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  • richardmitnick 10:39 pm on November 29, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Making sense of the muon’s misdemeanours", , Muonium, , , , The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich [ETH Zürich] [Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich] (CH)   

    From The Paul Scherrer Institute [Paul Scherrer Institut](CH) And The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich [ETH Zürich] [Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich] (CH) : “Making sense of the muon’s misdemeanours” 

    From The Paul Scherrer Institute [Paul Scherrer Institut](CH)

    And

    The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich [ETH Zürich] [Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich] (CH)

    11.28.22
    Contacts:

    Dr. Thomas Prokscha
    Low Energy Muons Group Head
    Paul Scherrer Institut
    Forschungsstrasse 111, 5232 Villigen PSI, Switzerland
    Telephone: +41 56 310 42 75
    E-Mail: thomas.prokscha@psi.ch

    Prof. Dr. Paolo Crivelli
    Institute for Particle Physics and Astrophysics
    Department of Physics
    ETH Zurich
    HPT E 7.2, Auguste-​Piccard-Hof 1, 8093 Zürich, Switzerland
    Telephone: +41 44 633 35 11
    E-Mail: crivelli@phys.ethz.ch

    Text: Miriam Arrell/Paul Scherrer Institute

    1
    By making precise measurements in muonium, Crivelli and Prokscha are aiming to understand puzzling results using muons, which may in turn reveal gaps in the laws of physics as we know them. (Photo: Paul Scherrer Institute / Mahir Dzambegovic)

    By studying an exotic atom called muonium, researchers are hoping misbehaving muons will spill the beans on the Standard Model of particle physics.

    To make muonium, they use the most intense continuous beam of low energy muons in the world at Paul Scherrer Institute PSI. The research is published in Nature Communications [below].

    The muon is often described as the electron’s heavy cousin. A more appropriate description might be its rogue relation. Since its discovery triggered the words “who ordered that” (Isidor Isaac Rabi, Nobel laureate), the muon has been bamboozling scientists with its law-breaking antics. The muon’s most famous misdemeanour is to wobble slightly too much in a magnetic field: its anomalous magnetic moment hit the headlines with the 2021 muon g-2 experiment at Fermilab.

    The muon also notably caused trouble when it was used to measure the radius of the proton – giving rise to a wildly different value to previous measurements and what became known as the proton radius puzzle. Yet rather than being chastized, the muon is cherished for its surprising behavior, which makes it a likely candidate to reveal new physics beyond the Standard Model. 

    Aiming to make sense of the muon’s strange behaviour, researchers from PSI and ETH Zürich turned to an exotic atom known as muonium. Formed from a positive muon orbited by an electron, muonium is similar to hydrogen but much simpler. Whereas hydrogen’s proton is made up of quarks, muonium’s positive muon has no substructure. And this means it provides a very clean model system from which to sort these problems out: for example, by obtaining extremely precise values of fundamental constants such as the mass of the muon.

    “With muonium, because we can measure its properties so precisely, we can try to detect any deviation from the Standard Model. And if we see this, we can then infer which of the theories that go beyond the Standard Model are viable or not,” explains Paolo Crivelli from ETH Zürich, who is leading the study supported by a European Research Council Consolidator grant in the frame of the Mu-MASS project.

    Only one place in the world this is possible

    A major challenge to making these measurements very precisely is having an intense beam of muonium particles so that statistical errors can be reduced. Making lots of muonium, which incidentally lasts for only two microseconds, is not simple. There is one place in the world where enough positive muons at low energy are available to create this: PSI’s Swiss Muon Source.

    “To make muonium efficiently, we need to use slow muons. When they’re first produced they’re going at a quarter of the speed of light. We then need to slow them down by a factor of a thousand without losing them. At PSI, we’ve perfected this art. We have the most intense continuous source of low energy muons in the world. So we’re uniquely positioned to perform these measurements,” says Thomas Prokscha, who heads the Low Energy Muons group at PSI.

    At the Low Energy Muons beamline, slow muons pass through a thin foil target where they pick up electrons to form muonium. As they emerge, Crivelli’s team are waiting to probe their properties using microwave and laser spectroscopy.

    Tiny change in energy levels could hold the key

    The property of muonium that the researchers are able to study in such detail is its energy levels. In the recent publication, the teams were able to measure for the first time a transition between certain very specific energy sublevels in muonium. Isolated from other so-called hyperfine levels, the transition can be modeled extremely cleanly. The ability to now measure it will facilitate other precision measurements: in particular, to obtain an improved value of an important quantity known as the Lamb shift.

    The Lamb shift is a miniscule change in certain energy levels in hydrogen relative to where they ‘should’ be as predicted by classical theory. The shift was explained with the advent of Quantum Electrodynamics (the quantum theory of how light and matter interact). Yet, as discussed, in hydrogen, protons – possessing substructure – complicate things. An ultra-precise Lamb shift measured in muonium could put the theory of Quantum Electrodynamics to the test.

    There is more. The muon is nine times lighter than the proton. This means that effects relating to the nuclear mass, such as how a particle recoils after absorbing a photon of light, are enhanced. Indetectable in hydrogen, a route to these values at high precision in muonium could enable scientists to test certain theories that would explain the muon g-2 anomaly: for example, the existence of new particles such as scalar or vector gauge bosons.

    Putting the muon on the scales

    However exciting the potential of this may be, the team have a greater goal in their sights: weighing the muon. To do this, they will measure a different transition in muonium to a precision one thousand times greater than ever before.

    An ultra-high precision value of the muon mass – the goal is 1 part per billion – will support ongoing efforts to reduce uncertainty even further for muon g-2. “The muon mass is a fundamental parameter that we cannot predict with theory, and so as experimental precision improves, we desperately need an improved value of the muon mass as an input for the calculations,” explains Crivelli.

    The measurement could also lead to a new value of the Rydberg constant – an important fundamental constant in atomic physics – that is independent of hydrogen spectroscopy. This could explain discrepancies between measurements that gave rise to the proton radius puzzle, and maybe even solve it once and for all.

    Muonium spectroscopy poised to fly with IMPACT project

    Given that the main limitation for such experiments is producing enough muonium to reduce statistical errors, the outlook for this research at PSI looks bright. “With the high intensity muon beams proposed for the IMPACT [Isotope and Muon Production using Advanced Cyclotron and Target technologies] project we could potentially go a factor of one hundred higher in precision, and this would be getting very interesting for the Standard Model,” emphasises Prokscha.

    Science paper:
    Nature Communications
    See the science paper for instructive material with images.

    See the full article here.

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

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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    ETH Zurich campus

    The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich [ETH Zürich] [Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich] (CH) is a public research university in the city of Zürich, Switzerland. Founded by the Swiss Federal Government in 1854 with the stated mission to educate engineers and scientists, the school focuses exclusively on science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Like its sister institution The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne [EPFL-École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne](CH) , it is part of The Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology Domain (ETH Domain)) , part of the The Swiss Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research [EAER][Eidgenössisches Departement für Wirtschaft, Bildung und Forschung] [Département fédéral de l’économie, de la formation et de la recherche] (CH).

    The university is an attractive destination for international students thanks to low tuition fees of 809 CHF per semester, PhD and graduate salaries that are amongst the world’s highest, and a world-class reputation in academia and industry. There are currently 22,200 students from over 120 countries, of which 4,180 are pursuing doctoral degrees. In the 2021 edition of the QS World University Rankings ETH Zürich is ranked 6th in the world and 8th by the Times Higher Education World Rankings 2020. In the 2020 QS World University Rankings by subject it is ranked 4th in the world for engineering and technology (2nd in Europe) and 1st for earth & marine science.

    As of November 2019, 21 Nobel laureates, 2 Fields Medalists, 2 Pritzker Prize winners, and 1 Turing Award winner have been affiliated with the Institute, including Albert Einstein. Other notable alumni include John von Neumann and Santiago Calatrava. It is a founding member of the IDEA League and the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU) and a member of the CESAER network.

    ETH Zürich was founded on 7 February 1854 by the Swiss Confederation and began giving its first lectures on 16 October 1855 as a polytechnic institute (eidgenössische polytechnische schule) at various sites throughout the city of Zurich. It was initially composed of six faculties: architecture, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, chemistry, forestry, and an integrated department for the fields of mathematics, natural sciences, literature, and social and political sciences.

    It is locally still known as Polytechnikum, or simply as Poly, derived from the original name eidgenössische polytechnische schule, which translates to “federal polytechnic school”.

    ETH Zürich is a federal institute (i.e., under direct administration by the Swiss government), whereas The University of Zürich [Universität Zürich ] (CH) is a cantonal institution. The decision for a new federal university was heavily disputed at the time; the liberals pressed for a “federal university”, while the conservative forces wanted all universities to remain under cantonal control, worried that the liberals would gain more political power than they already had. In the beginning, both universities were co-located in the buildings of the University of Zürich.

    From 1905 to 1908, under the presidency of Jérôme Franel, the course program of ETH Zürich was restructured to that of a real university and ETH Zürich was granted the right to award doctorates. In 1909 the first doctorates were awarded. In 1911, it was given its current name, Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule. In 1924, another reorganization structured the university in 12 departments. However, it now has 16 departments.

    ETH Zürich, EPFL (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne) [École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne](CH), and four associated research institutes form The Domain of the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology (ETH Domain) [ETH-Bereich; Domaine des Écoles polytechniques fédérales] (CH) with the aim of collaborating on scientific projects.

    Reputation and ranking

    ETH Zürich is ranked among the top universities in the world. Typically, popular rankings place the institution as the best university in continental Europe and ETH Zürich is consistently ranked among the top 1-5 universities in Europe, and among the top 3-10 best universities of the world.

    Historically, ETH Zürich has achieved its reputation particularly in the fields of chemistry, mathematics and physics. There are 32 Nobel laureates who are associated with ETH Zürich, the most recent of whom is Richard F. Heck, awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2010. Albert Einstein is perhaps its most famous alumnus.

    In 2018, the QS World University Rankings placed ETH Zürich at 7th overall in the world. In 2015, ETH Zürich was ranked 5th in the world in Engineering, Science and Technology, just behind the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University and University of Cambridge (UK). In 2015, ETH Zürich also ranked 6th in the world in Natural Sciences, and in 2016 ranked 1st in the world for Earth & Marine Sciences for the second consecutive year.

    In 2016, Times Higher Education World University Rankings ranked ETH Zürich 9th overall in the world and 8th in the world in the field of Engineering & Technology, just behind the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, California Institute of Technology, Princeton University, University of Cambridge(UK), Imperial College London(UK) and University of Oxford(UK) .

    In a comparison of Swiss universities by swissUP Ranking and in rankings published by CHE comparing the universities of German-speaking countries, ETH Zürich traditionally is ranked first in natural sciences, computer science and engineering sciences.

    In the survey CHE Excellence Ranking on the quality of Western European graduate school programs in the fields of biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics, ETH Zürich was assessed as one of the three institutions to have excellent programs in all the considered fields, the other two being Imperial College London (UK) and the University of Cambridge (UK), respectively.

    Paul Sherrer Institute SwissFEL Coherent Light Source, Spallation Neutron Source (SINQ), Muon Source (SμS), X-ray free-electron laser (SwissFEL).

    The Paul Scherrer Institute [Paul Scherrer Institut] (CH) is the largest research institute for natural and engineering sciences within Switzerland. We perform world-class research in three main subject areas: Matter and Material; Energy and the Environment; and Human Health. By conducting fundamental and applied research, we work on long-term solutions for major challenges facing society, industry and science.

    The Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) is a multi-disciplinary research institute for natural and engineering sciences in Switzerland. It is located in the Canton of Aargau in the municipalities Villigen and Würenlingen on either side of the River Aare, and covers an area over 35 hectares in size. Like ETH Zurich [Swiss Federal Institute of Technology ETH Zürich [Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich)](CH) and EPFL [Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne) [École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne](CH)], PSI belongs to the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology Domain of the Swiss Confederation . The PSI employs around 2100 people. It conducts basic and applied research in the fields of matter and materials, human health, and energy and the environment. About 37% of PSI’s research activities focus on material sciences, 24% on life sciences, 19% on general energy, 11% on nuclear energy and safety, and 9% on particle physics.
    PSI develops, builds and operates large and complex research facilities and makes them available to the national and international scientific communities. In 2017, for example, more than 2500 researchers from 60 different countries came to PSI to take advantage of the concentration of large-scale research facilities in the same location, which is unique worldwide. About 1900 experiments are conducted each year at the approximately 40 measuring stations in these facilities.

    In recent years, the institute has been one of the largest recipients of money from the Swiss lottery fund.

    Research and specialist areas

    Paul Scherrer Institute develops, builds and operates several accelerator facilities, e. g. a 590 MeV high-current cyclotron, which in normal operation supplies a beam current of about 2.2 mA. PSI also operates four large-scale research facilities: a synchrotron light source (SLS), which is particularly brilliant and stable, a spallation neutron source (SINQ), a muon source (SμS) and an X-ray free-electron laser (SwissFEL).

