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  • richardmitnick 4:05 pm on September 10, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "ARCS Foundation scholarships support UCSC graduate students", University of California-Santa Cruz (US)   

    From University of California-Santa Cruz (US) : “ARCS Foundation scholarships support UCSC graduate students” 

    From University of California-Santa Cruz (US)

    September 09, 2021
    Tim Stephens
    stephens@ucsc.edu

    Sixteen UC Santa Cruz graduate students have received scholarships worth a total of $160,000 from the Achievement Rewards for College Scientists (ARCS) Foundation for the 2021-22 academic year. Since 1976, the ARCS Foundation’s Northern California Chapter has given more than $2.8 million in scholarships to UCSC students.

    The ARCS Foundation, founded in 1958, is a national organization that provides scholarships and fellowships for the country’s most promising science, medical, and engineering students. This year’s ARCS scholars at UC Santa Cruz represent the Science Communication Program and the Departments of Astronomy and Astrophysics; Biomolecular Engineering; Chemistry and Biochemistry; Computational Media; Earth and Planetary Sciences; Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Electrical and Computer Engineering; Environmental Studies; Microbiology and Environmental Toxicology; Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology; Ocean Sciences; Physics; and Statistics. The scholars and their interests are as follows:

    Daniel Droege, Chemistry and Biochemistry: Droege’s research focuses on designing and synthesizing iron-porphyrin complexes and evaluating their ability to function as antidotes for carbon monoxide poisoning. Before beginning his doctoral studies at UCSC, he worked for three years as a medicinal chemist at the Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases based at UC San Francisco.

    Neil Hardy, Electrical and Computer Engineering: Hardy is developing state-of-art brain-machine interface technologies that can help people suffering from neurodegenerative and neuropathic diseases. He has recently developed wireless optical bioelectric probes and demonstrated unprecedented high-throughput and subcellular resolutions for sensing electrophysiological activity of cells.

    William Zachary Horton, Statistics: Horton’s research interests include Bayesian nonparametrics, renewal process modeling, and functional data analysis. Currently he works on developing a fully nonparametric model for inhomogeneous renewal processes, with applications in seismology and linguistics.

    Jessica Kendall-Bar, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology: Kendall-Bar’s research explores new techniques for monitoring sleep in marine mammals. She is working to establish and validate the use of non-invasive EEG techniques, like those used in human sleep studies, to record sleep in free-ranging, wild marine mammals for the first time. She is also a freelance artist and science communication strategist who creates data visualization animations, children’s book illustrations, underwater photography, and cinematography to accurately portray science and its role in preserving underwater ecosystems.

    Justin Luong, Environmental Studies: Luong’s research uses both field and greenhouse methods to better understand how extreme drought will affect productivity, restoration, and biodiversity of highly valuable and diverse California coastal grasslands. His research also explores the long-term outcomes of grassland restoration, in which he is collaboratively working with restoration practitioners to better inform land management decisions.

    Jakob McBroome, Bioinformatics and Biomolecular Engineering: McBroome is focused on studying the evolution of chromatin interactions and consequences for transcriptional regulation. His work in this interdisciplinary field effectively requires expertise in both evolutionary genomics and chromatin biology. In addition to his thesis work, he has made impressive contributions to ongoing work in SARS-CoV-2 genomics.

    Brittney Miller, Science Communication: Miller has bachelor’s degrees in biology and journalism and has worked in both research labs and newsrooms. These experiences cultivated her rich passion for communicating science. Her environmental articles have been published in more than 65 publications nationwide, and she has received a 2021-22 Taylor/Blakeslee Fellowship from the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

    Joseph Novak, Ocean Sciences: Novak measures molecular fossils to study relationships between climate, vegetation, and fire regime in Siberia. The goal is to use this fossil data to predict how climate change will alter northern ecosystems and fire activity. Novak is committed to using his research to improve our predictions of, and preparation for, the climate impacts from global warming.

    McKenzie Prillaman, Science Communication: Prillaman interested in writing about neuroscience, bioethics, and science-art. Prior to her graduate studies, she worked at the Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion program of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and was the volunteer blog editor for Art the Science. She also has an extensive background in scientific research, having studied adolescent nicotine dependence as a postbaccalaureate fellow at the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

    Amanda Quirk, Astronomy and Astrophysics: Quirk is interested in the dynamics and evolutionary history of disk galaxies. She is currently leading studies of the Triangulum Galaxy using the largest spectroscopic dataset obtained with the Keck telescope and DEIMOS spectrograph. She is also dedicated to teaching and has participated in several education certificate programs. In addition to teaching on campus, she is the co-director of the Project for Inmate Education program.

    Veronica Rivera, Computational Media: Rivera’s research in Human-Computer Interaction and Social Computing focuses on improving the well-being of platform-based gig workers (e.g. crowdworkers, ride-hailing app drivers, freelancers) in areas such as supporting career and development, designing towards physical and mental safety, mitigating the gender pay gap, and evaluating the experiences of gig workers from underrepresented and marginalized groups.

    Regina Spranger, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology: Spranger studies how an organism’s physiology interacts with the abiotic conditions in its environment. Her research focuses on the acclimation potential of salamander physiology and how that affects their vulnerability to climate change. She is working to develop a more accurate extinction risk model for amphibians that can be applied broadly as well as to specific conservation projects, and she has already started working with two local endangered amphibians to implement these models.

    Clayton Strawn, Physics: Strawn is conducting research on the circumgalactic medium, the gas surrounding galaxies. He recently studied physically motivated definitions of the processes of collisional versus photon ionization of the medium, and the agreement between simulations and observations of the boundary layer between inflowing material streams and the surrounding outflowing hot low-density gas. He is also working on a comparison between high-resolution galaxy simulations using different simulation codes with the same initial conditions.

    Jeremiah Tsyporin, Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology: Tsyporin has made contributions to the study of brain cancer and neural stem cells and is currently working on understanding the molecular and environmental cues that regulate the precise generation of the diverse cell types comprising the mammalian cerebral cortex, the region of the brain responsible for cognition and perception.

    Madison Wood, Earth and Planetary Sciences: Wood’s research is motivated by her interest in the climate system. She uses geochemical signatures of seawater chemistry preserved in marine sediments to reconstruct past changes in the carbon cycle. Her current project is focused on carbon cycle changes and climate feedbacks over glacial/interglacial cycles.

    Christina Yang, Microbiology and Environmental Toxicology: Yang is working to understand the principles that control bacterial population density and distribution in the mammalian gastrointestinal tract, and in turn, how bacterial population density modulates disease outcomes. Her research uses Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium that infects the human stomach and, in some cases, leads to diseases including ulcers and stomach cancer.

    See the full article here .


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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition
    The University of California-Santa Cruz (US), opened in 1965 and grew, one college at a time, to its current (2008-09) enrollment of more than 16,000 students. Undergraduates pursue more than 60 majors supervised by divisional deans of humanities, physical & biological sciences, social sciences, and arts. Graduate students work toward graduate certificates, master’s degrees, or doctoral degrees in more than 30 academic fields under the supervision of the divisional and graduate deans. The dean of the Jack Baskin School of Engineering oversees the campus’s undergraduate and graduate engineering programs.

    UCSC is the home base for the Lick Observatory.

    UCO Lick Observatory’s 36-inch Great Refractor telescope in the South (large) Dome of main building.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:59 am on September 2, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Astronomers create the first 3D-printed stellar nurseries", , , The fine-scale densities and gradients of the turbulent clouds are embedded in a transparent resin., The first 3D-printed stellar nurseries are highly polished spheres., The models were made using data from simulations of star-forming clouds and a sophisticated 3D printing process., University of California-Santa Cruz (US)   

    From University of California-Santa Cruz (US) : “Astronomers create the first 3D-printed stellar nurseries” 

    From University of California-Santa Cruz (US)

    September 02, 2021
    Tim Stephens
    stephens@ucsc.edu

    1
    The first 3D-printed stellar nurseries are highly polished spheres about the size of a baseball, in which swirling clumps and filaments represent star-forming clouds of gas and dust. Researchers created the models using data from simulations of star-forming clouds and a 3D printing process in which the fine-scale densities and gradients of the clouds are embedded in a transparent resin. (Photo by Saurabh Mhatre).

    Astronomers can’t touch the stars they study, but astrophysicist Nia Imara is using 3-dimensional models that fit in the palm of her hand to unravel the structural complexities of stellar nurseries, the vast clouds of gas and dust where star formation occurs.

    Imara and her collaborators created the models using data from simulations of star-forming clouds and a sophisticated 3D printing process in which the fine-scale densities and gradients of the turbulent clouds are embedded in a transparent resin. The resulting models—the first 3D-printed stellar nurseries—are highly polished spheres about the size of a baseball (8 centimeters in diameter), in which the star-forming material appears as swirling clumps and filaments.

    “We wanted an interactive object to help us visualize those structures where stars form so we can better understand the physical processes,” said Imara, an assistant professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz and first author of a paper describing this novel approach published August 25 in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

    An artist as well as an astrophysicist, Imara said the idea is an example of science imitating art. “Years ago, I sketched a portrait of myself touching a star. Later, the idea just clicked. Star formation within molecular clouds is my area of expertise, so why not try to build one?” she said.

    She worked with coauthor John Forbes at the Flatiron Institute’s Center for Computational Astrophysics to develop a suite of nine simulations representing different physical conditions within molecular clouds. The collaboration also included coauthor James Weaver at Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (US), who helped to turn the data from the astronomical simulations into physical objects using high-resolution and photo-realistic multi-material 3D printing.

