Tagged: Stanford University Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • richardmitnick 12:38 pm on January 13, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Stanford’s high-tech ocean solutions research in 2019", , , , Stanford University   

    From Stanford University: “Stanford’s high-tech ocean solutions research in 2019” 

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    January 7, 2020

    Taylor Kubota, Stanford News Service
    (650) 724-7707
    tkubota@stanford.edu

    Stanford researchers used advanced technologies in 2019 to study and address a wide range of issues affecting our oceans and our relationship with them.

    1
    A robotic buoy outfitted with sensors as part of the Biogeochemical-Argo network floats in polar waters, taking measurements that help scientists answer questions about the composition of phytoplankton communities and the uptake of carbon dioxide by the ocean. (Image credit: P. Bourgain)

    In 2019, technologies like floating robots, waterproof tagging systems and satellites aided Stanford University researchers in their efforts to better understand and solve challenges facing our oceans, including warming waters, flooding and seafood sustainability.

    “For millennia, our ability to protect the health of the oceans has been hampered by the fact that it has been impossible to know very much about what is happening in the water or even on the surface,” said Jim Leape, co-director of the Stanford Center for Ocean Solutions, in a Q&A on food security. “That is now rapidly changing, as new sensors in the water, on satellites, on boats and even on fishing nets provide a new era of transparency in the use of ocean resources.”

    Better understanding of the problems oceans, marine life and coastal communities are facing can lead to smarter action and policies to address these issues. This research also adds to fundamental knowledge about a massive piece of our planet that remains mysterious.

    Probing ocean life

    Ocean life, like algae and fish, form the backbone of many food systems – but there’s still a lot to learn about where those organisms live and the threats they face.

    A fleet of robots that surfed the Southern Ocean between Antarctica and the African continent in 2014 and 2015 led researchers from the School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences (Stanford Earth) to investigate two strange blooms of microscopic ocean algae. Seeing these phytoplankton blooms where nutrients are scarce, Kevin Arrigo, a professor of Earth system science, and Mathieu Ardyna, a postdoctoral scholar, combined satellite and floating buoy data with the robots’ reports and found that deep hydrothermal vents were welling up nutrients, creating oases for algae.

    This finding [Nature Communications] was the first to show how iron rising from openings on the seafloor of the Southern Ocean could fuel these blooms and suggests these vents may affect life near the ocean’s surface and the global carbon cycle more than previously thought.

    Other robotic measurements – along with fishing records, satellite data and biological sampling – helped William Gilly, professor of biology in the School of Humanities and Sciences, and his collaborators identify shifting weather patterns and warmer waters in the Gulf of California that have likely contributed to the collapse of jumbo squid fisheries in the area.

    “You can think of it as a sort of oceanographic drought,” said Timothy Frawley, a former Stanford graduate student who worked with Gilly, in a story about the research. “Until the cool-water conditions we associate with elevated primary and secondary production return, jumbo squid in the Gulf of California are likely to remain small.”

    In an attempt to gain a better understanding of where fishing occurs and where fish are, researchers, including Barbara Block, the Prothro Professor of Marine Sciences at Stanford, combined satellite tracking of fishing fleets with maps of marine predator habitats – determined using a decade-long tracking program called Tagging of Pacific Predators (TOPP) – to identify areas of overlap. Focusing on international waters in the northeast Pacific, the researchers found [Science Advances March 2019] that vessels from Taiwan, China, Japan, the United States and Mexico accounted for over 90 percent of fishing in key habitat areas for seven shark and tuna species. Work like this could aid in developing more effective wildlife management on the high seas.

    A closer look at pressing issues

    In other research, technologies helped examine the ways oceans are changing and how rising seas impact our life on land.

    Hoping to improve predictions of sea-level rise, Dustin Schroeder, an assistant professor of geophysics at Stanford Earth, compared vintage ice-penetrating radar records of Thwaites Glacier – captured between 1971 and 1979 – with modern data. Schroeder and his team found the eastern ice shelf of the Antarctic glacier is melting faster than previously estimated.

    “It was surprising how good the old data is,” Schroeder said, in a story about this research [PNAS]. “They were very careful and thoughtful engineers and it’s much richer, more modern looking than you would think.”

    Meanwhile, in murkier waters, Oliver Fringer, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford, has begun testing a drone equipped with a special camera, attuned to reveal high-resolution details of sediment flow and settling in the San Francisco Bay.

    “Mud is not glamorous, but mud is where all the contaminants collect and stick,” noted Fringer, in a story by the School of Engineering. Studying these sediments can tell researchers a lot about the health of waterways and hint at how they may respond to climate change.

    A coast away, Stanford researchers studied the effects of high-tide flooding that occurred in Annapolis, Maryland, in 2017. The researchers used parking meters, satellite imagery, interviews and other data to determine how would-be customers were dissuaded from visiting during flood hours at a popular business region near the water known as City Dock. They found the loss to City Dock businesses due to flooding was less than 2 percent of annual visitors but warned it could get worse as sea levels continue to rise.

    “So often we think of climate change and sea-level rise as these huge ideas happening at a global scale, but high-tide flooding is one way to experience these changes in your daily life just trying to get to your restaurant reservation,” said Miyuki Hino, who was a Stanford graduate student when she worked on this research, in an article about the study [Science Advances].

    Coastal hazards were also the focus of work in the Bahamas conducted by Stanford’s Natural Capital Project. These researchers combined information on storm waves and sea-level rise with census data and satellite maps to show the Bahamian government where investing in nature could provide the greatest benefits – and coastal protection – to people.

    Using their open-source software, the researchers were able to map the coastal risk reduction provided by coral reefs, mangroves and seagrass along the entire coast of the country. Their findings are part of a growing body of research showing that natural defenses can represent more climate-resilient alternatives to traditionally built shoreline protection – like seawalls and jetties – which is expensive to build and maintain.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Stanford University campus. No image credit

    Stanford University

    Leland and Jane Stanford founded the University to “promote the public welfare by exercising an influence on behalf of humanity and civilization.” Stanford opened its doors in 1891, and more than a century later, it remains dedicated to finding solutions to the great challenges of the day and to preparing our students for leadership in today’s complex world. Stanford, is an American private research university located in Stanford, California on an 8,180-acre (3,310 ha) campus near Palo Alto. Since 1952, more than 54 Stanford faculty, staff, and alumni have won the Nobel Prize, including 19 current faculty members

    Stanford University Seal

     
  • richardmitnick 2:28 pm on January 4, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A particle accelerator that fits on a chip, , Stanford University   

    From Stanford University: “Stanford researchers build a particle accelerator that fits on a chip, miniaturizing a technology that can now find new applications in research and medicine” 

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    January 2, 2020
    Tom Abate
    tabate@stanford.edu
    (650) 815-1602 (mobile)

    Just as engineers once compressed some of the power of room-sized mainframes into desktop PCs, so too have Stanford researchers shown how to pack some of the punch delivered by today’s ginormous particle accelerators onto a tiny silicon chip.

    1
    This image, magnified 25,000 times, shows a section of an accelerator-on-a-chip. The gray structures focus infrared laser light (shown in yellow and purple) on electrons flowing through the center channel. By packing 1,000 channels onto an inch-sized chip, Stanford researchers hope to accelerate electrons to 94 percent of the speed of light. (Image credit: Courtesy Neil Sapra)

    On a hillside above Stanford University, the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory operates a scientific instrument nearly 2 miles long.

