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  • richardmitnick 9:10 am on February 7, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: grand minimum, , Reduced Energy from the Sun Might Occur by Mid-Century. Now Scientists Know by How Much, , UCSD   

    From UCSD: “Reduced Energy from the Sun Might Occur by Mid-Century. Now Scientists Know by How Much” 

    UC San Diego bloc

    UC San Diego

    Robert Monroe
    858-534-3624
    scrippsnews@ucsd.edu

    UC San Diego scientists review satellite observations of nearby Sun-like stars to estimate the strength of the next “grand minimum” period of diminished UV radiation.

    1
    Magnetic loops gyrate above the sun, March 23-24, 2017. Photo: NASA/GSFC/Solar Dynamics Observatory

    Solar eruption 2012 by NASA’s Solar Dynamic Observatory SDO


    NASA/SDO

    The Sun might emit less radiation by mid-century, giving planet Earth a chance to warm a bit more slowly but not halt the trend of human-induced climate change.

    The cooldown would be the result of what scientists call a grand minimum, a periodic event during which the Sun’s magnetism diminishes, sunspots form infrequently, and less ultraviolet radiation makes it to the surface of the planet. Scientists believe that the event is triggered at irregular intervals by random fluctuations related to the Sun’s magnetic field.

    Scientists have used reconstructions based on geological and historical data to attribute a cold period in Europe in the mid-17th Century to such an event, named the “Maunder Minimum.” Temperatures were low enough to freeze the Thames River on a regular basis and freeze the Baltic Sea to such an extent that a Swedish army was able to invade Denmark in 1658 on foot by marching across the sea ice.

    A team of scientists led by research physicist Dan Lubin at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego has created for the first time an estimate of how much dimmer the Sun should be when the next minimum takes place.

    There is a well-known 11-year cycle in which the Sun’s ultraviolet radiation peaks and declines as a result of sunspot activity. During a grand minimum, Lubin estimates that ultraviolet radiation diminishes an additional seven percent beyond the lowest point of that cycle. His team’s study, “Ultraviolet Flux Decrease Under a Grand Minimum from IUE Short-wavelength Observation of Solar Analogs,” appears in the publication Astrophysical Journal Letters and was funded by the state of California.

    “Now we have a benchmark from which we can perform better climate model simulations,” Lubin said. “We can therefore have a better idea of how changes in solar UV radiation affect climate change.”

    Lubin and colleagues David Tytler and Carl Melis of UC San Diego’s Center for Astrophysics and Space Sciences arrived at their estimate of a grand minimum’s intensity by reviewing nearly 20 years of data gathered by the International Ultraviolet Explorer satellite mission.

    2
    NASA International Ultraviolet Explorer satellite

    They compared radiation from stars that are analogous to the Sun and identified those that were experiencing minima.

    The reduced energy from the Sun sets into motion a sequence of events on Earth beginning with a thinning of the stratospheric ozone layer. That thinning in turn changes the temperature structure of the stratosphere, which then changes the dynamics of the lower atmosphere, especially wind and weather patterns. The cooling is not uniform. While areas of Europe chilled during the Maunder Minimum, other areas such as Alaska and southern Greenland warmed correspondingly.

    Lubin and other scientists predict a significant probability of a near-future grand minimum because the downward sunspot pattern in recent solar cycles resembles the run-ups to past grand minimum events.

    Despite how much the Maunder Minimum might have affected Earth the last time, Lubin said that an upcoming event would not stop the current trend of planetary warming but might slow it somewhat. The cooling effect of a grand minimum is only a fraction of the warming effect caused by the increasing concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. After hundreds of thousands of years of CO2 levels never exceeding 300 parts per million in air, the concentration of the greenhouse gas is now over 400 parts per million, continuing a rise that began with the Industrial Revolution. Other researchers have used computer models to estimate what an event similar to a Maunder Minimum, if it were to occur in coming decades, might mean for our current climate, which is now rapidly warming.

    One such study looked at the climate consequences of a future Maunder Minimum-type grand solar minimum, assuming a total solar irradiance reduced by 0.25 percent over a 50-year period from 2020 to 2070. The study found that after the initial decrease of solar radiation in 2020, globally averaged surface air temperature cooled by up to several tenths of a degree Celsius. By the end of the simulated grand solar minimum, however, the warming in the model with the simulated Maunder Minimum had nearly caught up to the reference simulation. Thus, a main conclusion of the study is that “a future grand solar minimum could slow down but not stop global warming.”

    See the full article here .

