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  • richardmitnick 10:16 am on July 7, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Stanford-led team shows how to store data using 2D materials instead of silicon chips", , , , Stanford University   

    From Stanford University: “Stanford-led team shows how to store data using 2D materials instead of silicon chips” 

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    June 29, 2020
    Andrew Myers

    1
    This illustrates how an experimental memory technology stores data by shifting the relative position of three atomically thin layers of metal, depicted as gold balls. The swirling colors reveal how a shift in the middle layer affects the motion of electrons in a way that encodes digital ones and zeroes. (Image credit: Ella Maru Studios)

    A Stanford-led team has invented a way to store data by sliding atomically thin layers of metal over one another, an approach that could pack more data into less space than silicon chips, while also using less energy.

    The research, led by Aaron Lindenberg, associate professor of materials science and engineering at Stanford and at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, would be a significant upgrade from the type of nonvolatile memory storage that today’s computers accomplish with silicon-based technologies like flash chips.

    UC Berkeley mechanical engineer Xiang Zhang, Texas A&M materials scientist Xiaofeng Qian, and Stanford/SLAC Professor of Materials Science and Engineering Thomas Devereaux also helped direct the experiments, which are described in the journal Nature Physics. The breakthrough is based on a newly discovered class of metals that form incredibly thin layers, in this case just three atoms thick. The researchers stacked these layers, made from a metal known as tungsten ditelluride, like a nanoscale deck of cards. By injecting a tiny bit of electricity into the stack they caused each odd-numbered layer to shift ever-so-slightly relative to the even-numbered layers above and below it. The offset was permanent, or non-volatile, until another jolt of electricity caused the odd and even layers to once again realign.

    “The arrangement of the layers becomes a method for encoding information,” Lindenberg says, creating the on-off, 1s-and-0s that store binary data.

    To read the digital data stored between these shifting layers of atoms, the researchers exploit a quantum property known as Berry curvature, which acts like a magnetic field to manipulate the electrons in the material to read the arrangement of the layers without disturbing the stack.

    Jun Xiao, a postdoctoral scholar in Lindenberg’s lab and first author of the paper, said it takes very little energy to shift the layers back and forth. This means it should take much less energy to “write” a zero or one to the new device than is required for today’s non-volatile memory technologies. Furthermore, based on research the same group published in Nature last year, the sliding of the atomic layers can occur so rapidly that data storage could be accomplished more than a hundred times faster than with current technologies.

    The design of the prototype device was based in part on theoretical calculations contributed by co-authors Xiaofeng Qian, an assistant professor at Texas A&M University, and Hua Wang a graduate student in his lab. After the researchers observed experimental results consistent with the theoretical predictions, they made further calculations which lead them to believe that further refinements to their design will greatly improve the storage capacity of this new approach, paving the way for a shift toward a new, and far more powerful class of nonvolatile memory using ultrathin 2D materials.

    The team has patented their technology while they further refine their memory prototype and design. They also plan to seek out other 2D materials that could work even better as data storage mediums than tungsten ditelluride.

    “The scientific bottom line here,” Lindenberg adds, “is that very slight adjustments to these ultrathin layers have a large influence on its functional properties. We can use that knowledge to engineer new and energy-efficient devices towards a sustainable and smart future.”

    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 1:09 pm on June 18, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "A new way to study how elements mix deep inside giant planets", An international team has developed a new experimental setup to measure how chemical elements behave and mix deep inside icy giants., , Stanford University, There are giants among us – gas and ice giants to be specific., X-ray Thomson scattering   

    From Stanford University: “A new way to study how elements mix deep inside giant planets” 

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    June 16, 2020
    Ali Sundermier

    1
    In a new experiment, four optical laser beams (green) launched a shock wave in a plastic sample made up of carbon and hydrogen. As the shock wave moved through the material, researchers observed it by hitting the shocked regions with X-ray photons from LCLS (thin white beam) that scattered both backwards and forwards off electrons in the sample (thicker white beams). Credit: Greg Stewart/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

    It could offer insights into the evolution of planetary systems and guide scientists hoping to harness nuclear fusion as a new source of energy.

    There are giants among us – gas and ice giants to be specific. They orbit the same star, but their environmental conditions and chemical makeup are wildly different from those of Earth. These enormous planets – Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune and Uranus – can be seen as natural laboratories for the physics of matter at extreme temperatures and pressures.

    Now, an international team that includes scientists from the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory has developed a new experimental setup to measure how chemical elements behave and mix deep inside icy giants, which could offer insights into the formation and evolution of planetary systems. What they learn could also guide scientists hoping to harness nuclear fusion, which produces conditions similar to those in our sun, as a new source of energy. Their results were published last week in Nature Communications.

    Mixing it up

    In previous experiments, researchers used SLAC’s Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) X-ray laser to get the first detailed look at the creation of “warm dense matter,” a superhot, supercompressed mixture believed to be at the heart of these enormous planets.

    SLAC/LCLS

    They were also able to collect evidence for “diamond rain,” an exotic precipitation predicted to form from mixtures of elements deep inside icy giants.

    Until now, researchers used a technique called X-ray diffraction to study this, taking a series of snapshots of how samples respond to laser-produced shock waves that mimic the extreme conditions found in other planets. This technique works well for crystal samples but is less effective for non-crystal samples whose molecules and atoms are arranged more randomly, which limits the depth of understanding scientists can reach. In this new paper, the team used a technique called X-ray Thomson scattering that precisely reproduces previous diffraction results while also allowing them to study how elements mix in non-crystal samples at extreme conditions.

