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  • richardmitnick 7:56 am on June 14, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "$1.2 million for two new Stanford research projects on energy/climate AI and environmental justice", , Precourt Institute for Energy, Stanford University, Women in STEM-Fei-Fei Li; Ines Azevedo; Sally Benson   

    From Stanford University (US) : Women in STEM-Fei-Fei Li; Ines Azevedo; Sally Benson “$1.2 million for two new Stanford research projects on energy/climate AI and environmental justice” 

    Stanford University Name

    From Stanford University (US)

    1

    Jun 10, 2021
    Precourt Institute

    Three Stanford University entities will fund two new research projects on using artificial intelligence and machine learning to make energy systems more sustainable, affordable, resilient and fair to all socioeconomic groups.

    The projects – funded by Stanford’s Precourt Institute for Energy, the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (HAI), and the Bits & Watts Initiative – are the first two Precourt Pioneering Projects. The new program aims to fund one new project led by a Stanford faculty member every quarter at a level greater than that provided through the institute’s seed grant program. However, in its first round, leaders of the three entities decided to support two related projects. The resulting tools and datasets from both projects will be made available to researchers beyond Stanford.

    “Both research teams proposed really exciting ideas for using massive data to transition our energy system to meet multiple goals simultaneously,” said Yi Cui, director of the Precourt Institute, “so we decided to support both projects.”

    “In addition to optimizing for climate change, cost and reliability, they incorporate environmental justice and social equity criteria, which Stanford is committed to,” said Cui, who is also a professor of materials science in the School of Engineering and of photon science at DOE’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (US).

    SLAC, a U.S. Department of Energy national lab operated by Stanford, will coordinate with Precourt to fund researchers in these two broad research directions. This aligns with the climate and energy research priorities of the current U.S. administration.

    “We are excited to partner with Precourt and deepen our existing linkages,” said SLAC Director Chi-Chang Kao, who is also a professor of photon science. “SLAC has thriving efforts in machine learning and applied energy, and the lab is dedicated to advancing environmental justice and equity.”

    As Stanford moves to create a new school on climate and sustainability, the leaders of the four entities involved hope that the two new projects and related Stanford research will help recruit new faculty, bridge sustainability research across campus, and attract students of the highest caliber.

    “At HAI, we believe that artificial intelligence has the power to help with some of the biggest challenges of our time,” said HAI’s Denning Co-Director Fei-Fei Li, who is also a professor of computer science. “Climate and energy certainly top the list of earth’s most urgent issues. It’s truly our pleasure to support the Precourt Institute for Energy’s Precourt Pioneering Projects grant awards.”

    Energy and climate AI hub

    One project will build a platform – MESMERIZE: A Macro-Energy System Model with Equity, Realism and Insight in Zero Emissions – centered on how policies and people shape the needed transition to sustainable energy systems and its distributional/equity consequences. The hub will integrate a modelling effort, data sets, advanced computational algorithms and other tools developed at Stanford to solve energy and climate challenges to deep decarbonization.

    The project team will use the hub to build a multidisciplinary, economy-wide decarbonization model that integrates social equity and human health concerns. The platform will be a resource for researchers at Stanford and elsewhere to identify and optimize the most effective technological, financial and equitable solutions for different U.S. regions and energy sectors, including electricity, natural gas, transportation and heating.

    “The question we want to address is: What are realistic and implementable pathways for sustainable and deeply decarbonized energy systems that include features of real policies, people’s decisions and behaviors, and account for environmental justice?,” said Ines Azevedo, associate professor in the Department of Energy Resources Engineering in Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences.

    “We want this interdisciplinary simulation and optimization modeling hub to provide resources to others,” said Azevedo, whose co-leaders on the project are professors Sally Benson, Adam Brandt, Ram Rajagopal and John Weyant, as well as visiting scholar Jacques de Chalendar. “We hope to catalyze more efficient and effective collaborations across campus and beyond by lowering the barriers to sharing knowledge, data, methods and analytical tools.”

    Making infrastructure more adaptive

    The other project will build open-source tools to assess, forecast and plan for a human-centered infrastructure system with a particular focus on electricity to meet these criteria: decarbonization, equity, affordability and resiliency to the impacts of climate change, including extreme weather events. The research team, led by professors Ram Rajagopal, Arun Majumdar, and Azevedo, as well as adjunct professor Andrew Ng, will use machine learning and publicly available data sources. Other approaches using machine learning do not optimize those four criteria simultaneously.

    “The electricity grid is being transformed due to the urgency to decarbonize, improve resilience against climate-induced extreme weather events, and provide affordable, reliable access to at-risk communities,” said Rajagopal, who is an associate professor in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering.

    “The combination of rapid adoption of renewables, electric vehicles, heat pumps for residential heating and natural gas generation as a transition technology are creating deep interactions among the power grid, natural gas, transportation and information,” Rajagopal explained.

    The project will develop three tools that enable granular, interconnected analysis of access, reliability, cost and emissions. The first will assess and predict the risks from climate-related extreme events to local communities, and produce climate-risk scores for communities. These risks include energy insecurity, ill health and other social impacts, particularly as they affect vulnerable populations. The second tool will use remotely sensed data and artificial intelligence to create detailed, high-resolution mapping of U.S. energy resources and infrastructure. Stanford researchers have already used this technology to map specific facets of U.S. energy infrastructure. The third tool will evaluate dynamics in demand and supply due to changing grid conditions: from short-term shocks like extreme weather, to longer term transformations like increased adoption of residential solar power.

    The research team will share their data with other researchers as an energy data commons on http://www.datacommons.org.

    See the full article here .


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    Stanford University campus. No image credit

    Stanford University (US)

    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, officially Leland Stanford Junior University, is a private research university located in Stanford, California. Stanford was founded in 1885 by Leland and Jane Stanford in memory of their only child, Leland Stanford Jr., who had died of typhoid fever at age 15 the previous year. Stanford is consistently ranked as among the most prestigious and top universities in the world by major education publications. It is also one of the top fundraising institutions in the country, becoming the first school to raise more than a billion dollars in a year.

    Leland Stanford was a U.S. senator and former governor of California who made his fortune as a railroad tycoon. The school admitted its first students on October 1, 1891, as a coeducational and non-denominational institution. Stanford University struggled financially after the death of Leland Stanford in 1893 and again after much of the campus was damaged by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Following World War II, provost Frederick Terman supported faculty and graduates’ entrepreneurialism to build self-sufficient local industry in what would later be known as Silicon Valley.

    The university is organized around seven schools: three schools consisting of 40 academic departments at the undergraduate level as well as four professional schools that focus on graduate programs in law, medicine, education, and business. All schools are on the same campus. Students compete in 36 varsity sports, and the university is one of two private institutions in the Division I FBS Pac-12 Conference. It has gained 126 NCAA team championships, and Stanford has won the NACDA Directors’ Cup for 24 consecutive years, beginning in 1994–1995. In addition, Stanford students and alumni have won 270 Olympic medals including 139 gold medals.

    As of October 2020, 84 Nobel laureates, 28 Turing Award laureates, and eight Fields Medalists have been affiliated with Stanford as students, alumni, faculty, or staff. In addition, Stanford is particularly noted for its entrepreneurship and is one of the most successful universities in attracting funding for start-ups. Stanford alumni have founded numerous companies, which combined produce more than $2.7 trillion in annual revenue, roughly equivalent to the 7th largest economy in the world (as of 2020). Stanford is the alma mater of one president of the United States (Herbert Hoover), 74 living billionaires, and 17 astronauts. It is also one of the leading producers of Fulbright Scholars, Marshall Scholars, Rhodes Scholars, and members of the United States Congress.

    Stanford University was founded in 1885 by Leland and Jane Stanford, dedicated to Leland Stanford Jr, their only child. The institution opened in 1891 on Stanford’s previous Palo Alto farm.

    Jane and Leland Stanford modeled their university after the great eastern universities, most specifically Cornell University. Stanford opened being called the “Cornell of the West” in 1891 due to faculty being former Cornell affiliates (either professors, alumni, or both) including its first president, David Starr Jordan, and second president, John Casper Branner. Both Cornell and Stanford were among the first to have higher education be accessible, nonsectarian, and open to women as well as to men. Cornell is credited as one of the first American universities to adopt this radical departure from traditional education, and Stanford became an early adopter as well.

    Despite being impacted by earthquakes in both 1906 and 1989, the campus was rebuilt each time. In 1919, The Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace was started by Herbert Hoover to preserve artifacts related to World War I. The Stanford Medical Center, completed in 1959, is a teaching hospital with over 800 beds. The DOE’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory(US)(originally named the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center), established in 1962, performs research in particle physics.

    Land

    Most of Stanford is on an 8,180-acre (12.8 sq mi; 33.1 km^2) campus, one of the largest in the United States. It is located on the San Francisco Peninsula, in the northwest part of the Santa Clara Valley (Silicon Valley) approximately 37 miles (60 km) southeast of San Francisco and approximately 20 miles (30 km) northwest of San Jose. In 2008, 60% of this land remained undeveloped.

    Stanford’s main campus includes a census-designated place within unincorporated Santa Clara County, although some of the university land (such as the Stanford Shopping Center and the Stanford Research Park) is within the city limits of Palo Alto. The campus also includes much land in unincorporated San Mateo County (including the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and the Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve), as well as in the city limits of Menlo Park (Stanford Hills neighborhood), Woodside, and Portola Valley.

    Non-central campus

    Stanford currently operates in various locations outside of its central campus.

    On the founding grant:

    Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve is a 1,200-acre (490 ha) natural reserve south of the central campus owned by the university and used by wildlife biologists for research.
    SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory is a facility west of the central campus operated by the university for the Department of Energy. It contains the longest linear particle accelerator in the world, 2 miles (3.2 km) on 426 acres (172 ha) of land.
    Golf course and a seasonal lake: The university also has its own golf course and a seasonal lake (Lake Lagunita, actually an irrigation reservoir), both home to the vulnerable California tiger salamander. As of 2012 Lake Lagunita was often dry and the university had no plans to artificially fill it.

    Off the founding grant:

    Hopkins Marine Station, in Pacific Grove, California, is a marine biology research center owned by the university since 1892.
    Study abroad locations: unlike typical study abroad programs, Stanford itself operates in several locations around the world; thus, each location has Stanford faculty-in-residence and staff in addition to students, creating a “mini-Stanford”.