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    UC San Diego Campus

    The University of California, San Diego (also referred to as UC San Diego or UCSD), is a public research university located in the La Jolla area of San Diego, California, in the United States.[12] The university occupies 2,141 acres (866 ha) near the coast of the Pacific Ocean with the main campus resting on approximately 1,152 acres (466 ha).[13] Established in 1960 near the pre-existing Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego is the seventh oldest of the 10 University of California campuses and offers over 200 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, enrolling about 22,700 undergraduate and 6,300 graduate students. UC San Diego is one of America’s Public Ivy universities, which recognizes top public research universities in the United States. UC San Diego was ranked 8th among public universities and 37th among all universities in the United States, and rated the 18th Top World University by U.S. News & World Report ‘s 2015 rankings.

     
    • Skyscapes for the Soul 9:29 am on February 7, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Interesting the note about in the Maunder minimum Europe froze while Alaska warmed. Now we’re seeing Alaska warming again, but Russia seems to be having a harder than usual winter, and perhaps Europe too? I just see news items about Paris and Moscow having record snow.

      Like

  • richardmitnick 12:48 pm on December 14, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , UCSD   

    From PNNL: “Scientists create unprecedented catalog of microbial life on planet Earth” 

    PNNL BLOC
    PNNL Lab

    November 01, 2017[ Now in social media]
    Tom Rickey
    tom.rickey@pnnl.gov
    (509) 375-3732

    1
    Microbiome expert Janet Jansson. Credit: Andrea Starr / PNNL

    2
    Credit: UC San Diego Center for Microbiome Innovation

    Scientists have taken the most extensive snapshot ever of the vast microbial life on Earth.

    By drawing on more than 27,000 samples of soil, tissue, and water from the Arctic to Antarctica, more than 300 scientists at scores of institutions worldwide have created the first reference database of bacteria inhabiting the planet. The findings were published Nov. 1 in the journal Nature.

    The study is the latest result from the Earth Microbiome Project, which is led by a trio of scientists including Janet Jansson of the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and colleagues at the University of California San Diego, the University of Chicago and DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory.

    Microbes are tiny, but the goal of Jansson and her colleagues from the outset in 2010 was anything but: To sample as many of the Earth’s microbial communities as possible to advance scientific understanding of microbes and their relationships with their environments, including plants, animals and humans. So far the project has spanned seven continents and 43 countries, with scientists analyzing more than 2 billion DNA sequences from bacteria and other microbes.

    The team so far has identified around 300,000 unique sequences of the 16S rRNA gene, a genetic marker specific for bacteria and their relatives, archaea. The 16S rRNA sequences serve almost like barcodes — unique identifiers that allow researchers to track bacteria across samples from around the world.

    For more information about the work by Jansson and the team, view the full news release.

    See the full article here .

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    Stem Education Coalition

    Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) is one of the United States Department of Energy National Laboratories, managed by the Department of Energy’s Office of Science. The main campus of the laboratory is in Richland, Washington.

    PNNL scientists conduct basic and applied research and development to strengthen U.S. scientific foundations for fundamental research and innovation; prevent and counter acts of terrorism through applied research in information analysis, cyber security, and the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction; increase the U.S. energy capacity and reduce dependence on imported oil; and reduce the effects of human activity on the environment. PNNL has been operated by Battelle Memorial Institute since 1965.

    i1

     
  • richardmitnick 1:35 pm on November 2, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Mapping the Microbiome of … Everything, Massive global research collaboration known as the Earth Microbiome Project catalogues planet’s microbial diversity at unprecedented scale, UCSD   

    From UCSD: “Mapping the Microbiome of … Everything” 

    UC San Diego bloc

    UC San Diego

    November 01, 2017
    Heather Buschman

    Massive global research collaboration known as the Earth Microbiome Project catalogues planet’s microbial diversity at unprecedented scale.

    1
    From left, Berkeley Lab researchers Eric Dubinsky, Shi Wang (on left), and Neslihan Tas contributed to the Earth Microbiome Project. LBNL.

    ​In the Earth Microbiome Project, an extensive global team co-led by researchers at University of California San Diego, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory collected more than 27,000 samples from numerous, diverse environments around the globe. They analyzed the unique collections of microbes — the microbiomes — living in each sample to generate the first reference database of bacteria colonizing the planet. Thanks to newly standardized protocols, original analytical methods and open data-sharing, the project will continue to grow and improve as new data are added.

    The paper describing this effort, published November 1 in Nature, was co-authored by more than 300 researchers at more than 160 institutions worldwide.