    This makes PSI currently (2020) the only institute in the world to provide the four most important probes for researching the structure and dynamics of condensed matter (neutrons, muons and synchrotron radiation) on a campus for the international user community. In addition, HIPA’s target facilities also produce pions that feed the muon source and the Ultracold Neutron source UCN produces very slow, ultracold neutrons. All these particle types are used for research in particle physics.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:22 pm on November 23, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Food security thanks to faeces and waste", , , , ETH Zürich researchers are creating circular economies that use processed organic waste and human excreta as fertilizer or animal feed resulting in higher crop yields and new jobs., The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich [ETH Zürich] [Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich] (CH)   

    From The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich [ETH Zürich] [Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich] (CH): “Food security thanks to faeces and waste” 

    From The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich [ETH Zürich] [Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich] (CH)

    11.23.22
    Christoph Elhardt

    Together with partners in Ethiopia, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Africa, ETH Zürich researchers are creating circular economies that use processed organic waste and human excreta as fertilizer or animal feed, resulting in higher crop yields and new jobs.

    1
    The Runres team visiting Maggot Farm Black Soldier Fly Larvae facility in Kamonyi, Rwanda.  (Photograph: Runres / ETH Zürich)

    Around 250 million Africans – 1 in 5 people on the world’s second-​largest continent – suffer from hunger or malnourishment. One reason for this is that agricultural soils have not been receiving enough nutrients. As a result, crop yields are declining. At the same time, many cities in sub-​Saharan Africa face challenges with their sanitation and solid waste management. In many places, rapid urbanization is overstraining the waste and sanitary infrastructure.

    Usually, researchers regard these two problems as separate issues. This is not the case, however, in ETH Zürich’s Sustainable Agroecosystems research group, led by Professor Johan Six: “We want to establish regional circular economies in which local people reuse nutrients from faecal matter and organic waste as fertilizer for growing food or as animal feed,” he says.

    In collaboration with ETH Zürich’s Transdisciplinarity Lab (TdLab), Six’s group has since 2019 been leading the Runres research for development project, which is funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). The researchers and their local partners in Ethiopia, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and South Africa have shown that they are able to improve food security as well as waste management by recycling organic waste in a clever way. Local entrepreneurs’ direct and active involvement in these projects has created new jobs, particularly for women.


    Runres – ETH Zürich (Video: Nicole Davidson / ETH Zürich)

    Compost from human excreta and organic waste

    In many rural areas of South Africa, people still dispose of their human excreta in pit latrines. This poses a great challenge for municipalities as the latrines fill up quickly. It also increases people’s risk of coming into contact with pathogens.

    Benjamin Wilde, a native of Texas and a postdoc at the Chair of Sustainable Agroecosystems, is trying to solve this problem together with local partners in the Msunduzi municipality: “We’re working with the local company Duzi Turf, a public utility, and the municipality to produce compost from sewage sludge and urban green waste. This is then used as fertilizer,” Wilde says. He coordinates RUNRES from Zürich.

    While the municipality supplies the green waste and the public utility company the sewage sludge, the company is responsible for the composting. This collaboration of public and private actors, however, does more than just empty latrines: the organic fertiliser also enhances soil fertility and thus increases local farmers’ crop yields. The compost is used to fertilize green spaces as well as the fields of a neighboring farmers’ cooperative, increasing its agricultural yields. What’s more, the local company creates new jobs by selling the compost.

    Similar to South Africa, the Runres project in Bukavu, a city in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, is about producing compost from organic waste. To improve the collection of this waste in the city, Runres social scientist Leonhard Spaeth worked with researchers from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) to conduct an education campaign that encouraged residents to better separate household organic waste. “Sorting behavior at household level is essential for getting an efficient and cost-​effective process-​chain from waste to usable input for the agriculture”, Spaeth explains. This work is not only improving waste management in the city, but also public health. The compost is then sold to local coffee farmers, where it is used as fertilizer.

    1
    Duzi Turf.

    2
    Composting Facility

    Sustainable animal feed from organic waste

    Recycling organic waste is central to another Runres project as well. In Kigali, Rwanda’s capital city, the ETH Zürich researchers are working together with a local company that collects organic waste and feeds it to the larvae of the black soldier fly.

    “The larvae eat the organic waste and convert it into their own biomass. They are an excellent source of protein for livestock such as chickens or fish,” Wilde says.

    Rwanda still imports most of its animal feed from abroad. Small farmers cannot afford these expensive imports. The fly larvae are a cheap and locally produced alternative that creates jobs and reduces waste management costs. 

    This new source of animal feed also counteracts overfishing; up to now, poultry and fish farmers have mainly used fish from local lakes to feed their livestock.

    4
    Black Soldier Fly Larvae are grown on organic waste collected from the surrounding communities and sold as a high quality poultry feed (Photograph: Runres / ETH Zürich)

    A banana-​based circular economy

    The ETH Zürich researchers are also involved in a Runres project in Arba Minch, a city in the south of Ethiopia. This area is a big banana-​growing region. Many farmers send their raw bananas to Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, where they are then sold to urban consumers. Being at the bottom end of the value chain, the farmers themselves make very little money.

    Over the past two years, the ETH Zürich researchers have established a factory to produce value added banana products such as flour and banana chips together with a local business. The company sells these products directly to supermarkets, schools and hospitals.

    “Due to the higher profit margins, the company can pay farmers a higher price for their bananas. That means more added value and, ultimately, more jobs stay in the region,” Wilde says. The company is also planning to make baby food from bananas, which will further increase the value added.

    As fertilizer, the banana farmers are now using compost made from organic waste by another company that is also part of the Runres project. This company is also using the potassium-​rich banana peels produced by the banana processing facility to make compost and animal feed. In keeping with the Runres ethos, all these innovations lead to a regional circular economy that recycles waste and uses it as fertilizer in agriculture. 

    4
    RUNRES scientist Abebe Arba showing the banana yield increases associated with application of compost.  (Photograph: Runres / ETH Zürich)

    Local partners are involved from the start

    Not only is the Runres project improving the income and living conditions of the local population; the way in which they have been carried out is also new: In each of the four African countries where Runres operates, it employs at least two well-​connected local project assistants who have intimate knowledge of the country. Together with the ETH Zürich researchers, they identified players from the worlds of business, politics and administration who might be interested in setting up a circular economy.

    6
    The Runres team and community stakeholders meeting in Bukavu, DRC, to develop project implementation strategies. (Photograph: Runres / ETH Zürich)

    These potential partners then met on transdisciplinary innovation platforms moderated by Runres staff. “Rather than approach local players with ready-​made solutions, we developed and implemented innovations with them,” says Pius Krütli, the co-​director of ETH Zürich’s TdLab. “What is special about this is that the local partners also participate financially right from the start. With this approach, we not only share responsibility, but also create a common knowledge base and create ownership among the local actors.” The researchers focused on companies that stood to benefit from these innovations and were therefore motivated to commit to the project.

    During the project’s initial phase, which ends in the first half of coming year, the researchers aim to demonstrate that their concept of regional circular economies works: soil health is building, while waste water management has improved; agricultural yields are increasing, while new jobs are being created and the exchange of knowledge and experience is working.

    In the second phase, which will last until 2027, the ETH Zürich researchers and their partners in Africa intend to expand their projects. The goal is for them to become self-​sustaining activities – without SDC assistance.

    See the full article here .

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

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    ETH Zurich campus

    The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich [ETH Zürich] [Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich] (CH) is a public research university in the city of Zürich, Switzerland. Founded by the Swiss Federal Government in 1854 with the stated mission to educate engineers and scientists, the school focuses exclusively on science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Like its sister institution The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne [EPFL-École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne](CH) , it is part of The Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology Domain (ETH Domain)) , part of the The Swiss Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research [EAER][Eidgenössisches Departement für Wirtschaft, Bildung und Forschung] [Département fédéral de l’économie, de la formation et de la recherche] (CH).

    The university is an attractive destination for international students thanks to low tuition fees of 809 CHF per semester, PhD and graduate salaries that are amongst the world’s highest, and a world-class reputation in academia and industry. There are currently 22,200 students from over 120 countries, of which 4,180 are pursuing doctoral degrees. In the 2021 edition of the QS World University Rankings ETH Zürich is ranked 6th in the world and 8th by the Times Higher Education World Rankings 2020. In the 2020 QS World University Rankings by subject it is ranked 4th in the world for engineering and technology (2nd in Europe) and 1st for earth & marine science.

    As of November 2019, 21 Nobel laureates, 2 Fields Medalists, 2 Pritzker Prize winners, and 1 Turing Award winner have been affiliated with the Institute, including Albert Einstein. Other notable alumni include John von Neumann and Santiago Calatrava. It is a founding member of the IDEA League and the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU) and a member of the CESAER network.

    ETH Zürich was founded on 7 February 1854 by the Swiss Confederation and began giving its first lectures on 16 October 1855 as a polytechnic institute (eidgenössische polytechnische schule) at various sites throughout the city of Zurich. It was initially composed of six faculties: architecture, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, chemistry, forestry, and an integrated department for the fields of mathematics, natural sciences, literature, and social and political sciences.

    It is locally still known as Polytechnikum, or simply as Poly, derived from the original name eidgenössische polytechnische schule, which translates to “federal polytechnic school”.

    ETH Zürich is a federal institute (i.e., under direct administration by the Swiss government), whereas The University of Zürich [Universität Zürich ] (CH) is a cantonal institution. The decision for a new federal university was heavily disputed at the time; the liberals pressed for a “federal university”, while the conservative forces wanted all universities to remain under cantonal control, worried that the liberals would gain more political power than they already had. In the beginning, both universities were co-located in the buildings of the University of Zürich.

    From 1905 to 1908, under the presidency of Jérôme Franel, the course program of ETH Zürich was restructured to that of a real university and ETH Zürich was granted the right to award doctorates. In 1909 the first doctorates were awarded. In 1911, it was given its current name, Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule. In 1924, another reorganization structured the university in 12 departments. However, it now has 16 departments.

    ETH Zürich, EPFL (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne) [École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne](CH), and four associated research institutes form The Domain of the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology (ETH Domain) [ETH-Bereich; Domaine des Écoles polytechniques fédérales] (CH) with the aim of collaborating on scientific projects.

    Reputation and ranking

    ETH Zürich is ranked among the top universities in the world. Typically, popular rankings place the institution as the best university in continental Europe and ETH Zürich is consistently ranked among the top 1-5 universities in Europe, and among the top 3-10 best universities of the world.

    Historically, ETH Zürich has achieved its reputation particularly in the fields of chemistry, mathematics and physics. There are 32 Nobel laureates who are associated with ETH Zürich, the most recent of whom is Richard F. Heck, awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2010. Albert Einstein is perhaps its most famous alumnus.

    In 2018, the QS World University Rankings placed ETH Zürich at 7th overall in the world. In 2015, ETH Zürich was ranked 5th in the world in Engineering, Science and Technology, just behind the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University and University of Cambridge (UK). In 2015, ETH Zürich also ranked 6th in the world in Natural Sciences, and in 2016 ranked 1st in the world for Earth & Marine Sciences for the second consecutive year.

    In 2016, Times Higher Education World University Rankings ranked ETH Zürich 9th overall in the world and 8th in the world in the field of Engineering & Technology, just behind the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, California Institute of Technology, Princeton University, University of Cambridge(UK), Imperial College London(UK) and University of Oxford(UK) .

    In a comparison of Swiss universities by swissUP Ranking and in rankings published by CHE comparing the universities of German-speaking countries, ETH Zürich traditionally is ranked first in natural sciences, computer science and engineering sciences.

    In the survey CHE Excellence Ranking on the quality of Western European graduate school programs in the fields of biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics, ETH Zürich was assessed as one of the three institutions to have excellent programs in all the considered fields, the other two being Imperial College London (UK) and the University of Cambridge (UK), respectively.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:39 am on November 11, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "At CSCS [Swiss National Supercomputing Centre] energy efficiency is a key priority even at high performance", , , , , , The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich [ETH Zürich] [Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich] (CH)   

    From The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich [ETH Zürich] [Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich] (CH): “At CSCS [Swiss National Supercomputing Centre] energy efficiency is a key priority even at high performance” 

    From The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich [ETH Zürich] [Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich] (CH)

    11.11.22
    Simone Ulmer

    The term “high-​performance computer” already implies a high energy demand. Energy efficiency is therefore a central consideration in the procurement and use of supercomputers at the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre (CSCS) — just as it was during the planning of the new building in Lugano more than a decade ago.

    CSCS develops and operates a high-performance computing (HPC) and data research infrastructure that supports world-class science in Switzerland, including research at CERN and the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI). High-performance computers and the simulations performed on them are indispensable for research where theory reaches its limits or experiments are impossible. Neither the universe nor the climate, for example, can be reproduced and observed in the laboratory. Simulations also support experimental researchers in the search for new, stable material compounds that are used, for example, in efficient solar cells, electronic components, or medicines; simulations now even make it possible to predict biological processes that were only seen afterwards in experiments.


    Energy efficiency is a key priority at CSCS (Video: Swiss National Supercomputing Centre (CSCS))

    High energy efficiency in computer design

    In 2012, CSCS procured the high-performance computer “Piz Daint”, one of the world’s most energy-efficient computers in the petaflop performance class (a computer that can perform a quadrillion computing operations per second) at the time.