    Redwood City campus for many of the university’s administrative offices located in Redwood City, California, a few miles north of the main campus. In 2005, the university purchased a small, 35-acre (14 ha) campus in Midpoint Technology Park intended for staff offices; development was delayed by The Great Recession. In 2015 the university announced a development plan and the Redwood City campus opened in March 2019.

    The Bass Center in Washington, DC provides a base, including housing, for the Stanford in Washington program for undergraduates. It includes a small art gallery open to the public.

    China: Stanford Center at Peking University, housed in the Lee Jung Sen Building, is a small center for researchers and students in collaboration with Beijing University [北京大学](CN) (Kavli Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics at Peking University(CN) (KIAA-PKU).

    Administration and organization

    Stanford is a private, non-profit university that is administered as a corporate trust governed by a privately appointed board of trustees with a maximum membership of 38. Trustees serve five-year terms (not more than two consecutive terms) and meet five times annually.[83] A new trustee is chosen by the current trustees by ballot. The Stanford trustees also oversee the Stanford Research Park, the Stanford Shopping Center, the Cantor Center for Visual Arts, Stanford University Medical Center, and many associated medical facilities (including the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital).

    The board appoints a president to serve as the chief executive officer of the university, to prescribe the duties of professors and course of study, to manage financial and business affairs, and to appoint nine vice presidents. The provost is the chief academic and budget officer, to whom the deans of each of the seven schools report. Persis Drell became the 13th provost in February 2017.

    As of 2018, the university was organized into seven academic schools. The schools of Humanities and Sciences (27 departments), Engineering (nine departments), and Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences (four departments) have both graduate and undergraduate programs while the Schools of Law, Medicine, Education and Business have graduate programs only. The powers and authority of the faculty are vested in the Academic Council, which is made up of tenure and non-tenure line faculty, research faculty, senior fellows in some policy centers and institutes, the president of the university, and some other academic administrators, but most matters are handled by the Faculty Senate, made up of 55 elected representatives of the faculty.

    The Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) is the student government for Stanford and all registered students are members. Its elected leadership consists of the Undergraduate Senate elected by the undergraduate students, the Graduate Student Council elected by the graduate students, and the President and Vice President elected as a ticket by the entire student body.

    Stanford is the beneficiary of a special clause in the California Constitution, which explicitly exempts Stanford property from taxation so long as the property is used for educational purposes.

    Endowment and donations

    The university’s endowment, managed by the Stanford Management Company, was valued at $27.7 billion as of August 31, 2019. Payouts from the Stanford endowment covered approximately 21.8% of university expenses in the 2019 fiscal year. In the 2018 NACUBO-TIAA survey of colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, only Harvard University(US), the University of Texas System(US), and Yale University(US) had larger endowments than Stanford.

    In 2006, President John L. Hennessy launched a five-year campaign called the Stanford Challenge, which reached its $4.3 billion fundraising goal in 2009, two years ahead of time, but continued fundraising for the duration of the campaign. It concluded on December 31, 2011, having raised a total of $6.23 billion and breaking the previous campaign fundraising record of $3.88 billion held by Yale. Specifically, the campaign raised $253.7 million for undergraduate financial aid, as well as $2.33 billion for its initiative in “Seeking Solutions” to global problems, $1.61 billion for “Educating Leaders” by improving K-12 education, and $2.11 billion for “Foundation of Excellence” aimed at providing academic support for Stanford students and faculty. Funds supported 366 new fellowships for graduate students, 139 new endowed chairs for faculty, and 38 new or renovated buildings. The new funding also enabled the construction of a facility for stem cell research; a new campus for the business school; an expansion of the law school; a new Engineering Quad; a new art and art history building; an on-campus concert hall; a new art museum; and a planned expansion of the medical school, among other things. In 2012, the university raised $1.035 billion, becoming the first school to raise more than a billion dollars in a year.

    Research centers and institutes

    DOE’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory(US)
    Stanford Research Institute, a center of innovation to support economic development in the region.
    Hoover Institution, a conservative American public policy institution and research institution that promotes personal and economic liberty, free enterprise, and limited government.
    Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, a multidisciplinary design school in cooperation with the Hasso Plattner Institute of University of Potsdam [Universität Potsdam](DE) that integrates product design, engineering, and business management education).
    Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute, which grew out of and still contains the Martin Luther King Jr. Papers Project.
    John S. Knight Fellowship for Professional Journalists
    Center for Ocean Solutions
    Together with UC Berkeley(US) and UC San Francisco(US), Stanford is part of the Biohub, a new medical science research center founded in 2016 by a $600 million commitment from Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg and pediatrician Priscilla Chan.

    Discoveries and innovation

    Natural sciences

    Biological synthesis of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) – Arthur Kornberg synthesized DNA material and won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1959 for his work at Stanford.
    First Transgenic organism – Stanley Cohen and Herbert Boyer were the first scientists to transplant genes from one living organism to another, a fundamental discovery for genetic engineering. Thousands of products have been developed on the basis of their work, including human growth hormone and hepatitis B vaccine.
    Laser – Arthur Leonard Schawlow shared the 1981 Nobel Prize in Physics with Nicolaas Bloembergen and Kai Siegbahn for his work on lasers.
    Nuclear magnetic resonance – Felix Bloch developed new methods for nuclear magnetic precision measurements, which are the underlying principles of the MRI.

    Computer and applied sciences

    ARPANETStanford Research Institute, formerly part of Stanford but on a separate campus, was the site of one of the four original ARPANET nodes.

    Internet—Stanford was the site where the original design of the Internet was undertaken. Vint Cerf led a research group to elaborate the design of the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP/IP) that he originally co-created with Robert E. Kahn (Bob Kahn) in 1973 and which formed the basis for the architecture of the Internet.

    Frequency modulation synthesis – John Chowning of the Music department invented the FM music synthesis algorithm in 1967, and Stanford later licensed it to Yamaha Corporation.

    Google – Google began in January 1996 as a research project by Larry Page and Sergey Brin when they were both PhD students at Stanford. They were working on the Stanford Digital Library Project (SDLP). The SDLP’s goal was “to develop the enabling technologies for a single, integrated and universal digital library” and it was funded through the National Science Foundation, among other federal agencies.

    Klystron tube – invented by the brothers Russell and Sigurd Varian at Stanford. Their prototype was completed and demonstrated successfully on August 30, 1937. Upon publication in 1939, news of the klystron immediately influenced the work of U.S. and UK researchers working on radar equipment.

    RISCARPA funded VLSI project of microprocessor design. Stanford and UC Berkeley are most associated with the popularization of this concept. The Stanford MIPS would go on to be commercialized as the successful MIPS architecture, while Berkeley RISC gave its name to the entire concept, commercialized as the SPARC. Another success from this era were IBM’s efforts that eventually led to the IBM POWER instruction set architecture, PowerPC, and Power ISA. As these projects matured, a wide variety of similar designs flourished in the late 1980s and especially the early 1990s, representing a major force in the Unix workstation market as well as embedded processors in laser printers, routers and similar products.
    SUN workstation – Andy Bechtolsheim designed the SUN workstation for the Stanford University Network communications project as a personal CAD workstation, which led to Sun Microsystems.

    Businesses and entrepreneurship

    Stanford is one of the most successful universities in creating companies and licensing its inventions to existing companies; it is often held up as a model for technology transfer. Stanford’s Office of Technology Licensing is responsible for commercializing university research, intellectual property, and university-developed projects.

    The university is described as having a strong venture culture in which students are encouraged, and often funded, to launch their own companies.

    Companies founded by Stanford alumni generate more than $2.7 trillion in annual revenue, equivalent to the 10th-largest economy in the world.

    Some companies closely associated with Stanford and their connections include:

    Hewlett-Packard, 1939, co-founders William R. Hewlett (B.S, PhD) and David Packard (M.S).
    Silicon Graphics, 1981, co-founders James H. Clark (Associate Professor) and several of his grad students.
    Sun Microsystems, 1982, co-founders Vinod Khosla (M.B.A), Andy Bechtolsheim (PhD) and Scott McNealy (M.B.A).
    Cisco, 1984, founders Leonard Bosack (M.S) and Sandy Lerner (M.S) who were in charge of Stanford Computer Science and Graduate School of Business computer operations groups respectively when the hardware was developed.[163]
    Yahoo!, 1994, co-founders Jerry Yang (B.S, M.S) and David Filo (M.S).
    Google, 1998, co-founders Larry Page (M.S) and Sergey Brin (M.S).
    LinkedIn, 2002, co-founders Reid Hoffman (B.S), Konstantin Guericke (B.S, M.S), Eric Lee (B.S), and Alan Liu (B.S).
    Instagram, 2010, co-founders Kevin Systrom (B.S) and Mike Krieger (B.S).
    Snapchat, 2011, co-founders Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy (B.S).
    Coursera, 2012, co-founders Andrew Ng (Associate Professor) and Daphne Koller (Professor, PhD).

    Student body

    Stanford enrolled 6,996 undergraduate and 10,253 graduate students as of the 2019–2020 school year. Women comprised 50.4% of undergraduates and 41.5% of graduate students. In the same academic year, the freshman retention rate was 99%.

    Stanford awarded 1,819 undergraduate degrees, 2,393 master’s degrees, 770 doctoral degrees, and 3270 professional degrees in the 2018–2019 school year. The four-year graduation rate for the class of 2017 cohort was 72.9%, and the six-year rate was 94.4%. The relatively low four-year graduation rate is a function of the university’s coterminal degree (or “coterm”) program, which allows students to earn a master’s degree as a 1-to-2-year extension of their undergraduate program.

    As of 2010, fifteen percent of undergraduates were first-generation students.

    Athletics

    As of 2016 Stanford had 16 male varsity sports and 20 female varsity sports, 19 club sports and about 27 intramural sports. In 1930, following a unanimous vote by the Executive Committee for the Associated Students, the athletic department adopted the mascot “Indian.” The Indian symbol and name were dropped by President Richard Lyman in 1972, after objections from Native American students and a vote by the student senate. The sports teams are now officially referred to as the “Stanford Cardinal,” referring to the deep red color, not the cardinal bird. Stanford is a member of the Pac-12 Conference in most sports, the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation in several other sports, and the America East Conference in field hockey with the participation in the inter-collegiate NCAA’s Division I FBS.

    Its traditional sports rival is the University of California, Berkeley, the neighbor to the north in the East Bay. The winner of the annual “Big Game” between the Cal and Cardinal football teams gains custody of the Stanford Axe.

