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  • richardmitnick 3:53 pm on December 2, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Mysterious Tectonic Fault Zone Detected Off The Coast of California", , Cables could monitor earthquakes across long stretches of land and sea., Recording underwater earthquakes., Researchers discovered a new fault system underwater., , , UC Berkeley   

    From UC Berkeley and Rice University via Science Alert: “Mysterious Tectonic Fault Zone Detected Off The Coast of California” 

    From UC Berkeley

    and

    Rice U bloc

    Rice University

    via

    ScienceAlert

    Science Alert

    2 DEC 2019
    ARIA BENDIX

    1
    Monterey Bay. (N.J. Lindsey)

    Nearly 3,000 feet (900 metres) below the surface of Monterey Bay, a network of deep sea cables helps scientists to study marine life.

    Spanning 32 miles (51 kilometres) across the floor of the Pacific Ocean, the cables record sounds like the high-pitched squeal of a dolphin or the deep moans of a humpback whale. They also capture the emission of light from undersea organisms like poisonous algae.

    But a team of researchers from Rice University and the University of California, Berkeley, have discovered another use for the network: recording underwater earthquakes.

    Last year, the researchers conducted a four-day experiment using 12 miles (19 kilometres) of the cable network to study the motion of the seafloor. The results of that experiment appear in a new paper in the journal Science published on November 28.

    2
    Deep sea cables that connect the internet. (TeleGeography)

    The researchers reveal that they detected a 3.5-magnitude earthquake in Gilroy, a city in Northern California, in March 2018. They also discovered a new fault system at the bottom of the ocean. The technology could eventually help them map fault lines in areas where scientists know very little about seismic activity on the ocean floor.

    “It’s kind of like streetlamps shining light on an area of the seafloor,” Nate Lindsey, the paper’s lead author, told Business Insider. “There’s a lot of potential to go and do this in an area where it makes a difference.”

    Researchers discovered a new fault system underwater

    Before the researchers conducted their experiment at sea, they tested their technology on land using underground fibre-optic cables from the US Department of Energy, which funded the project. The cables stretch 13,000 miles (20,000 kilometres) below ground in Sacramento, California, but the researchers only used 14 miles for their experiment.

    To start, they attached a device to the end of the cables that shoots out bursts of light. When the ground moves, it places a strain on the cables that scatters the light and sends it hurtling back toward the device. These light waves can be measured to determine the magnitude of an earthquake.

    After six months of experimenting on land, the researchers moved their technology underwater. They partnered with the Monterey Accelerated Research System (MARS), which operates a network of undersea fibre-optic cables.

    Every year, the cables need to be taken offline for maintenance, giving the researchers a brief window to test their technology.

    For their experiment, the researchers used a portion of the cables that stretches from Moss Landing, a small fishing village off the coast of Monterey Bay, to Soquel Canyon, an offshore marine protected area.

    3
    MARS cable in Monterey Bay with pink portion used for sensing. (Lindsey et al., Science, 2019)

    By installing their device at the end of the undersea cables, the researchers were able to monitor shifts and fractures at the bottom of the ocean. This led to the discovery of a new underwater fault system in the Pacific Ocean in-between two major fault lines, the San Gregorio and the San Andreas, which run parallel to each other.

    Lindsey said the fault system is likely “much, much smaller” and “minor” compared to the San Andreas – which scientists have pinpointed as the likely source of the next major California earthquake.

    But he said his technology could ultimately be used to identify larger fault lines in unexplored areas like offshore Taiwan.

    Cables could monitor earthquakes across long stretches of land and sea.

    Since most of Earth’s surface – around 70 percent – is covered in water, scientists don’t have many ways to measure offshore earthquakes.

    Jonathan Ajo-Franklin, a geophysics professor at Rice University who worked on the experiment, said systems like the one from MARS – which are tethered to the shore by a cable – are so rare that you could count them on one hand. He estimated that just three or four operate at one time on the West Coast.

    “In every case, it’s limited scope in terms of the length of the experiment and it’s high cost,” Lindsey said. The MARS observatory, for instance, cost around US$13.5 million.

    4
    Monterey Accelerated Research System’s underwater observatory. (MBARI, 2009)

    But Lindsey still thinks cable networks are the best way to study underwater seismic activity. Other ocean researchers share his enthusiasm.

    John Collins, a senior researcher at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution who didn’t work on the study, called the technique “very promising”. Bruce Howe, a physical oceanographer at the University of Hawaii, also thought the system could provide useful data.

    “It’s based on good physics, so I think it will pan out,” Howe, who also wasn’t involved in the study, told Business Insider.

    On land, traditional earthquake sensors typically measure the speed of the ground motion at a single point. But fibre-optic cables allow researchers to take multiple measurements across a long path.

    “For every metre of cable, you’re measuring a stretch of tens of nanometres or even smaller,” Ajo-Franklin said. That’s about the width of a human hair.

    The MARS system, for instance, can record measurements at 10,000 locations, meaning it has the same capacity as 10,000 individual motion sensors. That gives researchers lots of data points for studying how earthquakes rattle across the ocean.

    When the 3.5-magnitude earthquake struck Gilroy last year, the researchers were able to record the tremors of the ocean waves – a tool that might eventually help with the early detection of tsunamis.

    “The nice thing about recording that earthquake was not necessarily locating it,” Ajo-Franklin said.

    “When you have densely sampled locations, you can do a lot more with the earthquake’s wavefield to allow you to build pictures of what’s on the ground.”

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Rice U campus

    In his 1912 inaugural address, Rice University president Edgar Odell Lovett set forth an ambitious vision for a great research university in Houston, Texas; one dedicated to excellence across the range of human endeavor. With this bold beginning in mind, and with Rice’s centennial approaching, it is time to ask again what we aspire to in a dynamic and shrinking world in which education and the production of knowledge will play an even greater role. What shall our vision be for Rice as we prepare for its second century, and how ought we to advance over the next decade?

    This was the fundamental question posed in the Call to Conversation, a document released to the Rice community in summer 2005. The Call to Conversation asked us to reexamine many aspects of our enterprise, from our fundamental mission and aspirations to the manner in which we define and achieve excellence. It identified the pressures of a constantly changing and increasingly competitive landscape; it asked us to assess honestly Rice’s comparative strengths and weaknesses; and it called on us to define strategic priorities for the future, an effort that will be a focus of the next phase of this process.

    Founded in the wake of the gold rush by leaders of the newly established 31st state, the University of California’s flagship campus at Berkeley has become one of the preeminent universities in the world. Its early guiding lights, charged with providing education (both “practical” and “classical”) for the state’s people, gradually established a distinguished faculty (with 22 Nobel laureates to date), a stellar research library, and more than 350 academic programs.

    UC Berkeley Seal

     
  • richardmitnick 2:38 pm on December 1, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Underwater telecom cables make superb seismic network", Could one day help scientists study offshore earthquakes and the geologic structures hidden deep beneath the ocean surface., The technique the researchers use is Distributed Acoustic Sensing which employs a photonic device that sends short pulses of laser light down the cable and detects the backscattering created by strain, There is a huge need for seafloor seismology., UC Berkeley   

    From UC Berkeley: “Underwater telecom cables make superb seismic network” 

    From UC Berkeley

    November 28, 2019
    Robert Sanders
    rlsanders@berkeley.edu

    1
    The oceans are criss-crossed by telecommunications cables, as illustrated by this graphic predicting the fiber-optic cables that will be operational by 2021, many of them (yellow) owned by private companies like Google and Microsoft. These cables could serve a dual purpose as seismic stations to monitor earthquakes and fault systems over the 70% of Earth covered by water. (Graphic courtesy of New York Times)

    Fiber-optic cables that constitute a global undersea telecommunications network could one day help scientists study offshore earthquakes and the geologic structures hidden deep beneath the ocean surface.

    In a paper appearing this week in the journal Science, researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) and Rice University describe an experiment that turned 20 kilometers of undersea fiber-optic cable into the equivalent of 10,000 seismic stations along the ocean floor. During their four-day experiment in Monterey Bay, they recorded a 3.5 magnitude quake and seismic scattering from underwater fault zones.