    SLAC Campus

    In this giant accelerator, a stream of electrons flows through a vacuum pipe, as bursts of microwave radiation nudge the particles ever-faster forward until their velocity approaches the speed of light, creating a powerful beam that scientists from around the world use to probe the atomic and molecular structures of inorganic and biological materials.

    Now, for the first time, scientists at Stanford and SLAC have created a silicon chip that can accelerate electrons – albeit at a fraction of the velocity of that massive instrument – using an infrared laser to deliver, in less than a hair’s width, the sort of energy boost that takes microwaves many feet.

    Writing in the Jan. 3 issue of Science, a team led by electrical engineer Jelena Vuckovic explained how they carved a nanoscale channel out of silicon, sealed it in a vacuum and sent electrons through this cavity while pulses of infrared light – to which silicon is as transparent as glass is to visible light – were transmitted by the channel walls to speed the electrons along.

    The accelerator-on-a-chip demonstrated in Science is just a prototype, but Vuckovic said its design and fabrication techniques can be scaled up to deliver particle beams accelerated enough to perform cutting-edge experiments in chemistry, materials science and biological discovery that don’t require the power of a massive accelerator.

    “The largest accelerators are like powerful telescopes. There are only a few in the world and scientists must come to places like SLAC to use them,” Vuckovic said. “We want to miniaturize accelerator technology in a way that makes it a more accessible research tool.”

    Team members liken their approach to the way that computing evolved from the mainframe to the smaller but still useful PC. Accelerator-on-a-chip technology could also lead to new cancer radiation therapies, said physicist Robert Byer, a co-author of the Science paper. Again, it’s a matter of size. Today, medical X-ray machines fill a room and deliver a beam of radiation that’s tough to focus on tumors, requiring patients to wear lead shields to minimize collateral damage.

    “In this paper we begin to show how it might be possible to deliver electron beam radiation directly to a tumor, leaving healthy tissue unaffected,” said Byer, who leads the Accelerator on a Chip International Program, or ACHIP, a broader effort of which this current research is a part.

    Inverse design

    In their paper, Vuckovic and graduate student Neil Sapra, the first author, explain how the team built a chip that fires pulses of infrared light through silicon to hit electrons at just the right moment, and just the right angle, to move them forward just a bit faster than before.

    To accomplish this, they turned the design process upside down. In a traditional accelerator, like the one at SLAC, engineers generally draft a basic design, then run simulations to physically arrange the microwave bursts to deliver the greatest possible acceleration. But microwaves measure 4 inches from peak to trough, while infrared light has a wavelength one-tenth the width of a human hair. That difference explains why infrared light can accelerate electrons in such short distances compared to microwaves. But this also means that the chip’s physical features must be 100,000 times smaller than the copper structures in a traditional accelerator. This demands a new approach to engineering based on silicon integrated photonics and lithography.

    Vuckovic’s team solved the problem using inverse design algorithms that her lab has developed. These algorithms allowed the researchers to work backward, by specifying how much light energy they wanted the chip to deliver, and tasking the software with suggesting how to build the right nanoscale structures required to bring the photons into proper contact with the flow of electrons.

    “Sometimes, inverse designs can produce solutions that a human engineer might not have thought of,” said R. Joel England, a SLAC staff scientist and co-author on the Science paper.

    The design algorithm came up with a chip layout that seems almost otherworldly. Imagine nanoscale mesas, separated by a channel, etched out of silicon. Electrons flowing through the channel run a gantlet of silicon wires, poking through the canyon wall at strategic locations. Each time the laser pulses – which it does 100,000 times a second – a burst of photons hits a bunch of electrons, accelerating them forward. All of this occurs in less than a hair’s width, on the surface of a vacuum-sealed silicon chip, made by team members at Stanford.

    The researchers want to accelerate electrons to 94 percent of the speed of light, or 1 million electron volts (1MeV), to create a particle flow powerful enough for research or medical purposes. This prototype chip provides only a single stage of acceleration, and the electron flow would have to pass through around 1,000 of these stages to achieve 1MeV. But that’s not as daunting at it may seem, said Vuckovic, because this prototype accelerator-on-a-chip is a fully integrated circuit. That means all of the critical functions needed to create acceleration are built right into the chip, and increasing its capabilities should be reasonably straightforward.

    The researchers plan to pack a thousand stages of acceleration into roughly an inch of chip space by the end of 2020 to reach their 1MeV target. Although that would be an important milestone, such a device would still pale in power alongside the capabilities of the SLAC research accelerator, which can generate energy levels 30,000 times greater than 1MeV. But Byer believes that, just as transistors eventually replaced vacuum tubes in electronics, light-based devices will one day challenge the capabilities of microwave-driven accelerators.

    Meanwhile, in anticipation of developing a 1MeV accelerator on a chip, electrical engineer Olav Solgaard, a co-author on the paper, has already begun work on a possible cancer-fighting application. Today, highly energized electrons aren’t used for radiation therapy because they would burn the skin. Solgaard is working on a way to channel high-energy electrons from a chip-sized accelerator through a catheter-like vacuum tube that could be inserted below the skin, right alongside a tumor, using the particle beam to administer radiation therapy surgically.

    “We can derive medical benefits from the miniaturization of accelerator technology in addition to the research applications,” Solgaard said.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Stanford University campus. No image credit

    Stanford University

    Leland and Jane Stanford founded the University to “promote the public welfare by exercising an influence on behalf of humanity and civilization.” Stanford opened its doors in 1891, and more than a century later, it remains dedicated to finding solutions to the great challenges of the day and to preparing our students for leadership in today’s complex world. Stanford, is an American private research university located in Stanford, California on an 8,180-acre (3,310 ha) campus near Palo Alto. Since 1952, more than 54 Stanford faculty, staff, and alumni have won the Nobel Prize, including 19 current faculty members

    Stanford University Seal

     
  • richardmitnick 8:44 am on December 27, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Stanford Researchers Have an Exciting Plan to Tackle The Climate Emergency Worldwide", , , , Stanford University   

    From Stanford University via Science Alert: “Stanford Researchers Have an Exciting Plan to Tackle The Climate Emergency Worldwide” 

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    via

    ScienceAlert

    27 DEC 2019
    TESSA KOUMOUNDOUROS

    1
    (Thomas Richter/Unsplash)

    Things are pretty dire right now. Giant swaths of my country are burning as I write this, at a scale unlike anything we’ve ever seen. Countless animals, including koalas, are perishing along with our life-supporting greenery. People are losing homes and loved ones.

    These catastrophes are being replicated around the globe ever more frequently, and we know exactly what is exacerbating them. We know we need to rapidly make some drastic changes – and Stanford researchers have come up with a plan [Cell One Earth].

    Using the latest data available, they have outlined how 143 countries around the world can switch to 100 percent clean energy by the year 2050.

    This plan could not only contribute towards stabilising our dangerously increasing global temperatures, but also reduce the 7 million deaths caused by pollution every year and create millions more jobs than keeping our current systems.

    The plan would require a hefty investment of around US$73 trillion. But the researchers’ calculations show the jobs and savings it would earn would pay this back in as little as seven years.

    “Based on previous calculations we have performed, we believe this will avoid 1.5 degree global warming,” environmental engineer and lead author Mark Jacobson told ScienceAlert.

