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  • richardmitnick 12:43 pm on January 28, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Hundreds of UCLA students publish paper analyzing 1000 genes involved in organ development", , , , UCLA Newsroom   

    From UCLA Newsroom: “Hundreds of UCLA students publish paper analyzing 1,000 genes involved in organ development” 


    From UCLA Newsroom

    January 27, 2020
    Stuart Wolpert
    310-206-0511
    swolpert@stratcomm.ucla.edu

    1
    Visible on this page are images of fruit flies’ eyes (top), wings and lymph glands, showing which genes are active (red) or were previously active (green).

    A team of 245 UCLA undergraduates and 31 high school students has published an encyclopedia of more than 1,000 genes, including 421 genes whose functions were previously unknown. The research was conducted in fruit flies, and the genes the researchers describe in the analysis may be associated with the development of the brain, eye, lymph gland and wings.

    The fruit fly is often the object of scientific research because its cells have similar DNA to that of human cells — so knowledge about its genes can help researchers better understand human diseases. The UCLA study should be useful to scientists studying genes involved in sleep, vision, memory and many other processes in humans.

    The research is published in the journal G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics. The study’s senior authors include researchers Cory Evans and John Olson, who taught UCLA’s Biomedical Research 10H, the course in which the studies were conducted.

    “I expect this will be a highly cited paper and a valuable resource to life scientists,” said Tracy Johnson, director of UCLA’s biomedical research minor, which offers the course the students all took. “It’s inspiring to know all of this really important research came from freshmen and sophomores. It’s beautiful, high-quality research.”

    The students studied short DNA sequences to learn how specific genes are turned on and off and understand how those genes control the functions of various cell types. Although all cells have essentially the same collection of genes, specific genes are turned on or off depending on the cells’ needs, Evans said.

    Each student studied several genes, ultimately producing a total of more than 50,000 microscopic images; the researchers then posted their analysis on an online database where other scientists can study the genes’ roles.

    “This shows not only which genes are turned on, but the history of which genes have been turned on,” Johnson said.

    The research was conducted as part of a UCLA life sciences course that was developed in the early 2000s by Utpal Banerjee, a UCLA distinguished professor of molecular, cell and developmental biology, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor and a senior author of the paper. The course received initial funding from the HHMI.

    “Research on science education says that one of the best way to teach science is by having authentic research experiences embedded in a course,” said Johnson, who holds the Keith and Cecilia Terasaki Presidential Endowed Chair in the Division of Life Sciences and is an HHMI Professor. “Professor Banerjee understood years ago when he envisioned the class that students learn more by doing science. They learn how to design experiments, how to think like scientists, how to write about science and how to present their research.”

    Johnson said the approach is analogous to teaching a sport. “If a kid wants to play soccer, you don’t say, ‘Don’t touch the soccer ball yet. You have to first learn all of the rules, watch other people play and read about the soccer greats, and maybe in a couple of years, we’ll let you kick the ball.’ No, bring out the soccer balls! So we need to get science students in the lab.”

    The students completed two other research projects, one of which Evans expects will be published this year. In that study, the undergraduates studied the effects of turning off specific genes in fruit flies using a scientific technique called RNA interference. They then determined which of those 4,000 genes, when turned off, affect the proper development of blood cells.

    “We teach students how to do research, not fly biology,” said Evans, who is now an assistant professor of biology at Loyola Marymount University. “Their science literacy is high, and they know how to evaluate evidence.”

    See the full article here .


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

    Stem Education Coalition

    UC LA Campus

    For nearly 100 years, UCLA has been a pioneer, persevering through impossibility, turning the futile into the attainable.

    We doubt the critics, reject the status quo and see opportunity in dissatisfaction. Our campus, faculty and students are driven by optimism. It is not naïve; it is essential. And it has fueled every accomplishment, allowing us to redefine what’s possible, time after time.

    This can-do perspective has brought us 12 Nobel Prizes, 12 Rhodes Scholarships, more NCAA titles than any university and more Olympic medals than most nations. Our faculty and alumni helped create the Internet and pioneered reverse osmosis. And more than 100 companies have been created based on technology developed at UCLA.

     
  • richardmitnick 6:25 am on December 19, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Astronomers reveal new image of candy cane-shaped feature in the center of our galaxy", , , , , Radio arc, The candy cane arc is part of a set of radio-emitting filaments extending 160 light-years., UCLA Newsroom   

    From UCLA Newsroom: “Astronomers reveal new image of candy cane-shaped feature in the center of our galaxy” 


    From UCLA Newsroom

    December 18, 2019
    Stuart Wolpert
    310-206-0511
    swolpert@stratcomm.ucla.edu

    1
    The image color-codes different types of emission sources by merging microwave data with infrared (blue) and radio observations (red). An area called the sickle may supply the particles responsible for setting the candy cane aglow. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

    A team of astronomers has produced a new image of an arc-shaped object in the center of our Milky Way galaxy. The feature, which resembles a candy cane, is a magnetic structure that covers an enormous region of some 160 light-years. A light-year is the distance light travels in one year — almost 6 trillion miles.

    Mark Morris, a UCLA professor of physics and astronomy and a member of the research team, discovered the structure, also called the radio arc, with a former student, Farhad Yusef-Zadeh, back in 1983, but they did not have such a complete and colorful image of it then.

    The new image shows the inner part of our galaxy, which houses the largest, densest collection of giant molecular clouds in the Milky Way. These vast, cool clouds contain enough dense gas and dust to form tens of millions of stars like the sun, Morris said.

    In the image, blue and greenish-blue features reveal cold dust in molecular clouds where star formation is still in its infancy. Yellow features reveal the presence of ionized gas and show where hundreds of massive stars have recently formed. Red and orange regions show areas where high-energy electrons emit radiation by a process called “synchrotron emission,” such as in the radio arc and Sagittarius A, the bright source at the galaxy’s center that hosts its supermassive black hole.

    Many of the universe’s secrets are being revealed through the parts of the electromagnetic spectrum of light that are not visible to the human eye. The electromagnetic spectrum encompasses the complete range of light — seen and unseen — from gamma rays, X-rays and ultraviolet light on one end to infrared and radio waves on the other. In the middle is the small visible spectrum that includes the colors humans can detect with the unaided eye. Gamma rays have wavelengths billions of times smaller than those of visible light, while radio waves have wavelengths billions of times longer than those of visible light. Astronomers use the entire electromagnetic spectrum. In the study that led to the new image, the research team observed radio waves with a wavelength of 2 millimeters.

    “The candy cane is a magnetic feature in which we can literally see the magnetic field lines illuminated by the radio emission,” Morris said. “The new result revealed by this image is that one of the filaments is inferred to contain extremely high-energy electrons, the origin of which remains an interesting and unsettled issue.”

