Tagged: UBC Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • richardmitnick 3:26 pm on March 19, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , To Understand the Universe Physicists Are Building Their Own, UBC,   

    FromUBC via Wired: “To Understand the Universe, Physicists Are Building Their Own” 

    U British Columbia bloc

    University of British Columbia

    Wired logo

    Wired

    03.16.18
    Katia Moskvitch

    1
    Inflation is impossible to prove directly. Which is why some physicists want to mimic it in a lab. PASIEKA/GETTY IMAGES.

    Silke Weinfurtner is trying to build the universe from scratch. In a physics lab at the University of Nottingham—close to the Sherwood forest of legendary English outlaw Robin Hood—she and her colleagues will work with a huge superconducting coil magnet, 1 meter across. Inside, there’s a small pool of liquid, whose gentle ripples stand to mimic the matter fluctuations that gave rise to the structures we observe in the cosmos.

    Weinfurtner isn’t an evil genius hell-bent on creating a world of her own to rule. She just wants to understand the origins of the one we already have.

    The Big Bang is by far the most popular model of our universe’s beginnings, but even its fans disagree about how it happened. The theory depends on the existence of a hypothetical quantum field that stretched the universe ultra-rapidly and uniformly in all directions, expanding it by a huge factor in a fraction of a second: a process dubbed inflation. But that inflation or the field responsible for it—the inflaton—is impossible to prove directly. Which is why Weinfurtner wants to mimic it in a lab.

    If the Big Bang theory is right, the baby universe would have been created with tiny ripples—so-called ‘quantum fluctuations’—which got stretched during inflation and turned into matter and radiation, or light. These fluctuations are thought to have eventually magnified to cosmic size, seeding galaxies, stars, and planets. And it’s these tiny ripples that Weinfurtner wants to model with that massive superconducting magnet. Inside, she’ll put a circular tank, some 6 centimeters in diameter, filled with layered water and butanol (the liquids have different densities, so they don’t mix).

    Then, her group of researchers will kick in the artificial gravity distortions. “The strength of the magnetic field varies with its position,” says Richard Hill, one of the paper’s co-authors. “By moving the pool to different regions of the field, the effective gravitational force can be increased or decreased,” he says, “and can even be turned upside-down.”

    By varying gravity, the team hopes to create ripples—but unlike those on a pond, the distortions will appear between the two liquids. “By carefully adjusting the speed of the ripples we can model an inflating universe,” says another team member, Anastasios Avgoustidis. In cosmic inflation, space rapidly expands while the ripples of matter propagate at a constant speed—and in the experiment, the speed of the ripples rapidly decreases as the liquid’s volume remains constant. “The equations describing the propagation of ripples in these two scenarios are identical,” Avgoustidis says.

    That’s important: If the resulting fluctuations look as if they might trigger structures like those found in today’s universe, then we may have had a glimpse of how inflation worked.

    This isn’t the first time Weinfurtner—or anyone else—has tried to mimic cosmic phenomena on a tiny scale. Around the world, astrophysicists can be found in labs, developing ever more sophisticated set-ups using sound waves that travel just like light waves in strong gravitational fields, or magnets to trigger perturbations in fluids and gases.

    Last June, Weinfurtner used a large water tank with a sink in the middle to mimic another difficult-to-observe phenomenon: the superradiance of a black hole. And it was William Unruh, a physicist at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver (and Weinfurtner’s advisor a decade ago), who pioneered the idea of simulating gravity in a lab in 1981. After all, “we cannot rerun the universe—and cannot live long enough to see the results of the experiment if we could,” says Unruh.

    Analog gravity experiments have gotten more sophisticated since Unruh’s first experiment, which used a fluid simulation of gravity to show that the event horizon of a real black hole does to light what a sonic black hole does to sound. In other words: What we can measure and express in the lab can be used to explore properties of astrophysical black holes. It even works for the famous Hawking radiation, the prediction that black holes radiate heat and at some point will totally evaporate. A few years ago, Jeff Steinhauer of the Technion in Haifa, Israel, discovered the radiation’s sonic analog [Nature Physics].

    Simulations are being used to study other aspects of inflation, too. A few years ago, a team led by Christoph Westbrook of CNRS (The French National Center for Scientific Research) in Paris studied the production of quantum particles by ‘wiggling’ a ring Bose Einstein condensate—a state of matter in which the atoms have been cooled to near absolute zero, making them behave as a single quantum object [PACS]. During inflation, the temperature of the universe dropped drastically, before starting to rise again when the inflation ceased with the process called ‘reheating’—leading to the ordinary Big Bang expansion.

    Another experiment last October, led by physicist Stephen Eckel at the Joint Quantum Institute at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and University of Maryland, also used a Bose Einstein condensate to observe the stretching of sound waves—analogous to the stretching, or redshifting, of light that happens as the universe expands. The team also observed an effect similar to the reheating process.

    Weinfurtner says that her ‘novel’ setup can work without a Bose Einstein condensate. That means that the system will be too hot to observe quantum fluctuations directly, says Unruh. But the authors argue that it will be possible to observe the fluctuations via the thermal noise in their system—an analog of quantum noise.

    Their approach, say the authors, will allow them to mimic a long expansion phase, achieving—using the technical language—‘many e-folds,’ a parameter that measures the duration of inflation. Researchers believe that inflation increased the size of the universe by more than a factor of 10^26—or more than 60 e-folds—in just a fraction of a second. The new experiment, if successful, would simulate inflation for much longer period than previous lab set-ups, or have “many more e-folds than any other, enough to put the results beyond doubt,” says Ian Moss of the University of Newcastle. “You need some time to elapse for the system to forget its initial conditions and settle down to the state governed by inflationary fluctuations,” he says.

    “It is possible that they will uncover new physics that help to inform future cosmological models,” says Eckel. “Or, on the reverse, help to test some aspect of future cosmological models.”

