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  • richardmitnick 12:28 pm on March 30, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "NASA lays out vision for robotic Mars exploration", A low-cost NASA mission line could see helicopters and microlanders sent to the surface of Mars., , , In 2018 Mars Cube One-a pair of small spacecraft-flew along with the InSight lander successfully relaying its signal to Earth as they flew past the planet., Last year a workshop looking at low-cost Mars missions drew nearly 400 attendees with 39 missions proposed., NASA envisions a series of lower cost Mars missions costing up to $300 million at every 2-year launch window., NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services is paying commercial providers to carry payloads to the Moon’s surface., , Science Magazine, The Ingenuity helicopter on Mars which landed with Perseverance is about to take off on its 49th flight—44 more flights than planned., The Mars sample return mission will remain the program’s biggest component for the near future., The proposed Mars program is not yet approved and will be revised with the input of the scientific community. NASA would still periodically pursue more complex—and costly—Mars missions.   

    From “Science Magazine” : “NASA lays out vision for robotic Mars exploration” 

    From “Science Magazine”

    Paul Voosen

    A low-cost NASA mission line could see helicopters and microlanders sent to the surface of Mars.Credit:ISRO/SSDC/Justin Cowart.

    Rover by rover, NASA’s exploration of Mars is building to an expensive climax: a multibillion-dollar mission later this decade to collect the rock samples currently being gathered by the Perseverance rover and return them to Earth. But then what?

    NASA offered a partial answer to that question today. It envisions a series of lower cost Mars missions, costing up to $300 million, at every 2-year launch window. The program could begin as soon as 2030, said Eric Ianson, director of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, in a presentation today to the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. “We’re at this inflection point,” Ianson said. “This is a good opportunity for the proposing community to get really creative.”

    The proposed Mars program, which is not yet approved and will be revised with the input of the scientific community, would still periodically pursue more complex—and costly—Mars missions. One possibility is a $1.1 billion robotic lander, called the Mars Life Explorer, that would drill 2 meters into midlatitude ice deposits—a top recommendation of last year’s “decadal survey” of planetary scientists. Ianson said NASA would also like to replace the communications and high-resolution imagery capabilities provided by its aging orbiters.

    For several years, planetary scientists have been investigating what cheaper missions to Mars might look like. In 2018, Mars Cube One, a pair of small spacecraft, flew along with the InSight lander, successfully relaying its signal to Earth as they flew past the planet.

    And the Ingenuity helicopter on Mars, which landed with Perseverance, is about to take off on its 49th flight—44 more flights than planned.

    Last year, a workshop looking at low-cost Mars missions drew nearly 400 attendees, with 39 missions proposed. Some were orbiters that would study martian winds, weather, or tiny variations in the planet’s gravitational pull. Other ideas included using standalone helicopters carrying instruments to study Mars’s geology, and parachutes to put microlanders at the poles to survey liquid water. All would be riskier than previous missions.

    Ianson expects the missions to benefit from the increased availability of small rocket launch providers. But getting small spacecraft out of low-Earth orbit remains a major hurdle. The agency is now exploring the possibility of tug-craft that could nudge the missions out of orbit and on to Mars, Ianson said.

    Scientific payloads could also be added to non-NASA spacecraft going to the planet, Ianson said. “These are missions of opportunity,” he said. “We’re entering an era where others are going to Mars.” A model for that concept is NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services, which is paying commercial providers to carry payloads to the Moon’s surface.

    The Mars sample return mission will remain the program’s biggest component for the near future, with $949 million requested in the 2024 fiscal year. Cost overruns from Psyche, a mission to a metallic asteroid, and the Europa Clipper, a mission to Jupiter’s icy moon, are straining the planetary science division’s budget, which funds the Mars program.

    Even with a planetary budget this year of $3.2 billion–more than any other science division—the agency was forced to postpone its planned Venus orbiter, VERITAS, for several years—to the great consternation of planetary scientists.

    See the full article here .

    Comments are invited and will be appreciated, especially if the reader finds any errors which I can correct. Use “Reply”.


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  • richardmitnick 9:02 am on March 29, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Earliest galaxies challenge ideas about star birth in infant universe", , Astronomers are now applying the gold standard method: analyzing the galaxies’ spectra in detail to see how much their light has been stretched by the expansion of the universe., , , , Discoveries by giant new space telescope JWST are getting too big for theorists to ignore., JWST astronomers have found more than 15 galaxies shining within the first half-billion years of the 13.7-billion-year-old universe—far too many according to theorists’ models of galaxy formation., Science Magazine, , The spectra have confirmed nine of the early galaxies including two added to the roster this week following JWST observations on 24 March.   

    From “Science Magazine” : “Earliest galaxies challenge ideas about star birth in infant universe” 

    From “Science Magazine”

    Daniel Clery

    Discoveries by giant new space telescope JWST are getting too big for theorists to ignore.

    Within Pandora’s Cluster, the JWST space telescope has spotted a few galaxies from the early universe.Credit: Ivo Labbe/Swinburne; Rachel Bezanson/University of Pittsburgh; Alyssa Pagan/STScI /NASA/ESA/CSA.

    Charlotte Mason, an astrophysicist at the University of Copenhagen, had modest expectations 9 months ago, when she and her collaborators began to use JWST, the giant new space telescope, to look back in time for the universe’s first galaxies. Modeling suggested the patch of sky they were examining would hold just 0.2 galaxies—none, in other words, unless they got lucky. Yet out of the images popped not one, but two bright galaxies. “That was the biggest surprise to me,” she says.

    The surprises have kept coming. JWST astronomers have found more than 15 galaxies shining within the first half-billion years of the 13.7-billion-year-old universe—far too many according to theorists’ models of galaxy formation. Initial estimates of the galaxies’ age and distance come from their brightness at particular wavelengths, but astronomers are now applying the gold standard method: analyzing the galaxies’ spectra in detail to see how much their light has been stretched by the expansion of the universe. The spectra have confirmed nine of the early galaxies, including two added to the roster this week following JWST observations on 24 March. “This is the most exciting period of my recent life,” Casey Papovich of Texas A&M University, College Station, told astronomers last week at a meeting at the Kavli Institute for Cosmology in Cambridge, England.

    The discoveries are leaving theorists scratching their heads. The standard theory of cosmology, lambda-cold dark matter (ΛCDM), says clouds of dark matter—the mysterious stuff making up 85% of the universe’s mass—began to clump up into halos soon after the big bang.

    The halos’ strong gravity sucked in gas, which collapsed to form stars. ΛCDM cannot account for the excess galaxies astronomers are seeing, but few astronomers are ready to tear it up. “Let’s get a bigger population,” says Alice Shapley of the University of California-Los Angeles. “Then it will be time to look at theories.”

    Instead, cosmologists wonder whether the excess of galaxies in the newborn universe is more apparent than real. It could be that surveys so far have, by chance, zoomed in on areas dense with galaxies. The apparent excess could also arise if the galaxies are merely overly bright and stuffed with stars, so more of them poke above the threshold that JWST can see. But that creates a new theoretical problem: Why are they so bright and full of stars? “There’s no convincing explanation yet,” says Richard Ellis of University College London.

    In young galaxies closer to Earth, feedback limits the rate of star formation. Theorists believe baby stars emit stellar winds: streams of particles that slow the process by blowing gas out of the galaxy. Adding to the effect are supernovae, which occur when fast-burning stars run out of fuel, collapsing and triggering explosions that blow away gas and surround the galaxy with dust, scattering its light and giving it a reddish hue. The galaxy’s gravity draws some of the gas back in, but star formation efficiency, a measure of stars formed per unit of gas, typically sticks below 10%.

    Avishai Dekel of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem argues that star formation must have been more efficient in the early universe, which was physically much smaller. The gas from which stars form would have been 1000 times denser than it is after billions of years of expansion, making star formation easier. Moreover, that primordial gas was not yet enriched with the heavier elements and dust forged by supernovae. As a result, the stellar winds of these first stars would have been less intense than today—and a weaker brake on star formation. For 1 million years or so, Dekel says, these galaxies could churn out stars with a formation efficiency of nearly 100%. “All galaxies at this epoch should make a feedback-free starburst if they are massive enough.” What’s more, the lack of dust would have allowed the stars to shine more brightly than comparable stars today, and at the bluer wavelengths seen by JWST.

    Andrea Ferrara of the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa, Italy, takes a different tack. He says the dense galaxies of the early universe would ramp up star formation in cycles that repeat every 100 million years. During the star-forming phases, the radiation pressure from the stars would blast out dust, making the galaxies appear bright and blue.