    Their technique, which they had previously tested with fiber-optic cables on land, could provide much-needed data on quakes that occur under the sea, where few seismic stations exist, leaving 70% of Earth’s surface without earthquake detectors.

    “There is a huge need for seafloor seismology. Any instrumentation you get out into the ocean, even if it is only for the first 50 kilometers from shore, will be very useful,” said Nate Lindsey, a UC Berkeley graduate student and lead author of the paper.

    Lindsey and Jonathan Ajo-Franklin, a geophysics professor at Rice University in Houston and a faculty scientist at Berkeley Lab, led the experiment with the assistance of Craig Dawe of MBARI, which owns the fiber-optic cable. The cable stretches 52 kilometers offshore to the first seismic station ever placed on the floor of the Pacific Ocean, put there 17 years ago by MBARI and Barbara Romanowicz, a UC Berkeley Professor of the Graduate School in the Department of Earth and Planetary Science. A permanent cable to the Monterey Accelerated Research System (MARS) node was laid in 2009, 20 kilometers of which were used in this test while off-line for yearly maintenance in March 2018.

    2
    Researchers employed 20 kilometers (pink) of a 51-kilometer undersea fiber-optic cable, normally used to communicate with an off-shore science node (MARS, Monterey Accelerated Research System), as a seismic array to study the fault zones under Monterey Bay. During the four-day test, the scientists detected a magnitude 3.5 earthquake 45 kilometers away in Gilroy, and mapped previously uncharted fault zones (yellow circle). (Image by Nate Lindsey)

    “This is really a study on the frontier of seismology, the first time anyone has used offshore fiber-optic cables for looking at these types of oceanographic signals or for imaging fault structures,” said Ajo-Franklin. “One of the blank spots in the seismographic network worldwide is in the oceans.”

    The ultimate goal of the researchers’ efforts, he said, is to use the dense fiber-optic networks around the world — probably more than 10 million kilometers in all, on both land and under the sea — as sensitive measures of Earth’s movement, allowing earthquake monitoring in regions that don’t have expensive ground stations like those that dot much of earthquake-prone California and the Pacific Coast.

    “The existing seismic network tends to have high-precision instruments, but is relatively sparse, whereas this gives you access to a much denser array,” said Ajo-Franklin.

    Photonic seismology

    The technique the researchers use is Distributed Acoustic Sensing, which employs a photonic device that sends short pulses of laser light down the cable and detects the backscattering created by strain in the cable that is caused by stretching. With interferometry, they can measure the backscatter every 2 meters (6 feet), effectively turning a 20-kilometer cable into 10,000 individual motion sensors.

    3
    The Monterey Accelerated Research System (MARS) cabled observatory, a node for science instruments on the ocean floor 891 meters (2,923 feet) below the surface of Monterey Bay, is connected to shore by a 52-kilometer (32-mile) undersea cable that carries data and power. About 20 kilometers of the cable was used to test photonic seismology on the seafloor. (Copyright MBARI, 2009)

    “These systems are sensitive to changes of nanometers to hundreds of picometers for every meter of length,” Ajo-Franklin said. “That is a one-part-in-a-billion change.”

    Earlier this year, they reported the results of a six-month trial on land using 22 kilometers of cable near Sacramento emplaced by the Department of Energy as part of its 13,000-mile ESnet Dark Fiber Testbed. Dark fiber refers to optical cables laid underground, but unused or leased out for short-term use, in contrast to the actively used “lit” internet. The researchers were able to monitor seismic activity and environmental noise and obtain subsurface images at a higher resolution and larger scale than would have been possible with a traditional sensor network.

    “The beauty of fiber-optic seismology is that you can use existing telecommunications cables without having to put out 10,000 seismometers,” Lindsey said. “You just walk out to the site and connect the instrument to the end of the fiber.”

    During the underwater test, they were able to measure a broad range of frequencies of seismic waves from a magnitude 3.4 earthquake that occurred 45 kilometers inland near Gilroy, California, and map multiple known and previously unmapped submarine fault zones, part of the San Gregorio Fault system. They also were able to detect steady-state ocean waves — so-called ocean microseisms — as well as storm waves, all of which matched buoy and land seismic measurements.

    “We have huge knowledge gaps about processes on the ocean floor and the structure of the oceanic crust because it is challenging to put instruments like seismometers at the bottom of the sea,” said Michael Manga, a UC Berkeley professor of earth and planetary science. “This research shows the promise of using existing fiber-optic cables as arrays of sensors to image in new ways. Here, they’ve identified previously hypothesized waves that had not been detected before.”

    According to Lindsey, there’s rising interest among seismologists to record Earth’s ambient noise field caused by interactions between the ocean and the continental land: essentially, waves sloshing around near coastlines.

    “By using these coastal fiber optic cables, we can basically watch the waves we are used to seeing from shore mapped onto the seafloor, and the way these ocean waves couple into the Earth to create seismic waves,” he said.

    To make use of the world’s lit fiber-optic cables, Lindsey and Ajo-Franklin need to show that they can ping laser pulses through one channel without interfering with other channels in the fiber that carry independent data packets. They’re conducting experiments now with lit fibers, while also planning fiber-optic monitoring of seismic events in a geothermal area south of Southern California’s Salton Sea, in the Brawley seismic zone.

    The research was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy through Berkeley Lab’s Laboratory Directed Research and Development program, the National Science Foundation (DGE 1106400) and the David and Lucille Packard Foundation. The final analysis was supported by Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory as part of the GoMCarb project (DE-AC02-05CH11231).

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Founded in the wake of the gold rush by leaders of the newly established 31st state, the University of California’s flagship campus at Berkeley has become one of the preeminent universities in the world. Its early guiding lights, charged with providing education (both “practical” and “classical”) for the state’s people, gradually established a distinguished faculty (with 22 Nobel laureates to date), a stellar research library, and more than 350 academic programs.

    UC Berkeley Seal

     
  • richardmitnick 9:20 am on October 18, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "California rolls out first statewide earthquake early warning system", Download the MyShake app to your mobile phone, MyShake delivers alerts from the ShakeAlert Earthquake Early Warning System operated by the U.S. Geological Survey, MyShake is now available for download to cellphones or tablets through iTunes for iPhones and through Google Play stores for Android phones., UC Berkeley   

    From UC Berkeley: “California rolls out first statewide earthquake early warning system” 

    From UC Berkeley

    October 17, 2019
    Robert Sanders
    rlsanders@berkeley.edu


    Download the MyShake app and get early warning of shaking from nearby earthquakes, and a reminder to drop, cover and hold on. (UC Berkeley video by Roxanne Makasdjian and Stephen McNally)

    California Gov. Gavin Newsom today (Thursday, Oct. 17) announced the debut of the nation’s first statewide earthquake early warning system that will deliver alerts to people’s cellphones through an app developed at the University of California, Berkeley.

    The mobile phone app, MyShake, can provide seconds of warning before the ground starts to shake from a nearby quake — enough time to drop, cover and hold on to prevent injury.

    “Nothing can replace families having a plan for earthquakes and other emergencies,” said Newsom. “And we know the ‘Big One’ might be around the corner. I encourage every Californian to download this app and ensure your family is earthquake ready.”

    Newsom announced the roll-out along with the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), UC Berkeley, United States Geological Survey (USGS) and several state and local political leaders.


    California Gov. Gavin Newsom and UC Berkeley seismologist Richard Allen explain the new MyShake app that will deliver earthquake early warning alerts to your mobile phone. (UC Berkeley video by Roxanne Makasdjian and Stephen McNally)

    Designed by UC Berkeley seismologists and engineers, MyShake is now available for download to cellphones or tablets through iTunes for iPhones and through Google Play stores for Android phones.

    The announcement was made on the 30th anniversary of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, a magnitude 6.9 quake that damaged or collapsed buildings, overpasses and bridges from Santa Cruz to the Bay Area and led to 63 deaths and 3,757 injuries.

    “Everyone asks me, ‘Are we safer now than in 1989?’ Well, now we have warnings a few seconds to tens of seconds before the shaking,” said Richard Allen, director of the Berkeley Seismological Laboratory and the Class of 1954 Professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Science.

    1
    Download the MyShake app to your mobile phone and get ShakeAlerts and advice on how to prepare for an earthquake and how to respond during and after a quake.