    Not everyone is convinced that simulating our universe’s first moments in the lab will help cosmology, though. Ted Jacobson of the University of Maryland thinks that such experiments are “not so much verifying something we are uncertain about, but rather implementing and observing it in a lab.” Why mimic the universe in the lab? “It’s fun. And it may suggest new phenomena we didn’t think of in cosmology,” he says.

    Avi Loeb, an astrophysicist at Harvard University, is not as optimistic. He says that Weinfurtner’s proposed analogy of creating ripples between two fluids in a tank will not extend to the “fundamental physical nature” of quantum fluctuations—because the experiment simply reproduces the equations physicists already use to describe inflation. If these equations are missing a fundamental ingredient, the experiment will not reveal it. “While analog laboratory experiments could incorporate quantum mechanical effects, they do not involve the interplay of quantum mechanics with gravity in the way that black holes and inflation do,” he says.

    Weinfurtner’s experiment is tailored to reproduce our existing notion of inflation, Loeb adds – but it’s not meant to test it at a fundamental level. “The only way to get a discrepancy between the experiment and our notion of inflation is if we did the math wrong for one of these systems. Otherwise, we will learn nothing new,” he says.

    The real test of inflation would be, Loeb says, the production of the substance that propelled it—the inflaton—in the lab. But this would require reaching energies up to a trillion times larger than those achieved in our most powerful particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider—and such a test seems unlikely in the near future.

    “Just mimicking the equations of an analogous system is a metaphor to the real system, not an actual test of its fundamental properties,” says Loeb. It’s like “smelling food instead of eating the actual food,” he adds, only “the latter has the real value.”

    That’s true, but sometimes the smells from a kitchen can tell you a lot about what was served for dinner.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    U British Columbia Campus

    The University of British Columbia is a global centre for research and teaching, consistently ranked among the 40 best universities in the world. Since 1915, UBC’s West Coast spirit has embraced innovation and challenged the status quo. Its entrepreneurial perspective encourages students, staff and faculty to challenge convention, lead discovery and explore new ways of learning. At UBC, bold thinking is given a place to develop into ideas that can change the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 4:31 pm on January 16, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , New Canadian telescope will map largest volume of space ever surveyed, UBC   

    From UBC: “New Canadian telescope will map largest volume of space ever surveyed” 

    U British Columbia bloc

    University of British Columbia

    Sep 7, 2017 [Where has this been hiding?]
    Heather Amos

    Radio telescope will help the world’s astronomers, physicists and scientists unravel today’s biggest cosmic mysteries.

    A Canadian effort to build one of the most innovative radio telescopes in the world will open the universe to a new dimension of scientific study. Hon. Kirsty Duncan, minister of science, today installed the final piece of this new radio telescope, which will act as a time machine allowing scientists to create a three-dimensional map of the universe extending deep into space and time.

    The Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment, known as CHIME, is an extraordinarily powerful new telescope.

    CHIME Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment A partnership between the University of British Columbia McGill University, at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory in British Columbia

    The unique “half-pipe” telescope design and advanced computing power will help scientists better understand the three frontiers of modern astronomy: the history of the universe, the nature of distant stars and the detection of gravitational waves.

    By measuring the composition of dark energy, scientists will better understand the shape, structure and fate of the universe. In addition, CHIME will be a key instrument to study gravitational waves, the ripples in space-time that were only recently discovered, confirming the final piece of Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

    CHIME is a collaboration among 50 Canadian scientists from the University of British Columbia, the University of Toronto, McGill University, and the National Research Council of Canada (NRC). The $16-million investment for CHIME was provided by the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the governments of British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec, with additional funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. The telescope is located in the mountains of British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley at the NRC’s Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory near Penticton.

    Quotes

    “CHIME is an extraordinary example showcasing Canada’s leadership in space science and engineering. The new telescope will be a destination for astronomers from around the world who will work with their Canadian counterparts to answer some of the most profound questions about space. Our government believes in providing scientists with the opportunities and tools they need to pursue the answers to questions that keep them up at night.”

    – Hon. Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science

    “The National Research Council works hand-in-hand with academia for the advancement of knowledge in Canada. CHIME is a shining example of what outcomes we can achieve, working in collaboration, for today and tomorrow, for Canada and beyond.”

    – Iain Stewart, President of the National Research Council of Canada

    “With the CHIME telescope we will measure the expansion history of the universe and we expect to further our understanding of the mysterious dark energy that drives that expansion ever faster. This is a fundamental part of physics that we don’t understand and it’s a deep mystery. This is about better understanding how the universe began and what lies ahead.”

    – Mark Halpern, University of British Columbia

    “CHIME’s unique design will enable us to tackle one of the most puzzling new areas of astrophysics today – Fast Radio Bursts. The origin of these bizarre extragalactic events is presently a mystery, with only two dozen reported since their discovery a decade ago. CHIME is likely to detect many of these objects every day, providing a massive treasure trove of data that will put Canada at the forefront of this research.”

    – Victoria Kaspi, McGill University

    “CHIME ‘sees’ in a fundamentally different way from other telescopes. A massive supercomputer is used to process incoming radio light and digitally piece together an image of the radio sky. All that computing power also lets us do things that were previously impossible: we can look in many directions at once, run several experiments in parallel, and leverage the power of this new instrument in unprecedented ways.”