    “This research provides data on a phenomenon that is very difficult to model computationally: the ‘miscibility’ of two elements, or how they combine when mixed,” says LCLS Director Mike Dunne. “Here they see how two elements separate, like getting mayonnaise to separate back into oil and vinegar. What they learn could offer insight into a key way fusion fails, in which the inert shell of a capsule mixes in with the fusion fuel and contaminates it so that it doesn’t burn.”

    10,000 kilometers deep

    In this most recent experiment, optical laser beams launched a shock wave in a plastic sample made up of carbon and hydrogen. As the shock wave moved through the material, the researchers observed it by hitting the shocked regions with X-ray photons from LCLS that scattered both backwards and forwards off electrons in the sample.

    1
    The two sets of scattered photons revealed how hydrogen (blue) and carbon (grey) atoms separated, or demixed, in response to the extreme pressure and temperature conditions reached in the experiment. (Greg Stewart/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory)

    “One set of scattered photons revealed the extreme temperatures and pressures reached in the sample, which mimic those found 10,000 kilometers beneath the surface of Uranus and Neptune,” says SLAC scientist and co-author Eric Galtier. “The other revealed how the hydrogen and carbon atoms separated in response to these conditions.”

    Going deeper

    The researchers hope the technique will allow them to measure the microscopic mix of materials used in fusion experiments at large, high-energy lasers such as the National Ignition Facility at DOE’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL).


    National Ignition Facility at LLNL

    “We want to understand if this process could occur in inertial confinement fusion implosions with plastic ablator capsules, as it would generate fluctuations that could grow and degrade the implosion performance,” said Tilo Doeppner, LLNL physicist and co-author on the paper.

    To follow up, the team plans to recreate even more extreme conditions found deeper inside icy giants, and to study samples that contain other elements to understand what happens in other planets.

    “This technique will allow us to measure interesting processes that are otherwise difficult to recreate,” says Dominik Kraus, a scientist at Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf who led the study. “For example, we’ll be able to see how hydrogen and helium, elements found in the interior of gas giants like Jupiter and Saturn, mix and separate under these extreme conditions. It’s a new way to study the evolutionary history of planets and planetary systems, as well as supporting experiments towards potential future forms of energy from fusion.”

    LCLS is a DOE Office of Science user facility. This research was funded in part by the Office of Science.

    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 7:17 am on June 8, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Safeguarding ocean ecosystems", , Curbing Illegal Fishing, Current Initiatives, , , Oceans & Food, Small-Scale Fisheries & Tech, , Stanford University, Sustainable Ocean Economies   

    From Stanford University-Center for Ocean Solutions: “Safeguarding ocean ecosystems” 

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    Current Initiatives

    We capitalize on Stanford’s deep expertise in ocean science and in the main other disciplines crucial to solving ocean problems including engineering, computer science, political science, design and business.

    1
    Oceans & Food

    Our food systems will need to feed 9 billion people by 2050, but food from the oceans has not been well integrated into potential solutions. Land use change, nutrient inputs from agriculture, and increasing demand for animal protein are all likely to place additional stress on oceans and affect their productivity.

    Through a partnership with Stanford’s Center on Food Security and the Environment, Stockholm Resilience Centre, World Resources Institute, EAT and Springer Nature, we created the Blue Food Assessment – an international effort to put “blue food” (food from marine and freshwater systems) in the center of the global food policy agenda. This is the first comprehensive review of aquatic foods and their roles in the global food system.

    We are working with a community of researchers investigating the many connections between oceans and the food system. This assessment comprises eight articles, which will be published in Nature journals. The set, along with a synthesis and a policymaker summary, will be presented as a report for the UN Food Systems Summit in 2021. We aim to generate insights that can guide the diverse decision-makers – governments, companies, and consumers – whose choices will shape the future of food and of the ocean.

    2

    Sustainable Ocean Economies

    As countries around the world establish marine protected areas (MPAs) to protect marine biodiversity, they must determine how best to integrate those MPAs into their development goals. We are developing approaches and tools to support the small island developing states of the Pacific in their efforts to integrate development and conservation.

    In Palau, at the request of the President, we have been working with the Palau International Coral Reef Center and a team of Palauan and international experts to develop analyses and options for implementation of legislation that protects 80% of its Exclusive Economic Zone as a marine sanctuary, while achieving its economic development and food security goals. COS co-directors Micheli and Leape presented the report to the President of Palau and to a meeting of the full national leadership – ministers, governors and members of Congress – as well as other stakeholder groups in Palau. We are continuing to provide ongoing support to strengthen marine resource management.

    Learn more about our work in Palau here >

    3

    Curbing Illegal Fishing

    We are leading an effort by the Friends of Ocean Action, a group of leaders convened by the UN and the World Economic Forum, to accelerate action on illegal fishing and human rights violations through linked efforts on three fronts. First, data: we are working with governments, companies and leading data platforms to increase data sharing that’s needed to detect illegal fishing and support action in supply chains and at ports. Second, supply chains: we are working with leading retailers and seafood companies to establish traceability and transparency across their supply chains and shift the sector toward sustainability. Third, policy: we are working with leading governments and key NGOs to forge international cooperation to prevent vessels from landing illegal catch.

    4

    Managing Ocean Risk

    To manage emerging ocean uses and unprecedented levels of ocean impact from climate change, overfishing and pollution, we need new tools to anticipate tipping points, and to identify management and policy options for avoiding such catastrophic shifts.

    We are partnering with Georgia Tech, Scripps, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) and the Smithsonian Ocean Portal to lead the Ocean Visions Initiative to develop and implement climate-based ocean solutions. This is a scientist-driven ocean solutions venture fostering collaboration between top researchers, conservationists and entrepreneurs committed to solving ocean health challenges.