    A collaborative initiative in which CSCS worked closely with hardware manufacturers, software developers, mathematicians, and scientists made this achievement possible. CSCS has since launched the Platform for Advanced Scientific Computing as part of the High Performance Computing and Networking strategy adopted by the ETH Board. On one hand, this involves working with hardware manufacturers to select energy-efficient hardware, such as graphics processing units (GPU), and thus build modern, energy-efficient computer architectures. On the other hand, PASC supports the optimization of codes and algorithms in the software used by the researchers within these modern computer architectures, so research is carried out more efficiently and goals are reached faster than on conventional supercomputers — saving not only time, but also energy.

    The latest computer technologies continue to improve in this regard. Take “Piz Daint” for example, which has been upgraded several times with more efficient processor generations: Since the external pageGreen500 listcall_made of the world’s most energy-efficient computers was introduced in 2013, the supercomputer has been in the top 10 a total of five times. In November 2016, it was even listed in second place among the world’s most energy-efficient computers. With Alps, which is scheduled to go into operation in 2023, CSCS will again increase the energy efficiency relative to the computing power many times over, thanks to new technologies. Already today, there are systems similar to “Alps” that are able to perform up to five times more computing operations per watt than previous technologies. “Alps” is thus expected to put CSCS once again in a top position worldwide in energy efficiency in supercomputing.

    Carbon-neutral electricity

    CSCS sources 100 percent of its electricity from hydropower and is carbon neutral. Furthermore, the energy consumption of the entire Centre in 2021 was around 37 gigawatt hours with an average output of around 4 megawatts. By way of comparison, the CERN and PSI research facilities have electricity requirements of 1300 gigawatt hours and 126 gigawatt hours respectively, according to recent media reports.

    In addition to “Piz Daint”, CSCS also operates the MeteoSwiss computer and other systems on behalf of partners and houses the ETH Euler computer and the Blue Brain computer. These partner systems account for approximately 35 percent of the total energy demand of the Centre. In addition, CSCS also provides computing capacity on “Piz Daint” — and eventually on “Alps” — to the MARVEL materials research network, the University of Zurich, and the PSI.

    High efficiency starts with infrastructure

    Careful planning made CSCS one of the world’s most energy-efficient data centres in the world when in it opened in August 2012, and it remains so today with a PUE (Power Usage Effectivness) rating below 1.2. The PUE value indicates how effectively the supplied energy is consumed in a data centre. The closer the value approaches to 1.0, the more energy-efficient the data centre.

    Even ten years after the new building was completed in Lugano, additional new data centre buildings still aim for “only” a PUE below 1.2. This is also the case for ETH Zurich’s plans for a data centre on the Hönggerberg campus (more on this soon).

    The CSCS data centre especially owes its energy efficiency to its sophisticated and innovative cooling system that uses lake water from Lake Lugano. The cooling infrastructure is designed to cool high-performance computers with an output of up to 14 megawatts — research infrastructures such as “Piz Daint” or its successor “Alps” — in a so-called first cooling circuit. This cooling circuit is also used to cool the Minergie-certified CSCS office building in summer.

    After the first cooling cycle, the relatively heated water in the second circuit is still able to cool computers with a total output of up to 7 megawatts. The second circuit cools, among other things, the air of housings — known as cooling islands — in which these smaller systems and data storage devices are housed.

    The CSCS building is also heated with the waste heat from the return of the second cooling circuit together with a heat pump. The heating flow is thus low at 30 degrees Celsius. Thanks to this carefully designed system, one and the same infrastructure is used in the office building for heating in winter and cooling in summer.

    Energy synergy

    In order to reduce the energy demand as much as possible and to reuse energy where possible, CSCS has taken even further innovative measures in recent years: Before the water circuit enters the lake again, it drives two micro-turbines to produce even more electricity. At 200 megawatt hours per year, the electricity generated by the turbine covers more than 30 percent of the energy needs of the pumping station itself, which pumps the water over a distance of 2.8 kilometres and 30 metres uphill to the data centre.

    2
    Microturbines for energy recovery (Photograph: CSCS)

    Additionally, the waste heat from the computers is not only used to heat the CSCS office building. Together with the Ticino electricity supplier AIL (Aziende Industriali Lugano), CSCS built an infrastructure that supplies heat to the city of Lugano as well as the new campus of the Università della Svizzera italiana with the SUPSI University of Applied Sciences — the campus requires around 742 megawatt hours of thermal energy per year to heat the buildings. AIL is also currently building a thermal power plant that will make it possible to produce a further six megawatts of heat with the waste heat from CSCS. The heat output can eventually be increased to up to 30 megawatts when combined with heat pumps.

    All in all, the operation of CSCS’s high-performance computers is embedded within a well thought-out and sustainable energy strategy.

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    ETH Zurich campus

    The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich [ETH Zürich] [Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich] (CH) is a public research university in the city of Zürich, Switzerland. Founded by the Swiss Federal Government in 1854 with the stated mission to educate engineers and scientists, the school focuses exclusively on science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Like its sister institution The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne [EPFL-École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne](CH) , it is part of The Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology Domain (ETH Domain)) , part of the The Swiss Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research [EAER][Eidgenössisches Departement für Wirtschaft, Bildung und Forschung] [Département fédéral de l’économie, de la formation et de la recherche] (CH).

    The university is an attractive destination for international students thanks to low tuition fees of 809 CHF per semester, PhD and graduate salaries that are amongst the world’s highest, and a world-class reputation in academia and industry. There are currently 22,200 students from over 120 countries, of which 4,180 are pursuing doctoral degrees. In the 2021 edition of the QS World University Rankings ETH Zürich is ranked 6th in the world and 8th by the Times Higher Education World Rankings 2020. In the 2020 QS World University Rankings by subject it is ranked 4th in the world for engineering and technology (2nd in Europe) and 1st for earth & marine science.

    As of November 2019, 21 Nobel laureates, 2 Fields Medalists, 2 Pritzker Prize winners, and 1 Turing Award winner have been affiliated with the Institute, including Albert Einstein. Other notable alumni include John von Neumann and Santiago Calatrava. It is a founding member of the IDEA League and the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU) and a member of the CESAER network.

    ETH Zürich was founded on 7 February 1854 by the Swiss Confederation and began giving its first lectures on 16 October 1855 as a polytechnic institute (eidgenössische polytechnische schule) at various sites throughout the city of Zurich. It was initially composed of six faculties: architecture, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, chemistry, forestry, and an integrated department for the fields of mathematics, natural sciences, literature, and social and political sciences.

    It is locally still known as Polytechnikum, or simply as Poly, derived from the original name eidgenössische polytechnische schule, which translates to “federal polytechnic school”.

    ETH Zürich is a federal institute (i.e., under direct administration by the Swiss government), whereas The University of Zürich [Universität Zürich ] (CH) is a cantonal institution. The decision for a new federal university was heavily disputed at the time; the liberals pressed for a “federal university”, while the conservative forces wanted all universities to remain under cantonal control, worried that the liberals would gain more political power than they already had. In the beginning, both universities were co-located in the buildings of the University of Zürich.

    From 1905 to 1908, under the presidency of Jérôme Franel, the course program of ETH Zürich was restructured to that of a real university and ETH Zürich was granted the right to award doctorates. In 1909 the first doctorates were awarded. In 1911, it was given its current name, Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule. In 1924, another reorganization structured the university in 12 departments. However, it now has 16 departments.

    ETH Zürich, EPFL (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne) [École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne](CH), and four associated research institutes form The Domain of the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology (ETH Domain) [ETH-Bereich; Domaine des Écoles polytechniques fédérales] (CH) with the aim of collaborating on scientific projects.

    Reputation and ranking

    ETH Zürich is ranked among the top universities in the world. Typically, popular rankings place the institution as the best university in continental Europe and ETH Zürich is consistently ranked among the top 1-5 universities in Europe, and among the top 3-10 best universities of the world.

    Historically, ETH Zürich has achieved its reputation particularly in the fields of chemistry, mathematics and physics. There are 32 Nobel laureates who are associated with ETH Zürich, the most recent of whom is Richard F. Heck, awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2010. Albert Einstein is perhaps its most famous alumnus.

    In 2018, the QS World University Rankings placed ETH Zürich at 7th overall in the world. In 2015, ETH Zürich was ranked 5th in the world in Engineering, Science and Technology, just behind the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University and University of Cambridge (UK). In 2015, ETH Zürich also ranked 6th in the world in Natural Sciences, and in 2016 ranked 1st in the world for Earth & Marine Sciences for the second consecutive year.

    In 2016, Times Higher Education World University Rankings ranked ETH Zürich 9th overall in the world and 8th in the world in the field of Engineering & Technology, just behind the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, California Institute of Technology, Princeton University, University of Cambridge(UK), Imperial College London(UK) and University of Oxford(UK) .

    In a comparison of Swiss universities by swissUP Ranking and in rankings published by CHE comparing the universities of German-speaking countries, ETH Zürich traditionally is ranked first in natural sciences, computer science and engineering sciences.

    In the survey CHE Excellence Ranking on the quality of Western European graduate school programs in the fields of biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics, ETH Zürich was assessed as one of the three institutions to have excellent programs in all the considered fields, the other two being Imperial College London (UK) and the University of Cambridge (UK), respectively.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:54 am on November 4, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "A new quantum component made from graphene", , , , , SQUIDs are to superconductivity what transistors are to semiconductor technology – the fundamental building blocks for more complex circuits., Superconductivity in graphene was discovered by an MIT research group five years ago., The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich [ETH Zürich] [Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich] (CH), The two fundamental building blocks of a semiconductor (transistor) and a superconductor (SQUID) can now be combined in a single material.   

    From The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich [ETH Zürich] [Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich] (CH): “A new quantum component made from graphene” 

    From The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich [ETH Zürich] [Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich] (CH)

    11.3.22
    Felix Würsten

    For the first time, ETH Zürich researchers have been able to make a superconducting component from graphene that is quantum coherent and sensitive to magnetic fields. This step opens up interesting prospects for fundamental research.

    Less than 20 years ago, Konstantin Novoselov and Andre Geim first created two-dimensional crystals consisting of just one layer of carbon atoms. Known as graphene, this material has had quite a career since then. Due to its exceptional strength, graphene is used today to reinforce products such as tennis rackets, car tyres or aircraft wings. But it is also an interesting subject for fundamental research, as physicists keep discovering new, astonishing phenomena that have not been observed in other materials.

    1
    Two-​dimensional graphene is an exciting object of study for physicists. ETH researchers were able to build a superconducting element from twisted graphene bilayers for the first time. (Photograph: Adobe Stock)

    The right twist

    Bilayer graphene crystals, in which the two atomic layers are slightly rotated relative to each other, are particularly interesting for researchers. About one year ago, a team of researchers led by Klaus Ensslin and Thomas Ihn at ETH Zürich’s Laboratory for Solid State Physics was able to demonstrate that twisted graphene could be used to create Josephson junctions, the fundamental building blocks of superconducting devices.

    Based on this work, researchers were now able to produce the first superconducting quantum interference device, or SQUID, from twisted graphene for the purpose of demonstrating the interference of superconducting quasiparticles. Conventional SQUIDs are already being used, for instance in medicine, geology and archaeology. Their sensitive sensors are capable of measuring even the smallest changes in magnetic fields. However, SQUIDs work only in conjunction with superconducting materials, so they require cooling with liquid helium or nitrogen when in operation.

    In quantum technology, SQUIDs can host quantum bits (qubits); that is, as elements for carrying out quantum operations. “SQUIDs are to superconductivity what transistors are to semiconductor technology – the fundamental building blocks for more complex circuits,” Ensslin explains.

    The spectrum is widening

    The graphene SQUIDs created by doctoral student Elías Portolés are not more sensitive than their conventional counterparts made from aluminium and also have to be cooled down to temperatures lower than 2 degrees above absolute zero. “So it’s not a breakthrough for SQUID technology as such,” Ensslin says. However, it does broaden graphene’s application spectrum significantly. “Five years ago, we were already able to show that graphene could be used to build single-electron transistors. Now we’ve added superconductivity,” Ensslin says.

    What is remarkable is that the graphene’s behavior can be controlled in a targeted manner by biasing an electrode. Depending on the voltage applied, the material can be insulating, conducting or superconducting. “The rich spectrum of opportunities offered by solid-state physics is at our disposal,” Ensslin says.

    Also interesting is that the two fundamental building blocks of a semiconductor (transistor) and a superconductor (SQUID) can now be combined in a single material. This makes it possible to build novel control operations. “Normally, the transistor is made from silicon and the SQUID from aluminium,” Ensslin says. “These are different materials requiring different processing technologies.”

    An extremely challenging production process

    Superconductivity in graphene was discovered by an MIT research group five years ago, yet there are only a dozen or so experimental groups worldwide that look at this phenomenon. Even fewer are capable of converting superconducting graphene into a functioning component.

    The challenge is that scientists have to carry out several delicate work steps one after the other: First, they have to align the graphene sheets at the exact right angle relative to each other. The next steps then include connecting electrodes and etching holes. If the graphene were to be heated up, as happens often during cleanroom processing, the two layers re-align the twist angle vanishes. “The entire standard semiconductor technology has to be readjusted, making this an extremely challenging job,” Portolés says.