    2
    Earth Microbiome Project collaborators collect and analyze samples from diverse environments around the world. Top left: Hiking through the rain forest of Puerto Rico to sample soils with students (credit: Krista McGuire, University of Oregon). Top middle: Colobine monkeys in China, whose fecal microbiomes were sampled for this study (credit: Kefeng Niu). Top right: Bat in Belize, whose fecal microbiome was sampled for this study (credit: Angelique Corthals and Liliana Davalos). Bottom Left: Researcher sampling a stream in the Brooks Mountain Range, Alaska (credit: Byron Crump). Bottom middle: Swabbing bird eggshells from Spain (credit: Juan Peralta-Sanchez). Bottom right: Researcher sampling the southernmost geothermal soils on the planet, at summit of Mt. Erebus, Ross Island, Antarctica (credit: S. Craig Cary, Univ. of Waikato, New Zealand).

    The Earth Microbiome Project was founded in 2010 by Rob Knight, PhD, professor at UC San Diego School of Medicine and director of the Center for Microbiome Innovation at UC San Diego; Jack Gilbert, PhD, professor and faculty director of The Microbiome Center at University of Chicago and group leader in Microbial Ecology at Argonne National Laboratory; Rick Stevens, PhD, associate laboratory director at Argonne National Laboratory and professor and senior fellow at University of Chicago; and Janet Jansson, PhD, chief scientist for biology and laboratory fellow at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Knight, Gilbert and Jansson are also co-senior authors of the Nature paper and Stevens is a co-author.

    “The potential applications for this database and the types of research questions we can now ask are almost limitless,” Knight said. “Here’s just one example — we can now identify what kind of environment a sample came from in more than 90 percent of cases, just by knowing its microbiome, or the types and relative quantities of microbes living in it. That could be useful forensic information at a crime scene … think ‘CSI.’”

    The goal of the Earth Microbiome Project is to sample as many of the Earth’s microbial communities as possible in order to advance scientific understanding of microbes and their relationships with their environments, including plants, animals and humans. This task requires the help of scientists from all over the globe. So far, the project has spanned seven continents and 43 countries, from the Arctic to the Antarctic, and more than 500 researchers have contributed to the sample and data collection. Project members are using this information as part of approximately 100 studies, half of which have been published in peer-reviewed journals.

    “Microbes are everywhere,” said first author Luke Thompson, PhD, who took on the role of project manager while a postdoctoral researcher in Knight’s lab and is currently a research associate at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). “Yet prior to this massive undertaking, changes in microbial community composition were identified mainly by focusing on one sample type, one region at a time. This made it difficult to identify patterns across environments and geography to infer generalized principles.”

    Project members analyze bacterial diversity among various environments, geographies and chemistries by sequencing the 16S rRNA gene, a genetic marker specific for bacteria and their relatives, archaea. The 16S rRNA sequences serve as “barcodes” to identify different types of bacteria, allowing researchers to track them across samples from around the world. Earth Microbiome Project researchers also used a new method to remove sequencing errors in the data, allowing them to get a more accurate picture of the number of unique sequences in the microbiomes.

    Within this first release of data, the Earth Microbiome Project team identified around 300,000 unique microbial 16S rRNA sequences, almost 90 percent of which don’t have exact matches in pre-existing databases.

    Pre-existing 16S rRNA sequences are limited because they were not designed to allow researchers to add data in a way that’s useful for the future. Project co-author Jon Sanders, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher in Knight’s lab, compares the difference between these other databases and the Earth Microbiome Project to the difference between a phone book and Facebook. “Before, you had to write in to get your sequence listed, and the listing would contain very little information about where the sequence came from or what other sequences it was found with,” he said. “Now, we have a framework that supports all that additional context, and which can grow organically to support new kinds of questions and insights.”

    “There are large swaths of microbial diversity left to catalogue. And yet we’ve ‘recaptured’ about half of all known bacterial sequences,” Gilbert said. “With this information, patterns in the distribution of the Earth’s microbes are already emerging.”

    According to Gilbert, one of the most surprising observations is that unique 16S sequences are far more specific to individual environments than are the typical units of species used by scientists. The diversity of environments sampled by the Earth Microbiome Project helps demonstrate just how much local environment shapes the microbiome. For example, the skin microbiomes of cetaceans (whales and dolphins) and fish are more similar to each other than they are to the water they swim in; conversely, the salt in saltwater microbiomes makes them distinct from freshwater, but they are still more similar to each other than to aquatic animal skin. Overall, the microbiomes of a host, such as a human or animal, were quite distinct from free-living microbiomes, such as those found in water and soil. For example, the free-living microbiomes were far more diverse, in general, than host-associated microbiomes.

    “These global ecological patterns offer just a glimpse of what is possible with coordinated and cumulative sampling,” Jansson said. “More sampling is needed to account for factors such as latitude and elevation, and to track environmental changes over time. The Earth Microbiome Project provides both a resource for the exploration of myriad questions, and a starting point for the guided acquisition of new data to answer them.”

