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  • richardmitnick 1:46 am on March 16, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Associate Professor Masaki Ando from the Department of Physics invented a novel kind of gravimeter — the torsion bar antenna (TOBA) — which aims to be the first of such instruments, , , Gravimeters — sensors which measure the strength of local gravity, , , U Tokyo   

    From University of Tokyo: “Sensing shakes” 

    From University of Tokyo

    March 11, 2019

    A new way to sense earthquakes could help improve early warning systems.

    Earthquake Research Institute

    1
    Contour maps depict changes in gravity gradient immediately before the earthquake hits. The epicenter of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake is marked by (✩). ©2019 Kimura Masaya.

    Every year earthquakes worldwide claim hundreds or even thousands of lives. Forewarning allows people to head for safety and a matter of seconds could spell the difference between life and death. UTokyo researchers demonstrate a new earthquake detection method — their technique exploits subtle telltale gravitational signals traveling ahead of the tremors. Future research could boost early warning systems.

    The shock of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake in eastern Japan still resonates for many. It caused unimaginable devastation, but also generated vast amounts of seismic and other kinds of data. Years later researchers still mine this data to improve models and find novel ways to use it, which could help people in the future. A team of researchers from the University of Tokyo’s Earthquake Research Institute (ERI) found something in this data which could help the field of research and might someday even save lives.

    It all started when ERI Associate Professor Shingo Watada read an interesting physics paper on an unrelated topic by J. Harms from Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare in Italy. The paper suggests gravimeters — sensors which measure the strength of local gravity — could theoretically detect earthquakes.

    “This got me thinking,” said Watada. “If we have enough seismic and gravitational data from the time and place a big earthquake hit, we could learn to detect earthquakes with gravimeters as well as seismometers. This could be an important tool for future research of seismic phenomena.”

    The idea works like this. Earthquakes occur when a point along the edge of a tectonic plate comprising the earth’s surface makes a sudden movement. This generates seismic waves which radiate from that point at 6-8 kilometers per second. These waves transmit energy through the earth and rapidly alter the density of the subsurface material they pass through. Dense material imparts a slightly greater gravitational attraction than less dense material. As gravity propagates at light speed, sensitive gravimeters can pick up these changes in density ahead of the seismic waves’ arrival.

    2
    A map of Japan showing locations for the epicenter of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake (✩),Kamioka (K), Matsushiro (M) and seismic survey instruments used (△ and ●). ©2019 Kimura Masaya.

    “This is the first time anyone has shown definitive earthquake signals with such a method. Others have investigated the idea, yet not found reliable signals,” elaborated ERI postgraduate Masaya Kimura. “Our approach is unique as we examined a broader range of sensors active during the 2011 earthquake. And we used special processing methods to isolate quiet gravitational signals from the noisy data.”

    Japan is famously very seismically active so it’s no surprise there are extensive networks of seismic instruments on land and at sea in the region. The researchers used a range of seismic data from these and also superconducting gravimeters (SGs) in Kamioka, Gifu Prefecture, and Matsushiro, Nagano Prefecture, in central Japan.

    The signal analysis they performed was extremely reliable scoring what scientists term a 7-sigma accuracy, meaning there is only a one-in-a-trillion chance a result is incorrect. This fact greatly helps to prove the concept and will be useful in calibration of future instruments built specifically to help detect earthquakes. Associate Professor Masaki Ando from the Department of Physics invented a novel kind of gravimeter — the torsion bar antenna (TOBA) — which aims to be the first of such instruments.

    3
    A TOBA with door open to reveal cryogenically cooled sensor platform inside. ©2019 Ando Masaki.

    “SGs and seismometers are not ideal as the sensors within them move together with the instrument, which almost cancels subtle signals from earthquakes,” explained ERI Associate Professor Nobuki Kame. “This is known as an Einstein’s elevator, or the equivalence principle. However, the TOBA will overcome this problem. It senses changes in gravity gradient despite motion. It was originally designed to detect gravitational waves from the big bang, like earthquakes in space, but our purpose is more down-to-earth.”