    The vision of hybrid systems

    Ensslin is thinking one step ahead. Quite a variety of different qubit technologies are currently being assessed, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. For the most part, this is being done by various research groups within the National Center of Competence in Quantum Science and Technology (QSIT). If scientists succeed in coupling two of these systems using graphene, it might be possible to combine their benefits as well. “The result would be two different quantum systems on the same crystal,” Ensslin says.

    This would also generate new possibilities for research on superconductivity. “With these components, we might be better able to understand how superconductivity in graphene comes about in the first place,” he adds. “All we know today is that there are different phases of superconductivity in this material, but we do not yet have a theoretical model to explain them.”

    Science paper:
    Nature Nanotechnology

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    ETH Zurich campus

    The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich [ETH Zürich] [Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich] (CH) is a public research university in the city of Zürich, Switzerland. Founded by the Swiss Federal Government in 1854 with the stated mission to educate engineers and scientists, the school focuses exclusively on science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Like its sister institution The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne [EPFL-École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne](CH) , it is part of The Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology Domain (ETH Domain)) , part of the The Swiss Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research [EAER][Eidgenössisches Departement für Wirtschaft, Bildung und Forschung] [Département fédéral de l’économie, de la formation et de la recherche] (CH).

    The university is an attractive destination for international students thanks to low tuition fees of 809 CHF per semester, PhD and graduate salaries that are amongst the world’s highest, and a world-class reputation in academia and industry. There are currently 22,200 students from over 120 countries, of which 4,180 are pursuing doctoral degrees. In the 2021 edition of the QS World University Rankings ETH Zürich is ranked 6th in the world and 8th by the Times Higher Education World Rankings 2020. In the 2020 QS World University Rankings by subject it is ranked 4th in the world for engineering and technology (2nd in Europe) and 1st for earth & marine science.

    As of November 2019, 21 Nobel laureates, 2 Fields Medalists, 2 Pritzker Prize winners, and 1 Turing Award winner have been affiliated with the Institute, including Albert Einstein. Other notable alumni include John von Neumann and Santiago Calatrava. It is a founding member of the IDEA League and the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU) and a member of the CESAER network.

    ETH Zürich was founded on 7 February 1854 by the Swiss Confederation and began giving its first lectures on 16 October 1855 as a polytechnic institute (eidgenössische polytechnische schule) at various sites throughout the city of Zurich. It was initially composed of six faculties: architecture, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, chemistry, forestry, and an integrated department for the fields of mathematics, natural sciences, literature, and social and political sciences.

    It is locally still known as Polytechnikum, or simply as Poly, derived from the original name eidgenössische polytechnische schule, which translates to “federal polytechnic school”.

    ETH Zürich is a federal institute (i.e., under direct administration by the Swiss government), whereas The University of Zürich [Universität Zürich ] (CH) is a cantonal institution. The decision for a new federal university was heavily disputed at the time; the liberals pressed for a “federal university”, while the conservative forces wanted all universities to remain under cantonal control, worried that the liberals would gain more political power than they already had. In the beginning, both universities were co-located in the buildings of the University of Zürich.

    From 1905 to 1908, under the presidency of Jérôme Franel, the course program of ETH Zürich was restructured to that of a real university and ETH Zürich was granted the right to award doctorates. In 1909 the first doctorates were awarded. In 1911, it was given its current name, Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule. In 1924, another reorganization structured the university in 12 departments. However, it now has 16 departments.

    ETH Zürich, EPFL (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne) [École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne](CH), and four associated research institutes form The Domain of the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology (ETH Domain) [ETH-Bereich; Domaine des Écoles polytechniques fédérales] (CH) with the aim of collaborating on scientific projects.

    Reputation and ranking

    ETH Zürich is ranked among the top universities in the world. Typically, popular rankings place the institution as the best university in continental Europe and ETH Zürich is consistently ranked among the top 1-5 universities in Europe, and among the top 3-10 best universities of the world.

    Historically, ETH Zürich has achieved its reputation particularly in the fields of chemistry, mathematics and physics. There are 32 Nobel laureates who are associated with ETH Zürich, the most recent of whom is Richard F. Heck, awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2010. Albert Einstein is perhaps its most famous alumnus.

    In 2018, the QS World University Rankings placed ETH Zürich at 7th overall in the world. In 2015, ETH Zürich was ranked 5th in the world in Engineering, Science and Technology, just behind the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University and University of Cambridge (UK). In 2015, ETH Zürich also ranked 6th in the world in Natural Sciences, and in 2016 ranked 1st in the world for Earth & Marine Sciences for the second consecutive year.

    In 2016, Times Higher Education World University Rankings ranked ETH Zürich 9th overall in the world and 8th in the world in the field of Engineering & Technology, just behind the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, California Institute of Technology, Princeton University, University of Cambridge(UK), Imperial College London(UK) and University of Oxford(UK) .

    In a comparison of Swiss universities by swissUP Ranking and in rankings published by CHE comparing the universities of German-speaking countries, ETH Zürich traditionally is ranked first in natural sciences, computer science and engineering sciences.

    In the survey CHE Excellence Ranking on the quality of Western European graduate school programs in the fields of biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics, ETH Zürich was assessed as one of the three institutions to have excellent programs in all the considered fields, the other two being Imperial College London (UK) and the University of Cambridge (UK), respectively.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:59 am on October 25, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Stable in all kinds of shapes", , Carbon fibres will display differing degrees of rigidity depending on the direction you bend them. It’s this anisotropy that is fundamental in creating a multi-stable shape., , ETH Zürich researchers have developed a structure that can switch between stable shapes as needed while being remarkably simple to produce. The key lies in a clever combination of base materials., , , The best results have been with a composite material made from carbon fibres., The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich [ETH Zürich] [Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich] (CH)   

    From The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich [ETH Zürich] [Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich] (CH): “Stable in all kinds of shapes” 

    From The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich [ETH Zürich] [Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich] (CH)

    10.25.22
    Felix Würsten

    ETH Zürich researchers have developed a structure that can switch between stable shapes as needed while being remarkably simple to produce. The key lies in a clever combination of base materials

    1
    Lightweight, easy to produce, flexibly expandable and reshaped as required – these are the properties of the multi-​stable structure that Giada Risso has developed as part of her doctoral project. (Photograph: G. Risso / ETH Zürich)

    For a great many years, researchers have been trying to create structures that can assume different stable shapes as required. The goal of creating these multi-​stable structures, as they are known, is to build three-​dimensional objects that can switch between shapes again and again as needed. This would pave the way for realizing, say, adaptable elements or large objects that can change shape and take less space during transportation.

    But the breakthrough has been a long time in coming. This is because previous solutions were either very complex to produce, could be reshaped only once, or required a continuous supply of energy to maintain their new shape.

    A remarkably simple solution

    Giada Risso, a doctoral student in the Composite Materials and Adaptive Structures Group led by Paolo Ermanni, recently presented a new approach that overcomes these drawbacks in an article in the journal Advanced Science [below]. “One of my main goals was to develop a flat, multi-​stable structure that would be easy to manufacture,” she explains. And the solution is remarkably simple: it involves sticking a flat composite frame onto a pre-​stretched, soft, thermoplastic film of polyurethane. “A flat surface and a clamp to pre-​stretch the film – that’s essentially all that’s needed,” Risso explains.

    Holding a structure made this way in your hands, you can bend it from its original flat state into a shape that it will retain without any further assistance. You can then change its shape again and the structure will once again hold this new shape all by itself. Then you can restore the original shape in an equally simple maneuver.

    A frame of carbon fibres

    But how exactly is it possible to reshape this structure so flexibly into different stable states? Risso discovered that it all hinges on which material you select for the frame: “Our best results have been with a composite material made from carbon fibres. This allows us to produce a structure that can actually take on multiple stable states.” Making a frame out of glass fibres, however, results in far fewer stable shapes. Of all the frame materials tested, steel performed the worst, failing to produce a single other stable state.

    2
    The basic element is made by sticking a carbon-​fibre frame onto a pre-​stretched film of polyurethane. Each individual square can take on multiple stable shapes. (Photograph: G. Risso / ETH Zürich)

    In her paper, Risso describes the theory behind why the various materials lead to such different results. “Carbon fibres are highly anisotropic, which means they have very different properties along different axes. In other words, they will display differing degrees of rigidity depending on the direction you bend them. It’s this anisotropy that is fundamental in creating a multi-​stable shape.” Unlike carbon fibres, steel is isotropic, which is why it is unsuitable for creating multi-​stable shapes.

    Modeling caterpillars

    The fundamental component of the new structure is a square element, which can be augmented with other square elements as desired. Since each individual square can take on a variety of stable states, combining them results in a vast number of possible shapes.

    3
    The shape of the multi-​stable structure can be changed as needed – and back again. (Photograph: G. Risso / ETH Zürich)

    Risso’s next step was to equip a periodic structure comprising 16 squares with what are known as pneumatic actuators. These work in a similar way to a “one-​sided” balloon, expanding only on one side when air is fed in. Forcing air into selected actuators bends the structure to create the desired shape. Through a series of experiments, Risso was able to show that this can recreate the undulating movements of a caterpillar.


    Stabel in all kinds of shapes. (Video credit: G. Risso / ETH Zürich)

    Risso believes that there are many uses for such structures, such as in the manufacture of reconfigurable building facades, and robots. But she says that the biggest appeal is to the space industry: “This industry is already using lightweight composite materials and relies on having compact materials that are easily adapted.” The new approach could be used to build antennas or solar panels that can be unfolded and configured after arriving in space.

    Endless variety

    What’s more, the principle can be applied to more than square base elements. In a different paper, Risso proved that it also works with any other polygon. This massively expands the range of potential applications. “Who knows, perhaps we will be using these structures to build cube-​shaped figures that transform into exotic three-​dimensional structures in the blink of an eye,” she says with a smile.

    With its myriad of possibilities, there’s no denying that this new concept fires the imagination. “I will not be able to exhaust all the possibilities because I now have to focus on finishing my doctoral studies,” Risso says. She intends to use the remaining time to resolve a couple more research questions, for instance drawing on her background knowledge in applied mathematics to determine how stable a stable state actually is. Another crucial topic she wants to explore in greater detail is the speed at which the structures change shape. “In many applications, it’s important that the shape does not change too abruptly, but rather moves from one state to the next in a controlled way,” she says. “This is why we’re also investigating how to better control the reshaping process.”

    And, finally, there is also the question of scale: “We don’t yet know how small we’ll be able to make the individual elements. If we can reduce the size of these elements to within the millimetre range, I could imagine they might be useful for medical applications,” Risso says. “But that kind of thing is still a long way off.”

    Science paper:
    Advanced Science
    See the science paper for detailed material with images.

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    ETH Zurich campus

    The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich [ETH Zürich] [Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich] (CH) is a public research university in the city of Zürich, Switzerland. Founded by the Swiss Federal Government in 1854 with the stated mission to educate engineers and scientists, the school focuses exclusively on science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Like its sister institution The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne [EPFL-École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne](CH) , it is part of The Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology Domain (ETH Domain)) , part of the The Swiss Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research [EAER][Eidgenössisches Departement für Wirtschaft, Bildung und Forschung] [Département fédéral de l’économie, de la formation et de la recherche] (CH).

    The university is an attractive destination for international students thanks to low tuition fees of 809 CHF per semester, PhD and graduate salaries that are amongst the world’s highest, and a world-class reputation in academia and industry. There are currently 22,200 students from over 120 countries, of which 4,180 are pursuing doctoral degrees. In the 2021 edition of the QS World University Rankings ETH Zürich is ranked 6th in the world and 8th by the Times Higher Education World Rankings 2020. In the 2020 QS World University Rankings by subject it is ranked 4th in the world for engineering and technology (2nd in Europe) and 1st for earth & marine science.

    As of November 2019, 21 Nobel laureates, 2 Fields Medalists, 2 Pritzker Prize winners, and 1 Turing Award winner have been affiliated with the Institute, including Albert Einstein. Other notable alumni include John von Neumann and Santiago Calatrava. It is a founding member of the IDEA League and the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU) and a member of the CESAER network.

    ETH Zürich was founded on 7 February 1854 by the Swiss Confederation and began giving its first lectures on 16 October 1855 as a polytechnic institute (eidgenössische polytechnische schule) at various sites throughout the city of Zurich. It was initially composed of six faculties: architecture, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, chemistry, forestry, and an integrated department for the fields of mathematics, natural sciences, literature, and social and political sciences.

    It is locally still known as Polytechnikum, or simply as Poly, derived from the original name eidgenössische polytechnische schule, which translates to “federal polytechnic school”.

    ETH Zürich is a federal institute (i.e., under direct administration by the Swiss government), whereas The University of Zürich [Universität Zürich ] (CH) is a cantonal institution. The decision for a new federal university was heavily disputed at the time; the liberals pressed for a “federal university”, while the conservative forces wanted all universities to remain under cantonal control, worried that the liberals would gain more political power than they already had. In the beginning, both universities were co-located in the buildings of the University of Zürich.