    – Keith Vanderlinde, University of Toronto
    Quick facts

    The CHIME telescope incorporates four 100-metre long U-shaped cylinders of metal mesh that resemble snowboard half-pipes. Its overall footprint is the size of five NHL hockey rinks.
    CHIME collects radio waves with wavelengths between 37 and 75 centimetres, similar to the wavelength used by cell phones.
    Most of the signals collected by CHIME come from our Milky Way galaxy, but a tiny fraction of these signals started on their way when the universe was between 6 and 11 billion years old.
    The radio signal from the universe is very weak and extreme sensitivity is needed to detect it. The amount of energy collected by CHIME in one year is equivalent to the amount of energy gained by a paper clip falling off a desk to the floor.
    The data rate passing through CHIME is comparable to all the data in the world’s mobile networks. There is so much data that it cannot all be saved to disk. It must first be processed and compressed by a factor of 100,000.
    Seven quadrillion computer operations occur every second on CHIME. This rate is equivalent to every person on Earth performing one million multiplication problems every second.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    U British Columbia Campus

    The University of British Columbia is a global centre for research and teaching, consistently ranked among the 40 best universities in the world. Since 1915, UBC’s West Coast spirit has embraced innovation and challenged the status quo. Its entrepreneurial perspective encourages students, staff and faculty to challenge convention, lead discovery and explore new ways of learning. At UBC, bold thinking is given a place to develop into ideas that can change the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 4:28 pm on October 10, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Concrete against earthquakes, , UBC   

    From UBC: “UBC researchers develop earthquake-resistant concrete” includes (VIDEO) 

    U British Columbia bloc

    University of British Columbia

    October 10, 2017

    Public Affairs
    310 – 6251 Cecil Green Park Road
    Vancouver, BC Canada V6T 1Z1
    Tel 604 822 6397
    Fax 604 822 2684
    Website http://news.ubc.ca
    Email public.affairs@ubc.ca
    Find us on

    A new seismic-resistant, fibre-reinforced concrete developed at the University of British Columbia will see its first real-life application this fall as part of the seismic retrofit of a Vancouver elementary school.

    The material is engineered at the molecular scale to be strong, malleable, and ductile, similar to steel—capable of dramatically enhancing the earthquake resistance of a seismically vulnerable structure when applied as a thin coating on the surfaces.

    Researchers subjected the material, called eco-friendly ductile cementitious composite (EDCC), to earthquake simulation tests using intensities as high as the magnitude 9.0–9.1 earthquake that struck Tohoku, Japan in 2011.

    “We sprayed a number of walls with a 10 millimetre-thick layer of EDCC, which is sufficient to reinforce most interior walls against seismic shocks,” says Salman Soleimani-Dashtaki, a PhD candidate in the department of civil engineering at UBC. “Then we subjected them to Tohoku-level quakes and other types and intensities of earthquakes—and we couldn’t break them.”

    EDCC has been added as an official retrofit option in B.C’s seismic retrofit program, and the team will be working with contractors in the next couple of months to upgrade Dr. Annie B. Jamieson Elementary School in Vancouver.

    “This UBC-developed technology has far-reaching impact and could save the lives of not only British Columbians, but citizens throughout the world,” said Advanced Education, Skills and Training Minister Melanie Mark. “The earthquake-resistant concrete is a great example of how applied research at our public universities is developing the next generation of agents of change. The innovation and entrepreneurship being advanced at all of our post-secondary institutions is leading to cutting-edge technologies and helping to create a dynamic, modern B.C. economy that benefits all of us.”

    EDCC combines cement with polymer-based fibres, flyash and other industrial additives, making it highly sustainable, according to UBC civil engineering professor Nemy Banthia, who supervised the work.

    “By replacing nearly 70 per cent of cement with flyash, an industrial byproduct, we can reduce the amount of cement used,” said Banthia. “This is quite an urgent requirement as one tonne of cement production releases almost a tonne of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and the cement industry produces close to seven per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.”

    The research was funded by the UBC-hosted Canada-India Research Centre of Excellence IC-IMPACTS, which promotes research collaboration between Canada and India. IC-IMPACTS will make EDCC available to retrofit a school in Roorkee in Uttarakhand, a highly seismic area in northern India.

    “This technology is gaining significant attention in India and will provide our Canadian companies a strong competitive edge in the growing global infrastructure market,” added Banthia, who also serves as IC-IMPACTS scientific director.

    Other EDCC applications include resilient homes for First Nations communities, pipelines, pavements, offshore platforms, blast-resistant structures, and industrial floors.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    U British Columbia Campus

    The University of British Columbia is a global centre for research and teaching, consistently ranked among the 40 best universities in the world. Since 1915, UBC’s West Coast spirit has embraced innovation and challenged the status quo. Its entrepreneurial perspective encourages students, staff and faculty to challenge convention, lead discovery and explore new ways of learning. At UBC, bold thinking is given a place to develop into ideas that can change the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 7:49 pm on May 23, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Georgia Straight, Rain Forest destruction by logging, UBC   

    From UBC ia Georgia Straight: “Alys Granados: We have to protect all of the world’s rainforests, not just tropical rainforests” 

    U British Columbia bloc

    University of British Columbia

    1

    Georgia Straight

    May 19th, 2017
    Alys Granados

    2
    Logging on southern Vancouver Island. TJ Watt

    Most of us have heard about how rainforests are in trouble and the rapid rate at which we are losing these spectacular ecosystems, along with the incredible diversity of species that depend on them. Globally, most of these reports focus on tropical rainforests and there has been too little awareness about the fate of temperate rainforests. Close to home, very few know that the remaining old-growth forest on Vancouver Island is disappearing faster than natural tropical rainforests.

    Few of us have the opportunity to visit tropical forests in person, which can make us feel disconnected from the problems of deforestation and degradation of tropical countries. I am extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to work in tropical rainforests over the past seven years as part of my graduate work in wildlife ecology. Most of this has been in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo, where I investigated how selective logging disrupts interactions between trees and mammals.

    The loss of intact tropical forests continues to be a serious threat. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) recently estimated that, globally, 10 percent of the remaining primary forests in tropical rainforest countries were lost between 1990 and 2015. These forests are home to many species that exist nowhere else on the planet and protecting their habitats is critical to their survival. Further, the livelihood of millions of people depends on intact forests and they play an important role in mitigating the effects of climate change by storing massive amounts of carbon.