    MyShake delivers alerts from the ShakeAlert Earthquake Early Warning System operated by the U.S. Geological Survey that utilizes data from seismic networks in California, Oregon and Washington. ShakeAlert calculates preliminary magnitudes and then estimates how strong the shaking will be at a user’s location. In California, ShakeAlert has been issuing alerts of imminent ground shaking from nearby quakes for more than three years to help cities, transit systems, utilities, police departments and fire stations prepare.

    ShakeAlerts are now being offered to everyone in the state of California — residents and visitors alike — through the MyShake app, as long as they allow the app to access their locations. In the event of a quake, people’s phones will deliver the audio message, “Earthquake! Drop, cover and hold on. Shaking expected.”

    Considered a prototype, MyShake will be continually improved with feedback from the public to create a reliable and indispensable life-saving tool for every resident. The statewide program is administered by the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) under the California Earthquake Early Warning (CEEW) Program.

    “Delivering alerts remains technically challenging, both to rapidly detect earthquakes and to deliver the alerts in a timely way,” Allen said. “The reality is that warnings will arrive before, during or after shaking starts, but in all cases, they allow us to better respond and survive the earthquake.”

    Earthquake-prone countries like Mexico and Japan have long had earthquake early warning (EEW) systems, with alerts typically delivered through cellphones or public address systems. For more than 10 years, seismologists from the U.S. Geological Survey, UC Berkeley, California Institute of Technology, University of Oregon and University of Washington have been developing ShakeAlert for the West Coast supported by public and private funds. Since 2016, the consortium has enlisted public agencies such as PG&E and BART to test the system.

    2

    BART, for example, now slows trains when it receives a ShakeAlert. Firehouses use precious seconds of early warning to raise their garage doors so that trucks are not trapped inside; local refineries have time to close valves to prevent spillage of dangerous chemicals and at hospitals, surgeons have time to pull their scalpels from inside patients.

    Early warning, not prediction

    The ShakeAlert system does not predict an earthquake, but rather provides an alert that an earthquake has been detected nearby and warns recipients that they are likely to feel shaking. It does this by detecting the first seismic waves, called P waves, from a quake, which travel faster than the much more damaging S waves. The farther you are from the epicenter, the greater the delay between P and S waves and the more advance warning you get.

    3
    Berkeley seismologist Richard Allen, second from left, walks to a MyShake press event with Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, left, California Governor Gavin Newsom, second from right and State Senator Jerry Hill, right. (UC Berkeley photo by Robert Sanders)

    While those near the quake’s epicenter are likely to experience shaking before the alert arrives, such alerts can be critical for those farther away, giving people a few seconds of warning that can save lives and property. After Southern California’s 7.1 magnitude Ridgecrest quake in July, ShakeAlert issued an alert in 7.4 seconds, which would have provided advance warning to residents more than 15 miles from the epicenter.

    The ShakeAlertLA app that many Angelenos downloaded in expectation of early warning was not set to alert them to shaking from such a distant quake, and many were surprised when buildings started to sway. The threshold for local shaking has since been lowered.

    As the official state EEW app, MyShake will provide the same information in Southern California as ShakeAlertLA does now in Los Angeles County. MyShake will, in addition, send back information to UC Berkeley about local shaking intensity, gathered by the cellphone’s built-in accelerometers, sensors that detect movement or vibrations. It also will give advice on how to prepare for a quake, and offer an easy way for people to provide feedback about their experiences during the quake.

    Initially, MyShake will deliver alerts to people for quakes exceeding magnitude 4.5 that will produce a shaking intensity in their area greater than level 3 on the modified Mercalli scale: a threshold at which most people will feel shaking, if they are indoors, that is similar to feeling vibrations from a truck driving by on the street. Once the app has been tested, the developers plan to create a two-tier system, adding a more urgent message for those likely to experience a shaking intensity greater than 4, which is more like a truck hitting your building.

    4

    In addition to the MyShake app, the ShakeAlert system will also deliver alerts through the Wireless Emergency Alert, or WEA system — the same system that delivers severe weather warnings and AMBER Alerts. ShakeAlert computers confirm a quake and publish an alert in 3 to 10 seconds, while recent tests show that WEA has an average delivery time of about 13 seconds. MyShake has been demonstrated to deliver these alerts in as little as 3.7 seconds, meaning Californians could get an alert as soon as 7 seconds after a fault rupture begins.

    “Our initial tests on the speed of MyShake alert delivery are very encouraging, but we do not know how these will change as the number of people using the app increases,” said Allen. “Rolling out the system is the only way to monitor the performance with a large number of users and further improve the system.”

    Crowdsourcing information on shaking intensity

    Allen leads the UC Berkeley team that developed MyShake, which has been funded since June by $1.5 million over two years from CalOES after five years of startup funding from the Moore Foundation. Allen’s team also wrote ShakeAlert’s core algorithm, which analyzes data from the state-wide network of earthquake sensors and makes the initial calculations of magnitude and estimates of shaking intensity.

    5
    MyShake users around the world by country in which they first registered.

    MyShake was launched in 2016 as an app that crowdsources shaking data from the sensors in a cellphone and sends that information to UC Berkeley to be analyzed. The idea, Allen said, was to use the tens of millions of cellphones in circulation within the state as a dense sensor network, which, although not as good as the scientific-grade instruments of the California Integrated Seismic Network, would augment the existing ShakeAlert system and provide valuable additional data. MyShake employs machine learning to convert this crowdsourced data into early warning of ground shaking.

    “The citizen science piece is very much part of the relationship with Cal OES,” he said. “Part of what Cal OES is funding is the research to explore how the MyShake phone triggers could be used to make ShakeAlert faster. By having many more people with this app on their phones, we are going to get more data, and that, over time, could make ShakeAlert better, as well.”

    Allen has a global vision for MyShake, too: bringing EEW to regions of the world that don’t have seismic networks like those in Japan, Mexico and California, but do have millions of people with cellphones. While MyShake has been downloaded 300,000 times by people in 80 countries and has recorded more than 1,000 quakes in these countries, his team needs many more users to truly test the ability of the platform to serve as an early warning network, instead of just a data collection network.

    While Allen hopes that the MyShake network of citizen scientists will make both ShakeAlert and MyShake much better, for now, MyShake alerts will be based on data supplied by the ShakeAlert seismic network alone.

    “MyShake is a prototype system we are rolling out, but it has the potential to save lives, reduce injuries and minimize losses in the next California quake,” he said. “By delivering ShakeAlerts to smartphones across California, we can help fulfill the potential of the California Earthquake Early Warning System.”

    RELATED INFORMATION

    MyShake
    ShakeAlert
    USGS announcement
    UC Berkeley contributions to the ShakeAlert system
    Earthquake Early Warning Timeline
    The MyShake Platform: A Global Vision for Earthquake Early Warning (Pure and Applied Geophysics, Oct. 11, 2019)

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Founded in the wake of the gold rush by leaders of the newly established 31st state, the University of California’s flagship campus at Berkeley has become one of the preeminent universities in the world. Its early guiding lights, charged with providing education (both “practical” and “classical”) for the state’s people, gradually established a distinguished faculty (with 22 Nobel laureates to date), a stellar research library, and more than 350 academic programs.

    UC Berkeley Seal

     
  • richardmitnick 11:24 am on July 31, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "A Tectonic Plate Under Oregon Is Being Slowly Ripped Apart", , , , Juan de Fuca tectonic plate, , UC Berkeley,   

    From UC Berkeley via Science Alert: “A Tectonic Plate Under Oregon Is Being Slowly Ripped Apart” 

    From UC Berkeley

    via

    ScienceAlert

    Science Alert

    31 JUL 2019
    DAVID NIELD

    Spare a thought for the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate, not long for this world (in tectonic plate terms) as it slowly slides under the continent of North America.

    3
    Map of the Juan de Fuca Plate. No image credit. Wikipedia.

    Geologists are hoping it can help solve one of the biggest mysteries in their field – how tectonic plates die.

    The Juan de Fuca plate is the last remnant of the much bigger Farallon plate, which has been disappearing under North America for tens of millions of years. It’s the perfect opportunity to study how plates eventually get swallowed up, and how that might cause seismic and volcanic activity on the surface.