    The results are both visually striking and scientifically illuminating. “Just aesthetically they are really amazing to look at, and then you begin to notice the complex structures that are incredibly difficult to see with the usual techniques for visualizing these simulations,” Forbes said.

    For example, sheet-like or pancake-shaped structures are hard to distinguish in two-dimensional slices or projections, because a section through a sheet looks like a filament.

    “Within the spheres, you can clearly see a two-dimensional sheet, and inside it are little filaments, and that’s mind boggling from the perspective of someone who is trying to understand what’s going on in these simulations,” Forbes said.

    The models also reveal structures that are more continuous than they would appear in 2D projections, Imara said. “If you have something winding around through space, you might not realize that two regions are connected by the same structure, so having an interactive object you can rotate in your hand allows us to detect these continuities more easily,” she said.

    The nine simulations on which the models are based were designed to investigate the effects of three fundamental physical processes that govern the evolution of molecular clouds: turbulence, gravity, and magnetic fields. By changing different variables, such as the strength of the magnetic fields or how fast the gas is moving, the simulations show how different physical environments affect the morphology of substructures related to star formation.

    Stars tend to form in clumps and cores located at the intersection of filaments, where the density of gas and dust becomes high enough for gravity to take over. “We think that the spins of these newborn stars will depend on the structures in which they form—stars in the same filament will ‘know’ about each other’s spins,” Imara said.

    With the physical models, it doesn’t take an astrophysicist with expertise in these processes to see the differences between the simulations. “When I looked at 2D projections of the simulation data, it was often challenging to see their subtle differences, whereas with the 3D-printed models, it was obvious,” said Weaver, who has a background in biology and materials science and routinely uses 3D printing to investigate the structural details of a wide range of biological and synthetic materials.

    “I’m very interested in exploring the interface between science, art, and education, and I’m passionate about using 3D printing as a tool for the presentation of complex structures and processes in an easily understandable fashion,” Weaver said. “Traditional extrusion-based 3D printing can only produce solid objects with a continuous outer surface, and that’s problematic when trying to depict, gases, clouds, or other diffuse forms. Our approach uses an inkjet-like 3D printing process to deposit tiny individual droplets of opaque resin at precise locations within a surrounding volume of transparent resin to define the cloud’s form in exquisite detail.”

    He noted that in the future the models could also incorporate additional information through the use of different colors to increase their scientific value. The researchers are also interested in exploring the use of 3D printing to represent observational data from nearby molecular clouds, such as those in the constellation Orion.

    The models can also serve as valuable tools for education and public outreach, said Imara, who plans to use them in an astrophysics course she will be teaching this fall.

    See the full article here .


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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    UC Santa Cruz (US) Lick Observatory Since 1888 Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft)

    UC Observatories Lick Automated Planet Finder fully robotic 2.4-meter optical telescope at Lick Observatory, situated on the summit of Mount Hamilton, east of San Jose, California, USA.

    The UCO Lick C. Donald Shane telescope is a 120-inch (3.0-meter) reflecting telescope located at the Lick Observatory, Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft).
    UC Santa Cruz (US) campus.

    The University of California-Santa Cruz (US) , opened in 1965 and grew, one college at a time, to its current (2008-09) enrollment of more than 16,000 students. Undergraduates pursue more than 60 majors supervised by divisional deans of humanities, physical & biological sciences, social sciences, and arts. Graduate students work toward graduate certificates, master’s degrees, or doctoral degrees in more than 30 academic fields under the supervision of the divisional and graduate deans. The dean of the Jack Baskin School of Engineering oversees the campus’s undergraduate and graduate engineering programs.

    UCSC is the home base for the Lick Observatory.

    UCO Lick Observatory’s 36-inch Great Refractor telescope housed in the South (large) Dome of main building.

    Search for extraterrestrial intelligence expands at Lick Observatory
    New instrument scans the sky for pulses of infrared light
    March 23, 2015
    By Hilary Lebow


    Astronomers are expanding the search for extraterrestrial intelligence into a new realm with detectors tuned to infrared light at UC’s Lick Observatory. A new instrument, called NIROSETI, will soon scour the sky for messages from other worlds.

    “Infrared light would be an excellent means of interstellar communication,” said Shelley Wright, an assistant professor of physics at UC San Diego (US) who led the development of the new instrument while at the U Toronto Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (CA).

    Shelley Wright of UC San Diego with (US) NIROSETI, developed at U Toronto Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (CA) at the 1-meter Nickel Telescope at Lick Observatory at UC Santa Cruz

    Wright worked on an earlier SETI project at Lick Observatory as a UC Santa Cruz undergraduate, when she built an optical instrument designed by University of California-Berkeley (US) researchers. The infrared project takes advantage of new technology not available for that first optical search.

    Infrared light would be a good way for extraterrestrials to get our attention here on Earth, since pulses from a powerful infrared laser could outshine a star, if only for a billionth of a second. Interstellar gas and dust is almost transparent to near infrared, so these signals can be seen from great distances. It also takes less energy to send information using infrared signals than with visible light.

    Frank Drake, professor emeritus of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz and director emeritus of the SETI Institute, said there are several additional advantages to a search in the infrared realm.

    Frank Drake with his Drake Equation. Credit Frank Drake.

    “The signals are so strong that we only need a small telescope to receive them. Smaller telescopes can offer more observational time, and that is good because we need to search many stars for a chance of success,” said Drake.

    The only downside is that extraterrestrials would need to be transmitting their signals in our direction, Drake said, though he sees this as a positive side to that limitation. “If we get a signal from someone who’s aiming for us, it could mean there’s altruism in the universe. I like that idea. If they want to be friendly, that’s who we will find.”

    Scientists have searched the skies for radio signals for more than 50 years and expanded their search into the optical realm more than a decade ago. The idea of searching in the infrared is not a new one, but instruments capable of capturing pulses of infrared light only recently became available.

    “We had to wait,” Wright said. “I spent eight years waiting and watching as new technology emerged.”

    Now that technology has caught up, the search will extend to stars thousands of light years away, rather than just hundreds. NIROSETI, or Near-Infrared Optical Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, could also uncover new information about the physical universe.

    “This is the first time Earthlings have looked at the universe at infrared wavelengths with nanosecond time scales,” said Dan Werthimer, UC Berkeley SETI Project Director. “The instrument could discover new astrophysical phenomena, or perhaps answer the question of whether we are alone.”

    NIROSETI will also gather more information than previous optical detectors by recording levels of light over time so that patterns can be analyzed for potential signs of other civilizations.

    “Searching for intelligent life in the universe is both thrilling and somewhat unorthodox,” said Claire Max, director of UC Observatories and professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz. “Lick Observatory has already been the site of several previous SETI searches, so this is a very exciting addition to the current research taking place.”

    NIROSETI will scan the skies several times a week on the Nickel 1-meter telescope at Lick Observatory, located on Mt. Hamilton east of San Jose.

     
  • richardmitnick 5:20 pm on August 27, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "When humans disturb marine mammals it’s hard to know the long-term impact", From seismic surveys and Navy sonar to fisheries and shipping many human activities in the ocean environment cause short-term changes in the behaviors of marine mammals., University of California-Santa Cruz (US)   

    From University of California-Santa Cruz (US) : “When humans disturb marine mammals it’s hard to know the long-term impact” 

    From University of California-Santa Cruz (US)

    August 26, 2021
    Tim Stephens
    stephens@ucsc.edu

    1
    Northern elephant seals (above) and California sea lions (below) have different reproductive strategies that lead to differences in their resilience to disturbance by human activities. (Photos by Dan Costa)
    2

    From seismic surveys and Navy sonar to fisheries and shipping many human activities in the ocean environment cause short-term changes in the behaviors of marine mammals. A longstanding challenge for scientists and regulatory agencies alike has been to understand the biological significance of those changes in terms of their overall impact on affected populations of animals.

    A new study led by scientists at the University of California-Santa Cruz (US) provides a comprehensive framework for conducting this type of assessment. Published August 25 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the paper synthesizes a huge amount of knowledge about marine mammals and research on the impacts of various disturbances.

    Senior author Daniel Costa, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and director of the Institute of Marine Sciences at UC Santa Cruz said he first began grappling with this problem decades ago when he was studying the impact of low-frequency sound on whales and other marine mammals. “We had measurable parameters that were statistically significant, but we didn’t know the biological significance of these changes in behavior. That bothered me, and it bothered a lot of other people in the field,” he said.

    A 2005 report from the National Research Council led to the development of an approach, known as the Population Consequences of Disturbance (PCoD) framework, which can be used to assess the bioenergetic costs of behavioral changes. Since then, researchers have been developing quantitative models of PCoD for different species and types of disturbances.

    “These models provide a lot of information, but we wanted to take a holistic approach by identifying the common themes and using those concepts to inform how wildlife managers and others can go about assessing the risks of a proposed activity,” said first author Kelly Keen, a UCSC graduate student who previously worked for the California State Lands Commission as an environmental scientist. “Coming from state government and having done a lot of risk assessments, I was interested in how these quantitative models can be applied.”

    The new study highlights the importance of life history traits such as reproductive strategies, movement patterns, body size, and pace of life in determining the vulnerability of a species to different types of disturbances. For example, Costa explained how differences in breeding behavior can make California sea lions less resilient than northern elephant seals.