    From 1905 to 1908, under the presidency of Jérôme Franel, the course program of ETH Zürich was restructured to that of a real university and ETH Zürich was granted the right to award doctorates. In 1909 the first doctorates were awarded. In 1911, it was given its current name, Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule. In 1924, another reorganization structured the university in 12 departments. However, it now has 16 departments.

    ETH Zürich, EPFL (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne) [École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne](CH), and four associated research institutes form The Domain of the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology (ETH Domain) [ETH-Bereich; Domaine des Écoles polytechniques fédérales] (CH) with the aim of collaborating on scientific projects.

    Reputation and ranking

    ETH Zürich is ranked among the top universities in the world. Typically, popular rankings place the institution as the best university in continental Europe and ETH Zürich is consistently ranked among the top 1-5 universities in Europe, and among the top 3-10 best universities of the world.

    Historically, ETH Zürich has achieved its reputation particularly in the fields of chemistry, mathematics and physics. There are 32 Nobel laureates who are associated with ETH Zürich, the most recent of whom is Richard F. Heck, awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2010. Albert Einstein is perhaps its most famous alumnus.

    In 2018, the QS World University Rankings placed ETH Zürich at 7th overall in the world. In 2015, ETH Zürich was ranked 5th in the world in Engineering, Science and Technology, just behind the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University and University of Cambridge (UK). In 2015, ETH Zürich also ranked 6th in the world in Natural Sciences, and in 2016 ranked 1st in the world for Earth & Marine Sciences for the second consecutive year.

    In 2016, Times Higher Education World University Rankings ranked ETH Zürich 9th overall in the world and 8th in the world in the field of Engineering & Technology, just behind the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, California Institute of Technology, Princeton University, University of Cambridge(UK), Imperial College London(UK) and University of Oxford(UK) .

    In a comparison of Swiss universities by swissUP Ranking and in rankings published by CHE comparing the universities of German-speaking countries, ETH Zürich traditionally is ranked first in natural sciences, computer science and engineering sciences.

    In the survey CHE Excellence Ranking on the quality of Western European graduate school programs in the fields of biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics, ETH Zürich was assessed as one of the three institutions to have excellent programs in all the considered fields, the other two being Imperial College London (UK) and the University of Cambridge (UK), respectively.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:16 am on October 16, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "New Study Asks - If Earth Were an Exoplanet Could Aliens Tell It Has Life?", , , , , , , The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich [ETH Zürich] [Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich] (CH)   

    From The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich [ETH Zürich] [Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich] (CH) Via “Science Alert (AU)” : “New Study Asks – If Earth Were an Exoplanet Could Aliens Tell It Has Life?” 

    From The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich [ETH Zürich] [Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich] (CH)

    Via

    ScienceAlert

    “Science Alert (AU)”

    10.16.22
    Evan Gough

    1
    Earth as seen from the International Space Station in June 2016. Credit: Jeff Williams/NASA/JSC.

    How would Earth appear to alien astronomers? What would their observations tell them about Earth if they were searching the heavens for signs of habitability like we are? It’s a fun thought experiment.

    But the experiment is more than just fun: It’s scientifically instructive. In many ways, it’s easier to study our planet and how it appears and then extrapolate those results as far as they go.

    A new study shows that finding evidence of life on Earth may depend on the season alien astronomers are observing.

    Almost nothing in space science generates as much widespread excitement as finding a potentially habitable planet. The headlines spread like a virus through the Internet with only minor mutations from site to site.

    So far, we’ve only got glimpses and hints of exoplanets that might be able to support life. We’ve got a long way to go.

    It’ll take a lot of science and innovative reasoning before we ever get to a point where we can say “Yes. This distant planet is habitable.”

    A new study might be part of getting to that point by examining Earth’s outward appearance through different seasons.

    The study is Earth as an Exoplanet: II. Earth’s Time-Variable Thermal Emission and its Atmospheric Seasonality of Bio-Indicators. The lead author is Jean-Noel Mettler. Mettler is a doctoral student at the ETH Zürich Department of Physics, studying Exoplanets and Habitability.

    The historical roots of this type of research go back to the [19]70s when spacecraft were visiting the planets in our Solar System. Pioneer 10 and 11 ( Jupiter and Saturn) and Voyager 1 and 2 (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune) performed flybys of some of Earth’s siblings.

    It was the beginning of more in-depth characterization of other planets. By measuring UV and infrared, scientists learned a lot about the properties of planetary atmospheres, surfaces, and overall energy balance.

    But today, we live in the time of exoplanet science. We’re extending the same type of observations to planets light years away.

    The bewildering variety of planets we’ve discovered are interesting in their own right, but if there’s a Holy Grail in exoplanet science, it’s got to be habitability. We want to know if anything else lives somewhere out there.

    As our technology advances, astronomers are getting more powerful instruments to study distant planets with. A technological civilization elsewhere in the Milky Way would likely do the same thing.

    This study examines Earth’s infrared emission spectrum, the effect of different observation geometries on those spectra, and how the observations would appear to a much more distant observer.

    The researchers also assessed how the changing seasons impact the spectra. “We learned that there is significant seasonal variability in Earth’s thermal emission spectrum, and the strength of spectral features of bio-indicators, such as N2O, CH4, O3, and CO2, depends strongly on both season and viewing geometry.”

    The study looked at four different observing geometries: one each centered on the North and South poles, one on the African equatorial, and one on the Pacific equatorial.

    The spectra were observed with the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite.


    The researchers found that there’s no single, representative sample of Earth’s thermal emissions spectrum. The seasonal changes make it impossible.

    “Instead,” the paper states, “there is significant seasonal variability in Earth’s thermal emission spectrum, and the strength of biosignature absorption features depends strongly on both season and viewing geometry.”

    The researchers also found thermal emissions varied greatly by observing geometry. The variability in readings was much greater over time above land masses than above oceans. The African Equatorial View and the North Pole view were centered on land masses and showed greater variability.

    “Specifically, the northern hemisphere pole-on view (NP) and the Africa-centered equatorial view (EqA) showed annual variabilities of 33 percent and 22 percent at Earth’s peak wavelength at ≈ 10.2 µm, respectively,” the paper concluded.

    But the thermal stability of oceans meant less variability. “On the other hand, viewing geometries with a high sea fraction, such as the southern hemisphere pole-on (SP) and the Pacific-centered, equatorial view (EqP), show smaller annual variabilities due to the large thermal inertia of oceans.”

    The overall takeaway from this research is that a living, dynamic planet like Earth can’t be characterized by a single thermal emissions spectrum. There’s too much going on here on Earth, and this study didn’t even delve into clouds and their effect.

    “Future work is required to investigate how cloud fraction, cloud seasonality, and their thermodynamical phase properties affect the detection and result of atmospheric seasonality,” the authors write.

    The authors say that some variations are slight and will be difficult to untangle when observing distant planets. Dirty data could obscure them.

    “Even for Earth and especially for equatorial views, the variations in flux and strength of absorption features in the disk-integrated data are small and typically ≈ 10 percent. Disentangling these variations from the noise in future exoplanet observations will be a challenge.”

    Earth’s complexity makes it a difficult target for this type of observation, and the authors acknowledge it.

    “This complexity makes remote characterization of planetary environments very challenging,” they explain.

    “Using Earth as our test bed, we learned that a planet and its characteristics cannot be described by a single thermal emission spectrum, but multi-epoch measurements, preferably in both reflected light and thermal emission, are required.”

    Most of our exoplanet detections are based on a few transits of those planets in front of their stars. That has its limitations.

    The James Webb Space Telescope aims to study the spectra of some exoplanets with more power, so we’re approaching the day when we’ll need to understand better what we’re seeing.

    This study tested a new method of observing exoplanets in mid-Infrared rather than in reflective light. Even though there’s seasonal variation and observing geometry variation, “… we find that our result is relatively insensitive to diurnal or seasonal effects, unlike in the case for reflected light measurements.”

    Mettler and his co-researchers think their method can contribute unique data to exoplanet observations in reflected light.

    “We, therefore, conclude that observing exoplanets with thermal emission could provide unique and complementary information that is necessary for the characterization of terrestrial planets around other stars.”

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    ETH Zurich campus

    The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich [ETH Zürich] [Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich] (CH) is a public research university in the city of Zürich, Switzerland. Founded by the Swiss Federal Government in 1854 with the stated mission to educate engineers and scientists, the school focuses exclusively on science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Like its sister institution The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne [EPFL-École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne](CH) , it is part of The Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology Domain (ETH Domain)) , part of the The Swiss Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research [EAER][Eidgenössisches Departement für Wirtschaft, Bildung und Forschung] [Département fédéral de l’économie, de la formation et de la recherche] (CH).

    The university is an attractive destination for international students thanks to low tuition fees of 809 CHF per semester, PhD and graduate salaries that are amongst the world’s highest, and a world-class reputation in academia and industry. There are currently 22,200 students from over 120 countries, of which 4,180 are pursuing doctoral degrees. In the 2021 edition of the QS World University Rankings ETH Zürich is ranked 6th in the world and 8th by the Times Higher Education World Rankings 2020. In the 2020 QS World University Rankings by subject it is ranked 4th in the world for engineering and technology (2nd in Europe) and 1st for earth & marine science.

    As of November 2019, 21 Nobel laureates, 2 Fields Medalists, 2 Pritzker Prize winners, and 1 Turing Award winner have been affiliated with the Institute, including Albert Einstein. Other notable alumni include John von Neumann and Santiago Calatrava. It is a founding member of the IDEA League and the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU) and a member of the CESAER network.

    ETH Zürich was founded on 7 February 1854 by the Swiss Confederation and began giving its first lectures on 16 October 1855 as a polytechnic institute (eidgenössische polytechnische schule) at various sites throughout the city of Zurich. It was initially composed of six faculties: architecture, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, chemistry, forestry, and an integrated department for the fields of mathematics, natural sciences, literature, and social and political sciences.

    It is locally still known as Polytechnikum, or simply as Poly, derived from the original name eidgenössische polytechnische schule, which translates to “federal polytechnic school”.

    ETH Zürich is a federal institute (i.e., under direct administration by the Swiss government), whereas The University of Zürich [Universität Zürich ] (CH) is a cantonal institution. The decision for a new federal university was heavily disputed at the time; the liberals pressed for a “federal university”, while the conservative forces wanted all universities to remain under cantonal control, worried that the liberals would gain more political power than they already had. In the beginning, both universities were co-located in the buildings of the University of Zürich.

    From 1905 to 1908, under the presidency of Jérôme Franel, the course program of ETH Zürich was restructured to that of a real university and ETH Zürich was granted the right to award doctorates. In 1909 the first doctorates were awarded. In 1911, it was given its current name, Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule. In 1924, another reorganization structured the university in 12 departments. However, it now has 16 departments.

    ETH Zürich, EPFL (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne) [École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne](CH), and four associated research institutes form The Domain of the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology (ETH Domain) [ETH-Bereich; Domaine des Écoles polytechniques fédérales] (CH) with the aim of collaborating on scientific projects.

    Reputation and ranking

    ETH Zürich is ranked among the top universities in the world. Typically, popular rankings place the institution as the best university in continental Europe and ETH Zürich is consistently ranked among the top 1-5 universities in Europe, and among the top 3-10 best universities of the world.

    Historically, ETH Zürich has achieved its reputation particularly in the fields of chemistry, mathematics and physics. There are 32 Nobel laureates who are associated with ETH Zürich, the most recent of whom is Richard F. Heck, awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2010. Albert Einstein is perhaps its most famous alumnus.

    In 2018, the QS World University Rankings placed ETH Zürich at 7th overall in the world. In 2015, ETH Zürich was ranked 5th in the world in Engineering, Science and Technology, just behind the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University and University of Cambridge (UK). In 2015, ETH Zürich also ranked 6th in the world in Natural Sciences, and in 2016 ranked 1st in the world for Earth & Marine Sciences for the second consecutive year.

    In 2016, Times Higher Education World University Rankings ranked ETH Zürich 9th overall in the world and 8th in the world in the field of Engineering & Technology, just behind the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, California Institute of Technology, Princeton University, University of Cambridge(UK), Imperial College London(UK) and University of Oxford(UK) .

    In a comparison of Swiss universities by swissUP Ranking and in rankings published by CHE comparing the universities of German-speaking countries, ETH Zürich traditionally is ranked first in natural sciences, computer science and engineering sciences.

    In the survey CHE Excellence Ranking on the quality of Western European graduate school programs in the fields of biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics, ETH Zürich was assessed as one of the three institutions to have excellent programs in all the considered fields, the other two being Imperial College London (UK) and the University of Cambridge (UK), respectively.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:28 am on October 7, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Mapping human brain development", , , , Researchers at ETH Zürich are growing human brain-​like tissue from stem cells and are then mapping the cell types., The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich [ETH Zürich] [Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich] (CH)   

    From The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich [ETH Zürich] [Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich] (CH): “Mapping human brain development” 

    From The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich [ETH Zürich] [Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich] (CH)

    10.7.22
    Peter Rüegg

    Researchers at ETH Zürich are growing human brain-​like tissue from stem cells and are then mapping the cell types that occur in different brain regions and the genes that regulate their development.