    In particular, researchers William Hawley and Richard Allen, from the University of California, Berkeley, are interested in a gap that’s appearing in the Juan de Fuca plate – which may in fact represent a tearing of the plate way down below the surface.

    “The tearing not only causes volcanism on North America but also causes deformation of the not‐yet‐subducted sections of the oceanic plate offshore,” write the researchers in their newly published paper [Geophysical Letters Research].

    “This tearing may eventually cause the plate to fragment, and what is left of the small pieces of the plate will attach to other plates nearby.”

    All the rock that gets buried as a plate is subsumed has to go somewhere, and the large-scale deformations and breaks that can occur aren’t easy for scientists to predict or map.

    Using data from 217 earthquakes and more than 30,000 seismic waves, Hawley and Allen have been able to put together a detailed 3D picture of this particular part of the Cascadia Subduction Zone.

    2
    Cascadia subduction zone. USGS.

    Specifically, they identified which parts of the rock were from the Juan de Fuca plate.

    They found what looks like a tear more than 150 kilometres (93 miles) deep, and it matches a previously identified area of weakness on the Juan de Fuca plate at the surface, known as a propagator wake.

    The researchers suggest that as the Juan de Fuca plate turns and twists, parts of it are being pulled off and separated, creating the gap that experts have observed. Some of it might even live on as part of another plate.

    More evidence is needed to be sure of what is happening here, but the hypothesis matches seismic activity around southern Oregon and northern California, as well as unusual patterns of volcanism in the region.

    Those unusual patterns are the volcanoes known as the High Lava Plains in southern Oregon, where the newest eruptions are at the wrong end of the series from where geologists would expect them to be, based on the direction of drift of the North American tectonic plate.

    Fresh volcanic activity caused by the propagator wake and deeper weakness in the Juan de Fuca could perhaps explain this anomaly, the researchers suggest.

    As Juan de Fuca disappears, further research – as well as readings from the EarthScope project and the Cascadia Initiative, which were used in this study – should shed more light on how tectonic plates die, and how they’ve formed the world we live on.

    “In many ways, when we’re looking at these things, we’re looking back in time,” seismologist Lara Wagner from the Carnegie Institution for Science, who wasn’t involved in the study, told National Geographic.

    “If we don’t understand how those processes work[ed] in the past, where we can see the whole story and study it, then our chances of seeing what’s happening today and understanding how that might evolve in the future are zero.”

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Founded in the wake of the gold rush by leaders of the newly established 31st state, the University of California’s flagship campus at Berkeley has become one of the preeminent universities in the world. Its early guiding lights, charged with providing education (both “practical” and “classical”) for the state’s people, gradually established a distinguished faculty (with 22 Nobel laureates to date), a stellar research library, and more than 350 academic programs.

    UC Berkeley Seal

     
  • richardmitnick 8:14 am on July 11, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , EscaPADE-Escape and Plasma Acceleration and Dynamics Explorers, , TRACERS-Tandem Reconnection and Cusp Electrodynamics Reconnaissance Satellites, UC Berkeley   

    From UC Berkeley: “Four Berkeley satellites could be exploring Mars and Earth by 2022” 

    From UC Berkeley

    July 9, 2019
    Robert Sanders
    rlsanders@berkeley.edu

    1
    An artist’s depiction of the twin TRACERS satellites that will monitor solar wind particles impinging on Earth’s magnetosphere. (Image courtesy of University of Iowa)

    If all goes as planned, two teams of scientists and engineers at UC Berkeley’s Space Sciences Laboratory will be sending experiments into orbit around Mars and Earth by the end of 2022, each mission consisting of identical twin satellites.

    2
    UC Berkeley’s Space Sciences Laboratory

    Last month, NASA announced that a mission comprised of two spacecraft, each carrying an identical suite of experiments, is one of three finalists that may be chosen for launch in three years. Led by Robert Lillis, associate director for planetary science and astrobiology at Berkeley’s Space Sciences Laboratory, the Escape and Plasma Acceleration and Dynamics Explorers (EscaPADE) would orbit Mars and explore how the solar wind strips the atmosphere away from the planet. The twin satellites, each the size of a small mini-bar refrigerator, also would map the planet’s ionosphere, a layer of Mars’ upper atmosphere that could interfere with radio communication between future Mars colonies.

    A year from now, NASA will decide whether the mission will go forward, potentially committing up to $55 million dollars to make it happen. More than one of the three finalists may be selected to fly, Lillis said.

    In June, NASA gave a final go-ahead for the Tandem Reconnection and Cusp Electrodynamics Reconnaissance Satellites, or TRACERS, mission, which will employ two identical satellites to observe the Earth’s Northern magnetic cusp — a region encircling Earth’s North pole where the planet’s magnetic field lines curve down toward Earth, particularly during violent geomagnetic storms triggered by outbursts from the sun.

    Led by Craig Kletzing of the University of Iowa in Iowa City, the TRACERS spacecraft will measure electrical fields with instruments built by UC Berkeley Space Sciences Laboratory (SSL) specialists. The SSL team will be led by John Bonnell, an SSL assistant research physicist. Not including rideshare costs, TRACERS is funded for up to $115 million, of which approximately $13.5 million will come to UC Berkeley.

    The two missions — one a go, the other a strong candidate — leverage SSL’s experience in designing, building and operating fleets of satellites to study the magnetic and electric environments of Earth and the moon. The Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms mission, or THEMIS, was a fleet of five satellites launched in 2007 to determine the origin of substorms in Earth’s magnetic environment and the source of shimmer in the colorful auroras.

    Two of those THEMIS micro-satellites were dispatched to the moon in 2010 as a separate mission called ARTEMIS (Acceleration, Reconnection, Turbulence, and Electrodynamics of the Moon’s Interaction with the Sun) and are still orbiting the moon studying how its magnetic field is affected by the solar wind. Scientists and engineers from SSL have also built instruments for the two-satellite STEREO mission, which snaps stereo images of the sun. EscaPADE would be the first multi-satellite mission to another planet.

    “The selection of two space missions and one major instrument led by SSL researchers in this round shows the great intellectual strength Berkeley has built in space science research,” said Steven Beckwith, SSL director and UC Berkeley professor of astronomy. “It also shows NASA’s trust in SSL to conceive, build, test and fly space satellites, a trust that comes from years of investment in the Laboratory. SSL is now poised to support the next generation of young space scientists at Berkeley who will be leading the missions in the next decade.”

    EscaPADE

    EscaPADE was selected for a one-year, $8.3 million “concept design” by NASA’s Small Innovative Missions for Planetary Exploration (SIMPLEx), a program that emphasizes small spacecraft — less than 400 pounds — that can conduct stand-alone planetary science missions. The twin spacecraft would share their ride into space with either another NASA mission or with a commercial launch opportunity. EscaPADE would likely fly aboard the same rocket that will launch Psyche, a 2022 mission to explore the mostly-metal asteroid with the same name.

    3
    The twin EscaPADE satellites, if approved by NASA, will fly to Mars in 2022 and circle the planet in complementary orbits to sample the hot ionized plasma (cross section in yellow and green) and magnetic fields (blue lines) to understand how Mars’ atmosphere escapes into space. (UC Berkeley image courtesy of Robert Lillis)

    “This is exciting, because it is NASA’s attempt to see whether the new space age, what people call the democratization of space — with reduced vehicle cost and new space startups and much more reliable off-the-shelf parts that are a fraction of the price they used to be — will result in a much more cost-effective way to do planetary exploration,” Lillis said. “It is also kind of scary to be one of those guinea pigs.”

    Each satellite of the EscaPADE mission would carry instruments built at SSL to measure the flow of high-energy electrons and ionized oxygen and carbon dioxide molecules escaping from Mars, magnetic field detectors built at UCLA and a probe to measure slower or thermal ions built at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida. With twin satellites, it is possible to measure conditions simultaneously at two places around the planet, allowing scientists to connect plasma conditions at one site to the escaping ion flux at another. Over the course of the mission, the two satellites would change position to map the upper atmosphere and magnetosphere of nearly the entire planet from an altitude of between 200 and 7,000 kilometers.

    These data are key to unraveling the climate history of Mars and to determining how and when it lost its atmosphere, which was once dense enough to allow for running water, including rivers, lakes and possibly oceans.