    “The California sea lion lives paycheck to paycheck,” he said. “The mom has her pup on the beach, and then she goes out to sea to feed, comes back and suckles her pup, then goes back out and feeds again. She’s restricted to a relatively small area and can’t go far from the colony, so if there’s a disturbance that affects her feeding, that has a big impact because she doesn’t have money in the bank.”

    Elephant seal moms, on the other hand, have money in the bank. They migrate great distances across the North Pacific Ocean, feeding and storing energy, so when they come back to the colony to give birth they can stay on the beach with their pup. “They don’t feed while they’re nursing, they just dump all that stored energy into the pup,” Costa said. “They’re more resilient because they cover such a large area while they’re feeding and can more easily avoid any given stressor.”

    As a result, if there are both elephant seals and sea lions in an area where a proposed activity could disturb them, the sea lion population is likely to be at greater risk. Similarly, different considerations apply to species with a “live fast, die young” pace of life and a high reproductive rate, such as harbor porpoises, versus a large whale species that is slow to mature and reproduce.

    “What regulators really want is a tool where you can plug in the numbers and the species and it spits out an answer,” Costa said. “We’re not there yet, but this is the next best thing. It tells you the key characteristics you need to consider in making a decision.”

    In addition to life history features, the paper outlines the importance of the specific characteristics of the disturbance, including its location, duration, and frequency. Environmental conditions, including climate change, can also influence a population’s sensitivity to disturbances, Keen said.

    “These models are steeped in the bioenergetics framework, so we looked at prey availability and how that could be affected by environmental conditions in a specific area, because if there is an overlapping disturbance in that area, that could have consequences for the population,” she said.

    Costa noted that California’s coastal waters, with the most diverse marine mammal fauna in the world, is a particularly challenging place to do this type of risk assessment. Although he doesn’t expect to see new offshore oil development, the move toward renewable energy resources means a growing number of proposals to develop offshore wind and wave power in California.

    “In deciding where to put something like that, a complete quantitative assessment is always going to be difficult,” Costa said. “With this conceptual process, we can at least make informed judgments. It’s a tool that can tell you what considerations you need to be thinking about.”

    In addition to Keen and Costa, the coauthors of the paper are Roxanne Beltran, assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at UCSC, and Enrico Pirotta, now at University College Cork [Coláiste na hOllscoile Corcaigh] (IE) and University of St. Andrews (SCT). This work was supported by the E&P Sound and Marine Life Joint Industry Programme of the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (IOGP), and the Office of Naval Research (ONR).

    See the full article here .


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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    UC Santa Cruz (US) Lick Observatory Since 1888 Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft)

    UC Observatories Lick Automated Planet Finder fully robotic 2.4-meter optical telescope at Lick Observatory, situated on the summit of Mount Hamilton, east of San Jose, California, USA.

    The UCO Lick C. Donald Shane telescope is a 120-inch (3.0-meter) reflecting telescope located at the Lick Observatory, Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft).
    UC Santa Cruz (US) campus.

    The University of California-Santa Cruz (US) , opened in 1965 and grew, one college at a time, to its current (2008-09) enrollment of more than 16,000 students. Undergraduates pursue more than 60 majors supervised by divisional deans of humanities, physical & biological sciences, social sciences, and arts. Graduate students work toward graduate certificates, master’s degrees, or doctoral degrees in more than 30 academic fields under the supervision of the divisional and graduate deans. The dean of the Jack Baskin School of Engineering oversees the campus’s undergraduate and graduate engineering programs.

    UCSC is the home base for the Lick Observatory.

    UCO Lick Observatory’s 36-inch Great Refractor telescope housed in the South (large) Dome of main building.

    Search for extraterrestrial intelligence expands at Lick Observatory
    New instrument scans the sky for pulses of infrared light
    March 23, 2015
    By Hilary Lebow


    Astronomers are expanding the search for extraterrestrial intelligence into a new realm with detectors tuned to infrared light at UC’s Lick Observatory. A new instrument, called NIROSETI, will soon scour the sky for messages from other worlds.

    “Infrared light would be an excellent means of interstellar communication,” said Shelley Wright, an assistant professor of physics at UC San Diego (US) who led the development of the new instrument while at the U Toronto Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (CA).

    Shelley Wright of UC San Diego with (US) NIROSETI, developed at U Toronto Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (CA) at the 1-meter Nickel Telescope at Lick Observatory at UC Santa Cruz

    Wright worked on an earlier SETI project at Lick Observatory as a UC Santa Cruz undergraduate, when she built an optical instrument designed by University of California-Berkeley (US) researchers. The infrared project takes advantage of new technology not available for that first optical search.

    Infrared light would be a good way for extraterrestrials to get our attention here on Earth, since pulses from a powerful infrared laser could outshine a star, if only for a billionth of a second. Interstellar gas and dust is almost transparent to near infrared, so these signals can be seen from great distances. It also takes less energy to send information using infrared signals than with visible light.

    Frank Drake, professor emeritus of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz and director emeritus of the SETI Institute, said there are several additional advantages to a search in the infrared realm.

    Frank Drake with his Drake Equation. Credit Frank Drake.

    “The signals are so strong that we only need a small telescope to receive them. Smaller telescopes can offer more observational time, and that is good because we need to search many stars for a chance of success,” said Drake.

    The only downside is that extraterrestrials would need to be transmitting their signals in our direction, Drake said, though he sees this as a positive side to that limitation. “If we get a signal from someone who’s aiming for us, it could mean there’s altruism in the universe. I like that idea. If they want to be friendly, that’s who we will find.”

    Scientists have searched the skies for radio signals for more than 50 years and expanded their search into the optical realm more than a decade ago. The idea of searching in the infrared is not a new one, but instruments capable of capturing pulses of infrared light only recently became available.

    “We had to wait,” Wright said. “I spent eight years waiting and watching as new technology emerged.”

    Now that technology has caught up, the search will extend to stars thousands of light years away, rather than just hundreds. NIROSETI, or Near-Infrared Optical Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, could also uncover new information about the physical universe.

    “This is the first time Earthlings have looked at the universe at infrared wavelengths with nanosecond time scales,” said Dan Werthimer, UC Berkeley SETI Project Director. “The instrument could discover new astrophysical phenomena, or perhaps answer the question of whether we are alone.”

    NIROSETI will also gather more information than previous optical detectors by recording levels of light over time so that patterns can be analyzed for potential signs of other civilizations.

    “Searching for intelligent life in the universe is both thrilling and somewhat unorthodox,” said Claire Max, director of UC Observatories and professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz. “Lick Observatory has already been the site of several previous SETI searches, so this is a very exciting addition to the current research taking place.”

    NIROSETI will scan the skies several times a week on the Nickel 1-meter telescope at Lick Observatory, located on Mt. Hamilton east of San Jose.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:42 am on August 16, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Nearby star-forming region yields clues to the formation of our solar system", , , , , Data from space-based gamma-ray telescopes enable the detection of gamma rays emitted by the short-lived radionuclide aluminum-26., Findings indicate that supernovas in the star cluster are the most likely source of short-lived radionuclides in the star-forming clouds., Many new star systems will be born with aluminum-26 abundances in line with our solar system but the variation is huge—several orders of magnitude., One or more supernova events from some massive stars in this cluster contaminated the gas which turned into the sun and its planetary system., Ophiuchus star-forming region, Our solar system was most likely formed in a giant molecular cloud together with a young stellar cluster., The Ophiuchus cloud complex contains many protostellar cores in various stages of star formation and protoplanetary disk development representing the formation of a planetary system., This matters for the early evolution of planetary systems since aluminum-26 is the main early heating source. More aluminum-26 probably means drier planets., University of California-Santa Cruz (US)   

    From University of California-Santa Cruz (US) : “Nearby star-forming region yields clues to the formation of our solar system” 

    From University of California-Santa Cruz (US)

    August 16, 2021
    Tim Stephens
    stephens@ucsc.edu

    1
    Multi-wavelength observations of the Ophiuchus star-forming region reveal interactions between clouds of star-forming gas and radionuclides produced in a nearby cluster of young stars. The top image (a) shows the distribution of aluminum-26 in red, traced by gamma-ray emissions. The central box represents the area covered in the bottom left image (b), which shows the distribution of protostars in the Ophiuchus clouds as red dots. The area in the box is shown in the bottom right image (c), a deep near-infrared color composite image of the L1688 cloud, containing many well known prestellar dense-gas cores with disks and protostars (see larger image below). (Credit: Forbes et al., Nature Astronomy 2021.)

    A region of active star formation in the constellation Ophiuchus is giving astronomers new insights into the conditions in which our own solar system was born. In particular, a new study of the Ophiuchus star-forming complex shows how our solar system may have become enriched with short-lived radioactive elements.

    Evidence of this enrichment process has been around since the 1970s, when scientists studying certain mineral inclusions in meteorites concluded that they were pristine remnants of the infant solar system and contained the decay products of short-lived radionuclides. These radioactive elements could have been blown onto the nascent solar system by a nearby exploding star (a supernova) or by the strong stellar winds from a type of massive star known as a Wolf-Rayet star.

    The authors of the new study, published August 16 in Nature Astronomy, used multi-wavelength observations of the Ophiuchus star-forming region, including spectacular new infrared data, to reveal interactions between the clouds of star-forming gas and radionuclides produced in a nearby cluster of young stars. Their findings indicate that supernovas in the star cluster are the most likely source of short-lived radionuclides in the star-forming clouds.