    Stanford has had at least one NCAA team champion every year since the 1976–77 school year and has earned 126 NCAA national team titles since its establishment, the most among universities, and Stanford has won 522 individual national championships, the most by any university. Stanford has won the award for the top-ranked Division 1 athletic program—the NACDA Directors’ Cup, formerly known as the Sears Cup—annually for the past twenty-four straight years. Stanford athletes have won medals in every Olympic Games since 1912, winning 270 Olympic medals total, 139 of them gold. In the 2008 Summer Olympics, and 2016 Summer Olympics, Stanford won more Olympic medals than any other university in the United States. Stanford athletes won 16 medals at the 2012 Summer Olympics (12 gold, two silver and two bronze), and 27 medals at the 2016 Summer Olympics.

    Traditions

    The unofficial motto of Stanford, selected by President Jordan, is Die Luft der Freiheit weht. Translated from the German language, this quotation from Ulrich von Hutten means, “The wind of freedom blows.” The motto was controversial during World War I, when anything in German was suspect; at that time the university disavowed that this motto was official.
    Hail, Stanford, Hail! is the Stanford Hymn sometimes sung at ceremonies or adapted by the various University singing groups. It was written in 1892 by mechanical engineering professor Albert W. Smith and his wife, Mary Roberts Smith (in 1896 she earned the first Stanford doctorate in Economics and later became associate professor of Sociology), but was not officially adopted until after a performance on campus in March 1902 by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
    “Uncommon Man/Uncommon Woman”: Stanford does not award honorary degrees, but in 1953 the degree of “Uncommon Man/Uncommon Woman” was created to recognize individuals who give rare and extraordinary service to the University. Technically, this degree is awarded by the Stanford Associates, a voluntary group that is part of the university’s alumni association. As Stanford’s highest honor, it is not conferred at prescribed intervals, but only when appropriate to recognize extraordinary service. Recipients include Herbert Hoover, Bill Hewlett, Dave Packard, Lucile Packard, and John Gardner.
    Big Game events: The events in the week leading up to the Big Game vs. UC Berkeley, including Gaieties (a musical written, composed, produced, and performed by the students of Ram’s Head Theatrical Society).
    “Viennese Ball”: a formal ball with waltzes that was initially started in the 1970s by students returning from the now-closed Stanford in Vienna overseas program. It is now open to all students.
    “Full Moon on the Quad”: An annual event at Main Quad, where students gather to kiss one another starting at midnight. Typically organized by the Junior class cabinet, the festivities include live entertainment, such as music and dance performances.
    “Band Run”: An annual festivity at the beginning of the school year, where the band picks up freshmen from dorms across campus while stopping to perform at each location, culminating in a finale performance at Main Quad.
    “Mausoleum Party”: An annual Halloween Party at the Stanford Mausoleum, the final resting place of Leland Stanford Jr. and his parents. A 20-year tradition, the “Mausoleum Party” was on hiatus from 2002 to 2005 due to a lack of funding, but was revived in 2006. In 2008, it was hosted in Old Union rather than at the actual Mausoleum, because rain prohibited generators from being rented. In 2009, after fundraising efforts by the Junior Class Presidents and the ASSU Executive, the event was able to return to the Mausoleum despite facing budget cuts earlier in the year.
    Former campus traditions include the “Big Game bonfire” on Lake Lagunita (a seasonal lake usually dry in the fall), which was formally ended in 1997 because of the presence of endangered salamanders in the lake bed.

    Award laureates and scholars

    Stanford’s current community of scholars includes:

    19 Nobel Prize laureates (as of October 2020, 85 affiliates in total)
    171 members of the National Academy of Sciences
    109 members of National Academy of Engineering
    76 members of National Academy of Medicine
    288 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
    19 recipients of the National Medal of Science
    1 recipient of the National Medal of Technology
    4 recipients of the National Humanities Medal
    49 members of American Philosophical Society
    56 fellows of the American Physics Society (since 1995)
    4 Pulitzer Prize winners
    31 MacArthur Fellows
    4 Wolf Foundation Prize winners
    2 ACL Lifetime Achievement Award winners
    14 AAAI fellows
    2 Presidential Medal of Freedom winners

    Stanford University Seal

     
  • richardmitnick 9:34 am on February 3, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "A new hands-off probe uses light to explore the subtleties of electron behavior in a topological insulator", , , HHG-high harmonic generation, , Stanford University,   

    From DOE’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and : “A new hands-off probe uses light to explore the subtleties of electron behavior in a topological insulator” 

    From DOE’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

    and

    Stanford University Name

    From Stanford University

    February 2, 2021
    Glennda Chui

    Just as pressing a guitar string produces a higher pitch, sending laser light through a material can shift it to higher energies and higher frequencies. Now scientists have discovered how to use this phenomenon to explore quantum materials in a new and much more detailed way.

    1
    Researchers at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University discovered that focusing intense, circularly polarized laser light on a topological insulator generates harmonics that can be used to probe electron behavior in the material’s topological surface, a sort of electron superhighway where electrons flow with no loss. The technique should be applicable to a wide range of quantum materials. Credit: Greg Stewart/SLAC.

    2
    Laser light is usually linearly polarized, meaning that its waves oscillate in only one direction – up and down, in the example at left. But it can also be circularly polarized, at right, so its waves spiral like a corkscrew around the direction the light is traveling. A new study from SLAC and Stanford predicts that this circularly polarized light can be used to explore quantum materials in ways that were not possible before. Cedit: Greg Stewart/SLAC.

    Topological insulators are one of the most puzzling quantum materials – a class of materials whose electrons cooperate in surprising ways to produce unexpected properties. The edges of a TI are electron superhighways where electrons flow with no loss, ignoring any impurities or other obstacles in their path, while the bulk of the material blocks electron flow.

    Scientists have studied these puzzling materials since their discovery just over a decade ago with an eye to harnessing them for things like quantum computing and information processing.

    Now researchers at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University have invented a new, hands-off way to probe the fastest and most ephemeral phenomena within a TI and clearly distinguish what its electrons are doing on the superhighway edges from what they’re doing everywhere else.

    The technique takes advantage of a phenomenon called high harmonic generation, or HHG, which shifts laser light to higher energies and higher frequencies – much like pressing a guitar string produces a higher note – by shining it through a material. ­­By varying the polarization of laser light going into a TI and analyzing the shifted light coming out, researchers got strong and separate signals that told them what was happening in each of the material’s two contrasting domains.

    “What we found out is that the light coming out gives us information about the properties of the superhighway surfaces,” said Shambhu Ghimire, a principal investigator with the Stanford PULSE Institute at SLAC, where the work was carried out.

    “This signal is quite remarkable, and its dependence on the polarization of the laser light is dramatically different from what we see in conventional materials. We think we have a potentially novel approach for initiating and probing quantum behaviors that are supposed to be present in a broad range of quantum materials.”

    The research team reported the results today in Physical Review A.

    Light in, light out

    Starting in 2010, a series of experiments led by Ghimire and PULSE Director David Reis showed HHG can be produced in ways that were previously thought unlikely or even impossible: by beaming laser light into a crystal, a frozen argon gas or an atomically thin semiconductor material. Another study described how to use HHG to generate attosecond laser pulses, which can be used to observe and control the movements of electrons, by shining a laser through ordinary glass.

    In 2018, Denitsa Baykusheva, a Swiss National Science Foundation Fellow with a background in HHG research, joined the PULSE group as a postdoctoral researcher. Her goal was to study the potential for generating HHG in topological insulators – the first such study in a quantum material. “We wanted to see what happens to the intense laser pulse used to generate HHG,” she said. “No one had actually focused such a strong laser light on these materials before.”

    But midway through those experiments, the COVID-19 pandemic hit and the lab shut down in March 2020 for all but essential research. So the team had to think of other ways to make progress, Baykusheva said.

    “In a new area of research like this one, theory and experiment have to go hand in hand,” she explained. “Theory is essential for explaining experimental results and also predicting the most promising avenues for future experiments. So we all turned ourselves into theorists” – first working with pen and paper and then writing code and doing calculations to feed into computer models.

    An illuminating result

    To their surprise, the results predicted that circularly polarized laser light, whose waves spiral around the beam like a corkscrew, could be used to trigger HHG in topological insulators [above].

    “One of the interesting things we observed is that circularly polarized laser light is very efficient at generating harmonics from the superhighway surfaces of the topological insulator, but not from the rest of it,” Baykusheva said. “This is something very unique and specific to this type of material. It can be used to get information about electrons that travel the superhighways and those that don’t, and it can also be used to explore other types of materials that can’t be probed with linearly polarized light.”

    The results lay out a recipe for continuing to explore HHG in quantum materials, said Reis, who is a co-author of the study.

    “It’s remarkable that a technique that generates strong and potentially disruptive fields, which takes electrons in the material and jostles them around and uses them to probe the properties of the material itself, can give you such a clear and robust signal about the material’s topological states,” he said.

    “The fact that we can see anything at all is amazing, not to mention the fact that we could potentially use that same light to change the material’s topological properties.”

    Experiments at SLAC have resumed on a limited basis, Reis added, and the results of the theoretical work have given the team new confidence that they know exactly what they are looking for.

    Researchers from the Max Planck POSTECH/KOREA Research Initiative also contributed to this report. Major funding for the study came from the DOE Office of Science and the Swiss 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 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

    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.

    SLAC National Accelerator Lab


    SLAC/LCLS


    SLAC/LCLS II projected view

    SLAC LCLS-II Undulators The Linac Coherent Light Source’s new undulators each use an intricately tuned series of magnets to convert electron energy into intense bursts of X-rays. The “soft” X-ray undulator stretches for 100 meters on the left side of this hall, with the “hard” x-ray undulator on the right. Credit: Alberto Gamazo/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

    SSRL and LCLS are DOE Office of Science user facilities.

    3

     
  • richardmitnick 1:41 pm on February 1, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Squeezing a rock-star material could make it stable enough for solar cells", A promising lead halide perovskite is great at converting sunlight to electricity but it breaks down at room temperature., , , , Now scientists have discovered how to stabilize the lead halide perovskite with pressure from a diamond anvil cell., , , Simply place the useless version of the material in a diamond anvil cell and squeeze it at high temperature., Stanford University, This is the first study to use pressure to control this stability and it really opens up a lot of possibilities.   

    From DOE’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University: “Squeezing a rock-star material could make it stable enough for solar cells” 

    From DOE’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

    and

    Stanford University Name

    Stanford University

    January 21, 2021 [Just now in social media.]
    By Glennda Chui

    A promising lead halide perovskite is great at converting sunlight to electricity, but it breaks down at room temperature. Now scientists have discovered how to stabilize it with pressure from a diamond anvil cell.