    Ferrara finds some evidence to support the model: The JWST spectrum of one distant galaxy, GNz-11, had one spectral line—for hydrogen gas—shifted out of place as if the gas was moving at 300 kilometers per second. “We see clear signs of outflowing material,” with radiation pressure sweeping out both hydrogen and dust, he says. JWST has also spied a galaxy without signs of star formation 700 million years after the big bang, which Ferrara suggests could be in a quiet phase between star-forming bursts.

    Another possible explanation for the galaxies’ surprising brightness is that it was driven not by stars, but massive black holes at their hearts. Hot disks of dust and gas swirling down the gravitational drains of monster black holes are what drive quasars, some of the brightest objects in the universe. But astronomers have not seen quasars any earlier than about 650 million years after the big bang, and they struggle to explain how their black holes could have grown big enough to blaze brightly much earlier. Nonetheless, at the Kavli conference Papovich showed the JWST spectrum of a galaxy from when the universe was 550 million years old. It showed a hint of light being both stretched and squeezed—a telltale sign of swirling gases around a black hole. Ellis still isn’t convinced giant black holes could form early enough. “The black hole idea is the most extreme,” he says.

    Few want to countenance an even more extreme option: that the ΛCDM model is at fault. It could be tweaked to produce more dark matter halos or larger ones able to concentrate gas more quickly into bigger galaxies. But theorists are loath to tinker with it because it explains so many things so well: the observed distribution of galaxies, the abundances of primordial gases, and the accelerating expansion of the universe. “We’d be at risk of screwing everything else up,” Ferrara says. “You’d need to be pretty desperate.”

    See the full article here .

    Comments are invited and will be appreciated, especially if the reader finds any errors which I can correct. Use “Reply”.


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  • richardmitnick 9:21 am on March 24, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Compact x-ray laser would shrink billion-dollar machines to the size of a room", , , , , Science Magazine,   

    From “Science Magazine” And From The Arizona State University: “Compact x-ray laser would shrink billion-dollar machines to the size of a room” 

    From “Science Magazine”


    From The Arizona State University

    Katie McCormick | Science Magazine

    A compact free-electron laser will accelerate electrons to produce pulses of x-ray light in a space of just 10 meters. Credit: Arizona State University.

    When the first x-ray free-electron laser (XFEL) opened in 2009 at the DOE’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, it provided a new way to look at the atomic-scale world, revealing details about biochemical processes such as photosynthesis and exotic materials such as superconductors. But since then, only four other such billion-dollar facilities have been built worldwide, and getting time on them is difficult.

    A group of researchers at Arizona State University, Tempe, now plans to build a new kind of free-electron laser, dramatically smaller and cheaper than anything that has come before. This month, ASU announced it would embark on the $170 million Compact X-ray Free Electron Laser (CXFEL) project after it received a $91 million grant from the National Science Foundation. The design could put the machines within reach of university laboratories and expand their accessibility.



    From Arizona State University

    Sandra Leander
    Assistant Director of Media Relations , ASU Knowledge Enterprise

    National Science Foundation awards $90.8M to ASU to advance X-ray science

    The National Science Foundation today announced $90.8 million in funding to Arizona State University — the largest NSF research award in the university’s history — to advance groundbreaking research in X-ray science.

    The NSF award will support a five-year project to build the world’s first Compact X-ray Free Electron Laser, or CXFEL. This one-of-a-kind, room-sized X-ray laser instrument will fill a critical need for researchers to explore the intricacies of complex matter at atomic length and ultrafast time.

    The CXFEL will allow scientists to observe biology’s molecular processes in detail — processes that are important for understanding human health and developing new medicines and drugs. It will also help investigators advance renewable energy research, quantum technologies, and semiconductor research and manufacturing.

    Additionally, the CXFEL will dramatically shrink the size of the technology used by existing large-scale X-ray Free-Electron Laser (XFEL) facilities, allowing it to be housed in a university, medical or industrial setting. Its reduced size will make this technology accessible to more research institutions at a fraction of the cost.

    “This innovation is one that will directly benefit our local, national and global communities in profound ways,” ASU President Michael M. Crow said. “We have entered a new frontier in making scientific discovery more accessible and more affordable. This is one of the most significant ASU research projects to date and it is one that will have a positive impact in many critical areas related to the world’s grand challenges.”

    In addition to the $90 million NSF grant, the university is investing approximately $80 million for the instrument, related infrastructure, facilities and support. The $170 million “will place ASU in a new era of science,” Crow said

    The CXFEL will be built and housed at ASU Biodesign Institute’s Compact X-ray Free Electron Laser Labs on the Tempe campus. A diverse team of ASU engineers, scientists and students have worked together for a decade, laying the groundwork to bring this innovative and impactful project to fruition.

    “It’s exciting and fulfilling to know that our team’s long-term efforts to make the CXFEL a reality are paying off, and we’re grateful for the support of the NSF and the forward-thinking leadership at ASU,” said Professor Bill Graves, chief scientist and principal investigator on the project. “We believe we’ll have full control of X-ray laser properties for the first time, producing beams that can probe the quantum limits of nature. This will be a boon for a wide range of imaginative scientists working to unlock the secrets of biology, chemistry, physics and new materials.”

    The potential for groundbreaking discovery is significant as the applications for CXFEL technology cut across many research disciplines.

    In the medical field, as one example, the CXFEL’s ability to make images and movies on a molecular scale could reveal how viruses such as SARS-CoV-2 attack cells or how drugs bind to target proteins. This potentially paves the way for safer, more effective pharmaceuticals that could help fight both emergent and long-standing diseases. Also, the CXFEL could reveal the dynamics and structure of the molecular causes of diseases like cancer or show the process by which cancer cells hide from the immune system.

    “The CXFEL’s laser X-ray capabilities and accessibility provide a technology we need for innovative research that can propel successful and meaningful advances in science,” said Joshua LaBaer, executive director of the ASU Biodesign Institute. “Molecular and materials science will never be the same.”

    The CXFEL’s powerful imaging capability could also advance semiconductor designs at a time when domestic manufacturing is a national priority, and potentially usher in faster, more efficient electronics. The CXFEL will add to ASU’s portfolio of support for Arizona’s rapidly growing identity as a global semiconductor hub.

    Quantum materials — materials in which quantum behavior results in new properties — are not well understood, yet critical to advancing technology from magnetic memory to new sensing and communications platforms. The CXFEL could help to decode the physics of these exotic materials, allowing them to be used across a range of industries. These materials are critical for quantum computing and Quantum Information Science and Technology.

    “Bringing this kind of transformative innovation into the world is what ASU is designed to do. The importance of the new CXFEL instrument and the impact it will make in science, human health and many of the crucial issues facing our world is significant. We truly are changing the way the world solves problems,” said Sally C. Morton, executive vice president of the ASU Knowledge Enterprise.

    Illustration explaining how the CFXEL works. ASU.

    The Compact X-ray Free Electron Laser (CXFEL) fits in a traditional lab space at a fraction of the massive cost of traditional X-ray Free Electron Lasers (XFELs). This technology will help investigators advance medicine and drug development, renewable energy research, quantum technologies, and semiconductor research and manufacturing. The CXLS, a prototype of the CXFEL, appears here. Photo courtesy Arizona State University.

    Assistant Professor Samuel Teitelbaum stands by a newly commissioned prototype instrument called the Compact X-ray Light Source (CXLS). With the new NSF award, ASU will build a second, more advanced $90 million instrument, the world’s first Compact X-ray Free Electron Laser (CXFEL), that will push the boundaries of compact X-ray science. Photo courtesy Arizona State University.

    These powerful magnets will focus and direct the electrons to collide with the powerful focused infrared laser pulses. The collision produces short femtosecond X-ray pulses (one femtosecond is one-billionth of one-millionth of a second). This ultrafast timescale is what can open new frontiers in science, capturing the fastest processes in chemistry and physics. Photo courtesy Arizona State University.

    It takes a team

    The ASU CXFEL project includes a talented team of faculty, staff and students, as well as collaborators from 10 universities and research institutions. ASU students have played and will continue to play a big role in working at the CXFEL facility. Once operational, more than half of the CXFEL workforce will be students, providing hands-on training for the next generation of X-ray research scientists.

    The CXFEL project leadership team includes:

    William (Bill) Graves, project director and principal investigator for the CXFEL. He is a professor with the ASU College of Integrative Sciences and Arts and leader of CXFEL accelerator development.