    For more about the Earth Microbiome Project, visit earthmicrobiome.org and follow @earthmicrobiome on Twitter. For the complete list of co-authors and institutions participating in the Earth Microbiome Project, view the full Nature paper .

    The project was funded, in part, by the John Templeton Foundation, W. M. Keck Foundation, Argonne National Laboratory, Australian Research Council, and Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment, which is supported by National Science Foundation (ACI-1053575).

    See the full article here .

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    UC San Diego Campus

    The University of California, San Diego (also referred to as UC San Diego or UCSD), is a public research university located in the La Jolla area of San Diego, California, in the United States.[12] The university occupies 2,141 acres (866 ha) near the coast of the Pacific Ocean with the main campus resting on approximately 1,152 acres (466 ha).[13] Established in 1960 near the pre-existing Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego is the seventh oldest of the 10 University of California campuses and offers over 200 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, enrolling about 22,700 undergraduate and 6,300 graduate students. UC San Diego is one of America’s Public Ivy universities, which recognizes top public research universities in the United States. UC San Diego was ranked 8th among public universities and 37th among all universities in the United States, and rated the 18th Top World University by U.S. News & World Report ‘s 2015 rankings.

     
  • richardmitnick 3:16 pm on July 17, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A key building block for controlling microbiomes, Controlling gene expression across bacterial colonies, , , Master clock, Programming the clock, , UCSD   

    From UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering: “Scientists at the UC San Diego Center for Microbiome Innovation invent new tool for the Synthetic Biologist’s toolbox” 

    UC San Diego bloc

    UC San Diego


    Jacobs School of Engineering

    July 10, 2017
    Mario Aguilera
    Scripps Institute of Oceanography
    Phone: 858-534-3624
    scrippsnews@ucsd.edu

    Researchers at the University of California San Diego have invented a new method for controlling gene expression across bacterial colonies. The method involves engineering dynamic DNA copy number changes in a synchronized fashion. The results were published in the July 10, 2017 online edition of Nature Genetics.

    Until now, methods for controlling or programming bacterial cells involved transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulation. UC San Diego researchers led by Jeff Hasty, a professor of bioengineering and biology and member of the UC San Diego Center for Microbiome Innovation, describe a new method, which involves cutting circular pieces of bacterial DNA called plasmids, effectively destroying the DNA and turning off regulation.

    The study also demonstrates how DNA concentration can be increased to turn on a synthetic gene circuit. By controlling DNA copy number, researchers can effectively regulate gene expression.

    Synthetic Biology – which can involve altering biological systems for some purpose – is emerging as an engineering discipline. The field was firmly established in 2000, with the description of synthetic biological circuits in which parts of a cell are designed to perform functions, similar to the way an electronic circuit works. Also similar to an electronic circuit, the task performed by a biological circuit can be turned on and off. At the same time, researchers described the making of a “genetic clock”, which involves placing genes in a particular order so that they’ll be turned on at a specific time. This approach has also helped researchers understand natural “oscillators”, such as our sleep-wake cycle.

    Since these early inventions, Hasty and his team have shown how engineered cellular oscillations can be synchronized within a bacterial colony using plasmids, synthetically designed by the researchers themselves. Now, the team is adding a new tool to the Synthetic Biologist’s toolbox – a “master clock” of sorts that will allow researchers to coordinate subprocesses in bacterial cells.

    “This remarkable achievement is a key building block for controlling microbiomes”, said Rob Knight, professor of pediatrics at UC San Diego with a joint appointment in computer science and engineering. Knight leads the Center for Microbiome Innovation. “By controlling different strains with the same master clock, or by giving different strains their own clocks, we can start to engineer population-level dynamics to control specific microbiome functions.”

    Examples of these functions might include interaction with host cells at particular times of day, such as timed release of neurotransmitters produced by the bacteria, or interactions with other bacteria such as antifungal production triggered by a meal rich in sugar.

    Programming the clock

    The researchers used an endonuclease from Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a species of yeast, expressed alongside a plasmid containing the nuclease recognition sequence to temporarily reduce the plasmid’s copy number below natural levels.

    “We found that plasmid replication is so strong that we couldn’t cut them all,” said Hasty. “This was good news, because it meant we could down-regulate gene expression, but not eliminate it.”

    The researchers reasoned that the method could be used to regulate an entire suite of genes and promoters, and tested their idea using a previously constructed circuit to produce sustained cycling of DNA plasmid concentration across a colony of E. coli cells.