    While all of this may be well known to many, few of us in Canada realize just how fast old-growth rainforest is being logged on Vancouver Island. I was very shocked to learn from recent Sierra Club B.C. data that over that same period (1990 to 2015), 30 percent of the remaining old-growth forest on Vancouver Island was logged. In other words, the rate of loss of so-called primary forests (forests that were largely undisturbed by human activity) on Vancouver Island is actually three times greater than in the tropics. In the past few years, the rate of old-growth logging on the Island has actually increased by 12 percent to 9,000 hectares per year (25 hectares a day).

    3

    4

    So what’s behind this forest loss? Similar to the tropics, logging plays a central role. One difference is that in many tropical countries logging often results in deforestation, while in other countries, such as Canada, logging generally leads to the replacement of rich ancient forests with even-aged young forest. Much of the old-growth forest on Vancouver Island has already been lost to clearcut logging and the remaining patches of old-growth (called variable retention by foresters) are too small to maintain enough habitat for species that depend on old-growth forest.

    In response to the Sierra Club data, the B.C. government stated that it is misleading to compare the problem in tropical countries to Vancouver Island because in British Columbia, logging companies are required by law to reforest logged areas. Although this is true, old-growth ecosystems with trees that are many hundreds of years of age are not growing back at a meaningful timescale and climate change means we will never see the same type of forest grow back in the first place.

    Species that rely on old-growth forest such, as the marbled murrelet, are negatively affected by the loss of old forest stands. In addition, the resulting large areas of young trees are not offering the type of habitat that most of the typical plants and animals on Vancouver Island depend on.

    Similar to tropical forests, coastal temperate forests play an important role storing carbon dioxide. In fact a single hectare of temperate rainforest can store up to 1,000 tonnes of carbon, a much greater amount than most tropical rainforests. Even if replanting is carried out, along the coast it can take centuries for reforested areas to reach a similar capacity in carbon-storage potential as that of intact old-growth forest stands.

    Tropical-forest loss rightfully deserves the attention it gets, and we are lucky here in B.C. to have equally amazing rainforest habitat. Given that we are living in a relatively rich part of the world compared to many tropical countries, it is remarkable that we are failing to do a better job of protecting the remaining rare and endangered ancient forests on Vancouver Island and inspire other parts of the world.

    (There is growing international pressure on the B.C. government to protect Vancouver Island’s endangered old-growth rainforest; see this release.)

    Coastal temperate rainforests exist only in very small areas on the planet and very little intact areas are left. Solutions exist, for example, in the Great Bear Rainforest north of Vancouver Island. Increasing the area of forest protected and halting destructive logging practices are both vital to ensuring the continued survival of these ecosystems and for a diverse economy. They should be a primary concern to us all.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    U British Columbia Campus

    The University of British Columbia is a global centre for research and teaching, consistently ranked among the 40 best universities in the world. Since 1915, UBC’s West Coast spirit has embraced innovation and challenged the status quo. Its entrepreneurial perspective encourages students, staff and faculty to challenge convention, lead discovery and explore new ways of learning. At UBC, bold thinking is given a place to develop into ideas that can change the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 6:17 am on May 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , UBC, Vacuum energy, What drives the accelerating expansion of the universe?   

    From UBC: “Solving one of nature’s great puzzles: what drives the accelerating expansion of the universe?” 

    U British Columbia bloc

    University of British Columbia

    May 15, 2017
    Heather Amos
    UBC Public Affairs
    Tel: 604.822.3213
    Cell: 604.828.3867
    heather.amos@ubc.ca

    1
    NASA

    UBC physicists may have solved one of nature’s great puzzles: what causes the accelerating expansion of our universe?

    PhD student Qingdi Wang has tackled this question in a new study that tries to resolve a major incompatibility issue between two of the most successful theories that explain how our universe works: quantum mechanics and Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

    The study suggests that if we zoomed in–way in–on the universe, we would realize it’s made up of constantly fluctuating space and time.

    “Space-time is not as static as it appears, it’s constantly moving,” said Wang.

    “This is a new idea in a field where there hasn’t been a lot of new ideas that try to address this issue,” said Bill Unruh, a physics and astronomy professor who supervised Wang’s work.

    In 1998, astronomers found that our universe is expanding at an ever-increasing rate, implying that space is not empty and is instead filled with dark energy that pushes matter away.

    2
    http://scinotions.com/the-cosmic-inflation-suggests-the-existence-of-parallel-universes/

    The most natural candidate for dark energy is vacuum energy. When physicists apply the theory of quantum mechanics to vacuum energy, it predicts that there would be an incredibly large density of vacuum energy, far more than the total energy of all the particles in the universe. If this is true, Einstein’s theory of general relativity suggests that the energy would have a strong gravitational effect and most physicists think this would cause the universe to explode.

    Fortunately, this doesn’t happen and the universe expands very slowly. But it is a problem that must be resolved for fundamental physics to progress.

    Unlike other scientists who have tried to modify the theories of quantum mechanics or general relativity to resolve the issue, Wang and his colleagues Unruh and Zhen Zhu, also a UBC PhD student, suggest a different approach. They take the large density of vacuum energy predicted by quantum mechanics seriously and find that there is important information about vacuum energy that was missing in previous calculations.

    Their calculations provide a completely different physical picture of the universe. In this new picture, the space we live in is fluctuating wildly. At each point, it oscillates between expansion and contraction. As it swings back and forth, the two almost cancel each other but a very small net effect drives the universe to expand slowly at an accelerating rate.

    But if space and time are fluctuating, why can’t we feel it?

    “This happens at very tiny scales, billions and billions times smaller even than an electron,” said Wang.

    “It’s similar to the waves we see on the ocean,” said Unruh. “They are not affected by the intense dance of the individual atoms that make up the water on which those waves ride.”