    5

    Small-Scale Fisheries & Tech

    Small-scale fisheries produce half of the global fisheries catch and represent a key source of employment and nutrition for hundreds of millions of people. Small-scale fisheries are especially important to livelihoods and food security in the developing world, often as part of informal economies not subject to government regulation or taxation, largely lacking management and extremely vulnerable to climate, market and social change. A transition from the informal economy to the formal economy can result in greater economic stability for small-scale fishers.

    In a collaboration with Stanford’s d.school, we are working to use human-centered design approaches to identify new technologies that can help fishing communities manage their resources through, for example, improving financial capacity, monitoring catches, or improving access to markets.

    See the full article here .


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

    Stem Education Coalition

    Stanford University campus. No image credit

    Stanford University

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

    Stanford University Seal

     
  • richardmitnick 10:01 am on June 4, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Stanford experts highlight oceans’ role in solving food insecurity", , , Stanford University   

    From Stanford University: “Stanford experts highlight oceans’ role in solving food insecurity” 

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    June 2, 2020
    Nicole Kravec
    Stanford Center for Ocean Solutions

    1
    Fish in the sea at Sipadan Island, Malaysia. (Image credit: Adobe Stock)

    A key to solving global hunger – which is predicted to intensify during the COVID-19 pandemic – may lie in the ocean. In fact, the ocean could produce up to 75 percent more seafood than it does today, and drive sustainable economic growth, according to Stanford’s Rosamond Naylor and Jim Leape.

    Stanford Report spoke with Leape, co-director of Stanford’s Center for Ocean Solutions, and Naylor, the William Wrigley Professor in Earth System Science, about how global food policies can better integrate “blue foods” from marine and freshwater systems, how to address gaps in current thinking, and what world leaders can do to create a healthier, more sustainable food system.

    The researchers are part of a major global initiative called the Blue Food Assessment, which is the first comprehensive review of aquatic foods and their roles in the global food system. Naylor will discuss the initiative on June 3 at the Virtual Ocean Dialogues, an online gathering of business, government and public sector leaders who are invested in creating a more resilient ocean.

    How has the current pandemic affected “blue foods?”

    Naylor: Aquatic food is, by far, the most highly traded food commodity. COVID-19 is disrupting processed and widely traded seafood products, such as salmon, shrimp and tuna. The collapse in passenger travel has largely shut down markets for fresh and frozen tuna, for example, because they are shipped in passenger flights. However, locally produced and consumed food systems are actually faring much better. This is especially true for some small-scale fisheries, where local fishing groups have taken the initiative to sell seafood locally and new markets are emerging during the COVID-19 period. Production and consumption have become more tightly connected as a result. Local food markets and seafood sharing activities have surfaced, for example, in indigenous communities along the British Columbian coast, in Oaxaca, Mexico and in Hawaii.

    Leape: With a growing and increasingly prosperous population, we are seeing a rapid growth in demand for animal protein. Increasing production of beef would have dire environmental consequences – livestock already accounts for nearly 80 percent of land devoted to agriculture and is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. Increasing production of aquatic foods has been appealing because it has the potential to have a lower environmental impact; it can also be healthier. But the details matter – there are more than 2,100 species of fish, both wild-capture and farmed – and the nutritional value of seafood and its environmental impacts depend hugely on the species and how it is harvested.

    What are the most important changes we can make, in terms of policies and practices to shape the future of the aquatic food system?

    Leape: About 20 percent of the world’s fish catch is stolen each year; in some of the places that depend most on fisheries, that proportion reaches 30 or 40 percent. Illegal fishing defeats efforts to manage the resource sustainability and cheats the fishers who are playing by the rules. And we can end it. Emerging technologies are bringing much greater transparency into the fishing industry. There is growing momentum among major governments and companies to use these capabilities to ensure that illegal fishers have nowhere to land their catch and no one to buy it.

    What are some innovations that hold particular promise for a more sustainable food system?

    Leape: Rapidly expanding satellite capabilities are allowing an increasingly granular picture of what’s happening on the water – so we can track vessels, and tell when they are fishing where they shouldn’t be, for example. Soon this will be complemented by onboard electronic monitoring – video cameras on vessels and even on nets, with AI algorithms that allow rapid detection of problems like overfishing and catching protected species.

    Naylor: For seafood, it has been exciting to see big innovations in feed sourcing for carnivorous finfish and crustaceans. The aquaculture industry is using novel materials like microalgae, insect feeds and terrestrial plant-based materials – including many by-products from commercial crops – in their feed ingredients. This is taking pressure off wild fisheries that are used to produce fishmeal and fish oil. Advanced genetics are now being used to enhance fish growth, reduce the consumption of wild fish in feeds, and promote better disease resistance. If we want healthy oceans in the future, we have to be thinking about a wide range of innovations, and the institutions, financial incentives, and public trust needed to turn these innovations into real market solutions.

    See the full article here .


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

    Stem Education Coalition

    Stanford University campus. No image credit

    Stanford University

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

    Stanford University Seal

     
  • richardmitnick 8:23 am on May 26, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Cosmic rays may have left indelible imprint on early life Stanford physicist says", , , , Stanford University   

    From Stanford University: “Cosmic rays may have left indelible imprint on early life, Stanford physicist says” 

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    May 20, 2020
    Taylor Kubota
    Stanford News Service
    (650) 724-7707
    tkubota@stanford.edu

    Physicists propose that the influence of cosmic rays on early life may explain nature’s preference for a uniform “handedness” among biology’s critical molecules.

    Before there were animals, bacteria or even DNA on Earth, self-replicating molecules were slowly evolving their way from simple matter to life beneath a constant shower of energetic particles from space.