    The circuit works by using a small molecule, known as AHL, to coordinate gene expression across a colony of bacterial cells. Once on, the genes driven by the promoter are also activated, including the AHL-producing gene itself. Thanks to this positive feedback loop, the more AHL accumulates, the more it is produced. Because AHL is small enough to diffuse between cells and turn on the promoter in neighboring cells, the genes activated by it would also be produced in high amounts, leading to a phenomenon known as quorum sensing.

    Hasty and his team employed the endonuclease to reduce the number of these plasmids present in the colony and used this mechanism as negative feedback to driving the oscillations in gene expression. Using quorum sensing, the feedback system was coupled across the colony of cells.

    “We observed regular oscillations of gene expression in microfluidic chambers at different colony length scales and over extended time periods,” said Hasty. “By incorporating elements for both positive and negative copy number regulation, we were able to improve the robustness of the circuit.”

    See the full article here .

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    UC San Diego Campus

    About the Jacobs School
    Innovation Happens Here

    The UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering is a premier research school set apart by our entrepreneurial culture and integrative engineering approach.

    The Jacobs School’s Mission:

    Educate Tomorrow’s Technology Leaders
    Conduct Leading Edge Research and Drive Innovation
    Transfer Discoveries for the Benefit of Society

    The Jacobs School’s Values:

    Engineering for the global good
    Exponential impact through entrepreneurism
    Collaboration to enrich relevance
    Our education models focus on deep and broad engineering fundamentals, enhanced by real-world design and research, often in partnership with industry. Through our Team Internship Program and GlobalTeams in Engineering Service program, for example, we encourage students to develop their communications and leadership skills while working in the kind of multi-disciplinary team environment experienced by real-world engineers.

    We are home to exciting research centers, such as the San Diego Supercomputer Center, a national resource for data-intensive computing; our Powell Structural Research Laboratories, the largest and most active in the world for full-scale structural testing; and the Qualcomm Institute, which is the UC San Diego division of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), which is forging new ground in multi-disciplinary applications for information technology.

    Located at the hub of San Diego’s thriving information technology, biotechnology, clean technology, and nanotechnology sectors, the Jacobs School proactively seeks corporate partners to collaborate with us in research, education and innovation.

    The University of California, San Diego (also referred to as UC San Diego or UCSD), is a public research university located in the La Jolla area of San Diego, California, in the United States.[12] The university occupies 2,141 acres (866 ha) near the coast of the Pacific Ocean with the main campus resting on approximately 1,152 acres (466 ha).[13] Established in 1960 near the pre-existing Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego is the seventh oldest of the 10 University of California campuses and offers over 200 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, enrolling about 22,700 undergraduate and 6,300 graduate students. UC San Diego is one of America’s Public Ivy universities, which recognizes top public research universities in the United States. UC San Diego was ranked 8th among public universities and 37th among all universities in the United States, and rated the 18th Top World University by U.S. News & World Report ‘s 2015 rankings.

     
  • richardmitnick 5:58 am on June 14, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A glove powered by soft robotics to interact with virtual reality environments, , , UCSD   

    From UCSD Jacobs: “A glove powered by soft robotics to interact with virtual reality environments” 

    UC San Diego bloc

    UC San Diego

    Jacobs School of Engineering

    May 30, 2017
    Ioana Patringenaru
    858-822-0899
    ipatrin@ucsd.edu

    1
    A glove powered by soft robotics is allowing these Ph.D. students to play piano in VR.

    Engineers at UC San Diego are using soft robotics technology to make light, flexible gloves that allow users to feel tactile feedback when they interact with virtual reality environments. The researchers used the gloves to realistically simulate the tactile feeling of playing a virtual piano keyboard.

    Engineers recently presented their research, which is still at the prototype stage, at the Electronic Imaging, Engineering Reality for Virtual Reality conference in Burlingame, Calif.

    Currently, VR user interfaces consist of remote-like devices that vibrate when a user touches a virtual surface or object. “They’re not realistic,” said Jurgen Schulze, a researcher at the Qualcomm Institute at UC San Diego and one of the paper’s senior authors. “You can’t touch anything, or feel resistance when you’re pushing a button. By contrast, we are trying to make the user feel like they’re in the actual environment from a tactile point of view.”

    Other research teams and industry have worked on gloves as VR interfaces. But these are bulky and made from heavy materials, such as metal. The glove the engineers developed has a soft exoskeleton equipped with soft robotic muscles that make it much lighter and easier to use.

    “This is a first prototype but it is surprisingly effective,” said Michael Tolley, a mechanical engineering professor at the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego and also a senior author.