    1
    Scientists at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University discovered that squeezing a promising lead halide material in a diamond anvil cell (left) produces a so-called “black perovskite” (right) that’s stable enough for solar power applications.
    Credit: Greg Stewart/ SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

    Among the materials known as perovskites, one of the most exciting is a material that can convert sunlight to electricity as efficiently as today’s commercial silicon solar cells and has the potential for being much cheaper and easier to manufacture.

    There’s just one problem: Of the four possible atomic configurations, or phases, this material can take, three are efficient but unstable at room temperature and in ordinary environments, and they quickly revert to the fourth phase, which is completely useless for solar applications.

    Now scientists at Stanford University and the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have found a novel solution: Simply place the useless version of the material in a diamond anvil cell and squeeze it at high temperature. This treatment nudges its atomic structure into an efficient configuration and keeps it that way, even at room temperature and in relatively moist air.

    The researchers described their results in Nature Communications.

    “This is the first study to use pressure to control this stability, and it really opens up a lot of possibilities,” said Yu Lin, a SLAC staff scientist and investigator with the Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Sciences (SIMES).

    “Now that we’ve found this optimal way to prepare the material,” she said, “there’s potential for scaling it up for industrial production, and for using this same approach to manipulate other perovskite phases.”

    A search for stability

    Perovskites get their name from a natural mineral with the same atomic structure. In this case the scientists studied a lead halide perovskite that’s a combination of iodine, lead and cesium.

    One phase of this material, known as the yellow phase, does not have a true perovskite structure and can’t be used in solar cells. However, scientists discovered a while back that if you process it in certain ways, it changes to a black perovskite phase that’s extremely efficient at converting sunlight to electricity. “This has made it highly sought after and the focus of a lot of research,” said Stanford Professor and study co-author Wendy Mao.

    Unfortunately, these black phases are also structurally unstable and tend to quickly slump back into the useless configuration. Plus, they only operate with high efficiency at high temperatures, Mao said, and researchers will have to overcome both of those problems before they can be used in practical devices.

    There had been previous attempts to stabilize the black phases with chemistry, strain or temperature, but only in a moisture-free environment that doesn’t reflect the real-world conditions that solar cells operate in. This study combined both pressure and temperature in a more realistic working environment.

    Pressure and heat do the trick

    Working with colleagues in the Stanford research groups of Mao and Professor Hemamala Karunadasa, Lin and postdoctoral researcher Feng Ke designed a setup where yellow phase crystals were squeezed between the tips of diamonds in what’s known as a diamond anvil cell. With the pressure still on, the crystals were heated to 450 degrees Celsius and then cooled down.

    Under the right combination of pressure and temperature, the crystals turned from yellow to black and stayed in the black phase after the pressure was released, the scientists said. They were resistant to deterioration from moist air and remained stable and efficient at room temperature for 10 to 30 days or more.

    Examination with X-rays and other techniques confirmed the shift in the material’s crystal structure, and calculations by SIMES theorists Chunjing Jia and Thomas Devereaux provided insight into how the pressure changed the structure and preserved the black phase.

    The pressure needed to turn the crystals black and keep them that way was roughly 1,000 to 6,000 times atmospheric pressure, Lin said ­– about a tenth of the pressures routinely used in the synthetic diamond industry. So one of the goals for further research will be to transfer what the researchers have learned from their diamond anvil cell experiments to industry and scale up the process to bring it within the realm of manufacturing.

    Wendy Mao and Hemamala Karunadasa are also SIMES investigators. Parts of this work were performed at the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory and the Advanced Light Source at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. It also used resources of the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC). All three are DOE Office of Science user facilities. Major funding came from the DOE Office of Science.

    ANL Advanced Photon Source.

    LBNL ALS .

    National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

    NERSC Cray Cori II supercomputer, named after Gerty Cori, the first American woman to win a Nobel Prize in science.

    NERSC Hopper Cray XE6 supercomputer, named after Grace Hopper, One of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer.

    NERSC Cray XC30 Edison supercomputer.

    NERSC GPFS for Life Sciences.


    The Genepool system is a cluster dedicated to the DOE Joint Genome Institute’s computing needs. Denovo is a smaller test system for Genepool that is primarily used by NERSC staff to test new system configurations and software.

    NERSC PDSF computer cluster in 2003.

    PDSF is a networked distributed computing cluster designed primarily to meet the detector simulation and data analysis requirements of physics, astrophysics and nuclear science collaborations.

    Future:

    Cray Shasta Perlmutter SC18 AMD Epyc Nvidia pre-exascale supeercomputer

    NERSC is a DOE Office of Science User Facility.

    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

    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.

    SLAC National Accelerator Lab


    SLAC/LCLS


    SLAC/LCLS II projected view

    SLAC LCLS-II Undulators The Linac Coherent Light Source’s new undulators each use an intricately tuned series of magnets to convert electron energy into intense bursts of X-rays. The “soft” X-ray undulator stretches for 100 meters on the left side of this hall, with the “hard” x-ray undulator on the right. Credit: Alberto Gamazo/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

    SSRL and LCLS are DOE Office of Science user facilities.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:50 am on January 25, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Stanford explainer: Exoplanets and other 'Earths'", 14 questions, , , , , , , Scientists have found more than 4000 planets outside our solar system., Stanford University, The universe seems to favor small planets.   

    From Stanford University: “Stanford explainer: Exoplanets and other ‘Earths'” 

    Stanford University Name

    From Stanford University

    January 25, 2021
    Taylor Kubota
    Art by Farrin Abbott

    1
    Stanford physicist Bruce Macintosh leads the Gemini Planet Imager team. The Gemini Planet Imager, featured in this illustration, is a planet-finding instrument that directly observes planets outside our solar system. Credit: Farrin Abbott.

    A Q&A with astronomer Bruce Macintosh on what people should understand about exoplanets – planets outside our solar system – and what exoplanet research means for life on Earth.

    Scientists have found more than 4,000 planets outside our solar system. Here, Stanford University exoplanet expert Bruce Macintosh and leader of the team behind the Gemini Planet Imager explains how scientists find alien worlds, why we should be skeptical about reports of “Earth-sized” and “habitable” exoplanets, and what exoplanet discoveries can tell us about the universe and our own planet.

    NOIRLab NOAO CTIO Gemini Planet Imager on Gemini South, Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) campus near La Serena, Chile, at an altitude of 7200 feet on the summit of Cerro Pachon.

    “One of the most interesting things we’ve learned since finding the first exoplanet 30 years ago is how different the universe is compared to what we thought it was – how different other solar systems are from our own,” said Macintosh, a professor of physics in the School of Humanities and Sciences. “This makes me think that Earth is probably a very special planet.”
    Here are the 14 questions Macintosh answered [click on the question to jump to his answer]:

    Four thousand exoplanets have been found in just 30 years. How is that possible?
    How did the Nobel Prize-winning discovery tip the scales?
    How do most astronomers “see” exoplanets?
    What else can we learn about exoplanets?
    The Gemini Planet Imager project that you’re a part of uses a different technique from the others you mentioned. How does it work?
    Is Earth special?
    We hear about exoplanets that are Earth-like. What does that mean?
    What about “habitable” exoplanets or the “habitable zone”?
    How do we look for life on exoplanets?
    Why should we care about exoplanets that aren’t like Earth?
    What big advances or discoveries do you think could be just around the corner?
    What exoplanet news would you be surprised to see?
    What upcoming developments for your group are you excited about?
    What’s next for astronomy as a field?

    2
    1. Four thousand exoplanets have been found in just 30 years. How is that possible?

    The short answer: The 25-year-old paper that won the Nobel Prize in 2019 convinced scientists that they already had the tools to see exoplanets – then the discoveries kept rolling in.

    Macintosh: Many people thought that other solar systems were like our own – a few small rocky planets closer to the sun, and some giant planets further out – and that it would, therefore, be nearly impossible to find exoplanets because our tools aren’t sensitive enough to see into those kinds of systems. This was such a popular idea that people working in the field early on had trouble getting access to telescopes and funding.

    There were tentative early discoveries but they didn’t match expectations, so they didn’t really change the field that much. Then, the 1995 paper, from Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz – that led to their winning the Nobel Prize in 2019 – strongly argued that we really were seeing exoplanets. Another half-dozen exoplanet discoveries came right after because they had just been sitting in peoples’ closets, unanalyzed, waiting for this kind of strong argument.

    It turns out, also, the universe seems to favor small planets and, so, as the techniques got more sensitive, they’ve found more and more.

    2. How did the Nobel Prize-winning discovery tip the scales?

    The short answer: The scientists were confident and very thorough in eliminating other possible (non-exoplanet) explanations for their findings.

    Macintosh: It was a combination of really carefully ruling out other explanations and of having the confidence to assert that they found an exoplanet. Their measurements required colleagues to accept a planet – now called 51 Pegasi b – unlike anything they had imagined: hot, Jupiter-sized, closer to its sun than Earth is to ours, and with an orbit of less than five days.

    Along the way, Mayor and Queloz had to rule out other possibilities, such as the suggestion that their measurements were actually showing a star that was expanding and contracting, or that they had found something larger orbiting a star and were merely observing it from an odd angle that made the orbiting object seem planet-sized. It also helped that many others made similar measurements, so unexpected exoplanets started to become more likely than some weird chance alignment.

    3. How do most astronomers “see” exoplanets?

    The short answer: We usually use indirect methods that allow us to see the effects of the planet but not the planets themselves.

    Macintosh: There are two main methods that we discover planets by right now: the Doppler method and the transit method.

    Both of these are indirect ways of “seeing” planets, which means we are observing their effects but not the planets themselves. Seeing planets directly is very hard because they are so close to their stars and so much fainter by comparison.

    The Doppler method measures how the planet’s gravity tugs on the star that it’s orbiting day after day, year after year.

    2
    Doppler method. ESO.

    We can’t see the thing that’s pulling on the star but we can calculate its mass. This was the technique that was used by the two researchers awarded the Nobel Prize in 2019.

    The transit method involves measuring changes in light from the star.

    Planet transit. NASA/Ames.

    If a planet passes in front of a star, it will block some of the light from the star, causing it to dim. (If you were looking at our solar system from far away in just the right direction, you’d see our sun get about 1 percent fainter every 12 years when Jupiter gets in the way.) For this to work, though, you have to get very lucky – the planet and star have to line up just so. If you’re not feeling mega-lucky, then you have to look at tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of stars to find the few that are lined up just right. With modern big digital cameras and modern computing, that’s possible. Automated software finds the possible planets, then astronomers figure out which ones are real and interesting. Because it’s so automated and computerized, that’s the way most planets have been discovered so far.

