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  • richardmitnick 3:29 pm on August 19, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Blue-green algae key to unlocking secrets of ancient past", , Around 2500 million years ago young Earth was unrecognisable. No ozone layer existed and there was no oxygen to breathe in the atmosphere., , , , Cyanobacteria are the only bacteria capable of oxygenic photosynthesis-the process also used by plants to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen using sunlight., Cyanobacteria began using antioxidants called superoxide dismutase enzymes (SODs) to manage reactive oxygen., Cyanobacteria worked out early in their evolution how to protect themselves against the side effects of oxygen., , , The planet was dominated by microbes., University of Bristol UK   

    From University of Bristol (UK) : “Blue-green algae key to unlocking secrets of ancient past” 

    From University of Bristol (UK)

    17 August 2021

    Oxygen-producing bacteria emerged a thousand millions years before the great oxygenation event approximately 2400 million years ago, scientists have found.

    The blue green algae, which is responsible for seeping oxygen into the Earth’s atmosphere, changing the planet forever, diversified from its relatives to cope with the rise of the gas.

    To understand how oxygen shaped early life, scientists at the University of Bristol have been investigating when cyanobacteria evolved and when they began using antioxidants called superoxide dismutase enzymes (SODs) to manage reactive oxygen.

    They devised a ‘molecular clock’ using geochemical records, cyanobacteria fossils and genetic information to create a timeline of events.

    Around 2500 million years ago young Earth was unrecognisable. No ozone layer existed and there was no oxygen to breathe in the atmosphere. Instead, the planet was dominated by microbes. Cyanobacteria are the only bacteria capable of oxygenic photosynthesis-the process also used by plants to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen using sunlight. Today, cyanobacteria are widespread throughout the ocean, but then they were mostly restricted to freshwater and land.

    Oxygen is highly reactive and toxic. Cyanobacteria uses SODs to protect against e these effects which all have different evolutionary origins – and use different trace metals.

    Group leader author of the paper Dr Patricia Sanchez-Baracaldo of Bristol’s School of Geographical Sciences said: “We studied the evolutionary history of four of these antioxidant enzymes: NiSOD, CuZnSOD and Fe- and Mn-utilising SODs. Such SODs are found in everything from animals to plants and bacteria, where they manage ROS by converting superoxide free radicals into hydrogen peroxide.

    PhD student, Joanne Boden said: “We discovered that cyanobacteria had acquired their SOD genes from other bacteria on several occasions throughout history. As a result, different strains used different antioxidant enzymes depending on their circumstances. For example, cyanobacteria which live planktonic lifestyles, floating in the ocean, often use NiSOD. Whereas most cyanobacteria, regardless of their habitat, use Mn- or Fe-SODs.

    “The evolutionary trajectory of a different SOD, using copper and zinc cofactors instead of nickel matched those of older, more ancestral cyanobacteria which diversified at least 2,700 million years ago. This suggests that oxygen-producing bacteria were equipped with mechanisms of managing ROS before the global atmosphere was flooded with oxygen.”

    This genomic record, which has been published in Nature Communications, contains vital information about ancient habitats and proves the existence of life on land and in the ocean at that time.

    Dr Sanchez-Baracaldo said: “Cyanobacteria worked out early in their evolution how to protect themselves against the side effects of oxygen.

    “Our analyses of metalloenzymes dealing with reactive oxygen species (ROS) show that marine geochemical records alone may not predict patterns of metal usage by living organisms found in other environments such as freshwater and terrestrial habitats.”

    The team now plan to investigate when other antioxidants evolved.

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Bristol (UK) is one of the most popular and successful universities in the UK and was ranked within the top 50 universities in the world in the QS World University Rankings 2018.

    The University of Bristol (UK) is at the cutting edge of global research. We have made innovations in areas ranging from cot death prevention to nanotechnology.

    The University has had a reputation for innovation since its founding in 1876. Our research tackles some of the world’s most pressing issues in areas as diverse as infection and immunity, human rights, climate change, and cryptography and information security.

    The University currently has 40 Fellows of the Royal Society and 15 of the British Academy – a remarkable achievement for a relatively small institution.

    We aim to bring together the best minds in individual fields, and encourage researchers from different disciplines and institutions to work together to find lasting solutions to society’s pressing problems.

    We are involved in numerous international research collaborations and integrate practical experience in our curriculum, so that students work on real-life projects in partnership with business, government and community sectors.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:55 am on April 30, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Machine learning algorithm helps unravel the physics underlying quantum systems", Algorithm QMLA, , , , , The algorithm could be used to aid automated characterisation of new devices such as quantum sensors., University of Bristol UK   

    From University of Bristol (UK): “Machine learning algorithm helps unravel the physics underlying quantum systems” 

    From University of Bristol (UK)

    29 April 2021

    Scientists from the University’s Quantum Engineering Technology Labs (QETLabs) have developed an algorithm that provides valuable insights into the physics underlying quantum systems – paving the way for significant advances in quantum computation and sensing, and potentially turning a new page in scientific investigation.