    The team dreams of a network of TOBA distributed around seismically active regions, an early warning system that could alert people 10 seconds before the first ground shaking waves arrive from an epicenter 100 km away. Many earthquake deaths occur as people are caught off-guard inside buildings that collapse on them. Imagine the difference 10 seconds could make. This will take time but the researchers continually refine models to improve accuracy of the method for eventual use in the field.

    Science paper:
    “Earthquake-induced prompt gravity signals identified in dense array data in Japan,” Masaya Kimura; Nobuki Kame; Shingo Watada; Makiko Ohtani; Akito Araya; Yuichi Imanishi; Masaki Ando; Takashi Kunugi
    Earth, Planets and Space

    See the full article here .

    Earthquake Alert

    1

    Earthquake Alert

    Earthquake Network projectEarthquake Network is a research project which aims at developing and maintaining a crowdsourced smartphone-based earthquake warning system at a global level. Smartphones made available by the population are used to detect the earthquake waves using the on-board accelerometers. When an earthquake is detected, an earthquake warning is issued in order to alert the population not yet reached by the damaging waves of the earthquake.

    The project started on January 1, 2013 with the release of the homonymous Android application Earthquake Network. The author of the research project and developer of the smartphone application is Francesco Finazzi of the University of Bergamo, Italy.

    Get the app in the Google Play store.

    3
    Smartphone network spatial distribution (green and red dots) on December 4, 2015

    Meet The Quake-Catcher Network

    QCN bloc

    Quake-Catcher Network

    The Quake-Catcher Network is a collaborative initiative for developing the world’s largest, low-cost strong-motion seismic network by utilizing sensors in and attached to internet-connected computers. With your help, the Quake-Catcher Network can provide better understanding of earthquakes, give early warning to schools, emergency response systems, and others. The Quake-Catcher Network also provides educational software designed to help teach about earthquakes and earthquake hazards.

    After almost eight years at Stanford, and a year at CalTech, the QCN project is moving to the University of Southern California Dept. of Earth Sciences. QCN will be sponsored by the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS) and the Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC).

    The Quake-Catcher Network is a distributed computing network that links volunteer hosted computers into a real-time motion sensing network. QCN is one of many scientific computing projects that runs on the world-renowned distributed computing platform Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC).

    The volunteer computers monitor vibrational sensors called MEMS accelerometers, and digitally transmit “triggers” to QCN’s servers whenever strong new motions are observed. QCN’s servers sift through these signals, and determine which ones represent earthquakes, and which ones represent cultural noise (like doors slamming, or trucks driving by).

    There are two categories of sensors used by QCN: 1) internal mobile device sensors, and 2) external USB sensors.

    Mobile Devices: MEMS sensors are often included in laptops, games, cell phones, and other electronic devices for hardware protection, navigation, and game control. When these devices are still and connected to QCN, QCN software monitors the internal accelerometer for strong new shaking. Unfortunately, these devices are rarely secured to the floor, so they may bounce around when a large earthquake occurs. While this is less than ideal for characterizing the regional ground shaking, many such sensors can still provide useful information about earthquake locations and magnitudes.

    USB Sensors: MEMS sensors can be mounted to the floor and connected to a desktop computer via a USB cable. These sensors have several advantages over mobile device sensors. 1) By mounting them to the floor, they measure more reliable shaking than mobile devices. 2) These sensors typically have lower noise and better resolution of 3D motion. 3) Desktops are often left on and do not move. 4) The USB sensor is physically removed from the game, phone, or laptop, so human interaction with the device doesn’t reduce the sensors’ performance. 5) USB sensors can be aligned to North, so we know what direction the horizontal “X” and “Y” axes correspond to.

    If you are a science teacher at a K-12 school, please apply for a free USB sensor and accompanying QCN software. QCN has been able to purchase sensors to donate to schools in need. If you are interested in donating to the program or requesting a sensor, click here.