    1
    Brain organoid from human stem cells under the fluorescence microscope: the protein GLI3 is stained purple and marks neuronal precursor cells in forebrain regions of the organoid. Neurons are stained green. (Photograph: F. Sanchís Calleja, A. Jain, P. Wahle / ETH Zürich)

    The human brain is probably the most complex organ in the entire living world and has long been an object of fascination for researchers. However, studying the brain, and especially the genes and molecular switches that regulate and direct its development, is no easy task.

    To date, scientists have proceeded using animal models, primarily mice, but their findings cannot be transferred directly to humans. A mouse’s brain is structured differently and lacks the furrowed surface typical of the human brain. Cell cultures have thus far been of limited value in this field, as cells tend to spread over a large area when grown on a culture dish; this does not correspond to the natural three-dimensional structure of the brain.

    Mapping molecular fingerprints

    A group of researchers led by Barbara Treutlein, ETH Professor at the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering in Basel, has now taken a new approach to studying the development of the human brain: they are growing and using organoids – millimetre-sized three-dimensional tissues that can be grown from what are known as pluripotent stem cells.

    Provided these stem cells receive the right stimulus, researchers can program them to become any kind of cell present in the body, including neurons. When the stem cells are aggregated into a small ball of tissue and then exposed to the appropriate stimulus, they can even self-organize and form a three-dimensional brain organoid with a complex tissue architecture.

    In a new study just published in Nature [below], Treutlein and her colleagues have now studied thousands of individual cells within a brain organoid at various points in time and in great detail. Their goal was to characterise the cells in molecular-genetic terms: in other words, the totality of all gene transcripts (transcriptome) as a measure of gene expression, but also the accessibility of the genome as a measure of regulatory activity. They have managed to represent this data as a kind of map showing the molecular fingerprint of each cell within the organoid.

    However, this procedure generates immense data sets: each cell in the organoid has 20,000 genes, and each organoid in turn consists of many thousands of cells. “This results in a gigantic matrix, and the only way we can solve it is with the help of suitable programs and machine learning,” explains Jonas Fleck, a doctoral student in Treutlein’s group and one of the study’s co-lead authors. To analyse all this data and predict gene regulation mechanisms, the researchers developed their own program. “We can use it to generate an entire interaction network for each individual gene and predict what will happen in real cells when that gene fails,” Fleck says.

    Identifying genetic switches

    The aim of this study was to systematically identify those genetic switches that have a significant impact on the development of neurons in the different regions of brain organoids.

    With the help of a CRISPR-Cas9 system, the ETH researchers selectively switched off one gene in each cell, altogether about two dozen genes simultaneously in the entire organoid. This enabled them to find out what role the respective genes played in the development of the brain organoid.

    “This technique can be used to screen genes involved in disease. In addition, we can look at the effect these genes have on how different cells within the organoid develop,” explains Sophie Jansen, also a doctoral student in Treutlein’s group and the second co-lead author of the study.

    2
    Map of a brain organoid: The colours of the cells shown as circles indicate different cell types. Right: Regulatory network of transcription factor genes that controls the development of a brain organoid. (Graphics: Barbara Treutlein / ETH Zürich)

    Checking pattern formation in the forebrain

    To test their theory, the researchers chose the GLI3 gene as an example. This gene is the blueprint for the transcription factor of the same name, a protein that docks onto certain sites on DNA in order to regulate another gene. When GLI3 is switched off, the cellular machinery is prevented from reading this gene and transcribing it into an RNA molecule.

    In mice, mutations in the GLI3 gene can lead to malformations in the central nervous system. Its role in human neuronal development was previously unexplored, but it is known that mutations in the gene lead to diseases such as Greig cephalopolysyndactyly and Pallister Hall Syndromes.

    Silencing this GLI3 gene enabled the researchers both to verify their theoretical predictions and to determine directly in the cell culture how the loss of this gene affected the brain organoid’s further development. “We have shown for the first time that the GLI3 gene is involved in the formation of forebrain patterns in humans. This had previously been shown only in mice,” Treutlein says.

    Model systems reflect developmental biology

    “The exciting thing about this research is that it lets you use genome-wide data from so many individual cells to postulate what roles individual genes play,” she explains. “What’s equally exciting in my opinion is that these model systems made in a Petri dish really do reflect developmental biology as we know it from mice.”

    Treutlein also finds it fascinating how the culture medium can give rise to self-organized tissue with structures comparable to those of the human brain – not only at the morphological level but also (as the researchers have shown in their latest study) at the level of gene regulation and pattern formation. “Organoids like this are truly an excellent way to study human developmental biology,” she points out.

    Versatile brain organoids

    Research on organoids made up of human cell material has the advantage that the findings are transferable to humans. They can be used to study not only basic developmental biology but also the role of genes in diseases or developmental brain disorders. For example, Treutlein and her colleagues are working with organoids of this type to investigate the genetic cause of autism and of heterotopia; in the latter, neurons appear outside their usual anatomical location in the cerebral cortex.

    Organoids may also be used for testing drugs, and possibly for culturing transplantable organs or organ parts. Treutlein confirms that the pharmaceutical industry is very interested in these cell cultures.

    However, growing organoids takes both time and effort. Moreover, each clump of cells develops individually rather than in a standardised way. That is why Treutlein and her team are working to improve the organoids and automate their manufacturing process.
    __________________________________________________
    Human Cell Atlas

    The research and mapping of brain organoids is embedded in the Human Developmental Cell Atlas; this, in turn, is part of the Human Cell Atlas. The Human Cell Atlas is an attempt by researchers worldwide both to map all cell types in the human body and to compile data on which genes are active in which cells at which times as well as on which genes might be involved in diseases. The head of the Human Cell Atlas project is Aviv Regev, a biology professor at MIT; she received an honorary doctorate from ETH Zürich in 2021. ETH Professor Barbara Treutlein is co-coordinating the Organoid Cell Atlas subsection, which aims to map all the cell stages that can be produced in cell culture and then to compare them with the original cells of the human body.
    __________________________________________________

    Science paper:
    Nature
    See the science paper for instructive material.

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    ETH Zurich campus

    The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich [ETH Zürich] [Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich] (CH) is a public research university in the city of Zürich, Switzerland. Founded by the Swiss Federal Government in 1854 with the stated mission to educate engineers and scientists, the school focuses exclusively on science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Like its sister institution The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne [EPFL-École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne](CH) , it is part of The Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology Domain (ETH Domain)) , part of the The Swiss Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research [EAER][Eidgenössisches Departement für Wirtschaft, Bildung und Forschung] [Département fédéral de l’économie, de la formation et de la recherche] (CH).

    The university is an attractive destination for international students thanks to low tuition fees of 809 CHF per semester, PhD and graduate salaries that are amongst the world’s highest, and a world-class reputation in academia and industry. There are currently 22,200 students from over 120 countries, of which 4,180 are pursuing doctoral degrees. In the 2021 edition of the QS World University Rankings ETH Zürich is ranked 6th in the world and 8th by the Times Higher Education World Rankings 2020. In the 2020 QS World University Rankings by subject it is ranked 4th in the world for engineering and technology (2nd in Europe) and 1st for earth & marine science.

    As of November 2019, 21 Nobel laureates, 2 Fields Medalists, 2 Pritzker Prize winners, and 1 Turing Award winner have been affiliated with the Institute, including Albert Einstein. Other notable alumni include John von Neumann and Santiago Calatrava. It is a founding member of the IDEA League and the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU) and a member of the CESAER network.

    ETH Zürich was founded on 7 February 1854 by the Swiss Confederation and began giving its first lectures on 16 October 1855 as a polytechnic institute (eidgenössische polytechnische schule) at various sites throughout the city of Zurich. It was initially composed of six faculties: architecture, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, chemistry, forestry, and an integrated department for the fields of mathematics, natural sciences, literature, and social and political sciences.

    It is locally still known as Polytechnikum, or simply as Poly, derived from the original name eidgenössische polytechnische schule, which translates to “federal polytechnic school”.

    ETH Zürich is a federal institute (i.e., under direct administration by the Swiss government), whereas The University of Zürich [Universität Zürich ] (CH) is a cantonal institution. The decision for a new federal university was heavily disputed at the time; the liberals pressed for a “federal university”, while the conservative forces wanted all universities to remain under cantonal control, worried that the liberals would gain more political power than they already had. In the beginning, both universities were co-located in the buildings of the University of Zürich.

    From 1905 to 1908, under the presidency of Jérôme Franel, the course program of ETH Zürich was restructured to that of a real university and ETH Zürich was granted the right to award doctorates. In 1909 the first doctorates were awarded. In 1911, it was given its current name, Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule. In 1924, another reorganization structured the university in 12 departments. However, it now has 16 departments.

    ETH Zürich, EPFL (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne) [École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne](CH), and four associated research institutes form The Domain of the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology (ETH Domain) [ETH-Bereich; Domaine des Écoles polytechniques fédérales] (CH) with the aim of collaborating on scientific projects.

    Reputation and ranking

    ETH Zürich is ranked among the top universities in the world. Typically, popular rankings place the institution as the best university in continental Europe and ETH Zürich is consistently ranked among the top 1-5 universities in Europe, and among the top 3-10 best universities of the world.

    Historically, ETH Zürich has achieved its reputation particularly in the fields of chemistry, mathematics and physics. There are 32 Nobel laureates who are associated with ETH Zürich, the most recent of whom is Richard F. Heck, awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2010. Albert Einstein is perhaps its most famous alumnus.

    In 2018, the QS World University Rankings placed ETH Zürich at 7th overall in the world. In 2015, ETH Zürich was ranked 5th in the world in Engineering, Science and Technology, just behind the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University and University of Cambridge (UK). In 2015, ETH Zürich also ranked 6th in the world in Natural Sciences, and in 2016 ranked 1st in the world for Earth & Marine Sciences for the second consecutive year.

    In 2016, Times Higher Education World University Rankings ranked ETH Zürich 9th overall in the world and 8th in the world in the field of Engineering & Technology, just behind the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, California Institute of Technology, Princeton University, University of Cambridge(UK), Imperial College London(UK) and University of Oxford(UK) .

    In a comparison of Swiss universities by swissUP Ranking and in rankings published by CHE comparing the universities of German-speaking countries, ETH Zürich traditionally is ranked first in natural sciences, computer science and engineering sciences.

    In the survey CHE Excellence Ranking on the quality of Western European graduate school programs in the fields of biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics, ETH Zürich was assessed as one of the three institutions to have excellent programs in all the considered fields, the other two being Imperial College London (UK) and the University of Cambridge (UK), respectively.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:29 pm on September 29, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Electricity and heat on demand", , Batteries can take pressure off the grid by offering local storage of excess electricity for a matter of minutes or hours., , Energy storage systems stabilize the grid., Hydro is the most important green energy asset making up about 60 percent of renewable generation., Hydropower as the backbone of the Swiss electricity system, In the grid itself batteries can act as a kind of miniature pumped-​storage unit., Only pumped-​storage plants have the ability to store electricity., Switzerland aims to transition to a net-​zero energy system by 2050., Switzerland will continue to generate less electricity than it needs which will mean a continuing dependence on imported energy., Switzerland will primarily rely on hydro and photovoltaic energy sources and to a lesser extent wind power., Switzerland’s biggest challenge is actually long-​term storage., The grid has to constantly smooth out fluctuations in renewable generation and match supply to demand., The large reservoirs in the Alps primarily serve as a form of seasonal energy storage., The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich [ETH Zürich] [Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich] (CH), The Swiss government has taken the decision to phase out nuclear power., Thermal energy storage remains a relatively neglected topic in Switzerland., Without effective energy storage the transition to renewables won’t be possible.   

    From The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich [ETH Zürich] [Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich] (CH): “Electricity and heat on demand” 

    From The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich [ETH Zürich] [Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich] (CH)

    9.29.22
    Fabio Bergamin
    Michael Keller

    If the transition to renewables is to succeed, we will need a viable means of storing surplus heat and electricity. Globe spoke to experts from ETH Zürich about the promising technologies that could help us reach net zero.

    1
    The power grid must permanently balance the fluctuating production of renewable energies. (Photograph: AdobeStock/Ingo Bartussek)

    Switzerland aims to transition to a net-​zero energy system by 2050. To meet this goal, it will need to replace fossil fuels with renewables. The Swiss government has also taken the decision to phase out nuclear power. As a result, its plans for carbon neutrality will require not only the electrification of transport and heating by means of electric vehicles and heat pumps, but also measures to compensate for the loss of nuclear generating capacity. To meet increased energy demand, Switzerland will primarily rely on hydro and photovoltaic energy sources and to a lesser extent wind power.

    But what about the times when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow? “The grid has to constantly smooth out fluctuations in renewable generation and match supply to demand,” says Gabriela Hug, a professor at the Power Systems Laboratory at ETH Zürich. Hug also heads up the ETH Energy Science Center (ESC), which recently released modelling showing that a renewable energy system is both technically feasible and economically viable. “Obviously, it won’t be simple,” Hug acknowledges. “And without effective energy storage the transition to renewables won’t even be possible.” Energy storage systems stabilize the grid, providing the necessary capacity to offset the volatility of generation from renewable sources such as solar, wind and hydro. This requires technologies that are able to efficiently convert electricity and heat into a form that can be stored and then released back into the grid when needed – whether on a seasonal or minute-​by-minute basis.