    “The timeline is more aggressive than any IPCC scenario – we concluded in 2009 that a 100 percent transition by 2030 was technically and economically possible – but for social and political reasons, a 2050 date is more practical.”

    Here’s how it would work. The plan involves transitioning all our energy sectors, including electricity, transport, industry, agriculture, fishing, forestry and the military to work entirely with renewable energy.

    Jacobson believes we have 95 percent of the technology we need already, with only solutions for long distance and ocean travel still to be commercialised.

    “By electrifying everything with clean, renewable energy, we reduce power demand by about 57 percent,” Jacobson explained.

    He and colleagues show it is possible to meet demand and maintain stable electricity grids using only wind, water, solar and storage, across all 143 countries.

    These technologies are already available, reliable and respond much faster than natural gas, so they are already cheaper. There’s also no need for nuclear which takes 10-19 years between planning and operation, biofuels that cause more air pollution, or the invention of new technologies.

    “‘Clean coal’ just doesn’t exist and never will,” Jacobson says, “because the technology does not work and only increases mining and emissions of air pollutants while reducing little carbon, and their is no guarantee at all the carbon that is captured will stay captured.”

    The team found that electrifying all energy sectors makes the demand for energy more flexible and the combination of renewable energy and storage is better suited to meet this flexibility than our current system.

    This plan “creates 28.6 million more full-time jobs in the long term than business as usual and only needs approximately 0.17 percent and approximately 0.48 percent land for new footprint and distance respectively,” the researchers write in their report.

    Building the infrastructure necessary for this transition would, of course, create CO2 emissions. The researchers calculated that the necessary steel and concrete would require about 0.914 percent of current CO2 emissions. But switching to renewables to produce the concrete would reduce this.

    With plans this big there are plenty of uncertainties, and some inconsistencies between databases. The team takes these into account by modelling several scenarios with different levels of costs and climate damage.

    “You’re probably not going to predict exactly what’s going to happen,” said Jacobson. “But there are many solutions and many scenarios that could work.”

    Technology writer Michael Barnard believes the study’s estimates are quite conservative – skewing towards the more expensive technologies and scenarios.

    “Storage is a solved problem,” he writes for CleanTechnica. “Even the most expensive and conservative projections as used by Jacobson are much, much cheaper than business as usual, and there are many more solutions in play.”

    The authors of the report stress that while implementing such an energy transition, it is also crucial that we simultaneously tackle emissions coming from other sources like fertilisers and deforestation.

    This proposal could earn push-back from industries and politicians that have the most to lose, especially those with a track record of throwing massive resources at delaying our progress towards a more sustainable future. Criticisms of the team’s previous work [Cell Joule] have already been linked back to these exact groups.

    The report has been published in the journal One Earth[above].

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Stanford University campus. No image credit

    Stanford University

    Leland and Jane Stanford founded the University to “promote the public welfare by exercising an influence on behalf of humanity and civilization.” Stanford opened its doors in 1891, and more than a century later, it remains dedicated to finding solutions to the great challenges of the day and to preparing our students for leadership in today’s complex world. Stanford, is an American private research university located in Stanford, California on an 8,180-acre (3,310 ha) campus near Palo Alto. Since 1952, more than 54 Stanford faculty, staff, and alumni have won the Nobel Prize, including 19 current faculty members

    Stanford University Seal

     
  • richardmitnick 11:28 am on December 20, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Stanford experts help island nation revolutionize ocean conservation", , , Stanford Center for Ocean Solutions, Stanford University   

    From Stanford University: “Stanford experts help island nation revolutionize ocean conservation” 

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    December 19, 2019
    Media contacts
    Fiorenza Micheli
    Stanford Center for Ocean Solutions and Hopkins Marine Station
    (831) 917-7903,
    micheli@stanford.edu

    Nicole Kravec
    Stanford Center for Ocean Solutions:
    (415) 825-0584
    nkravec@stanford.edu

    1

    A tiny Pacific Island nation is reimagining ocean conservation with guidance from Stanford researchers and international experts. In January Palau is closing 80 percent of its ocean waters to fishing, creating one of the largest marine protected areas in the world. It is the largest percentage of a country’s exclusive water with a fully protected designation – an area twice the size of Mexico.

    3
    School of fish in the open ocean off the coast of Palau. Stanford experts worked with the island nation to effectively manage one of the world’s largest marine sanctuaries. (Image credit: © ead72 / Adobe Stock)

    Marine protected areas help protect cultural resources and marine life, while enhancing the resilience of resources, such as seafood, benefiting fisheries and supporting other industries such as tourism. The sanctuary stands to lend important insights to other island communities that are reliant on the oceans for economic growth and food security amid mounting climate impacts, including rising sea levels and acidification.

    “Marine protected areas are cornerstones of conservation and economic development,” said Fiorenza Micheli, co-director of the Stanford Center for Ocean Solutions. “Palau is driving investment in large-scale protection to benefit people and the ocean. It is a beacon to the rest of the world.”

    Palau President Tommy Remengesau Jr. asked experts from Stanford’s Center for Ocean Solutions and the Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC) to convene an expert working group to analyze how best to implement the new sanctuary, while also achieving food security and economic development goals. The Stanford and PICRC team presented their scientific, policy and management recommendations to Remengesau and other key leaders in Palau in December. Their recommendations include protecting threatened reef fish – such as snapper and parrotfish – outside the sanctuary, and promoting offshore seafood alternatives, such as tuna.

    Protecting biodiversity and marine resources

    Set to launch in January 2020, the Palau National Marine Sanctuary will be the sixth-largest fully protected ocean area in the world. Often called an “underwater wonder of the world,” the water surrounding Palau boasts remarkably healthy marine ecosystems, home to more than 1,300 species of fish and 700 species of coral, including critically endangered hawksbill and leatherback sea turtles, manta rays, seabirds, whales, sharks and tunas. The area also represents great cultural identity and socioeconomic value to native Palauans.

    3
    Learning through fieldwork on Pacific coral reefs. Stanford undergraduates study links between human and natural systems through an interdisciplinary seminar in Palau. Image credit: Kurt Hickman

    “Successfully implementing this new sanctuary is a legacy of immeasurable value for the people of Palau,” said PICRC CEO Yimnang Golbuu. “This is a bold move that the people of Palau recognize as essential to our survival.”

    Due to fishing restrictions, the new sanctuary will also foster a path toward a more sustainable, safe and nutritious supply of seafood for Palauan citizens. Given the overexploited status of coastal resources and increasing threats of hotter sea temperatures and acidifying waters on reef fish populations in Palau, a reliable supply of deep-sea fish offers an alternate food source for Palauans. Nutritionally, deep-sea fish have higher concentrations of protein, iron, fat, and omega-3 fatty acids, which are critical to infant development, human health and disease prevention.

    Reduced pressure on reefs, diversification of domestic food sources, and reduced reliance on imports can also improve the short- and long-term stability of the seafood supply in the face of environmental, political and economic change. The sanctuary is a critical piece in building a food-secure future for all Palauans.