    Another goal is to globally sample the ionosphere of Mars, which can interfere with radio communications between people on the surface, between people on the planet and orbiting spacecraft and between Mars colonists and Earth.

    “Whether for radio communication or for an eventual GPS system on Mars, you need to understand the structure and variability of the ionosphere to understand how the ionosphere is going to disrupt those signals, affecting both positioning and communications for future Martian settlers,” Lillis said.

    TRACERS

    TRACERS is one in a long line of NASA missions designed to understand what drives space weather: the winds, storms and electric currents occurring in the space around Earth akin to the weather systems we track in the lower atmosphere. Storms in the upper atmosphere and ionosphere can affect communications on Earth and the safety of astronauts and satellites.

    4
    Winds of charged particles from the sun (off-screen to lower left) impinge on Earth’s magnetosphere and enter at points of reconnection somewhere on the magnetopause. Those high-energy particles – electrons and ions – are funneled along magnetic field lines to Earth’s magnetic cusp. In close-up at upper right, the twin TRACERS satellites will fly in single file in a polar orbit to sample particles in the cusp, to determine where and when reconnection happens. (Image courtesy of University of Iowa)

    Space weather is driven by a vast outpouring of solar particles from the sun called the solar wind. When these particles reach Earth, they interact with our planet’s magnetic field, creating sometimes destructive electromagnetic storms.

    Earth’s magnetic field, the so-called magnetosphere, protects life on the ground from this solar radiation, deflecting it safely around the planet. Yet, some of the energy in that solar wind punches through the magnetopause, the protective shield at its boundary. At these sites, the sun’s magnetic field reconnects and links to Earth’s magnetic field, allowing high-energy solar particles to flow in and spark currents around the globe. Earth’s magnetic field lines funnel these charged particles down to a single spot, the magnetic cusp near Earth’s North pole, eventually creating a halo of colorful auroras around the pole.

    The two TRACERS satellites will fly single file in a polar orbit at an altitude of about 600 kilometers, taking it through the cusp several times a day to sample the particles flowing down this drain, in search of those with an energy to indicate they have just come in through a reconnection hole.

    “Reconnection occurs somewhere out on the magnetopause itself, 66,000 or 67,000 kilometers above the surface, and we see the effects in the aurora at low altitudes,” Bonnell said. “TRACERS will fly above the aurora but pass through the magnetic field lines that are carrying all these energetic particles in to strike the upper atmosphere.”

    TRACERS, he said, will resolve a longstanding question about where reconnection happens at the magnetopause and how the solar wind affects the place and timing, helping NASA better forecast the influx of energetic particles into Earth’s magnetic field that have the potential to disrupt the power grid and satellite communications.

    See the full article here .

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    Founded in the wake of the gold rush by leaders of the newly established 31st state, the University of California’s flagship campus at Berkeley has become one of the preeminent universities in the world. Its early guiding lights, charged with providing education (both “practical” and “classical”) for the state’s people, gradually established a distinguished faculty (with 22 Nobel laureates to date), a stellar research library, and more than 350 academic programs.

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  • richardmitnick 12:15 pm on June 22, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A new crystal built of a spiraling stack of atomically thin germanium sulfide sheets., , Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Such “nanosheets” are usually referred to as “2D materials.", the team took advantage of a crystal defect called a screw dislocation a “mistake” in the orderly crystal structure that gives it a bit of a twisting force., These “inorganic” crystals are built of more far-flung eleThese “inorganic” crystals are built of more far-flung elemenmnts of the periodic table — in this case sulfur and germanium, This is Unlike “organic” DNA which is primarily built of familiar atoms like carbon oxygen and hydrogen, UC Berkeley   

    From UC Berkeley: “Crystal with a twist: scientists grow spiraling new material” 

    From UC Berkeley

    June 19, 2019
    Kara Manke
    kjmanke@berkeley.edu

    1
    UC Berkeley and Berkeley Lab researchers created a new crystal built of a spiraling stack of atomically thin germanium sulfide sheets. (UC Berkeley image by Yin Liu)

    With a simple twist of the fingers, one can create a beautiful spiral from a deck of cards. In the same way, scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have created new inorganic crystals made of stacks of atomically thin sheets that unexpectedly spiral like a nanoscale card deck.

    Their surprising structures, reported in a new study appearing online Wednesday, June 20, in the journal Nature, may yield unique optical, electronic and thermal properties, including superconductivity, the researchers say.

    These helical crystals are made of stacked layers of germanium sulfide, a semiconductor material that, like graphene, readily forms sheets that are only a few atoms or even a single atom thick. Such “nanosheets” are usually referred to as “2D materials.”

    “No one expected 2D materials to grow in such a way. It’s like a surprise gift,” said Jie Yao, an assistant professor of materials science and engineering at UC Berkeley. “We believe that it may bring great opportunities for materials research.”

    While the shape of the crystals may resemble that of DNA, whose helical structure is critical to its job of carrying genetic information, their underlying structure is actually quite different. Unlike “organic” DNA, which is primarily built of familiar atoms like carbon, oxygen and hydrogen, these “inorganic” crystals are built of more far-flung elements of the periodic table — in this case, sulfur and germanium. And while organic molecules often take all sorts of zany shapes, due to unique properties of their primary component, carbon, inorganic molecules tend more toward the straight and narrow.

    To create the twisted structures, the team took advantage of a crystal defect called a screw dislocation, a “mistake” in the orderly crystal structure that gives it a bit of a twisting force. This “Eshelby Twist”, named after scientist John D. Eshelby, has been used to create nanowires that spiral like pine trees. But this study is the first time the Eshelby Twist has been used to make crystals built of stacked 2D layers of an atomically thin semiconductor.

    “Usually, people hate defects in a material — they want to have a perfect crystal,” said Yao, who also serves as a faculty scientist at Berkeley Lab. “But it turns out that, this time, we have to thank the defects. They allowed us to create a natural twist between the material layers.”

    In a major discovery [Nature] last year, scientists reported that graphene becomes superconductive when two atomically thin sheets of the material are stacked and twisted at what’s called a “magic angle.” While other researchers have succeeded at stacking two layers at a time, the new paper provides a recipe for synthesizing stacked structures that are hundreds of thousands or even millions of layers thick in a continuously twisting fashion.

    3
    The helical crystals may yield surprising new properties, like superconductivity. (UC Berkeley image by Yin Liu)

    “We observed the formation of discrete steps in the twisted crystal, which transforms the smoothly twisted crystal to circular staircases, a new phenomenon associated with the Eshelby Twist mechanism,” said Yin Liu, co-first author of the paper and a graduate student in materials science and engineering at UC Berkeley. “It’s quite amazing how interplay of materials could result in many different, beautiful geometries.”

    By adjusting the material synthesis conditions and length, the researchers could change the angle between the layers, creating a twisted structure that is tight, like a spring, or loose, like an uncoiled Slinky. And while the research team demonstrated the technique by growing helical crystals of germanium sulfide, it could likely be used to grow layers of other materials that form similar atomically thin layers.

    “The twisted structure arises from a competition between stored energy and the energy cost of slipping two material layers relative to one another,” said Daryl Chrzan, chair of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and senior theorist on the paper. “There is no reason to expect that this competition is limited to germanium sulfide, and similar structures should be possible in other 2D material systems.”

    “The twisted behavior of these layered materials, typically with only two layers twisted at different angles, has already showed great potential and attracted a lot of attention from the physics and chemistry communities. Now, it becomes highly intriguing to find out, with all of these twisted layers combined in our new material, if will they show quite different material properties than regular stacking of these materials,” Yao said. “But at this moment, we have very limited understanding of what these properties could be, because this form of material is so new. New opportunities are waiting for us.”

    Other co-first authors of the paper include Su Jung Kim and Haoye Sun of UC Berkeley and Jie Wang of Argonne National Laboratory. Other authors include Fuyi Yang, Zixuan Fang, Ruopeng Zhang, Bo Z. Xu, Michael Wang, Shuren Lin, Kyle B. Tom, Yang Deng, Robert O. Ritchie, Andrew M. Minor and Mary C. Scott of UC Berkeley; Nobumichi Tamura, Xiaohui Song, Qin Yu, John Turner and Emory Chan of Berkeley Lab and Jianguo Wen and Dafei Jin of Argonne National Laboratory.

