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  • richardmitnick 11:10 am on March 20, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Computer science college seniors in U.S. outperform peers in China, , , , India and Russia, new research says", Stanford University   

    From Stanford University: “Computer science college seniors in U.S. outperform peers in China, India and Russia, new research says” 

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    March 19, 2019
    Alex Shashkevich, Stanford News Service
    (650) 497-4419
    ashashkevich@stanford.edu

    1
    New Stanford-led research found that undergraduate seniors studying computer science in the United States outperformed their peers in China, India and Russia on a standardized exam measuring their skills. (Image credit: Sidekick / Getty Images)

    An international group of scholars led by the Graduate School of Education’s Prashant Loyalka found that undergraduate seniors studying computer science in the United States outperformed final-year students in China, India and Russia on a standardized exam measuring their skills. The research results were published on March 18 in a new paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    International comparison of universities usually falls in the domain of popular news rankings and general public perception, which rely on limited information and do not consider the skills students acquire, Loyalka said. That’s why he and his team wanted to collect and analyze data on what students learn in colleges and universities in different countries.

    “There is this narrative that higher education in the United States is much stronger than in other countries, and we wanted to test whether that’s true,” said Loyalka, who is also a center research fellow at the Rural Education Action Program in the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. “Our results suggest that the U.S. is doing a great job at least in terms of computer science education compared to these three other major countries.”

    The findings

    As part of the study, the researchers selected nationally representative samples of seniors from undergraduate computer science programs in the U.S., China, India and Russia. Students were given a two-hour standardized computer science test developed by the nonprofit testing and assessment organization Educational Testing Service. In total, 678 students in China, 364 students in India and 551 students in Russia were tested. In the United States, the researchers used assessment data on 6,847 seniors.

    The test, which aligns with national and international guidelines on what should be taught, probed how well students understand different concepts and knowledge about programming, algorithms, software engineering and other computer science principles.

    Researchers found that the average computer science student in the U.S. ranked higher than about 80 percent of students tested in China, India and Russia, Loyalka said. In contrast, the difference in scores among students in China, India and Russia was small and not statistically significant.

    Researchers also compared a smaller pool of students from top-ranking institutions in each country. They found that the average student in a top computer science program in the U.S. also ranked higher than about 80 percent of students from top programs in China, India and Russia. But the top Chinese, Indian and Russian students scored comparably with the U.S. students from regular institutions, according to the research.

    The researchers also found that the success of the American students wasn’t due to the sample having a large number of high-scoring international students. The researchers distinguished international students by their language skills. Of all sampled U.S. students, 89.1 percent reported that their best language is only English, which the researchers considered to be domestic U.S. students.

    “There is this sense in the public that the high quality of STEM programs in the United States is driven by its international students,” Loyalka said. “Our data show that’s not the case. The results hold if we only consider domestic students in the U.S.”

    The researchers also found that male students scored moderately higher than female students in each of the four countries.

    “The difference between men and women is there in every country, but the gaps are modest compared to the gaps we see between countries and elite and non-elite institutions,” Loyalka said.

    Further research

    The new research is a part of a larger effort led by Loyalka to examine the skills of students in science, technology, engineering and math fields in different countries. In another forthcoming paper, he and his collaborators examine other skills among students in the same four countries. Further research will also look at the relationship between skills developed in college and labor market outcomes, he said.

    Another major goal of the research team is to look more deeply at what might be driving the difference in the performance among countries.

    “We’re looking at different aspects of the college experience including faculty behavior, instruction and student interactions,” Loyalka said. “One of our major goals is to see what types of college experiences could contribute to better student performance.”

    Other Stanford co-authors on the paper included doctoral students Angela Sun Johnson and Saurabh Khanna as well as Ashutosh Bhuradia, a project manager for the research.

    See the full article here .


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    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

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  • richardmitnick 10:53 am on March 20, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Biology Research Building provides new home for the life sciences at Stanford", , , , Stanford University   

    From Stanford University: “Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Biology Research Building provides new home for the life sciences at Stanford” 

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    March 20, 2019

    Ker Than

    1
    The Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Biology Research Building, Stanford’s newest research building devoted to the life sciences, will be formally dedicated this week. (Image credit: Thom Sanborn)

    The Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Biology Research Building provides laboratory space for Stanford’s top-ranked Biology Department faculty and staff, as well as hundreds of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.

    In the new Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Biology Research Building, which will be formally dedicated this week, Stanford biology faculty and students once spread across campus are now together under one roof. Here, experts in areas such as ecology and evolution are working next to molecular and cellular biologists in communal spaces that promote both intellectual and social interactions.

    Bass Biology is dedicated solely to research in the life sciences and provides laboratory space for Biology Department faculty and staff, as well as hundreds of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. Construction of the five-story structure was completed last summer. Faculty have been gradually relocating their labs into the building since the fall.

    “The Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Biology Research Building is becoming a place of collaboration and discovery,” said Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne, a neurobiologist whose lab is located in the new building. “Here, faculty members and students from across the biological sciences will work side by side in state-of-the-art laboratories and gain new insights into the building blocks of life. I am very grateful to Anne and Bob, whose generous gift to Stanford is a testament to their vision for science research and discovery.”

    A vision for the life sciences

    The building was made possible by a gift from Anne T. Bass, MLA ’07, and Robert M. Bass, MBA ’74, longtime Stanford volunteers and donors. The couple have provided counsel and extraordinary philanthropic support to four university presidents, many deans, and dozens of faculty to advance Stanford’s mission of teaching and research.

    2
    Bass Biology features an interactive “media mesh” that displays biology-themed abstract images that can be controlled through a touch-screen interface. (Image credit: Thom Sanborn)

    “Our top-ranked Biology Department could have no better champions than Anne and Bob,” said Martin Shell, vice president and chief external relations officer. “This building brings to completion the science, engineering and medical campus plan that Bob was instrumental in shaping during the early days of The Stanford Challenge. During that campaign, Anne’s service on the H&S Council inspired others to follow their lead by endowing faculty positions. Together, Anne and Bob worked with academic leaders to ensure that this building will best serve our faculty and students.”

    Anne Bass is a longtime children’s health advocate, both at home in Fort Worth, Texas, and at Stanford. She has been a member of the board of directors for the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford since 2000 and co-chaired two of the hospital’s campaigns. She is a long-serving member of the H&S Council and also served multiple terms on the Stanford Athletic Board and the Parents’ Program Advisory Board.

    Robert Bass is founder of the American aerospace firm Aerion Corp., president of his investment holding company Keystone Group LP and the founder of the Oak Hill family of investment funds. At Stanford, he served five terms as a member of the Board of Trustees, from 1989 to 2018, including as board chair from 1996 to 2000. His primary focus was on the Land and Buildings Committee, reshaping the campus as it has grown. He is a director of the Stanford Management Company (SMC), which oversees the university’s endowment. He was a founding director of the SMC Board in 1991 and served as chairman from 2000 to 2004.

    Robert is a trustee of Rockefeller University, Middlesex School, and the Amon Carter Museum. He is chairman emeritus of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth.

    Together, the Basses have been active in many of Stanford’s major fundraising campaigns. They endowed five chairs in the School of Humanities and Sciences during Stanford’s Centennial Campaign. They served as co-chairs for The Campaign for Undergraduate Education and created the Bass University Fellows in Undergraduate Education Program, which recognizes faculty for their exceptional contributions to undergraduate education. During The Stanford Challenge, they served on both the steering committee and leadership council.