    Both of these methods work best when planets are close to their star. In a universe full of solar systems just like our own they would almost never work. The first amazing surprise about exoplanets is that there are so many planets of all kinds and sizes so close to their stars.

    4
    4. What else can we learn about exoplanets?

    The short answer: We can calculate their mass or radius, maybe their density and a little bit of vague information about their atmosphere. We can also sometimes estimate their age.

    Macintosh: When you use these techniques in the simplest way, they tell you either the mass or the radius of the planet. If you’re lucky and can learn both, you can calculate the density (how much each cubic meter of the planet weighs), which can be a clue as to what it’s made of – but you can’t really tell the difference between a planet that’s half rock and half big, puffy atmosphere versus a planet that’s all water.

    With modern telescopes and instruments, if the light from the star passed through a transiting planet’s atmosphere before it gets to you, you can learn something about its atmospheric composition. Right now, for that to work, it has to be a big planet – at least Neptune-sized – and you have to see it transit many times. By analyzing that light, we can find evidence of individual molecules in the planet’s atmosphere – like carbon monoxide or water vapor or methane – and learn things about the temperature of the planet or the pressure in its atmosphere.

    As for age, you can usually tell if a star is really young, and that means its planets (if it has any) will also be young.

    5. The Gemini Planet Imager [above] project that you’re a part of uses a different technique from the others you mentioned. How does it work?

    The short answer: While other techniques find exoplanets by recording their effects, the Gemini Planet Imager takes images of the exoplanets themselves.

    Macintosh: The Gemini Planet Imager, which began scientific operations in 2014, directly sees exoplanets. Now, that doesn’t mean we see continents and oceans. We see two dots, the star and the planet. But it’s really hard to get even that! Jupiter is a billion – a thousand million – times fainter than the sun and they’re very close together by planetary standards, so it’s like trying to look for a firefly next to a lighthouse.

    We incorporate a lot of technology to block out the “lighthouse” and see the tiny “firefly.” This works best for exoplanets that are far from their stars – like where Saturn, Neptune or Uranus are in our solar system. And we can only see planets that are extra bright, which means planets that are young. (When a giant Jupiter-like planet forms, a lot of energy gets released; so if you catch a baby planet, it’ll still be hot and glowing.) It turns out there aren’t very many exoplanets that fit that criteria, so we don’t get 4,000 of them, but we cover exoplanets that other techniques aren’t studying.

    Right now, direct imaging – with the Gemini Planet Imager and other instruments like it – is probably providing some of the best measurements that we have of planetary atmosphere composition because you have direct light that you can analyze.

    Example of direct imaging-This false-color composite image traces the motion of the planet Fomalhaut b, a world captured by direct imaging. Credit: NASA, ESA, and P. Kalas, University of California, Berkeley and SETI Institute.

    We can see what chemical substances are present in the planet’s atmosphere, learn about clouds and chemistry. The limitation, for now, is the planet has to be bright, far from its star, young and big – about twice the size of Jupiter.

    5
    6. Is Earth special?

    The short answer: So far, we haven’t seen anything else like it.

    Macintosh: The challenge right now is that we can’t see exoplanets that are just like Earth with our current technologies. There are many that are Earth-sized but we can only see them around stars that are really different from our sun. And we can only really measure size, so we don’t know how they formed or definitive details about what they’re made of.

    So, the question we’re trying to answer now is whether our solar system is rare – because a solar system like ours would be more likely to have an Earth. From what we’ve seen so far, planets overall huddle closer to their stars than the planets in our solar system. If every star had a solar system like our own, we’d probably know about maybe 10 planets in the entire surveyed universe but, instead, we’ve found about 4,000.

    Does that mean the combination of events that led to a well-behaved solar system with a planet that people can evolve on is very rare? Or are these solar systems just hard to find?

    7. We hear about exoplanets that are Earth-like. What does that mean?

    The short answer: It just means they’re Earth-sized.

    Macintosh: Right now, every time you see the word “Earth-like” you should replace it with the word “Earth-sized,” because that’s what we’re measuring. Here’s why that matters: Venus is an Earth-sized planet but isn’t Earth-like in other ways we care about.

    Given that we can’t measure the composition for an Earth-sized planet or for planets that are orbiting stars like our own sun, there’s certainly no evidence for a truly Earth-like planet.

    I mentioned that the transit method can get some measurements of exoplanets – specifically hot versions of Neptune. In those, we do see the same elements that are present that are present in our solar system, like water and carbon dioxide. So that might imply that smaller planets are Earth-like, but I think that’s optimistic.

    8. What about “habitable” exoplanets or the “habitable zone”?

    The short answer: We don’t have any way of knowing whether we could live on any of the exoplanets we’ve discovered.

    Macintosh: You should think of “habitable zone” as the “gets the right amount of sunlight zone,” where you get enough energy from the sun that you could have liquid water on your surface.

    Now, you really need to understand a planet’s history to say whether humans could survive there. Another Venus example: Some definitions put Venus in the habitable zone, but it has a surface temperature of nearly 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit and rains sulfuric acid and the pressure would crush you.

    Unfortunately, we don’t have the ability to measure much beyond sunlight and size right now, which suggests we shouldn’t really even use the word “habitable” for a long time.

    6
    9. How do we look for life on exoplanets?

    The short answer: We look for stuff that is associated with life on Earth, like oxygen or liquid water.

    Macintosh: With telescopes, looking at something 100 light-years away, we can’t see continents or oceans. So we look for other hints of life that are familiar to us, like oxygen or carbon-based life that involves liquid water. Evidence of life is even stronger if we find additional chemicals that, as far as we know, only exist together as a result of life – like having water and methane and oxygen. We can’t even quite see those chemicals now, but future instruments – the James Webb Space Telescope, extremely large telescopes on the ground, and maybe future very large space telescopes – will be able to look for oxygen and water.

    NASA James Webb Space Telescope annotated.

    ESO ELT 39 meter telescope to be on top of Cerro Armazones in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. located at the summit of the mountain at an altitude of 3,060 metres (10,040 ft).

    TMT-Thirty Meter Telescope, proposed and now approved for Mauna Kea, Hawaii, USA , the only giant 30 meter class telescope for the Northern hemisphere.

    GMT

    Giant Magellan Telescope, 21 meters, to be at the Carnegie Institution for Science’s Las Campanas Observatory, to be built some 115 km (71 mi) north-northeast of La Serena, Chile, over 2,500 m (8,200 ft) high.

    NOIRLab Vera C. Rubin Observatory Telescope currently under construction on the El Peñón peak at Cerro Pachón Chile, a 2,682-meter-high mountain in Coquimbo Region, in northern Chile, alongside the existing Gemini South and Southern Astrophysical Research Telescopes, altitude 2,715 m (8,907 ft).

    NASA Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope depiction.

    There could be a bunch of other pathways for life that we haven’t understood yet. In our solar system, people think you can have life under the ice of some of the moons of the outer planets. We’ve flown spacecraft by these planets but we still can’t tell. There are also people who think there could be life on Mars – but we don’t really know for sure, even though we have robots driving on the surface.

    ESA/Roscosmos Rosalind Franklin ExoMars rover depiction, scheduled for launch in September 2022.

    NASA Mars Curiosity Rover

    Perseverence

    NASA Perseverance Mars Rover.

    So figuring out whether there’s life 100 light-years away is going to be pretty uncertain!

    We’re embarrassingly human-centric in what we choose to look for as a sign of life. But if we find an exoplanet with chemistry that looks unimaginably weird, then people will try to understand if there’s a biological explanation for that.

    10. Why should we care about exoplanets that aren’t like Earth?

    The short answer: The more we know about other exoplanets, the more we can figure out about what makes Earth special – or not.

    Macintosh: Exoplanets can help tell us about the processes that make planets form and evolve, and understanding this could be key to finding exoplanets that really are like Earth.

    We already know there are probably a fair number of planets the right distance from the sun (in the habitable zone) and the right size (Earth-like), but one thing that’s still special about Earth is it has the right amount of atmosphere. That’s related to how it formed and the history of our solar system. So, if we know that other solar systems formed with a similar history, then we could infer the planets that formed in those solar systems might have an Earth-like atmosphere.

    We’re also using whatever we can observe now to make our telescopes better. My group studies planets twice the size of Jupiter, and we can measure what they’re made out of. Once we have better telescopes in space, the software we’ll use is the same software we’re going to use if we ever measure the composition of a planet like Earth.

    7
    11. What big advances or discoveries do you think could be just around the corner?

    The short answer: There could be an announcement of oxygen on an Earth-sized planet – but I doubt it.

    Macintosh: If we get lucky, we’ll be able to measure the composition of Earth-sized exoplanets in the habitable zone using transits. We recently had the first really good spectrum of a habitable zone planet but it was twice the size of Earth, which makes it not especially habitable.

    There’s a mission up right now called the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) that is supposed to discover planets in the habitable zone of small stars that are near Earth.

    NASA/MIT Tess in the building.


    NASA/MIT TESS replaced Kepler in search for exoplanets.

    If we launch the James Webb Space Telescope, it would be sensitive enough to measure their light or spectra. With both of these instruments, over the next six years or so, we’ll move from barely understanding the atmospheric composition of one or two small planets to knowing dozens – a few of which will be right in this habitable zone, Earth-sized range. Oxygen turns out to be really hard for James Webb to detect but, if we get lucky, an exoplanet might have a big, puffy atmosphere that’s easy to see.

    We’ll also get the first real measurements of the atmospheric composition from these systems that are weird and nothing like our own. What are these planets really made of?

    As a pessimistic person in the field, I don’t think we’ll see oxygen from an Earth-like planet, but I think we will learn a huge amount about the atmospheric composition of hundreds and hundreds of planets. For now, the hardware to do it is sitting in a clean room in Los Angeles and fingers crossed it’ll make it out of there and into space.

    12. What exoplanet news would you be surprised to see?

    The short answer: Anything that says we’ve found life because we found oxygen.

    Macintosh: I’d tell people to be wary of anything that says we found oxygen and that means there is life.

    If we get a detection of oxygen with James Webb, it will not be a strong, significant measurement. So there’s some chance that it just isn’t oxygen. Even if it is, I don’t think we’ll have enough context to know for sure that a biological explanation is the most probable explanation – let alone a definite explanation.

    NOIRLab NOAO Gemini/South telescope, Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) campus near La Serena, Chile, at an altitude of 7200 feet on the summit of Cerro Pachon.