    Their paper was published last week in Physical Review D.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    U British Columbia Campus

    The University of British Columbia is a global centre for research and teaching, consistently ranked among the 40 best universities in the world. Since 1915, UBC’s West Coast spirit has embraced innovation and challenged the status quo. Its entrepreneurial perspective encourages students, staff and faculty to challenge convention, lead discovery and explore new ways of learning. At UBC, bold thinking is given a place to develop into ideas that can change the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 3:54 pm on January 23, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: And now I collect plants, BABY = Bruce A. Bennett Yukon, Bruce Bennett's herbarium in the Yukon, CBC, Draba bruce-bennettii, UBC   

    From UBC via CBC: “How one man’s basement collection became ‘a Canadian treasure'” 

    U British Columbia bloc

    University of British Columbia

    1

    CBC

    Jan 22, 2017
    Paul Tukker

    Bruce Bennett’s unique herbarium in Yukon is used by researchers from around the world.

    1
    I collected stamps, I collected coins, then I collected books. And now I collect plants,’ says Bruce Bennett. (Sandi Coleman/CBC)

    It might be Yukon’s most famous basement.

    Famous, that is, among botanists and other researchers of Arctic flora.

    Bruce Bennett’s herbarium — essentially, a collection of preserved plant specimens — has become internationally renowned for having one of the most extensive known collections of Arctic plants. It’s all stored in his cozy Whitehorse basement.

    It’s been a decades-long labour of love for Bennett, who’s amassed the collection as a hobbyist — “not working for government or anything, just out collecting plants,” he says.

    “I was a collector. I used to collect beer cans, right? I had this whole wall of beer cans. I collected stamps, I collected coins, then I collected books. And now I collect plants.”

    He routinely sends his specimens to scholars and researchers around the world, and occasionally plays host when they prefer to come to Whitehorse to study the collection.

    3
    Bennett even has a plant named after him: Draba bruce-bennettii. (Submitted by Bruce Bennett)

    Be my BABY

    Bennett’s herbarium just reached a milestone this week — it now has 10,000 official specimens pressed, mounted, named and numbered. The 10,000th plant is an alpine fescue Bennett collected last summer near Milne Inlet on northern Baffin Island.

    3
    The 10,000th specimen in Bennett’s collection: Festuca brachyphylla, or alpine fescue, collected on northern Baffin Island last summer. (Sandi Coleman/CBC)

    “Now I’ve come into another league, cause that’s sort of the…. many collections don’t even become popular ’til they have more than 10,000 specimens,” he said.

    Bennett started collecting since the 1990s, when he first moved to the North from B.C.

    “There was no place to go look at plants” in Yukon, he said.

    Some of the things he’s acquired for his collection are decades older, though. The oldest specimens were collected by Frederick Funston in 1896, before the Klondike gold rush. Bennett also has plants that were dried and displayed by legendary Yukon politician Martha Black.

    He’s also amassed a comprehensive library of books about plants and botany, but says he’s run out of room for more and besides, “now, I pretty much have everything.”

    The herbarium even has an officially-recognized acronym (used by botanists to identify herbaria around the world) — BABY, for Bruce A. Bennett, Yukon.

    “They wanted me to call it ‘YUKH’ and I thought, ‘I don’t want my herbarium called yuck!’ I said, ‘It’s just a little herbarium. Why can’t we call it BABY?'”

    4
    ‘I used to spend $200 a month buying more books, whatever I could afford. But now I pretty much have everything,’ Bennett says. (Sandi Coleman/CBC)

    Linda Jennings, the assistant curator and manager of the University of British Columbia’s herbarium, says Bennett’s collection is nothing less than “a Canadian treasure — that nobody knows about.”

    She’s made use of his collection for years, but only met Bennett a couple of years ago. She remembers being surprised to discover that he had a day job, and a young family.

    “We all kind of assumed he was this older guy who had not much to do than go and collect plants,” she said.

    5
    Bennett goes to remote areas to collect plants that other botanists can study. ‘If you don’t have somebody walking, how are you going to know that something’s shown up?’ says one researcher. (Submitted by Bruce Bennett)

    Jennings has come to rely on Bennett to help track ecological changes in the North. She’s interested in how the range of different plant species is changing as the climate warms.

    She says Bennett is doing the legwork for countless other researchers when he finds and collects species in new, unexpected places.

    “He is the one who’s going to detect that first. If you don’t have somebody walking, how are you going to know that something’s shown up?” she asks.

    “These people are important… they are literally documenting Canadian heritage.”

    Nuri Benet Pierce, a botanist at San Diego State University, also sings Bennett and BABY’s praises. She’s made use of the collection to investigate the range and variety of plants in the chenopodium genus.

    “It’s really not possible to do this kind of research without these very notable people who are out there, in very difficult conditions,” she said.

    “Without these collections, you just don’t make sense of anything. You see a plant and it doesn’t mean anything. It only means something when I’m able to compare it and distinguish it from others.

    “People forget how crucial the collections are.”

    6
    A personal favourite of Bennett’s – the Draba bruce-bennettii. (Sandi Coleman/CBC)

    A relative infant among herbaria

    Bennett says these days he’s travelling further afield from Yukon to find new specimens. He says he likes to gather about 10 of the same plant species, from throughout its range.

    “There’s always questions, and if all you have is the plants in your backyard, you don’t catch that variety,” he said.

    A bunch of Bennett’s Arctic dandelions — collected in Yukon, Nunavut, the N.W.T. and Alaska — were recently shipped to a researcher who’s studying North American dandelions (“Nobody’s done a really good treatment,” Bennett says).

    7
    Bennett with his custom-made plant cabinets. ‘As long as they’re kept dry and not too moist, and warm, they can remain in this state forever,’ he said. (Sandi Coleman/CBC)

    He’s not sure yet what will happen to his collection when he’s no longer willing or able to keep it. BABY is aptly-named — it’s a relative infant among the world’s herbaria. The oldest known herbarium, in Italy, dates to the 16th century.

    Bennett hopes his specimens, now stacked in custom-built metal cabinets, will be around as long, and hopefully stay in Yukon.

    “As long as they’re kept dry and not too moist, and warm, they can remain in this state forever,” he said.