    1
    The nitrogen vacancy centre set-up, that was used for the first experimental demonstration of QMLA.

    In physics, systems of particles and their evolution are described by mathematical models, requiring the successful interplay of theoretical arguments and experimental verification. Even more complex is the description of systems of particles interacting with each other at the quantum mechanical level, which is often done using a Hamiltonian model. The process of formulating Hamiltonian models from observations is made even harder by the nature of quantum states, which collapse when attempts are made to inspect them.

    In the paper, Nature Physics, Bristol’s QET Labs describe an algorithm which overcomes these challenges by acting as an autonomous agent, using machine learning to reverse engineer Hamiltonian models.

    The team developed a new protocol to formulate and validate approximate models for quantum systems of interest. Their algorithm works autonomously, designing and performing experiments on the targeted quantum system, with the resultant data being fed back into the algorithm. It proposes candidate Hamiltonian models to describe the target system, and distinguishes between them using statistical metrics, namely Bayes factors.

    Excitingly, the team were able to successfully demonstrate the algorithm’s ability on a real-life quantum experiment involving defect centres in a diamond, a well-studied platform for quantum information processing and quantum sensing.

    The algorithm could be used to aid automated characterisation of new devices such as quantum sensors. This development therefore represents a significant breakthrough in the development of quantum technologies.

    “Combining the power of today’s supercomputers with machine learning, we were able to automatically discover structure in quantum systems. As new quantum computers/simulators become available, the algorithm becomes more exciting: first it can help to verify the performance of the device itself, then exploit those devices to understand ever-larger systems,” said Brian Flynn from the University of Bristol’s QETLabs and Quantum Engineering Centre for Doctoral Training.

    “This level of automation makes it possible to entertain myriads of hypothetical models before selecting an optimal one, a task that would be otherwise daunting for systems whose complexity is ever increasing,” said Andreas Gentile, formerly of Bristol’s QETLabs, now at Qu & Co.

    “Understanding the underlying physics and the models describing quantum systems, help us to advance our knowledge of technologies suitable for quantum computation and quantum sensing,” said Sebastian Knauer, also formerly of Bristol’s QETLabs and now based at the University of Vienna’s Faculty of Physics.

    Anthony Laing, co-Director of QETLabs and Associate Professor in Bristol’s School of Physics, and an author on the paper, praised the team: “In the past we have relied on the genius and hard work of scientists to uncover new physics. Here the team have potentially turned a new page in scientific investigation by bestowing machines with the capability to learn from experiments and discover new physics. The consequences could be far reaching indeed.”

    The next step for the research is to extend the algorithm to explore larger systems, and different classes of quantum models which represent different physical regimes or underlying structures.

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Bristol (UK) is one of the most popular and successful universities in the UK and was ranked within the top 50 universities in the world in the QS World University Rankings 2018.

    The U Bristol (UK) is at the cutting edge of global research. We have made innovations in areas ranging from cot death prevention to nanotechnology.

    The University has had a reputation for innovation since its founding in 1876. Our research tackles some of the world’s most pressing issues in areas as diverse as infection and immunity, human rights, climate change, and cryptography and information security.

    The University currently has 40 Fellows of the Royal Society and 15 of the British Academy – a remarkable achievement for a relatively small institution.

    We aim to bring together the best minds in individual fields, and encourage researchers from different disciplines and institutions to work together to find lasting solutions to society’s pressing problems.

    We are involved in numerous international research collaborations and integrate practical experience in our curriculum, so that students work on real-life projects in partnership with business, government and community sectors.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:19 am on December 12, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Bristol researchers publish significant step toward quantum advantage", , Bringing practical hybrid quantum-classical computing one step closer., Bristol Quantum Information Institute, , Google’s Sycamore 54 qubit quantum computer, Near-term quantum hardware will have limited device and computation size., Phasecraft, , The notorious Fermi-Hubbard model, University of Bristol UK   

    From University of Bristol (UK): “Bristol researchers publish significant step toward quantum advantage” 

    From University of Bristol (UK)

    10 December 2020

    Researchers from the University of Bristol and quantum start-up, Phasecraft, have advanced quantum computing research, bringing practical hybrid quantum-classical computing one step closer.

    1
    Layout of qubits in Google’s Sycamore architecture.

    Google 54-qubit Sycamore superconducting processor quantum computer.

    2
    Performance of variational algorithms in a noisy simulation.

    The team, led by Bristol researcher and Phasecraft co-founder, Dr. Ashley Montanaro, has discovered algorithms and analysis which significantly lessen the quantum hardware capability needed to solve problems which go beyond the realm of classical computing, even supercomputers.

    In the paper, published in Physical Review B, the team demonstrates how optimised quantum algorithms can solve instances of the notorious Fermi-Hubbard model on near-term hardware.