    “Palau hopes to see its marine sanctuary inspire similar initiatives by countries around the world. We believe a small island nation can have a big impact on the ocean, with ripple effects out into our larger world,” said President Remengesau.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Stanford University campus. No image credit

    Stanford University

    Leland and Jane Stanford founded the University to “promote the public welfare by exercising an influence on behalf of humanity and civilization.” Stanford opened its doors in 1891, and more than a century later, it remains dedicated to finding solutions to the great challenges of the day and to preparing our students for leadership in today’s complex world. Stanford, is an American private research university located in Stanford, California on an 8,180-acre (3,310 ha) campus near Palo Alto. Since 1952, more than 54 Stanford faculty, staff, and alumni have won the Nobel Prize, including 19 current faculty members

    Stanford University Seal

     
  • richardmitnick 9:42 am on December 9, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Stanford-led snapshot of artificial intelligence reveals challenges", , , , Stanford University, Stanford’s ongoing 100-year study on artificial intelligence known as the AI100.   

    From Stanford University: “Stanford-led snapshot of artificial intelligence reveals challenges” 

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    November 26, 2019 [Just now in social media]
    Lara Streiff

    A periodic review of the artificial intelligence industry revealed the potential pitfalls of outsourcing our problems for technology to solve rather than addressing the causes, and of allowing outdated predictive modeling to go unchecked.

    1
    A Stanford-led artificial intelligence index called the AI100 periodically assesses the state of AI technology and makes predictions for the next century. (Image credit: Tricia Seibold)

    As part of Stanford’s ongoing 100-year study on artificial intelligence, known as the AI100, two workshops recently considered the issues of care technologies and predictive modeling to inform the future development of AI technologies.

    “We are now seeing a particular emphasis on the humanities and how they interact with AI,” said Russ Altman, Stanford professor of engineering and the faculty director of the AI100. The AI100 is a project of the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence.

    After the first meeting of the AI100, the group planned to reconvene every five years to discuss the status of the AI industry. The idea was that reports from those meetings would capture the excitement and concerns regarding AI technologies at that time, make predictions for the next century and serve as a resource for policymakers and industry stakeholders shaping the future of AI in society.

    But the technology is moving faster than expected, and the organizers of the AI100 felt there were issues to discuss prior to the next scheduled session. The reports that resulted from those workshops paint a picture of the potential pitfalls of outsourcing our problems for technology to solve rather than addressing the causes, or allowing outdated predictive modeling to go unchecked. Together, they provide an intermediate snapshot that could guide discussions at the next full meeting, said Altman.

    “The reports capture the cyclical nature of public views and attitudes toward AI,” said Peter Stone, professor of computer science at the University of Texas in Austin who served as study panel chair for the last report, and is now chair of the standing committee. “There are times of hype and excitement with AI, and there are times of disappointment and disillusionment – we call these AI winters.”

    This longitudinal study aims to encapsulate all the ups and downs – creating a long-term view of artificial intelligence.

    Alexa doesn’t care about you

    Although artificial intelligence is widespread in healthcare apps, participants in the workshop debating AI’s capacity to care concluded that care itself isn’t something that can be encoded in technology. Based on that, they recommend that new technologies be integrated into existing human-to-human care relationships.

    “Care is not a problem to be solved; it is a fundamental part of living as humans,” said Fay Niker, a philosophy lecturer at the University of Stirling, and chair of the Coding Caring workshop. “The idea of a technical fix for something like loneliness, for example, is baffling.”

    The workshop participants frame care technologies as tools to supplement human care relationships like those between a caregiver and care-receiver. Technology can certainly give reminders to take medication or track health information, but is limited in the ability to display empathy or provide emotional support which cannot be commodified or reduced into outcome-oriented tasks.

    “We worry that meaningful human interaction could be frozen out by tech,” said Niker. “The hope is that the AI2020 report, and other work in this area, will contribute to preventing this ‘ice age’ by challenging and hence changing the culture and debate around the design and implementation of caring technologies in our societies.”

    Regulating predictive technologies

    AI technologies may be capable of learning, but they are not immune to becoming outdated, prompting participants in the second workshop to introduce the concept of “expiration dates” to govern their deployment over time. “They train on data from the past to predict the future,” said Altman. “Things change in any field, so you need to do an update or a reevaluation.”

    “It means we have to pay attention to the new data,” said David Robinson, a visiting scientist from Cornell’s College of Computing and Information Science, and one of the workshop organizers. Unless otherwise informed, the algorithm will blindly assume that the world has not changed, and will provide results without integrating newly introduced factors.

    Important decisions can hinge on these technologies, including risk assessment in the criminal justice system and screenings by child protection services. But Robinson stressed that it is the net combination of the algorithm results and the interpretation from those using the technology that results in a final decision. There should be as much scrutiny on the information that the AI is providing as there is on the users who are interpreting the algorithm’s results.

    Both workshops came to the conclusion that regulation is needed for AI technology, according to Altman, which should come as no surprise to those attuned to popular culture references of the field. Whether the industry can self-regulate, or what other entities should oversee the progress in the field, is still in question.

    Participants and organizers alike feel that the AI100 has a role to play in the future of AI technologies. “I hope that it really helps educate people and the general public on how they can and should interact with AI,” said Stone. Perhaps even more importantly, the outcomes from the AI reports can be referenced by those policymakers and industry insiders, shaping how these technologies are developed.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Stanford University campus. No image credit

    Stanford University

    Leland and Jane Stanford founded the University to “promote the public welfare by exercising an influence on behalf of humanity and civilization.” Stanford opened its doors in 1891, and more than a century later, it remains dedicated to finding solutions to the great challenges of the day and to preparing our students for leadership in today’s complex world. Stanford, is an American private research university located in Stanford, California on an 8,180-acre (3,310 ha) campus near Palo Alto. Since 1952, more than 54 Stanford faculty, staff, and alumni have won the Nobel Prize, including 19 current faculty members

    Stanford University Seal

     
  • richardmitnick 9:25 am on December 9, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Robert Byer, Stanford University   

    From Stanford University: “Stanford physicist recalls life-changing first glimpse of a laser” 

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    November 19, 2019 [Just now in social media]
    Ker Than

    1
    Robert Byer has spent his career studying lasers after first seeing one at age 22. (Image credit: Misha Bruk)

    Physicist Robert Byer worked on lasers when they were still just an interesting technology, never imagining their myriad modern uses or how they would affect his life.

    Robert Byer was 22 years old when he first saw the light that changed his life.

    2
    Robert Byer developed the first visible, tunable red laser by routing a green laser through a nonlinear crystal (Image credit: Misha Bruk)

    One summer morning in 1964, Byer drove the hour from Berkeley down to Mountain View for a job interview at a California company called Spectra Physics. He walked in to find an empty lobby but could hear clapping and cheering in the back of the building. After politely waiting for several minutes, he followed the commotion to a darkened room filled with men whose jubilant faces were illuminated by a rod of red-orange light that seemed to float above an instrument-strewn table.

    Byer, who is now professor of applied physics and photon science at Stanford’s School of Humanities and Sciences, had walked in on history. The assembled physicists and engineers had just switched on the first ionized-gas laser that could be seen with the naked eye and they were basking in the glow of their accomplishment. Other visible-light lasers existed at the time, but they were weak and dim by comparison.

    Lasers – tuned, or “coherent,” light waves that can be focused into tight beams and adjusted to specific colors – had been invented a few years earlier, but Byer had never laid eyes on one until that moment. He always imagined they would resemble the beam of a strong flashlight. But the mercury ion laser he glimpsed that day, with its preternatural brightness and steady radiance, had a heft and a presence unlike any light Byer had ever seen.

    Roughly an inch thick and about two feet long, the laser also sparkled, glimmering like wet sand on a sunny day. Byer later learned that this speckled effect is a calling card of lasers, created when the crests and troughs of closely packed light waves crash into one another, creating interference.