    In 2013, the Stanford Associates awarded the couple the Degree of Uncommon Woman and the Degree of Uncommon Man, the university’s highest honor for rare and extraordinary service.

    Anne Bass said that she and her husband have been inspired by the discoveries made by Stanford biologists as they seek to unravel the mysteries of life. “The key to curing childhood leukemia could lie in a fundamental discovery about cancer cells that has already been made but whose significance hasn’t been realized yet,” she said. “Stanford’s world-class biologists are well-poised to make discoveries like these in the future, and Bob and I are proud to help them in their endeavor.”

    Treating diseases begins with an understanding of biology, Robert Bass added. “Foundational research in the biological sciences is essential, affecting everything from how we perceive ourselves and our relationship to the rest of the planet to advances in medicine and agriculture. Across Campus Drive is the research building that houses Bio-X. The X refers to the innovative collaborations from engineering, to chemistry, and beyond, but bio is the foundation,” he said. “Bass Biology is the transition from the academic campus to the medical center, and that influenced the architecture.”

    3
    Biology-themed artwork is incorporated throughout Bass Biology. (Image credit: Thom Sanborn)

    4
    Bass Biology’s first-floor lobby features an art installation called Pacific Cadence that provides a visual presence for Hopkins Marine Station on campus. (Image credit: Thom Sanborn)

    Beneficial adjacencies

    Situated on Campus Drive between the Clark Center and the Sapp Center for Science Teaching and Learning, Bass Biology is the cornerstone of Stanford’s new quad, which connects with the School of Medicine via Discovery Walk. This walkway, which runs through the medical school to Stanford Bio-X in the Clark Center, highlights the connection between foundational and applied research in the quest to improve human health.

    The building’s close proximity to other departments at Stanford – such as computer science, statistics and engineering – will help promote collaborations and interactions among faculty and students from different academic disciplines. “Biology is at the nexus of the sciences at Stanford. Development of a quad, with Bass Biology as one of its anchors, is very exciting because it creates a new focus for the natural sciences on the campus,” said Tim Stearns, the Frank Lee and Carol Hall Professor at Stanford and chair of the Biology Department.

    In the past, the Biology Department’s faculty and students were split across five aging buildings. This physical separation ran counter to the collaborative nature of modern science. In Bass Biology, faculty and their labs are purposefully arranged to create beneficial adjacencies that enhance collaboration. The 133,000-square-foot building is divided into wet labs for hands-on research and computational or “dry” labs. Hybrid research spaces combining both types of labs are also available.

    “We’re extremely excited about and grateful for this new space, which seems ideally designed for sparking creativity across teams,” said Gretchen Daily, whose lab has relocated to the new building. Daily has been honored for her contributions to undergraduate teaching as a Bass University Fellow in Undergraduate Education. She is also the Bing Professor of Environmental Science and director of the Natural Capital Project, which is advancing a systematic, science-based approach for integrating the values of nature into policy and finance worldwide.

    “Bass Biology will give us a huge boost within the Biology Department, as we have many innovative collaborations with different labs and with the nearby Medicine and Engineering schools,” Daily said.

    Telling a story

    Designed by Flad Architects and Ennead Architects, the limestone-clad, two-wing structure is connected by an enclosed bridge on the upper floors. The slats in the multi-story pergola that shade the building’s entry are meant to be an evocative reflection of the bands in gel electrophoresis, a common laboratory technique.

    Incorporated throughout the building are multiple storytelling elements. For example, a two-story interactive “media mesh,” visible from Campus Drive and the medical school, displays biology-themed abstract images that are controllable through a touch-screen interface near the building’s entrance. The first-floor lobby and entranceway of Bass Biology also features an art installation called “Pacific Cadence” to provide a visual presence on campus for Hopkins Marine Station, which is affiliated with the Biology Department. “Pacific Cadence” is made up of photographic collages of the ocean’s surface that are seamlessly knitted together to give a sense of the vast, complex and ever-changing nature of the Pacific Ocean.

    An open house event for Bass Biology will be held on March 21.

    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 10:32 am on March 18, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence, Stanford University   

    From Stanford University: “Stanford University launches the Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence” 

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    March 18, 2019
    Amy Adams

    1
    John Etchemendy and Fei-Fei Li will co-direct the new Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence. (Image credit: Drew Kelly for Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence)

    Stanford University is launching a new institute committed to studying, guiding and developing human-centered artificial intelligence technologies and applications. The Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (HAI) is building on a tradition of leadership in artificial intelligence at the university, as well as a focus on multidisciplinary collaboration and diversity of thought. The mission of the institute is to advance artificial intelligence (AI) research, education, policy and practice to improve the human condition.

    The university-wide institute is committed to partnering with industry, governments and non-governmental organizations that share the goal of a better future for humanity through AI. As a part of this commitment, the institute is working closely with companies across sectors, including technology, financial services, health care and manufacturing, to create a community of advocates and partners at the highest level. HAI will be led by John Etchemendy, professor of philosophy and former Stanford University provost, and Fei-Fei Li, professor of computer science and former director of the Stanford AI Lab.

    With world-class humanities, social sciences, engineering and medical schools located on the same campus as experts in business, law and policy, Stanford HAI expects to become an interdisciplinary, global hub for AI learners, researchers, developers, builders and users from academia, government and industry, as well as policymakers and leaders from civil society who want to understand AI’s impact and potential, and contribute to building a better future.


    The emergence of artificial intelligence has the potential to radically alter how we live our lives. This new era can bring us closer to our shared dream of creating a better future for all of humanity. It will also bring opportunities and challenges that we can’t yet foresee, requiring a true diversity of thought. Stanford HAI aims to become a global, inter-disciplinary hub for discussion and development of AI.

    Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne said artificial intelligence has the potential to radically change how we live our lives. “Now is our opportunity to shape that future by putting humanists and social scientists alongside people who are developing artificial intelligence,” he said. “This approach aligns with Stanford’s founding purpose to produce knowledge for the betterment of humanity. I am deeply thankful to our supporters who are providing foundational funding for the institute, which is a critical element for our vision for the future of Stanford University.”

    Stanford HAI formally launches at a symposium on Monday, March 18 featuring speakers such as Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates and California Governor Gavin Newsom, as well as leading experts Kate Crawford of NYU, Jeff Dean of Google, Demis Hassabis of DeepMind, Alison Gopnik of UC Berkeley, Reid Hoffman of Greylock Partners and Eric Horvitz of Microsoft Research. (Watch the livestream here.)

    The institute launches with 200 participating faculty from all seven schools at the university. In collaboration with appropriate schools and departments, it also plans to hire at least 20 new faculty, including 10 junior fellows, from across fields spanning humanities, engineering, medicine, the arts or the basic sciences, with a particular interest in those working at the intersection of disciplines. It will also house research fellows, convene groups of professionals to solve critical issues to humanity and distribute funding to spur novel research directions. In addition, the institute will partner with organizations including AI4All, AI100, AI Index, Center for AI Safety and the Center for the Study of Language and Information. HAI, along with a new Data Science Institute, will anchor a planned 200,000-square-foot building that is intended to serve as a rallying point and catalyst for interdisciplinary collaboration.