    If Switzerland starts investing more in photovoltaics, it will end up generating more power than it needs at noon on a summer’s day. To make that midday solar power available both day and night, it needs short-​term storage solutions. “But Switzerland’s biggest challenge is actually long-​term storage,” says Hug.

    The country already produces too little electricity in the winter and relies on imports to cover increased demand – and this seasonal imbalance will only intensify as the transition to renewables gathers pace. “Photovoltaic plants in particular generate surplus electricity in the summer,” says Gianfranco Guidati, an expert in energy system modelling at the ESC. “But in winter the sun is weaker and heat pumps are keeping people’s homes warm – that’s when we see a gap between energy supply and demand.”

    The key question for Switzerland is how to store this excess solar power from the summer to the winter. With demand for storage systems clearly growing, Hug argues that the safest approach is to invest both in established and emerging technologies: “We still haven’t come up with the perfect energy storage solution.”

    Yet energy storage shouldn’t be seen as an end in itself, says Guidati: “Switzerland’s goal is to achieve net-​zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Storage is crucial, but it’s not the only way to help us meet that goal.” He believes we should tap into indirect methods of energy storage as well as physical storage capacity. “We need to take a mixed approach,” he says. The following pages present some of the methods that might feature in this mix.

    Run-​of-river and pumped storage as buffer reserves

    Robert Boes, ETH Professor of Hydraulic Engineering, sees hydropower as the backbone of the Swiss electricity system: “Hydro is our most important green energy asset making up about 60 percent of our renewable generation. Its ability to store power also plays a key role in our net-​zero strategy.”

    2
    The Mühleberg hydropower plant produces electricity using water from the River Aare. However, river power plants cannot store the energy produced. (Photograph: AdobeStock/Zarathustra)

    Run-​of-river hydropower plants channel water directly into electricity-​generating turbines to supply renewable base-​load power. These kinds of plants have no storage function, unlike reservoir plants, which can store water to provide flexible generating capacity on demand. The large reservoirs in the Alps primarily serve as a form of seasonal energy storage. “The rain and melt water they collect in the spring and summer can be used to generate electricity in the winter,” says Boes. Yet, however much power these large lakes generate, they are still unable to store any of it.

    Only pumped-​storage plants have the ability to store electricity. They do this by pumping water from a lower to an upper reservoir and then emptying the upper reservoir through the turbines to generate electricity on demand. Currently, hydroelectric pumped storage is the only proven technology for the capture and release of large amounts of electricity. It offers powerful and flexible storage capabilities – and that makes it the perfect choice for balancing the day-​to-day and day-​night variability of photovoltaic power generation. Nonetheless, its capacity does not stretch far enough to resolve seasonal variations in electricity generation.

    One way to reduce the winter energy gap is to build more reservoirs, but this approach is controversial. Such projects often run counter to nature conservation goals and meet resistance. “I don’t think this option shows much promise,” says Boes. “Hydropower is a mature and very efficient technology, but not enough attention has been paid to environmental aspects such as responsible water management.”

    Researchers at ETH Zürich’s Laboratory of Hydraulics, Hydrology and Glaciology (VAW) are currently seeking ways to make hydropower more eco-​friendly. Examples include improved bypass tunnels for sediment, and fish ladders to steer fish safely past reservoir inlets and turbines. “Hydropower won’t gain widespread acceptance until it does more to protect biodiversity,” says Boes.

    Decentralized small-​scale storage

    In the grid itself batteries can act as a kind of miniature pumped-​storage unit. If we have more decentralized systems generating electricity on people’s rooftops in the future, we will need distributed small-​scale storage devices to perform local network balancing. Much like pumped-​storage systems, batteries can be used to rapidly balance generation and demand. “Because battery size can be easily tuned to the application, they’re suitable for use as decentralized energy-​storage devices in buildings,” says ETH professor Vanessa Wood.

    When combined with photovoltaic panels, batteries can take pressure off the grid by offering local storage of excess electricity for a matter of minutes or hours. If all the solar power generated at peak times in residential areas were to be fed to the limited number of pumped-​storage hydropower plants in the mountains, however, this could lead to bottlenecks in the grid.

    In the rapidly evolving battery market for homes and electric vehicles, the latest developments include the first community-​scale batteries designed to balance short-​term power fluctuations on a neighborhood level. “The next key step is to make batteries even more efficient so that they can complete more charge cycles before losing performance,” says Wood, who conducts research to understand the limitations of existing batteries and demonstrate novel battery concepts. “At the same time, we must find substitutes for problematic raw materials and develop methods to recycle batteries at low cost, without using too much energy.” Researchers all over the world are already working on solutions.

    Seasonal thermal energy storage

    3
    The four heat storage tanks of the Hagenholz waste-​to-energy plant in Zürich. (Photograph: Keystone/Gaetan Bally)

    In an ideal energy system, we would use surplus solar power produced in summer to meet the increased demand for heating in winter. Storing large amounts of electricity over a period of several months is not yet financially viable, but there is one way of transferring summer sunshine to the winter months: thermal energy storage. “Cost-​effective technology is already available, and it’s well-​established in countries such as Denmark,” says Guidati. Yet thermal energy storage remains a relatively neglected topic in Switzerland.

    Seasonal thermal energy storage (STES) technology captures heat in summer and releases it in winter. It requires large heat reservoirs such as basins, tanks or water-​bearing layers underground. These store warm water that is heated in summer by means of heat pumps and surplus solar power. By shifting the production of heat to the summer months, STES systems reduce electricity demand in the winter and help to reduce the energy gap. Guidati believes thermal energy storage will play an important role in Switzerland in the future.

    Storage in energy carriers

    There is only one way to store electricity indefinitely, at least for the foreseeable future. “If we ever reach a point in summer where we’ve exhausted all the short-​term storage options and still have surplus electricity available,” says Guidati, “then – and only then – should we consider converting it into a storable energy carrier.” He’s referring, of course, to the great hydrogen debate.

    The idea is to use excess power to electrolyze water into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen could then be stored in a suitable form and converted back into heat and electricity in the winter by means of a gas turbine or fuel cell. Alternatively, the hydrogen could be combined with captured CO2 to produce synthetic methane. This not only has a higher energy density but can also be fed directly into the existing gas grid. Just one additional step is all it takes to obtain carbon-​neutral liquid fuels for aviation or shipping.

    “As yet, none of these methods are established and many are not financially viable,” says Hug. Syngases could certainly serve as a long-​term storage medium for solar power produced in summer, but most of the methods used to convert them back into heat and electricity are inefficient. “The most efficient way to use excess electricity is to shift it directly into some other channel like charging electric vehicles,” says Hug. Nevertheless, she considers synfuels viable for applications that are difficult to electrify.

    Gravity batteries and compressed-​air energy storage

    When it comes to short-​term energy storage, pumped-​storage hydropower plants and batteries are not the only option. Gravity batteries store potential energy and then convert it into electricity, much like pumped-​storage systems. But instead of using water, they store potential energy in a mass that is raised and lowered by a crane, for example.

    Compressed-​air energy storage systems are another alternative, though a slightly less efficient one. They work by pumping air into a reservoir or vessel to produce compressed air; this can then be used to drive a gas turbine to quickly compensate for load imbalances in the grid. Although a certain amount of heat is lost during compression, most of the heat produced can be recovered by storing and making it available again when unloading.

    A more efficient – but also more expensive – option is a flywheel: these are closer to batteries in terms of capacity, but they store energy in the form of rotational kinetic energy for just a few minutes at a time, once again to help stabilize power grids.

    Smart power networks

    All the researchers are keen to emphasize that physical storage systems are not the only option. There are also other approaches that act indirectly like storage and help make the system more flexible. For example, digitized and automated power grids could monitor generation and consumption in real time to make the best use of available resources. “In the future, smart grid control will enable us to operate power networks closer to their maximum limits,” says grid expert Hug. If done successfully, this will make the system more efficient and reduce the need for operating reserves.

    Demand must also become more flexible so that we can make the most of the electricity available at any given point in time. Smart load management can help reduce the need to store electricity, says Guidati, citing the example of e-​mobility: “Electric vehicles are mobile batteries that can help absorb peaks in photovoltaic generation in the daytime.” This requires charging stations to be deployed in locations where vehicles typically spend the day, such as workplaces, car parks and parking spaces close to the city centre.

    Imported energy

    According to the ESC’s calculations, Switzerland will also need to expand its electricity production in winter. As well as building up hydropower reserves, this will also mean investing in alpine photovoltaic plants, geothermal power, or gas-​fired power plants operating on biogas or syngas. Yet Hug rejects the idea of self-​sufficiency, because any attempt by Switzerland to meet all its own electricity needs would be both inefficient and hugely expensive.

    Switzerland will therefore continue to generate less electricity than it needs which will mean a continuing dependence on imported energy. “Our models show that a secure and affordable energy system also requires smooth and effective power transfers to and from nearby countries,” says Hug.

    Unlike Switzerland, Northern Europe has plenty of electricity in winter because countries such as Denmark have invested heavily in wind power generation, which peaks in winter. Switzerland could therefore import wind power in winter and export solar power in the form of pumped-​storage hydropower in summer to quickly correct load imbalances in the grid.

    This is a sensible approach because everyone benefits when countries balance out their different generating capacities through electricity trading. However, the lack of an electricity agreement makes cross-​border electricity trading with the EU difficult. “That’s why regulated access to the European electricity market would be such an important step for Switzerland,” says Hug.

    If it is to make a successful transition to renewables, Switzerland will need not only a broad mix of technologies, but also a blend of solutions ranging from decentralized energy production to international trading agreements.

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    ETH Zurich campus

    The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich [ETH Zürich] [Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich] (CH) is a public research university in the city of Zürich, Switzerland. Founded by the Swiss Federal Government in 1854 with the stated mission to educate engineers and scientists, the school focuses exclusively on science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Like its sister institution The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne [EPFL-École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne](CH) , it is part of The Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology Domain (ETH Domain)) , part of the The Swiss Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research [EAER][Eidgenössisches Departement für Wirtschaft, Bildung und Forschung] [Département fédéral de l’économie, de la formation et de la recherche] (CH).

    The university is an attractive destination for international students thanks to low tuition fees of 809 CHF per semester, PhD and graduate salaries that are amongst the world’s highest, and a world-class reputation in academia and industry. There are currently 22,200 students from over 120 countries, of which 4,180 are pursuing doctoral degrees. In the 2021 edition of the QS World University Rankings ETH Zürich is ranked 6th in the world and 8th by the Times Higher Education World Rankings 2020. In the 2020 QS World University Rankings by subject it is ranked 4th in the world for engineering and technology (2nd in Europe) and 1st for earth & marine science.

    As of November 2019, 21 Nobel laureates, 2 Fields Medalists, 2 Pritzker Prize winners, and 1 Turing Award winner have been affiliated with the Institute, including Albert Einstein. Other notable alumni include John von Neumann and Santiago Calatrava. It is a founding member of the IDEA League and the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU) and a member of the CESAER network.

    ETH Zürich was founded on 7 February 1854 by the Swiss Confederation and began giving its first lectures on 16 October 1855 as a polytechnic institute (eidgenössische polytechnische schule) at various sites throughout the city of Zurich. It was initially composed of six faculties: architecture, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, chemistry, forestry, and an integrated department for the fields of mathematics, natural sciences, literature, and social and political sciences.

    It is locally still known as Polytechnikum, or simply as Poly, derived from the original name eidgenössische polytechnische schule, which translates to “federal polytechnic school”.

    ETH Zürich is a federal institute (i.e., under direct administration by the Swiss government), whereas The University of Zürich [Universität Zürich ] (CH) is a cantonal institution. The decision for a new federal university was heavily disputed at the time; the liberals pressed for a “federal university”, while the conservative forces wanted all universities to remain under cantonal control, worried that the liberals would gain more political power than they already had. In the beginning, both universities were co-located in the buildings of the University of Zürich.

    From 1905 to 1908, under the presidency of Jérôme Franel, the course program of ETH Zürich was restructured to that of a real university and ETH Zürich was granted the right to award doctorates. In 1909 the first doctorates were awarded. In 1911, it was given its current name, Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule. In 1924, another reorganization structured the university in 12 departments. However, it now has 16 departments.

    ETH Zürich, EPFL (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne) [École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne](CH), and four associated research institutes form The Domain of the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology (ETH Domain) [ETH-Bereich; Domaine des Écoles polytechniques fédérales] (CH) with the aim of collaborating on scientific projects.

    Reputation and ranking

    ETH Zürich is ranked among the top universities in the world. Typically, popular rankings place the institution as the best university in continental Europe and ETH Zürich is consistently ranked among the top 1-5 universities in Europe, and among the top 3-10 best universities of the world.

    Historically, ETH Zürich has achieved its reputation particularly in the fields of chemistry, mathematics and physics. There are 32 Nobel laureates who are associated with ETH Zürich, the most recent of whom is Richard F. Heck, awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2010. Albert Einstein is perhaps its most famous alumnus.