    Work at Berkeley Lab’s Molecular Foundry and the Advanced Light Source was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science and Office of Basic Energy Sciences under contract no. DE-AC02-05CH11231. The research was also supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences and Materials Sciences and Engineering Division under contract no. DE-AC02-244 05CH11231 within the Electronic Materials Program (KC1201).

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    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 12:44 pm on June 19, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A new roadmap released today, , , China and the United Kingdom are heavy in this field, How does the U.S. stay ahead in those developments as a country?, , The benefits could be immense ranging from gene therapy for disease to improved crops and better medicines., The benefits of engineering biology are so vast that it’s an area we just cannot ignore, UC Berkeley   

    From UC Berkeley: “Scientists chart course toward a new world of synthetic biology” 

    From UC Berkeley

    June 19, 2019
    Robert Sanders
    rlsanders@berkeley.edu

    1
    Synthetic or engineering biology involves genetically engineering not only yeast and bacteria but also plants, animals and humans. The benefits could be immense, ranging from gene therapy for disease to improved crops and better medicines.

    Genetically engineered trees that provide fire-resistant lumber for homes. Modified organs that won’t be rejected. Synthetic microbes that monitor your gut to detect invading disease organisms and kill them before you get sick.

    These are just some of the exciting advances likely to emerge from the 20-year-old field of engineering biology, or synthetic biology, which is now mature enough to provide solutions to a range of societal problems, according to a new roadmap released today (June 19) by the Engineering Biology Research Consortium, a public-private partnership partially funded by the National Science Foundation and centered at the University of California, Berkeley.

    The roadmap is the work of more than 80 scientists and engineers from a range of disciplines, representing more than 30 universities and a dozen companies. While highly technical, the report provides a strong case that the federal government should invest in this area, not only to improve public health, food crops and the environment, but also to fuel the economy and maintain the country’s leadership in synthetic biology. The report comes out in advance of the year’s major technical conference for synthetic biology, 2019 Synthetic Biology: Engineering, Evolution & Design, which takes place June 23-27 in New York City.

    Engineering biology/synthetic biology encompasses a broad range of current endeavors, including genetically modifying crops, engineering microbes to produce drugs, fragrances and biofuels, editing the genes of pigs and dogs using CRISPR-Cas9, and human gene therapy. But these successes are just a prelude to more complex biological engineering coming in the future, and the report lays out the opportunities and challenges, including whether or not the United States makes it a research priority.

    “The question for government is, if all of these avenues are now open for biotechnology development, ‘How does the U.S. stay ahead in those developments as a country?’” said Douglas Friedman, one of the leaders of the roadmap project and executive director of the Engineering Biology Research Consortium. “This field has the ability to be truly impactful for society, and we need to identify engineering biology as a national priority, organize around that national priority and take action based on it.”

    China and the United Kingdom have made engineering biology/synthetic biology — which means taking what we know about the genetics of plants and animals and then tweaking specific genes to make these organisms do new things — a cornerstone of their national research enterprise.

    Following that lead, the U.S. House of Representatives held a hearing in March to discuss the Engineering Biology Research and Development Act of 2019, a bill designed to “provide for a coordinated federal research program to ensure continued United States leadership in engineering biology.” This would make engineering biology a national initiative equivalent to the country’s recent commitments to quantum information systems and nanotechnology.

    2
    The roadmap for synthetic or engineering biology identifies five research areas that the federal government needs to invest in to fuel the bioeconomy and keep the U.S. at the forefront of the field.

    “What this roadmap does and what all of our collaborators on this project have done is to imagine, over the next 20 years, where we should go with all of this work,” said Emily Aurand, who directed the roadmapping project for the EBRC. “The goal was to address how applications of the science can expand very broadly to solve societal challenges, to imagine the breadth and complexity of what we can do with biology and biological systems to make the world a better, cleaner, more exciting place.”

    This roadmap is a detailed technical guide that I believe will lead the field of synthetic biology far into the future. It is not meant to be a stagnant document, but one that will continually evolve over time in response to unexpected developments in the field and societal needs.” said Jay Keasling, a UC Berkeley professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and the chair of EBRC’s roadmapping working group.

    The roadmap would guide investment by all government agencies, including the Department of Energy, Department of Defense and National Institutes of Health as well as NSF.

    “The EBRC roadmap represents a landmark achievement by the entire synthetic biology and engineering biology community,” said Theresa Good, who is the deputy division director for molecular and cellular biosciences at the National Science Foundation and co-chair of a White House-level synthetic biology interagency working group. “The roadmap is the first U.S. science community technical document that lays out a path to achieving the promise of synthetic biology and guideposts for scientists, engineers and policy makers to follow.”

    Apples, meat and THC

    Some products of engineering biology are already on the market: non-browning apples; an antimalarial drug produced by bacteria; corn that produces its own insecticide. One Berkeley start-up is engineering animal cells to grow meat in a dish. An Emeryville start-up is growing textiles in the lab. A UC Berkeley spin off is creating medical-quality THC and CBD, two of the main ingredients in marijuana, while another is producing brewer’s yeast that provide the hoppy taste in beer, but without the hops.

    But much of this is still done on small scales; larger-scale projects lie ahead. UC Berkeley bioengineers are trying to modify microbes so that they can be grown as food or to produce medicines to help humans survive on the moon or Mars.

    Others are attempting to engineer the microbiome of cows and other ruminants so that they can better digest their feed, absorb more nutrients and produce less methane, which contributes to climate change. With rising temperatures and less predictable rain, scientists are also trying to modify crops to better withstand heat, drought and saltier soil.

    And how about modified microbes, seaweed or other ocean or freshwater plants — or even animals like mussels — that will naturally remove pollutants and toxins from our lakes and ocean, including oil and plastic?

    “If you look back in history, scientists and engineers have learned how to routinely modify the physical world though physics and mechanical engineering, learned how to routinely modify the chemical world through chemistry and chemical engineering,” Friedman said. “The next thing to do is figure out how to utilize the biological world through modifications that can help people in a way that would otherwise not be possible. We are at the precipice of being able to do that with biology.”

    While in the past some genetically engineered organisms have generated controversy, Friedman says the scientific community is committed to engaging with the public before their introduction.

    “It is important that the research community, especially those thinking about consumer-facing products and technologies, talk about the ethical, legal and societal implications early and often in a way different than we have seen with biotech developments in the past,” he said.

    In fact, the benefits of engineering biology are so vast that it’s an area we just cannot ignore.

    “The opportunity is immense,” Friedman said.

    See the full article here .

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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Founded in the wake of the gold rush by leaders of the newly established 31st state, the University of California’s flagship campus at Berkeley has become one of the preeminent universities in the world. Its early guiding lights, charged with providing education (both “practical” and “classical”) for the state’s people, gradually established a distinguished faculty (with 22 Nobel laureates to date), a stellar research library, and more than 350 academic programs.

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  • richardmitnick 3:06 pm on June 10, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: “Berkeley is a dark matter mecca”, , Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley researchers will at first focus on liquid helium and gallium arsenide crystals in searching for low-mass dark matter particle interactions, Dark matter could be much “lighter” or lower in mass and slighter in energy than previously thought., It could be composed of theoretical, , LUX experiment, LZ experiment, , , The search for dark matter is expanding. And going small., UC Berkeley, wavelike ultralight particles known as axions.   

    From Lawrence Berkeley National Lab: “What if Dark Matter is Lighter? Report Calls for Small Experiments to Broaden the Hunt” 

    Berkeley Logo

    From Lawrence Berkeley National Lab

    June 10, 2019
    Glenn Roberts Jr.
    geroberts@lbl.gov
    (510) 520-0843

    1
    Junsong Lin, an affiliate in Berkeley Lab’s Physics Division and UC Berkeley postdoctoral researcher, holds components of a low-mass dark matter detector that is now in development. (Credit: Marilyn Chung/Berkeley Lab)

    The search for dark matter is expanding. And going small.

    While dark matter abounds in the universe – it is by far the most common form of matter, making up about 85 percent of the universe’s total – it also hides in plain sight. We don’t yet know what it’s made of, though we can witness its gravitational pull on known matter.