    Mark Holl, chief engineer and deputy director for the CXFEL. Holl is responsible for technical and systems integration and ensuring that the technical requirements are consistent across the design, fabrication and assembly efforts for the CXFEL.

    Petra Fromme, scientific director of CXFEL. She is a Regents Professor with the ASU School of Molecular Sciences, director of the Biodesign Center for Applied Structural Discovery and leader of the CXFEL biology program.

    Robert Kaindl, director of the Beus CXFEL Laboratory at ASU and professor with the ASU Department of Physics. He leads the validation phases of the CXFEL and transition to operations.

    Sam Teitelbaum, quantum materials program leader and assistant professor with the ASU Department of Physics. He implements many novel techniques in ultrafast science.

    Arvinder Sandhu, atomic, molecular and optical program leader and professor with the University of Arizona Department of Physics. He also leads the development of advanced laser technologies for the CXFEL.

    ​​David Winkel, CXFEL project manager at ASU. He is responsible for keeping the project on schedule and within budget, managing risk and reporting to NSF.

    Deanna Clark, assistant director of operations for the CXFEL. She is responsible for managing the people, procurement and business operations of the project.

    Collaborators on the NSF award include Harvard University; Kansas State University; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; University of Arizona; State University of New York at Buffalo; University of California, Davis; University of Nebraska, Lincoln; University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

    This construction award is a follow-up to a previous award of $4.7 million under the NSF midscale research RI-1 program to design the CXFEL. In addition, a $10 million donation from Annette and the late Leo Beus supported the construction of the CXLS and ASU’s CXFEL Labs, along with significant ASU infrastructure investments.

    Biodesign Institute and its CXFEL Labs are partially supported by Arizona’s Technology and Research Initiative Fund. TRIF investment has enabled hands-on training for tens of thousands of students across Arizona’s universities, thousands of scientific discoveries and patented technologies, and hundreds of new startup companies. Publicly supported through voter approval, TRIF is an essential resource for growing Arizona’s economy and providing opportunities for Arizona residents to work, learn and thrive.
    “It’s an elegant idea,” says Claudio Pellegrini, a physicist at SLAC who first proposed its XFEL in 1992. “Everybody would like to make a smaller system.”

    XFELs are excellent probes of the atomic world because short-wavelength x-rays can resolve details that would be invisible to longer wavelength light. Moreover, the short, femtosecond x-ray pulses work like a high-speed camera, helping researchers capture ultrafast processes such as the movement of electrons and atoms.

    To reach such supreme spatial and temporal resolution, a standard XFEL requires a kilometer-long linear accelerator. It boosts electrons up to energies of 10 gigaelectronvolts (GeV), or 99.9999995% the speed of light. Then, the electrons pass through “undulators”—a series of magnets arranged in alternating polarity. The electrons emit x-rays as they wiggle through the magnetic fields. Interactions between the light and the electrons cause the electrons to bunch up and radiate in concert like a laser.

    The ASU team plans to replace the bulky magnetic undulators with a laser shone directly into the oncoming train of electrons. The laser, like all electromagnetic emissions, has a magnetic field associated with it, says Bill Graves, an ASU physicist and CXFEL’s chief scientist. “When the electrons encounter the laser, they will wiggle just like they do in an undulator.” But where the polarity of undulator fields alternates over a few centimeters, the laser’s field seesaws along with the wavelength of the light—just 1 micrometer.

    This ultrahigh-frequency undulator means electrons can be made to wiggle and emit x-rays at much lower energies. They only need to be accelerated to a mere 30 megaelectronvolts, a much easier feat than the 10 GeV needed in a standard XFEL. This vastly reduces the footprint of the XFEL, bringing it down from 1 kilometer to just 10 meters.

    With a lower energy electron beam, the team can use crystal diffractors and magnets to finely pattern the electrons into tightly packed bunches. The bunched electrons wiggle more synchronously with one another and as a result, produce more coherent x-ray light. The bunching also results in a shorter pulse of less than a femtosecond.

    Such short pulses could potentially reveal the way chlorophyll molecules capture sunlight during photosynthesis, says Petra Fromme, an ASU biochemist and CXFEL team member. “We can look at things that nobody has seen before.”

    Sam Teitelbaum, an ASU physicist, plans to use CXFEL as a sensitive probe of electron behavior in materials, which can produce a host of unexplained phenomena, from high-temperature superconductivity to exotic magnetic states. Lessons learned could inspire new superconducting materials or more reliable data storage devices.

    Although the new device will have fast, coherent pulses, it won’t pack nearly the same punch as a standard XFEL. Its pulses are much less bright and the individual x-ray photons have longer wavelengths than those from its larger predecessors. This means the CXFEL will miss some of the tiniest details that larger XFELs can see. On the other hand, the lower energy pulses will cause less damage to samples that are typically obliterated by the larger facilities.

    “The big machines—they’re like a hammer,” Graves says. “We’re more like a scalpel.”

    Pellegrini remains cautious in the face of such an ambitious project. In particular, he says, the team’s plan to shape the electron pulses has not yet been demonstrated. “Before selling it as an XFEL there is a lot of work to do.”

    Still, the researchers behind the project are optimistic. They’ve already begun to build CXFEL and expect to be operating it in 5 years. “Anytime that you can see things moving faster, you’re going to get a sense of how dynamic the world is at that time scale,” Teitelbaum says. “There is definitely going to be some problem that’s going to be totally broken open by this fact.”

    See the full Science Magazine article here .

    See the full Arizona State University article here .

    Comments are invited and will be appreciated, especially if the reader finds any errors which I can correct. Use “Reply”.


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    The Arizona State University Tempe Campus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • richardmitnick 8:10 pm on March 23, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Major shake-up coming for Fermilab - the troubled U.S. particle physics center", , Department of Energy opens new competition for contract to manage the storied facility., DOE reviewers lamented Fermilab’s poor management of the largest project the 56-year-old laboratory has ever undertaken [DUNE]., Fermilab may not deserve all the blame. Possibly it is the DOE that has a problem and is blaming the lab., FRA officials acknowledge that Fermilab was not prepared to run a huge construction project. There were all sorts of things that the lab did not have: capacity or size or scale for the project., , In 2015 DOE estimated the project would cost $1.5 billion and start to generate data in 2025. By late 2021 the cost estimate had more than doubled to $3.1 billion and the schedule had slipped 4 years., In 2021 DOE gave Fermilab’s performance a B whereas a B+ is needed to pass., In an unusual move the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has quietly begun a new competition for the contract to run the United States’s sole dedicated particle physics laboratory., Many physicists say the lab also has problems beyond the neutrino experiment. Fermilab often lags in disbursing funding to collaborators at universities multiple sources say., Merminga recently led development of a $978 million proton accelerator. The lab’s 2022 performance review commends her “for demonstrating a good understanding of [DOE’s] concerns., Only rarely does DOE have to seek a new contractor because of performance problems., Physicists are preparing to shoot a beam of neutrinos from the lab in Batavia Illinois to an underground detector 1300 kilometers away in an abandoned and refitted mine in Lead South Dakota., Science Magazine, Scientists say Fermilab has had trouble overseeing construction work at the mine., Since 2007 UChicago has run Fermilab with the Universities Research Association (URA) and a consortium of research universities in a partnership called the Fermi Research Alliance (FRA)., The DOE hires other parties to run its 17 national labs on 5-year contracts that can be renewed annually for another 15 years or more., The DOE intends to award the new contract by the end of the next fiscal year 30 September 2024., The DOE reviewers lamented Fermilab’s poor management of the largest project the 56-year-old laboratory has ever undertaken., The exploding demands of LBNF/DUNE forced Lockyer to slash other smaller projects which alienated the physicists who worked on them., The lab’s previous director-Nigel Lockyer-dismissed many longtime managers and replaced them with poorly suited newcomers., The problems reveal a fundamental weakness of both FRA and URA. They don’t have enough people and they have no assets., The task of righting the ship now lies with Lia Merminga who became the lab’s director in April 2022., UChicago hopes to win the contract again.   

    From “Science Magazine” : “Major shake-up coming for Fermilab – the troubled U.S. particle physics center” 

    From “Science Magazine”

    Adrian Cho

    Department of Energy opens new competition for contract to manage the storied facility.

    Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, outside Chicago, is the United States’s only dedicated particle physics laboratory. It is building a giant neutrino experiment that is billions overbudget and years behind schedule.RYAN POSTEL/FERMILAB

    In an unusual move the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has quietly begun a new competition for the contract to run the United States’s sole dedicated particle physics laboratory. Announced in January, the rebid comes 1 year after Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), which is managed in part by the University of Chicago (UChicago), failed an annual DOE performance review and 9 months after it named a new director. DOE would not comment, but observers say its frustrations include cost increases and delays in a gargantuan new neutrino experiment.