    2
    One of the glove’s key components are soft robotic muscles.

    One key element in the gloves’ design is a type of soft robotic component called a McKibben muscle, essentially latex chambers covered with braided fibers. The muscles respond like springs to apply force when the user moves their fingers. The board controls the muscles by inflating and deflating them.The system involves three main components: a Leap Motion sensor that detects the position and movement of the user’s hands; a custom fluidic control board that controls the gloves’ movements; and soft robotic components in the glove that individually inflate or deflate to mimic the forces that the user would encounter in the VR environment. The system interacts with a computer that displays a virtual piano keyboard with a river and trees in the background.

    Researchers 3D-printed a mold to make the gloves’ soft exoskeleton. This will make the devices easier to manufacture and suitable for mass production, they said. Researchers used silicone rubber for the exoskeleton, with Velcro straps embedded at the joints.

    Engineers conducted an informal pilot study of 15 users, including two VR interface experts. All tried the demo which allowed them to play the piano in VR. They all agreed that the gloves increased the immersive experience. They described it as “mesmerizing” and “amazing.”

    The engineers are working on making the glove cheaper, less bulky and more portable. They also would like to bypass the Leap Motion device altogether to make system more compact.

    “Our final goal is to create a device that provides a richer experience in VR,” Tolley said. “But you could imagine it being used for surgery and video games, among other applications.”

    Tolley is a faculty member in the Contextual Robotics Institute at UC San Diego. Schulze is an adjust professor in computer science, where he teaches courses on VR.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    UC San Diego Campus

    About the Jacobs School
    Innovation Happens Here

    The UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering is a premier research school set apart by our entrepreneurial culture and integrative engineering approach.

    The Jacobs School’s Mission:

    Educate Tomorrow’s Technology Leaders
    Conduct Leading Edge Research and Drive Innovation
    Transfer Discoveries for the Benefit of Society

    The Jacobs School’s Values:

    Engineering for the global good
    Exponential impact through entrepreneurism
    Collaboration to enrich relevance
    Our education models focus on deep and broad engineering fundamentals, enhanced by real-world design and research, often in partnership with industry. Through our Team Internship Program and GlobalTeams in Engineering Service program, for example, we encourage students to develop their communications and leadership skills while working in the kind of multi-disciplinary team environment experienced by real-world engineers.

    We are home to exciting research centers, such as the San Diego Supercomputer Center, a national resource for data-intensive computing; our Powell Structural Research Laboratories, the largest and most active in the world for full-scale structural testing; and the Qualcomm Institute, which is the UC San Diego division of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), which is forging new ground in multi-disciplinary applications for information technology.

    Located at the hub of San Diego’s thriving information technology, biotechnology, clean technology, and nanotechnology sectors, the Jacobs School proactively seeks corporate partners to collaborate with us in research, education and innovation.

    The University of California, San Diego (also referred to as UC San Diego or UCSD), is a public research university located in the La Jolla area of San Diego, California, in the United States.[12] The university occupies 2,141 acres (866 ha) near the coast of the Pacific Ocean with the main campus resting on approximately 1,152 acres (466 ha).[13] Established in 1960 near the pre-existing Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego is the seventh oldest of the 10 University of California campuses and offers over 200 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, enrolling about 22,700 undergraduate and 6,300 graduate students. UC San Diego is one of America’s Public Ivy universities, which recognizes top public research universities in the United States. UC San Diego was ranked 8th among public universities and 37th among all universities in the United States, and rated the 18th Top World University by U.S. News & World Report ‘s 2015 rankings.

     
  • richardmitnick 3:30 pm on May 27, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , UCSD   

    From UCSD: “New brain mapping tool produces higher resolution data during brain surgery” 

    UC San Diego bloc

    UC San Diego

    May 24, 2017
    Liezel Labios
    Jacobs School of Engineering
    Phone: 858-246-1124
    llabios@ucsd.edu

    1
    The PEDOT:PSS electrode grid is a new brain mapping device that can be used during brain surgery. Credit: David Baillot/UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering

    Researchers have developed a new device to map the brain during surgery and distinguish between healthy and diseased tissues. The device provides higher resolution neural readings than existing tools used in the clinic and could enable doctors to perform safer, more precise brain surgeries.

    The device is an improved version of a clinical tool called an electrode grid, which is a plastic or silicone-based grid of electrodes that is placed directly on the surface of the brain during surgery to monitor the activity of large groups of neurons. Neurosurgeons use electrode grids to identify which areas of the brain are diseased in order to avoid damaging or removing healthy, functional tissue during operations. Despite their wide use, electrode grids have remained bulky and have not experienced any major advances over the last 20 years.

    The new electrode grid, developed by a team of researchers at the University of California San Diego and Massachusetts General Hospital, is about a thousand times thinner — 6 micrometers versus several millimeters thick — than clinical electrode grids. This allows it to conform better to the intricately curved surface of the brain and obtain better readings. The new electrode grid also contains a much higher density of electrodes — spaced 25 times closer than those in clinical electrode grids — enabling it to generate higher resolution recordings.