    Solutions for society

    HAI is the first initiative to launch out of Stanford’s long-range planning process, begun in 2017 with an open invitation to faculty, students and staff to submit ideas for how Stanford could empower creativity and agile research, and accelerate solutions for society. That process resulted in multiple focus areas with teams strategizing how best to leverage Stanford’s unique strengths to approach challenges in diverse fields including education, health, the environment and basic research.

    The cross-campus collaboration arose out of that process as a pressing challenge as society enters the age of artificial intelligence. This new era can help us realize our shared dream of a better future for all of humanity, but also has the potential to bring challenges and disruptions that societies around the world will need to be prepared to confront.

    Etchemendy, who is also the Patrick Suppes Family Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences, said he expects the institute to become a global educator and convening forum for AI. “Its biggest role will be to reach out to the global AI community, including universities, companies, governments and civil society to help forecast and address issues that arise as this technology is rolled out,” he said. “We do not believe we have answers to the many difficult questions raised by AI, but we are committed to convening the key stakeholders in an informed, fact-based quest to find those answers.”

    Li said Stanford’s position on the importance of the diversity of thought is unique within the burgeoning field of artificial intelligence. “AI is no longer just a technical field,” she said. “If we’re going to make the best decisions for our collective future, we need technologists, business leaders, educators, policy makers, journalists and other parts of society to be versed in AI, and to contribute their perspectives. Stanford’s depth of expertise across academic disciplines combined with a rich history of collaboration with experts and stakeholders from around the world make it an ideal platform for this institute.”

    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 10:48 am on March 11, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Stanford researchers develop a smartphone app to simultaneously treat and track autism", , Stanford University   

    From Stanford University: “Stanford researchers develop a smartphone app to simultaneously treat and track autism” 

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    March 6, 2019
    Nathan Collins

    1
    A smartphone app that could help diagnose autism uses a game to encourage kids to act out concepts such as being an artist or the feeling of being surprised. The app takes video of the kids at play to analyze and detect indicators of autism. (Image credit: Courtesy Wall Lab)

    Diagnosing autism can take half a day or more of clinical observation, and that’s the quick part – often, families wait years just to get to that point. Now, in hopes of speeding things up, Stanford researchers are developing a smartphone app that could drastically reduce the time it takes to get a diagnosis.

    The heart of the app, called GuessWhat, is a game that encourages kids to act out concepts such as playing baseball or the feeling of being happy. But just as important, says creator Dennis Wall, an associate professor of pediatrics and of biomedical data science, is the fact that the app takes video of kids at play – video that preliminary work suggests can be analyzed to figure out if kids have autism.

    With help from a Neuroscience:Translate seed grant from the Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute, Wall, James Landay, a professor of computer science, and colleagues are expanding GuessWhat’s capabilities as not just a diagnostic tool but perhaps a therapeutic one as well.

    “Children are missing an opportunity” to get help with autism, Wall said, and if the project is successful, it will “address a critical need in the diagnosis of autism.”

    Charades as diagnostic tool

    The original idea for GuessWhat, Wall said, came to him while playing a smartphone-based version of charades. In that game, players hold a phone on their foreheads, screen facing out, so that others can see a cue – a picture of an astronaut, for example – and try to guess that cue from what their friends act out.

    Wall realized that by getting kids to act out a variety of different concepts – astronauts and the like, but also emotions or social situations – he might be able to capture video of children and use machine learning algorithms on that video to determine the probability any one child had autism. That, Wall said, could be useful both for diagnosis and for tracking developmental progress. And for parents, it could be done relatively quickly and without having to wait years for a visit to a specialized clinic.

    “I thought if we could do something like this for autism, if could be really powerful,” Wall said.

    Here’s how it currently works. After parents or other adults open the app and sign in, they hold the phone up to their foreheads, screen facing out so a kid can see it. The screen then displays an image – pictures of emojis or people in various jobs or social situations – for the child to act out. The adult then tries to guess what the image represents.

    The difference from usual charades is the video. While a child plays, the smartphone’s camera captures video, which serves two purposes. In the initial stages, Wall, Landay and colleagues already know which kids have autism and which don’t, and the point is to analyze the video using machine learning methods to figure out which facial expressions, movements or other behaviors distinguish those with autism. From that, the app would learn to detect indicators of autism, which a child’s doctor could then use to screen kids without having to see them in a specialized clinic. Preliminary experiments, Wall said, suggest the strategy could work – and that the time is right to expand the team’s efforts.

    Charades as therapy

    Now, Wall said, “our goal is to build it up, and that’s where the seed grant comes in.” With that funding, the team is gearing up for field tests with a wider group of families, who will participate in co-designing the next version of the app. The team will also continue to gather data that could help the app better distinguish between kids with and without autism.

    The seed grant will also go toward developing GuessWhat into a therapeutic as well as diagnostic app, creating what Wall calls an action-to-data feedback loop. “That could enable us to track progress using GuessWhat game play as a metric while treating the children” to be more able to function well in social situations, Wall said. “Once they’re more social, many will switch tracks from a delayed development track consistent with autism to a more typical development track.”

    In the coming months, Wall and colleagues will work with clinicians to incorporate elements of two standard autism therapies, known as discrete trial learning and pivotal response training, into GuessWhat. Some features of those therapies, such as flashcards that teach kids to discriminate between emotions and games that emphasize imitation and social interaction, could be relatively easy to implement in a smartphone app, Wall said. Ultimately, the hope is to get ready for clinical trials to test GuessWhat’s therapeutic value sometime in the next few years.

    But the most important goal may be simply to keep track of a lot of data – for example, which diagnostic decisions are made and why. “Medicine in general has failed to do a good job of record management,” Wall said. “So, when something happens in a doctor’s office – identifying a breathing abnormality with a stethoscope, a visual screen of a developmental delay, a screen of the eyes – much of what drives that doctor to arrive at a decision is lost.” By actually storing lots of data on kids playing games, researchers have a better place to start when trying to understand what autism is and how to address it.

    “No one has ever captured this data before,” Wall said. “That creates an opportunity to do much, much more for developmental pediatric health going forward.”

    Wall is a member of Stanford Bio-X, the Maternal & Child Health Research Institute and the Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute. Landay is a member of the Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute. Additional collaborators are Haik Kalantarian, a postdoctoral fellow in pediatrics and biomedical data science; Peter Washington, a graduate student in bioengineering; researchers Aaron Kline and Qandeel Tariq; and clinical research coordinators Kaitlyn Dunlap and Jessey Schwartz.

    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 4:35 pm on March 7, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Stanford lab wants to make the environment of outer space work for us", “We could do many missions with CubeSats – small modular satellites – in the outer solar system that we wouldn’t be able to do now.”, “We have to do work that’s revolutionary rather than only evolutionary if we’re going to get to that next step in space exploration.”, “We like ideas that verge on science fiction” Close said, “We want to open up access to the solar system in a way that takes advantage of the space environment while also protecting our spacecraft from it.”, Close pictures her work as part of a larger story of aspirational space research that has led to versatile innovations including GPS laptops water purifiers wireless headsets artificial limbs, One idea the researchers have is to power spacecraft or their subsystems with plasma, Passing by certain planets like Jupiter and Saturn they can become surrounded by higher density plasma which causes the vehicles to build up a negative charge, Sigrid Close associate professor of aeronautics and astronautics at Stanford University is finding ways to treat the space environment as a collection of resources., Stanford University, The researchers are hoping they could capture that charge to power spacecraft on their way out of the solar system, The Space Environment and Satellite Systems lab members don’t expect to pluck food and water from the cosmos. Instead they are focused on plasma, They think plasma could power longer range spacecraft or enable a new way of surveying asteroids for mining an application that could provide possible materials for use on Earth and in space, This set of spacecraft and sensors would weigh somewhere between one-fifth and half as much as systems currently sent to explore asteroids, When explorers venture into the great unknown of outer space they must bring along everything they need.   