    “I don’t think it’s surprising at all given the department’s evaluation of [Fermilab’s] performance,” says James Decker, a physicist and consultant with Decker, Garman, Sullivan & Associates, LLC, who served as principal deputy director of DOE’s Office of Science from 1973 to 2007. Although Fermilab passed its 2022 performance evaluation, the one for fiscal year 2021 was “one of the most scathing I have seen,” Decker says.

    DOE hires other parties to run its 17 national labs on 5-year contracts that can be renewed annually for another 15 years or more. Only rarely does DOE seek a new contractor because of performance problems. Since 2007 The University of Chicago has run Fermilab with the Universities Research Association (URA) and a consortium of research universities [citations needed] in a partnership called the Fermi Research Alliance (FRA). The university also runs the DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory.

    DOE has already solicited letters of interest and will issue a request for formal proposals this summer. It intends to award the new contract by the end of the next fiscal year 30 September 2024, and transfer control of the lab, which employs 2100 staff and has an annual budget of $614 million, on 1 January 2025. UChicago hopes to win the contract again, says Paul Alivisatos, president of the university, who is also chair of FRA’s board of directors and a former director of the DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. “We absolutely will be bidding to continue.”

    In 2021 DOE gave Fermilab’s performance a B whereas a B+ is needed to pass. In five of eight main subcategories, the lab earned failing marks, including a C on science and technology program management and a B- in business systems. In particular, DOE reviewers lamented Fermilab’s poor management of the largest project the 56-year-old laboratory has ever undertaken: “The laboratory’s biggest initiative is struggling.”

    Physicists are preparing to shoot a beam of elusive particles called neutrinos from the lab in Batavia, Illinois, to a gigantic underground detector 1300 kilometers away in an abandoned gold mine in Lead, South Dakota. The experiment—known as the Long Baseline Neutrino Facility (LBNF) and the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE)—aims to be the definitive test of neutrino properties and could help explain why the infant universe generated more matter than antimatter. In 2015 DOE estimated the project would cost $1.5 billion and start to generate data in 2025. By late 2021, the cost estimate had more than doubled to $3.1 billion and the schedule had slipped 4 years.

    Scientists say Fermilab has had trouble overseeing construction work at the mine. “We did not write a very good contract for the excavation,” says a former Fermilab physicist who requested anonymity because he works at another DOE lab. “There were all kinds of loopholes in it, and the excavation company made an awful lot of money off of us.”

    The problems reveal a fundamental weakness of both FRA and URA, says Marvin Marshak, a neutrino physicist at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. They are ad hoc corporations devised to manage national labs, so they lack the resources of an industrial company, he says. “They’re shells,” Marshak says. “They don’t have enough people and they have no assets.”

    FRA officials acknowledge that Fermilab was not adequately prepared to run a huge construction project. In 2019, the lab was managing about $150 million annually dedicated to big projects, says Juan de Pablo, vice president for national labs at UChicago and a member of the FRA board. Now, that number approaches $700 million, he says. “There were all sorts of things that the lab did not have the capacity, the size, the scale to be able to take on so quickly.”

    However, Fermilab may not deserve all the blame, says a theoretical physicist who requested anonymity to protect relations with DOE. For example, he says, after the lab finally hammered out an excavation contract with Thyssen Mining, months passed before DOE approved it. “I’m not sure whether it’s really the lab that has a problem, or if it’s DOE that has a problem and is blaming the lab.”

    The contracts are in place and excavation in South Dakota is 60% complete, De Pablo says, so the costs are now under better control. Still, DOE’s budget request for fiscal year 2024, released last week, now estimates that LBNF/DUNE will cost $3.3 billion.

    Many physicists say the lab also has problems beyond the neutrino experiment. Fermilab often lags in disbursing funding to collaborators at universities, multiple sources say. Even gaining entry to the lab site has become an ordeal as it tries to tighten security, physicists say. The lab requires occasional users to apply for site access 4 weeks in advance and repeat security training for each visit, the theorist says.

    Opinions vary on how Fermilab wound up in turmoil. The former Fermilab physicist says the lab’s previous director, Nigel Lockyer, dismissed many longtime managers and replaced them with poorly suited newcomers. “I could see things falling apart, but I wasn’t empowered to help,” the physicist says. Others say the exploding demands of LBNF/DUNE forced Lockyer to slash other smaller projects, which alienated the physicists who worked on them. “Nigel was in a terrible position,” says a physicist who collaborates on a different Fermilab experiment. “And he didn’t have a knack of presenting these difficult decisions as being in everybody’s best interest.” Lockyer did not respond to a request for comment.

    The task of righting the ship now lies with Lia Merminga who became the lab’s director in April 2022. Merminga recently led development of a $978 million proton accelerator under construction at Fermilab. The lab’s 2022 performance review commends her “for demonstrating a good understanding of [DOE’s] concerns.” But if the Fermilab contract changes hands, Merminga could lose the post. “I have every confidence in Lia,” says the physicist who collaborates at Fermilab. “I just don’t know whether she’ll have the time.”

    How many parties will bid on the contract remains unclear. Managing the lab requires very specific technical expertise but pays $5 million per year, at most. “I don’t think that there are too many organizations that could really compete for this contract,” Decker says. If just UChicago or URA bid on the new contract, they’ll need a new partner, multiple observers say, perhaps one with expertise in huge construction projects. DOE is sure to insist that something changes.

    See the full article here .

    Comments are invited and will be appreciated, especially if the reader finds any errors which I can correct. Use “Reply”.


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  • richardmitnick 9:30 am on March 21, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Satellite data suggest that Earth is at higher risk of big asteroid strike", A provocative new study suggests asteroid impacts are bigger than previously thought—meaning Earth is more at risk of getting hit hard., Although not as destructive as the impact that killed off the dinosaurs the projected strikes would have perturbed the global climate and caused local extinctions., , Many scientists are skeptical., One way to calibrate the hazard is to look at the size of Earth’s recent large impact craters., Science Magazine, The new research of the impact rings imply the craters are tens of kilometers wider and record far more violent events than researchers had thought., Using a new catalog of high-resolution satellite imagery the scientists identified large rings around three impact craters and one probable one that are 1 million years old or younger.   

    From “Science Magazine” : “Satellite data suggest that Earth is at higher risk of big asteroid strike” 

    From “Science Magazine”

    Paul Voosen

    If Zhamanshin crater in Kazakhstan is 30 kilometers wide (red ring) instead of 13 kilometers (black ring), as a new study suggests, the impact that made it would have been far more fierce. Credits: J. Garvin, C. Tucker, C. Anderson, D. Slayback, and D. McClain/NASA Goddard Space Flight Center; Maxar WorldView; EarthDEM; NASA Planetary Defense Coordination Office.

    At a basic level, humanity’s survival odds come down to one thing: the chances of a giant space rock slamming into the planet and sending us the way of the dinosaurs. One way to calibrate that hazard is to look at the size of Earth’s recent large impact craters. And a provocative new study suggests they are bigger than previously thought—meaning Earth is more at risk of getting hit hard, says James Garvin, chief scientist of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, who presented the work last week at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. “It would be in the range of serious crap happening.”

    Using a new catalog of high-resolution satellite imagery, Garvin and his colleagues identified large rings around three impact craters and one probable one that are 1 million years old or younger. To Garvin, the rings imply the craters are tens of kilometers wider, and record far more violent events, than researchers had thought.

    If Garvin is right—no sure bet—each impact resulted in an explosion some 10 times more violent than the largest nuclear bomb in history, enough to blow part of the planet’s atmosphere into space. Although not as destructive as the impact that killed off the dinosaurs, the strikes would have perturbed the global climate and caused local extinctions.

    It’s an extraordinary claim, as Garvin himself admits. “We haven’t proven anything,” he says. Without fieldwork to back up the conclusions, impact researchers are wary of the circles Garvin and his colleagues have drawn on maps—especially because they defy other estimates of impact rates. “I’m skeptical,” says Bill Bottke, a planetary dynamicist at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. “I want to see a lot more before I believe it.”

    Because water and wind quickly erase most impact craters on Earth, researchers estimate impact rates by tallying crater sizes and ages on the Moon. They also study the size of asteroids in orbit near Earth—potential future impactors. Based on those two methods, researchers estimate that an asteroid or comet 1 kilometer wide or larger hits the planet every 600,000 to 700,000 years.

