perhaps it was already in the interstellar medium before the supernova went off, and it was pushed across the Solar System together with the supernova ejecta.”

    This research was published in Science [above].

    See the full Australian National University (AU) article here .

    See the full Science Alert article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    ANU Campus

    Australian National University (AU) is a world-leading university in Australia’s capital city, Canberra. Our location points to our unique history, ties to the Australian Government and special standing as a resource for the Australian people.

    Our focus on research as an asset, and an approach to education, ensures our graduates are in demand the world-over for their abilities to understand, and apply vision and creativity to addressing complex contemporary challenges.

    Australian National University (AU) is regarded as one of the world’s leading research universities, and is ranked as the number one university in Australia and the Southern Hemisphere by the 2021 QS World University Rankings. It is ranked 31st in the world by the 2021 QS World University Rankings, and 59th in the world (third in Australia) by the 2021 Times Higher Education.

    In the 2020 Times Higher Education Global Employability University Ranking, an annual ranking of university graduates’ employability, Australian National University (AU) was ranked 15th in the world (first in Australia). According to the 2020 QS World University by Subject, the university was also ranked among the top 10 in the world for Anthropology, Earth and Marine Sciences, Geography, Geology, Philosophy, Politics, and Sociology.

    Established in 1946, ANU is the only university to have been created by the Parliament of Australia. It traces its origins to Canberra University College, which was established in 1929 and was integrated into Australian National University (AU) in 1960. Australian National University (AU) enrolls 10,052 undergraduate and 10,840 postgraduate students and employs 3,753 staff. The university’s endowment stood at A$1.8 billion as of 2018.

    Australian National University (AU) counts six Nobel laureates and 49 Rhodes scholars among its faculty and alumni. The university has educated two prime ministers, 30 current Australian ambassadors and more than a dozen current heads of government departments of Australia. The latest releases of ANU’s scholarly publications are held through ANU Press online.

  • richardmitnick 6:59 am on May 14, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Astronomers Discover What Could Be One of The Oldest Stars in The Known Universe", , , , , , S-PLUS photometry, Science Alert (AU), SPLUS J210428.01−004934.2-an ultra-metal-poor star selected from its narrow-band S-PLUS photometry and confirmed by medium- and high-resolution spectroscopy., The researchers performed their analysis using photometry-a technique that measures the intensity of light., UMP stars-ultra-metal-poor stars   

    From NSF’s NOIRLab (National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory) (US) via Science Alert (AU) : “Astronomers Discover What Could Be One of The Oldest Stars in The Known Universe” 

    From NSF’s NOIRLab (National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory) (US)



    Science Alert (AU)

    14 MAY 2021

    L2 Puppis, a red giant star like SPLUS J2104-0049. (ESO [Observatoire européen austral][Europäische Südsternwarte] (EU)/Digitized Sky Survey 2)

    A red giant star 16,000 light-years away appears to be a bona fide member of just the second generation of stars in the Universe.

    According to an analysis of its chemical abundances, it seems to contain elements produced in the life and death of just a single first-generation star. Therefore, with its help, we might even find the first generation of stars ever born – none of which have yet been discovered.

    Additionally, the researchers performed their analysis using photometry-a technique that measures the intensity of light, thus offering a new way to find such ancient objects.

    “We report the discovery of SPLUS J210428.01−004934.2 (hereafter SPLUS J2104−0049), an ultra-metal-poor star selected from its narrow-band S-PLUS photometry and confirmed by medium- and high-resolution spectroscopy,” the researchers wrote in their paper, The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

    Follow-up medium- and high-resolution spectroscopy (with Gemini South and Magellan-Clay, respectively) confirmed the effectiveness of the search for low-metallicity stars using the S-PLUS narrowband photometry.

    “These proof-of-concept observations are part of an ongoing effort to spectroscopically confirm low-metallicity candidates identified from narrow-band photometry.”

    Although we feel like we have a pretty good grasp of how the Universe grew from the Big Bang to the star-studded glory we know and love today, the first stars to turn on their blinking lights in the primordial darkness, known as Population III stars, remain something of a mystery.

    Current day star-formation processes give us some clues about how these early stars came together, but until we find them, we’re basing our understanding on incomplete information.

    One trail of breadcrumbs are the Population II stars – the next few generations following Population III. Of those, the generation immediately succeeding Population III are perhaps the most exciting, since they are the closest in composition to Population III.

    We can identify them by their extremely low abundance of elements like carbon, iron, oxygen, magnesium and lithium, detected by analysing the spectrum of light emitted by the star, which contains the chemical fingerprints of the elements therein.

    That’s because, before stars came into existence, there were no heavy elements – the Universe was a sort of cloudy soup of mostly hydrogen and helium. When the first stars formed, this is what they ought to have been made of, too – it’s via the process of thermonuclear fusion in their cores that the heavier elements were formed.