    The candy cane arc is part of a set of radio-emitting filaments extending 160 light-years. It is more than 100 light-years away from the central supermassive black hole. However, in another study recently, Morris and colleagues saw similar magnetic radio filaments that they believe are connected to the supermassive black hole, which may lead to important new ways to study black holes, he said.

    To produce the new image, the astronomers used a NASA 2-millimeter camera instrument called GISMO, along with a 30-meter radio telescope located at Pico Veleta, Spain.

    2
    NASA 2-millimeter camera instrument called GISMO on IRAM 30m Radio telescope

    IRAM 30m Radio telescope, on Pico Veleta in the Spanish Sierra Nevada,, Altitude 2,850 m (9,350 ft)

    They also took archival observations from the European Space Agency’s Herschel satellite to model the infrared glow of cold dust. They added infrared data from the SCUBA-2 instrument at the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope near the summit of Maunakea, Hawaii, and radio observations from the National Science Foundation’s Very Large Array, located near Socorro, New Mexico.

    ESA/Herschel spacecraft active from 2009 to 2013

    The 45 tonne SCUBA-2 instrument mounted on the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope, Photo credit Joint Astronomy Centre


    East Asia Observatory James Clerk Maxwell telescope, Mauna Kea, Hawaii, USA,4,207 m (13,802 ft) above sea level

    NRAO/Karl V Jansky Expanded Very Large Array, on the Plains of San Agustin fifty miles west of Socorro, NM, USA, at an elevation of 6970 ft (2124 m)

    The team’s research describing the composite image was published last month in The Astrophysical Journal.

    See the full article here .


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

    Stem Education Coalition

    UC LA Campus

    For nearly 100 years, UCLA has been a pioneer, persevering through impossibility, turning the futile into the attainable.

    We doubt the critics, reject the status quo and see opportunity in dissatisfaction. Our campus, faculty and students are driven by optimism. It is not naïve; it is essential. And it has fueled every accomplishment, allowing us to redefine what’s possible, time after time.

    This can-do perspective has brought us 12 Nobel Prizes, 12 Rhodes Scholarships, more NCAA titles than any university and more Olympic medals than most nations. Our faculty and alumni helped create the Internet and pioneered reverse osmosis. And more than 100 companies have been created based on technology developed at UCLA.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:49 am on August 9, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A UCLA-led research team has identified dozens of genes- including 16 new genes that increase the risk of autism spectrum disorder., , , “These genes are talking to each other and those interactions appear to be an important link to autism spectrum disorder.”, “We show a substantial difference between the types of mutations that occur in different types of families ., ”, , Families that have more than one affected child versus those having only one child with ASD., , Of the children in the study 960 have autism and 217 children do not. That enabled researchers to analyze the genetic differences between children with and without autism across different families., The families in the study are part of the Autism Genetic Resource Exchange- AGRE, The study further revealed several new biological pathways that had not previously been identified in studies of autism., UCLA Newsroom   

    From UCLA Newsroom: “Study identifies 69 genes that increase the risk for autism” 


    From UCLA Newsroom

    August 8, 2019
    Marrecca Fiore
    310-267-7095
    mfiore@mednet.ucla.edu

    1
    Dr. Daniel Geschwind. UCLA Health.

    UCLA-led team compared DNA of children with the disorder to that of their siblings and parents.

    A UCLA-led research team has identified dozens of genes, including 16 new genes, that increase the risk of autism spectrum disorder. The findings, published in the journal Cell, were based on a study of families with at least two children with autism.

    Researchers from UCLA, Stanford University and three other institutions used a technique called whole genome sequencing to map the DNA of 2,300 people from nearly 500 families. They found 69 genes that increase the risk for autism spectrum disorder, or ASD; 16 of those genes were not previously suspected to be associated with a risk for autism.

    Researchers also identified several hundred genes they suspect may increase the risk of autism based on their proximity to genes that were previously identified to carry an increased risk. The study further revealed several new biological pathways that had not previously been identified in studies of autism.

    The findings highlight the importance of learning how genetic variants or mutations — the differences that make each person’s genome unique — are passed from parents to children affected with autism, said the study’s co-lead author Elizabeth Ruzzo, a UCLA postdoctoral scholar. Former UCLA postdoctoral scholar Laura Pérez-Cano is the study’s other co-lead author.

    “When we look at parents of autistic children and compare them to individuals without autism, we find that those parents carry significantly more, rare and highly damaging gene variants,” Ruzzo said. “Interestingly, these variants are frequently passed from the parents to all of the affected children but none of the unaffected children, which tells us that they are significantly increasing the risk of autism.”

    Of the children in the study, 960 have autism and 217 children do not. That enabled researchers to analyze the genetic differences between children with and without autism across different families.

    “Studying families with multiple children affected with autism increased our ability to detect inherited mutations in autism spectrum disorder,” said Dr. Daniel Geschwind, a senior author of the study and the Gordon and Virginia MacDonald Distinguished Professor of Human Genetics, Neurology and Psychiatry at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

    “We show a substantial difference between the types of mutations that occur in different types of families, such as those that have more than one affected child versus those having only one child with ASD,” said Geschwind, who also is director of the UCLA Center for Autism Research and Treatment and director of the Institute of Precision Health at UCLA.

    The research also found that the 16 genes newly determined to be associated with an increased risk for autism form a network with previously identified genes that are associated with a risk for autism spectrum disorder. The way they interact with one another further heightens the risk, said Dennis Wall, the study’s co-senior author, a Stanford University School of Medicine associate professor of pediatrics and of biomedical data science.

    “They associate with each other more tightly than we’d expect by chance,” he said. “These genes are talking to each other, and those interactions appear to be an important link to autism spectrum disorder.”

    The nearly 600 genes researchers suspect to carry an increased risk of autism were identified through “guilt by association,” meaning through their interactions with other genes that already had been shown to carry an increased autism risk, Ruzzo said. Although not all of those genes will be found to increase the risk for autism, the analysis indicated that future studies will provide support for many of these genes.

    The families in the study are part of the Autism Genetic Resource Exchange, or AGRE, which was developed nearly two decades ago by researchers and the National Institutes of Health in collaboration with Cure Autism Now, which is now a program of Autism Speaks.

    Autism is a spectrum of neurological disorders characterized by difficulties with communication and social interaction. Geschwind has been working to identify the genetic causes and biological mechanisms of the disorder for more than a decade, and in the late 1990s, he led the development of the AGRE resource used in the new study. In 2018, he and colleagues at UCLA received their second five-year grant from the NIH to further expand autism research by studying genetic causes of autism in African American families.

    See the full article here .


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

    Stem Education Coalition

    UC LA Campus

    For nearly 100 years, UCLA has been a pioneer, persevering through impossibility, turning the futile into the attainable.