    The new study, however, suggests that in the past million years alone, four kilometer-size objects pummeled the continents—and, given that two-thirds of the planet is covered by water, that could mean up to a dozen struck Earth in total, Bottke says. Anna Łosiak, a crater researcher at the Polish Academy of Sciences, doubts the ringlike features identified by Garvin’s team are truly crater rims. If they somehow are, she says, “that would be very scary because it would mean we really don’t understand what’s going on at all—and that there are a lot of space rocks that may come and make a mess.”

    The work stems from a database of high-resolution satellite imagery from the company Planet. Garvin and his collaborators used thousands of stereo overlapping images to create 3D maps of the four craters. Adding data from two height-measuring lasers that NASA operates in orbit, including one capable of penetrating tree cover, gave them maps with 4-meter resolution.

    They removed features from the maps that were obviously unrelated to the impact. Then they applied an algorithm Garvin had first developed for Mars that searches for circular patterns in the topography. For simple, small craters, it invariably identified the obvious crater rim. But in thousands of runs on the four larger craters, the algorithm frequently identified a rimlike structure much farther out than the accepted rim. For example, Pantasma, an 800,000-year-old crater in Nicaragua, grew from 14.8 kilometers to 35.2 kilometers in diameter.

    Experienced crater scientists don’t see the new rims. “Those features are so subtle that I don’t think they say ‘big structural rim,’” says Gordon Osinski, a planetary scientist at Western University. They could instead be rings of debris ejected by the impacts, adds Brandon Johnson, a planetary scientist at Purdue University.

    Garvin, however, doesn’t think a mere ridge of debris would still be visible after 1 million years of erosion. He thinks the rings imply large craters on Earth have more variable structures than elsewhere in the Solar System because of high erosion rates. “On Earth, things get messy, particularly when you throw a lot of energy at it,” he says.

    For the results to gain credence, Johnson says the team will need to gather more evidence. First, the climate upheaval triggered by impacts as big as Garvin claims should have left its mark in ice cores or ocean or lake sediments. Second, researchers need to visit the sites of the rings to look for the deformed rocks and gravitational variations that would indicate a true crater rim.

    Given the stakes, this is one hypothesis that can’t afford to go untested, Johnson says. “We’ve got to go there, check out the geology, and get more detail.”

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 8:46 am on March 9, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "‘Revolutionary’ blue crystal resurrects hope of room temperature superconductivity", "Viable superconducting material created in Rochester lab", , Researchers have not only raised the temperature but also lowered the pressure required to achieve superconductivity., Science Magazine,   

    From The University of Rochester: “Viable superconducting material created in Rochester lab” 

    From The University of Rochester

    Bob Marcotte

    Researchers have not only raised the temperature but also lowered the pressure required to achieve superconductivity.

    An approximately one millimeter diameter sample of lutetium hydride, a superconducting material created in the lab of Rochester scientist Ranga Dias, seen though a microscope. This composite image is the result of focus stacking and color-enhancing several images. (J. Adam Fenster/University of Rochester.

    Physicist Ranga Dias says he has found a material that superconducts at room temperature and relatively low pressures. J. Adam Fenster/University of Rochester.

    “With this material, the dawn of ambient superconductivity and applied technologies has arrived,” according to a team led by Ranga Dias, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering and of physics. In a paper in Nature [below], the researchers describe a nitrogen-doped lutetium hydride (NDLH) that exhibits superconductivity at 69 degrees Fahrenheit and 10 kilobars (145,000 pounds per square inch, or psi) of pressure.

    Although 145,000 psi might still seem extraordinarily high (pressure at sea level is about 15 psi), strain engineering techniques routinely used in chip manufacturing, for example, incorporate materials held together by internal chemical pressures that are even higher.

    Reddmatter: The Future of Superconductivity.

    Scientists have been pursuing this breakthrough in condensed matter physics for more than a century. Superconducting materials have two key properties: electrical resistance vanishes, and the magnetic fields that are expelled pass around the superconducting material. Such materials could enable:

    Power grids that transmit electricity without the loss of up to 200 million megawatt hours (MWh) of the energy that now occurs due to resistance in the wires
    Frictionless, levitating high-speed trains
    More affordable medical imaging and scanning techniques such as MRI and magnetocardiography
    Faster, more efficient electronics for digital logic and memory device technology
    Tokamak machines that use magnetic fields to confine plasmas to achieve fusion as a source of unlimited power

    Previously, the Dias team reported creating two materials—carbonaceous sulfur hydride and yttrium superhydride—that are superconducting at 58 degrees Fahrenheit/39 million psi and 12 degrees Fahreneheit/26 million psi respectively, in papers in Nature [below] and Physical Review Letters [below].

    “The dawn of ambient superconductivity and applied technologies has arrived,” says Ranga Dias, whose lab has created a viable superconducting material they’ve dubbed “reddmatter.” ( J. Adam Fenster/University of Rochester.)

    Given the importance of the new discovery, Dias and his team went to unusual lengths to document their research and head off criticism [Science (below)] that developed in the wake of the previous Nature paper, which led to a retraction [Nature ] by the journal’s editors. That previous paper has been resubmitted to Nature with new data that validates the earlier work, according to Dias. The new data was collected outside the lab, at the DOE’s Argonne and Brookhaven National Laboratories in front of an audience of scientists who saw the superconducting transition live. A similar approach has been taken with the new paper.

    Five graduate students in Dias’s lab—Nathan Dasenbrock-Gammon, Elliot Snider, Raymond McBride, Hiranya Pasan, and Dylan Durkee—are listed as co-lead authors. “Everyone in the group was involved in doing the experiments,” Dias says. “It was truly a collective effort.”

    ‘Startling visual transformation’

    Hydrides created by combining rare earth metals with hydrogen, then adding nitrogen or carbon, have provided researchers a tantalizing “working recipe” for creating superconducting materials in recent years. In technical terms, rare earth metal hydrides form clathrate-like cage structures, where the rare earth metal ions act as carrier donors, providing sufficient electrons that would enhance the dissociation of the H2 molecules. Nitrogen and carbon help stabilize materials. Bottom line: less pressure is required for superconductivity to occur.

    In addition to yttrium, researchers have used other rare earth metals. However, the resulting compounds become superconductive at temperatures or pressures that are still not practical for applications.

    So, this time, Dias looked elsewhere along the periodic table.

    Lutetium looked like “a good candidate to try,” Dias says. It has highly localized fully-filled 14 electrons in its f orbital configuration that suppress the phonon softening and provide enhancement to the electron-phonon coupling needed for superconductivity to take place at ambient temperatures. “The key question was, how are we going to stabilize this to lower the required pressure? And that’s where nitrogen came into the picture.”

    Nitrogen, like carbon, has a rigid atomic structure that can be used to create a more stable, cage-like lattice within a material and it hardens the low-frequency optical phonons, according to Dias. This structure provides the stability for superconductivity to occur at lower pressure.

    Dias’s team created a gas mixture of 99 percent hydrogen and one percent nitrogen, placed it in a reaction chamber with a pure sample of lutetium, and let the components react for two to three days at 392 degrees Fahrenheit.

    Ranga Dias (left) and Nugzari Khalvashi-Sutter ’23 adjust a laser array in Dias’s advanced spectroscopy lab in Hopeman Hall. (J. Adam Fenster/University of Rochester photo.)

    The resulting lutetium-nitrogen-hydrogen compound was initially a “lustrous bluish color,” the paper states. When the compound was then compressed in a diamond anvil cell, a “startling visual transformation” occurred: from blue to pink at the onset of superconductivity, and then to a bright red non-superconducting metallic state.

    “It was a very bright red,” Dias says. “I was shocked to see colors of this intensity. We humorously suggested a code name for the material at this state—‘reddmatter’—after a material that Spock created in the popular 2009 Star Trek movie.” The code name stuck.

    The 145,000 psi of pressure required to induce superconductivity is nearly two orders of magnitude lower than the previous low pressure created in Dias’s lab.

    Predicting new superconducting materials with machine learning

    With funding support from Dias’s National Science Foundation CAREER award and a grant from the US Department of Energy, his lab has now answered the question of whether superconducting material can exist at both ambient temperatures and pressures low enough for practical applications.

    “A pathway to superconducting consumer electronics, energy transfer lines, transportation, and significant improvements of magnetic confinement for fusion are now a reality,” Dias says. “We believe we are now at the modern superconducting era.”