    From Stanford University: “Stanford lab wants to make the environment of outer space work for us” 

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    March 5, 2019
    Taylor Kubota

    When explorers venture into the great unknown of outer space, they must bring along everything they need. This adds expense and complexity to an already ambitious endeavor – and limits where spacecraft can go. As a way to ease that packing burden, Sigrid Close, associate professor of aeronautics and astronautics at Stanford University, is finding ways to treat the space environment as a collection of resources.

    1
    Research Engineer Nicolas Lee, left, works with PhD student Sean Young, right, on an energy harvesting antenna used in their hypervelocity impact experiments at NASA Ames under the supervision of Associate Professor Sigrid Close. (Image credit: L.A. Cicero)

    “For us to be a space-faring species, we need to better understand what’s out there,” said Nicolas Lee, research engineer in Close’s lab and her former graduate student. “We want to open up access to the solar system in a way that takes advantage of the space environment, while also protecting our spacecraft from it.”

    The Space Environment and Satellite Systems lab members don’t expect to pluck food and water from the cosmos. Instead, they are focused on plasma – the collection of gaseous charged particles that surrounds planets and asteroids. They think plasma could power longer range spacecraft or enable a new way of surveying asteroids for mining, an application that could provide possible materials for use on Earth and in space.

    “We like ideas that verge on science fiction,” Close said. “We have to do work that’s revolutionary, rather than only evolutionary, if we’re going to get to that next step in space exploration.”

    Plasma power

    We can witness plasma as lightning and in neon signs but it’s also abundant throughout the universe in places with strong magnetic fields – the sun is big ball of plasma and the Earth’s upper atmosphere is plasma, too. The Close lab has set its sights on plasma because spacecraft are regularly immersed in it.

    One idea the researchers have is to power spacecraft or their subsystems with plasma. As spacecraft venture farther from the sun, they cannot rely on solar power. But in passing by certain planets, like Jupiter and Saturn, they can become surrounded by higher density plasma, which causes the vehicles to build up a negative charge. The researchers are hoping they could capture that charge to power spacecraft on their way out of the solar system.

    “If it works, it has the ability to expand the types of missions that we can actually fly,” said Sean Young, a graduate student working with Close on this project, which is part of a NASA Space Technology Research Fellowship. “We could do many missions with CubeSats – small, modular satellites – in the outer solar system that we wouldn’t be able to do now.”

    As for its role in asteroid mining, the lab scientists think the small plumes of plasma that an asteroid emits after a meteoroid strike could reveal the materials within. Working off this idea, they have proposed a parent spacecraft that distributes 10 to 20 small sensors around an asteroid to report the location, timing and speed of plasma that washes over them. These measurements could indicate whether the asteroid contains water, organics or any elements of interest.

    This set of spacecraft and sensors would weigh somewhere between one-fifth and half as much as systems currently sent to explore asteroids, which means one mission could send out several sets to explore multiple asteroids at once. The project is called Meteoroid Impact Detection for Exploration of Asteroids (MIDEA) and is part of the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts Program, which funds radically innovative visions that are in the early stages of development.

    Our connection to space

    Close pictures her work as part of a larger story of aspirational space research that has previously led to versatile innovations, including GPS, laptops, water purifiers, wireless headsets and artificial limbs. Where some only see the hype around setting up colonies on the moon or Mars, Close sees technologies that could someday allow people to stay on Earth in the face of extreme environmental changes.

    “Many people don’t understand why we spend our resources on space research and exploration when we could use them on something else,” Close said. “But we’ve all benefited so much from the space program and there’s so much more to discover.”

    To read all stories about Stanford science, subscribe to the biweekly Stanford Science Digest.

    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

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  • richardmitnick 4:00 pm on February 27, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Stanford University, Stanford’s School of Earth and Energy & Environmental Sciences (Stanford Earth), ,   

    From Stanford University: “Volcanoes, archaeology and the secrets of Roman concrete” 

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    February 26, 2019
    Josie Garthwaite

    Geophysical processes have shaped Pozzuoli, Italy, like few other places in the world. Stanford students applied modern tools to understand those links and what it means to live with natural hazards as both threat and inspiration.

    1
    Students gather atop Mount Vesuvius in southern Italy and listen as geophysicist Tiziana Vanorio discusses how volcanic activity has shaped the surrounding region. (Image credit: Kurt Hickman)

    High above Italy’s Tyrrhenian Sea, off the north coast of Sicily, 13 students sit atop Stromboli Volcano as it erupts. Ash falls on their shoulders and ping-ping-pings their helmets. The ground beneath their feet trembles.

    3
    The Island of Stromboli, Shot 2004 Sep 28 by Steven W. Dengler.

    “It’s one thing to read and talk about seismic and volcanic hazard; it’s another thing to experience it,” said geophysicist Tiziana Vanorio, an assistant professor in Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences (Stanford Earth). “I wanted to share this with them.”

    The journey to Stromboli had begun the day before in Vanorio’s hometown, Pozzuoli, a colorful port city founded by the Greeks and later occupied by the Romans, at the center of a volcanic caldera, or depression, known as Campi Flegrei. Vanorio, the 13 students and two teaching associates boarded a hydrofoil in Naples and sailed south across the deep blue water of the Tyrrhenian for nearly four quiet hours before catching sight of smoke, steam and gases puffing from Stromboli’s cone.

    2
    During their two-week trip, students visited two volcanoes in Italy and local towns shaped by their proximity. (Image credit: Yvonne Tang)

    Reaching the top would prove more arduous – a five-hour climb up steep slopes of ash and rock. Sedimentologist Nora Nieminski, a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford Earth and a guest instructor on the trip, sprinted ahead to shoot drone footage that she would later help the students manipulate to create 3D models of the volcano. But the rest of the group walked without hurry. Halfway to the top, they stopped to rest near a dark scar on the volcano’s northern flank known as the Sciara del Fuoco, where the volcano has collapsed on itself.

    Dionne Thomas, ’20, a student on the trip who is majoring in chemical engineering, remembers smelling dirt and ash, seeing the Tyrrhenian Sea reflecting the sky’s late-afternoon wash of orange and blue, and counting down the minutes between small bursts of lava from a caldera upslope. While she noticed the weight of exhaustion from the long climb, she said, “I felt really strong.”

    Thomas and the 12 other students on the trip visited Stromboli as part of a three-week seminar in southern Italy focused on volcanoes, archaeology and the science of Roman concrete – an exceptionally durable material that may hold insights for future materials that are more sustainable or even suitable for building habitats on Mars.

    Offered through Stanford’s Bing Overseas Studies Program, the seminar is an opportunity to draw visceral connections between science and history, and to gain a better understanding of Earth along the way.