    The Fermi-Hubbard model is of fundamental importance in condensed-matter physics as a model for strongly correlated materials and a route to understanding high-temperature superconductivity.

    Finding the ground state of the Fermi-Hubbard model has been predicted to be one of the first applications of near-term quantum computers and one that offers a pathway to understanding and developing novel materials.

    Dr. Ashley Montanaro, research lead and co-founder of Phasecraft: “Quantum computing has critically important applications in materials science and other domains. Despite the major quantum hardware advances recently, we may still be several years from having the right software and hardware to solve meaningful problems with quantum computing. Our research focuses on algorithms and software optimisations to maximise the quantum hardware’s capacity, and bring quantum computing closer to reality.

    “Near-term quantum hardware will have limited device and computation size. Phasecraft applied new theoretical ideas and numerical experiments to put together a very comprehensive study on different strategies for solving the Fermi-Hubbard model, zeroing in on strategies that are most likely to have the best results and impact in the near future.

    Lana Mineh, a PhD student in the School of Mathematics and the Centre for Doctoral Training in Quantum Engineering, who played a key role in the research, said, “The results suggest that optimising over quantum circuits with a gate depth substantially less than a thousand could be sufficient to solve instances of the Fermi-Hubbard model beyond the capacity of current supercomputers. This new research shows significant promise for producing the ground state of the model on near-term quantum devices, improving on previous research findings by around a factor of 10.”

    Physical Review B, published by the American Physical Society, is the top specialist journal in condensed-matter physics. The peer-reviewed research paper was also chosen as the Editors’ Suggestion and to appear in Physics magazine.

    Andrew Childs, Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Institute for Advanced Computer Studies at the University of Maryland: “The Fermi-Hubbard model is a major challenge in condensed-matter physics, and the Phasecraft team has made impressive steps in showing how quantum computers could solve it. Their work suggests that surprisingly low-depth circuits could provide useful information about this model, making it more accessible to realistic quantum hardware.”

    Hartmut Neven, Head of Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab, Google: “Sooner or later, quantum computing is coming. Developing the algorithms and technology to power the first commercial applications of early quantum computing hardware is the toughest challenge facing the field, which few are willing to take on. We are proud to be partners with Phasecraft, a team that are developing advances in quantum software that could shorten that timeframe by years.”

    Phasecraft Co-founder Dr. Toby Cubitt: “At Phasecraft, our team of leading quantum theorists have been researching and applying quantum theory for decades, leading some of the top global academic teams and research in the field. Today, Ashley and his team have demonstrated ways to get closer to achieving new possibilities that exist just beyond today’s technological bounds.”

    Phasecraft has closed a record seed round for a quantum company in the UK with £3.7m in funding from private-sector VC investors, led by LocalGlobe with Episode1 along with previous investors. Former Songkick founder Ian Hogarth has also joined as board chair for Phasecraft. Phasecraft previously raised a £750,000 pre-seed round led by UCL Technology Fund with Parkwalk Advisors and London Co-investment Fund and has earned several grants facilitated by InnovateUK. Between equity funding and research grants, Phasecraft has raised more than £5.5m.

    Dr. Toby Cubitt: “With new funding and support, we are able to continue our pioneering research and industry collaborations to develop the quantum computing industry and find useful applications faster.”

    Further information

    The Bristol Quantum Information Institute
    Long at the forefront of the growing worldwide activity in this area, the Bristol Quantum Information Institute crystalises our research across the entire spectrum, from theory to technology. With our expert cross-disciplinary team, including founders of the field, we have expertise in all major areas of theoretical quantum information science and in experiment. We foster partnerships with the private sector and provide superb teaching and training for the future generation of quantum scientists and engineers and the prototypes of tomorrow.

    CDT in Quantum Engineering
    Bristol’s EPSRC-funded Quantum Engineering Centre for Doctoral Training offers an exceptional training and development experience for those wishing to pursue a career in the emerging quantum technologies industry or in academia. It supports the understanding of sound fundamental scientific principles and their practical application to real-world challenges.

    About Phasecraft
    Since it was founded in 2019, Phasecraft has established itself as an emerging leader in quantum research. It was started by leading quantum scientists, Dr Toby Cubitt, Dr Ashley Montanaro and Prof John Morton, who have spent decades leading top research teams at UCL and University of Bristol. Together they have built a team to enable near-term applications of quantum computing by developing high-efficiency algorithms to optimise the capabilities of near-term quantum hardware. Phasecraft works in partnership with leading quantum hardware companies, including Google and Rigetti, academic and industry leaders, to develop high-efficiency software that evolves quantum computing from experimental demonstrations to useful applications.

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Bristol (UK) is one of the most popular and successful universities in the UK and was ranked within the top 50 universities in the world in the QS World University Rankings 2018.

    The U Bristol (UK) is at the cutting edge of global research. We have made innovations in areas ranging from cot death prevention to nanotechnology.