    For example, Dias predicts that the nitrogen-doped lutetium hydride will greatly accelerate progress in developing tokamak machines to achieve fusion. Instead of using powerful, converging laser beams to implode a fuel pellet, tokamaks rely on strong magnetic fields emitted by a doughnut-shaped enclosure to trap, hold, and ignite super-heated plasmas. NDLH, which produces an “enormous magnetic field” at room temperatures, “will be a game-changer” for the emerging technology, Dias says.

    Particularly exciting, according to Dias, is the possibility of training machine-learning algorithms with the accumulated data from superconducting experimentation in his lab to predict other possible superconducting materials—in effect, mixing and matching from thousands of possible combinations of rare earth metals, nitrogen, hydrogen, and carbon.

    “In day-to-day life we have many different metals we use for different applications, so we will also need different kinds of superconducting materials,” Dias says. “just like we use different metals for different applications, we need more ambient superconductors for different applications.”

    Coauthor Keith Lawlor has already begun developing algorithms and making calculations using supercomputing resources available through the University of Rochester’s Center for Integrated Research Computing.

    An upstate New York hub for superconducting materials?

    Dias’s research group recently moved into a new, expanded lab on the third floor of Hopeman Hall on the River Campus. This is the first step in an ambitious plan to launch a degree-granting Center for Superconducting Innovation (CSI) at the University of Rochester, he says.

    The center would create an ecosystem for drawing additional faculty and scientists to the University to advance the science of superconductivity. The trained students would broaden the pool of researchers in the field.

    “Our hope is to make upstate New York the hub for superconducting technology,” Dias says.

    Nature 2020
    Physical Review Letters 2021
    Science 2021
    Nature 2021

    The absence of electrical resistance exhibited by superconducting materials would have enormous potential for applications if it existed at ambient temperature and pressure conditions. Despite decades of intense research efforts, such a state has yet to be realized[1*],[2]. At ambient pressures, cuprates are the material class exhibiting superconductivity to the highest critical superconducting transition temperatures (Tc), up to about 133 K (refs. [3],[4],[5]). Over the past decade, high-pressure ‘chemical precompression’[6],[7] of hydrogen-dominant alloys has led the search for high-temperature superconductivity, with demonstrated Tc approaching the freezing point of water in binary hydrides at megabar pressures[8],[9],[10],[11],[12],[13]. Ternary hydrogen-rich compounds, such as carbonaceous sulfur hydride, offer an even larger chemical space to potentially improve the properties of superconducting hydrides[14],[15],[16],[17],[18],[19],[20],[21]. Here we report evidence of superconductivity on a nitrogen-doped lutetium hydride with a maximum Tc of 294 K at 10 kbar, that is, superconductivity at room temperature and near-ambient pressures. The compound was synthesized under high-pressure high-temperature conditions and then—after full recoverability—its material and superconducting properties were examined along compression pathways. These include temperature-dependent resistance with and without an applied magnetic field, the magnetization (M) versus magnetic field (H) curve, a.c. and d.c. magnetic susceptibility, as well as heat-capacity measurements. X-ray diffraction (XRD), energy-dispersive X-ray (EDX) and theoretical simulations provide some insight into the stoichiometry of the synthesized material. Nevertheless, further experiments and simulations are needed to determine the exact stoichiometry of hydrogen and nitrogen, and their respective atomistic positions, in a greater effort to further understand the superconducting state of the material.
    *References in the science paper



    For further illustrations see the science paper.

    See the full article here .

    Comments are invited and will be appreciated, especially if the reader finds any errors which I can correct. Use “Reply”.


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    University of Rochester campus

    The University of Rochester 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 enrolls approximately 6,800 undergraduates and 5,000 graduate students. Its 158 buildings house over 200 academic majors. According to the National Science Foundation , The University of Rochester spent $370 million on research and development in 2018, ranking it 68th in the nation. The University of Rochester 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 of Rochester’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 supported national laboratory.

    The University of Rochester Laboratory for Laser Energetics.

    The University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music 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 The University of Rochester 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 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.


    Asahel C. Kendrick- professor of Greek- was among the faculty that departed Madison University for The University of 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 of Rochester 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 University of Rochester 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 of Rochester 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 fraternity 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 of Rochester 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 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 The University of 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 of Rochester was invited to join the Association of American Universities 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 of Rochester after his death by suicide. The total of these gifts surpassed $100 million before inflation and as such The University of 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 endowment and the University of Texas System’s Permanent University Fund . Due to a decline in the value of large investments and a lack of portfolio diversity The University of Rochester ‘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 of Rochester 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 “The University of Rochester” was retained.

    Renaissance Plan
    In 1995 The University of Rochester president Thomas H. Jackson announced the launch of a “Renaissance Plan” for The University of Rochester 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 of Rochester 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.


    The University of Rochester is a member of the Association of American Universities and is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very High Research Activity”.

    The University of Rochester had a research expenditure of $370 million in 2018.

    In 2008 The University of 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 of Rochester 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. The University of Rochester 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 The 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. The University of 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.

  • richardmitnick 8:53 am on March 8, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Historic treaty could open the way to protecting 30% of the oceans", Agreement sets framework for creating marine reserves and sharing biodiversity profits., , , Science Magazine   

    From “Science Magazine” : “Historic treaty could open the way to protecting 30% of the oceans” 

    From “Science Magazine”

    Erik Stokstad

    Agreement sets framework for creating marine reserves and sharing biodiversity profits.

    A young sea turtle swims in the Sargasso Sea, a currently unprotected biodiversity hot spot.WATERFRAME/ALAMY

    After 2 weeks of intense negotiations, countries agreed this week on a historic treaty to protect biodiversity in international waters. The agreement, announced on 4 March at the United Nations, sets up a legal process for establishing marine protected areas (MPAs), a key tool for protecting at least 30% of the ocean, which an intergovernmental convention recently set as a target for 2030. The treaty also gives poorer countries a stake in conservation by strengthening their research capacity and creating a framework for sharing financial rewards from the DNA of marine organisms.

    “It’s a big win for the marine environment,” says Kristina Gjerde, senior high seas adviser to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). “These were hard fought battles,” adds Jeremy Raguain, former climate change and ocean adviser for the mission of the Seychelles to the United Nations.

    The high seas encompass the 60% of the oceans outside national waters. For decades, environmental groups have argued for protecting these waters from fishing, shipping, and other activities. But the existing legal framework, based on the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), doesn’t set out ways to preserve biodiversity in the high seas. As a result, just 1% are highly protected, mostly in the Ross Sea in the Southern Ocean, where a protected area was created under an Antarctic treaty. Much high seas biodiversity, including seamounts and areas rich in migratory animals such as the Sargasso Sea, is left out.

    Formal talks on a new treaty began in 2018, but negotiators stumbled repeatedly on issues such as environmental impact assessments and the sharing of profits from products derived from high seas organisms. This round of negotiations went into late-night overtime, with observers not sure whether they would cross the finish line. “It was quite a roller coaster ride,” says Lance Morgan, who leads the Marine Conservation Institute.

    The treaty, which will enter into force once 60 nations have ratified it, would require a three-quarters vote of member countries to establish an MPA. That’s a much lower threshold than the unanimous approval required under the Antarctic treaty. “No one country can hold up the will of the world to create a high seas protected area,” says Liz Karan, director of the Pew Charitable Trusts’s ocean governance project. Nations can opt out of an MPA—and continue to fish there, for example—but Karan says only a few reasons will be permissible, and any country opting out must offer measures to mitigate the harm.

    The treaty sets up a new forum for international deliberations, called a conference of the parties (COP), that will work with existing ocean authorities representing commercial interests, including fishing and seafloor mining. That collaboration could limit the chance of declaring an MPA in a heavily fished area, for example, but could also encourage efforts to limit harm to marine life from commercial activities. “I don’t know how it’s going to play out,” says Guillermo Ortuño Crespo, a marine scientist and independent research consultant, “but now we have a space to have these difficult conversations.”

    The treaty will require new uses of the high seas, such as offshore aquaculture, or geoengineering to capture carbon dioxide, to undergo environmental impact assessments (EIAs). But conservationists are disappointed that the new COP won’t have the power to approve EIAs—or say no to development. “We would have liked to see more oversight,” Karan says. But Gjerde says the EIAs will help improve ocean management. “This is such a critical tool.”

    How to share the wealth from new drugs or industrial chemicals developed from the DNA of marine organisms has also been a point of contention. Following plans that nations adopted in December 2022 for national genetic resources under the Convention on Biological Diversity, the treaty calls for creating a central database in which companies or universities must record patents, papers, or products based on high seas samples or data. Countries using DNA sequences or genetic resources would then pay into a fund, depending on their usage, that would be used for marine conservation and for building capacity in other countries.