    Cosmic rays produced by high-energy astrophysics sources (ASPERA collaboration – AStroParticle ERAnet)

    1
    Magnetically polarized radiation preferentially ionized one type of “handedness” leading to a slightly different mutation rate between the two mirror proto-lifeforms. Over time, right-handed molecules out-evolved their left-handed counterparts. (Image credit: Simons Foundation)

    In a new paper, [Astrophysical Journal Letters], a Stanford professor and a former postdoctoral scholar speculate that this interaction between ancient proto-organisms and cosmic rays may be responsible for a crucial structural preference, called chirality, in biological molecules. If their idea is correct, it suggests that all life throughout the universe could share the same chiral preference.

    Chirality, also known as handedness, is the existence of mirror-image versions of molecules. Like the left and right hand, two chiral forms of a single molecule reflect each other in shape but don’t line up if stacked. In every major biomolecule – amino acids, DNA, RNA – life only uses one form of molecular handedness. If the mirror version of a molecule is substituted for the regular version within a biological system, the system will often malfunction or stop functioning entirely. In the case of DNA, a single wrong handed sugar would disrupt the stable helical structure of the molecule.

    Louis Pasteur first discovered this biological homochirality in 1848. Since then, scientists have debated whether the handedness of life was driven by random chance or some unknown deterministic influence. Pasteur hypothesized that, if life is asymmetric, then it may be due to an asymmetry in the fundamental interactions of physics that exist throughout the cosmos.

    “We propose that the biological handedness we witness now on Earth is due to evolution amidst magnetically polarized radiation, where a tiny difference in the mutation rate may have promoted the evolution of DNA-based life, rather than its mirror image,” said Noémie Globus, lead author of the paper and a former Koret Fellow at the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (KIPAC).

    See the full article here .


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

    Stem Education Coalition

    Stanford University campus. No image credit

    Stanford University

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

    Stanford University Seal

     
  • richardmitnick 10:40 am on May 21, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Complex data workflows contribute to reproducibility crisis in science Stanford scientists say", (NARPS)-Neuroimaging Analysis Replication and Prediction Study, Bigger datasets and increasingly complex workflows are making it harder for researchers to reproduce experimental results – a key part of the scientific process., Stanford University   

    From Stanford University: “Complex data workflows contribute to reproducibility crisis in science, Stanford scientists say” 

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    May 20, 2020
    Adam Hadhazy

    1
    Bigger datasets and increasingly complex workflows are making it harder for researchers to reproduce experimental results – a key part of the scientific process. (Image credit: Getty Images)

    Scientific research has changed dramatically in the centuries since Galileo, Newton and Darwin. Whereas scientists once often toiled in isolation with homemade experiments and treatises, today collaboration is the norm. Teams of scientists now routinely pool and process reams of data gleaned from high-tech instruments.

    Yet as modern science has grown in sophistication and delivered amazing breakthroughs, a worrying trend has emerged. Confounded scientists have demonstrated that a large number of studies cannot be successfully replicated, even when using the same methods as the original research. This “reproducibility crisis” has particularly impacted the fields of psychology and medicine, throwing into question the validity of many original findings.

    Now, a new study, published May 20 in the journal Nature and co-led by Stanford researchers, is underscoring one particular factor in the reproducibility crisis: the increasingly complex and flexible ways that experimental data can be analyzed. Simply put, no two groups of researchers are necessarily crunching data the same way. And with so much data to get through and so many ways to process it, researchers can arrive at totally different conclusions.

    In the first-of-its-kind study, 70 independent research teams from around the world were given a common analysis challenge to tackle. All were presented with the same data – brain scans of volunteers performing a monetary decision-making task – and told to test out nine different hypotheses. Each team analyzed the data differently.

    Ultimately, the teams’ results varied dramatically for five out of those nine hypotheses, with some reporting a positive result and others a negative result. “The main concerning takeaway from our study is that, given exactly the same data and the same hypotheses, different teams of researchers came to very different conclusions,” said paper co-senior author Russell Poldrack, the Albert Ray Lang Professor of Psychology in the School of Humanities and Sciences. He also co-leads an international project called the Neuroimaging Analysis, Replication and Prediction Study (NARPS), which conducted the experiment comparing data analysis techniques.

    While worrisome, Poldrack said the findings can help researchers assess and improve the quality of their data analyses moving forward. Potential solutions include ensuring that data is analyzed in multiple ways, as well as making data analysis workflows transparent and openly shared among researchers.

    “We really want to know when we have done something wrong so we can fix it,” said Poldrack. “We’re not hiding from or covering up the bad news.”

    The winding road of analysis

    The new study centered on a type of neuroimaging called functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI. The technique measures blood flow in the brain as study participants perform a task. Higher levels of blood flow indicate neural activity in a brain region. In this way, fMRI lets researchers probe which areas of the brain are involved in certain behaviors, as well as the experiencing of emotions, the intricacies of memory storage and much more.

    The initial NARPS data consisted of fMRI scans of 108 individuals, obtained by the research group of Tom Schonberg at Tel Aviv University. Study participants engaged in a sort of simulated gambling experiment, developed by Poldrack and colleagues in previous research. The fMRI scans showed brain regions, particularly those involved in reward processing, changing their activity in relation to the amount of money that could be won or lost on each gamble. But extrapolating from the collected brain scans to clear-cut results proved to be anything but straightforward.

    “The processing you have to go through from raw data to a result with fMRI is really complicated,” said Poldrack. “There are a lot of choices you have to make at each place in the analysis workflow.”