    That captivating light, and the palpable excitement of the scientists Byer met that day, altered the course of his life. Recently graduated from UC Berkeley, he was slated to be married in a few months and already had a job lined up in Pasadena in Southern California. But those plans were now in doubt because Byer accepted a position at Spectra Physics that very day.

    Byer is slim, with neatly combed gray hair, a gentle, gravelly voice and keen eyes. He is logical and exacting when it comes to his work, but with regard to that momentous decision he made in his twenties, he says it just felt right. “All I had was a gut feeling,” he said. “I know there’s an expectation for scientists to take the rationality that’s in science and apply it to their personal relations, but that’s not what happens.”

    Byer called his fiancé a few days later and delicately asked if she would consider transferring from UCLA to UC Berkeley to finish her undergraduate studies. “Not on your life,” she said.

    Evi Guzsella did eventually agree, however, and Byer became the 13th employee at Spectra Physics. To make it up to her, Byer saved his earnings for a year and took his new wife on a two-month long European camping tour.

    _______________________________________________

    “In life, you make thousands of decisions, and almost always, the decisions that really matter, the ones that really count, are the ones you have the least information about.”

    —Robert Byer

    Professor of Applied Physics and of Photon Science
    _______________________________________________

    3
    Robert Byer uses an infrared viewing device to check the alignment of a near-IR laser through a linear crystal. (Image credit: Misha Bruk)

    Lasers are ubiquitous today. Modern society could not function without them. Lasers enable self-driving cars to sense their environments and surgeons to correct vision. A typical smartphone contains hundreds of them. The world’s digital and internet communications require the conversion of relatively short-range cellular and Wi-Fi signals into laser pulses that must be pushed through fiber optic cables to distant cell towers and web servers.

    But when Byer began working on lasers in 1964, they were so new that a use for them hadn’t been invented yet. The first widespread application of lasers was to speed up grocery checkout by using a red helium-neon laser to scan unique barcodes on products. The technology behind barcode checkout was developed as part of a joint project between the National Cash Register Corporation and Spectra Physics.

    By then, Byer had already left the company to enroll as a graduate student at Stanford University, studying under professor Stephen Harris to develop lasers with different colors and properties. For his thesis, Byer developed the first visible, tunable red laser by routing a green laser through a nonlinear crystal.

    Byer also helped develop the quietest, most stable laser in the world, called the diode-pumped YAG laser. YAG lasers are today found in everything from communications satellites to green handheld laser pointers, which Byer co-developed with two of his graduate students and cites as one of his favorite inventions (he had joined Stanford in 1969). YAG lasers also form the main beams of the gravitational wave-detecting instrument, LIGO, which in 2015 achieved the most precise measurement ever made by humans when its antenna detected the tenuous spacetime fluctuations generated by two colliding black holes 1.3 billion light-years away.

    The Spectra Physics laser that enchanted Byer 55 years ago sits in a clear case just outside his office, the bulky instrument an occasional reminder for Byer of how far the field – and he himself – have come.

    “In life, you make thousands of decisions, and almost always, the decisions that really matter, the ones that really count, are the ones you have the least information about,” Byer said. “We didn’t know as we worked to develop lasers where they would lead. They shaped the future only after they happened.”

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Stanford University campus. No image credit

    Stanford University

    Leland and Jane Stanford founded the University to “promote the public welfare by exercising an influence on behalf of humanity and civilization.” Stanford opened its doors in 1891, and more than a century later, it remains dedicated to finding solutions to the great challenges of the day and to preparing our students for leadership in today’s complex world. Stanford, is an American private research university located in Stanford, California on an 8,180-acre (3,310 ha) campus near Palo Alto. Since 1952, more than 54 Stanford faculty, staff, and alumni have won the Nobel Prize, including 19 current faculty members

    Stanford University Seal

     
  • richardmitnick 8:17 am on November 25, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Stanford and UMass Amherst develop algorithms that train AI to avoid specific misbehaviors", , , Stanford University,   

    From Stanford University: “Stanford, UMass Amherst develop algorithms that train AI to avoid specific misbehaviors” 

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    November 21, 2019
    Tom Abate

    Robots, self-driving cars and other intelligent machines could become better-behaved thanks to a new way to help machine learning designers build AI applications with safeguards against specific, undesirable outcomes such as racial and gender bias.


    Deboki Chakravarti. As robots, self-driving cars and other intelligent machines weave AI into everyday life, a new way of designing algorithms can help machine-learning developers build in safeguards against specific, undesirable outcomes like racial and gender bias, to help earn societal trust.

    Artificial intelligence has moved into the commercial mainstream thanks to the growing prowess of machine learning algorithms that enable computers to train themselves to do things like drive cars, control robots or automate decision-making.

    But as AI starts handling sensitive tasks, such as helping pick which prisoners get bail, policy makers are insisting that computer scientists offer assurances that automated systems have been designed to minimize, if not completely avoid, unwanted outcomes such as excessive risk or racial and gender bias.

    A team led by researchers at Stanford and the University of Massachusetts Amherst published a paper Nov. 22 in Science suggesting how to provide such assurances.

    The paper outlines a new technique that translates a fuzzy goal, such as avoiding gender bias, into the precise mathematical criteria that would allow a machine-learning algorithm to train an AI application to avoid that behavior.

    “We want to advance AI that respects the values of its human users and justifies the trust we place in autonomous systems,” said Emma Brunskill, an assistant professor of computer science at Stanford and senior author of the paper.

    Avoiding misbehavior

    The work is premised on the notion that if “unsafe” or “unfair” outcomes or behaviors can be defined mathematically, then it should be possible to create algorithms that can learn from data on how to avoid these unwanted results with high confidence. The researchers also wanted to develop a set of techniques that would make it easy for users to specify what sorts of unwanted behavior they want to constrain and enable machine learning designers to predict with confidence that a system trained using past data can be relied upon when it is applied in real-world circumstances.

    “We show how the designers of machine learning algorithms can make it easier for people who want to build AI into their products and services to describe unwanted outcomes or behaviors that the AI system will avoid with high-probability,” said Philip Thomas, an assistant professor of computer science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and first author of the paper.

    Fairness and safety

    The researchers tested their approach by trying to improve the fairness of algorithms that predict GPAs of college students based on exam results, a common practice that can result in gender bias. Using an experimental dataset, they gave their algorithm mathematical instructions to avoid developing a predictive method that systematically overestimated or underestimated GPAs for one gender. With these instructions, the algorithm identified a better way to predict student GPAs with much less systematic gender bias than existing methods. Prior methods struggled in this regard either because they had no fairness filter built-in or because algorithms developed to achieve fairness were too limited in scope.

    The group developed another algorithm and used it to balance safety and performance in an automated insulin pump. Such pumps must decide how big or small a dose of insulin to give a patient at mealtimes. Ideally, the pump delivers just enough insulin to keep blood sugar levels steady. Too little insulin allows blood sugar levels to rise, leading to short term discomforts such as nausea, and elevated risk of long-term complications including cardiovascular disease. Too much and blood sugar crashes – a potentially deadly outcome.

    Machine learning can help by identifying subtle patterns in an individual’s blood sugar responses to doses, but existing methods don’t make it easy for doctors to specify outcomes that automated dosing algorithms should avoid, like low blood sugar crashes. Using a blood glucose simulator, Brunskill and Thomas showed how pumps could be trained to identify dosing tailored for that person – avoiding complications from over- or under-dosing. Though the group isn’t ready to test this algorithm on real people, it points to an AI approach that might eventually improve quality of life for diabetics.