    The University has had a reputation for innovation since its founding in 1876. Our research tackles some of the world’s most pressing issues in areas as diverse as infection and immunity, human rights, climate change, and cryptography and information security.

    The University currently has 40 Fellows of the Royal Society and 15 of the British Academy – a remarkable achievement for a relatively small institution.

    We aim to bring together the best minds in individual fields, and encourage researchers from different disciplines and institutions to work together to find lasting solutions to society’s pressing problems.

    We are involved in numerous international research collaborations and integrate practical experience in our curriculum, so that students work on real-life projects in partnership with business, government and community sectors.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:46 pm on November 9, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Combining electronic and photonic chips enables new record in super-fast quantum light detection", A tiny device that paves the way for higher performance quantum computers and quantum communications., An order of magnitude faster than the previous state of the art., , , , Squeezed light is a quantum effect that is very useful., University of Bristol UK   

    From University of Bristol (UK): “Combining electronic and photonic chips enables new record in super-fast quantum light detection” 

    From University of Bristol (UK)

    9 November 2020

    1
    The integrated detector combines a silicon photonic chip with a silicon micro-electronics chip, yielding advanced speed in detecting quantum light.

    Bristol researchers have developed a tiny device that paves the way for higher performance quantum computers and quantum communications, making them significantly faster than the current state-of-the-art.

    Researchers from the University of Bristol’s Quantum Engineering Technology Labs (QET Labs) and Université Côte d‘Azur have made a new miniaturized light detector to measure quantum features of light in more detail than ever before. The device, made from two silicon chips working together, was used to measure the unique properties of “squeezed” quantum light at record high speeds.

    Harnessing unique properties of quantum physics promises novel routes to outperform the current state-of-the-art in computing, communication and measurement. Silicon photonics – where light is used as the carrier of information in silicon micro-chips – is an exciting avenue towards these next-generation technologies.

    “Squeezed light is a quantum effect that is very useful. It can be used in quantum communications and quantum computers and has already been used by the LIGO and Virgo gravitational wave observatories to improve their sensitivity, helping to detect exotic astronomical events such as black hole mergers. So, improving the ways we can measure it can have a big impact,” said Joel Tasker, co-lead author.

    Measuring squeezed light requires detectors that are engineered for ultra-low electronic noise, in order to detect the weak quantum features of light. But such detectors have so far been limited in the speed of signals that can be measured – about one thousand million cycles per second.

    “This has a direct impact on the processing speed of emerging information technologies such as optical computers and communications with very low levels of light. The higher the bandwidth of your detector, the faster you can perform calculations and transmit information,” said co-lead author Jonathan Frazer.

    The integrated detector has so far been clocked at an order of magnitude faster than the previous state of the art, and the team is working on refining the technology to go even faster.

    The detector’s footprint is less than a square millimeter – this small size enables the detector’s high-speed performance. The detector is built out of silicon microelectronics and a silicon photonics chip.

    Around the world, researchers have been exploring how to integrate quantum photonics onto a chip to demonstrate scalable manufacture.

    “Much of the focus has been on the quantum part, but now we’ve begun integrating the interface between quantum photonics and electrical readout. This is needed for the whole quantum architecture to work efficiently. For homodyne detection, the chip-scale approach results in a device with a tiny footprint for mass-manufacture, and importantly it provides a boost in performance,” said Professor Jonathan Matthews, who directed the project.

    Science paper:
    Silicon photonics interfaced with integrated electronics for 9 GHz measurement of squeezed light
    Nature Photonics

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Bristol (UK) is one of the most popular and successful universities in the UK and was ranked within the top 50 universities in the world in the QS World University Rankings 2018.

    The U Bristol (UK) is at the cutting edge of global research. We have made innovations in areas ranging from cot death prevention to nanotechnology.

    The University has had a reputation for innovation since its founding in 1876. Our research tackles some of the world’s most pressing issues in areas as diverse as infection and immunity, human rights, climate change, and cryptography and information security.

    The University currently has 40 Fellows of the Royal Society and 15 of the British Academy – a remarkable achievement for a relatively small institution.

    We aim to bring together the best minds in individual fields, and encourage researchers from different disciplines and institutions to work together to find lasting solutions to society’s pressing problems.

    We are involved in numerous international research collaborations and integrate practical experience in our curriculum, so that students work on real-life projects in partnership with business, government and community sectors.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:43 pm on October 28, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Using a volcano’s eruption ‘memory’ to forecast dangerous explosions", , , University of Bristol UK,   

    From University of Bristol (UK): “Using a volcano’s eruption ‘memory’ to forecast dangerous explosions” 

    From University of Bristol (UK)

    28 October 2020

    Stromboli, the ‘lighthouse of the Mediterranean’, is known for its low-energy but persistent explosive eruptions, behaviour that is known scientifically as Strombolian activity. This feature has long been an attraction for tourists and volcanologists from all over the world.