    “It’s elegant, because it’s relatively simple,” says Siva Thambisetty, an expert in intellectual property law at the London School of Economics and Political Science and an adviser to the chair of a coalition of 134 developing countries. “Developing countries want a respectful settlement,” she adds. “Nobody wants a handout.”

    The treaty also includes provisions that will help developing nations explore and tap the biodiversity of the high seas, says Harriet Harden-Davies, an expert on ocean governance at the University of Edinburgh, who advised the IUCN delegation. For example, it will set up an international notification system for upcoming research cruises. That could make it easier to get scientists from developing countries on board as team members. “This is a win-win solution for scientists in small island nations,” which are often close to biodiversity hot spots and thus potential marine resources, says Judith Gobin, a marine biologist at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, and a member of the Caribbean delegation.

    It’s not clear whether the United States Senate, which never ratified UNCLOS, will back the new treaty. But Harden-Davies expects many nations will, within months, start the process of bringing the treaty into effect. Then, scientists, conservationists, and diplomats will need to move on to the challenge of implementing it, says Pat Halpin, a marine scientist at Duke University. “We have to pull our boots up and get to work.”

    See the full article here .

    Comments are invited and will be appreciated, especially if the reader finds any errors which I can correct. Use “Reply”.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

  • richardmitnick 8:42 am on March 8, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "In India train tracks threaten a giant telescope", , , , , Science Magazine, The Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT)   

    From “Science Magazine” : “In India train tracks threaten a giant telescope” 

    From “Science Magazine”

    Sanjay Kumar

    For nearly 30 years, the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) here 200 kilometers east of Mumbai has listened for faint low-frequency radio signals emanating from the distant reaches of the cosmos. Its Y-shaped network of 30 antennas, each 45 meters wide, spreads over 25 square kilometers. The dishes have helped astronomers from dozens of nations study some of the most distant known galaxies and one of the universe’s biggest known explosions, an outburst from a giant black hole in the Ophiuchus Supercluster. The telescope is among the most sensitive in the world at these low frequencies, but it could soon be deafened by signals emanating from a mundane source: electric trains.

    Last month, the Indian government gave approval “in principle” for construction of a pair of high-speed rail lines that would slice through the GMRT’s array, edging within 960 meters of some antennas. By 2026, planners envision 48 electric passenger trains, as well as cargo haulers, plying the tracks each day as they travel some 235 kilometers between the cities of Pune and Nashik.

    That prospect has astronomers very worried. “The key villain here is the pantograph, which is perched on top of the rail engine, constantly touching the overhead high-tension power line to draw electricity to propel the train,” says Yashwant Gupta, director of the National Centre for Radio Astrophysics, a division of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, which operates the GMRT. As the pantograph makes and breaks contact with the line, he says, it produces sparks and electromagnetic bursts that can “drown the entire spectrum of faint radio signals the telescope is devoted to study.” Railway communications equipment can add to the interference, Gupta notes, making it impossible for the GMRT to detect signals within its listening range of 100 to 1450 megahertz.

    To protect the telescope, astronomers are asking planners to consider rerouting the railway or placing the tracks and equipment inside tunnels. “We would like to coexist,” Gupta says, but the lines “should be taken at least 15 to 20 kilometers away from the GMRT to minimize radio interference.”

    Rail project officials declined to comment on the astronomers’ concerns. But local politicians have long been outspoken in their support for the project. Amol Kolhe, who represents the region in Parliament, says although the GMRT is a source of scientific pride, the need to protect it from electromagnetic interference has held back the region’s economy. “Scientific projects should not come in the way of development,” he says, predicting that if “the railway project is stalled or significantly compromised, there definitely will be agitations” among his constituents, many of whom support the project.

    At the root of the impasse is India’s rapid economic development. When astronomers selected the GMRT site in 1990, it was sparsely populated and surrounding hills protected it from electromagnetic smog produced by distant urban areas. Over time, however, nearby communities have grown, bringing with them many technologies that produce radio signals, including power lines, lights, engines, cellular networks, and even mosquito-killing devices.

    Today, the GMRT is one of the few radio telescopes located in a densely populated region, and its staff go to enormous lengths to protect it from disruptive signals. Researchers carefully track possible sources of interference within 30 kilometers of the telescope, and periodically venture into communities to work with businesses, farmers, and others to alter equipment or practices to reduce problematic noise. Because of restrictions, “even mobile phones came late to the area,” Kolhe says.

    Still, GMRT officials argue its presence has not harmed the local economy. Gupta notes his center has over the years signed off on the launch of more than 2000 businesses in the area, including two sugar processing mills. And it has worked with mobile phone companies, wind turbine operators, and India’s air force to resolve potential conflicts.

    Despite its age and the arrival of newer radio telescopes, astronomers say the GMRT still has a role to play in research. In particular, it can listen for the faint hum produced by the clouds of electrically neutral hydrogen atoms that existed in the early universe. The telescope “is making important contributions by surveying for neutral hydrogen,” which provides clues to the evolution of stars and galaxies, says physicist Jacqueline Hewitt of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “The GMRT still has a unique place among the radio telescopes available to the community,” says astronomer Raffaella Morganti of the Kapteyn Astronomical Institute at the University of Groningen.

    Gupta and other astronomers are hoping they can find a way for the telescope and the railway line to coexist. Some say they are frustrated that, so far, rail officials have declined to engage in discussions while pushing the government to produce final approvals. Others worry that, with several major elections looming, elected officials will be reluctant to delay or redesign the project.

    Kolhe, however, says he is “open to all the ideas for solution.” And Gupta hopes substantive talks will start soon. “This is a very good time for us to get into detailed discussions” about how to allow trains to start rolling on Earth without drowning out the sounds of the cosmos.

    See the full article here .

    Comments are invited and will be appreciated, especially if the reader finds any errors which I can correct. Use “Reply”.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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  • richardmitnick 11:01 am on March 7, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Dark energy from supermassive black holes? Physicists spar over radical idea", , , , , , , , Science Magazine,   

    From “Science Magazine” : “Dark energy from supermassive black holes? Physicists spar over radical idea” 

    From “Science Magazine”

    Adam Mann

    An artist’s impression of a supermassive black hole in the center of a galaxy. New reseach links these behemoths to the mysterious phenomenon called dark energy.NASA/JPL-Caltech.

    Earlier this week, a study made headlines claiming that the mysterious “dark energy” cosmologists believe is accelerating the expansion of the universe could arise from supermassive black holes at the hearts of galaxies. If true, the connection would link two of the most mind-bending concepts in physics—black holes and dark energy—and suggest the source of the latter has been under theorists’ noses for decades. However, some leading theorists are deeply skeptical of the idea.

    “What they are proposing makes no sense to me,” says Robert Wald, a theoretical physicist at the University of Chicago who specializes in Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, the standard understanding of gravity. Other theorists were more receptive to the radical claim—even if it ends up being wrong. “I’m personally excited about it,” says astrophysicist Niayesh Afshordi of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics.

    At first blush, black holes and dark energy seem to have nothing to do with each other. According to General Relativity, a black hole is a pure gravitational field so strong that its own energy sustains its existence. Such peculiar beasts are thought to emerge when massive stars collapse to an infinitesimal point, leaving just their gravitational fields behind. Supermassive black holes having millions or billions of times the mass of our Sun are believed to lurk in the hearts of galaxies.

    In contrast, dark energy is a mysterious phenomenon that literally stretches space and is accelerating the expansion of the universe. Theorists think dark energy could represent some new sort of field in space, a bit like an electric field, or it could be a fundamental property of empty space itself.

    So how could the two be connected? Quantum mechanics suggests the vacuum of empty space should contain a type of energy known as vacuum energy. This is thought to be spread throughout the universe and exert a force opposing gravity, making it a prime candidate for the identity of dark energy. In 1966, Soviet physicist Erast Gliner showed Einstein’s equations could also produce objects that to outside observers look and behave exactly like a black hole—yet are, in fact, giant balls of vacuum energy.

    If such objects were to exist, it would mean that rather than being uniformly spread throughout space, dark energy is actually confined to specific locations: the interiors of black holes. Even bound in these particular knots, dark energy would still exert its space-stretching effect on the universe.

    One consequence of this idea—that supermassive black holes are the source of dark energy—is that they would be linked to the constant stretching of space and their mass should change as the universe expands, says astrophysicist Duncan Farrah of the University of Hawaii, Manoa. “If the volume of the universe doubles, so does the mass of the black hole,” he adds.