    The new study dramatically demonstrated this analytical flexibility. After receiving the large neuroimaging dataset, shared across the world using the resources of the Stanford Research Computing Center, each research team went down its own winding road of analysis. Right out of the gate, teams modeled the hypothesis tests in differing ways. The teams also used different kinds of software packages for data analysis. Preprocessing steps and techniques likewise varied from team to team. Furthermore, the research groups set different thresholds for when parts of the brain showed significantly increased activation or not. The teams could not even always agree on how to define anatomical regions of interest in the brain when applying statistical analysis.

    In the end, the 70 research teams mostly agreed on four hypotheses about whether there was a significant activation effect or not in a certain brain region amongst study participants. Yet for the remaining five, the teams mostly disagreed.

    Ever better

    Poldrack hopes the NARPS study can serve as a valuable bit of reckoning, not just for the neuroimaging community, but other scientific fields with similarly complex workflows and broad possibilities for how different analysis steps are implemented.

    “We think that any field with similarly complex data and methods would show similar variability in analyses done side-by-side of the same dataset,” said Poldrack.

    The problem highlighted by the new study could become even more pervasive in the future, as the datasets that fuel many scientific discoveries grow ever larger in size. “Our NARPS work highlights the fact that as data has gotten so big, analysis has become a real issue,” said Poldrack.

    One encouraging and important takeaway from NARPS, though, is the dedication shown by its research teams in getting to the roots of the reproducibility crisis. For the study, almost 200 individual researchers willingly put in tens or even hundreds of hours into a critical self-assessment.

    “We want to test ourselves as severely as possible, and this is an example of many researchers spending altogether thousands of person-hours to do that,” said Poldrack. “It shows scientists fundamentally care about making sure what we are doing is right, that our results will be reproducible and reliable, and that we are getting the right answers.”

    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 9:18 am on May 11, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Stanford’s Scott Hubbard contributed to new ‘planetary quarantine’ report reviewing risks of alien contamination", , , , Stanford University   

    From Stanford University: “Stanford’s Scott Hubbard contributed to new ‘planetary quarantine’ report reviewing risks of alien contamination” 

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    May 7, 2020
    Ker Than, Stanford News Service
    (650) 723-9820
    kerthan@stanford.edu

    1
    Artist rendering of a spaceship leaving a lunar colony. (Image credit: SpaceX)

    In Michael Crichton’s 1969 novel The Andromeda Strain, a deadly alien microbe hitches a ride to Earth aboard a downed military satellite and scientists must race to contain it. While fictional, the plot explores a very real and longstanding concern shared by NASA and world governments: that spacefaring humans, or our robotic emissaries, may unwittingly contaminate Earth with extraterrestrial life or else biologically pollute other planets we visit.

    It’s an old fear that’s taken on a new relevance in the era of COVID-19, said Scott Hubbard, an adjunct professor of aeronautics and astronautics at Stanford University.

    “I have heard from some colleagues in the human spaceflight area that they can see how, in the current environment, the general public could become more concerned about bringing back some alien microbe, virus or contamination,” said Hubbard, who is also the former director of NASA Ames and the first Mars program director.

    Hubbard is a co-author of a new report published last month by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine that reviews recent findings and recommendations related to “planetary protection” or “planetary quarantine” — the safeguarding of Earth and other worlds from biological cross-contamination.

    Here, Hubbard discusses the long history of planetary protection, the dilemma posed by Elon Musk launching a Tesla Roadster into space, and the precautions in place to guard against contamination by NASA’s upcoming Mars Sample Return mission, which is scheduled to kick off this summer with the launch of the space agency’s Perseverance Rover.

    Depiction of NASA Perseverence Rover

    Concerns about planetary protection date back to the earliest years of the Space Age. Can you briefly explain what the term means?

    Even before Sputnik, there were scientific meetings that discussed the potential for space exploration to a) carry earthly microbes to other worlds, thereby confusing or contaminating future scientific investigations, or b) return alien life to Earth and thus possibly threaten our own biosphere. The former issue is called “forward contamination” and the latter is defined as “back or backward contamination.” These concepts were codified in the Outer Space Treaty (OST) of 1967, which has been signed by over 120 countries, including the U.S.

    The report notes that the “advent of new space activities and players in the exploration and use of space” is raising new issues with regards to planetary protection (PP). What are some examples of new developments and what challenges and concerns do they raise?

    This phrase refers primarily to space entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk (SpaceX), who launched his own cherry red Tesla Roadster to a Mars-like orbit around the sun aboard a Falcon Heavy rocket. We need some way of knowing whether they are following appropriate PP procedures.

    It also captures emerging issues, such as serious planning for human Mars missions, including Musk’s aspiration to send people to the Red Planet by 2024. There’s also the advent and explosion of smallsats or cubesats. In addition, some very challenging new science missions with very complex planetary protection requirements such as Mars Sample Return and Europa Clipper to a moon of Jupiter are underway. Finally, there are many more international players than before who may not have experience with PP issues.

    Can you summarize the main findings and recommendations from this new report?

    First, NASA and the world need to seriously plan for emerging commercial/entrepreneurial space activities in deep space. The complication is that NASA is a mission agency with huge PP expertise but not a regulatory agency like the Federal Aviation Administration, which has little PP knowledge but issues licenses for commercial launches.

    Our committee concluded that the Outer Space Treaty applied to both the government and the private sector, and that it was very clear some entity in the U.S. government needed to “continually authorize and supervise” private activities in space.

    Next, with the probability of humans landing on Mars ever more realistic, our reports recommend that NASA conduct research to see if there can be a Martian “exploration zone” where humans can land and contamination, if it occurs, would do no harm. Spacesuits can leak or “blow out,” potentially releasing all manner of earthly microbes and contaminating the surface for any future science missions.

    Lastly, small spacecraft with the potential to go to deep space are being developed at very low cost at both universities and companies and we highlighted concern about whether these small spacecraft will be overly burdened by the cost of PP requirements. Stanford developed some of the very first smallsats, called cubesats.