    Theorized weakly interacting massive particles, or WIMPs, have been among the cast of likely suspects comprising dark matter, but they haven’t yet shown up where scientists had expected them.

    Casting many small nets

    So scientists are now redoubling their efforts by designing new and nimble experiments that can look for dark matter in previously unexplored ranges of particle mass and energy, and using previously untested methods. The new approach, rather than relying on a few large experiments’ “nets” to try to snare one type of dark matter, is akin to casting many smaller nets with much finer mesh.

    Dark matter could be much “lighter,” or lower in mass and slighter in energy, than previously thought. It could be composed of theoretical, wavelike ultralight particles known as axions. It could be populated by a wild kingdom filled with many species of as-yet-undiscovered particles. And it may not be composed of particles at all.

    2
    Equipment for a planned low-mass dark matter experiment, including a tank that will hold supercooled liquid helium, is assembled in a basement lab at UC Berkeley. (Credit: Junsong Lin/Berkeley Lab, UC Berkeley)

    Momentum has been building for low-mass dark matter experiments, which could expand our current understanding of the makeup of matter as embodied in the Standard Model of particle physics, noted Kathryn Zurek, a senior scientist and theoretical physicist at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab).

    Zurek, who is also affiliated with UC Berkeley, has been a pioneer in proposing low-mass dark matter theories and possible ways to detect it.

    “What experimental evidence do we have for physics beyond the Standard Model? Dark matter is one of the best ones,” she said. “There are these theoretical ideas that have been around for a decade or so,” Zurek added, and new developments in technology – such as new advances in https://newscenter.lbl.gov/2018/09/24/quantum-leap-expanding-dark-matter-search/ and detector materials – have also helped to drive the impetus for new experiments.

    “The field has matured and blossomed over the last decade. It’s become mainstream – this is no longer the fringe,” she said. Low-mass dark matter discussions have moved from small conferences and workshops to a component of the overall strategy in searching for dark matter.

    She noted that Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley, with their particular expertise in dark matter theories, experiments, and cutting-edge detector and target R&D, are poised to make a big impact in this emerging area of the hunt for dark matter.

    Report highlights need to search for “light” dark matter low-mass.

    3

    Dark matter-related research by Zurek and other Berkeley Lab researchers is highlighted in a DOE report, “Basic Research Needs for Dark Matter Small Projects New Initiatives,” based on an October 2018 High Energy Physics Workshop on Dark Matter. Zurek and Dan McKinsey, a Berkeley Lab faculty senior scientist and UC Berkeley physics professor, served as co-leads on a workshop panel focused on dark matter direct-detection techniques, and this panel contributed to the report.

    The report proposes a focus on small-scale experiments – with project costs ranging from $2 million to $15 million – to search for dark matter particles that have a mass smaller than a proton. Protons are subatomic particles within every atomic nucleus that each weigh about 1,850 times more than an electron.

    This new, lower-mass search effort will have “the overarching goal of finally understanding the nature of the dark matter of the universe,” the report states.

    In a related effort, the U.S. Department of Energy this year solicited proposals for new dark matter experiments, with a May 30 deadline, and Berkeley Lab participated in the proposal process, McKinsey said.

    “Berkeley is a dark matter mecca” that is primed for participating in this expanded search, he said. McKinsey has been a participant in large direct-detection dark matter experiments including LUX and LUX-ZEPLIN and is also working on low-mass dark matter detection techniques.

    U Washington LUX Dark matter Experiment at SURF, Lead, SD, USA

    LBNL LZ project at SURF, Lead, SD, USA

    3 priorities in the expanded search

    The report highlights three major priority research directions in searching for low-mass dark matter that “are needed to achieve broad sensitivity and … to reach different key milestones”:

    Create and detect dark matter particles below the proton mass and associated forces, leveraging DOE accelerators that produce beams of energetic particles. Such experiments could potentially help us understand the origins of dark matter and explore its interactions with ordinary matter, the report states.
    Detect individual galactic dark matter particles – down to a mass measuring about 1 trillion times smaller than that of a proton – through interactions with advanced, ultrasensitive detectors. The report notes that there are already underground experimental areas and equipment that could be used in support of these new experiments.

    Detect galactic dark matter waves using advanced, ultrasensitive detectors with emphasis on the so-called QCD (quantum chromodynamics) axion. Advances in theory and technology now allow scientists to probe for the existence of this type of axion-based dark matter across the entire spectrum of its expected ultralight mass range, providing “a glimpse into the earliest moments in the origin of the universe and the laws of nature at ultrahigh energies and temperatures,” the report states.

    This axion, if it exists, could also help to explain properties associated with the universe’s strong force, which is responsible for holding most matter together – it binds particles together in an atom’s nucleus, for example.

    Searches for the traditional WIMP form of dark matter have increased in sensitivity about 1,000-fold in the past decade.

    Berkeley scientists are building prototype experiments

    4
    A low-mass dark matter experiment is set up at UC Berkeley. (Credit: Junsong Lin/Berkeley Lab, UC Berkeley)

    Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley researchers will at first focus on liquid helium and gallium arsenide crystals in searching for low-mass dark matter particle interactions in prototype laboratory experiments now in development at UC Berkeley.

    “Materials development is also part of the story, and also thinking about different types of excitations” in detector materials, Zurek said.

    Besides liquid helium and gallium arsenide, the materials that could be used to detect dark matter particles are diverse, “and the structures in them are going to allow you to couple to different dark matter candidates,” she said. “I think target diversity is extremely important.”

    The goal of these experiments, which are expected to begin within the next few months, is to develop the technology and techniques so that they can be scaled up for deep-underground experiments at other sites that will provide additional shielding from the natural shower of particle “noise” raining down from the sun and other sources.

    McKinsey, who is working on the prototype experiments at UC Berkeley, said that the liquid helium experiment there will seek out any signs of dark matter particles causing nuclear recoil –a process through which a particle interaction gives the nucleus of an atom a slight jolt that researchers hope can be amplified and detected.

    See the full article here .

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    Bringing Science Solutions to the World

    In the world of science, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) is synonymous with “excellence.” Thirteen Nobel prizes are associated with Berkeley Lab. Seventy Lab scientists are members of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), one of the highest honors for a scientist in the United States. Thirteen of our scientists have won the National Medal of Science, our nation’s highest award for lifetime achievement in fields of scientific research. Eighteen of our engineers have been elected to the National Academy of Engineering, and three of our scientists have been elected into the Institute of Medicine. In addition, Berkeley Lab has trained thousands of university science and engineering students who are advancing technological innovations across the nation and around the world.

    Berkeley Lab is a member of the national laboratory system supported by the U.S. Department of Energy through its Office of Science. It is managed by the University of California (UC) and is charged with conducting unclassified research across a wide range of scientific disciplines. Located on a 202-acre site in the hills above the UC Berkeley campus that offers spectacular views of the San Francisco Bay, Berkeley Lab employs approximately 3,232 scientists, engineers and support staff. The Lab’s total costs for FY 2014 were $785 million. A recent study estimates the Laboratory’s overall economic impact through direct, indirect and induced spending on the nine counties that make up the San Francisco Bay Area to be nearly $700 million annually. The Lab was also responsible for creating 5,600 jobs locally and 12,000 nationally. The overall economic impact on the national economy is estimated at $1.6 billion a year. Technologies developed at Berkeley Lab have generated billions of dollars in revenues, and thousands of jobs. Savings as a result of Berkeley Lab developments in lighting and windows, and other energy-efficient technologies, have also been in the billions of dollars.

    Berkeley Lab was founded in 1931 by Ernest Orlando Lawrence, a UC Berkeley physicist who won the 1939 Nobel Prize in physics for his invention of the cyclotron, a circular particle accelerator that opened the door to high-energy physics. It was Lawrence’s belief that scientific research is best done through teams of individuals with different fields of expertise, working together. His teamwork concept is a Berkeley Lab legacy that continues today.

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  • richardmitnick 1:48 pm on May 25, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Where do new stars form in galaxies?", , , , , , UC Berkeley   

    From UC Berkeley: “Where do new stars form in galaxies?” 