    In their Science paper, Brunskill and Thomas use the term “Seldonian algorithm” to define their approach, a reference to Hari Seldon, a character invented by science fiction author Isaac Asimov, who once proclaimed three laws of robotics beginning with the injunction that “A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.”

    While acknowledging that the field is still far from guaranteeing the three laws, Thomas said this Seldonian framework will make it easier for machine learning designers to build behavior-avoidance instructions into all sorts of algorithms, in a way that can enable them to assess the probability that trained systems will function properly in the real world.

    Brunskill said this proposed framework builds on the efforts that many computer scientists are making to strike a balance between creating powerful algorithms and developing methods to ensure that their trustworthiness.

    “Thinking about how we can create algorithms that best respect values like safety and fairness is essential as society increasingly relies on AI,” Brunskill said.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Stanford University campus. No image credit

    Stanford University

    Leland and Jane Stanford founded the University to “promote the public welfare by exercising an influence on behalf of humanity and civilization.” Stanford opened its doors in 1891, and more than a century later, it remains dedicated to finding solutions to the great challenges of the day and to preparing our students for leadership in today’s complex world. Stanford, is an American private research university located in Stanford, California on an 8,180-acre (3,310 ha) campus near Palo Alto. Since 1952, more than 54 Stanford faculty, staff, and alumni have won the Nobel Prize, including 19 current faculty members

    Stanford University Seal

     
  • richardmitnick 11:52 am on November 4, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Stanford study casts doubt on carbon capture", , , , Focusing on renewables, Stanford University   

    From Stanford University: “Stanford study casts doubt on carbon capture” 

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    October 25, 2019
    Taylor Kubota

    Current approaches to carbon capture can increase air pollution and are not efficient at reducing carbon in the atmosphere, according to research from Mark Z. Jacobson.

    1
    Research by Mark Z. Jacobson, professor of civil and environmental engineering, suggests that carbon capture technologies are inefficient and increase air pollution. Given this analysis, he argues that the best solution is to instead focus on renewable options, such as wind or solar, replacing fossil fuels. (Image credit: Getty Images)

    One proposed method for reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere – and reducing the risk of climate change – is to capture carbon from the air or prevent it from getting there in the first place. However, research from Mark Z. Jacobson at Stanford University, published in Energy and Environmental Science, suggests that carbon capture technologies can cause more harm than good.

    “All sorts of scenarios have been developed under the assumption that carbon capture actually reduces substantial amounts of carbon. However, this research finds that it reduces only a small fraction of carbon emissions, and it usually increases air pollution,” said Jacobson, who is a professor of civil and environmental engineering. “Even if you have 100 percent capture from the capture equipment, it is still worse, from a social cost perspective, than replacing a coal or gas plant with a wind farm because carbon capture never reduces air pollution and always has a capture equipment cost. Wind replacing fossil fuels always reduces air pollution and never has a capture equipment cost.”

    Jacobson, who is also a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, examined public data from a coal with carbon capture electric power plant and a plant that removes carbon from the air directly. In both cases, electricity to run the carbon capture came from natural gas. He calculated the net CO2 reduction and total cost of the carbon capture process in each case, accounting for the electricity needed to run the carbon capture equipment, the combustion and upstream emissions resulting from that electricity, and, in the case of the coal plant, its upstream emissions. (Upstream emissions are emissions, including from leaks and combustion, from mining and transporting a fuel such as coal or natural gas.)

    Common estimates of carbon capture technologies – which only look at the carbon captured from energy production at a fossil fuel plant itself and not upstream emissions – say carbon capture can remediate 85-90 percent of carbon emissions. Once Jacobson calculated all the emissions associated with these plants that could contribute to global warming, he converted them to the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide in order to compare his data with the standard estimate. He found that in both cases the equipment captured the equivalent of only 10-11 percent of the emissions they produced, averaged over 20 years.

    This research also looked at the social cost of carbon capture – including air pollution, potential health problems, economic costs and overall contributions to climate change – and concluded that those are always similar to or higher than operating a fossil fuel plant without carbon capture and higher than not capturing carbon from the air at all. Even when the capture equipment is powered by renewable electricity, Jacobson concluded that it is always better to use the renewable electricity instead to replace coal or natural gas electricity or to do nothing, from a social cost perspective.

    Given this analysis, Jacobson argued that the best solution is to instead focus on renewable options, such as wind or solar, replacing fossil fuels.

    Efficiency and upstream emissions

    This research is based on data from two real carbon capture plants, which both run on natural gas. The first is a coal plant with carbon capture equipment. The second plant is not attached to any energy-producing counterpart. Instead, it pulls existing carbon dioxide from the air using a chemical process.

    Jacobson examined several scenarios to determine the actual and possible efficiencies of these two kinds of plants, including what would happen if the carbon capture technologies were run with renewable electricity rather than natural gas, and if the same amount of renewable electricity required to run the equipment were instead used to replace coal plant electricity.

    While the standard estimate for the efficiency of carbon capture technologies is 85-90 percent, neither of these plants met that expectation. Even without accounting for upstream emissions, the equipment associated with the coal plant was only 55.4 percent efficient over 6 months, on average. With the upstream emissions included, Jacobson found that, on average over 20 years, the equipment captured only 10-11 percent of the total carbon dioxide equivalent emissions that it and the coal plant contributed. The air capture plant was also only 10-11 percent efficient, on average over 20 years, once Jacobson took into consideration its upstream emissions and the uncaptured and upstream emissions that came from operating the plant on natural gas.

    Due to the high energy needs of carbon capture equipment, Jacobson concluded that the social cost of coal with carbon capture powered by natural gas was about 24 percent higher, over 20 years, than the coal without carbon capture. If the natural gas at that same plant were replaced with wind power, the social cost would still exceed that of doing nothing. Only when wind replaced coal itself did social costs decrease.

    For both types of plants this suggests that, even if carbon capture equipment is able to capture 100 percent of the carbon it is designed to offset, the cost of manufacturing and running the equipment plus the cost of the air pollution it continues to allow or increases makes it less efficient than using those same resources to create renewable energy plants replacing coal or gas directly.

    “Not only does carbon capture hardly work at existing plants, but there’s no way it can actually improve to be better than replacing coal or gas with wind or solar directly,” said Jacobson. “The latter will always be better, no matter what, in terms of the social cost. You can’t just ignore health costs or climate costs.”

    This study did not consider what happens to carbon dioxide after it is captured but Jacobson suggests that most applications today, which are for industrial use, result in additional leakage of carbon dioxide back into the air.

    Focusing on renewables

    People propose that carbon capture could be useful in the future, even after we have stopped burning fossil fuels, to lower atmospheric carbon levels. Even assuming these technologies run on renewables, Jacobson maintains that the smarter investment is in options that are currently disconnected from the fossil fuel industry, such as reforestation – a natural version of air capture – and other forms of climate change solutions focused on eliminating other sources of emissions and pollution. These include reducing biomass burning, and reducing halogen, nitrous oxide and methane emissions.

    “There is a lot of reliance on carbon capture in theoretical modeling, and by focusing on that as even a possibility, that diverts resources away from real solutions,” said Jacobson. “It gives people hope that you can keep fossil fuel power plants alive. It delays action. In fact, carbon capture and direct air capture are always opportunity costs.”