    We doubt the critics, reject the status quo and see opportunity in dissatisfaction. Our campus, faculty and students are driven by optimism. It is not naïve; it is essential. And it has fueled every accomplishment, allowing us to redefine what’s possible, time after time.

    This can-do perspective has brought us 12 Nobel Prizes, 12 Rhodes Scholarships, more NCAA titles than any university and more Olympic medals than most nations. Our faculty and alumni helped create the Internet and pioneered reverse osmosis. And more than 100 companies have been created based on technology developed at UCLA.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:34 am on May 9, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Blue Dawn-experimental pump designed for use in zero-gravity environments, Blue Origin reusable rocket, Bruin Spacecraft Group, Microgravity research experiments, UCLA Newsroom   

    From UCLA Newsroom: “UCLA students touch space with a microgravity experiment” 


    From UCLA Newsroom

    May 8, 2019
    Emmanuel Masongsong

    1
    Bruin Space team members Chloe Liau, Andrew Evans, and Alexander Gonzalez holding their final flight model. Andrew Evans/Bruin Space

    Magnetic pump built by Bruin Space launches on Blue Origin reusable rocket.

    It took only 10 minutes and a ride aboard the Blue Origin New Shepard reusable rocket for 11 students in the Bruin Spacecraft Group to make history.

    2
    Blue Origin

    At 6:32 a.m. on May 2, their experimental pump designed for use in zero-gravity environments, named “Blue Dawn,” completed its flight into a low-Earth orbit and freefall — thereby becoming the first space payload developed and built entirely by a UCLA student group.

    3
    Closeup of the Blue Dawn payload, housed in a custom-built aluminum chassis, with the pump sealed in tape to waterproof the experiment. Andrew Evans/Bruin Space

    “The goal was to see if we could design an efficient fluid pump without any moving parts to work in zero-gravity, which has never been done before,” said Alexander Gonzalez, fourth-year physics major and undergrad science lead on the project. Such a low-maintenance pump would be ideal for moving various liquids on the International Space Station, and could reduce the risk of motorized pump failures for rovers and even future bases on the moon or Mars.

    The New Shepard rocket roared into the deep blue West Texas sky, ferrying a suite of 38 separate microgravity research experiments, including two built by student groups at UCLA and Case Western Reserve University.

    For Blue Dawn, the UCLA team had to design a system containing the fluid, pump tubing, magnets and electronics in a custom aluminum frame that was about the size of a football and with a maximum weight of one pound.

    Work began on the project in fall 2017. After designing it, the team of 11 students from several majors then manufactured and tested the pump entirely on campus. The Bruin Spacecraft Group, known as Bruin Space, secured primary funding for their project in 2017 by winning a grant from the American Society for Gravitational and Space Research Ken Souza Spaceflight Competition.

    “It’s super exciting to directly apply the knowledge we gained in classes and actually build something that went into space,” said Andrew Evans, a third-year majoring in mechanical and aerospace engineering and who served as chief engineer. He stressed the value of hands-on team experience gained in such projects.

    “That’s what Bruin Space is all about, solving real science questions while giving students an opportunity to fulfill their dreams of spaceflight,” Evans said.

    To be judged a success, Blue Dawn had to operate fully autonomously during its 10-minute flight and freefall back to Earth. Once the capsule chutes deployed and it touched down softly in the desert, Chloe Liau, fourth-year mechanical and aerospace engineering student and structure/fabrication lead, breathed a sigh of relief.

    “Seeing all our hard work pay off with a perfect launch and landing, it was nothing short of amazing,” Liau said. “But we still have a job to finish.”

    The payload and flight data will be returned to UCLA this week, so that the team can analyze the pump’s performance in microgravity. They expect the flow in space to be more efficient compared to its performance in ground tests under the influence of gravity.

    The team plans to publish the results of this first study and present at conferences, giving these students the experience of seeing a space mission end-to-end.

    Team members said that it would not have been possible without the expert guidance of two geophysics and space physics Ph.D. students from the UCLA Department of Earth, Planetary and Space Sciences: science advisor Emily Hawkins and project manager Lydia Bingley. The group was also supported by Richard Wirz, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering in the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering, and Chris Russell, professor of Earth, planetary and space sciences, whose prototyping lab facilities were used to build and test Blue Dawn.

    What’s next for Bruin Space?

    “We have several other exciting projects in development, from weather balloons and rocket campaigns, to designing a microsatellite propulsion system,” Evans said. “We are always looking for new members, check out our website at BruinSpace.com to learn more.”

    See the full article here .


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

    Stem Education Coalition

    UC LA Campus

    For nearly 100 years, UCLA has been a pioneer, persevering through impossibility, turning the futile into the attainable.

    We doubt the critics, reject the status quo and see opportunity in dissatisfaction. Our campus, faculty and students are driven by optimism. It is not naïve; it is essential. And it has fueled every accomplishment, allowing us to redefine what’s possible, time after time.

    This can-do perspective has brought us 12 Nobel Prizes, 12 Rhodes Scholarships, more NCAA titles than any university and more Olympic medals than most nations. Our faculty and alumni helped create the Internet and pioneered reverse osmosis. And more than 100 companies have been created based on technology developed at UCLA.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:37 am on April 24, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Will ocean seafood farming sink or swim? UCLA study evaluates its potential", A tiny fraction of the world’s oceans farmed sustainably — just 0.015 percent — could satisfy the entire world’s fish demand, “The more robust regulation you have the more you can ensure the industry will be around for longer and that it will be able to produce fish at a reasonable cost with minimal input.”, China is the largest marine aquaculture producer by far but its waters are only moderately good and its governance was listed as low quality., Ineffective regulation often leads to ecosystem damage., Marine aquaculture is seen as promising compared to high-polluting inland operations., Research on 144 countries reveals opportunities and pitfalls of this fast-growing sector., Sixty-seven countries fell in the goldilocks category for either finfish or bivalves, Sustainable food systems are an important part of the fight against climate change, The paper categorized 77 countries as potential at-risk, UCLA Newsroom   

    From UCLA Newsroom: “Will ocean seafood farming sink or swim? UCLA study evaluates its potential” 


    From UCLA Newsroom

    April 22, 2019
    David Colgan

    Research on 144 countries reveals opportunities and pitfalls of this fast-growing sector.

    1
    Divers survey submersible cages used to farm cobia off the coast of Puerto Rico. UCLA researchers conducted the first country-by-country evaluation of the potential for marine aquaculture under current policies and practices. NOAA.

    Seafood farming in the ocean — or marine aquaculture — is the fastest growing sector of the global food system, and it shows no sign of slowing. Open-ocean farms have vast space for expansion, and consumer demand continues to rise.

    As with many young industries, there’s a lot to figure out, from underlying science and engineering to investment and regulations.