    In 2018, the QS World University Rankings placed ETH Zürich at 7th overall in the world. In 2015, ETH Zürich was ranked 5th in the world in Engineering, Science and Technology, just behind the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University and University of Cambridge (UK). In 2015, ETH Zürich also ranked 6th in the world in Natural Sciences, and in 2016 ranked 1st in the world for Earth & Marine Sciences for the second consecutive year.

    In 2016, Times Higher Education World University Rankings ranked ETH Zürich 9th overall in the world and 8th in the world in the field of Engineering & Technology, just behind the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, California Institute of Technology, Princeton University, University of Cambridge(UK), Imperial College London(UK) and University of Oxford(UK) .

    In a comparison of Swiss universities by swissUP Ranking and in rankings published by CHE comparing the universities of German-speaking countries, ETH Zürich traditionally is ranked first in natural sciences, computer science and engineering sciences.

    In the survey CHE Excellence Ranking on the quality of Western European graduate school programs in the fields of biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics, ETH Zürich was assessed as one of the three institutions to have excellent programs in all the considered fields, the other two being Imperial College London (UK) and the University of Cambridge (UK), respectively.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:05 pm on September 26, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Alpine plants respond to climate change", , , , The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich [ETH Zürich] [Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich] (CH)   

    From The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich [ETH Zürich] [Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich] (CH): “Alpine plants respond to climate change” 

    From The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich [ETH Zürich] [Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich] (CH)

    9.26.22
    Peter Rüegg

    Researchers from ETH Zürich are studying how alpine vegetation is responding to a warming climate – and how some plant communities are continuing to stand firm against newcomers from lower elevations.

    A glance down the vertiginous slope is enough to create a dizzying sensation of being airborne. Far below is the city of Chur, with tiny cars beetling among toy houses. Keeping a firm grip on the wheel, Jake Alexander ascends the potholed road, which in many places is too narrow for two vehicles to pass.

    His destination is Chrüzboden, an alpine meadow situated above the tree line on the Haldenstein peak of the Calanda massif, some 2,000 metres above sea level. It’s a popular day trip from Chur, but Alexander is here in his role as Assistant Professor of Plant Ecology at ETH Zürich. For the past 15 years or so, he has been conducting experiments to better understand the effects of climate change on alpine flora.

    Calanda is the perfect location for this kind of research. Over the space of 5 kilometres, it encompasses the full range of altitudinal vegetation zones in the Alps, from the colline zone on the valley floor to the alpine belt at its 2,800-​metre peak. The entire massif is remarkably uniform in both aspect and geology – and the whole area lies within easy reach of Zürich. “We should really set up an alpine research station here; that would be fantastic!” Alexander says.

    To cover the full span of altitudinal zones, he and his colleagues have set up multiple experimental sites at different elevations. The highest, Chrüzboden, is at 2,000 metres; the lowest is at 1,000 metres. The other sites are located at 200-​metre intervals between the two.

    After a climb of some 1,400 metres around countless hairpin bends, we finally reach Chrüzboden. It’s June, and the cows are grazing among flowers of every shape and hue, meandering between patches of yellow, pink and purple.

    Alexander parks the car and heads uphill to a patch of meadow that is protected from the cattle by an electric fence. Inside the fenced area are his research plots. Some of these are enclosed in open-​topped Perspex chambers, which provide passive heating to simulate global warming.

    2
    Project leader Professor Jake Alexander is investigating whether meadow flowers from lower elevations can thrive at 2,000 metres. (Photograph: Peter Rueegg / ETH Zürich)

    The researchers are studying how plant communities at high elevations respond when confronted with species moving up from lower elevations. Previous research has shown that, on average, mountain regions are warming twice as fast as the rest of the world. This creates potential for certain species to extend their habitat, either to higher elevations or higher latitudes such as in the Arctic (see box page 45). Alexander’s previous studies have shown that often alpine plants seem unfazed by global warming itself yet may struggle to cope with competition from new species migrating up the mountain.

    Bigger and faster

    Sooner or later, this could lead to changes in the species composition of today’s alpine and subalpine plant communities. New species mean new interactions – and because plants from the lowlands are bigger and grow faster, they are literally leaving smaller alpine species in the shadows. “A warmer climate gives them a competitive edge, and they’re threatening to displace alpine species,” says Alexander.

    Species that migrate to the summits generally face less competition for space, light, water and nutrients because vegetation tends to be sparser at such high elevations. But the situation is different at the tree line, where species ascending from lower elevations encounter meadows and pastures with almost no gaps in the vegetation. These communities of plants have evolved over centuries – time enough for countless interactions to have emerged between individuals and species, including with microorganisms such as soil bacteria and fungi.

    3
    Simulating the future with Perspex: temperatures inside the plexiglass structures are higher than on the outside. (Photograph: Peter Rueegg / ETH Zürich)

    At current levels of warming, new species might find it tough to gain a foothold, at least at first. But, as the climate gets hotter, they will gain a competitive edge – and, as plant species from the lowlands establish themselves, they will cause a shift in both the composition and myriad interactions of the original plant community. This is a phenomenon the researchers have already observed in experiments at their site at 1,400 metres.

    “We want to discover how resistant today’s plant communities are against newcomers. We also want to find out whether species from lower elevations can already establish themselves higher up the mountain and, if not, what’s stopping them,” says Alexander, as he surveys an experimental plot filled with a profusion of meadow flowers.

    The researchers first removed all the original vegetation from the square-​metre plot. They then planted the bare soil with ten different species that are predominantly native to low and medium elevations, including meadow sage, brown knapweed and bladder campion.

    Alexander turns his attention to another densely vegetated plot, pushing the foliage apart with his hands. Buried in the middle is a brown knapweed plant, identified by a coloured plastic toothpick. Unlike its peers in the bare plot, this plant is small and bears a solitary flower. “It’s having a hard time competing against its new neighbours,” he says. “But, in principle, it’s certainly capable of growing at this elevation in today’s climate.”

    Animal transport

    However, the conquest of alpine or subalpine habitats by plants from lower altitudes is slower than expected, says the ecologist. He suggests that as well as resistance from existing vegetation, this may partly be due to the plants’ poor dispersal abilities. Some have seeds that can be carried by the wind, but those that don’t tend to rely on animals to disperse their seeds. For example, studies have shown that cows transport germinable seeds in their gut.

    One of Alexander’s Master’s students will soon be embarking on a project to determine whether deer and chamois also disperse the seeds of certain plant species. Ultimately, these data should flow into mechanistic models that will help scientists predict changes in plant communities, including climate projections as well as dispersal mechanisms, interactions between plants, and the ways in which they evolve.

    Alexander is already heading back down to Haldenstein and Chur, carefully navigating the car towards the houses far below. Reaching a hairpin bend, he takes a right turn to inspect their experimental site 1,400 metres above sea level. He parks the car at the end of the road and walks the last few hundred metres up a track. Soon he’s standing on the edge of a large clearing known as Nesselboden. It’s noticeably warmer here than 600 metres further up. The average temperature changes by approximately 0.5 degrees Celsius for every 100 metres of elevation, so a simple calculation suggests the air around us is now 3 degrees warmer. This, then, is the climate that alpine plants will be confronted with in the future.

    Struggle for resources

    The meadow flowers transplanted to this plot are even more exuberant, flourishing both in isolation and in the presence of existing vegetation. They clearly have no difficulty competing with other plants that are native to this elevation. But things look rather different in one of the other square-​metre patches of soil. As part of an earlier experiment a few years ago, the researchers transplanted the soil and its community of plants from 2,000 metres to this site at 1,400 metres, effectively catapulting them into the climate of the future.

    3
    The researchers admire a patch of luxuriant flora: plants from lower elevations enjoy good growing conditions at 1,400 metres above sea level. (Photograph: Peter Rueegg / ETH Zürich)

    The patch is dominated by alchemilla, more commonly known as lady’s mantle. “This species clearly has no problem with the new climate. But some of the other alpine plants that were transplanted at the same time have already lost the battle for resources against competitors who are better adapted to warm temperatures,” says Alexander, raising a hand to shield his eyes from the setting sun. “So, assuming it continues to get warmer and drier at higher elevations, this is what the plants up there will be facing.” Whatever the case, he says, they intend to study these research plots in the Nesselboden clearing for at least ten years to verify whether their predictions of how plant communities will change are accurate.

    Alexander’s research will eventually reveal exactly how the flora on Calanda will evolve. But it certainly seems that change is inevitable – and that plenty more patches of white, violet and yellow flowers will soon be dotted across today’s alpine meadows.

    4

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    ETH Zurich campus

    The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich [ETH Zürich] [Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich] (CH) is a public research university in the city of Zürich, Switzerland. Founded by the Swiss Federal Government in 1854 with the stated mission to educate engineers and scientists, the school focuses exclusively on science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Like its sister institution The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne [EPFL-École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne](CH) , it is part of The Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology Domain (ETH Domain)) , part of the The Swiss Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research [EAER][Eidgenössisches Departement für Wirtschaft, Bildung und Forschung] [Département fédéral de l’économie, de la formation et de la recherche] (CH).

    The university is an attractive destination for international students thanks to low tuition fees of 809 CHF per semester, PhD and graduate salaries that are amongst the world’s highest, and a world-class reputation in academia and industry. There are currently 22,200 students from over 120 countries, of which 4,180 are pursuing doctoral degrees. In the 2021 edition of the QS World University Rankings ETH Zürich is ranked 6th in the world and 8th by the Times Higher Education World Rankings 2020. In the 2020 QS World University Rankings by subject it is ranked 4th in the world for engineering and technology (2nd in Europe) and 1st for earth & marine science.

    As of November 2019, 21 Nobel laureates, 2 Fields Medalists, 2 Pritzker Prize winners, and 1 Turing Award winner have been affiliated with the Institute, including Albert Einstein. Other notable alumni include John von Neumann and Santiago Calatrava. It is a founding member of the IDEA League and the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU) and a member of the CESAER network.

    ETH Zürich was founded on 7 February 1854 by the Swiss Confederation and began giving its first lectures on 16 October 1855 as a polytechnic institute (eidgenössische polytechnische schule) at various sites throughout the city of Zurich. It was initially composed of six faculties: architecture, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, chemistry, forestry, and an integrated department for the fields of mathematics, natural sciences, literature, and social and political sciences.

    It is locally still known as Polytechnikum, or simply as Poly, derived from the original name eidgenössische polytechnische schule, which translates to “federal polytechnic school”.

    ETH Zürich is a federal institute (i.e., under direct administration by the Swiss government), whereas The University of Zürich [Universität Zürich ] (CH) is a cantonal institution. The decision for a new federal university was heavily disputed at the time; the liberals pressed for a “federal university”, while the conservative forces wanted all universities to remain under cantonal control, worried that the liberals would gain more political power than they already had. In the beginning, both universities were co-located in the buildings of the University of Zürich.

    From 1905 to 1908, under the presidency of Jérôme Franel, the course program of ETH Zürich was restructured to that of a real university and ETH Zürich was granted the right to award doctorates. In 1909 the first doctorates were awarded. In 1911, it was given its current name, Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule. In 1924, another reorganization structured the university in 12 departments. However, it now has 16 departments.

    ETH Zürich, EPFL (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne) [École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne](CH), and four associated research institutes form The Domain of the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology (ETH Domain) [ETH-Bereich; Domaine des Écoles polytechniques fédérales] (CH) with the aim of collaborating on scientific projects.

    Reputation and ranking

    ETH Zürich is ranked among the top universities in the world. Typically, popular rankings place the institution as the best university in continental Europe and ETH Zürich is consistently ranked among the top 1-5 universities in Europe, and among the top 3-10 best universities of the world.

    Historically, ETH Zürich has achieved its reputation particularly in the fields of chemistry, mathematics and physics. There are 32 Nobel laureates who are associated with ETH Zürich, the most recent of whom is Richard F. Heck, awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2010. Albert Einstein is perhaps its most famous alumnus.

    In 2018, the QS World University Rankings placed ETH Zürich at 7th overall in the world. In 2015, ETH Zürich was ranked 5th in the world in Engineering, Science and Technology, just behind the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University and University of Cambridge (UK). In 2015, ETH Zürich also ranked 6th in the world in Natural Sciences, and in 2016 ranked 1st in the world for Earth & Marine Sciences for the second consecutive year.

    In 2016, Times Higher Education World University Rankings ranked ETH Zürich 9th overall in the world and 8th in the world in the field of Engineering & Technology, just behind the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, California Institute of Technology, Princeton University, University of Cambridge(UK), Imperial College London(UK) and University of Oxford(UK) .

    In a comparison of Swiss universities by swissUP Ranking and in rankings published by CHE comparing the universities of German-speaking countries, ETH Zürich traditionally is ranked first in natural sciences, computer science and engineering sciences.

    In the survey CHE Excellence Ranking on the quality of Western European graduate school programs in the fields of biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics, ETH Zürich was assessed as one of the three institutions to have excellent programs in all the considered fields, the other two being Imperial College London (UK) and the University of Cambridge (UK), respectively.

     
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