    “Our goal is to develop a tool that can obtain more reliable information from the surface of the brain,” said electrical engineering professor Shadi Dayeh, who co-led the study with neuroscience professor Eric Halgren and electrical engineering professor Vikash Gilja, all at UC San Diego. The project was funded by the Center for Brain Activity Mapping (CBAM) at UC San Diego and brought together experts from multiple fields, including neurosurgeons, neuroscientists, electrical engineers, materials scientists and experts in systems integration. Researchers published their work on May 12 in Advanced Functional Materials.

    “By providing higher resolution views of the human brain, this technology can improve clinical practices and could lead to high performance brain machine interfaces,” Gilja said.

    To make their high resolution electrode grid, researchers had to find a way to shrink the size of the electrodes to pack them closer together. But with metal electrodes, which are typically used to make these grids, there is a tradeoff — shrinking their size increases their electrical resistance, resulting in more noisy readings.

    To overcome this problem, the team switched out the metal electrodes with ones made of a conductive polymer called PEDOT:PSS. The material is transparent, thin and flexible. Using this material enabled researchers to make smaller electrodes without sacrificing electrochemical performance. It also enhanced the richness of the information measured from the surface of the brain.

    “These electrodes occupy minuscule volumes — imagine Saran wrap, but thinner. And we demonstrate that they can capture neural activity from the human brain at least as well as conventional electrodes that are orders of magnitude larger,” Gilja said.

    Researchers worked with neurosurgeons at Jacobs Medical Center at UC San Diego Health and Brigham Women’s Hospital in Boston to test their grid on four patients. The PEDOT:PSS electrode grid and a standard clinical electrode grid were compared side by side. In standard clinical recordings, the PEDOT:PSS electrode grid either performed similarly or slightly better than the standard electrode grid, recording with lower noise and higher resolution.

    “In order to introduce a new electrode grid for clinical use, we first need to show that the device can yield the same information as that used in the clinic. Then we can build upon that work to make an even better product that can improve patient care,” Dayeh said.

    In one test, the team performed background readings of a patient’s brain waves both while the patient was awake and unconscious. The PEDOT:PSS electrode grid produced similar readings as the standard clinical electrode grid. In another test, the team monitored the brain activity of a patient undergoing epilepsy surgery. Both electrode grids identified normal functioning areas of the brain versus where the seizures were happening. The main difference is that the PEDOT:PSS electrode grid produced more detailed and higher resolution readings than the clinical electrode grid.

    Other tests monitored the brain activity of patients performing cognitive tasks. Patients were either shown a particular word or a picture illustrating that word. The word was afterwards recited to the patients. In the readings from both the PEDOT:PSS and standard electrode grids, researchers could differentiate between when the patients were hearing the word versus when they were seeing it (or a picture). “This experiment shows we can resolve functional and cognitive activity from the surface of the brain using these electrodes,” Dayeh said.

    The team’s next steps are to make higher density electrode grids for improved resolution and biocompatibility tests to see how long they can stay in the body before they experience biofouling.

    Paper title: Development and Translation of PEDOT:PSS Microelectrodes for Intraoperative Monitoring, by Mehran Ganji*, Erik Kaestner*, John Hermiz*, Nick Rogers, Atsunori Tanaka, Daniel Cleary, Sang Heon Lee, Joseph Snider, Bob S. Carter, David Barba, Vikash Gilja, Eric Halgren and Shadi A. Dayeh at UC San Diego; Milan Halgren at Massachusetts General Hospital; Garth Rees Cosgrove and Sydney S. Cash at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts; and Ilke Uguz and George G. Malliaras at CMP-EMSE, Gardanne, France.

    *These authors contributed equally to this work.

    This work was supported by the Center for Brain Activity Mapping (CBAM) at UC San Diego. The authors acknowledge faculty start-up support from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UC San Diego. Partial support is also acknowledged from the National Science Foundation (grant no. ECCS-1351980), the University of California Multicampus Research Programs and Initiatives (UC MRPI, grant no. MR-15-328909), and the Office of Naval Research (grant no. N00014-13-1-0672). This work was performed in part at UC San Diego’s Nano3 nanofabrication cleanroom facility, part of the San Diego Nanotechnology Infrastructure, a member of the National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure, which is supported by the National Science Foundation.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    UC San Diego Campus

    The University of California, San Diego (also referred to as UC San Diego or UCSD), is a public research university located in the La Jolla area of San Diego, California, in the United States.[12] The university occupies 2,141 acres (866 ha) near the coast of the Pacific Ocean with the main campus resting on approximately 1,152 acres (466 ha).[13] Established in 1960 near the pre-existing Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego is the seventh oldest of the 10 University of California campuses and offers over 200 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, enrolling about 22,700 undergraduate and 6,300 graduate students. UC San Diego is one of America’s Public Ivy universities, which recognizes top public research universities in the United States. UC San Diego was ranked 8th among public universities and 37th among all universities in the United States, and rated the 18th Top World University by U.S. News & World Report ‘s 2015 rankings.