    BOINC is a leader in the field(s) of Distributed Computing, Grid Computing and Citizen Cyberscience.BOINC is more properly the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing, developed at UC Berkeley.

    Earthquake safety is a responsibility shared by billions worldwide. The Quake-Catcher Network (QCN) provides software so that individuals can join together to improve earthquake monitoring, earthquake awareness, and the science of earthquakes. The Quake-Catcher Network (QCN) links existing networked laptops and desktops in hopes to form the worlds largest strong-motion seismic network.

    Below, the QCN Quake Catcher Network map
    QCN Quake Catcher Network map

    ShakeAlert: An Earthquake Early Warning System for the West Coast of the United States

    The U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) along with a coalition of State and university partners is developing and testing an earthquake early warning (EEW) system called ShakeAlert for the west coast of the United States. Long term funding must be secured before the system can begin sending general public notifications, however, some limited pilot projects are active and more are being developed. The USGS has set the goal of beginning limited public notifications in 2018.

    Watch a video describing how ShakeAlert works in English or Spanish.

    The primary project partners include:

    United States Geological Survey
    California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES)
    California Geological Survey
    California Institute of Technology
    University of California Berkeley
    University of Washington
    University of Oregon
    Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

    The Earthquake Threat

    Earthquakes pose a national challenge because more than 143 million Americans live in areas of significant seismic risk across 39 states. Most of our Nation’s earthquake risk is concentrated on the West Coast of the United States. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has estimated the average annualized loss from earthquakes, nationwide, to be $5.3 billion, with 77 percent of that figure ($4.1 billion) coming from California, Washington, and Oregon, and 66 percent ($3.5 billion) from California alone. In the next 30 years, California has a 99.7 percent chance of a magnitude 6.7 or larger earthquake and the Pacific Northwest has a 10 percent chance of a magnitude 8 to 9 megathrust earthquake on the Cascadia subduction zone.

    Part of the Solution

    Today, the technology exists to detect earthquakes, so quickly, that an alert can reach some areas before strong shaking arrives. The purpose of the ShakeAlert system is to identify and characterize an earthquake a few seconds after it begins, calculate the likely intensity of ground shaking that will result, and deliver warnings to people and infrastructure in harm’s way. This can be done by detecting the first energy to radiate from an earthquake, the P-wave energy, which rarely causes damage. Using P-wave information, we first estimate the location and the magnitude of the earthquake. Then, the anticipated ground shaking across the region to be affected is estimated and a warning is provided to local populations. The method can provide warning before the S-wave arrives, bringing the strong shaking that usually causes most of the damage.

    Studies of earthquake early warning methods in California have shown that the warning time would range from a few seconds to a few tens of seconds. ShakeAlert can give enough time to slow trains and taxiing planes, to prevent cars from entering bridges and tunnels, to move away from dangerous machines or chemicals in work environments and to take cover under a desk, or to automatically shut down and isolate industrial systems. Taking such actions before shaking starts can reduce damage and casualties during an earthquake. It can also prevent cascading failures in the aftermath of an event. For example, isolating utilities before shaking starts can reduce the number of fire initiations.

    System Goal

    The USGS will issue public warnings of potentially damaging earthquakes and provide warning parameter data to government agencies and private users on a region-by-region basis, as soon as the ShakeAlert system, its products, and its parametric data meet minimum quality and reliability standards in those geographic regions. The USGS has set the goal of beginning limited public notifications in 2018. Product availability will expand geographically via ANSS regional seismic networks, such that ShakeAlert products and warnings become available for all regions with dense seismic instrumentation.

    Current Status

    The West Coast ShakeAlert system is being developed by expanding and upgrading the infrastructure of regional seismic networks that are part of the Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS); the California Integrated Seismic Network (CISN) is made up of the Southern California Seismic Network, SCSN) and the Northern California Seismic System, NCSS and the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network (PNSN). This enables the USGS and ANSS to leverage their substantial investment in sensor networks, data telemetry systems, data processing centers, and software for earthquake monitoring activities residing in these network centers. The ShakeAlert system has been sending live alerts to “beta” users in California since January of 2012 and in the Pacific Northwest since February of 2015.