    To test this possibility, Farrah and his colleagues studied elliptical galaxies, which contain black holes with millions or billions of times the Sun’s mass in their centers. They focused on galaxies with little gas or dust floating around between their stars, which would provide a reservoir of material that the central black hole could feed on. Such black holes wouldn’t be expected to change much over the course of cosmic history.

    Yet by analyzing the properties of ellipticals over roughly 9 billion years, the team saw that black holes in the early universe were much smaller relative to their host galaxy than those in the modern universe, indicating they had grown by a factor of seven to 10 times in mass, Farrah and colleagues reported this month in The Astrophysical Journal [below].

    The fact that the black holes swelled but the galaxies didn’t is the key, Farrah says. If the black holes had grown by feeding on nearby gas and dust, that material should have also generated many new stars in parts of the galaxy far from the black hole. But if black holes were made from dark energy, they would react to changes in the universe’s size in exactly the way that researchers observed in the centers of elliptical galaxies, Farrah’s team additionally reported this week in The Astrophysical Journal Letters [below].

    Wald is unpersuaded. He questions how an orb of pure dark energy could be stable. He also says the numbers don’t seem to add up: Dark energy is known to make up 70% of the mass-energy of the universe, whereas black holes are a mere fraction of the ordinary matter, which constitutes less than 5% of the universe. “I don’t see how it is in any way conceivable that such objects could be relevant to the observed dark energy,” he says.

    Others are taking a wait-and-see attitude. “At the moment, this is an interesting possibility,” says cosmologist Geraint Lewis of the University of Sydney, but “there would have to be a lot more evidence on the table if this is even a remotely plausible source of dark energy.”

    Afshordi agrees. If black holes and dark energy are linked in this way, it would likely have other visible consequences in the universe, he says. At the moment, though, he’s unsure what those would be. Determining exactly how galaxies evolve over time is a tricky business, he adds, and there could be other mechanisms to grow black holes that the team hasn’t considered.

    Nevertheless, Afshordi is supportive of efforts to rethink fundamental assumptions about the universe. “Most new theoretical ideas are dismissed by skepticism,” he says. “But if we dismiss all the new ideas then there won’t be anything left.”

    The Astrophysical Journal
    From the science paper
    The assembly of stellar and supermassive black hole (SMBH) mass in elliptical galaxies since z ∼ 1 can help to
    diagnose the origins of locally observed correlations between SMBH mass and stellar mass. We therefore construct three samples of elliptical galaxies, one at z ∼ 0 and two at 0.7  z  2.5, and quantify their relative positions in the MBH−M* plane. Using a Bayesian analysis framework, we find evidence for translational offsets in both stellar mass and SMBH mass between the local sample and both higher-redshift samples. The offsets in stellar mass are small, and consistent with measurement bias, but the offsets in SMBH mass are much larger, reaching a factor of 7 between z ∼ 1 and z ∼ 0. The magnitude of the SMBH offset may also depend on redshift, reaching a factor of ∼20 at z ∼ 2. The result is robust against variation in the high- and low-redshift samples and changes in the analysis approach. The magnitude and redshift evolution of the offset are challenging to explain in terms of selection and measurement biases. We conclude that either there is a physical mechanism that preferentially grows SMBHs in elliptical galaxies at z  2, or that selection and measurement biases are both underestimated, and depend on redshift.



    For further illustrations see the science paper.

    The Astrophysical Journal Letters
    From the science paper
    Observations have found black holes spanning 10 orders of magnitude in mass across most of cosmic history. The Kerr black hole solution is, however, provisional as its behavior at infinity is incompatible with an expanding universe. Black hole models with realistic behavior at infinity predict that the gravitating mass of a black hole can increase with the expansion of the universe independently of accretion or mergers, in a manner that depends on the black hole’s interior solution. We test this prediction by considering the growth of supermassive black holes in elliptical galaxies over 0 < z  2.5. We find evidence for cosmologically coupled mass growth among these black holes, with zero cosmological coupling excluded at 99.98% confidence. The redshift dependence of the mass growth implies that, at z  7, black holes contribute an effectively constant cosmological energy density to Friedmann’s equations. The continuity equation then requires that black holes contribute cosmologically as vacuum energy. We further show that black hole production from the cosmic star formation history gives the value of ΩΛ measured by Planck while being consistent with constraints from massive compact halo objects. We thuspropose that stellar remnant black holes are the astrophysical origin of dark energy, explaining the onset of accelerating expansion at z ∼ 0.7.


    For further illustrations see the science paper.

    See the full article here .

    Comments are invited and will be appreciated, especially if the reader finds any errors which I can correct. Use “Reply”.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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  • richardmitnick 1:05 pm on March 4, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Funding woes force 500 Women Scientists to scale back operations", , , Science Magazine   

    From “Science Magazine” : “Funding woes force 500 Women Scientists to scale back operations” 

    From “Science Magazine”

    Catherine Offord

    Organization behind Request a Woman Scientist database has let paid staff go and will run as volunteer effort.

    Supporters of the nonprofit organization 500 Women Scientists, such as those shown here at the 2017 March for Science, say the announcement that it is scaling back operations is a “shock.”Jane Zelikova.

    The 7-year-old nonprofit organization 500 Women Scientists, which works to improve inclusion and diversity in STEM and medicine, is scaling back operations and eliminating its five paid staff positions after failing to secure stable funding.

    The organization, which detailed the changes in an email to supporters and journalists on Tuesday, will keep running its online directory of woman and gender diverse experts in science, technology, engineering, math, and medicine (STEMM), but will terminate its fellowship program supporting women of color.

    The announcement has been met with dismay from the organization’s supporters. “That there’s not enough support” for the group’s work with minorities in STEMM “speaks volumes about system failures,” says Alyssa Whitcraft, a geographer at the University of Maryland, College Park, who has donated to 500 Women Scientists and is listed in its directory. Helen Whitehead, a lecturer in environment and sustainability at the University of Salford who coordinates one of the organization’s local chapters, calls the news a “shock” and a step backward for promoting equity in science.

    “None of this feels good,” says 500 Women Scientists Co-Founder Jane Zelikova, a climate change scientist at Colorado State University. The organization will return to being run by volunteers juggling full-time academic careers, she adds. “The board of directors is going to do our very best to continue moving things forward. But we are going to have to run many programs at minimal capacity.”

    500 Women Scientists began as a grassroots movement following the 2016 U.S. presidential election and quickly gained momentum. It now has more than 500 local chapters, called “pods,” worldwide.

    One of its early efforts, which gained international attention, was establishing the Request a Woman Scientist directory as a resource for journalists, policymakers, and others looking for expertise from underrepresented voices. The project, renamed Gage in 2021, now includes more than 15,000 women and gender-diverse people from more than 140 countries around the world.

    Liz McCullagh, a neuroscientist at Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, who co-founded the project, says that with the technical work on the platform completed, Gage can continue to operate. But 500 Women Scientists will end its Fellowship for the Future program, which provided a $5000 stipend, leadership training, and other support to women of color working to make STEMM fields more inclusive and equitable.

    McCullagh emphasizes that the situation does not reflect on the staff, who went “above and beyond.” Instead, she blames an unstable funding landscape where grant providers, who supplied the bulk of the group’s funds alongside donations from individuals and corporations, release money for specific projects rather than for staff or infrastructure.

    This kind of restricted funding from foundations is a perennial problem for small nonprofits, says Isabel Torres, co-founder and CEO of the advocacy organization Mothers in Science, which has partnered with 500 Women Scientists on several projects. “It limits creativity, it limits long-term planning.”

    Recent funders of 500 Women Scientists include the Simons Foundation, which declined to comment, and Lyda Hill Philanthropies. “Our philosophy at Lyda Hill Philanthropies is that science is the answer to many of the problems the world is facing,” it said in a statement. “We have supported 500 Women Scientists and women in science-focused organizations across the country because we need more women in science.”

    Ebony McGee, a professor of diversity and STEM education at Vanderbilt University, says she is saddened but not surprised by 500 Women Scientists’s situation. It’s ironic that although U.S. funders have pledged billions of dollars to diversity, equity, and inclusion, 500 Women Scientists—“who are actually women and women of color, on the ground doing the work and doing it from a lived experience”—have been unable to maintain even a small staff, she says.

    Zelikova says bringing about structural transformation in science is still central to the organization’s mission, and the board will now discuss how best to achieve it. “We don’t want to end up in the same situation where we’re again beholden to foundations for support in a way we don’t think is sustainable or equitable.”

    See the full article here .

    Comments are invited and will be appreciated, especially if the reader finds any errors which I can correct. Use “Reply”.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

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