     
  • richardmitnick 5:02 pm on May 19, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 3D-printed Soft Four Legged Robot Can Walk on Sand and Stone, , , , UCSD   

    From UCSD: “3D-printed Soft Four Legged Robot Can Walk on Sand and Stone” 

    UC San Diego bloc

    UC San Diego

    May 17, 2017
    Ioana Patringenaru

    1
    UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering mechanical engineering graduate student Dylan Trotman from the Tolley Lab with the 3D-printed, four-legged robot being pressented at the 2017 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA). The entire photo set is on Flickr. Photo credit: UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering / David Baillot

    Engineers at the University of California San Diego have developed the first soft robot that is capable of walking on rough surfaces, such as sand and pebbles. The 3D-printed, four-legged robot can climb over obstacles and walk on different terrains.

    Researchers led by Michael Tolley, a mechanical engineering professor at the University of California San Diego, will present the robot at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation from May 29 to June 3 in Singapore. The robot could be used to capture sensor readings in dangerous environments or for search and rescue.

    The breakthrough was possible thanks to a high-end printer that allowed researchers to print soft and rigid materials together within the same components. This made it possible for researchers to design more complex shapes for the robot’s legs.

    Bringing together soft and rigid materials will help create a new generation of fast, agile robots that are more adaptable than their predecessors and can safely work side by side with humans, said Tolley. The idea of blending soft and hard materials into the robot’s body came from nature, he added. “In nature, complexity has a very low cost,” Tolley said. “Using new manufacturing techniques like 3D printing, we’re trying to translate this to robotics.”

    3-D printing soft and rigid robots rather than relying on molds to manufacture them is much cheaper and faster, Tolley pointed out. So far, soft robots have only been able to shuffle or crawl on the ground without being able to lift their legs. This robot is actually able to walk.

    Researchers successfully tested the tethered robot on large rocks, inclined surfaces and sand (see video). The robot also was able to transition from walking to crawling into an increasingly confined space, much like a cat wiggling into a crawl space.

    Dylan Drotman, a Ph.D. student at the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego, led the effort to design the legs and the robot’s control systems. He also developed models to predict how the robot would move, which he then compared to how the robot actually behaved in a real-life environment.

    How it’s made

    The legs are made up of three parallel, connected sealed inflatable chambers, or actuators, 3D-printed from a rubber-like material. The chambers are hollow on the inside, so they can be inflated. On the outside, the chambers are bellowed, which allows engineers to better control the legs’ movements. For example, when one chamber is inflated and the other two aren’t, the leg bends. The legs are laid out in the shape of an X and connected to a rigid body.

    The robot’s gait depends on the order of the timing, the amount of pressure and the order in which the pistons in its four legs are inflated. The robot’s walking behavior in real life also closely matched the researcher’s predictions. This will allow engineers to make better educated decisions when designing soft robots.

    The current quadruped robot prototype is tethered to an open source board and an air pump. Researchers are now working on miniaturizing both the board and the pump so that the robot can walk independently. The challenge here is to find the right design for the board and the right components, such as power sources and batteries, Tolley said.

    3D Printed Soft Actuators for a Legged Robot Capable of Navigating Unstructured Terrain

    Authors: Dylan Drotman, Saurabh Jadhav, Mahmood Karimi, Philip deZonia, Michael T. Tolley

    This work is supported by the UC San Diego Frontiers of Innovation Scholarship Program and the Office of Naval Research grant number N000141712062.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    UC San Diego Campus

    The University of California, San Diego (also referred to as UC San Diego or UCSD), is a public research university located in the La Jolla area of San Diego, California, in the United States.[12] The university occupies 2,141 acres (866 ha) near the coast of the Pacific Ocean with the main campus resting on approximately 1,152 acres (466 ha).[13] Established in 1960 near the pre-existing Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego is the seventh oldest of the 10 University of California campuses and offers over 200 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, enrolling about 22,700 undergraduate and 6,300 graduate students. UC San Diego is one of America’s Public Ivy universities, which recognizes top public research universities in the United States. UC San Diego was ranked 8th among public universities and 37th among all universities in the United States, and rated the 18th Top World University by U.S. News & World Report ‘s 2015 rankings.

     
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