    13. What upcoming developments for your group are you excited about?

    The short answer: The Gemini Planet Imager is going to look at new kinds of exoplanets. We’re also hoping to send a telescope to space and we’re developing a “star shade” for a new kind of planet hunting.

    NASA JPL Starshade

    Macintosh: Right now, we’re studying a bunch of planets with our Gemini Planet Imager in Chile. The smallest one we found is about 25 million years old, two to three times the mass of Jupiter, and it kind of orbits where Saturn is. We’re going to rebuild the instrument, make it more sensitive and move it to a telescope in Hawaii.

    NSF’s NOIRLab Frederick C Gillett Gemini North Telescope Maunakea, Hawaii, USA, Altitude 4,213 m (13,822 ft).

    This lets us look at a different part of the sky and that location has better atmospheric conditions.

    From our first survey, we didn’t see any of these giant planets in the outer parts of solar systems that had stars like the sun. We saw a few around stars that were more massive than the sun. Now, we want to push the sensitivity to look for planets that are even closer in size to Jupiter – which might actually be very rare. We’ll be also able to look at “extra-young baby Jupiters” that are actively building up toward their full size, which could tell us more about planetary formation.

    To get exoplanets smaller than Jupiter, we’re going to need a space mission. By going into space, our measurements would be a hundred or a thousand times more sensitive than what we’re doing right now, which is pretty impressive. We’re working on a the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope [above], which is supposed to launch around 2025, and it will carry some of the technology we use into space. For now, we’re just trying to demonstrate the technology, so it will still be limited to older “big Jupiters.” But, if it works like we hope it does, this same technology would be able to see Earth-like planets if it’s put on a bigger, slightly better telescope.

    There’s a different approach to detecting planets that I’ve been working on with Simone D’Amico from our Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics. It’s called a star shade and uses two spacecraft: one to block out the light from the star and one to observe the exoplanet [above]. We have a concept for a mini version of the star shade that would test the technology before somebody built a full-size, billion-dollar version. Whether we’ll get to do that isn’t clear but it’s a cool concept.

    14. What’s next for astronomy as a field?

    The short answer: We’re trying to decide!

    Macintosh: Astronomy is trying to decide what we’re going to do over the next 20 years, what our next big space mission will be. Do we try to look at Earth-like planets? Or do we study gravitational waves more? Or do we study X-rays from black holes more?

    I’m involved in the process for figuring this out, called the Decadal Survey. It was a lot of time in small meeting rooms with limited oxygen – and now it’s a lot of video conference meetings – but it’s an important discussion about the future of astrophysics with a lot of smart people. Twenty years from now, I may not be practicing astrophysics anymore, but the decisions we’re making now could determine what missions my postdocs and students will be on then.

    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 7:31 am on January 22, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Stanford researchers combine processors and memory on multiple hybrid chips to run AI on battery-powered smart devices", , , “Memory wall”, , RRAM, Stanford University, , The "Illusion System"   

    From Stanford University: “Stanford researchers combine processors and memory on multiple hybrid chips to run AI on battery-powered smart devices” 

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    Stanford University Engineering

    January 11, 2021
    Tom Abate
    Stanford Engineering
    tabate@stanford.edu

    In traditional electronics, separate chips process and store data, wasting energy as they toss data back and forth over what engineers call a “memory wall.” New algorithms combine several energy-efficient hybrid chips to create the illusion of one mega–AI chip.

    1
    Hardware and software innovations give eight chips the illusion that they’re one mega-chip working together to run AI. Credit: Stocksy / Drea Sullivan.

    Smartwatches and other battery-powered electronics would be even smarter if they could run AI algorithms. But efforts to build AI-capable chips for mobile devices have so far hit a wall – the so-called “memory wall” that separates data processing and memory chips that must work together to meet the massive and continually growing computational demands imposed by AI.

    “Transactions between processors and memory can consume 95 percent of the energy needed to do machine learning and AI, and that severely limits battery life,” said computer scientist Subhasish Mitra, senior author of a new study published in Nature Electronics.

    Now, a team that includes Stanford computer scientist Mary Wootters and electrical engineer H.-S. Philip Wong has designed a system that can run AI tasks faster, and with less energy, by harnessing eight hybrid chips, each with its own data processor built right next to its own memory storage.

    This paper builds on the team’s prior development of a new memory technology, called RRAM, that stores data even when power is switched off – like flash memory – only faster and more energy efficiently. Their RRAM advance enabled the Stanford researchers to develop an earlier generation of hybrid chips that worked alone. Their latest design incorporates a critical new element: algorithms that meld the eight, separate hybrid chips into one energy-efficient AI-processing engine.

    “If we could have built one massive, conventional chip with all the processing and memory needed, we’d have done so, but the amount of data it takes to solve AI problems makes that a dream,” Mitra said. “Instead, we trick the hybrids into thinking they’re one chip, which is why we call this the Illusion System.”

    The researchers developed Illusion as part of the Electronics Resurgence Initiative (ERI), a $1.5 billion program sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. DARPA, which helped spawn the internet more than 50 years ago, is supporting research investigating workarounds to Moore’s Law, which has driven electronic advances by shrinking transistors. But transistors can’t keep shrinking forever.

    “To surpass the limits of conventional electronics, we’ll need new hardware technologies and new ideas about how to use them,” Wootters said.

    The Stanford-led team built and tested its prototype with help from collaborators at the French research institute CEA-Leti and at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. The team’s eight-chip system is just the beginning. In simulations, the researchers showed how systems with 64 hybrid chips could run AI applications seven times faster than current processors, using one-seventh as much energy.

    Such capabilities could one day enable Illusion Systems to become the brains of augmented and virtual reality glasses that would use deep neural networks to learn by spotting objects and people in the environment, and provide wearers with contextual information – imagine an AR/VR system to help birdwatchers identify unknown specimens.

    Stanford graduate student Robert Radway, who is first author of the Nature Electronics study, said the team also developed new algorithms to recompile existing AI programs, written for today’s processors, to run on the new multi-chip systems. Collaborators from Facebook helped the team test AI programs that validated their efforts. Next steps include increasing the processing and memory capabilities of individual hybrid chips and demonstrating how to mass produce them cheaply.

    “The fact that our fabricated prototype is working as we expected suggests we’re on the right track,” said Wong, who believes Illusion Systems could be ready for marketability within three to five years.

    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 9:17 am on January 15, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Stanford physicists find new state of matter in a one-dimensional quantum gas", , , , Instead of water it hauls fragile collections of gas atoms to higher and higher energy states without collapsing., Key to creating stable quantum systems that could power new technologies such as quantum computers., Researchers led by Stanford University physicist Benjamin Lev have developed a quantum version of Archimedes’ screw ., Scar states – extremely rare trajectories of particles in an otherwise chaotic quantum system in which the particles repeatedly retrace their steps like tracks overlapping in the woods., Stanford University, Super Tonks-Girardeau gas, This quantum many-body system has only recently been confirmed., While there are no immediate practical the Lev lab and their colleagues are developing the science necessary to power that quantum technology revolution that many predict is coming.   

    From Stanford University: “Stanford physicists find new state of matter in a one-dimensional quantum gas” 

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    January 14, 2021
    Taylor Kubota
    Stanford News Service
    (650) 724-7707
    tkubota@stanford.edu

    By adding some magnetic flair to an exotic quantum experiment, physicists produced an ultra-stable one-dimensional quantum gas with never-before-seen “scar” states – a feature that could someday be useful for securing quantum information.

    1
    Credit: CC0 Public Domain

    2
    Experimental physicists have made a unique, one-dimensional quantum gas system that remains unusually stable as it’s pumped up to higher energy states. The researchers compare it to water being transported up an Archimedes’ screw. Credit: Getty Images.

    As the story goes, the Greek mathematician and tinkerer Archimedes came across an invention while traveling through ancient Egypt that would later bear his name. It was a machine consisting of a screw housed inside a hollow tube that trapped and drew water upon rotation. Now, researchers led by Stanford University physicist Benjamin Lev have developed a quantum version of Archimedes’ screw that, instead of water, hauls fragile collections of gas atoms to higher and higher energy states without collapsing. Their discovery is detailed in a paper published Jan. 14 in Science.

    “My expectation for our system was that the stability of the gas would only shift a little,” said Lev, who is an associate professor of applied physics and of physics in the School of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford. “I did not expect that I would see a dramatic, complete stabilization of it. That was beyond my wildest conception.”

    Along the way, the researchers also observed the development of scar states – extremely rare trajectories of particles in an otherwise chaotic quantum system in which the particles repeatedly retrace their steps like tracks overlapping in the woods. Scar states are of particular interest because they may offer a protected refuge for information encoded in a quantum system. The existence of scar states within a quantum system with many interacting particles – known as a quantum many-body system – has only recently been confirmed. The Stanford experiment is the first example of the scar state in a many-body quantum gas and only the second ever real-world sighting of the phenomenon.

    Super and stable

    Lev specializes in experiments that extend our understanding of how different parts of a quantum many-body system settle into the same temperature or thermal equilibrium. This is an exciting area of investigation because resisting this so-called “thermalization” is key to creating stable quantum systems that could power new technologies, such as quantum computers.

    In this experiment, the team explored what would happen if they tweaked a very unusual many-body experimental system, called a super Tonks-Girardeau gas. These are highly excited one-dimensional quantum gases – atoms in a gaseous state that are confined to a single line of movement – that have been tuned in such a way that their atoms develop extremely strong attractive forces to one another. What’s super about them is that, even under extreme forces, they theoretically should not collapse into a ball-like mass (like normal attractive gases will). However, in practice, they do collapse because of experimental imperfections. Lev, who has a penchant for the strongly magnetic element dysprosium, wondered what would happen if he and his students created a super Tonks–Girardeau gas with dysprosium atoms and altered their magnetic orientations ‘just so.’ Perhaps they would resist collapse just a little bit better than nonmagnetic gases?

    “The magnetic interactions we were able to add were very weak compared to the attractive interactions already present in the gas. So, our expectations were that not much would change. We thought it would still collapse, just not quite so readily.” said Lev, who is also a member of Stanford Ginzton Lab and Q-FARM. “Wow, were we wrong.”

    Their dysprosium variation ended up producing a super Tonks–Girardeau gas that remained stable no matter what. The researchers flipped the atomic gas between the attractive and repulsive conditions, elevating or “screwing” the system to higher and higher energy states, but the atoms still didn’t collapse.