    From UC Berkeley

    May 24, 2019
    Robert Sanders
    rlsanders@berkeley.edu

    1
    An optical image of the spiral galaxy NGC 300 with molecular clouds shown in blue. An analysis of star formation in these clouds show that the first stars that form quickly disperse the cloud, stifling further star formation. (Image courtesy of Diederik Kruijssen & Nature)

    Spiral galaxies like our own Milky Way are studded with cold clouds of hydrogen gas and dust, like chocolate chips in a loaded Toll House cookie.

    Astronomers have long focused on these so-called molecular clouds, suspecting that they are hotspots for star formation. But are they?

    After a thorough analysis of the molecular clouds in a nearby spiral galaxy, an international team of astronomers has found that, while star formation starts up rapidly in these clouds, the newly formed stars quickly disperse the cloud – in as little as a few million years – stopping further star formation. So while star formation in cold molecular clouds is fast, it’s highly inefficient.

    The findings by a collaboration led by Diederik Kruijssen from Heidelberg University will help astronomers understand where and when stars form in galaxies, which in turn determines how galaxies change over their lifetimes.

    “The link between star formation and the evolution of galaxies is one of the main outstanding issues in astronomy,” said UC Berkeley postdoctoral fellow Anna McLeod, co-author of a paper published this week in Nature describing the analysis. “How do stars form within the galactic context? What is their role in shaping the evolution of the galaxy they formed in? And on what timescales does this all happen?”

    The results come from use of a novel statistical approach that the team applied to data from the nearby spiral galaxy NGC 300, which is about 6 million light years from Earth in the direction of the constellation Sculptor.

    3
    NGC 300. Credit: M. Schirmer (IAEF, Bonn), W. Gieren (Univ. de Concepción, Chile), et al., ESO

    The analysis showed that the intense radiation and stellar winds emitted by the young, massive stars forming in these clouds tamp down the formation of new generations of stars.

    “The intense radiation from young stars disperses their parent molecular cloud by heating them and blowing hot bubbles of interstellar gas,” said co-author Mélanie Chevance, also from Heidelberg University. “This way, only two to three percent of the mass in molecular clouds is actually converted into stars.”

    “Molecular clouds in NGC300 live for about 10 million years, and take only about 1.5 million years to be destroyed, well before the most massive stars have reached the end of their lives and explode as supernovae,” added astrophysicist Kruijssen.

    As a result, these molecular clouds are short-lived structures with rapid lifecycles, making galaxies “cosmic cauldrons” constantly changing their appearance.

    The new analysis makes use of archival observational data in one single optical wavelength. McLeod is the principal investigator of a project to analyze a new, large observational dataset of NGC 300 that will allow the team to apply this novel statistical method to other optical wavelengths so as to capture star formation at many different evolutionary stages.

    “We are now entering the era in which we can map many, many galaxies, near and far, at many different wavelengths simultaneously via so-called integral field spectroscopy,” McLeod said. “We can then apply this new statistical method to these truly huge datasets and systematically understand star formation across the vast galaxy zoo that is out there.”

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Founded in the wake of the gold rush by leaders of the newly established 31st state, the University of California’s flagship campus at Berkeley has become one of the preeminent universities in the world. Its early guiding lights, charged with providing education (both “practical” and “classical”) for the state’s people, gradually established a distinguished faculty (with 22 Nobel laureates to date), a stellar research library, and more than 350 academic programs.

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  • richardmitnick 9:24 am on April 13, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A new photonic switch built with more than 50000 microscopic “light switches”, , Each switch directs one of 240 tiny beams of light to either make a right turn when the switch is on or to pass straight through when the switch is off, , , Photolithography, Server networks could be connected by optical fibers with photonic switches acting as the traffic cops Wu said, This could one day revolutionize how information travels through data centers and high-performance supercomputers that are used for artificial intelligence and other data-intensive applications., UC Berkeley   

    From insideHPC: “Berkeley Engineers build World’s Fastest Optical Switch Arrays” 

    From insideHPC

    April 12, 2019

    Engineers at the University of California, Berkeley have built a new photonic switch that can control the direction of light passing through optical fibers faster and more efficiently than ever.

    1
    The photonic switch is built with more than 50,000 microscopic “light switches” etched into a silicon wafer. (Younghee Lee graphic)

    This optical “traffic cop” could one day revolutionize how information travels through data centers and high-performance supercomputers that are used for artificial intelligence and other data-intensive applications.

    The photonic switch is built with more than 50,000 microscopic “light switches,” each of which directs one of 240 tiny beams of light to either make a right turn when the switch is on, or to pass straight through when the switch is off. The 240-by-240 array of switches is etched into a silicon wafer and covers an area only slightly larger than a postage stamp.

    “For the first time in a silicon switch, we are approaching the large switches that people can only build using bulk optics,” said Ming Wu, professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences at UC Berkeley and senior author of the paper, which appeared online April 11 in the journal Optica. “Our switches are not only large, but they are 10,000 times faster, so we can switch data networks in interesting ways that not many people have thought about.”

    Currently, the only photonic switches that can control hundreds of light beams at once are built with mirrors or lenses that must be physically turned to switch the direction of light. Each turn takes about one-tenth of a second to complete, which is eons compared to electronic data transfer rates. The new photonic switch is built using tiny integrated silicon structures that can switch on and off in a fraction of a microsecond, approaching the speed necessary for use in high-speed data networks.

    Traffic cops on the information highway

    Data centers — where our photos, videos and documents saved in the cloud are stored — are composed of hundreds of thousands of servers that are constantly sending information back and forth. Electrical switches act as traffic cops, making sure that information sent from one server reaches the target server and doesn’t get lost along the way.

    But as data transfer rates continue to grow, we are reaching the limits of what electrical switches can handle, Wu said.

    “Electrical switches generate so much heat, so even though we could cram more transistors onto a switch, the heat they generate is starting to pose certain limits,” he said. “Industry expects to continue the trend for maybe two more generations and, after that, something more fundamental has to change. Some people are thinking optics can help.”

    Server networks could instead be connected by optical fibers, with photonic switches acting as the traffic cops, Wu said. Photonic switches require very little power and don’t generate any heat, so they don’t face the same limitations as electrical switches. However, current photonic switches cannot accommodate as many connections and also are plagued by signal loss — essentially “dimming” the light as it passes through the switch — which makes it hard to read the encoded data once it reaches its destination.

    In the new photonic switch, beams of light travel through a crisscrossing array of nanometer-thin channels until they reach these individual light switches, each of which is built like a microscopic freeway overpass. When the switch is off, the light travels straight through the channel. Applying a voltage turns the switch on, lowering a ramp that directs the light into a higher channel, which turns it 90 degrees. Another ramp lowers the light back into a perpendicular channel.

    “It’s literally like a freeway ramp,” Wu said. “All of the light goes up, makes a 90-degree turn and then goes back down. And this is a very efficient process, more efficient than what everybody else is doing on silicon photonics. It is this mechanism that allows us to make lower-loss switches.”

    The team uses a technique called photolithography to etch the switching structures into silicon wafers. The researchers can currently make structures in a 240-by-240 array — 240 light inputs and 240 light outputs — with limited light loss, making it the largest silicon-based switch ever reported. They are working on perfecting their manufacturing technique to create even bigger switches.

    “Larger switches that use bulk optics are commercially available, but they are very slow, so they are usable in a network that you don’t change too frequently,” Wu said. “Now, computers work very fast, so if you want to keep up with the computer speed, you need much faster switch response. Our switch is the same size, but much faster, so it will enable new functions in data center networks.”

    Co-lead authors on the paper are Tae Joon Seok of the Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology and Kyungmok Kwon, a postdoctoral researcher and Bakar Innovation Fellow at UC Berkeley. Other co-authors are Johannes Henriksson and Jianheng Luo of UC Berkeley.

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Founded on December 28, 2006, insideHPC is a blog that distills news and events in the world of HPC and presents them in bite-sized nuggets of helpfulness as a resource for supercomputing professionals. As one reader said, we’re sifting through all the news so you don’t have to!

    If you would like to contact me with suggestions, comments, corrections, errors or new company announcements, please send me an email at rich@insidehpc.com. Or you can send me mail at:

    insideHPC
    2825 NW Upshur
    Suite G
    Portland, OR 97239

    Phone: (503) 877-5048

     
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