    1
    Stromboli, the ‘lighthouse of the Mediterranean’, is known for its low-energy but persistent explosive eruptions, behaviour that is known scientifically as Strombolian activity.

    Occasionally, however, more intense and sudden explosions occur, most recently in July and August last year (2019). These are known as ‘Strombolian paroxysms’. During such events several of Stromboli’s craters are active simultaneously and much greater volumes of pyroclastic materials are erupted than is usual for the volcano.

    In a new study, Major explosions and paroxysms at Stromboli (Italy): a new historical catalog and temporal models of occurrence with uncertainty quantification, published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports, researchers from Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV) and the University of Bristol use historical records to estimate the frequency of these bigger Strombolian paroxysms and investigate if the volcano has its own eruption ‘memory’ as evidenced, in statistical terms, by a temporal recurrence relationship between one paroxysmal eruption and the next.

    The catalogue describes 180 violent explosive events of varying scale that occurred at Stromboli from 1879 to 2020. The researchers critically evaluated events described in past scientific works and information recorded in historical texts, and then determined, on an objective and homogeneous evidential basis, the type and intensity of the explosive events. This involved appraising any narrative hyperbole in the old descriptions.

    Massimo Pompilio, senior researcher at INGV and co-author of the study, said: “The new catalogue makes it possible to review the classification of numerous events through the critical analysis of historical sources. From the analysis it emerges that the average annual rate of paroxysms over the last 140 years was, roughly, one event every four years or so”. This rate is close to that observed for the last ten years, but is much lower than in the 1940s, when these paroxysmal events were much more frequent.

    “The volcano therefore alternates between periods of intense activity and periods of relative quiet. The short span of 56 days observed between the two paroxysms of summer 2019 is not a rare situation. Five times in the past 140 years there have been even shorter inter-event times (intervals between events). Conversely, there have been four periods without paroxysms lasting from between nine to 15 years, and one interval without paroxysms that lasted for 44 years, from 1959 to 2003.”

    This information is useful in a forecasting context as it can help estimate the probabilities of future occurrence of these volcanic phenomena.

    Andrea Bevilacqua, INGV researcher and first author of the study explains: “When a phenomenon such as a volcanic explosion occurs at irregular intervals in time, what is studied is the distribution of the ‘inter-event’ times, i.e. the times elapsed in passed between one explosion and the next. In particular, the development of inter-event models allows us to calculate the probability of an explosion occurring as a function of the time elapsed since the last event of that type”.

    “An important finding that emerged from our research concerns the tendency of paroxysms to occur in clusters. On the basis of data from the last 140 years, we have estimated that there is a 50 per cent probability that another Stromboli paroxysm might follow a previous explosion within 12 months, and a 20 per cent probability that it could follow in less than two months; on the other hand, there is a 10 per cent probability that more than ten years could pass without any other paroxysm occurring.”

    The novelty and uniqueness of this new research will be of great interest to volcanologists and scientists worldwide. Augusto Neri, Director of the Volcanoes Department of the INGV and co-author of the study, said: “The analysis of Stromboli’s data suggests the existence of a physical process that influences the recurrence of this volcano’s explosions, meaning they not completely random, out-of-the-blue events”. Statisticians describe such repeating sequences as ‘memory’ processes. “Understanding the reasons and physical mechanisms that determine this memory represents a further scientific challenge. But the estimation of the memory in episodes of intense explosive activity of Stromboli will make a significant contribution to the quantification of the likelihood of these dangerous phenomena and, consequently, to the reduction of associated risks”.

    Willy Aspinall, Emeritus Professor in the School of Earth Sciences at Bristol, added: “Volcano tourism has grown substantially in recent years, and an unexpected eruption at a popular setting can be fatal, as happened last year at White Island/Whakaari volcano, New Zealand. Knowing that a particular volcano exhibits this eruption memory effect means any temporary increase in explosion probability can be appraised and, for example, inform decisions about volcanological fieldwork at the craters. However, it is premature at this stage to discuss possible implications of this research for wider aspects of civil protection on Stromboli.”

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Bristol (UK) is one of the most popular and successful universities in the UK and was ranked within the top 50 universities in the world in the QS World University Rankings 2018.

    The U Bristol (UK) is at the cutting edge of global research. We have made innovations in areas ranging from cot death prevention to nanotechnology.

    The University has had a reputation for innovation since its founding in 1876. Our research tackles some of the world’s most pressing issues in areas as diverse as infection and immunity, human rights, climate change, and cryptography and information security.

    The University currently has 40 Fellows of the Royal Society and 15 of the British Academy – a remarkable achievement for a relatively small institution.

    We aim to bring together the best minds in individual fields, and encourage researchers from different disciplines and institutions to work together to find lasting solutions to society’s pressing problems.