    “When the forest fire comes through, this cabinet is going to survive — it’s double-walled, it’s sealed, and so they’re protected.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    U British Columbia Campus

    The University of British Columbia is a global centre for research and teaching, consistently ranked among the 40 best universities in the world. Since 1915, UBC’s West Coast spirit has embraced innovation and challenged the status quo. Its entrepreneurial perspective encourages students, staff and faculty to challenge convention, lead discovery and explore new ways of learning. At UBC, bold thinking is given a place to develop into ideas that can change the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:27 pm on January 7, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , UBC   

    From UBC: “Behind ALPHA – UBC PHAS ALPHA members’ contributions” 

    U British Columbia bloc

    University of British Columbia

    2017-01-06
    No writer credit

    Since ALPHA – the Antihydrogen Laser Physics Apparatus Collaboration – first trapped and stored antihydrogen atoms in 2010, the international team has been making strides in advancing our understanding of antimatter.

    1

    AlphaCollaborationCERN ALPHA New
    CERN/ALPHA

    Just last month, results from their spectroscopic measurements were published in Nature. This brings us closer to learning why – if matter and antimatter were created equally during the Big Bang, where is all the antimatter? Among the 52 co-authors from 15 institutions in Canada, Brazil, Denmark, Israel, Japan, Sweden, UK, and the USA, we want to take an opportunity to recognize UBC PHAS ALPHA members’ contributions to the 1S-2S laser spectroscopy in ALPHA-2.

    Andrea Gutierrez was ALPHA-Canada collaboration spokesperson and TRIUMF Research Scientist Dr. Makoto Fujiwara’s graduate student, and recently graduated from PHAS with a PhD. She assisted in the construction of the ALPHA-2 apparatus, and in particular, she led the commissioning of the ALPHA-2 Catching Trap. She also developed a novel compression scheme for antiproton clouds, and participated in the analysis of particle detector data.

    Matt Grant, former PHAS Engineering Physics Program student, just started as graduate student at Stanford this fall. He did one co-op term with the ALPHA team, and then won a CERN summer student fellowship spending the summer 2015 at CERN, working on a laser imaging system.

    PHAS Professor Emeritus Walter Hardy and his graduate student Nathan Evetts, along with Professor Michael Hayden of SFU, have had responsibility for all microwave aspects of the experiment. In particular (along with PhD student Tim Friesen of Calgary), they conceived and implemented in-situ magnetometry via microwave heating of plasma modes of electrons in the ALPHA-2 electrode stack. This procedure was used extensively in the experiments.

    Walter and Nathan also conceived and fabricated novel cryogenic microwave filter tubes for the laser beam paths in the experiment. Eight of these tubes were installed for the 1S-2S laser spectroscopy experiment.

    Professor Takamasa Momose (Chemistry and PHAS) and his former PhD student, Mario Michan have had responsibility for the development of a Lyman-Alpha laser system for laser cooling of antihydrogen, which is necessary to improve the precision of the 1S-2S laser spectroscopy. Mario completed his PhD in January2014, and then worked at TRIUMF as a post-doc until April 2016.

    It is also worth mentioning that Makoto and Michael are both UBC PHAS alumni!

    Congratulations again, ALPHA team, on this tremendous breakthrough. We look forward to more discoveries in the year to come!

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    U British Columbia Campus

    The University of British Columbia is a global centre for research and teaching, consistently ranked among the 40 best universities in the world. Since 1915, UBC’s West Coast spirit has embraced innovation and challenged the status quo. Its entrepreneurial perspective encourages students, staff and faculty to challenge convention, lead discovery and explore new ways of learning. At UBC, bold thinking is given a place to develop into ideas that can change the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:42 pm on September 19, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Canada and British Columbia invest in infrastructure at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, UBC   

    From UBC: “Canada and British Columbia invest in infrastructure at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver” 

    U British Columbia bloc

    University of British Columbia

    September 19, 2016
    Contacts

    Philip Proulx
    Press Secretary
    Office of the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development
    343-291-2500

    Media Relations
    Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
    343-291-1777
    ic.mediarelations-mediasrelations.ic@canada.ca

    Trish Fougner
    Manager Communications, GCPE
    British Columbia Ministry of Advanced Education
    250 952-6400
    trish.fougner@gov.bc.ca

    Post-secondary institutions help equip young Canadians with the education and training they need for future careers that will help them join a strong, healthy middle class. Today’s $51.5-million investment in the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver will support an overall investment of close to $100 million and provide opportunities for those interested in a career in life sciences, medicine or sports medicine to obtain the necessary skills and training in new and renewed state-of-the-art learning facilities.

    The joint federal-provincial funding was announced today at UBC by the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, and by the Honourable Andrew Wilkinson, British Columbia’s Minister of Advanced Education.

    The Government of Canada’s Innovation Agenda aims to make this country a global centre for innovation—one that creates jobs, drives growth across all industries and improves the lives of all Canadians. This investment exemplifies that vision in action and will help create the well-paying middle-class jobs of tomorrow.

    The University of British Columbia’s Vancouver Campus is receiving $39.7 million from the federal government and $11.8 million from the provincial government for three projects:

    $44.3 million to renew and replace facilities at the Undergraduate Life Sciences Teaching Labs at the Biological Sciences Complex. This investment will provide modern research and lab space for faculty and over 2,000 students enrolled in life sciences programs at UBC. The Government of Canada is providing $32.5 million for this project, with an additional $11.8 million coming from the Government of British Columbia. UBC will contribute an additional $35.6 million to the project.
    $4.7 million in federal funding for the construction of the new Chan Gunn Pavilion, which will become an interdisciplinary hub to advance innovations in physical activity and exercise medicine. UBC and donors will contribute $6.7 million.
    $2.5 million in federal funding for the expansion and enhancement of the Centre of Excellence for Simulation Education and Innovation (CESEI) at Vancouver General Hospital, which will help make advances in biomedical engineering by piloting new medical devices and technologies.

    Federal funding will be allocated through the Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund, which will enhance and modernize research facilities on Canadian campuses and improve the environmental sustainability of these facilities.