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Stanford University campus. No image credit

    Stanford University

    Leland and Jane Stanford founded the University to “promote the public welfare by exercising an influence on behalf of humanity and civilization.” Stanford opened its doors in 1891, and more than a century later, it remains dedicated to finding solutions to the great challenges of the day and to preparing our students for leadership in today’s complex world. Stanford, is an American private research university located in Stanford, California on an 8,180-acre (3,310 ha) campus near Palo Alto. Since 1952, more than 54 Stanford faculty, staff, and alumni have won the Nobel Prize, including 19 current faculty members

    Stanford University Seal

     
  • richardmitnick 2:00 pm on November 1, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Arsenic in Rice, , , , Rice in the future, Stanford University   

    From Stanford University: “Stanford researchers find rice yields plummet and arsenic rises in future climate-soil scenarios” 

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    November 1, 2019
    Danielle Torrent Tucker

    Research combining future climate conditions and arsenic-induced soil stresses predicts rice yields could decline about 40 percent by 2100, a loss that would impact about 2 billion people dependent on the global crop.

    Rice is the largest global staple crop, consumed by more than half the world’s population – but new experiments from Stanford University suggest that with climate change, production in major rice-growing regions with endemic soil arsenic will undergo a dramatic decline and jeopardize critical food supplies.

    These experiments exploring rice production in future climate conditions show rice yields could drop about 40 percent by 2100 – with potentially devastating consequences in parts of the world that rely on the crop as a basic food source. What’s more, changes to soil processes due to increased temperatures will cause rice to contain twice as much toxic arsenic than the rice consumed today. The research was published Nov. 1 in Nature Communications.

    “By the time we get to 2100, we’re estimated to have approximately 10 billion people, so that would mean we have 5 billion people dependent on rice, and 2 billion who would not have access to the calories they would normally need,” said co-author Scott Fendorf, the Terry Huffington Professor in Earth system science at Stanford University’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences (Stanford Earth). “We have to be aware of these challenges that are coming so we can be ready to adapt.”

    The researchers specifically looked at rice because it is grown in flooded paddies that help loosen the arsenic from the soil and make it especially sensitive to arsenic uptake. While many food crops today contain small amounts of arsenic, some growing regions are more susceptible than others. Future changes in soil due to higher temperatures combined with flooded conditions cause arsenic to be taken up by rice plants at higher levels – and using irrigation water with naturally occurring high arsenic exacerbates the problem. While these factors will not affect all global commodities in the same way, they do extend to other flood-grown crops, like taro and lotus.

    “I just didn’t expect the magnitude of impact on rice yield we observed,” said Fendorf, who is also a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. “What I missed was how much the soil biogeochemistry would respond to increased temperature, how that would amplify plant-available arsenic, and then – coupled with the temperature stress – how that would really impact the plant.”

    A naturally occurring, semi-metallic chemical, arsenic is found in most soils and sediments, but is generally in a form that doesn’t get taken up by plants. Chronic exposure to arsenic leads to skin lesions, cancers, aggravation of lung disease and, ultimately, death. It is especially concerning in rice not only because of its global significance, but also because the low-allergen food is often introduced early to infants.

    “I think this problem is also crucial for people that have young kids in our society,” said lead author E. Marie Muehe, a former postdoctoral scholar at Stanford and now at the University of Tübingen, Germany. “Because infants are a lot smaller than we are, if they eat rice, that means that they take up more arsenic relative to their body weight.”

    Climate simulations

    The researchers created future climate conditions in greenhouses based on estimates of a possible 5 degree Celsius temperature increase and twice as much atmospheric carbon dioxide by 2100, as projected by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

    While previous research examined the impacts of increasing temperature in the context of the global food crisis, this study was the first to account for soil conditions in combination with shifts in climate.

    For the experiments, the group grew a medium-grain rice variety in soil from the rice-growing region of California. The greenhouses were controlled for temperature, carbon dioxide concentrations and soil arsenic levels, which will be higher in the future due to its buildup in soils from irrigating crops with arsenic-contaminated water, a problem that is worsened by over-pumping groundwater.

    “We don’t often think about this, but soil is alive – it’s teeming with bacteria and a lot of different microorganisms,” Fendorf said. “It turns out those microorganisms determine whether the arsenic stays partitioned onto the minerals and away from the plants or comes off the minerals into the water phase.”

    The researchers found that with increased temperatures, microorganisms destabilized more of the soil’s inherent arsenic, leading to greater amounts of the toxin in the soil water that is available for uptake by the rice. Once taken up, arsenic inhibits nutrient absorption and decreases plant growth and development, factors that contributed to the 40 percent decrease in yield the scientists observed.

    Early warning, future planning

    While the dramatic loss in production is a major cause for concern, the scientists are hopeful that this research will help producers find potential solutions for feeding the world.

    “The good news is that given past advances in terms of the global community’s ability to breed varieties that can adapt to new conditions, along with revisions to soil management, I’m optimistic we can get around the problems observed in our study,” Fendorf said. “I’m also optimistic that as we continue to shine a light on the threats resulting from a 5 degree Celsius change, society will adopt practices to ensure we never reach that degree of warming.”

    As next steps, Fendorf, co-author Tianmei Wang and Muehe hope to asses rice yields on a global scale by using remote sensing to pinpoint contaminated rice paddies in order to model future yields and arsenic contamination.

    “This is most likely to be a problem where most rice is consumed, so we think about South and East Asia,” said Wang, a PhD candidate in Earth system science. “Especially for people like my dad – he consumes rice three times a day and he just cannot live without it.”

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Stanford University campus. No image credit

    Stanford University

    Leland and Jane Stanford founded the University to “promote the public welfare by exercising an influence on behalf of humanity and civilization.” Stanford opened its doors in 1891, and more than a century later, it remains dedicated to finding solutions to the great challenges of the day and to preparing our students for leadership in today’s complex world. Stanford, is an American private research university located in Stanford, California on an 8,180-acre (3,310 ha) campus near Palo Alto. Since 1952, more than 54 Stanford faculty, staff, and alumni have won the Nobel Prize, including 19 current faculty members

    Stanford University Seal

     
  • richardmitnick 2:13 pm on October 31, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Precision mapping with satellite and drone photos could help predict infections of a widespread tropical disease", A team led by the University of Washington and Stanford University has discovered clues in the environment that help identify transmission hotspots for schistosomiasis., More than 200 million people have schistosomiasis which is treatable but has been difficult to eliminate from some regions of the world., , Stanford University, The disease is found across sub-Saharan Africa as well as in South America; the Caribbean; the Middle East; and East and Southeast Asia.,   

    From University of Washington and Stanford University: “Precision mapping with satellite, drone photos could help predict infections of a widespread tropical disease” 

    Stanford University Name
    Stanford University

    U Washington

    From University of Washington

    October 28, 2019
    Michelle Ma

    1
    A drone image showing a village in northwestern Senegal and agricultural land, separated by a river with lush vegetation. Researchers use rigorous field sampling and aerial images to precisely map communities that are at greatest risk for schistosomiasis infection. Andrew Chamberlin/Stanford University.

    Satellite images, drone photos and even Google Earth could help identify communities most at risk for getting one of the world’s worst tropical diseases.