    Building from the foundation

    While there are no immediate practical applications of their discovery, the Lev lab and their colleagues are developing the science necessary to power that quantum technology revolution that many predict is coming. For now, said Lev, the physics of quantum many-body systems out of equilibrium remain consistently surprising.

    “There’s no textbook yet on the shelf that you can pull off to tell you how to build your own quantum factory,” he said. “If you compare quantum science to where we were when we discovered what we needed to know to build chemical plants, say, it’s like we’re doing the late 19th-century work right now.”

    These researchers are only beginning to examine the many questions they have about their quantum Archimedes’ screw, including how to mathematically describe these scar states and if the system does thermalize – which it must eventually – how it goes about doing that. More immediately, they plan to measure the momentum of the atoms in the scar states to begin to develop a solid theory about why their system behaves the way it does.

    The results of this experiment were so unanticipated that Lev says he can’t strongly predict what new knowledge will come from deeper inspection of the quantum Archimedes’ screw. But that, he points out, is perhaps experimentalism at its best.

    Additional Stanford authors are graduate students Wil Kao (co-lead author), Kuan-Yu Li (co-lead author) and Kuan-Yu Lin. A professor from CUNY College of Staten Island and CUNY, New York, is also a co-author. Lev is also a member of Stanford Bio-X.

    This research was funded by the National Science Foundation, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Olympiad Scholarship from the Taiwan Ministry of Education.

    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 4:47 pm on December 14, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Silicon scaffolds support complex microlenses", A new laser-writing technique produces refractive-index gradients in microscale photonic elements., , Stanford University,   

    From University of Illinois and Stanford University via Physics Today: “Silicon scaffolds support complex microlenses” 

    U Illinois bloc

    From University of Illinois

    and

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    via

    Physics Today bloc

    Physics Today

    14 Dec 2020
    Christine Middleton

    A new laser-writing technique produces refractive-index gradients in microscale photonic elements.

    The human eye’s lens has a refractive index that varies radially from about 1.386 at the outer edge to 1.406 at the center. The gradient reduces aberration, thereby enabling the eye to form clearer images than it would with a uniform lens. Now for the first time, three-dimensional gradient-index optics are available for fabricated microscopic devices thanks to a technique developed by Christian Ocier, Corey Richards, and coworkers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, in collaboration with researchers at Stanford University.

    The new technique relies on multiphoton direct laser writing (DLW), a lithographic process in which a focused laser beam prints 3D optical components in a volume of light-sensitive polymer photoresist. The beam chemically alters the illuminated polymer as it traces out the desired object’s shape. The untreated polymer is removed, leaving behind a lens, waveguide, or other component. Conventional DLW produces a single refractive index—that of the processed photoresist.

    Instead of starting with a uniform layer of photoresist, Ocier, Richards, and colleagues infused it into scaffolds of either porous silicon or porous silica. The average pore size was about 60 nm—small enough that the material was effectively uniform to visible and IR light—and the scaffolds were transparent at the wavelength used for writing. Each scaffold gave the researchers access to a range of refractive indices: Increasing the power of the laser left increasing amounts of polymer in the pores after the untreated material was washed away. With the silicon scaffold, achievable indices ranged from 1.28, corresponding to the empty scaffold, to 1.85 at maximal filling; those values were lower for the silica scaffolds. The technique, dubbed SCRIBE (subsurface controllable refractive index via beam exposure), has a resolution of a few hundred nanometers, which is determined by the extent of the focused laser’s point-spread function.

    1
    Credit: Adapted from C. R. Ocier et al., Light Sci. Appl. 9, 196 (2020)

    Using SCRIBE, the researchers fabricated a range of optical components, including cylinders, prisms, waveguides, and various lenses. In particular, they made the smallest-ever Luneburg lens, shown in the figure. The first two panels are a schematic of the lens’s refractive-index gradient and a fluorescent image in which the signal corresponds to the amount of photoresist polymer. Because of its spherical symmetry and radially varying refractive index, a Luneburg lens can focus a plane wave to a single point, shown in the third panel, regardless of the wave’s incident angle. Although larger versions are often used with microwaves and radio waves, the SCRIBE-made lens is the first with features small enough to focus visible light.

    Science paper:
    “Direct laser writing of volumetric gradient index lenses and waveguides”
    Light: Science & Applications

    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

    U Illinois campus

    The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign community of students, scholars, and alumni is changing the world.

    With our land-grant heritage as a foundation, we pioneer innovative research that tackles global problems and expands the human experience. Our transformative learning experiences, in and out of the classroom, are designed to produce alumni who desire to make a significant, societal impact.

    The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) is a public research university in Chicago, Illinois. Its campus is in the Near West Side community area, adjacent to the Chicago Loop. The second campus established under the University of Illinois system, UIC is also the largest university in the Chicago area, having approximately 30,000 students enrolled in 15 colleges.

    UIC operates the largest medical school in the United States with research expenditures exceeding $412 million and consistently ranks in the top 50 U.S. institutions for research expenditures. In the 2019 U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of colleges and universities, UIC ranked as the 129th best in the “national universities” category. The 2015 Times Higher Education World University Rankings ranked UIC as the 18th best in the world among universities less than 50 years old.

    UIC competes in NCAA Division I Horizon League as the UIC Flames in sports. The Credit Union 1 Arena (formerly UIC Pavilion) is the Flames’ venue for home games.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:24 am on December 7, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Stanford researchers use Kilauea crystals to understand hidden volcano behavior", , , Stanford University,   

    From Stanford University: “Stanford researchers use Kilauea crystals to understand hidden volcano behavior” 

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    December 4, 2020
    Danielle Torrent Tucker
    School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences
    (650) 497-9541
    dttucker@stanford.edu

    Jenny Suckale,
    Department of Geophysics
    (978) 273-3533
    jsuckale@stanford.edu

    1
    A lava fountain during the 1959 eruption of Kilauea Iki.Credit: USGS.

    Scientists striving to understand how and when volcanoes might erupt face a challenge: many of the processes take place deep underground in lava tubes churning with dangerous molten Earth. Upon eruption, any subterranean markers that could have offered clues leading up to a blast are often destroyed.

    But by leveraging observations of tiny crystals of the mineral olivine formed during a violent eruption that took place in Hawaii more than half a century ago, Stanford University researchers have found a way to test computer models of magma flow, which they say could reveal fresh insights about past eruptions and possibly help predict future ones.

    “We can actually infer quantitative attributes of the flow prior to eruption from this crystal data and learn about the processes that led to the eruption without drilling into the volcano,” said Jenny Suckale, an assistant professor of geophysics at Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences (Stanford Earth). “That to me is the Holy Grail in volcanology.”

    The millimeter-sized crystals were discovered entombed in lava after the 1959 eruption of Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii. An analysis of the crystals revealed they were oriented in an odd, but surprisingly consistent pattern, which the Stanford researchers hypothesized was formed by a wave within the subsurface magma that affected the direction of the crystals in the flow. They simulated this physical process for the first time in a study published in Science Advances Dec. 4.

    “I always had the suspicion that these crystals are way more interesting and important than we give them credit for,” said Suckale, who is senior author on the study.

    Detective work

    It was a chance encounter that prompted Suckale to act upon her suspicion. She had an insight while listening to a Stanford graduate student’s presentation about microplastics in the ocean, where waves can cause non-spherical particles to assume a consistent misorientation pattern. Suckale recruited the speaker, then-PhD student Michelle DiBenedetto, to see if the theory could be applied to the odd crystal orientations from Kilauea.

    “This is the result of the detective work of appreciating the detail as the most important piece of evidence,” Suckale said.

    Along with Zhipeng Qin, a research scientist in geophysics, the team analyzed crystals from scoria, a dark, porous rock that forms upon the cooling of magma containing dissolved gases. When a volcano erupts, the liquid magma – known as lava once it reaches the surface – is shocked by the cooler atmospheric temperature, quickly entrapping the naturally occurring olivine crystals and bubbles. The process happens so rapidly that the crystals cannot grow, effectively capturing what happened during eruption.

    The new simulation is based on crystal orientations from Kilauea Iki, a pit crater next to the main summit caldera of Kilauea Volcano. It provides a baseline for understanding the flow of Kilauea’s conduit, the tubular passage through which hot magma below ground rises to the Earth’s surface. Because the scoria can be blown several hundred feet away from the volcano, these samples are relatively easy to collect. “It’s exciting that we can use these really small-scale processes to understand this huge system,” said DiBenedetto, the lead author of the study, now a postdoctoral scholar at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

    Catching a wave

    In order to remain liquid, the material within a volcano needs to be constantly moving. The team’s analysis indicates the odd alignment of the crystals was caused by magma moving in two directions at once, with one flow directly atop the other, rather than pouring through the conduit in one steady stream. Researchers had previously speculated this could happen, but a lack of direct access to the molten conduit barred conclusive evidence, according to Suckale.

    “This data is important for advancing our future research about these hazards because if I can measure the wave, I can constrain the magma flow – and these crystals allow me to get at that wave,” Suckale said.

    Monitoring Kilauea from a hazard perspective is an ongoing challenge because of the active volcano’s unpredictable eruptions. Instead of leaking lava continuously, it has periodic bursts resulting in lava flows that endanger residents on the southeast side of the Big Island of Hawaii.

    Tracking crystal misorientation throughout the different stages of future Kilauea eruptions could enable scientists to deduce conduit flow conditions over time, the researchers say.

    “No one knows when the next episode is going to start or how bad it’s going to be – and that all hinges on the details of the conduit dynamics,” Suckale 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 9:49 am on December 2, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Stanford engineers combine light and sound to see underwater", , Combining light and sound to break through the seemingly impassable barrier at the interface of air and water., Electromagnetic radiation- light; microwave; and radar signals – also loses energy when passing from one physical medium into another although the mechanism is different than for sound., Enter the Photoacoustic Airborne Sonar System (PASS) which combines light and sound to break through the air-water interface., Photoacoustic airborne sonar system operating from a drone to sense and image underwater objects., Sound waves cannot pass from air into water or vice versa without losing most-more than 99.9 percent of their energy through reflection against the other medium., Stanford University   

    From Stanford University: “Stanford engineers combine light and sound to see underwater” 

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    November 30, 2020
    Ker Than

    Media Contact
    Tom Abate, Stanford Engineering
    (650) 815-1602
    tabate@stanford.edu

    1
    An artist rendition of the photoacoustic airborne sonar system [PASS] operating from a drone to sense and image underwater objects. Credit: Kindea Labs.

    The “Photoacoustic Airborne Sonar System” could be installed beneath drones to enable aerial underwater surveys and high-resolution mapping of the deep ocean.