    What are some examples of actions that can be taken to reduce the “bioburden” on spacecraft?

    Past missions with large budgets – such as Viking I and II to Mars in the mid-1970s – were able to use heat to sterilize whole spacecraft. That approach is not possible today for a variety of reasons. However, combinations of chemical cleaning, heat sterilization, applying reduction credit for time spent in the highly sterilizing space radiation environment and clever mechanical systems have been shown to be effective in meeting requirements.

    Humans obviously cannot be cleaned like robots, so much more attention to spacesuits, human habitats and using robots as assistants is required.

    What are some actions that NASA can take to guard against accidental biological contamination for its planned Martian Sample Return (MSR) mission?

    To control forward contamination, the hardware sent from Earth will be thoroughly cleaned. The tubes that will contain the sample that are aboard Mars 2020 (Perseverance Rover) have been baked at a high temperature.

    To guard against back contamination, there is a major effort to “break the chain of contact” between the returning spacecraft and Mars rock samples. For example, autonomous sealing and welding techniques to create three or four levels of containment are planned.

    In my opinion, and that of the science community, the chance that rocks from Mars that are millions of years old will contain an active life form that could infect Earth is extremely low. But, the samples returned by MSR will be quarantined and treated as though they are the Ebola virus until proven safe.

    As for humans, the Apollo astronauts from the first few moon missions were quarantined to ensure they showed no signs of illness. Once it was found that the moon did not pose a risk, the quarantine was eliminated. Such a procedure will undoubtedly be followed for humans returning from Mars.

    This report was completed before the current pandemic. Is there anything you or the National Academies would have done differently if you were writing the report today?

    With respect to the science and technology, I think we would have provided much the same report. However, we wrote a small section suggesting that NASA and a recommended new advisory group take a very proactive approach toward educating the public about the extraordinary measures being taken to sequester the returned samples and protect the public. In the COVID era, this section should be emphasized.

    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 10:40 am on May 5, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Stanford research shows how park-like tsunami defenses can provide a sustainable alternative to towering seawalls", , , Stanford University   

    From Stanford University: “Stanford research shows how park-like tsunami defenses can provide a sustainable alternative to towering seawalls” 

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    May 4, 2020
    Josie Garthwaite

    Careful engineering of low, plant-covered hills along shorelines can mitigate tsunami risks with less disruption of coastal life and lower costs compared to seawalls.

    1
    Plans for a tsunami mitigation park in Miyagi Prefecture, Japan, combine a seawall, hills and vegetation. (Image credit: Morino Project)

    In tsunami preparedness, it turns out there can be strength in beauty. Rows of green hills strategically arranged along coastlines can help to fend off destruction from tsunamis while preserving ocean views and access to the shore. For some communities, they may offer a better option than towering seawalls.

    Those are the findings of a peer-reviewed paper by a team of researchers who have tried to quantify how tsunami waves of different heights interact with mounds of various sizes and shapes arranged near the water’s edge. The research was published on May 4 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    Giant seawalls are the conventional approach to mitigating tsunami risk. Japan, for example, has built hundreds of miles of concrete walls, taller than 40 feet in some places, at a cost of more than $12 billion since tsunami waves crashed through seawalls and flattened coastal communities throughout eastern Japan in March 2011.

    3
    A concrete wall on the coast of Japan. (Image credit: iStock)

    But seawalls tend to be expensive to build, tough on local tourism and fishing industries, disruptive to coastal communities and environmentally destructive – and failures can be catastrophic, said senior study author Jenny Suckale, an assistant professor of geophysics in the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences (Stanford Earth).

    “If the wall collapses, the consequences are life shattering,” said Suckale, whose collaborators on the study include scientists from the Naval Postgraduate School, the New Jersey Institute of Technology, MIT and Indonesia’s Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries. Seawalls can not only create a false sense of security that can discourage swift evacuations, she explained, they can also end up breaking apart into blocks of rubble that tsunami waves then toss throughout a city.

    “It’s sort of intuitive that the moment you see it as a threat, you build a wall,” Suckale said. But while it’s true that seawalls can address some tsunami risks, the factors that make a place livable can be far more complicated. “Most coastal communities want to maximize their well-being, not minimize their risk at the expense of everything else,” she said. “Do you really want to live behind a huge concrete wall because there is a small chance that a big tsunami will hit you? Let’s put more options on the table and have an informed debate.”

    Having more options on the table is especially important in places where resources for coastal protections are scarce, said study co-author Abdul Muhari, who leads the coastal disaster mitigation division of the Indonesian Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries. “By having the analysis in our paper, tsunami-prone countries now have a fundamental basis for evaluating hills as a less-expensive way to mitigate tsunami risks,” he said.

    Customizable and green

    Coastal forests can help put the brakes on tsunami flow speeds in nearby towns and villages. These and other nature-based solutions are increasingly important in plans for coastal risk management, the researchers write. Yet it takes decades for trees to grow sturdy enough to provide meaningful protection.

    And, according to the new study, vegetation has little effect on an incoming wave’s energy. Plants may still play an important role in fighting erosion, however, thereby helping to maintain the shape, height and spacing of hills that make them effective.

    An alternative solution cropping up on coastlines in tsunami-prone countries around the world seeks to combine the best of both worlds: the tunability and immediacy of an engineered barrier and the coastal access and ecological function of a more porous green zone.

    Until now, designs for these projects, known as tsunami mitigation parks, have been informed more by aesthetics than science. “Right now, our designs are not strategic enough,” Suckale said. “This paper is a starting point for understanding how to design these parks to derive maximum risk mitigation benefits from them.”