    We are involved in numerous international research collaborations and integrate practical experience in our curriculum, so that students work on real-life projects in partnership with business, government and community sectors.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:29 am on October 19, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Ground-breaking discovery finally proves rain really can move mountains", , , Effects of cosmic rays which hit sand., Tectonic activity, University of Bristol UK   

    From University of Bristol (UK): “Ground-breaking discovery finally proves rain really can move mountains” 

    From University of Bristol (UK)

    16 October 2020

    A pioneering technique which captures precisely how mountains bend to the will of raindrops has helped to solve a long-standing scientific enigma.

    The dramatic effect rainfall has on the evolution of mountainous landscapes is widely debated among geologists, but new research led by the University of Bristol and published today in Science Advances, clearly calculates its impact, furthering our understanding of how peaks and valleys have developed over millions of years.

    1
    First and corresponding author Dr Byron Adams in the steep terrain of the Greater Himalaya, central Bhutan. Credit: Second author Professor Kelin Whipple.

    2
    Looking upstream within a tributary of the Wang Chu, southwestern Bhutan. Credit: Dr Byron Adams.

    3
    The Ta Dzong overlooking the Paro Valley, western Bhutan. Credit: Dr Byron Adams.

    Its findings, which focused on the mightiest of mountain ranges – the Himalaya – also pave the way for forecasting the possible impact of climate change on landscapes and, in turn, human life.

    Lead author Dr Byron Adams, Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellow at the university’s Cabot Institute for the Environment, said: “It may seem intuitive that more rain can shape mountains by making rivers cut down into rocks faster. But scientists have also believed rain can erode a landscape quickly enough to essentially ‘suck’ the rocks out of the Earth, effectively pulling mountains up very quickly.

    “Both these theories have been debated for decades because the measurements required to prove them are so painstakingly complicated. That’s what makes this discovery such an exciting breakthrough, as it strongly supports the notion that atmospheric and solid earth processes are intimately connected.”

    While there is no shortage of scientific models aiming to explain how the Earth works, the greater challenge can be making enough good observations to test which are most accurate.

    The study was based in the central and eastern Himalaya of Bhutan and Nepal, because this region of the world has become one of the most sampled landscapes for erosion rate studies. Dr Adams, together with collaborators from Arizona State University (ASU) and Louisiana State University, used cosmic clocks within sand grains to measure the speed at which rivers erode the rocks beneath them.

    “When a cosmic particle from outer space reaches Earth, it is likely to hit sand grains on hillslopes as they are transported toward rivers. When this happens, some atoms within each grain of sand can transform into a rare element. By counting how many atoms of this element are present in a bag of sand, we can calculate how long the sand has been there, and therefore how quickly the landscape has been eroding,” Dr Adams said.

    “Once we have erosion rates from all over the mountain range, we can compare them with variations in river steepness and rainfall. However, such a comparison is hugely problematic because each data point is very difficult to produce and the statistical interpretation of all the data together is complicated.”

    Dr Adams overcame this challenge by combining regression techniques with numerical models of how rivers erode.

    “We tested a wide variety of numerical models to reproduce the observed erosion rate pattern across Bhutan and Nepal. Ultimately only one model was able to accurately predict the measured erosion rates,” Dr Adams said. “This model allows us for the first time to quantify how rainfall affects erosion rates in rugged terrain.”

    Research collaborator Professor Kelin Whipple, Professor of Geology at ASU, said: “Our findings show how critical it is to account for rainfall when assessing patterns of tectonic activity using topography, and also provide an essential step forward in addressing how much the slip rate on tectonic faults may be controlled by climate-driven erosion at the surface.”

    The study findings also carry important implications for land use management, infrastructure maintenance, and hazards in the Himalaya.

    In the Himalaya, there is the ever-present risk that high erosion rates can drastically increase sedimentation behind dams, jeopardising critical hydropower projects. The findings also suggest greater rainfall can undermine hillslopes, increasing the risk of debris flows or landslides, some of which may be large enough to dam the river creating a new hazard – lake outburst floods.

    Dr Adams added: “Our data and analysis provides an effective tool for estimating patterns of erosion in mountainous landscapes such as the Himalaya, and thus, can provide invaluable insight into the hazards that influence the hundreds of millions of people who live within and at the foot of these mountains.”

    The research was funded by the Royal Society, the UK Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC), and the National Science Foundation (NSF) of the US.

    Building on this research, Dr Adams is currently exploring how landscapes respond after large volcanic eruptions.

    “This new frontier of landscape evolution modelling is also shedding new light on volcanic processes. With our cutting-edge techniques to measure erosion rates and rock properties, we will be able to better understand how rivers and volcanoes have influenced each other in the past,” Dr Adams said. “This will help us to more accurately anticipate what is likely to happen after future volcanic eruptions and how to manage the consequences for communities living nearby.”

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Bristol (UK) is one of the most popular and successful universities in the UK and was ranked within the top 50 universities in the world in the QS World University Rankings 2018.

    The U Bristol (UK) is at the cutting edge of global research. We have made innovations in areas ranging from cot death prevention to nanotechnology.