    Nature’s laboratory

    The Neapolitan Province in southern Italy is an ideal place to dive into the science of natural hazards and how they have played into daily life and innovation over thousands of years. Densely populated and peppered with dozens of volcanoes, the region ranks as one of the most hazardous on Earth. The ruins of a Roman harbor and an emperor’s villa can be found offshore, sunken like Atlantis as a result of unrest in Earth’s crust. “Not many places on Earth experience this kind of seismicity and volcanism, while being an ancient town and functioning as a modern society,” Vanorio said. “That’s the beauty of the place.”

    Underlying the seminar’s excursions and daily lessons in geophysics, the properties of Roman concrete and 3D modeling from drone images was a larger exercise in finding connections between different fields of study. It’s no accident that students chosen to participate in the seminar represented a wide range of majors, including computer science, physics, classics, chemical engineering and political science.

    3
    The ancient Italian city of Pozzuoli was shaped by volcanic activity. (Image credit: Kurt Hickman)

    “There are still scientific questions that we don’t know how to answer,” said Vanorio, who discovered natural processes deep in the subsurface of Campi Flegrei that mirror those in Roman concrete, and has used historical texts to shed light on strengths and the characteristics of both volcanic and engineered materials. “The more we leverage knowledge across different disciplines, the more we can address and solve those problems.”

    For Amara McCune, BS ’18, who joined a previous seminar in the region led by Vanorio in 2016, the intermingling of geophysics with dives into the region’s culture proved a powerful mix. “The unique combination of learning about Pompeii, volcanic uplift and Rome while being on-site, hearing from local guides and having archaeological and geological experts point out features of a location made for an incredibly rich learning experience,” she said.

    ______________________________________________________________________
    Materials inspired by nature
    4
    Romans used concrete made with volcanic ash to build long-lasting structures like the amphitheater in Pozzuoli, Italy. (Image credit: Nora Nieminski)

    Nearly all concrete today is based on a recipe developed in the early 1800s, which requires a process that’s heavily carbon-intensive. But ancient Romans invented a different recipe for concrete structures that have survived for millennia. Research now suggests this ancient material and the volcanoes that made its key components may hold clues for more sustainable building materials.
    ______________________________________________________________________

    Now pursuing a PhD in physics, McCune said the seminar in southern Italy helped to broaden her thinking about how she might apply her degree. “It made me more open to different fields and eager to learn the history and intricacies of the natural world around us,” she said.

    During the most recent trip, darkness fell as the group, giddy in anticipation of the volcano’s powerful eruptions, settled in around Stromboli’s rim. “It explodes violently and without warning – these big, loud bang explosions followed by incandescent ash flying into the air,” explained Dulcie Head, a teaching assistant on the trip and a PhD student in geophysics.

    By this time, the students could see the ash swirling around them as more than volcanic dirt. They knew that similar ash had been a key ingredient in construction of the amphitheater, harbor and ancient marketplace in Pozzuoli, and even the Pantheon in Rome, with its massive, unreinforced dome – the largest in the ancient world.

    “Pozzuoli is possibly the place where Romans, by looking at nature, were inspired to make an iconic material,” Vanorio said. They developed a recipe for concrete that lasts for thousands of years using volcanic ash, lime, tiny volcanic rocks and water, while modern concrete often crumbles within 50 years.

    Atop Stromboli, which scientists carefully monitor for safety, the students also had enough Earth science churning through their heads to see the volcano itself as a natural laboratory. “This volcano is literally producing new rocks as we’re sitting here. It’s throwing them at us,” Head explained. “It’s exciting to see such an active process, where a natural event also produces new materials.”

    The group bounced and slid down a path on the volcano’s slopes wearing gas masks to protect their lungs from ash and sand kicked up by their feet. Back at their hotel at the foot of the island, they peeled off their masks and washed away Stromboli’s detritus. Later, the group learned how to calculate the trajectory and velocity of the volcano’s arcing ash projectiles with particle-tracking software.

    “This was one way for us to use time-lapse images,” Vanorio said. “I wanted students from Earth science, from the classics, and engineers to learn how to use this tool because we are finding ourselves using these kinds of images more and more – often captured by drone – whether it’s to analyze inaccessible outcrops of rocks or map vast ancient sites or a building.”

    What could have seemed like abstract calculations took on greater resonance in light of the group’s up-close encounter with the eruption. “I’ll never forget the bright sparks of the eruption against the dark night,” said Sylvia Choo, ’20, who is majoring in classics and biology. “It was incredible to experience the great force of nature.”

    Ancient city

    Some 150 miles across the cool Tyrrhenian, within the Campi Flegrei or “Burning Fields” caldera, lies downtown Pozzuoli. In this city best known to many Italians as the birthplace of Sophia Loren, the ruins of a Roman marketplace are a hub for cross-disciplinary connections.

    Pozzuoli sits on a restless, Manhattan-sized swath of coast where the rotten-egg smell of sulfur laces the air. Solfatara crater, home of Vulcan, the Roman god of fire, gurgles on the edge of town. And just offshore, sculptures, thermal baths, a villa, bright tiled mosaics and other archaeological ruins rest more than 30 feet below sea level, victims of the caldera’s subsidence.

    5
    Parts of Pozzuoli’s ancient architecture contain records of long-term subsidence and brief periods of uplift. Rapid uplift during the 1980s left the town’s harbor too shallow for docking. (Image credit: Kurt Hickman)

    6
    Students swam through a sunken Roman resort town in the underwater archaeological park of Baiae off the coast of Pozzuoli. (Image credit: Kurt Hickman)

    Near Pozzuoli’s modern-day waterfront, three columns stand amid the ruins of the old marketplace, or Macellum. The students knew from their studies on campus in the spring that the marble trio held a 2000-year record of long-term subsidence and brief periods of uplift. So as the columns came into view when the group first walked down from their villa residence, several students exclaimed, “Oh, there they are!”

    Gathering close to the columns for a lecture from Vanorio while Nieminski’s drone buzzed overhead, they could see bands of tiny holes bored by so-called “stone-eater” mussels – marine mollusks that drilled up and down the columns as the rise and fall of the caldera changed how much of the structures extended above the waterline. “They literally made a mark on history,” Choo said.

    Using skills developed in on-campus seminars led by Nieminski, the students were able to analyze history at the Macellum and other sites with a lighter touch. They built 3D models of the marketplace from Nieminski’s drone imagery and manipulated them with software to take measurements and answer scientific questions of their own devising.

    Thomas, for example, examined the different materials in the columns to understand how weathering and water pressure from below played out over time. The project, she said, allowed her to weave together knowledge from chemical engineering, physics and math, as well as the geophysics lessons from the seminar. “After this seminar, I am even more convinced that many fields can overlap,” she said.

    Restless Earth

    Ups and downs are part of the fabric of life in Pozzuoli. In the early 1980s, the ground rose more than 6 feet in just two years, an alarming rate of uplift that reshaped the town, leaving the harbor too shallow for docking and forcing the relocation of schools and shops.

    The rising seabed also triggered enough earthquakes to prompt evacuation of nearly 40,000 people – including Vanorio, then a teenager – for two years beginning in 1982. “Everyone was worried,” she said. “People were expecting an eruption, and we were really concerned about the seismic hazard. The houses were not retrofitted seismically.”