    A team led by the University of Washington and Stanford University has discovered clues in the environment that help identify transmission hotspots for schistosomiasis, a parasitic disease that is second only to malaria in its global health impact. The research, published Oct. 28 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, uses rigorous field sampling and aerial images to precisely map communities that are at greatest risk for schistosomiasis.

    “This is a game-changer for developing-country public health agencies, because it will make it possible for them to efficiently find the villages that need their help the most,” said lead author Chelsea Wood, an assistant professor in the UW School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences.

    More than 200 million people have schistosomiasis, which is treatable but has been difficult to eliminate from some regions of the world. Schistosomes, the worms that cause this disease, grow within freshwater snails, where they multiply and are released into the waters of rivers, lakes and streams. The worms infect people by penetrating their skin when they swim, bathe or wade. Schistosomiasis causes bloody urine and stool and abdominal pain, and can damage the liver, spleen, intestines, lungs and bladder. In children, the infection can stunt growth and impair cognitive development.

    2
    Children washing sheep in Penene, Senegal, May 2015.Chelsea Wood/University of Washington.

    The disease is found across sub-Saharan Africa, as well as in South America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, and East and Southeast Asia. Though schistosomiasis is treatable with the drug praziquantel, it’s easy for a person to become re-infected after treatment if they swim or bathe in freshwater where the parasite is present.

    The World Health Organization recently recognized that efforts to slow transmission of the disease through drug distribution weren’t working in some regions. In addition to drug distribution, WHO now recommends targeting the types of snails that transmit the parasitic worms, which is how this research team got involved.

    “The ecological side of the problem is what’s holding us back from schistosomiasis control and elimination — and now ecologists are stepping in and filling that gap,” Wood said. “It’s an exciting time because there’s so much for us to learn. The kind of innovation we have introduced is just the beginning of what ecologists have to contribute to the control of schistosomiasis.”

    3
    Researchers process the vegetation from a sampling point in northwestern Senegal, May 2016.Chelsea Wood/University of Washington.

    The researchers worked across more than 30 sites in northwestern Senegal, where villages use a local river and lake for everything from bathing and swimming to washing dishes and clothes. This location was the epicenter of the largest schistosomiasis outbreak ever recorded, in the mid-1980s.

    The researchers first set out to methodically count and map the distribution of snails across each site over two years. The fieldwork was difficult and exhausting — they couldn’t let the schistosome-infested water touch their skin while they waded chest-deep to sample mud and plants. It was hot and humid, and the thick shoreline vegetation was full of mosquitoes, spiders, snakes — and even feral dogs.

    4
    Co-author Andrew Chamberlin performs deep-water floating vegetation sampling at Mbarigot, Senegal, May 2017.Chelsea Wood/University of Washington.

    Their fieldwork demonstrated that snails were found in the river in patchy and inconsistent distributions over time. Snails might be present in one location, then completely absent three months later. Given the snails’ ephemeral nature, the researchers realized that targeting aggregations of snails for removal might not be an efficient way to reduce schistosomiasis transmission.

    Instead, they shifted their focus to the habitat where snails live. The snails thrive in unrooted, floating vegetation that is visible in images from satellites and drones.

    Considering these habitat features, plus other data they had gathered about each site such as snail density, village size and location, they used models to evaluate which factors could best predict schistosomiasis transmission. The total area of a water access point and the area of floating vegetation were the two best indicators that human infection would occur nearby.

    These habitat features are all easy to measure in drone or satellite imagery.

    4
    Freshwater snails that transmit schistosomiasis thrive in unrooted, floating vegetation that can be seen in aerial images. In this photo, the dark, patchy vegetation in the water is the ideal habitat for snails.Andrew Chamberlin/Stanford University.

    “Counting snails is not an easy undertaking, and it also produces data that are not as useful as the data you can get from a drone,” Wood said. “Once we understand the association between snail presence and particular habitat features, we can use drone and satellite imagery to detect those habitat features. This cuts the time needed to evaluate the risk of schistosomiasis infection down to a fraction of what it would be if you were just looking at snails.”

    Public health agencies in Senegal can now look at aerial images across their jurisdiction, find areas with the most floating vegetation in water access points and target those villages for schistosomiasis treatment, the researchers explained.

    5
    There are many uses for the water access point at Ndiawdoune, Senegal, including dishwashing, bathing, fishing and water for livestock.Chelsea Wood/University of Washington

    “Now we can take these aerial images season to season and have an idea of how the pathogenic landscape changes in time and space. This can give us a better idea of infection rates,” said co-author Giulio De Leo, a biology professor at Stanford University. “This project has been a tremendous effort and an example of collaborative research that would be impossible by a single person or a single lab.”

    The team is also trying to use machine learning to automate the identification of floating vegetation in photos, making it even easier for agencies to use the information. They plan to test their approach in other parts of Africa at a broader scale, using publicly available infection data and satellite imagery.

    “We’re cautiously optimistic, but we still have some work to do to generalize our findings to new contexts,” said co-author Susanne Sokolow, a research scientist at Stanford University. “If, indeed, we find that the predictors for schistosomiasis are scalable and automatable, then we will have a powerful new tool in the fight against the disease, and one that fills a critical capacity gap: a way to efficiently target environmental interventions alongside human treatment to combat the disease.”

    Other co-authors are Isabel Jones, Andrew Chamberlin and Andrea Lund of Stanford University; Kevin Lafferty of U.S. Geological Survey at University of California, Santa Barbara; Armand Kuris of University of California, Santa Barbara; Merlijn Jocque of Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences; Skylar Hopkins of Virginia Tech; Evan Fiorenza and Grant Adams of the University of Washington; Julia Buck of University of North Carolina Wilmington; Ana Garcia-Vedrenne of University of California, Los Angeles; Jason Rohr of University of Notre Dame; Fiona Allan, Bonnie Webster and Muriel Rabone of London’s Natural History Museum; Joanne Webster of Royal Veterinary College, University of London; and Lydie Bandagny, Raphaël Ndione, Simon Senghor, Anne-Marie Schacht, Nicolas Jouanard and Gilles Riveau of Biomedical Research Center EPLS in Saint Louis, Senegal.

    This research was funded by University of Michigan, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Wellcome Trust, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Stanford University, the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.

    See the full article here .


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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Stanford University

    Leland and Jane Stanford founded the University to “promote the public welfare by exercising an influence on behalf of humanity and civilization.” Stanford opened its doors in 1891, and more than a century later, it remains dedicated to finding solutions to the great challenges of the day and to preparing our students for leadership in today’s complex world. Stanford, is an American private research university located in Stanford, California on an 8,180-acre (3,310 ha) campus near Palo Alto. Since 1952, more than 54 Stanford faculty, staff, and alumni have won the Nobel Prize, including 19 current faculty members

    Stanford University Seal

    u-washington-campus

    The University of Washington is one of the world’s preeminent public universities. Our impact on individuals, on our region, and on the world is profound — whether we are launching young people into a boundless future or confronting the grand challenges of our time through undaunted research and scholarship. Ranked number 10 in the world in Shanghai Jiao Tong University rankings and educating more than 54,000 students annually, our students and faculty work together to turn ideas into impact and in the process transform lives and our world. For more about our impact on the world, every day.
    So what defines us —the students, faculty and community members at the University of Washington? Above all, it’s our belief in possibility and our unshakable optimism. It’s a connection to others, both near and far. It’s a hunger that pushes us to tackle challenges and pursue progress. It’s the conviction that together we can create a world of good. Join us on the journey.

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