    First, hydrogen is fused into helium, then helium into carbon, and so forth all the way down to iron, depending on the mass of the star (the smallest ones don’t have enough energy to fuse helium into carbon, and end their lives when they reach that point). Even the most massive stars don’t have enough energy to fuse iron; when their core is entirely iron, they go supernova.

    These colossal cosmic explosions spew all that fused material out into nearby space; in addition, the explosions are so energetic, they generate a series of nuclear reactions that forge even heavier elements, such as gold, silver, thorium and uranium. Baby stars then forming from clouds that contain these materials have higher metallicity than the stars that came before.

    Today’s stars – Population I – have the highest metallicity. (By-the-by, this does mean that eventually no new stars will be able to form, since the Universe’s hydrogen supply is finite – good times.) And stars that were born when the Universe was very young have very low metallicity, with the earliest stars known as ultra-metal-poor stars or UMP stars.

    These UMPs are considered bona fide Population II stars, enriched by material from just a single Population III supernova.

    Using a photometric survey called S-PLUS, a team of astronomers led by the National Science Foundation’s NOIRLab identified SPLUS J210428-004934, and although it doesn’t have the lowest metallicity we’ve detected yet (that honor belongs to SMSS J0313-6708), it has an average metallicity for a UMP star.

    It also has the lowest carbon abundance astronomers have ever seen in an ultra-metal-poor star. This could give us an important new constraint on the progenitor star and stellar evolution models for very low metallicities, the researchers said.

    To figure out how the star could have formed, they performed theoretical modeling. They found the chemical abundances observed in SPLUS J210428-004934, including the low carbon and the more normal UMP star abundances of other elements, could best be reproduced by a high-energy supernova of a single Population III star 29.5 times the mass of the Sun.

    However, the closest fits from the modeling still were unable to produce enough silicon to exactly replicate SPLUS J210428-004934. They recommended looking for more ancient stars with similar chemical properties to try to resolve this strange discrepancy.

    “Additional UMP stars identified from S-PLUS photometry will greatly improve our understanding of Pop III stars and enable the possibility of finding a metal-free low-mass star still living in our Galaxy today,” the researchers wrote.

    See the full article here.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    What is NOIRLab?

    NSF’s NOIRLab (National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory) (US), the US center for ground-based optical-infrared astronomy, operates the international Gemini Observatory (US) (a facility of National Science Foundation (US), NRC–Canada, ANID–Chile, MCTIC–Brazil, MINCyT–Argentina, and Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute [한국천문연구원] (KR)), NOAO Kitt Peak National Observatory(US) (KPNO), Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory(CL) (CTIO), the Community Science and Data Center (CSDC), and Vera C. Rubin Observatory (in cooperation with DOE’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (US)). It is managed by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) (US) under a cooperative agreement with NSF and is headquartered in Tucson, Arizona. The astronomical community is honored to have the opportunity to conduct astronomical research on Iolkam Du’ag (Kitt Peak) in Arizona, on Maunakea in Hawaiʻi, and on Cerro Tololo and Cerro Pachón in Chile. We recognize and acknowledge the very significant cultural role and reverence that these sites have to the Tohono O’odham Nation, to the Native Hawaiian community, and to the local communities in Chile, respectively.

    National Science Foundation(US) NOIRLab (US) NOAO (US) Kitt Peak National Observatory (US) on Kitt Peak of the Quinlan Mountains in the Arizona-Sonoran Desert on the Tohono O’odham Nation, 88 kilometers (55 mi) west-southwest of Tucson, Arizona, Altitude 2,096 m (6,877 ft). annotated.

    NOIRLab(US)NOAO Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory(CL) approximately 80 km to the East of La Serena, Chile, at an altitude of 2200 meters.

    The NOAO-Community Science and Data Center(US)

    The NSF NOIRLab Vera C. Rubin Observatory. It is managed by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy(US) under a cooperative agreement with NSF and is headquartered in Tucson, Arizona. The astronomical community is honored to have the opportunity to conduct astronomical research on Iolkam Du’ag (Kitt Peak) in Arizona, on Maunakea in Hawaiʻi, and on Cerro Tololo and Cerro Pachón in Chile. We recognize and acknowledge the very significant cultural role and reverence that these sites have to the Tohono O’odham Nation, to the Native Hawaiian community, and to the local communities in Chile, respectively.

    NSF (US) NOIRLab (US) NOAO (US) Vera C. Rubin Observatory [LSST] Telescope currently under construction on the El Peñón peak at Cerro Pachón Chile, a 2,682-meter-high mountain in Coquimbo Region, in northern Chile, alongside the existing NSF (US) NOIRLab (US) NOAO (US) Gemini South Telescope and NSF (US) NOIRLab (US) NOAO (US) Southern Astrophysical Research Telescope.

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