    Design matters

    By numerically modeling what happens to a tsunami wave when it slams into a single row of hills, the researchers show mounds can reflect and dampen a tsunami wave’s destructive power about as well as a typical seawall can. And in the event of a huge, one-in-a-thousand-years kind of tsunami, they will fail no worse than even the most imposing walls. As a result, the study finds, there’s little extra value to be gained from combining walls and hills – a common approach in designs from Constitución, Chile to Morino, Japan.

    “These hills reflect a surprising amount of wave energy for small and intermediate tsunamis,” Suckale said. Customizing the shape of the hills based on the shape of the coastline, the direction that tsunamis are likely to approach from, and other site-specific factors can help to maximize the amount of energy reflected back. This is key, Suckale said, because “energy is really your main enemy.”

    That’s because if a tsunami inundates an area at full throttle with even one foot of water, Suckale said, it will leave few survivors. “It just slams everything. You can’t stay on your feet, and once you fall, it’s very dangerous. It throws cars at buildings. You’ll easily be knocked over by things carried in the water.”

    The study also points to the need for homes and infrastructure to be set back behind a broad buffer zone, because hills can speed up flows and increase damage in the area immediately surrounding the park. To avoid this unintended consequence, the researchers suggest considering designs with multiple staggered rows of hills that are larger toward the shore and smaller inland.

    “Our study shows that design matters. There’s a wrong and a right spacing; there’s a wrong and a right shape,” Suckale said. “You should not use aesthetic criteria to design this.”

    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 5:00 pm on April 23, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Stanford researchers create seismic stress map of North America", , “Understanding the forces in the Earth’s crust is fundamental science”, , , First continental synthesis of data, Induced seismicity – human-caused earthquakes – from unconventional oil and gas recovery., Stanford University, Why does the Earth tremble and quake?   

    From Stanford University: “Stanford researchers create seismic stress map of North America” 

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    April 23, 2020

    Media Contacts

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

    Mark Zoback,
    School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences
    (650) 725-9295
    zoback@stanford.edu

    Jens-Erik Lund Snee,
    School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences:
    (720) 289-8972
    jlundsnee@usgs.gov

    How do mountains form? What forces are needed to carve out a basin? Why does the Earth tremble and quake?

    1
    New research has direct applications for understanding and mitigating problems associated with induced seismicity – human-caused earthquakes – from unconventional oil and gas recovery. (Image credit: Alexlky/iStock)

    Earth scientists pursue these fundamental questions to gain a better understanding of our planet’s deep past and present workings. Their discoveries also help us plan for the future by preparing us for earthquakes, determining where to drill for oil and gas, and more. Now, in a new, expanded map of the tectonic stresses acting on North America, Stanford researchers present the most comprehensive view yet of the forces at play beneath the Earth’s surface.

    The findings, published in Nature Communications on April 23, have implications for understanding and mitigating problems associated with induced seismicity – human-caused earthquakes – from unconventional oil and gas recovery, especially in Oklahoma, Texas and other areas targeted for energy exploration. But they also pose a whole new set of questions that the researchers hope will stimulate a wide range of modeling studies.

    “Understanding the forces in the Earth’s crust is fundamental science,” said study co-author Mark Zoback, the Benjamin M. Page Professor of Geophysics in Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences (Stanford Earth). “In some cases, it has immediate application, in others, it may be applied decades later to practical questions that do not exist today.”

    First continental synthesis of data

    The new research provides the first quantitative synthesis of faulting across the entire continent, as well as hundreds of measurements of compressive stress directions – the direction from which the greatest pressure occurs in the Earth’s crust. The map was produced by compiling new and previously published measurements from boreholes as well as inferences about kinds or “styles” of faults based on earthquakes that have occurred in the past.

    2
    Credit: Jens-Erik Lund Snee and Mark Zoback

    The three possible styles of faulting include extensional, or normal faulting, in which the crust extends horizontally; strike-slip faulting, in which the Earth slides past itself, like in the San Andreas fault; and reverse, or thrust, faulting in which the Earth moves over itself. Each one causes very different shaking from a hazard point of view.

    “In our hazards maps right now, in most places, we don’t have direct evidence of what kind of earthquake mechanisms could occur,” said Jack Baker, a professor of civil and environmental engineering who was not involved with the study. “It’s exciting that we have switched from this blind assumption of anything is possible to having some location-specific inferences about what types of earthquakes we might expect.”

    Zooming in

    In addition to presenting a continent-level view of the processes governing the North American plate, the data – which incorporates nearly 2,000 stress orientations, 300 of which are new to this study – offer regional clues about the behavior of the subsurface.

    “If you know an orientation of any fault and the state of stress nearby, you know how likely it is to fail and whether you should be concerned about it in both naturally-triggered and industry-triggered earthquake scenarios,” said lead author Jens-Erik Lund Snee, PhD ’20, now a postdoctoral fellow with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) in Lakewood, Colorado. “We’ve detailed a few places where previously published geodynamic models agree very well with the new data, and others where the models don’t agree well at all.”

    In the Eastern U.S., for example, the style of faulting revealed by the study is exactly the opposite of what would be expected as the surface slowly “rebounds” following the melting of the ice sheets that covered most of Canada and the northern U.S. some 20,000 years ago, according to Lund Snee. The discovery that the rebound stresses are much less than those already stored in the crust from plate tectonics will advance scientists’ understanding of the earthquake potential in that area.

    In the Western U.S., the researchers were surprised to see changes in stress types and orientations over short distances, with major rotations occurring over only tens of miles – a feature that current models of Earth dynamics do not reveal.