    The University has had a reputation for innovation since its founding in 1876. Our research tackles some of the world’s most pressing issues in areas as diverse as infection and immunity, human rights, climate change, and cryptography and information security.

    The University currently has 40 Fellows of the Royal Society and 15 of the British Academy – a remarkable achievement for a relatively small institution.

    We aim to bring together the best minds in individual fields, and encourage researchers from different disciplines and institutions to work together to find lasting solutions to society’s pressing problems.

    We are involved in numerous international research collaborations and integrate practical experience in our curriculum, so that students work on real-life projects in partnership with business, government and community sectors.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:27 pm on September 7, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Revolutionary quantum breakthrough paves way for safer online communication", Quantum cryptography between many users., , The growing threat of cyber-attacks., University of Bristol UK   

    From University of Bristol UK: “Revolutionary quantum breakthrough paves way for safer online communication” 

    From University of Bristol UK

    2 September 2020

    The world is one step closer to having a totally secure internet and an answer to the growing threat of cyber-attacks, thanks to a team of international scientists who have created a unique prototype which could transform how we communicate online.

    1
    The quantum physics experiment has demonstrated an important step towards quantum cryptography between many users, an essential requirement for a secure quantum internet. Image credit: Copyright ÖAW /Klaus Pichler.

    The invention led by the University of Bristol, revealed today in the journal Science Advances, has the potential to serve millions of users, is understood to be the largest-ever quantum network of its kind, and could be used to secure people’s online communication, particularly in these internet-led times accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    By deploying a new technique, harnessing the simple laws of physics, it can make messages completely safe from interception while also overcoming major challenges which have previously limited advances in this little used but much-hyped technology.

    Lead author Dr Siddarth Joshi, who headed the project at the university’s Quantum Engineering Technology (QET) Labs, said: “This represents a massive breakthrough and makes the quantum internet a much more realistic proposition. Until now, building a quantum network has entailed huge cost, time, and resource, as well as often compromising on its security which defeats the whole purpose.”

    “Our solution is scalable, relatively cheap and, most important of all, impregnable. That means it’s an exciting game changer and paves the way for much more rapid development and widespread rollout of this technology.”

    The current internet relies on complex codes to protect information, but hackers are increasingly adept at outsmarting such systems leading to cyber-attacks across the world which cause major privacy breaches and fraud running into trillions of pounds annually. With such costs projected to rise dramatically, the case for finding an alternative is even more compelling and quantum has for decades been hailed as the revolutionary replacement to standard encryption techniques.

    So far physicists have developed a form of secure encryption, known as quantum key distribution, in which particles of light, called photons, are transmitted. The process allows two parties to share, without risk of interception, a secret key used to encrypt and decrypt information. But to date this technique has only been effective between two users.

    “Until now efforts to expand the network have involved vast infrastructure and a system which requires the creation of another transmitter and receiver for every additional user. Sharing messages in this way, known as trusted nodes, is just not good enough because it uses so much extra hardware which could leak and would no longer be totally secure,” Dr Joshi said.

    The team’s quantum technique applies a seemingly magical principle, called entanglement, which Albert Einstein described as ‘spooky action at a distance.’ It exploits the power of two different particles placed in separate locations, potentially thousands of miles apart, to simultaneously mimic each other. This process presents far greater opportunities for quantum computers, sensors, and information processing.

    “Instead of having to replicate the whole communication system, this latest methodology, called multiplexing, splits the light particles, emitted by a single system, so they can be received by multiple users efficiently,” Dr Joshi said.

    The team created a network for eight users using just eight receiver boxes, whereas the former method would need the number of users multiplied many times – in this case, amounting to 56 boxes. As the user numbers grow, the logistics become increasingly unviable – for instance 100 users would take 9,900 receiver boxes.

    To demonstrate its functionality across distance, the receiver boxes were connected to optical fibres via different locations across Bristol and the ability to transmit messages via quantum communication was tested using the city’s existing optical fibre network.

    “Besides being completely secure, the beauty of this new technique is its streamline agility, which requires minimal hardware because it integrates with existing technology,” Dr Joshi said.

    The team’s unique system also features traffic management, delivering better network control which allows, for instance, certain users to be prioritised with a faster connection.

    Whereas previous quantum systems have taken years to build, at a cost of millions or even billions of pounds, this network was created within months for less than £300,000. The financial advantages grow as the network expands, so while 100 users on previous quantum systems might cost in the region of £5 billion, Dr Joshi believes multiplexing technology could slash that to around £4.5 million, less than 1 per cent.

    In recent years quantum cryptography has been successfully used to protect transactions between banking centres in China and secure votes at a Swiss election. Yet its wider application has been held back by the sheer scale of resources and costs involved.

    “With these economies of scale, the prospect of a quantum internet for universal usage is much less far-fetched. We have proved the concept and by further refining our multiplexing methods to optimise and share resources in the network, we could be looking at serving not just hundreds or thousands, but potentially millions of users in the not too distant future,” Dr Joshi said.