    In a study published in the journal Marine Policy, UCLA researchers report that they have conducted the first country-by-country evaluation of the potential for marine aquaculture under current governance, policy and capital patterns. They discovered a patchwork of opportunities and pitfalls.

    Peter Kareiva, one of the study’s authors and director of the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, said sustainable food systems are an important part of the fight against climate change.

    “Like many environmental scientists, I see marine aquaculture as the future food system for a carbon neutral world,” Kareiva said. “But whether we get that future and a healthy ocean depends on governance and regulations — and we all know how sketchy those can be at times.”

    In 2017, Kareiva’s research found that a tiny fraction of the world’s oceans, farmed sustainably — just 0.015 percent — could satisfy the entire world’s fish demand.

    The new study categorizes 144 countries into three groups based on their capacity for aquaculture growth in the industry: “goldilocks,” “potential at-risk” and “non-optimized producer.” The categories are based on quality of government institutions and regulations, potential for investment and how suitable the biological and physical environment are for farming seafood in the ocean.

    Sixty-seven countries fell in the goldilocks category for either finfish or bivalves, like mussels and clams — meaning conditions there are favorable for marine aquaculture. According to lead author Ian Davies, who conducted research for the study at Kareiva’s UCLA lab, the industry could help address social challenges in these places.

    “There is a lot of potential in food-insecure countries, including island states in the Pacific and Caribbean,” Davies said. “They have limited resources and quickly growing populations. But these are also the countries with the most productive waters in the world.”

    Twenty-four countries were identified as non-optimized producers, which lack highly productive waters but still engage in aquaculture, usually because of better access to investment. This group includes countries around the Persian Gulf and Black Sea, South Korea, Italy, Canada and Norway.

    Finally, the paper categorized 77 countries as potential at-risk. These countries have suitable waters but poor access to capital and unstable, corrupt or ineffective governance systems. Despite such problems, 16 are currently farming fish in the ocean, often harming ecosystems or causing other problems in the process. China is by far the largest producer of ocean-farmed seafood, owing to strong financial capacity and political will, but was found to have poor oversight — which could pose problems for the industry in the future.

    “The more robust regulation you have, the more you can ensure the industry will be around for longer, and that it will be able to produce fish at a reasonable cost with minimal input,” Davies said. “There is a palpable feeling among planners, researchers and aquaculture operators that we have the ability to do this right before the industry gets too big. Let’s put the regulations in place.”

    Ineffective regulation often leads to ecosystem damage. In the 1990s, there was a shrimp farming boom in Southeast Asia. Operations added too much shrimp and feed to mangroves, destroying many in the process. The impact was also felt by humans. Mangroves serve as barriers that reduce storm surge and flooding, and many small aquaculture operators quickly found themselves out of business. More recently, unregulated fish farming led to disease outbreaks in northern Vietnamese waters.

    In other observations, the study found that while lack of regulation poses problems, so can regulation that is too burdensome. In Ireland the licensing process takes years, making it impossible for operators to qualify for European Union grants. There are other country-specific barriers, too. New Zealand is a goldilocks country, but opposition from local communities and vocal stakeholders, including fishermen, has slowed marine development.

    China is the largest marine aquaculture producer by far, but its waters are only moderately good and its governance was listed as low quality. The industry has succeeded there because of political will and access to capital. China isn’t alone. Excluding outliers, the study notes, less suitable countries produce almost six times as much fish as optimal countries. Capital-driven aquaculture in less suitable waters carries the risk of being less effective and more damaging.

    Marine aquaculture is seen as promising compared to high-polluting inland operations. The open ocean disperses its impact, leading to fewer environmental problems. Meanwhile, according to the United Nations, nearly 90 percent of the world’s marine stocks are depleted, with many fisheries on the verge of collapse. Sustainably farming oceans could allow wild populations to rebound while serving as a crucial source of protein and economic benefits to humans.

    See the full article here .


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

    Stem Education Coalition

    UC LA Campus

    For nearly 100 years, UCLA has been a pioneer, persevering through impossibility, turning the futile into the attainable.

    We doubt the critics, reject the status quo and see opportunity in dissatisfaction. Our campus, faculty and students are driven by optimism. It is not naïve; it is essential. And it has fueled every accomplishment, allowing us to redefine what’s possible, time after time.

    This can-do perspective has brought us 12 Nobel Prizes, 12 Rhodes Scholarships, more NCAA titles than any university and more Olympic medals than most nations. Our faculty and alumni helped create the Internet and pioneered reverse osmosis. And more than 100 companies have been created based on technology developed at UCLA.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:32 am on March 12, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Bazinga!: ‘The Big Bang Theory’ to support twice as many UCLA students", “In honor of our 12th and final season we’re going to double our students and we’ll be doing 10 every year instead of five” Lorre told the students UCLA officials and cast and crew., In each subsequent year five additional low-income UCLA students who are pursuing degrees in the STEM fields — which are the fields pursued by the characters in the show — were chosen., UCLA Newsroom, UCLA’s Big Bang Theory Scholarship Endowment, When created in 2015 20 UCLA students pursuing degrees in science technology engineering or mathematics were selected.   

    From UCLA Newsroom: “Bazinga!: ‘The Big Bang Theory’ to support twice as many UCLA students” 


    From UCLA Newsroom

    March 08, 2019
    Alison Hewitt

    1
    Actress and UCLA alumna Mayim Bialik takes a selfie with UCLA senior Kemeka Corry on the set “The Big Bang Theory.” Mike Yarish/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

    “Wait, should it be, ‘Dear cast and crew,’ then?” asked one student.

    “Yeah, that’s what I write,” his seatmate chimed in.

    They were on a bus of UCLA students buzzing with excitement after a return visit to the set of the hit TV show, “The Big Bang Theory,” all settling in to write thank-you notes to the more than 80 people associated with the hit sitcom who fund UCLA’s Big Bang Theory Scholarship Endowment. Many of them noted that without the scholarship, they would instead owe thousands of dollars in student loans, and at least one student would not have been able to attend UCLA at all without the scholarship.

    They are among the 35 students who have received scholarships from the endowment. When created in 2015, 20 UCLA students pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics were selected. In each subsequent year, five additional low-income UCLA students who are pursuing degrees in the STEM fields — which are the fields pursued by the characters in the show — were chosen.

    That grew on Thursday with an announcement by Chuck Lorre, the show’s executive producer and co-creator.

    “In honor of our 12th and final season, we’re going to double our students, and we’ll be doing 10 every year instead of five,” Lorre told the students, UCLA officials and cast and crew. The scholarship will support one extra student each year until it reaches a total of 10. Lorre noted that although the show was ending, the scholarship would continue in perpetuity.

    “After the sun has burned out and this is a cold, lonely rock, we will still be giving,” Lorre joked, switching rapidly between sincerity and humor as he congratulated the first group of Big Bang scholars on their graduation this spring.