    But as seminar students learned through lectures and readings this summer, the episode tipped off Stanford scientists to an unusual toughness in the rock here. Other volcanic calderas, like Yellowstone or the Long Valley, located east of Yosemite National Park, tend to release the energy accumulated from uplift fairly soon through earthquakes. “Those calderas experience uplift and then almost immediately, seismic activity starts,” Vanorio explained. “The rocks deform and then they fracture.”

    In Pozzuoli, earthquakes didn’t begin until the Campi Flegrei caldera had deformed by nearly 3 feet. “The question from a rock physics point of view has been, what kind of rocks in the subsurface are able to accommodate such large strain without immediately cracking?” The rock capping this caldera, it turns out, contains fibrous minerals mirroring those in Roman concrete that allow it to stretch and bend before failing under stress.

    At the marketplace, Vanorio also pointed out that the durability of Roman concrete can be seen in sections of the ancient walls where the bricks made of tuff – a kind of volcanic rock – eroded away long ago, but the mortar made with volcanic ash and lime still remains. “At the end of the day, these ancient sites are made of Earth materials that degrade and change over time,” Vanorio said. “We can use rock physics to understand those materials and learn to preserve them better.”

    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

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  • richardmitnick 9:03 am on February 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Faculty Senate hears presentation on SLAC and votes on resolution to affirm diversity, , , free expression and civility", , Stanford University   

    From Stanford University and SLAC Lab: “Faculty Senate hears presentation on SLAC and votes on resolution to affirm diversity, free expression and civility” 

    SLAC National Accelerator Lab

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    February 22, 2019
    Chris Bliss

    1
    SLAC Director Chi-Chang Kao speaking to the Faculty Senate on Thursday. (Image credit: L.A. Cicero)

    The partnership of SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University allows both organizations to leverage their resources and expertise to advance scientific discovery, SLAC Director Chi-Chang Kao said in his report to the Faculty Senate on Thursday. His presentation touched on the laboratory’s storied 57-year history, the partnership with Stanford, its current focus and its aspirations for the future.

    At the meeting, the senate also approved a motion endorsing need-blind admissions for international undergraduate students and passed a resolution to affirm diversity, free expression and civility. In other business, the senate voted to establish the charge of a new ad hoc Committee on the Professoriate, which will look at the recommendations from the Provost’s Task Force on Lecturers.

    Report from SLAC

    Founded in 1962, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratory managed by Stanford.

    Kao said that SLAC’s unique partnership with Stanford distinguishes the lab from other DOE sites and enables SLAC to increase its scientific impact.

    Last year, DOE funding at SLAC supported the work of nearly 50 Stanford researchers and 400 graduate students and postdoctoral scholars, and a growing number of Stanford researchers from across the campus – more than 500 in 2018 – use the state-of-the-art facilities.

    Kao said SLAC’s partnership with Stanford is “very important” and envisions more opportunities to collaborate with the university. Looking to the future, SLAC aspires to solve the big science questions – from the origin of the universe to the laws of physics, and Stanford researchers will be integral to this work. “These big questions need research at scale both in terms of the size of the teams, the cost and the complexity. A national laboratory is exactly the place to do that,” Kao said.

    Today, SLAC designs, constructs and operates large-scale instruments to explore the universe using satellites, telescopes, underground detectors and instrumentation capabilities, Kao said. Two instruments are currently under construction: the LCLS-II, an upgrade to the LCLS (Linac Coherent Light Source), which creates X-rays a billion times brighter than available before, and FACET-II (Facility for Advanced Accelerator Experimental Tests), which will drive new research in accelerator technology.


    SLAC LCLS-II

    SLAC FACET-II upgrading its Facility for Advanced Accelerator Experimental Tests (FACET) – a test bed for new technologies that could revolutionize the way we build particle accelerators

    Developing new technologies is a central focus at SLAC and the lab has broadened its mission into new areas like national security, cancer treatment, neuroscience, telecommunications and advanced electronics for autonomous vehicles.

    In response to a question about how SLAC negotiates with the government about the projects it undertakes, Kao responded that in recent years the government has exerted more influence; however, “the more engagement campus faculty have with SLAC, that will help us be the leader in influencing the policy of the future.”

    International undergraduate admissions and financial aid

    The Faculty Senate approved a motion from the Committee on Undergraduate Admission and Financial Aid (C-UAFA) endorsing need-blind admissions for international students. Stanford currently has a need-blind admission process for U.S. domestic students and meets the full demonstrated financial need of all students who are admitted to Stanford and are eligible for aid.

    C-UAFA chair David Lobell, professor of Earth system science, introduced the motion regarding need-blind international admissions, which stated, in part, “As a global leader in higher education, Stanford University should be accessible to the best students in the world regardless of their socio-economic background.”

    President Marc Tessier-Lavigne applauded the work of C-UAFA in bring the issue forward. He noted that last spring the university made the commitment to go down the path to becoming need-blind for international undergraduate students. “We all recognize that it requires tremendous resources and it can’t happen overnight, but unless we prioritize it, it won’t get done,” he said.

    Resolution on diversity, free expression and civility

    The senate also voted to approve a resolution to reaffirm the university’s commitment to diversity, the observance of mutual respect and civility in discussion of controversial subjects and adherence to the university’s Fundamental Standard of student conduct. Developed by the Steering Committee of the Faculty Senate, this resolution is the result of several conversations the senate has had this academic year about this issue, including an entire meeting devoted to free speech and academic freedom. The document was conceived out of concern about the damages to the larger democracy incurred by hate speech and disinformation and the importance of academic freedom to the university’s educational mission.

    Prior to the vote, there was much discussion about the wording of the resolution, particularly on a passage that directly quotes from the Fundamental Standard: “Students are expected to show both within and without the university such respect for order, morality, personal honor and the rights of others as is demanded of good citizens.”

    Acknowledging that the Fundamental Standard, adopted in 1896, was a product of its time, several senate members argued that some of the language in the resolution should be changed to better reflect current thinking about standards of conduct. However, two amendments proposing alterations to the language in the resolution failed to pass.

    The resolution charges the Planning and Policy Board to develop recommendations for “promoting a culture of civility in the service of diversity, academic freedom and educative discourse at Stanford University.”

    Committee on the Professoriate

    In other business, the senate voted to establish the charge of a new ad hoc Committee on the Professoriate. The committee will consider recommendations made last fall by the Provost’s Task Force on Lecturers, specifically about adding, changing and eliminating some titles for teaching faculty and clarifying the criteria for the ranks of senior fellow and center fellow.

    The new committee is charged with providing the senate with a final report by the end of autumn quarter 2020.

    Provost’s report

    Provost Persis Drell reported on challenges the Budget Group is facing in putting together the 2019-20 budget plan. She said several factors are contributing to what she expects will be a “tight” year, including modest returns on the university’s endowment payout. She noted that the endowment payout has not kept up with inflation for the past four years, and that trend is anticipated to continue.

    She said that implementing the long-range vision is also a priority for the university, and while some initiatives will attract philanthropy, others may require realignment of existing resources in order to fulfill.

    The need to continue to address affordability challenges for all segments of the Stanford community is also a major consideration in budget planning, said Drell. “I believe our community will accept some cost cutting in order to meet the affordability challenges we are all facing, and meeting those is an essential component in ensuring a dynamic future for the university,” she said, adding that cost savings would be best accomplished by letting the leaders of the units figure out how to implement them, rather than a top-down approach.