    “Our solar system was most likely formed in a giant molecular cloud together with a young stellar cluster, and one or more supernova events from some massive stars in this cluster contaminated the gas which turned into the sun and its planetary system,” said coauthor Douglas N. C. Lin, professor emeritus of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz. “Although this scenario has been suggested in the past, the strength of this paper is to use multi-wavelength observations and a sophisticated statistical analysis to deduce a quantitative measurement of the model’s likelihood.”

    First author John Forbes at the Flatiron Institute’s Center for Computational Astrophysics said data from space-based gamma-ray telescopes enable the detection of gamma rays emitted by the short-lived radionuclide aluminum-26. “These are challenging observations. We can only convincingly detect it in two star-forming regions, and the best data are from the Ophiuchus complex,” he said.

    The Ophiuchus cloud complex contains many dense protostellar cores in various stages of star formation and protoplanetary disk development representing the earliest stages in the formation of a planetary system. By combining imaging data in wavelengths ranging from millimeters to gamma rays, the researchers were able to visualize a flow of aluminum-26 from the nearby star cluster toward the Ophiuchus star-forming region.

    “The enrichment process we’re seeing in Ophiuchus is consistent with what happened during the formation of the solar system 5 billion years ago,” Forbes said. “Once we saw this nice example of how the process might happen, we set about trying to model the nearby star cluster that produced the radionuclides we see today in gamma rays.”

    Forbes developed a model that accounts for every massive star that could have existed in this region, including its mass, age, and probability of exploding as a supernova, and incorporates the potential yields of aluminum-26 from stellar winds and supernovas. The model enabled him to determine the probabilities of different scenarios for the production of the aluminum-26 observed today.

    “We now have enough information to say that there is a 59 percent chance it is due to supernovas and a 68 percent chance that it’s from multiple sources and not just one supernova,” Forbes said.

    This type of statistical analysis assigns probabilities to scenarios that astronomers have been debating for the past 50 years, Lin noted. “This is the new direction for astronomy, to quantify the likelihood,” he said.

    The new findings also show that the amount of short-lived radionuclides incorporated into newly forming star systems can vary widely. “Many new star systems will be born with aluminum-26 abundances in line with our solar system, but the variation is huge—several orders of magnitude,” Forbes said. “This matters for the early evolution of planetary systems since aluminum-26 is the main early heating source. More aluminum-26 probably means drier planets.”

    The infrared data, which enabled the team to peer through dusty clouds into the heart of the star-forming complex, was obtained by coauthor João Alves at the University of Vienna as part of the European Southern Observatory’s VISION survey of nearby stellar nurseries using the VISTA telescope in Chile.

    “There is nothing special about Ophiuchus as a star formation region,” Alves said. “It is just a typical configuration of gas and young massive stars, so our results should be representative of the enrichment of short-lived radioactive elements in star and planet formation across the Milky Way.”

    The team also used data from the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Herschel Space Observatory, the ESA’s Planck satellite, and NASA’s Compton Gamma Ray Observatory.

    See the full article here .


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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    UC Santa Cruz (US) Lick Observatory Since 1888 Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft)

    UC Observatories Lick Automated Planet Finder fully robotic 2.4-meter optical telescope at Lick Observatory, situated on the summit of Mount Hamilton, east of San Jose, California, USA.

    The UCO Lick C. Donald Shane telescope is a 120-inch (3.0-meter) reflecting telescope located at the Lick Observatory, Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft).
    UC Santa Cruz (US) campus.

    The University of California-Santa Cruz (US) , opened in 1965 and grew, one college at a time, to its current (2008-09) enrollment of more than 16,000 students. Undergraduates pursue more than 60 majors supervised by divisional deans of humanities, physical & biological sciences, social sciences, and arts. Graduate students work toward graduate certificates, master’s degrees, or doctoral degrees in more than 30 academic fields under the supervision of the divisional and graduate deans. The dean of the Jack Baskin School of Engineering oversees the campus’s undergraduate and graduate engineering programs.

    UCSC is the home base for the Lick Observatory.

    UCO Lick Observatory’s 36-inch Great Refractor telescope housed in the South (large) Dome of main building.

    Search for extraterrestrial intelligence expands at Lick Observatory
    New instrument scans the sky for pulses of infrared light
    March 23, 2015
    By Hilary Lebow


    Astronomers are expanding the search for extraterrestrial intelligence into a new realm with detectors tuned to infrared light at UC’s Lick Observatory. A new instrument, called NIROSETI, will soon scour the sky for messages from other worlds.

    “Infrared light would be an excellent means of interstellar communication,” said Shelley Wright, an assistant professor of physics at UC San Diego (US) who led the development of the new instrument while at the U Toronto Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (CA).

    Shelley Wright of UC San Diego with (US) NIROSETI, developed at U Toronto Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (CA) at the 1-meter Nickel Telescope at Lick Observatory at UC Santa Cruz

    Wright worked on an earlier SETI project at Lick Observatory as a UC Santa Cruz undergraduate, when she built an optical instrument designed by University of California-Berkeley (US) researchers. The infrared project takes advantage of new technology not available for that first optical search.

    Infrared light would be a good way for extraterrestrials to get our attention here on Earth, since pulses from a powerful infrared laser could outshine a star, if only for a billionth of a second. Interstellar gas and dust is almost transparent to near infrared, so these signals can be seen from great distances. It also takes less energy to send information using infrared signals than with visible light.

    Frank Drake, professor emeritus of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz and director emeritus of the SETI Institute, said there are several additional advantages to a search in the infrared realm.

    Frank Drake with his Drake Equation. Credit Frank Drake.

    “The signals are so strong that we only need a small telescope to receive them. Smaller telescopes can offer more observational time, and that is good because we need to search many stars for a chance of success,” said Drake.

    The only downside is that extraterrestrials would need to be transmitting their signals in our direction, Drake said, though he sees this as a positive side to that limitation. “If we get a signal from someone who’s aiming for us, it could mean there’s altruism in the universe. I like that idea. If they want to be friendly, that’s who we will find.”

    Scientists have searched the skies for radio signals for more than 50 years and expanded their search into the optical realm more than a decade ago. The idea of searching in the infrared is not a new one, but instruments capable of capturing pulses of infrared light only recently became available.

    “We had to wait,” Wright said. “I spent eight years waiting and watching as new technology emerged.”

    Now that technology has caught up, the search will extend to stars thousands of light years away, rather than just hundreds. NIROSETI, or Near-Infrared Optical Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, could also uncover new information about the physical universe.

    “This is the first time Earthlings have looked at the universe at infrared wavelengths with nanosecond time scales,” said Dan Werthimer, UC Berkeley SETI Project Director. “The instrument could discover new astrophysical phenomena, or perhaps answer the question of whether we are alone.”

    NIROSETI will also gather more information than previous optical detectors by recording levels of light over time so that patterns can be analyzed for potential signs of other civilizations.

    “Searching for intelligent life in the universe is both thrilling and somewhat unorthodox,” said Claire Max, director of UC Observatories and professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz. “Lick Observatory has already been the site of several previous SETI searches, so this is a very exciting addition to the current research taking place.”

    NIROSETI will scan the skies several times a week on the Nickel 1-meter telescope at Lick Observatory, located on Mt. Hamilton east of San Jose.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:09 pm on August 12, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Two new grants support faculty diversity and retention", Recruitment for faculty Equity Advocates is scheduled to start in winter of 2022., The project will also evaluate the effects of recent changes to the survey questions used at University of California-Santa Cruz., These grants are part of a series of projects that have been funded from the University of California Office of the President’s program for Advancing Faculty Diversity., This program is coming out of the hard work of last year’s committee and our conversations about proactive steps to create more equitable faculty hiring and retention outcomes., This project will use data science to analyze the text of the student comments to see if bias also shows up there., , , University of California-Santa Cruz (US), We want to know if those changes made a difference. If it reduced bias then it’s something that can be replicated on other campuses.   

    From University of California-Santa Cruz (US) : “Two new grants support faculty diversity and retention” 

    From University of California-Santa Cruz (US)

    August 10, 2021

    Tim Stephens
    stephens@ucsc.edu

    Allison Arteaga Soergel

    1
    Herbert Lee is Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and the campus diversity officer for faculty. Photo by Carolyn Lagattuta.

    University of California-Santa Cruz (US) was awarded grants from the University of California (US) to support two collaborative multi-campus projects for advancing faculty diversity. One project involves the creation of an Equity Advocate Program at University of California-Santa Cruz, while the other will examine the impact of course evaluation systems at several campuses.

    “These grants are part of a series of projects that have been funded from the University of California Office of the President’s program for Advancing Faculty Diversity, focusing on both recruitment and retention,” said Herbert Lee, vice provost for Academic Affairs and the campus diversity officer for faculty.

    Lee is a principal investigator of one project, a collaboration with University of California-Riverside (US) and University of California-Davis (US) to look at potential bias in student surveys of teaching. He said a large body of research has documented that the numerical scores in course evaluations tend to be biased against women and faculty of color, but the narrative component of the surveys has not received the same attention.

    “This project will use data science to analyze the text of the student comments to see if bias also shows up there,” Lee said. “Throughout higher education, student evaluations are one of the primary tools for evaluating teaching effectiveness, so if there are biases, we want to document it and take that into account somehow.”