    “It’s just much clearer now how stress can systematically vary on the scale of a sedimentary basin in some areas,” Zoback said. “We see things we’ve never seen before that require geologic explanation. This will teach us new things about how the Earth works.”

    See the full article here .


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

    Stem Education Coalition

    Stanford University campus. No image credit

    Stanford University

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

    Stanford University Seal

     
  • richardmitnick 8:21 am on April 2, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Stanford seeking to expand space for COVID-19 research", (IMA)-Innovative Medicines Accelerator, Biosafety level 3 space, Stanford University   

    From Stanford University: “Stanford seeking to expand space for COVID-19 research” 

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    April 1, 2020
    Amy Adams

    Stanford is looking to expand the only facility on campus where researchers can work with the virus that causes COVID-19. Once underway, the expansion could be completed in six months and would greatly speed research toward treatment and prevention.

    When chemist Carolyn Bertozzi came to Stanford in 2015, she needed to construct a specialized research space to carry out her work with the bacteria that causes tuberculosis. Because it is both infectious and airborne, it requires what is known as biosafety level 3, or BSL3, containment.

    1
    A portion of a lab was converted into Biosafety level 3 space in 2016. The contained area is safe for working with airborne pathogens such as the tuberculosis bacteria or SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. (Image credit: Meridee Mannino)

    Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and suddenly her cramped, four-person space became a hot commodity. In response, Bertozzi and a team of researchers are looking to expand the existing facility in the Keck Science Building to accommodate researchers who are pivoting to help fight COVID-19. The construction should take about six months.

    “Not only is there an explosive interest in this virus but we need BSL3 space to manage patient testing and move toward ways to treat and monitor patients,” said Bertozzi, who is also the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences. “It is a bottleneck in our ability to understand what makes this virus tick, diagnose people and understand why some people have a more critical response to an infection.”

    Testing patient samples for infection can happen outside a BSL3 facility, as can any research that doesn’t involve growing and manipulating live virus. But researchers hoping to develop and test therapies or vaccines need to be able to determine how those treatments affect the virus’ ability to infect cells, and they need to be able to do it within an environment that protects them from infection and contains the virus within the laboratory facility.

    “A lot of people are wanting to study COVID-19 and we’re spinning up that capacity as fast as we can,” said Kathryn Moler, Vice Provost and Dean of Research. She said the shared research spaces and structures already in place to support collaboration on campus have been critical to that effort. “The BSL3 facility is a perfect example of how shared spaces can support faculty coming together around a common problem.”

    Bertozzi, who is also co-director of Stanford ChEM-H, said the expansion is not only necessary to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic now, it will continue to be needed for tackling new infections as they arise.

    “Stanford is a world-class biomedical research institution with both adult and children’s hospitals and we need to be positioned to take a leadership role in tackling urgent emerging problems,” she said. “To do that, we need to have this capacity ready to go.”

    Pivoting to COVID-19

    Catherine Blish, associate professor of medicine, had been using Bertozzi’s BSL3 space for her own tuberculosis research, but has quickly pivoted her lab to begin studying SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19).

    Blish said training new people to work in a BSL3 environment can take months, but in the interim, she has lab members who can take advantage of what space is available and begin training others. She added that another challenge is scheduling time in the small room.

    “We will do everything we can to maximize that space, and we can do a lot of important work, but it’s inadequate for the scope of the work we want and need to do,” Blish said.

    Blish is involved in testing whether existing antiviral drugs are effective in treating COVID-19 and is studying SARS-CoV-2 in cells in a lab dish to understand how the virus attaches to cells, invades, divides and ultimately breaks them open and escapes to invade other cells.

    “The important thing to understand is that there remains a lot of uncertainty,” Blish said. And until researchers understand the biology of this virus they can’t develop and ultimately test new therapies. Nor can they know whether reports of existing drugs being effective against COVID-19 are true.

    “I would caution people against jumping to conclusions about existing drugs without thoroughly evaluating the data,” Blish said.

    Emerging infections

    The current BSL3 space is part of the Innovative Medicines Accelerator (IMA), which arose out of the Long-Range Vision to speed the pace of new therapeutics. Chaitan Khosla, who leads the IMA and is the Baker Family Co-Director of Stanford ChEM-H, said expanding the space is “arguably the most critical research need for combating this insidious virus.”

    The IMA is currently being incubated within Stanford ChEM-H, which supports research at the intersection of medicine, chemistry and engineering targeted at human health. The BSL3 facility is key for the two main priorities of the IMA: prototyping new drugs, like the ones to combat COVID-19, and groundbreaking experimental studies in human biology. In the case of COVID-19, that could mean studying the immune response of people who have COVID-19 in order to understand – and ultimately interrupt – the disease progression.

    Kathryn Nobrega, director of research safety within Stanford’s Environmental, Health and Safety department, added that the diverse teams across campus coming together to study COVID-19 include people who may be new to the BSL3 environment, and who need additional training and support.

    “As the Stanford community is pivoting toward more COVID-19 research, everyone has something they can bring to the table,” Nobrega said. “Like many problems that Stanford is used to solving, the interdisciplinary approach is critical.”

    To better coordinate the efforts, Stanford has formed a review panel to evaluate and prioritize proposals for COVID-19 research, and to ensure appropriate safety precautions both for the scientists and the public. Nobrega said the review panel is considering dozens of new projects tackling COVID-19, and some of those can be done in collaboration with new COVID-19 research in the existing facility before the BSL3 lab expansion is completed.

    “This is a fast-moving train,” Nobrega said. For now, that train will help Stanford researchers tackle COVID-19, but it will also set them up to be responsive to future urgent needs.

    See the full article here .


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

    Stem Education Coalition

    Stanford University campus. No image credit

    Stanford University

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

    Stanford University Seal

     
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