    “In the Budget Group process, we’ve seen very thoughtful submissions, making it clear that university leadership is looking for ways to protect our core programs and departments while building a framework for our future,” she said.

    The full minutes of the Feb. 21 meeting, including the discussion that followed the presentations, will be posted on the Faculty Senate website. The next senate meeting is scheduled for March 7.

    See the full article here .


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

    Stem Education Coalition

    SLAC Campus
    SLAC is a multi-program laboratory exploring frontier questions in photon science, astrophysics, particle physics and accelerator research. Located in Menlo Park, California, SLAC is operated by Stanford University for the DOE’s Office of Science.

    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 1:05 pm on February 20, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "A Stanford-led engineering team unveils the prototype for a computer-on-a-chip", A new data storage technology called RRAM (resistive random access memory), , Engineers call this vision of ubiquitous computing the Internet of Everything, Engineers can build RRAM directly atop a processing circuit to integrate data storage and computation into a single chip, Stanford University, They’ll need to develop a new class of chips to serve as its foundation   

    From Stanford University: “A Stanford-led engineering team unveils the prototype for a computer-on-a-chip” 

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    February 19, 2019
    Tom Abate

    1
    Stanford researchers led an international research team that figured out how to pack many of the functions of an entire computer onto a single chip. (Image credit: Drea Sullivan Pexels/jéshoots)

    Computers have shrunk to the size of laptops and smartphones, but engineers want to cram most of the features of a computer into a single chip that they could install just about anywhere. A Stanford-led engineering team has developed the prototype for such a computer-on-a-chip.

    Electronic computing was born in the form of massive machines in air-conditioned rooms, migrated to desktops and laptops, and lives today in tiny devices like watches and smartphones.

    But why stop there, asks an international team of Stanford-led engineers. Why not build an entire computer onto a single chip? It could have processing circuits, memory storage and power supply to perform a given task, such as measuring moisture in a row of crops. Equipped with machine learning algorithms, the chip could make on-the-spot decisions such as when to water. And with wireless technology it could send and receive data over the internet.

    Engineers call this vision of ubiquitous computing the Internet of Everything. But to achieve it they’ll need to develop a new class of chips to serve as its foundation.

    The researchers unveiled the prototype for such a computer-on-a-chip Feb. 19 at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference in San Francisco. The prototype’s data processing and memory circuits uses less than a tenth as much electricity as any comparable electronic device, yet despite its size it is designed to perform many advanced computing feats.

    “This is what engineers do,” said Subhasish Mitra, a professor of electrical engineering and of computer science who worked on the chip. “We create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.”

    Mitra and H.-S. Philip Wong, a professor of electrical engineering, worked with scientists from the CEA-LETI research institute in Grenoble, France, to design this chip of the future.

    New memory is the key

    The prototype is built around a new data storage technology called RRAM (resistive random access memory), which has features essential for this new class of chips: storage density to pack more data into less space than other forms of memory; energy efficiency that won’t overtax limited power supplies; and the ability to retain data when the chip hibernates, as it is designed to do as an energy-saving tactic.

    RRAM has another essential advantage. Engineers can build RRAM directly atop a processing circuit to integrate data storage and computation into a single chip. Stanford researchers have pioneered this concept of uniting memory and processing into one chip because it’s faster and more energy efficient than passing data back and forth between separate chips as is the case today. The French team at CEA-LETI was responsible for grafting the RRAM onto a silicon processor.

    In order to improve the storage capacity of RRAM, the Stanford group made a number of changes. One was to increase how much information each storage unit, called a cell, can hold. Memory devices typically consist of cells that can store either a zero or a one. The researchers devised a way to pack five values into each memory cell, rather than just the two standard options.

    A second enhancement improved the endurance of RRAM. Think about data storage from a chip’s point of view: As data is continuously written to a chip’s memory cells, they can become exhausted, scrambling data and causing errors. The researchers developed an algorithm to prevent such exhaustion. They tested the endurance of their prototype and found that it should have a 10-year lifespan.

    Mitra said the team’s computer scientists and electrical engineers worked together to integrate many software and hardware technologies on the prototype, which is currently about the diameter of a pencil eraser. Although that is too large for futuristic, Internet of Everything applications, even now the way that the prototype combines memory and processing could be incorporated into the chips found in smartphones and other mobile devices. Chip manufacturers are already showing interest in this new architecture, which was one of the goals of the Stanford-led team. Mitra said experience gained manufacturing one generation of chips fuels efforts to make the next iteration smaller, faster, cheaper and more capable.

    “The SystemX Alliance has allowed a great collaboration between Stanford and CEA-LETI on edge AI application, covering circuit architecture, circuit design, down to advanced technologies,” said Emmanuel Sabonnadière, CEO of the French research institute.

    The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Stanford SystemX Alliance, the National Science Foundation, the Semiconductor Research Corporation and the Carnot Chair of Excellence at CEA-LETI supported this research.

    Subhasish Mitra is also a member of Stanford Bio-X and the Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute. Wong is also the Willard R. and Inez Kerr Bell Professor in the School of Engineering, and a member of Bio-X, the Precourt Institute for Energy and the Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute. Other Stanford team members include Mary Wootters, an assistant professor of computer science and of electrical engineering at Stanford; graduate students Tony Wu, Robert Radway, Andrew Bartolo, William Hwang, Seungbin Jeong, Haitong Li and Pulkit Tandon; and research scientist Binh Q. Le. Other team members are Edith Beigne, Elisa Vianello, Pascal Vivet and Etienne Nowak of CEA-LETI, and Mohamed Sabry Aly of Nanyang Technical University in Singapore.

    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 3:02 pm on December 14, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , In the Ediacaran period complex organisms including soft-bodied animals up to a meter long sprang to life in deep ocean waters, , Stanford University   

    From Stanford University: “Stanford researchers unearth why deep oceans gave life to the first big, complex organisms” 

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    December 12, 2018
    Josie Garthwaite
    (650) 497-0947
    josieg@stanford.edu

    In the beginning, life was small.

    For billions of years, all life on Earth was microscopic, consisting mostly of single cells. Then suddenly, about 570 million years ago, complex organisms including animals with soft, sponge-like bodies up to a meter long sprang to life. And for 15 million years, life at this size and complexity existed only in deep water.

    1
    More than 570 million years ago, in the Ediacaran period, complex organisms including soft-bodied animals up to a meter long sprang to life in deep ocean waters. (Image credit: Peter Trusler)

    Scientists have long questioned why these organisms appeared when and where they did: in the deep ocean, where light and food are scarce, in a time when oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere was in particularly short supply. A new study from Stanford University, published Dec. 12 in the peer-reviewed Proceedings of the Royal Society B, suggests that the more stable temperatures of the ocean’s depths allowed the burgeoning life forms to make the best use of limited oxygen supplies.

    All of this matters in part because understanding the origins of these marine creatures from the Ediacaran period is about uncovering missing links in the evolution of life, and even our own species. “You can’t have intelligent life without complex life,” explained Tom Boag, lead author on the paper and a doctoral candidate in geological sciences at Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences (Stanford Earth).