    Lee, a professor of statistics in the Baskin School of Engineering, and the other principal investigators—Vice Provost Daniel Jeske at University of California-Riverside (US) and Vice Provost Philip Kass at University of California-Davis (US)—are all statistical scientists. “Daniel Jeske had the idea that we can use statistical modeling and machine learning to analyze this,” Lee said.

    The project will also evaluate the effects of recent changes to the survey questions used at University of California-Santa Cruz. The campus’s new Student Experiences of Teaching survey focuses the questions on student self-reflection in an effort to have students think about their own learning and how the instructor and course design may have helped or inhibited their learning.

    “We want to know if those changes made a difference. If it reduced bias then it’s something that can be replicated on other campuses,” Lee said. “The big picture is that we want to see that all faculty have a chance to succeed and that there aren’t hidden barriers and implicit biases against certain groups of faculty.”

    Equity Advocates

    Overall, supporting equitable outcomes for faculty requires both innovation and long-term commitment, starting with the hiring process and continuing over the course of a career. This is the goal of the second collaborative multi-campus project for advancing faculty diversity granted to University of California-Santa Cruz (US). It aims at creating an Equity Advocates Program at University of California-Santa Cruz (US) that will empower strong champions of this work and provide dedicated resources.

    Two faculty Equity Advocates per academic division will receive specialized training and a course release in order to advise on hiring processes, analyze tenure and promotion rates within departments, provide formal and informal faculty mentoring, and assist with other needs related to faculty equity and inclusion

    Associate Professor of Anthropology Megan Moodie, who led the development of the project proposal, said that the idea sprung from a prior Advancing Faculty Diversity collaboration with University of California-Merced (US), through which a committee of faculty from both campuses worked to synthesize and apply research on best-practices in inclusive hiring.

    “This program is coming out of the hard work of last year’s committee and our conversations about proactive steps to create more equitable faculty hiring and retention outcomes, not just nice rhetoric and language around it,” she said. “The whole idea of an Equity Advocate is to have someone where the rubber meets the road.”

    University of California-Merced (US) has an existing Equity Advocates program in place, as do many other University of California campuses, but at Merced, the new project will expand the role beyond the initial hiring process. University of California-Santa Cruz and University of California-Merced currently have the most racially diverse professoriates in the system, but substantial disparities in representation remain between faculty, the student base, and the state’s overall population.

    The Equity Advocates Program will help to deliver continued improvements in representation and will provide crucial formal recognition, support, and compensation for faculty equity leaders at University of California-Santa Cruz. Many faculty of color have previously been filling aspects of the role invisibly, according to research by Associate Professor of Psychology Rebecca Covarrubias.

    Recruitment for faculty Equity Advocates is scheduled to start in winter of 2022, following the completion of training program development in collaboration with University of California-Merced.
    University of California-Santa Cruz’s proposal development team for this project included Professor of Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology Needhi Bhalla, Professor of Psychology Jean E. Fox Tree, Associate Professor of Anthropology Megan Moodie, and Professor of Literature Juan Poblete. Bhalla, Fox Tree, Poblete, and Professor of Film & Digital Media John Jota Leaños will lead the campus effort moving forward.

    See the full article here .


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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition
    The University of California-Santa Cruz (US), opened in 1965 and grew, one college at a time, to its current (2008-09) enrollment of more than 16,000 students. Undergraduates pursue more than 60 majors supervised by divisional deans of humanities, physical & biological sciences, social sciences, and arts. Graduate students work toward graduate certificates, master’s degrees, or doctoral degrees in more than 30 academic fields under the supervision of the divisional and graduate deans. The dean of the Jack Baskin School of Engineering oversees the campus’s undergraduate and graduate engineering programs.

    UCSC is the home base for the Lick Observatory.

    UCO Lick Observatory’s 36-inch Great Refractor telescope in the South (large) Dome of main building.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:41 pm on August 12, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Salt marsh resilience compromised by crabs along tidal creek edges", , , Elkhorn Slough is one of the largest estuaries in California., The striped shore crab "Pachygrapsus crassipes", University of California-Santa Cruz (US)   

    From University of California-Santa Cruz (US) : “Salt marsh resilience compromised by crabs along tidal creek edges” 

    From University of California-Santa Cruz (US)

    August 09, 2021
    Tim Stephens
    stephens@ucsc.edu

    Coastal marshes are vulnerable to erosion caused by rising seas, pounding waves, and tidal flows. In Elkhorn Slough, these vulnerabilities are made worse by superabundant crabs found at their highest densities along the estuary’s tidal creeks, according to a new study published August 8 in Ecosphere.

    2
    The striped shore crab (Pachygrapsus crassipes) is a small crab found all along the West Coast of North America, and it is extremely abundant in Elkhorn Slough. Photo by K. Beheshti.

    The striped shore crab (Pachygrapsus crassipes) is a small crab found all along the West Coast of North America, and it is extremely abundant in Elkhorn Slough. The study demonstrated the dual role of these crabs as both consumers of salt marsh vegetation and as ecosystem engineers.

    “Their burrowing weakens the creekbank edges, so that whole chunks of marsh will sometimes calve off, and by lowering biomass they are reducing the ability of marsh plants to prevent erosion,” said lead author Kathryn Beheshti, who earned her Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology at UC Santa Cruz in 2021 and is currently a California Sea Grant State Fellow at the Ocean Protection Council’s Climate Change Program.

    Beheshti and her coauthors conducted a five-year field experiment to assess the effects of crabs on the vegetation and sediments along eroding creekbank edges. Using fencing and traps made of empty tennis-ball cans to exclude crabs from experimental enclosures, they found that reducing crab abundance led to increased growth of salt marsh vegetation and enhanced sediment density.

    3
    Pickleweed grows noticeably taller and denser in the fenced area from which crabs are excluded.Photo by K. Beheshti.

    The researchers also found that the number of burrows did not change over the study period, even with researchers experimentally removing crabs. The unexpected persistence of the burrows highlights the value of long-term field experiments. The experiment was maintained for five years thanks in large part to the efforts of a team of over 50 UC Santa Cruz undergraduate students and high school interns.

    “Field experiments that span multiple seasons and years are rare,” said coauthor Kerstin Wasson, research coordinator of the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve and an adjunct professor at UC Santa Cruz. “This work demonstrates the value of long-term studies by showing that burrows, which weaken the stability of tidal creek banks, persist despite the near absence of the crabs that build them.”

    Coauthor Brent Hughes, assistant professor at Sonoma State University (US), noted that the crabs were most abundant in spring and summer, when the pickleweed marshes are at peak production. “This synchrony suggests that the effect of crabs as consumers is more punctuated than their more chronic effect as engineers,” he said.

    Elkhorn Slough is one of the largest estuaries in California, with the largest tract of tidal salt marsh in the state outside of San Francisco Bay. It has been highly altered by human activities, however, and erosion along the edges of the tidal creeks and main channel is steadily eating away at the marsh.

    “It’s a big issue, because when the marsh erodes away along the tidal creeks it’s a permanent loss,” Beheshti said.

    The impacts of crabs on marsh biomass and soil structure near tidal creek banks are likely to make the marsh less resilient to erosion and sea-level rise, presenting a unique challenge to managers. Restoring populations of crab predators, such as herons, racoons, and sea otters, may be one way to mitigate these negative effects.

    “In this system, top-predator recovery is key,” said coauthor Brian Silliman, distinguished professor at Duke University (US).

    This collaborative study brought together marsh ecologists from both the East and West Coasts who have led the field in exploring how animals affect the marshes they inhabit. Over the past few decades, the U.S. East Coast has been the epicenter of studies exploring top-down effects in salt marshes, and this study is one of the few to explore such effects in a West Coast salt marsh.

    “Southeastern U.S. marshes appear to be a harbinger of what’s to come for marshes along the Pacific coast, with sea-level rise amplifying the effects of what would otherwise be considered an innocuous crab,” said coauthor Christine Angelini, associate professor at University of Florida (US).

    The authors called for similar long-term studies to be conducted in other West Coast marsh systems to determine how widespread these crab effects are. “It’d be great for contextualizing our findings,” Beheshti said. “We’d like to know if Elkhorn Slough is the canary in the coal mine, signaling yet another pathway for accelerated marsh edge loss for one of California’s rarest coastal habitats.”

    This work was supported in part by grants from the David H. Smith Conservation Research Fellowship, the Myers Ocean Trust, and Friends of Long Marine Laboratory.

    See the full article here .


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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition
    The University of California-Santa Cruz (US), opened in 1965 and grew, one college at a time, to its current (2008-09) enrollment of more than 16,000 students. Undergraduates pursue more than 60 majors supervised by divisional deans of humanities, physical & biological sciences, social sciences, and arts. Graduate students work toward graduate certificates, master’s degrees, or doctoral degrees in more than 30 academic fields under the supervision of the divisional and graduate deans. The dean of the Jack Baskin School of Engineering oversees the campus’s undergraduate and graduate engineering programs.

    UCSC is the home base for the Lick Observatory.

    UCO Lick Observatory’s 36-inch Great Refractor telescope in the South (large) Dome of main building.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:09 pm on August 5, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "NIH grant funds collaborative research on protein-RNA interactions in cancer", , , National Cancer Institute, University of California-Los Angeles (US), University of California-Santa Cruz (US)   

    From University of California-Santa Cruz (US) : “NIH grant funds collaborative research on protein-RNA interactions in cancer” 

    From University of California-Santa Cruz (US)

    August 03, 2021
    Tim Stephens
    stephens@ucsc.edu

    1
    Jeremy Sanford

    Jeremy Sanford, professor of molecular, cell, and developmental biology at UC Santa Cruz, has received major funding from the National Cancer Institute for research on the role of protein-RNA interactions in cancer. Sanford and Dr. Dinesh Rao at University of California-Los Angeles (US) are co-principal investigators on the grant, which will provide more than $3 million over five years for their research.