    As a result of these investments, students, professors and researchers will work in state-of-the-art facilities that advance the country’s best research. They will collaborate in specially designed spaces that support lifelong learning and skills training. They will work in close proximity with partners to turn discoveries into products or services. In the process, they will train for—and create—the high-value, middle-class jobs of the future. And their discoveries will plant the seeds for the next generation of innovators.

    That is how the Strategic Investment Fund will jump-start a virtuous circle of innovation, creating the right conditions for long-term growth that will yield benefits for generations to come.

    Quick facts

    The University of British Columbia’s Vancouver Campus has been awarded $39.7 million in federal funding for three projects under the Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund.
    The Government of Canada’s Innovation Agenda is designed to ensure Canada is globally competitive in promoting research, translating ideas into new products and services, accelerating business growth and propelling entrepreneurs from the start-up phase to international success.
    The targeted, short-term investments under the Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund will promote economic activity across Canada and help Canada’s universities and colleges develop highly skilled workers, act as engines of discovery, and collaborate on innovations that help Canadian companies compete and grow internationally.
    The Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund supports the Government of Canada’s climate change objectives by encouraging sustainable and green infrastructure projects.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    U British Columbia Campus

    The University of British Columbia is a global centre for research and teaching, consistently ranked among the 40 best universities in the world. Since 1915, UBC’s West Coast spirit has embraced innovation and challenged the status quo. Its entrepreneurial perspective encourages students, staff and faculty to challenge convention, lead discovery and explore new ways of learning. At UBC, bold thinking is given a place to develop into ideas that can change the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:22 am on June 15, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Genome sequencing helps determine end of tuberculosis outbreak, Jennifer Gardy, , UBC   

    From UBC: Women in Science – “Genome sequencing helps determine end of tuberculosis outbreak” 

    U British Columbia bloc

    University of British Columbia

    June 14, 2016
    Katherine Came
    UBC School of Population and Public Health
    Phone 604 822 0530
    Email: katherine.came@ubc.ca

    1
    Jennifer Gardy
    Using genome sequencing, researchers from the University of British Columbia, along with colleagues at the Imperial College in London, now have the ability to determine when a tuberculosis (TB) outbreak is over.

    The research is the first of its kind to demonstrate that genomic analysis can be used to determine when a TB outbreak has ended—valuable knowledge which can assist public health investigators understand an outbreak’s dynamics and guide a real-time public health response. Genomic analysis involves reading the complete genetic instructions of the pathogens causing a disease, and using that data to infer who might have infected whom. By looking for mutations that are shared between the pathogens taken from different people, researchers can see whose pathogens are most closely related to each other, suggesting potential transmission.

    “Declaring the end of a TB outbreak is a difficult thing to do,” said senior author Jennifer Gardy, assistant professor in UBC’s school of population and public health and a senior scientist at the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control. “Because the bacterium that causes TB can lie dormant in someone’s lung for months or even years before it causes disease, we had no way of knowing whether a TB case we have just diagnosed was a recent infection – suggesting the outbreak is still going on – or whether the person was infected years ago.”

    Using mathematical and statistical techniques, the researchers evaluated a TB outbreak that began in May 2008 and were able to determine when each outbreak case was infected. This provided public health officials with a way to determine when disease transmission had stopped and the outbreak had ended. They were able to declare the outbreak over in January 2015, after the data indicated no disease transmission had occurred since mid-2012.

    “By using a series of techniques from the world of mathematics and statistics, we can come up with an estimated time at which each infection occurred,” explained Gardy. “This information is incredibly useful to the public health officials managing an outbreak. Responding to an outbreak requires a lot of effort and resources, and we need to know when we can step down our response.”

    “Genomics has been used to monitor infectious disease outbreaks before, but this is the first time it’s ever been possible to declare a complicated outbreak of TB over,” said Gardy. “It really opens up new doors in the world of TB control.”

    Background

    This study was published in Microbial Genomics.

    In 2011, Gardy and her colleagues were the first to use the emerging science of genomics to solve a TB outbreak. By reading the complete DNA sequence of the TB bacterium from each patient in an outbreak, her group showed that it was possible to determine who likely infected whom in the outbreak. This new work extends this earlier research by introducing a new method to determine when those infections occurred.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    U British Columbia Campus

    The University of British Columbia is a global centre for research and teaching, consistently ranked among the 40 best universities in the world. Since 1915, UBC’s West Coast spirit has embraced innovation and challenged the status quo. Its entrepreneurial perspective encourages students, staff and faculty to challenge convention, lead discovery and explore new ways of learning. At UBC, bold thinking is given a place to develop into ideas that can change the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:44 pm on July 30, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , UBC   

    From UBC: “UBC positioned as global leader in quantum materials research with $66.5-million federal government investment” 

    U British Columbia bloc

    University of British Columbia

    July 30, 2015

    Public Affairs
    310 – 6251 Cecil Green Park Road
    Vancouver, BC Canada V6T 1Z1
    Tel 604 822 6397
    Fax 604 822 2684
    Website http://news.ubc.ca
    Email public.affairs@ubc.ca

    1
    Quantum Matter Institute Director Andrea Damascelli. Credit: NSERC

    A $66.5-million investment from the Government of Canada—the largest government investment in a single UBC research program—will enhance UBC’s standing as a global leader in quantum matter research and help connect university research with industry.

    UBC’s Quantum Matter Institute (QMI), the recipient of the $66.5-million investment over seven years from the new Canada First Research Excellence Fund, is a world-class centre of excellence in quantum research. This investment builds on past government support from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Canada Foundation for Innovation, Canada Excellence Research Chair and Canada Research Chair programs, Western Economic Diversification and the BC Knowledge Development Fund.

    UBC is one of only five recipients selected through a highly competitive process that, together, received a total of almost $350 million in the inaugural round of funding. The funding program was created to propel Canada’s top performing institutions and research centres onto the world stage.