    “We’re proud of you. We had a little bit to do with it, which is really nice. And we hope that you take whatever it is you got out there and you have to go and do something with it, or we will hunt you down. We know your names,” he said as the students laughed.

    He added that thanks to the $5.5 million raised by the show, the endowment will also support Big Bang scholars who pursue a University of California graduate degree, like Quincy Zlotnick and Christopher Chen, who both expect to attend UCLA next year for graduate school. Big Bang scholars will be eligible for up to $15,000 annually for four years of grad school at UCLA or a one-time grant of up to $15,000 at other UC campuses.

    Mayim Bialik, who plays Amy on the show and graduated from UCLA with a doctorate in neuroscience, told the students how proud she was of them all before leading them in a final 8-clap.

    “I’m not the only Bruin here, but I think I’m the proudest Bruin here,” Bialik said. “Being a student is not just going to classes. It’s also about how you spend your time, what kind of social community you build, what kind of community you’re able to build outside of your classes — ”

    “And Thirsty Thursdays,” interrupted actor Kunal Nayyar.

    “And Thirsty Thursdays,” Bialik repeated, laughing along with the students. “It’s also about managing your free time, and about working or having money to buy the things that you want and the things you need, and also deciding how long to wait in line for a Diddy Riese cookie. But we’re very honored and we’re very grateful that we’ve been able to be part of your journey, and in this case, to lighten your load.”

    The scholarship has done exactly that for first-year student Tamar Ervin, who is majoring in astrophysics. She had planned to take out loans and bridge the rest of the gap by working during the school year, and expressed gratitude at being able to focus on her classes instead. Likewise, junior biology major and first-generation college student Jonathan Shi noted that when he was deciding to come to UCLA, his mother encouraged him to go, but he knew that she was stressed about how to pay. The scholarship made a huge difference for his family, he said.

    Junior aerospace engineering student Mia Reyes would not have been able to attend UCLA at all. Two days before the deadline to commit to UCLA — her “dream school” — she reluctantly selected a more affordable alternative, then at the last minute learned she had received the Big Bang scholarship that changed her life. Now, she’s part of a group called Bruin Space creating a high-altitude research balloon, and works in the engineering school’s Makerspace.

    “I’m trying to make the most of this scholarship,” Reyes said. “I hope we’re making them proud.”

    At UCLA, more than 50 percent of all undergraduate students receive need-based scholarships, grants or other aid. That includes approximately 35 percent of undergraduates who receive Pell Grants, federal aid for students from low-income families. More than a third of UCLA undergraduates are first-generation college students.

    Since 2015, the Big Bang scholars have visited the show’s set at Warner Bros. studio in Burbank at least once a year, and the actors, crew and others have come to recognize them. Each incoming class has received iPads, and at Thursday’s reception, representatives from Dell Technologies, who provide computers for use on-screen by the show’s characters, provided laptops to all the graduating seniors. The students also have an on-campus club, and the show supports the club’s events, from study nights and beach clean-ups, to tours of SpaceX and Northrop Grumman. Thursday found Bialik deep in conversation with seniors Kemeka Corry and Mekai Ruddock, both of whom she has now known for four years.

    “Mayim comes to see us at UCLA, and I don’t even know how many times we’ve come back to the set,” said Corry, a psychobiology major planning to attend medical school after a gap year. The people from the show really treat them like family, she said.

    “They take care of us,” agreed Ruddock, who studies neuroscience, like Bialik, and also plans to attend medical school. “They supported our trip to SpaceX, which opened up opportunities for internships.”

    The show created an endowment unlike any other at UCLA, said Rhea Turteltaub, vice chancellor for external affairs, as she reminisced about the formation of the scholarship.

    “Our students really have had the unique opportunity to engage with their benefactors in a very special way each year,” she said. “We’re back here for our last time and this is our first class that we get to congratulate as they embark on their final year at UCLA.”

    The endowment was originally created via a founding donation by the Chuck Lorre Family Foundation, combined with gifts from more than 50 people associated with the series — including the show’s stars, executive producers, writers and crew — plus partners such as Warner Bros. Television, CBS, ICM Partners, United Talent Agency, UCLA physics professor David Saltzberg, the show’s science consultant since its inception, and more.

    The actors expressed their own amazement that they could be involved in the students’ lives. Johnny Galecki, who plays Leonard, described the show as a dream come true that checked off almost every box on his list.

    “But as an 8th-grade drop-out, the box I never dared to dream of was to be at all associated with people like you. I’m extremely proud to be a small part of your lives and the future that you’ll build for all of us,” Galecki said, sounding choked up. “You are very much a part of our Big Bang Family. You are the cousins who are out there living fascinating lives, who we’re always proud to be related to and excited to get updates about. And that excitement will continue long after our work here is done on April 30. We will forever be your cheerleaders.”

    See the full article here .


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

    Stem Education Coalition

    UC LA Campus

    For nearly 100 years, UCLA has been a pioneer, persevering through impossibility, turning the futile into the attainable.

    We doubt the critics, reject the status quo and see opportunity in dissatisfaction. Our campus, faculty and students are driven by optimism. It is not naïve; it is essential. And it has fueled every accomplishment, allowing us to redefine what’s possible, time after time.

    This can-do perspective has brought us 12 Nobel Prizes, 12 Rhodes Scholarships, more NCAA titles than any university and more Olympic medals than most nations. Our faculty and alumni helped create the Internet and pioneered reverse osmosis. And more than 100 companies have been created based on technology developed at UCLA.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:49 am on March 5, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "New water-recycling plan brings L.A. closer to UCLA’s green goals for the city", “Conservation is about more than how we respond to a dry year — it should shape how we prepare our city for tomorrow” Garcetti said, Los Angeles city officials recently announced that the city would recycle 100 percent of its wastewater by 2035, Maximizing L.A.’s recycling capacity will increase the amount of water we source locally and help to ensure that Angelenos can count on access to clean water for generations to come., UCLA Newsroom, UCLA Sustainable LA Grand Challenge which aims to transition L.A. County to exclusively renewable energy and local water with enhanced ecosystem health by 2050., UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability could be instrumental in developing and technologies that will help make such largescale wastewater recycling facilities financially and techno, Under the city’s plan the amount of the city’s water supply obtained from recycled water would increase from the current 2 percent to 35 percent in 2035   

    From UCLA Newsroom: “New water-recycling plan brings L.A. closer to UCLA’s green goals for the city” 


    From UCLA Newsroom

    March 01, 2019
    Alison Hewitt

    1
    Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti overlooking the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant. Courtesy Office of Mayor Eric Garcetti.

    In a move to drastically improve water conservation and reduce reliance on imported water, Los Angeles city officials recently announced that the city would recycle 100 percent of its wastewater by 2035.