    Sanford and Rao, who have been friends since they met in college, have been collaborating for several years to investigate aggressive forms of leukemia that remain highly resistant to treatment. Their recent studies have shown that one determinant of the aggressive behavior of leukemia is an RNA-binding protein that regulates gene expression. The new grant supports their ongoing research to investigate the function of this RNA-binding protein, called IGF2BP3, in the initiation and maintenance of leukemia.

    “Protein-RNA interactions are fundamental to the inner working of our cells,” Sanford said. “The expression of all genetic information is controlled through a network of protein-RNA interactions. When this network is disrupted, myriad human diseases, including cancer, can occur.”

    In a study published July 29 in Leukemia, Sanford and Rao’s team presented new evidence for IGF2BP3 as an attractive target for novel therapies to treat leukemia. The researchers showed that deletion of the gene for IGF2BP3 significantly increases the survival of mice with a type of leukemia in which the RNA-binding protein is over-expressed. In addition, they found that mice lacking the protein developed normally, suggesting that blocking the protein would not have serious side effects.

    “Importantly, IGF2BP3 goes rogue in a variety of other cancers,” Sanford said. “We anticipate that our work on IGF2BP3 will have broad impacts on cancer biology, diagnostics, and future therapies.”

    Sanford noted that the preliminary research supporting their proposal for the new grant was funded by smaller grants from the Santa Cruz Cancer Benefit Group and the UC Cancer Research Coordinating Committee.

    See the full article here .


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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition
    The University of California-Santa Cruz (US), opened in 1965 and grew, one college at a time, to its current (2008-09) enrollment of more than 16,000 students. Undergraduates pursue more than 60 majors supervised by divisional deans of humanities, physical & biological sciences, social sciences, and arts. Graduate students work toward graduate certificates, master’s degrees, or doctoral degrees in more than 30 academic fields under the supervision of the divisional and graduate deans. The dean of the Jack Baskin School of Engineering oversees the campus’s undergraduate and graduate engineering programs.

    UCSC is the home base for the Lick Observatory.

    UCO Lick Observatory’s 36-inch Great Refractor telescope in the South (large) Dome of main building.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:34 am on July 19, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Statistical analysis quantifies how chemistry undergraduates benefit from graduate student diversity", , , Insights for breaking down barriers, Statistics aligned with lived experience, University of California-Santa Cruz (US)   

    From University of California-Santa Cruz (US) : “Statistical analysis quantifies how chemistry undergraduates benefit from graduate student diversity” 

    From University of California-Santa Cruz (US)

    July 15, 2021
    Allison Arteaga Soergel
    asoergel@ucsc.edu

    1
    Julia Martin prepares a solution as part of her chemistry research. Martin graduated in 2019, but during her time at University of California-Santa Cruz (US), she participated in the Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC) program through the university’s STEM Diversity Office, which works to support underrepresented students in STEM fields. TA’s also play an important role in classroom success for undergraduate students, as a new statistical analysis shows.

    Diversity among graduate student teaching assistants (TAs) may be among the most essential factors in retaining underrepresented minority undergraduate students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) courses, according to statistical evidence from a new study set to publish in the August issue of the Economics of Education Review.

    A team of economists and chemists at University of California-Santa Cruz (US) gathered and analyzed data from more than 4,000 students in general chemistry labs at the university over a five-year period to show that—among undergraduate students who were Latinx, Black, Native American, Native Alaskan or Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander—course drop rates decreased from 6 percent to 0.5 percent, and pass rates increased from 93.6 percent to 98.4 percent when these students were assigned a TA who was also a member of a racial or ethnic minority group.

    “There are just not that many interventions that make that much of a difference in education,” said Economics Professor Rob Fairlie, the senior author on the paper. “I thought we would find something, but I was surprised that the effect was so big.”

    The study controlled for variability in individual teaching and learning abilities and also found no effect of TA-student pairings on course grades. This led the paper’s authors to conclude that the large demonstrated changes in drop and pass rates likely result from how TA-student interactions influence a student’s decision of whether or not to stick with a course.

    “One huge implication of this study is that sometimes people question whether the instructor or TA can alter student decisions, and I think we clearly document that,” said Daniel Oliver, lead author of the paper who is now a senior research fellow at Tulane University (US). Oliver worked on the study while completing his Ph.D. in economics at UCSC.

    Statistics aligned with lived experience

    The most significant trend driving the paper’s results was specifically how Latinx students benefited from having a TA of the same ethnic background. David Delgadillo, a graduate student and former TA in the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department at University of California-Santa Cruz (US), said he has felt a sense of validation from the study’s findings.

    “For me, being Latino in STEM and having gone through the process as a student myself and then transitioning into that teaching role, I can say that I think it’s easy to be intimidated in these courses, especially if you don’t have family members or friends that have gone through the process,” he said. “But with TAs, that first initial interaction with somebody that you feel represents you or represents a struggle that you’ve gone through really lowers the entry barrier into being a successful student in these classes.”

    As a TA, Delgadillo said that he always worked hard to create a welcoming environment in the classroom and to boost student confidence because he understood how much pressure students might be under, particularly if they came from marginalized communities.

    “There’s this extra level of stress and this thought process of ‘I need to perform well and do everything perfectly, or my one opportunity to move up the social ladder is done,’ and that’s the complex that you can sometimes go into it with as a student,” Delgadillo said. “I think what really helps is being welcomed into that course by somebody who can understand that sense of pressure. Someone who lets you know that it’s okay and that you’re going to make mistakes and struggle a little bit, but if you keep going and keep pushing, you’ll eventually persevere.”

    The new paper demonstrates how economists can contribute to conversations around these issues by helping to quantify the impacts of what students and TAs are experiencing.

    “As economists, our training is to do statistical work with these big data sets and carefully set up analyses that can affirm many personal stories in chemistry and the sciences,” said Rob Fairlie. “And our interest is in trying to create equity.”

    Insights for breaking down barriers

    Statistics from the National Science Foundation (US) in 2015 showed that, while Latinx, Black, Native American, Native Alaskan or Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander people represented 26 percent of the U.S. adult population, people from these groups collectively accounted for about 13 percent of the nation’s highest degree holders in science and engineering and made up 10 percent of the workforce in related fields. These disparities in representation can have profound economic impacts, since careers in science and engineering tend to be higher-paid.

    Glenn Millhauser, a distinguished professor and chair of the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department at University of California-Santa Cruz (US), said he hopes the new study’s results will help higher education institutions provide better support for students from minority communities who are entering science-based fields. Millhauser was a coauthor on the paper, along with chemistry lecturer Randa Roland, and both helped to design the study.

    “We want to provide a meaningful sense of inclusion, along with instruction that leads to real success, so that students feel part of the STEM community and are provided with the tools for more advanced studies and degrees,” Millhauser said.

    The new paper indicates that one way universities can help to break down barriers to entry in STEM fields is through continued improvements in recruiting and support for graduate student instructors and faculty from diverse backgrounds. And, ultimately, all instructors, regardless of their ethnic or racial backgrounds, must be accountable for understanding and adapting to the needs of their students.

    A’Lester Allen, a doctoral candidate in physical chemistry who has been a TA for general chemistry and other courses, said he would love to see increased representation among professors, graduate students, and staff. However, he says it’s also important to ensure that the responsibility for student success is not placed disproportionately upon instructors from minority communities.

    “I think what needs to happen is a little soul-searching by everyone to build an understanding of what it’s like from the perspective of historically disadvantaged students coming into these classes, so that the instructors can see all of the barriers in the way that students see them,” Allen said. “Maybe then those barriers can be removed.”

    ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________
    For more information on diversity in the sciences at University of California-Santa Cruz (US) and related undergraduate and graduate student resources and support programs, please visit the Science Division’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion page and the Office of STEM Diversity Programs website. The Office of STEM Diversity Programs at University of California-Santa Cruz (US) is an umbrella office that includes programs funded by the National Institutes of Health (US), the National Science Foundation, and UCOP, as well as state-funded and donor-supported programs.

    See the full article here .


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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    UC Santa Cruz (US) Lick Observatory Since 1888 Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft)

    UC Observatories Lick Automated Planet Finder fully robotic 2.4-meter optical telescope at Lick Observatory, situated on the summit of Mount Hamilton, east of San Jose, California, USA.

    The UCO Lick C. Donald Shane telescope is a 120-inch (3.0-meter) reflecting telescope located at the Lick Observatory, Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft).
    UC Santa Cruz (US) campus.

    The University of California-Santa Cruz (US) , opened in 1965 and grew, one college at a time, to its current (2008-09) enrollment of more than 16,000 students. Undergraduates pursue more than 60 majors supervised by divisional deans of humanities, physical & biological sciences, social sciences, and arts. Graduate students work toward graduate certificates, master’s degrees, or doctoral degrees in more than 30 academic fields under the supervision of the divisional and graduate deans. The dean of the Jack Baskin School of Engineering oversees the campus’s undergraduate and graduate engineering programs.

    UCSC is the home base for the Lick Observatory.

    UCO Lick Observatory’s 36-inch Great Refractor telescope housed in the South (large) Dome of main building.