    Stanford University engineers have developed an airborne method for imaging underwater objects by combining light and sound to break through the seemingly impassable barrier at the interface of air and water.


    An airborne sonar system for underwater remote sensing and imaging.

    The researchers envision their hybrid optical-acoustic system one day being used to conduct drone-based biological marine surveys from the air, carry out large-scale aerial searches of sunken ships and planes, and map the ocean depths with a similar speed and level of detail as Earth’s landscapes. Their “Photoacoustic Airborne Sonar System” is detailed in a recent study published in the journal IEEE Access.

    “Airborne and spaceborne radar and laser-based, or LIDAR, systems have been able to map Earth’s landscapes for decades. Radar signals are even able to penetrate cloud coverage and canopy coverage. However, seawater is much too absorptive for imaging into the water,” said study leader Amin Arbabian, an associate professor of electrical engineering in Stanford’s School of Engineering. “Our goal is to develop a more robust system which can image even through murky water.”

    Energy loss

    Oceans cover about 70 percent of the Earth’s surface, yet only a small fraction of their depths have been subjected to high-resolution imaging and mapping.

    The main barrier has to do with physics: Sound waves, for example, cannot pass from air into water or vice versa without losing most – more than 99.9 percent – of their energy through reflection against the other medium. A system that tries to see underwater using soundwaves traveling from air into water and back into air is subjected to this energy loss twice – resulting in a 99.9999 percent energy reduction.

    Similarly, electromagnetic radiation – an umbrella term that includes light, microwave and radar signals – also loses energy when passing from one physical medium into another, although the mechanism is different than for sound. “Light also loses some energy from reflection, but the bulk of the energy loss is due to absorption by the water,” explained study first author Aidan Fitzpatrick, a Stanford graduate student in electrical engineering. Incidentally, this absorption is also the reason why sunlight can’t penetrate to the ocean depth and why your smartphone – which relies on cellular signals, a form of electromagnetic radiation – can’t receive calls underwater.

    The upshot of all of this is that oceans can’t be mapped from the air and from space in the same way that the land can. To date, most underwater mapping has been achieved by attaching sonar systems to ships that trawl a given region of interest. But this technique is slow and costly, and inefficient for covering large areas.

    2
    The experimental Photoacoustic Airborne Sonar System setup in the lab (left). A Stanford “S” submerged beneath the water (middle) is reconstructed in 3D using reflected ultrasound waves (right). Credit: Aidan Fitzpatrick.

    An invisible jigsaw puzzle

    Enter the Photoacoustic Airborne Sonar System (PASS), which combines light and sound to break through the air-water interface. The idea for it stemmed from another project that used microwaves to perform “non-contact” imaging and characterization of underground plant roots. Some of PASS’s instruments were initially designed for that purpose in collaboration with the lab of Stanford electrical engineering professor Butrus Khuri-Yakub.

    At its heart, PASS plays to the individual strengths of light and sound. “If we can use light in the air, where light travels well, and sound in the water, where sound travels well, we can get the best of both worlds,” Fitzpatrick said.

    To do this, the system first fires a laser from the air that gets absorbed at the water surface. When the laser is absorbed, it generates ultrasound waves that propagate down through the water column and reflect off underwater objects before racing back toward the surface.

    The returning sound waves are still sapped of most of their energy when they breach the water surface, but by generating the sound waves underwater with lasers, the researchers can prevent the energy loss from happening twice.

    “We have developed a system that is sensitive enough to compensate for a loss of this magnitude and still allow for signal detection and imaging,” Arbabian said.

    The reflected ultrasound waves are recorded by instruments called transducers. Software is then used to piece the acoustic signals back together like an invisible jigsaw puzzle and reconstruct a three-dimensional image of the submerged feature or object.

    “Similar to how light refracts or ‘bends’ when it passes through water or any medium denser than air, ultrasound also refracts,” Arbabian explained. “Our image reconstruction algorithms correct for this bending that occurs when the ultrasound waves pass from the water into the air.”

    4
    An animation showing the 3D image of the submerged object recreated using reflected ultrasound waves. Credit: Aidan Fitzpatrick.

    Drone ocean surveys

    Conventional sonar systems can penetrate to depths of hundreds to thousands of meters, and the researchers expect their system will eventually be able to reach similar depths.

    To date, PASS has only been tested in the lab in a container the size of a large fish tank. “Current experiments use static water but we are currently working toward dealing with water waves,” Fitzpatrick said. “This is a challenging but we think feasible problem.”

    The next step, the researchers say, will be to conduct tests in a larger setting and, eventually, an open-water environment.

    “Our vision for this technology is on-board a helicopter or drone,” Fitzpatrick said. “We expect the system to be able to fly at tens of meters above the water.”

    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 8:36 am on November 30, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Stanford scientists find water can transform into hydrogen peroxide when condensing on cold surfaces", , , , , Stanford University   

    From Stanford University: “Stanford scientists find water can transform into hydrogen peroxide when condensing on cold surfaces” 

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    November 23, 2020
    Adam Hadhazy

    Media:
    Joy Leighton
    School of Humanities and Sciences
    joy.leighton@stanford.edu

    A Stanford research team that recently discovered an unexpected new chemical behavior of water when tiny droplets form from water vapor has extended the findings to natural, everyday water condensation.

    1
    Photo shows water microdroplet condensate formed on the surface of a glass container containing cold water (left) and an image of water microdroplets formed on a polished silicon surface (right). Credit: Jae Kyoo Lee and Hyun Soo Han.

    In its bulk liquid form, whether in a bathtub or an ocean, water is a relatively benign substance with little chemical activity. But down at the scale of tiny droplets, water can turn surprisingly reactive, Stanford researchers have discovered.

    In microdroplets of water, just millionths of a meter wide, a portion of the H2O molecules present can convert into a close chemical cousin, hydrogen peroxide, H2O2, a harsh chemical commonly used as a disinfectant and hair bleaching agent.

    Stanford scientists first reported this unexpected behavior in forcibly sprayed microdroplets of water last year. Now in a new study, the research team has shown the same Jekyll-and-Hyde transformation happens when microdroplets simply condense from the air onto cold surfaces. The new results suggest that water’s hydrogen peroxide transformation is a general phenomenon, occurring in fogs, mists, raindrops and wherever else microdroplets form naturally.

    The surprising discovery could lead to greener methods for disinfecting surfaces or promoting chemical reactions. “We’ve shown that the process of forming hydrogen peroxide in water droplets is a widespread and surprising phenomenon that’s been happening right under our noses,” said study senior author Richard Zare, the Marguerite Blake Wilbur Professor in Natural Science and a professor of chemistry in the Stanford School of Humanities and Sciences.

    The researchers also speculate that this newly recognized chemical ability of water could have played a key role in jumpstarting the chemistry for life on Earth billions of years ago, as well as produced our planet’s first atmospheric oxygen before life emerged. “This spontaneous production of hydrogen peroxide may be a missing part of the story of how the building blocks of life were formed on early,” Zare said.

    The co-lead authors of the new study, published in PNAS, are Stanford staff scientists Jae Kyoo Lee and Hyun Soo Han.

    Along with Zare and other Stanford colleagues, Lee and Han made the initial discovery of hydrogen peroxide production in water microdroplets last year. Some outside researchers who went over the study’s results were skeptical, Zare said, that such a potentially common phenomenon could have gone undiscovered for so long. Debate also ensued over just how the hydrogen peroxide would ever actually form.

    “The argument was that people have been studying water aerosols for years, and of course water is ubiquitous and has been intensively studied since the dawn of modern science, so if this hydrogen peroxide formation in microdroplets were real, surely someone would have seen it already,” said Zare. “That led us to want to explore the phenomenon further, to see in what other circumstances it might occur, as well as learn more about the fundamental chemistry going on.”

    Microdroplets made another way

    Zare and colleagues decided to investigate condensation, a scenario where microdroplets readily form naturally, without the aid of an external force such as a nebulizer instrument. Condensation occurs when water vapor (gas) in the air transitions into a liquid upon contacting a cooler surface; for instance, when the bathroom mirror fogs over after a shower.

    The Stanford team condensed water into multiple chilled materials, including silicon, glass, plastic and metal. The researchers then wiped a test strip that changes color in the presence of hydrogen peroxide over the condensed water. Sure enough, the strip turned blue. The low, yet detectable amounts of hydrogen peroxide (on the order of parts per million) that formed varied based on factors such as the temperature of the surface and the relative humidity in the test chamber. The researchers also noted that the hydrogen peroxide formed in microdroplets became diluted as the size of the water droplets grew, which might explain why this chemical transformation had been overlooked for so long.


    A sped-up video shows hydrogen peroxide forming amidst condensed water microdroplets. (Richard Zare Lab)

    The new experiments also support the researchers’ initial hypothesis about how the hydrogen peroxide was forming. They demonstrated that a strong electric field generated at the interface of water and air, right at the microdroplet’s periphery, seems to activate water molecules, forming various so-called reactive oxygen species. These species are unstable molecular fragments that can quickly react with other molecules to yield hydrogen peroxide.

    A process always with us and well before us

    Chemistry of this sort at the microdroplet level could have empowered the chemical transition from non-life to life on Earth over four eons ago, Zare said. The origin of life has a sort of chicken-or-egg dilemma, where catalyst molecules that speed up chemical reactions, and which appear necessary to jumpstart the chemistry of life, require life itself to make the catalyst molecules in the first place. But the natural creation of hydrogen peroxide could have instead promoted reactions leading to the molecular building blocks that ultimately assembled into complex, self-replicating entities.

    Zare speculates that this ancient and widespread chemical reaction could have even provided a source of oxygen for early life (since hydrogen peroxide breaks down into water and oxygen molecules) before the appearance of organisms that could produce oxygen themselves through photosynthesis.

    Zare’s team is presently looking into how hydrogen peroxide production via microdroplets might be harnessed for cleaning and disinfecting purposes. One intriguing possibility, Zare suggests, is using microdroplets and their attendant H2O2 to eliminate SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) from surfaces.

    “With this new study and our continuing work, we’re explaining how and why water droplets are so markedly different from bulk water in terms of chemical reactivity,” said Zare. “It’s amazing that chemistry-wise, water still has some tricks up its sleeve.”

    Additional Stanford authors include Robert Waymouth, the Robert Eckles Swain Professor in Chemistry; Fritz Prinz, the Leonardo Professor and a professor of mechanical engineering and of materials science and engineering; and PhD students Settasit Chaikasetsin in mechanical engineering and Daniel P. Marron in chemistry.

    See the full article here .


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