    This transition to recycled water has long been supported and in some cases advocated for by climate change and sustainable water management experts at UCLA, both through representation on the Los Angeles mayor’s water cabinet and the board of the Metropolitan Water District, and through studies. Key studies include a sustainable water management report for the city on steps to reach 100 percent local water, and a five-part research project examining the projected effects of climate change on the state’s main water source, snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

    The work supports the UCLA Sustainable LA Grand Challenge, which aims to transition L.A. County to exclusively renewable energy and local water, with enhanced ecosystem health by 2050.

    “The city’s new plan is moving us toward the Sustainable LA goals faster than almost anyone thought was possible,” said Mark Gold, UCLA’s associate vice chancellor of environment and sustainability.

    Under the city’s plan, the amount of the city’s water supply obtained from recycled water would increase from the current 2 percent to 35 percent in 2035, according to a news release. Three of Los Angeles’ four sewage treatment facilities already recycle water to some extent. The fourth, the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant, is the largest water treatment facility west of the Mississippi and a historic culprit in the pollution of the Santa Monica Bay, Gold explained.

    “The mayor’s bold and visionary announcement marks the dawn of the city’s transformation to a sustainable water management future where every drop of local water is treated as essential,” Gold said in the release. “The transformation of the city’s four treatment plants to full water recycling can supply Los Angeles with approximately a third of our annual water supply: the most critical step in making this megacity a sustainable L.A.”

    Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti co-chairs the L.A. Sustainability Leadership Council, formed in partnership with UCLA and fellow co-chair, UCLA Chancellor Gene Block.

    “Conservation is about more than how we respond to a dry year — it should shape how we prepare our city for tomorrow,” Garcetti said. “Maximizing L.A.’s recycling capacity will increase the amount of water we source locally, and help to ensure that Angelenos can count on access to clean water for generations to come.”

    Gold anticipates that UCLA faculty working on wastewater research, such as professors Michael Stenstrom and Eric Hoek, who are part of UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, and David Jassby, an expert on water resources engineering, could be instrumental in developing and technologies that will help make such largescale wastewater recycling facilities financially and technologically feasible.

    See the full article here .


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

    Stem Education Coalition

    UC LA Campus

    For nearly 100 years, UCLA has been a pioneer, persevering through impossibility, turning the futile into the attainable.

    We doubt the critics, reject the status quo and see opportunity in dissatisfaction. Our campus, faculty and students are driven by optimism. It is not naïve; it is essential. And it has fueled every accomplishment, allowing us to redefine what’s possible, time after time.

    This can-do perspective has brought us 12 Nobel Prizes, 12 Rhodes Scholarships, more NCAA titles than any university and more Olympic medals than most nations. Our faculty and alumni helped create the Internet and pioneered reverse osmosis. And more than 100 companies have been created based on technology developed at UCLA.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:28 am on February 15, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Ceramics, , Researchers create ultra-lightweight ceramic material that can better withstand extreme temperatures, UCLA Newsroom   

    From UCLA Newsroom: “Researchers create ultra-lightweight ceramic material that can better withstand extreme temperatures” 


    From UCLA Newsroom

    February 14, 2019
    Matthew Chin

    UCLA-led team develops highly durable aerogel that could ultimately be an upgrade for insulation on spacecraft.

    1
    The new ceramic aerogel is so lightweight that it can rest on a flower without damaging it. Xiangfeng Duan and Xiang Xu/UCLA

    UCLA researchers and collaborators at eight other research institutions have created an extremely light, very durable ceramic aerogel. The material could be used for applications like insulating spacecraft because it can withstand the intense heat and severe temperature changes that space missions endure.

    Ceramic aerogels have been used to insulate industrial equipment since the 1990s, and they have been used to insulate scientific equipment on NASA’s Mars rover missions. But the new version is much more durable after exposure to extreme heat and repeated temperature spikes, and much lighter. Its unique atomic composition and microscopic structure also make it unusually elastic.

    When it’s heated, the material contracts rather than expanding like other ceramics do. It also contracts perpendicularly to the direction that it’s compressed — imagine pressing a tennis ball on a table and having the center of the ball move inward rather than expanding out — the opposite of how most materials react when compressed. As a result, the material is far more flexible and less brittle than current state-of-the-art ceramic aerogels: It can be compressed to 5 percent of its original volume and fully recover, while other existing aerogels can be compressed to only about 20 percent and then fully recover.

    The research, which was published today in Science, was led by Xiangfeng Duan, a UCLA professor of chemistry and biochemistry; Yu Huang, a UCLA professor of materials science and engineering; and Hui Li of Harbin Institute of Technology, China. The study’s first authors are Xiang Xu, a visiting postdoctoral fellow in chemistry at UCLA from Harbin Institute of Technology; Qiangqiang Zhang of Lanzhou University; and Menglong Hao of UC Berkeley and Southeast University.

    Other members of the research team were from UC Berkeley; Purdue University; Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; Hunan University, China; Lanzhou University, China; and King Saud University, Saudi Arabia.

    Despite the fact that more than 99 percent of their volume is air, aerogels are solid and structurally very strong for their weight. They can be made from many types of materials, including ceramics, carbon or metal oxides. Compared with other insulators, ceramic-based aerogels are superior in blocking extreme temperatures, and they have ultralow density and are highly resistant to fire and corrosion — all qualities that lend themselves well to reusable spacecraft.

    But current ceramic aerogels are highly brittle and tend to fracture after repeated exposure to extreme heat and dramatic temperature swings, both of which are common in space travel.

    The new material is made of thin layers of boron nitride, a ceramic, with atoms that are connected in hexagon patterns, like chicken wire.

    In the UCLA-led research, it withstood conditions that would typically fracture other aerogels. It stood up to hundreds of exposures to sudden and extreme temperature spikes when the engineers raised and lowered the temperature in a testing container between minus 198 degrees Celsius and 900 degrees above zero over just a few seconds. In another test, it lost less than 1 percent of its mechanical strength after being stored for one week at 1,400 degrees Celsius.

    “The key to the durability of our new ceramic aerogel is its unique architecture,” Duan said. “Its innate flexibility helps it take the pounding from extreme heat and temperature shocks that would cause other ceramic aerogels to fail.”

    2
    Breath mint-sized samples of the ceramic aerogels developed by a UCLA-led research team. The material is 99 percent air by volume, making it super lightweight. Oszie Tarula/UCLA

    Ordinary ceramic materials usually expand when heated and contract when they are cooled. Over time, those repeated temperature changes can lead those materials to fracture and ultimately fail. The new aerogel was designed to be more durable by doing just the opposite — it contracts rather than expanding when heated.

    In addition, the aerogel’s ability to contract perpendicularly to the direction that it’s being compressed — like the tennis ball example — help it survive repeated and rapid temperature changes. (That property is known as a negative Poisson’s ratio.) It also has interior “walls” that are reinforced with a double-pane structure, which cuts down the material’s weight while increasing its insulating abilities.