    Search for extraterrestrial intelligence expands at Lick Observatory
    New instrument scans the sky for pulses of infrared light
    March 23, 2015
    By Hilary Lebow


    Astronomers are expanding the search for extraterrestrial intelligence into a new realm with detectors tuned to infrared light at UC’s Lick Observatory. A new instrument, called NIROSETI, will soon scour the sky for messages from other worlds.

    “Infrared light would be an excellent means of interstellar communication,” said Shelley Wright, an assistant professor of physics at UC San Diego (US) who led the development of the new instrument while at the U Toronto Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (CA).

    Shelley Wright of UC San Diego with (US) NIROSETI, developed at U Toronto Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (CA) at the 1-meter Nickel Telescope at Lick Observatory at UC Santa Cruz

    Wright worked on an earlier SETI project at Lick Observatory as a UC Santa Cruz undergraduate, when she built an optical instrument designed by University of California-Berkeley (US) researchers. The infrared project takes advantage of new technology not available for that first optical search.

    Infrared light would be a good way for extraterrestrials to get our attention here on Earth, since pulses from a powerful infrared laser could outshine a star, if only for a billionth of a second. Interstellar gas and dust is almost transparent to near infrared, so these signals can be seen from great distances. It also takes less energy to send information using infrared signals than with visible light.

    Frank Drake, professor emeritus of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz and director emeritus of the SETI Institute, said there are several additional advantages to a search in the infrared realm.

    Frank Drake with his Drake Equation. Credit Frank Drake.

    “The signals are so strong that we only need a small telescope to receive them. Smaller telescopes can offer more observational time, and that is good because we need to search many stars for a chance of success,” said Drake.

    The only downside is that extraterrestrials would need to be transmitting their signals in our direction, Drake said, though he sees this as a positive side to that limitation. “If we get a signal from someone who’s aiming for us, it could mean there’s altruism in the universe. I like that idea. If they want to be friendly, that’s who we will find.”

    Scientists have searched the skies for radio signals for more than 50 years and expanded their search into the optical realm more than a decade ago. The idea of searching in the infrared is not a new one, but instruments capable of capturing pulses of infrared light only recently became available.

    “We had to wait,” Wright said. “I spent eight years waiting and watching as new technology emerged.”

    Now that technology has caught up, the search will extend to stars thousands of light years away, rather than just hundreds. NIROSETI, or Near-Infrared Optical Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, could also uncover new information about the physical universe.

    “This is the first time Earthlings have looked at the universe at infrared wavelengths with nanosecond time scales,” said Dan Werthimer, UC Berkeley SETI Project Director. “The instrument could discover new astrophysical phenomena, or perhaps answer the question of whether we are alone.”

    NIROSETI will also gather more information than previous optical detectors by recording levels of light over time so that patterns can be analyzed for potential signs of other civilizations.

    “Searching for intelligent life in the universe is both thrilling and somewhat unorthodox,” said Claire Max, director of UC Observatories and professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz. “Lick Observatory has already been the site of several previous SETI searches, so this is a very exciting addition to the current research taking place.”

    NIROSETI will scan the skies several times a week on the Nickel 1-meter telescope at Lick Observatory, located on Mt. Hamilton east of San Jose.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:20 am on July 17, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Physics PhD student receives Graduate Instrumentation Research Award", , University of California-Santa Cruz (US), Yuzhan Zhao   

    From University of California-Santa Cruz (US) : “Physics PhD student receives Graduate Instrumentation Research Award” 

    From University of California-Santa Cruz (US)

    July 14, 2021
    Tim Stephens
    stephens@ucsc.edu

    1
    Yuzhan Zhao.

    Yuzhan Zhao, a third-year Ph.D. student in physics at UC Santa Cruz, has received a Graduate Instrumentation Research Award (GIRA) from the American Physical Society (US).

    The award supports Zhao’s research with physics professor Bruce Schumm at the Santa Cruz Institute for Particle Physics (SCIPP). Zhao is working on the development of low-gain avalanche diode silicon detectors, which feature excellent timing resolution for measuring particle interactions. Specifically, the award is for the further development of the “deep junction” low-gain avalanche detector, for which Zhao holds intellectual property rights, along with Schumm, postdoctoral fellow Simone Mazza, and fellow graduate student Carolyn Gee.

    These detectors have applications in particle physics experiments and accelerator beam monitoring. SCIPP is an international leader in the development of silicon detectors for high-energy physics experiments and other applications.

    “This award is a wonderful acknowledgement of Yuzhan’s accomplishments in instrumentation,” Schumm said.

    The GIRA program aims to encourage and facilitate greater involvement of physics graduate students in significant instrumentation development, to boost recognition of instrumentation work as a vital part of PhD training, to foster the growth of future high-energy physics instrumentation experts in the United States, and to strengthen university-lab ties on instrumentation development. GIRA was established by the Coordination Panel for Advanced Detectors, a standing committee of the Division of Particles and Fields of the American Physical 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

    UC Santa Cruz (US) Lick Observatory Since 1888 Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft)

    UC Observatories Lick Automated Planet Finder fully robotic 2.4-meter optical telescope at Lick Observatory, situated on the summit of Mount Hamilton, east of San Jose, California, USA.

    The UCO Lick C. Donald Shane telescope is a 120-inch (3.0-meter) reflecting telescope located at the Lick Observatory, Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft).
    UC Santa Cruz (US) campus.

    The University of California-Santa Cruz (US) , opened in 1965 and grew, one college at a time, to its current (2008-09) enrollment of more than 16,000 students. Undergraduates pursue more than 60 majors supervised by divisional deans of humanities, physical & biological sciences, social sciences, and arts. Graduate students work toward graduate certificates, master’s degrees, or doctoral degrees in more than 30 academic fields under the supervision of the divisional and graduate deans. The dean of the Jack Baskin School of Engineering oversees the campus’s undergraduate and graduate engineering programs.

    UCSC is the home base for the Lick Observatory.

    UCO Lick Observatory’s 36-inch Great Refractor telescope housed in the South (large) Dome of main building.

    Search for extraterrestrial intelligence expands at Lick Observatory
    New instrument scans the sky for pulses of infrared light
    March 23, 2015
    By Hilary Lebow


    Astronomers are expanding the search for extraterrestrial intelligence into a new realm with detectors tuned to infrared light at UC’s Lick Observatory. A new instrument, called NIROSETI, will soon scour the sky for messages from other worlds.

    “Infrared light would be an excellent means of interstellar communication,” said Shelley Wright, an assistant professor of physics at UC San Diego (US) who led the development of the new instrument while at the U Toronto Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (CA).

    Shelley Wright of UC San Diego with (US) NIROSETI, developed at U Toronto Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (CA) at the 1-meter Nickel Telescope at Lick Observatory at UC Santa Cruz

    Wright worked on an earlier SETI project at Lick Observatory as a UC Santa Cruz undergraduate, when she built an optical instrument designed by University of California-Berkeley (US) researchers. The infrared project takes advantage of new technology not available for that first optical search.

    Infrared light would be a good way for extraterrestrials to get our attention here on Earth, since pulses from a powerful infrared laser could outshine a star, if only for a billionth of a second. Interstellar gas and dust is almost transparent to near infrared, so these signals can be seen from great distances. It also takes less energy to send information using infrared signals than with visible light.

    Frank Drake, professor emeritus of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz and director emeritus of the SETI Institute, said there are several additional advantages to a search in the infrared realm.

    Frank Drake with his Drake Equation. Credit Frank Drake.

    “The signals are so strong that we only need a small telescope to receive them. Smaller telescopes can offer more observational time, and that is good because we need to search many stars for a chance of success,” said Drake.

    The only downside is that extraterrestrials would need to be transmitting their signals in our direction, Drake said, though he sees this as a positive side to that limitation. “If we get a signal from someone who’s aiming for us, it could mean there’s altruism in the universe. I like that idea. If they want to be friendly, that’s who we will find.”

    Scientists have searched the skies for radio signals for more than 50 years and expanded their search into the optical realm more than a decade ago. The idea of searching in the infrared is not a new one, but instruments capable of capturing pulses of infrared light only recently became available.

    “We had to wait,” Wright said. “I spent eight years waiting and watching as new technology emerged.”

    Now that technology has caught up, the search will extend to stars thousands of light years away, rather than just hundreds. NIROSETI, or Near-Infrared Optical Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, could also uncover new information about the physical universe.

    “This is the first time Earthlings have looked at the universe at infrared wavelengths with nanosecond time scales,” said Dan Werthimer, UC Berkeley SETI Project Director. “The instrument could discover new astrophysical phenomena, or perhaps answer the question of whether we are alone.”

    NIROSETI will also gather more information than previous optical detectors by recording levels of light over time so that patterns can be analyzed for potential signs of other civilizations.

    “Searching for intelligent life in the universe is both thrilling and somewhat unorthodox,” said Claire Max, director of UC Observatories and professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz. “Lick Observatory has already been the site of several previous SETI searches, so this is a very exciting addition to the current research taking place.”