    In February of 2016 the USGS, along with its partners, rolled-out the next-generation ShakeAlert early warning test system in California joined by Oregon and Washington in April 2017. This West Coast-wide “production prototype” has been designed for redundant, reliable operations. The system includes geographically distributed servers, and allows for automatic fail-over if connection is lost.

    This next-generation system will not yet support public warnings but does allow selected early adopters to develop and deploy pilot implementations that take protective actions triggered by the ShakeAlert notifications in areas with sufficient sensor coverage.

    Authorities

    The USGS will develop and operate the ShakeAlert system, and issue public notifications under collaborative authorities with FEMA, as part of the National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program, as enacted by the Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act of 1977, 42 U.S.C. §§ 7704 SEC. 2.

    For More Information

    Robert de Groot, ShakeAlert National Coordinator for Communication, Education, and Outreach
    rdegroot@usgs.gov
    626-583-7225

    Learn more about EEW Research

    ShakeAlert Fact Sheet

    ShakeAlert Implementation Plan

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The University of Tokyo aims to be a world-class platform for research and education, contributing to human knowledge in partnership with other leading global universities. The University of Tokyo aims to nurture global leaders with a strong sense of public responsibility and a pioneering spirit, possessing both deep specialism and broad knowledge. The University of Tokyo aims to expand the boundaries of human knowledge in partnership with society. Details about how the University is carrying out this mission can be found in the University of Tokyo Charter and the Action Plans.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:24 am on September 22, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , U Tokyo   

    From U Tokyo via ScienceAlert: “Scientists Just Created a Magnetic Field That Takes Us Closer Than Ever Before to Harnessing Nuclear Fusion” 

    From University of Tokyo

    via

    ScienceAlert

    1
    (Zoltan Tasi/Unsplash)

    22 SEP 2018
    KRISTIN HOUSER

    They were able to control it without destroying any equipment this time.

    Inexpensive clean energy sounds like a pipe dream. Scientists have long thought that nuclear fusion, the type of reaction that powers stars like the Sun, could be one way to make it happen, but the reaction has been too difficult to maintain.

    Now, we’re closer than ever before to making it happen — physicists from the University of Tokyo (UTokyo) say they’ve produced the strongest-ever controllable magnetic field.

    “One way to produce fusion power is to confine plasma — a sea of charged particles — in a large ring called a tokamak in order to extract energy from it,” said lead researcher Shojiro Takeyama in a press release.

    ITER Tokamak in Saint-Paul-lès-Durance, which is in southern France

    September 18, 2018

    Physicists from the Institute for Solid State Physics at the University of Tokyo have generated the strongest controllable magnetic field ever produced. The field was sustained for longer than any previous field of a similar strength. This research could lead to powerful investigative tools for material scientists and may have applications in fusion power generation.

    Magnetic fields are everywhere. From particle smashers to the humble compass, our capacity to understand and control these fields crafted much of the modern world. The ability to create stronger fields advances many areas of science and engineering. UTokyo physicist Shojiro Takeyama and his team created a large sophisticated device in a purpose-built lab, capable of producing the strongest controllable magnetic field ever using a method known as electromagnetic flux compression.

    “Decades of work, dozens of iterations and a long line of researchers who came before me all contributed towards our achievement,” said Professor Takeyama. “I felt humbled when I was personally congratulated by directors of magnetic field research institutions around the world.”

    Physicists from the Institute for Solid State Physics at the University of Tokyo have generated the strongest controllable magnetic field ever produced. The field was sustained for longer than any previous field of a similar strength. This research could lead to powerful investigative tools for material scientists and may have applications in fusion power generation.