    Duan said the process researchers developed to make the new aerogel also could be adapted to make other ultra-lightweight materials.

    “Those materials could be useful for thermal insulation in spacecraft, automobiles or other specialized equipment,” he said. “They could also be useful for thermal energy storage, catalysis or filtration.”

    The research was partly supported by grants from the National Science Foundation.

    See the full article here .


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

    Stem Education Coalition

    UC LA Campus

    For nearly 100 years, UCLA has been a pioneer, persevering through impossibility, turning the futile into the attainable.

    We doubt the critics, reject the status quo and see opportunity in dissatisfaction. Our campus, faculty and students are driven by optimism. It is not naïve; it is essential. And it has fueled every accomplishment, allowing us to redefine what’s possible, time after time.

    This can-do perspective has brought us 12 Nobel Prizes, 12 Rhodes Scholarships, more NCAA titles than any university and more Olympic medals than most nations. Our faculty and alumni helped create the Internet and pioneered reverse osmosis. And more than 100 companies have been created based on technology developed at UCLA.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:38 pm on February 13, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Indonesia’s devastating 2018 earthquake was a rare ‘supershear’ according to UCLA-led study, , , UCLA Newsroom   

    From UCLA Newsroom: “Indonesia’s devastating 2018 earthquake was a rare ‘supershear,’ according to UCLA-led study” 


    From UCLA Newsroom

    February 11, 2019

    Stuart Wolpert
    310-206-0511
    swolpert@stratcomm.ucla.edu

    1
    Pierre Prakash/European Union

    In supershear quakes, the rupture moves faster than the shear waves, which produces more energy in a shorter time, making supershears unusually destructive.

    The devastating 7.5 magnitude earthquake that struck the Indonesian island of Sulawesi last September was a rare “supershear” earthquake, according to a study led by UCLA researchers.

    Only a dozen supershear quakes have been identified in the past two decades, according to Lingsen Meng, UCLA’s Leon and Joanne V.C. Knopoff Professor of Physics and Geophysics and one of the report’s senior authors. The new study was published Feb. 4 in the journal Nature Geoscience.

    Meng and a team of scientists from UCLA, France’s Geoazur Laboratory, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Caltech, and the Seismological Laboratory at Caltech analyzed the speed, timing and extent of the Palu earthquake. Using high-resolution observations of the seismic waves caused by the temblor, along with satellite radar and optical images, they found that the earthquake propagated unusually fast, which identified it as a supershear.

    Supershear earthquakes are characterized by the rupture in the earth’s crust moving very fast along a fault, causing the up-and-down or side-to-side waves that shake the ground — called seismic shear waves — to intensify. Shear waves are created in standard earthquakes, too, but in supershear quakes, the rupture moving faster than the shear waves produces more energy in a shorter time, which is what makes supershears even more destructive.

    “That intense shaking was responsible for the widespread landslides and liquefactions [the softening of soil caused by the shaking, which often causes buildings to sink into the mud] that followed the Palu earthquake,” Meng said.

    In fact, he said, the vibrations produced by the shaking of supershear earthquakes is analogous to the sound vibrations of the sonic boom produced by supersonic jets.

    2
    Lingsen Meng. Penny Jennings/UCLA

    UCLA graduate student Han Bao, the report’s first author, gathered publicly available ground-motion recordings from a sensor network in Australia — about 2,500 miles away from where the earthquake was centered — and used a UCLA-developed source imaging technique that tracks the growth of large earthquakes to determine its rupture speed. The technique is similar to how a smartphone user’s location can be determined by triangulating the times that phone signals arrive at cellphone antenna towers.

    “Our technique uses a similar idea,” Meng said. “We measured the delays between different seismic sensors that record the seismic motions at set locations.”

    The researchers could then use that to determine the location of the rupture at different times during the earthquake.

    They determined that the minute-long quake moved away from the epicenter at 4.1 kilometers per second (or about 2.6 miles per second), faster than the surrounding shear-wave speed of 3.6 kilometers per second (2.3 miles per second). By comparison, non-shear earthquakes more at about 60 percent of that speed — around 2.2 kilometers per second (1.3 miles per second), Meng said.

    Previous supershear earthquakes — like the magnitude 7.8 Kunlun earthquake in Tibet in 2001 and the magnitude 7.9 Denali earthquake in Alaska in 2002 — have occurred on faults that were remarkably straight, meaning that there were few obstacles to the quakes’ paths. But the researchers found on satellite images of the Palu quake that the fault line had two large bends. The temblor was so strong that the rupture was able to maintain a steady speed around these bends.

    That could be an important lesson for seismologists and other scientists who assess earthquake hazards.

    “If supershear earthquakes occur on nonplanar faults, as the Palu earthquake did, we have to consider the possibility of stronger shaking along California’s San Andreas fault, which has many bends, kinks and branches,” Meng said.

    Supershear earthquakes typically start at sub-shear speed and then speed up as they continue. But Meng said the Palu earthquake progressed at supershear speed almost from its inception, which would imply that there was high stress in the rocks surrounding the fault — and therefore stronger shaking and more land movement in a compressed amount of time than would in standard earthquakes.

    “Geometrically irregular rock fragments along the fault plane usually act as barriers preventing earthquakes,” Meng said. “However, if the pressure accumulates for a long time — for decades or even hundreds of years — an earthquake will eventually overcome the barriers and will go supershear right away.”

    Among the paper’s other authors are Tian Feng, a UCLA graduate student, and Hui Huang, a UCLA postdoctoral scholar. The UCLA researchers were supported by the National Science Foundation and the Leon and Joanne V.C. Knopoff Foundation.

    The other authors are Cunren Liang of the Seismological Laboratory at Caltech; Eric Fielding and Christopher Milliner of JPL at Caltech and Jean-Paul Ampuero of Geoazur.


    See the full article here .


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

    Stem Education Coalition

    UC LA Campus

    For nearly 100 years, UCLA has been a pioneer, persevering through impossibility, turning the futile into the attainable.

    We doubt the critics, reject the status quo and see opportunity in dissatisfaction. Our campus, faculty and students are driven by optimism. It is not naïve; it is essential. And it has fueled every accomplishment, allowing us to redefine what’s possible, time after time.

    This can-do perspective has brought us 12 Nobel Prizes, 12 Rhodes Scholarships, more NCAA titles than any university and more Olympic medals than most nations. Our faculty and alumni helped create the Internet and pioneered reverse osmosis. And more than 100 companies have been created based on technology developed at UCLA.

    Earthquake Alert

    1

    Earthquake Alert

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

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

    Get the app in the Google Play store.