    NIROSETI will scan the skies several times a week on the Nickel 1-meter telescope at Lick Observatory, located on Mt. Hamilton east of San Jose.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:27 pm on July 13, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Haziness of exoplanet atmospheres depends on properties of aerosol particles", A laboratory study of haze particles produced under different conditions helps explain why some exoplanets may be obscured by hazy atmospheres., Cooler planets located in the habitable zones of their host stars are more likely to have clear atmospheres., , Haze removal depends on a critical material property of the particles called surface energy., It’s not just haze production but also haze removal that determines how clear the atmosphere is., Many exoplanets have opaque atmospheres obscured by clouds or hazes that make it hard for astronomers to characterize their chemical compositions., Photochemical reactions in the atmospheres of temperate exoplanets lead to the formation of small organic haze particles., The scientists measured the properties of haze particles produced in the laboratory under conditions representative of exoplanet atmospheres., The study found that a critical factor is the temperature at which the haze particles are created., University of California-Santa Cruz (US)   

    From University of California-Santa Cruz (US) : “Haziness of exoplanet atmospheres depends on properties of aerosol particles” 

    From University of California-Santa Cruz (US)

    July 12, 2021
    Tim Stephens
    stephens@ucsc.edu

    A laboratory study of haze particles produced under different conditions helps explain why some exoplanets may be obscured by hazy atmospheres.

    1
    Xinting Yu, a 51 Pegasi b Postdoctoral Fellow at UCSC, measured the properties of haze particles produced in the laboratory under conditions representative of exoplanet atmospheres. Photo courtesy of Heising-Simons Foundation.

    2
    Researchers measured the refractive indices at visible wavelengths (n) for haze samples created under a range of conditions. Image credit: Yu et al., Nature Astronomy, 2021)

    Many exoplanets have opaque atmospheres obscured by clouds or hazes that make it hard for astronomers to characterize their chemical compositions. A new study shows that haze particles produced under different conditions have a wide range of properties that can determine how clear or hazy a planet’s atmosphere is likely to be.

    Photochemical reactions in the atmospheres of temperate exoplanets lead to the formation of small organic haze particles. Large amounts of these photochemical hazes form in Earth’s atmosphere every day, yet our planet has relatively clear skies. The reason has to do with how easily haze particles are removed from the atmosphere by deposition processes.

    “It’s not just haze production but also haze removal that determines how clear the atmosphere is,” said Xinting Yu, a postdoctoral fellow at UC Santa Cruz and lead author of the study, published July 12 in Nature Astronomy.

    Yu and her colleagues measured the properties of haze particles produced in the laboratory under conditions representative of exoplanet atmospheres, including a range of gas compositions, temperatures, and energy sources. Coauthor Xi Zhang, assistant professor of Earth and planetary sciences at UC Santa Cruz, said laboratory experiments like this are essential for understanding haze formation and its impact on observations.

    “We can’t bring haze samples back from exoplanets, so we have to try to mimic the atmospheric conditions in the laboratory,” he said.

    According to Yu, haze removal depends on a critical material property of the particles called surface energy. “Surface energy describes how cohesive or ‘sticky’ the material is,” she said.

    Sticky haze particles readily bond with each other when they collide, growing into larger particles that fall out of the atmosphere onto the surface of the planet (a process called dry deposition). They also make good condensation nuclei for cloud droplets and are easily removed by wet deposition. Hazes produced on Earth typically have high surface energy and are therefore ‘sticky’ and efficiently removed from the atmosphere.

    Yu’s laboratory experiments show that the hazes produced in exoplanet atmospheres are highly diverse, with properties that depend on the conditions in which they are produced.

    “Some of them are similar to the Earth haze, have high surface energy, and are easy to remove, leading to clear skies,” she said. “But some of them have very low surface energy, like a non-stick pan; they do not bond with other particles very well and remain as small particles hanging in the atmosphere for a long time.”

    The study found that a critical factor is the temperature at which the haze particles are created. Hazes produced at around 400 Kelvin (260°F) tended to have the lowest surface energies, leading to less efficient removal and hazier atmospheres. This finding actually corresponds with observed trends, Yu said, noting that exoplanets at temperatures of 400 to 500 K tend to be the haziest.

    Cooler planets located in the habitable zones of their host stars are more likely to have clear atmospheres, she said. “We may not have to worry about habitable exoplanets being too hazy for future observations, as hazes tend to have higher surface energies at lower temperatures,” Yu said. “So it is easy to remove these hazes, leaving relatively clear atmospheres.”

    Astronomers are looking forward to having a powerful tool for characterizing exoplanet atmospheres with the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). When an exoplanet transits across the face of its star, its atmosphere filters the light from the star, giving astronomers with a sensitive enough telescope (like JWST) an opportunity to identify the chemical components of the atmosphere using transmission spectroscopy.

    A hazy atmosphere would interfere with transmission spectroscopy, but the hazes themselves may still yield valuable information, according to Zhang.

    “Hazes are not featureless,” he said. “With better telescopes, we may be able to characterize the composition of exoplanet hazes and understand their chemistry. But the observations will be very hard to explain without data from laboratory experiments. This study has revealed the huge diversity of haze particles, and understanding their optical properties will be a high priority for future studies.”

    In addition to Yu and Zhang, the coauthors of the paper include UCSC undergraduate Austin Dymont, astronomy professor Jonathan Fortney, and graduate student Diana Powell at UC Santa Cruz, as well as scientists at Johns Hopkins University (US), Cornell University (US), University of Texas at Austin (US), and University of Grenoble Alpes [Université Grenoble Alpes] (FR). This work was supported by National Aeronautics Space Agency (US) and the Heising-Simons Foundation.

    See the full article here .


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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    UC Santa Cruz (US) Lick Observatory Since 1888 Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft)

    UC Observatories Lick Automated Planet Finder fully robotic 2.4-meter optical telescope at Lick Observatory, situated on the summit of Mount Hamilton, east of San Jose, California, USA.

    The UCO Lick C. Donald Shane telescope is a 120-inch (3.0-meter) reflecting telescope located at the Lick Observatory, Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft).
    UC Santa Cruz (US) campus.

    The University of California-Santa Cruz (US) , opened in 1965 and grew, one college at a time, to its current (2008-09) enrollment of more than 16,000 students. Undergraduates pursue more than 60 majors supervised by divisional deans of humanities, physical & biological sciences, social sciences, and arts. Graduate students work toward graduate certificates, master’s degrees, or doctoral degrees in more than 30 academic fields under the supervision of the divisional and graduate deans. The dean of the Jack Baskin School of Engineering oversees the campus’s undergraduate and graduate engineering programs.

    UCSC is the home base for the Lick Observatory.

    UCO Lick Observatory’s 36-inch Great Refractor telescope housed in the South (large) Dome of main building.

    Search for extraterrestrial intelligence expands at Lick Observatory
    New instrument scans the sky for pulses of infrared light
    March 23, 2015
    By Hilary Lebow


    Astronomers are expanding the search for extraterrestrial intelligence into a new realm with detectors tuned to infrared light at UC’s Lick Observatory. A new instrument, called NIROSETI, will soon scour the sky for messages from other worlds.

    “Infrared light would be an excellent means of interstellar communication,” said Shelley Wright, an assistant professor of physics at UC San Diego (US) who led the development of the new instrument while at the U Toronto Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (CA).

    Shelley Wright of UC San Diego with (US) NIROSETI, developed at U Toronto Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (CA) at the 1-meter Nickel Telescope at Lick Observatory at UC Santa Cruz

    Wright worked on an earlier SETI project at Lick Observatory as a UC Santa Cruz undergraduate, when she built an optical instrument designed by University of California-Berkeley (US) researchers. The infrared project takes advantage of new technology not available for that first optical search.

    Infrared light would be a good way for extraterrestrials to get our attention here on Earth, since pulses from a powerful infrared laser could outshine a star, if only for a billionth of a second. Interstellar gas and dust is almost transparent to near infrared, so these signals can be seen from great distances. It also takes less energy to send information using infrared signals than with visible light.

    Frank Drake, professor emeritus of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz and director emeritus of the SETI Institute, said there are several additional advantages to a search in the infrared realm.

    Frank Drake with his Drake Equation. Credit Frank Drake.

    “The signals are so strong that we only need a small telescope to receive them. Smaller telescopes can offer more observational time, and that is good because we need to search many stars for a chance of success,” said Drake.

    The only downside is that extraterrestrials would need to be transmitting their signals in our direction, Drake said, though he sees this as a positive side to that limitation. “If we get a signal from someone who’s aiming for us, it could mean there’s altruism in the universe. I like that idea. If they want to be friendly, that’s who we will find.”

    Scientists have searched the skies for radio signals for more than 50 years and expanded their search into the optical realm more than a decade ago. The idea of searching in the infrared is not a new one, but instruments capable of capturing pulses of infrared light only recently became available.

    “We had to wait,” Wright said. “I spent eight years waiting and watching as new technology emerged.”

    Now that technology has caught up, the search will extend to stars thousands of light years away, rather than just hundreds. NIROSETI, or Near-Infrared Optical Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, could also uncover new information about the physical universe.

    “This is the first time Earthlings have looked at the universe at infrared wavelengths with nanosecond time scales,” said Dan Werthimer, UC Berkeley SETI Project Director. “The instrument could discover new astrophysical phenomena, or perhaps answer the question of whether we are alone.”

    NIROSETI will also gather more information than previous optical detectors by recording levels of light over time so that patterns can be analyzed for potential signs of other civilizations.

    “Searching for intelligent life in the universe is both thrilling and somewhat unorthodox,” said Claire Max, director of UC Observatories and professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz. “Lick Observatory has already been the site of several previous SETI searches, so this is a very exciting addition to the current research taking place.”

    NIROSETI will scan the skies several times a week on the Nickel 1-meter telescope at Lick Observatory, located on Mt. Hamilton east of San Jose.

     
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