    Magnetic fields are everywhere. From particle smashers to the humble compass, our capacity to understand and control these fields crafted much of the modern world. The ability to create stronger fields advances many areas of science and engineering. UTokyo physicist Shojiro Takeyama and his team created a large sophisticated device in a purpose-built lab, capable of producing the strongest controllable magnetic field ever using a method known as electromagnetic flux compression.

    “Decades of work, dozens of iterations and a long line of researchers who came before me all contributed towards our achievement,” said Professor Takeyama. “I felt humbled when I was personally congratulated by directors of magnetic field research institutions around the world.”

    2
    The megagauss generator just before it’s switched on. Some parts for the device are exceedingly rare and very few companies around the world are capable of producing them. Image: ©2018 Shojiro Takeyama

    3
    Sparks fly at the moment of activation. Four million amps of current feed the megagauss generator system, hundreds of times the current of a typical lightning bolt. Image: ©2018 Shojiro Takeyama

    But what is so interesting about this particular magnetic field?

    At 1,200 teslas – not the brand of electric cars, but the unit of magnetic field strength – the generated field dwarfs almost any artificial magnetic field ever recorded; however, it’s not the strongest overall. In 2001, physicists in Russia produced a field of 2,800 teslas, but their explosive method literally blew up their equipment and the uncontrollable field could not be tamed. Lasers can also create powerful magnetic fields, but in experiments they only last a matter of nanoseconds.

    The magnetic field created by Takeyama’s team lasts thousands of times longer, around 100 microseconds, about one-thousandth of the time it takes to blink. It’s possible to create longer-lasting fields, but these are only in the region of hundreds of teslas. The goal to surpass 1,000 teslas was not just a race for the sake of it, that figure represents a significant milestone.

    4
    Earth’s own magnetic field is 25 to 65 microteslas. The megagauss generator system creates a field of 1,200 teslas, about 20 million to 50 million times stronger. Image: ©2018 Shojiro Takeyama

    “With magnetic fields above 1,000 Teslas, you open up some interesting possibilities,” says Takeyama. “You can observe the motion of electrons outside the material environments they are normally within. So we can study them in a whole new light and explore new kinds of electronic devices. This research could also be useful to those working on fusion power generation.”

    This is an important point, as many believe fusion power is the most promising way to provide clean energy for future generations. “One way to produce fusion power is to confine plasma – a sea of charged particles – in a large ring called a tokamak in order to extract energy from it,” explains Takeyama. “This requires a strong magnetic field in the order of thousands of teslas for a duration of several microseconds. This is tantalizingly similar to what our device can produce.”

    The magnetic field that a tokamak would require is “tantalizingly similar to what our device can produce,” he said.

    To generate the magnetic field, the UTokyo researchers built a sophisticated device capable of electromagnetic flux-compression (EMFC), a method of magnetic field generation well-suited for indoor operations.

    They describe the work in a new paper published Monday in the Review of Scientific Instruments.

    Using the device, they were able to produce a magnetic field of 1,200 teslas — about 120,000 times as strong as a magnet that sticks to your refrigerator.

    Though not the strongest field ever created, the physicists were able to sustain it for 100 microseconds, thousands of times longer than previous attempts.

    They could also control the magnetic field, so it didn’t destroy their equipment like some past attempts to create powerful fields.

    As Takeyama noted in the press release, that means his team’s device can generate close to the minimum magnetic field strength and duration needed for stable nuclear fusion — and it puts us all one step closer to the unlimited clean energy we’ve been dreaming about for nearly a century.