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

    Meet The Quake-Catcher Network

    QCN bloc

    Quake-Catcher Network

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The primary project partners include:

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

    The Earthquake Threat

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

    Part of the Solution

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

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

    System Goal

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

    Current Status

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

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

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

    Authorities

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

    For More Information

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

    Learn more about EEW Research

    ShakeAlert Fact Sheet

    ShakeAlert Implementation Plan

     
  • richardmitnick 2:48 pm on January 31, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Changes in RNA editing play an important role in the disorder scientists find, UCLA Newsroom   

    From UCLA Newsroom: “UCLA-led team uncovers critical new clues about what goes awry in brains of people with autism” 


    From UCLA Newsroom

    January 30, 2019
    Stuart Wolpert

    Changes in RNA editing play an important role in the disorder, scientists find.

    1
    The research of UCLA professors Xinshu (Grace) Xiao, Dr. Daniel Geschwind and their team is the first comprehensive study of RNA editing in autism spectrum disorder.

    A team of UCLA-led scientists has discovered important clues to what goes wrong in the brains of people with autism — a developmental disorder with no cure and for which scientists have no deep understanding of what causes it.

    The new insights involve RNA editing — in which genetic material is normal, but modifications in RNA alter nucleotides, whose patterns carry the data required for constructing proteins.

    “RNA editing is probably having a substantial physiologic effect in the brain, but is poorly understood,” said co-author Dr. Daniel Geschwind, UCLA’s Gordon and Virginia MacDonald distinguished professor of human genetics, neurology and psychiatry and director of UCLA’s Institute for Precision Health. “RNA editing is a mysterious area whose biological implications have not been much explored. We know what only a handful of these RNA editing sites do to proteins. This study gives a new critical clue in understanding what has gone awry in the brains of autism patients.”

    More than 24 million people worldwide are estimated to have autism. In developed countries, about 1.5 percent of children have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder as of 2017. The disorder affects communication and behavior, and is marked by problems in social communication and social interaction, and repetitive behaviors.

    “We need to understand how a panoply of genetic and environmental factors converges to cause autism,” Geschwind said. “RNA editing is an important piece of the autism puzzle that has been totally under-appreciated.”

    The researchers analyzed brain samples from 69 people who died, about half of whom had autism spectrum disorder (which includes autism and related conditions), and about half of whom did not and served as a control group.

    Xinshu (Grace) Xiao, the senior author of the research and UCLA’s Maria R. Ross professor of integrative biology and physiology, and her research team analyzed seven billion nucleotides for each brain sample.

    Xiao’s team discovered reduced editing in the group members with autism. Specifically, they identified 3,314 editing sites in the brain’s frontal cortex in which the autism patients had different levels of RNA editing from the control group. In 2,308 of those sites, the individuals with autism had reduced RNA editing, said lead author Stephen Tran, a graduate student in UCLA’s bioinformatics interdepartmental program who works in Xiao’s laboratory. In the 1,006 others, they had increased levels of RNA editing, he added.

    3
    Stephen Tran. Reed Hutchinson/UCLA

    In the brain’s temporal cortex, the people with autism had different levels of RNA editing from the control group in 2,412 editing sites, with 1,471 of those sites showing reduced editing levels, Tran said. In the brain’s cerebellum, the autism group members had different levels of RNA editing from control group members in 4,340 sites, of which 3,330 sites in the autistic brain had decreased levels. All three of these brain regions are very important in autism.

    The research, published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, is the first comprehensive study of RNA editing in autism spectrum disorder.

    Xiao said RNA editing can be thought of as RNA mutations, analogous to the DNA mutations that are linked to many diseases.

    “The same piece of DNA can generate multiple versions of RNA, and possibly lead to different protein sequences,” said Xiao, director of UCLA’s bioinformatics interdepartmental graduate program. “RNA editing allows cells to create novel protein sequences that are not written in the DNA.”

    Scientists had long assumed that a sequence of RNA is a faithful copy of a gene’s DNA sequence — and that RNA is merely the cellular messenger that carries out DNA’s instructions to other parts of the cell. “This assumption was proved to be wrong when RNA editing was first discovered in the 1980s,” Xiao said, “and we are finding many examples where the genetic codes we inherit from our parents are edited in our cells.”

    In another major finding, the researchers identified two proteins, called FMRP and FXR1P, that regulate abnormal RNA editing in autism spectrum disorder. FMRP increases RNA editing and FXR1P decreases RNA editing, Tran discovered. The autism group had reduced editing levels regulated by FMRP, as well as reduced RNA editing overall.

    “This is the first strong data showing a broad and direct functional role for FMRP and FXR1P in the human brain and autism,” Xiao said.

    “Something about what FMRP does is clearly critical to autism pathogenesis,” Geschwind said. “Grace and her team show that these two related proteins are likely responsible for the reduced RNA editing, as well as the occasional increased RNA editing.”

    It is currently unknown, he said, whether the changes the people with autism had in RNA editing caused their autism, contributed to the disorder or were a result of it. “We can’t assign causality,” said Geschwind, who praised the research of Xiao’s team as “elegant and brilliant.”

    RNA editing may also be disrupted in schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression. The research team plans to continue to study this as well as other brain diseases.

    Xiao and Tran replicated their findings by analyzing the frontal cortex from a different group of 22 people who had autism spectrum disorder and a control group of 23 without the disorder. They found the same pattern of editing reduction as they found originally, Tran said.

    The researchers found RNA editing alterations in genes of critical neurological relevance to autism, including CNTNAP2 and CNTNAP4, NRXN1 and NRXN3, ANK2, NOVA1 and RBFOX1.

    Xiao and Tran used powerful methods of bioinformatics and statistics to identify the RNA editing sites, including a method similar to GIREMI that Xiao designed in 2015 with Qing Zhang, a former postdoctoral scholar in her laboratory.

    In searching for causes of diseases, most research has focused on searching for mutations in the DNA. “What was missing, until recently,” Xiao said, “is to look for RNA mutations that are not coded in the DNA. These changes in the RNA could have similar impact as DNA mutations.”

    This study may eventually lead to new treatments for autism, but likely not for many years, the researchers said.

    See the full article here .


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

    Stem Education Coalition

    UC LA Campus

    For nearly 100 years, UCLA has been a pioneer, persevering through impossibility, turning the futile into the attainable.

    We doubt the critics, reject the status quo and see opportunity in dissatisfaction. Our campus, faculty and students are driven by optimism. It is not naïve; it is essential. And it has fueled every accomplishment, allowing us to redefine what’s possible, time after time.

    This can-do perspective has brought us 12 Nobel Prizes, 12 Rhodes Scholarships, more NCAA titles than any university and more Olympic medals than most nations. Our faculty and alumni helped create the Internet and pioneered reverse osmosis. And more than 100 companies have been created based on technology developed at UCLA.

     
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