    The new research comes as part of a small but growing effort to apply knowledge of animal physiology to understand the fossil record in the context of a changing environment. The information could shed light on the kinds of organisms that will be able to survive in different environments in the future.

    “Bringing in this data from physiology, treating the organisms as living, breathing things and trying to explain how they can make it through a day or a reproductive cycle is not a way that most paleontologists and geochemists have generally approached these questions,” said Erik Sperling, senior author on the paper and an assistant professor of geological sciences.

    Goldilocks and temperature change

    Previously, scientists had theorized that animals have an optimum temperature at which they can thrive with the least amount of oxygen. According to the theory, oxygen requirements are higher at temperatures either colder or warmer than a happy medium. To test that theory in an animal reminiscent of those flourishing in the Ediacaran ocean depths, Boag measured the oxygen needs of sea anemones, whose gelatinous bodies and ability to breathe through the skin closely mimic the biology of fossils collected from the Ediacaran oceans.

    “We assumed that their ability to tolerate low oxygen would get worse as the temperatures increased. That had been observed in more complex animals like fish and lobsters and crabs,” Boag said. The scientists weren’t sure whether colder temperatures would also strain the animals’ tolerance. But indeed, the anemones needed more oxygen when temperatures in an experimental tank veered outside their comfort zone.

    Together, these factors made Boag and his colleagues suspect that, like the anemones, Ediacaran life would also require stable temperatures to make the most efficient use of the ocean’s limited oxygen supplies.

    Refuge at depth

    It would have been harder for Ediacaran animals to use the little oxygen present in cold, deep ocean waters than in warmer shallows because the gas diffuses into tissues more slowly in colder seawater. Animals in the cold have to expend a larger portion of their energy just to move oxygenated seawater through their bodies.

    2
    Shallow waters offered sunlight and food supplies, but the deeper waters where large, complex organisms first evolved provided a refuge from wild swings in temperature. (Image credit: Shutterstock)

    But what it lacked in useable oxygen, the deep Ediacaran ocean made up for with stability. In the shallows, the passing of the sun and seasons can deliver wild swings in temperature – as much as 10 degrees Celsius in the modern ocean, compared to seasonal variations of less than 1 degree Celsius at depths below one kilometer (.62 mile). “Temperatures change much more rapidly on a daily and annual basis in shallow water,” Sperling explained.

    In a world with low oxygen levels, animals unable to regulate their own body temperature couldn’t have withstood an environment that so regularly swung outside their Goldilocks temperature.

    The Stanford team, in collaboration with colleagues at Yale University, propose that the need for a haven from such change may have determined where larger animals could evolve. “The only place where temperatures were consistent was in the deep ocean,” Sperling said. In a world of limited oxygen, the newly evolving life needed to be as efficient as possible and that was only possible in the relatively stable depths. “That’s why animals appeared there,” he 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

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  • richardmitnick 12:41 pm on December 12, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Design Team called Flexible Resources, Long Range Planning, more diverse, more flexible teams, Notes From the Quad, Powering the most innovative research, Stanford University, Trend #1: Changes in federal funding put innovation at risk., Trend #2: To answer the key questions of our time, Trend #3: State-of-the-art resources for research are becoming more impactful, we need even larger, yet too complex and expensive for individual use.   

    From Stanford University – Notes From the Quad: “Shared resources to accelerate 21st century research” 

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University -Notes from the Quad

    Thoughts and observations from Stanford leaders

    December 11, 2018
    1
    Kam Moler
    Vice Provost and Dean of Research; Professor of Applied Physics and Physics

    The intellectual horizons that constitute the special province of a research university draw students and scholars with curious, roving, original, and courageous minds. Stanford’s ecosystem should give our entire research community an environment in which we can explore to the limits of our talents and imaginations and thereby contribute to the human quest for understanding and innovation.

    Long Range Planning (LRP) gives us the opportunity to design our ecosystem with modern and future research trends in mind. As we reach the midpoint of the LRP Design Phase, I’d like to share three observations about the changing nature of research and the ways in which LRP Design Teams will help us to adapt.

    Trend #1: Changes in federal funding put innovation at risk. The university will continue to make the case in Washington for the importance of federal funding, which is the irreplaceable mainstay of funding for research. Funding trends in the past year were encouraging, but we worry that over the long term a growing federal deficit and other important spending priorities could constrain the federal investment in research. The changing nature of funding makes it more difficult to conduct early-stage or risky research. Our principal investigators write compelling proposals and spend taxpayer dollars effectively, but principal investigators often find that proposals are more likely to be funded and renewed when they include preliminary data and propose work that is likely to produce at least some tangible value. We can seek alternative forms of funding, not to replace federal funding, but to explore transformational ideas that might create a new field of scholarship, redefine the boundaries between existing fields, or provide a pathway to new frontiers.

    Trend #2: To answer the key questions of our time, we need even larger, more diverse, more flexible teams. Modern research questions often transcend traditional disciplinary boundaries and require dynamic approaches to team formation. To develop sustainable farming practices, for example, we may need historians and data scientists to identify long-term trends, earth and environmental scientists to explain those trends, engineers to develop better sensors, policy experts to recommend best practices, and farmers to define “actionable information.” We can solve societal problems only with teams that vary in composition, size, scope, and duration.

    Trend #3: State-of-the-art resources for research are becoming more impactful, yet too complex and expensive for individual use. Researchers in science, engineering, medicine, the arts, and the humanities cannot afford to acquire every advanced tool or dataset for the exclusive use of their own research groups. We must think in terms of shared resources—those that not only drive our own research but that also establish a scientific “watering hole” where scholars of different types can congregate and collaborate. Think of the traditional library. Since the beginning of human scholarship, libraries have brought scholars together to benefit all who teach and learn. We can create modern communal resources for data collection, imaging, making, and modeling.

    Stanford’s Long Range Planning process is responding to all three of these trends.

    Powering the most innovative research

    The Design Team called Flexible Resources seeks to create nimble, flexible structures that allow Stanford researchers to pursue their best ideas wherever they lead, whenever they occur. We imagine fellowships that will allow graduate students to pursue the most exciting ideas without constraints. We imagine seed grants that will support faculty to conduct early-stage or risky research. We imagine workshops and seminars where researchers can engage with potential collaborators to identify opportunities and challenges. And we imagine internal awards to support interdisciplinary teams that are pioneering new areas of research.

    Three Design Teams called Imaging, Making, and Nano, and one Discovery Team called Research Computation and Data Services, are developing plans to create and enhance shared “platforms” such as shared resources for data, computation, imaging, and making. We imagine remarkable datasets that scholars can access in a secure computing environment. We imagine state-of-the-art tools for imaging material and biological systems from the nanoscale to astronomical scales. We imagine spaces where designers and creators can make everything from art to new biomaterials. These Design Teams will address not only the opportunities and possibilities for platforms but also their structure and governance: we want experts to retain local control and some degree of autonomy, but we also want to assure that all members of the research community enjoy easy access to these platforms, just as generations of students have enjoyed easy access to the library.

    Stanford’s long-range planning process and its Design Teams will help us to succeed in a changing research environment. They will enhance the depth and breadth of our research enterprise. They will help us to solve societal problems and to unlock scientific mysteries. Their effects will ripple out beyond our campus by training the best professors, industrialists, and non-profit leaders in all sectors of society that depend on our research ecosystem.

    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

     
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