    “The ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic have not only shown importance and potential of the internet, and our growing dependence on it, but also how its absolute security is paramount. Multiplexing entanglement could hold the vital key to making this security a much-needed reality.”

    The research received funding from the Quantum Communications Hubs of the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC), Ministry of Science and Education (MSE) of Croatia, and the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG).

    Collaborating institutions with the University of Bristol are the University of Leeds, Croatia’s Ruder Boskovic Institute (RBI) in Zagreb, Austria’s Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information (IQOQI), in Vienna, and China’s National University of Defence Technology (NUDT) in Changsha.

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Bristol UK is one of the most popular and successful universities in the UK and was ranked within the top 50 universities in the world in the QS World University Rankings 2018.

    The University of Bristol is at the cutting edge of global research. We have made innovations in areas ranging from cot death prevention to nanotechnology.

    The University has had a reputation for innovation since its founding in 1876. Our research tackles some of the world’s most pressing issues in areas as diverse as infection and immunity, human rights, climate change, and cryptography and information security.

    The University currently has 40 Fellows of the Royal Society and 15 of the British Academy – a remarkable achievement for a relatively small institution.

    We aim to bring together the best minds in individual fields, and encourage researchers from different disciplines and institutions to work together to find lasting solutions to society’s pressing problems.

    We are involved in numerous international research collaborations and integrate practical experience in our curriculum, so that students work on real-life projects in partnership with business, government and community sectors.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:43 am on September 7, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Genetic study of proteins is a breakthrough in drug development for complex diseases", , , University of Bristol UK   

    From University of Bristol UK: “Genetic study of proteins is a breakthrough in drug development for complex diseases” 

    From University of Bristol UK

    7 September 2020

    An innovative genetic study of blood protein levels, led by researchers in the MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit (MRC-IEU) at the University of Bristol, has demonstrated how genetic data can be used to support drug target prioritisation by identifying the causal effects of proteins on diseases.

    1
    Comparison between randomised controlled trial and the genetic approach “Mendelian randomization”.
    [Is it me? I see no difference here.]

    Working in collaboration with pharmaceutical companies, Bristol researchers have developed a comprehensive analysis pipeline using genetic prediction of protein levels to prioritise drug targets, and have quantified the potential of this approach for reducing the failure rate of drug development.

    Genetic studies of proteins are in their infancy. The aim of this research, published in Nature Genetics, was to establish if genetic prediction of protein target effects could predict drug trial success. Dr Jie Zheng, Professor Tom Gaunt and colleagues from the University of Bristol, worked with pharmaceutical companies to set up a multi-disciplinary collaboration to address this scientific question.

    Using a set of genetic epidemiology approaches, including Mendelian randomization and genetic colocalization, the researchers built a causal network of 1002 plasma proteins on 225 human diseases. In doing so, they identified 111 putatively causal effects of 65 proteins on 52 diseases, covering a wide range of disease areas. The results of this study are accessible via EpiGraphDB.

    Lead author, Dr Zheng, said their estimated effects of proteins on human diseases could be used to predict the effects of drugs targeting these proteins.

    “This analysis pipeline could be used to validate both efficacy and potential adverse effects of novel drug targets, as well as provide evidence to repurpose existing drugs to other indications.

    “This study lays a solid methodological foundation for future genetic studies of omics. The next step is for the analytical protocol to be used in early drug target validation pipeline by the study’s pharmaceutical collaborators. We hope that these findings will support further drug development to increase the success rate of drug trials, reduce drug cost and benefit patients,” said Dr Zheng.

    Tom Gaunt, Professor of Health and Biomedical Informatics, University of Bristol, and a member of the NIHR Bristol Biomedical Research Centre, added: “Our study used publicly available data published by many researchers around the world (collated by the MRC-IEU OpenGWAS database), and really demonstrates the potential of open data sharing in enabling novel discoveries in health research. We have demonstrated that this re-use of existing data offers an efficient approach to reducing drug development costs with anticipated benefits for health and society.”

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Bristol UK is one of the most popular and successful universities in the UK and was ranked within the top 50 universities in the world in the QS World University Rankings 2018.

    The University of Bristol is at the cutting edge of global research. We have made innovations in areas ranging from cot death prevention to nanotechnology.

    The University has had a reputation for innovation since its founding in 1876. Our research tackles some of the world’s most pressing issues in areas as diverse as infection and immunity, human rights, climate change, and cryptography and information security.

    The University currently has 40 Fellows of the Royal Society and 15 of the British Academy – a remarkable achievement for a relatively small institution.

    We aim to bring together the best minds in individual fields, and encourage researchers from different disciplines and institutions to work together to find lasting solutions to society’s pressing problems.

    We are involved in numerous international research collaborations and integrate practical experience in our curriculum, so that students work on real-life projects in partnership with business, government and community sectors.

     
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