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The University of Tokyo aims to be a world-class platform for research and education, contributing to human knowledge in partnership with other leading global universities. The University of Tokyo aims to nurture global leaders with a strong sense of public responsibility and a pioneering spirit, possessing both deep specialism and broad knowledge. The University of Tokyo aims to expand the boundaries of human knowledge in partnership with society. Details about how the University is carrying out this mission can be found in the University of Tokyo Charter and the Action Plans.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:04 pm on February 14, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Breaking local symmetry: Why water freezes but silica forms a glass, , U Tokyo   

    From U Tokyo- “Breaking local symmetry: Why water freezes but silica forms a glass” 

    University of Tokyo

    2018.02.06

    Research Contact
    Hajime Tanaka, Professor
    Tel: +81 3 5452-6125
    Fax: +81 3 5452-6126
    URL: http://tanakalab.iis.u-tokyo.ac.jp/Top_E.html

    1
    The origin of SiO2 glass formation revealed by simulations. Credit: 2018 HAJIME TANAKA, INSTITUTE OF INDUSTRIAL SCIENCE, THE UNIVERSITY OF TOKYO

    Everyone knows that water freezes at 0°C. Life on earth would be vastly different if this were not so. However, many are less familiar with water’s cousin, silica, whose wayward behavior when cooled has long puzzled scientists.

    Unlike water, silica (SiO2) does not freeze easily. When liquid silica cools, its atoms fail to arrange into an ordered crystal. Instead, as temperature decreases, the liquid state survives even far below the nominal freezing temperature; this phenomenon is termed supercooling. Eventually, the atoms are simply locked into place wherever they are, preserving the structural disorder of the liquid. The resulting frozen state of matter – mechanically solid, but microscopically liquid-like – is a glass.

    Silica’s preference for glass-formation has major consequences, since it is among the most abundant compounds on our planet, along with water. In some ways, the two liquids are alike – they have similar coordination geometries with tetrahedral symmetry, and both display an unusual tendency to become less dense below a certain temperature on cooling, but more fluid upon pressurizing. They even show analogous crystal structures, when silica can be coaxed into freezing.

    Recently, researchers at The University of Tokyo’s Institute of Industrial Science uncovered vital clues as to why water and silica diverge so starkly when they become cold. In a study published in PNAS, their simulations revealed the influence of the local symmetric arrangement of atoms in the liquid state on crystallization. It turns out that the atoms arrange properly in water while not in silica.

    When liquids cool, order emerges from randomness, as the atoms assemble into patterns. From the viewpoint of any individual atom, a series of concentric shells appear as its neighbors gather round. In both water and silica, the first shell (around each O or Si atom, respectively) is tetrahedral in shape – a case of “orientational ordering, or, symmetry breaking.” The key difference comes from the second shell structure. For water, it is still arranged properly with orientational order, but for silica, the second shell is randomly smeared around with little orientational order.

    “In water, the locally ordered structures are precursors to ice; that is, tetrahedral crystals of H2O,” co-author Rui Shi explains. “The orientational ordering, or rotational symmetry breaking, in a liquid state explains why water freezes so easily. In supercooled silica, however, the lack of orientational ordering prevents crystallization, resulting in easy glass formation. In other words, the rotational symmetry is harder to break in silica’s liquid structure, and with less orientational order.”

    The researchers explain this difference by comparing the bonding in the two substances. Water consists of individual H2O molecules, held together by strong covalent bonds but interacting via weaker hydrogen bonds. The stable molecular structure of water restricts the freedom of atoms, resulting in high orientational order in water. Silica, however, has no molecular form, and atoms are resultantly bonded in a less directional way, leading to poor orientational order.

    “We showed that the macroscopic differences between water and silica originate in the microscopic world of bonding,” corresponding author Hajime Tanaka says. “We hope to extend this principle to other substances, such as liquid carbon and silicon, that are structurally similar to water and silica. The ultimate goal is to develop a general theory of how glass-formers differ from crystal-formers, which is something that has eluded scientists thus far.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    The University of Tokyo aims to be a world-class platform for research and education, contributing to human knowledge in partnership with other leading global universities. The University of Tokyo aims to nurture global leaders with a strong sense of public responsibility and a pioneering spirit, possessing both deep specialism and broad knowledge. The University of Tokyo aims to expand the boundaries of human knowledge in partnership with society. Details about how the University is carrying out this mission can be found in the University of Tokyo Charter and the Action Plans.

     
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