    “We are thrilled with the federal government’s vision to invest $66.5 million to help establish UBC as a global centre for high-tech quantum materials research,” said UBC President Arvind Gupta. “The groundbreaking scientific discoveries in this field have the potential to create practical applications that could spur new industries and employment here and abroad and provide significant public benefits in areas like health and the environment.”

    Quantum physics is the study of the unusual behaviour of matter and energy at the atomic level, where the laws of classical physics do not apply. Quantum effects are more apparent under extreme conditions such as low temperatures, but can be enhanced and harnessed in quantum materials— systems with astonishing electronic and magnetic properties that hold tremendous potential for future technological applications. Discoveries in this field are expected to lead to a revolution in computing, electronics, medicine and sustainable energy technologies.

    “UBC’s quantum matter community is extremely excited about today’s funding announcement,” said Andrea Damascelli, QMI director. “Support from Canada First Research Excellence Fund will propel our Quantum Matter Institute to the very forefront of the field internationally. By enabling us to fully exploit our institute’s state-of-the-art infrastructure and further strengthen our international partnerships, especially with the Max Planck Society of Germany, this funding program will advance Canada’s position as a global leader in quantum materials and future technologies.”

    QMI is also home to the Max Planck-UBC Centre for Quantum Materials, which fosters collaborations with 10 Max Planck institutes. This is the third international centre ever established outside Germany by the prestigious Max Planck Society, and the only one fully dedicated to quantum materials research.

    “The relationship between UBC’s Quantum Matter Institute and the Max Planck Society, Germany’s premier institution for fundamental research, shows how the exchange of ideas and cooperation across borders can lead to important discoveries in the emerging field of quantum materials,” said Bernhard Keimer, director of the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research. “With this funding, we look forward to creating more joint research activities, expanding opportunities for students and young scientists, and producing extraordinary scientific results together.”

    UBC, under the leadership of former president Stephen Toope, played a key role in the creation of the Canada First Research Excellence Fund working with other universities and in partnership with the federal government. UBC would like to congratulate the research team, faculty and staff involved in the funding application on their success.

    VIDEO: Dr. Andrea Damascelli is generating new knowledge about quantum materials and their exciting potential.

    UBC’s Quantum Matter Institute (QMI) is internationally recognized for its research and discoveries in the field of quantum materials. A $66.5-million investment from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund will broaden the scope of QMI’s research.

    What is UBC’s Quantum Matter Institute (QMI)?

    QMI was created in 2010 and is made up of a research team of 13 professors, plus students, technicians and postdoctoral fellows. The group will grow to 20 professors by 2019.
    In 2012, QMI became the home of the Max Planck-UBC Centre for Quantum Materials, the only international Max Planck Centre focused on quantum materials research.
    UBC welcomed Harvard physicist Jennifer Hoffman as its new Canada Excellence Research Chair in Quantum Materials and Devices Based on Oxide Heterostructures in June 2015.
    QMI will move into a new state-of-the-art facility in summer 2016.

    What is UBC’s vision for the future of quantum materials?

    Over the longer term, the materials and devices conceived within QMI are likely to create the foundation for new technologies. Entrepreneurial students or faculty can spin-off these concepts into start-up companies. QMI will anchor new companies or even whole industries around UBC, resulting in British Columbia becoming a hub for next-generation technologies that we cannot yet fully imagine.

    How are quantum materials used today?

    Few quantum materials are currently used in industrial applications today as we are still trying to understand the basic physics and chemistry and how to create them, in order to control and harness their properties.

    How is UBC helping to find applications for quantum materials?

    The new federal funding marks the beginning of enhanced research on applications. While a lot of QMI’s previous work advanced our understanding of the fundamental science, the goal going forward is to better control the properties of quantum materials.
    QMI aims to build materials with the desired quantum properties using a process that is suited for industrial applications. The materials will consist of thin films only a few atoms thick and the researchers will stack layers of different materials on top of each other with atomic precision forming so-called heterostructures.
    The team will identify the most promising materials and devices for next-generation electronic, communication, computing, medical and renewable energy technologies.
    QMI will also create first-of-their-kind examples of radically new device concepts that exploit novel properties of quantum materials and illustrate entirely new types of functions that transcend current technologies.

    How will quantum materials be used in the future?

    Controlling these materials could, for example, reduce MRI scanners from the size of a garden shed to a portable laptop-sized device, enable superefficient electrical grids, and economize superconductive materials like those used in magnetic levitation trains. They could also lead to a wide range of more efficient and powerful computing and electronic devices such as high-performance batteries and supercapacitors, ultra-low power/high-speed transistors, new computing architectures, and ultra-sensitive bio-sensors.

    What are quantum materials?

    Every material is intrinsically quantum mechanical at the atomic level. However, we use the name to describe materials that exhibit astonishing properties that completely depart from classical physics on a macroscopic scale.

    What are examples of quantum properties?

    Superconductivity and magnetism are properties of quantum materials. If you delve deeper into the physics, you’ll find other properties that relate to the charge and movement of electrons which are tiny bits of negatively charged matter that zip around the nucleus of an atom like planets orbiting a very small sun. These effects are enhanced under extreme conditions like very cold temperatures or high pressure but the goal is to develop quantum materials that exhibit these properties at elevated temperatures for use in ambient conditions. Quantum materials include copper and iron-based superconductors and graphene.

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    U British Columbia Campus

    The University of British Columbia is a global centre for research and teaching, consistently ranked among the 40 best universities in the world. Since 1915, UBC’s West Coast spirit has embraced innovation and challenged the status quo. Its entrepreneurial perspective encourages students, staff and faculty to challenge convention, lead discovery and explore new ways of learning. At UBC, bold thinking is given a place to develop into ideas that can change the world.

     
c
Compose new post
j
Next post/Next comment
k
Previous post/Previous comment
r
Reply
e
Edit
o
Show/Hide comments
t
Go to top
l
Go to login
h
Show/Hide help
shift + esc
Cancel
%d bloggers like this: