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  • richardmitnick 12:10 pm on December 18, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Oxford researchers move one step further towards understanding how life evolved", , , , , University of Oxford   

    From University of Oxford: “Oxford researchers move one step further towards understanding how life evolved” 

    U Oxford bloc

    From University of Oxford

    16 December 2019
    Ruth Abrahams
    ruth.abrahams@admin.ox.ac.uk
    +44 (0)1865 280730.

    A fundamental problem for biology is explaining how life evolved. How did we get from simple chemical reactions in the prebiotic soup, to animals and plants?

    A key step in explaining life is that about 4 billion years ago, all we had was just the simplest molecules that could replicate themselves. These are called ‘replicators’ – the earliest form of life, so simple that that they are almost chemistry rather than biology. Somehow they joined together to cooperate to form more complex things. This was the basis of the genome that builds us today.

    But why did they join together? Why did they cooperate? Any cooperation could be easily exploited by ‘cheating’ replicators that didn’t cooperate. Did it require special environmental conditions?

    Today, researchers from the Department of Zoology at the University of Oxford show, in Nature Ecology & Evolution, that replicators could have solved this problem themselves. If some replicators were a bit cooperative, and some were a bit ‘sticky’ then this would lead to clumps of cooperating replicators that would evolve to become more and more cooperative, eventually producing simple genomes, and then eventually, all of life that we see around us today.

    Lead researcher, Samuel Levin, at the Department of Zoology, Oxford, said: ‘As humans, we care about how things start. Our results help to solve some of that puzzle and are also relevant for trying to figure out how common we might expect complex life in the universe to be: how easy are these early steps?

    ‘I was surprised by the jump in cooperation you get when you allow coevolution — it was higher than I expected. There seems to be some sort of cyclical feedback.’

    Co-author, Professor Stuart West, at the Department of Zoology, Oxford, said: ‘Our results show us that the same issues that we think about today, with humans (cooperating and cheating) can help explain how life evolved. Life evolved as societies of cooperating replicators / molecules.’

    Authors tested their hypothesis using mathematical models. They wrote equations which distilled down evolution in early life, and then added stickiness and cooperation to see what happened. They showed, mathematically, that more complex life could evolve only when stickiness and cooperation were allowed to coevolve at the same time.

    See the full article here.


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

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Oxford campus

    Oxford is a collegiate university, consisting of the central University and colleges. The central University is composed of academic departments and research centres, administrative departments, libraries and museums. The 38 colleges are self-governing and financially independent institutions, which are related to the central University in a federal system. There are also six permanent private halls, which were founded by different Christian denominations and which still retain their Christian character.

    The different roles of the colleges and the University have evolved over time.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:35 pm on May 13, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Researchers take a step towards light-based brain-like computing chip", Optical neural networks that ‘teach themselves’ to recognise patterns in image data., University of Oxford   

    From University of Oxford: “Researchers take a step towards light-based brain-like computing chip” 

    U Oxford bloc

    From University of Oxford

    13 May 2019

    Scientists have unveiled a new integrated photonic hardware that can store and process information in ways similar to that of the human brain.

    1

    A team of European scientists from Germany and the UK has revealed a pioneering new way to create optical neural networks that ‘teach themselves’ to recognise patterns in image data.

    Traditional computers are built on the von Neumann architecture, with separate memory and processor units operating one command at a time.

    Compared to the brain – where processing and memory functions are co-located and a massively parallel approach is used – this can be very inefficient.

    To develop computers that work more like the brain, hardware devices that operate in a similar way to brain neurons and synapses are needed, and such devices should be combined into large-scale networks capable of real-world tasks.

    Prof Wolfram Pernice from the University of Muenster, lead-partner in the study, explains, “We have made significant steps towards this goal – working here with light-based devices rather than electronics – demonstrating integrated photonic neurosynaptic networks that can recognise patterns, identify letters and numbers, even correctly differentiate between the languages of written text.”

    Prof Harish Bhaskaran, co-author from Oxford University Department of Materials added, “Working with photons instead of electrons will allow us to exploit well-known benefits of optical technologies – wavelength division multiplexing, ultra-high bandwidths, low energy consumption – but here in the realm of computing rather than the more usual communications field”.

    Johannes Feldmann, first author of the paper, also from Muenster, pointed out that, “Key to our work is the successful merging of phase-change devices and silicon photonics – this gives us the ability to successfully mimic the behaviour of biological neurons and synapses, at least in a basic way.”

    Prof C David Wright, co-author of the study from the University of Exeter, summed up by saying, “This is, we believe, a significant experimental milestone – a fully-scalable integrated photonic system that can process and store information in a brain-like fashion. Our approach could find widespread utility in power-critical situations such mobile and so-called ‘edge computing’ applications.”

    This collaborative work was funded by the UK’s EPSRC (grants EP/J018694/1, EP/M015173/1 and EP/M015130/1), Germany’s DfG (grant PE 1832/5-1) and the European Commission’s ERC (grant 724707) and H2020 (the Fun-COMP project, grant 780848) programmes

    Science paper:
    All-optical spiking neurosynaptic networks with self-learning capabilities
    Nature

    See the full article here.


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

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Oxford campus

    Oxford is a collegiate university, consisting of the central University and colleges. The central University is composed of academic departments and research centres, administrative departments, libraries and museums. The 38 colleges are self-governing and financially independent institutions, which are related to the central University in a federal system. There are also six permanent private halls, which were founded by different Christian denominations and which still retain their Christian character.

    The different roles of the colleges and the University have evolved over time.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:05 pm on February 19, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Astronomers detect hundreds of thousands of previously unknown galaxies", ASTRON Europe, , , , , , University of Oxford   

    From University of Oxford: “Astronomers detect hundreds of thousands of previously unknown galaxies” 

    U Oxford bloc

    From University of Oxford

    19 Feb 2019

    1
    ox.ac.uk

    A major new radio sky survey has revealed hundreds of thousands of previously undetected galaxies, shedding new light on many research areas including the physics of black holes and how clusters of galaxies evolve.

    An international team of more than 200 astronomers from 18 countries, including researchers from the University of Oxford, has published the first phase of the survey at unprecedented sensitivity using the Low Frequency Array (LOFAR) telescope.

    ASTRON LOFAR Radio Antenna Bank, Netherlands


    SKA LOFAR core (“superterp”) near Exloo, Netherlands

    Radio astronomy reveals processes in the Universe that we cannot see with optical instruments. In this first part of the sky survey, LOFAR observed a quarter of the northern hemisphere at low radio frequencies. Today around ten percent of that data is being made public. It maps three hundred thousand sources, almost all of which are galaxies in the distant Universe; their radio signals have travelled billions of light years before reaching Earth.

    Dr Leah Morabito, from Oxford Astrophysics said: ‘We will be able to identify hidden black holes, study individual clouds of star formation in nearby galaxies, and understand what jets from black holes look like in the most distant galaxies.’

    The energy output in these radio jets plays a crucial role in controlling the conversion of gas into stars in their surrounding galaxies.

    Clusters of galaxies are ensembles of hundreds to thousands of galaxies. It has been known for decades that when two clusters of galaxies merge, they can produce radio emission spanning millions of light years. This emission is thought to come from particles that are accelerated during the merger process. New research using LOFAR is beginning to show this emission at previously undetected levels from clusters of galaxies that are not merging. This means that there are phenomena other than merger events that can trigger particle accelerations over huge scales.

    LOFAR produces enormous amounts of data. The equivalent of ten million DVDs of data has been processed to create the low-frequency radio sky map. The survey was made possible by a mathematical breakthrough in the way we understand interferometry.

    The LOFAR telescope is unique in its capabilities to map the sky in fine detail at metre wavelengths and is considered to be the world’s leading telescope of its type. The European network of radio antennas spans seven countries and includes the UK station at STFC RAL Space’s Chilbolton Observatory in Hampshire.

    ASTRON LOFAR European Map

    The signals from all of the stations are combined to make the radio images. This effectively gives astronomers a much larger telescope than it is practical to build – and the bigger the telescope, the better the resolution. The first phase of the survey only processed data from the central stations located in the Netherlands, but UK astronomers are now re-processing the data with all of the international stations to provide resolution twenty times better.

    The team aims to make sensitive high-resolution images of the whole northern sky, which will reveal 15 million radio sources in total.

    Dr Leah Morabito, from Oxford Astrophysics added: ‘This extra phase of the survey will be truly unique in the history of radio astronomy, and who knows what mysteries we’ll uncover?’

    See the full article here.


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

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Oxford campus

    Oxford is a collegiate university, consisting of the central University and colleges. The central University is composed of academic departments and research centres, administrative departments, libraries and museums. The 38 colleges are self-governing and financially independent institutions, which are related to the central University in a federal system. There are also six permanent private halls, which were founded by different Christian denominations and which still retain their Christian character.

    The different roles of the colleges and the University have evolved over time.

     
  • richardmitnick 7:24 am on August 30, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: An eternal cycle of Big Bang events, Big Bang, , Conformal Cyclic Cosmology, , Hawking Points- anomalous high energy features in the CMB, , Roger Penrose, , University of Oxford   

    From University of Oxford via COSMOS: “Black holes from a previous universe shine light on our own” 

    U Oxford bloc

    From University of Oxford

    via

    COSMOS

    30 August 2018
    Stephanie Rowlands

    Cold spots are a hot topic in Conformal Cyclic Cosmology.

    1
    Stephen Hawking suggested evidence of previous universes could be detected in the cosmic microwave background. Has he been proved right? Jemal Countess/Getty Images

    Cosmologists say they have found remnants of a bygone universe in the afterglow of the Big Bang found in the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB).

    CMB per ESA/Planck


    ESA/Planck 2009 to 2013

    The discovery gives weight to the controversial theory of Conformal Cyclic Cosmology, or CCC, that suggests our universe is just one of many, built from the remains of a previous one in the Big Bang 13.6 billion years ago.

    The theory describes an eternal cycle of Big Bang events, repeating into the far distant future, the end of our universe giving rise to a new one.

    A team led by Oxford University mathematics emeritus Roger Penrose, a former collaborator of the late Stephen Hawking, claims in a new paper lodged on the preprint server arXiv to have found signs of so-called Hawking Points, anomalous high energy features in the CMB.

    3
    Inside Penrose’s universe
    06 Dec 2010
    Cycles of Time: An Extraordinary New View of the Universe
    Roger Penrose
    2010 Bodley Head £25.00 hb 320pp

    Click to access paul.pdf

    Penrose and colleagues say that these anomalies were made from the last moments of black holes evaporating through “Hawking radiation”.

    Although black holes are famous for never releasing any light, Hawking proposed a subtle way for light and particles to escape over time.

    Through quantum mechanical effects, every black hole slowly shrinks and fades, losing its energy through Hawking radiation.

    “This burst of energy from a now decayed black hole then spreads out quickly in our newly formed universe, leaving a warm central point with a cooling spot around it,” says astronomer Alan Duffy from Australia’s Swinburne University and Lead Scientist of the Royal Institution of Australia, who was not involved in the research.

    “In other words, they have proposed that we can search for an echo of a previous universe in the CMB.”

    Conformal Cyclic Cosmology strongly conflicts with the current standard model explaining the evolution of the universe.

    “Unlike previous cyclic universe models, there is no ‘Big Crunch’ where everything comes together again,” explains Duffy.

    “Instead CCC links the similarity of the current accelerating expansion of the universe by dark energy with early expansion of inflation in the Big Bang.”

    While mathematically the two epochs of expansion are similar, not all cosmologists are convinced that the Big Bang eventually leads to another Big Bang from a future empty universe.

    The results from Penrose and colleagues are likely to be met with skepticism by many mainstream cosmologists.

    Penrose first claimed [Concentric circles in WMAP data may provide evidence of violent pre-Big-Bang activity] to have detected Hawking points in 2010. Other researchers shot down the claim in flames, arguing that his discoveries were nothing more than random noise contained in the data.

    NASA/WMAP 2001 to 2010


    Inflationary Universe. NASA/WMAP


    Lambda-Cold Dark Matter, Accelerated Expansion of the Universe, Big Bang-Inflation (timeline of the universe) Date 2010 Credit: Alex Mittelmann Cold creation

    See the full article here.


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

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Oxford campus

    Oxford is a collegiate university, consisting of the central University and colleges. The central University is composed of academic departments and research centres, administrative departments, libraries and museums. The 38 colleges are self-governing and financially independent institutions, which are related to the central University in a federal system. There are also six permanent private halls, which were founded by different Christian denominations and which still retain their Christian character.

    The different roles of the colleges and the University have evolved over time.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:56 am on February 14, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Image of strontium atom wins national science photography prize, , University of Oxford   

    From University of Oxford: “Image of strontium atom wins national science photography prize” 

    U Oxford bloc

    University of Oxford

    12 Feb 2018
    Matt Pickles

    Contact:
    Chris McIntyre,
    +44 (0)1865 270046
    christopher.mcintyre@admin.ox.ac.uk

    1
    (David Nadlinger/University of Oxford)

    Just look at it:
    2
    (David Nadlinger/University of Oxford)

    An image of a single positively-charged strontium atom, held near motionless by electric fields, has won the overall prize in a national science photography competition, organised by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

    ‘Single Atom in an Ion Trap’, by David Nadlinger, from the University of Oxford, shows the atom held by the fields emanating from the metal electrodes surrounding it.

    The distance between the small needle tips is about two millimetres. When illuminated by a laser of the right blue-violet colour the atom absorbs and re-emits light particles sufficiently quickly for an ordinary camera to capture it in a long exposure photograph.

    The winning picture was taken through a window of the ultra-high vacuum chamber that houses the ion trap. Laser-cooled atomic ions provide a pristine platform for exploring and harnessing the unique properties of quantum physics.

    They can serve as extremely accurate clocks and sensors or, as explored by the UK Networked Quantum Information Technologies Hub, as building blocks for future quantum computers, which could tackle problems that stymie even today’s largest supercomputers. The image, came first in the Equipment & Facilities category, as well as winning overall against many other stunning pictures, featuring research in action, in the EPSRCs competition – now in its fifth year.

    David Nadlinger explained how the photograph came about: “The idea of being able to see a single atom with the naked eye had struck me as a wonderfully direct and visceral bridge between the miniscule quantum world and our macroscopic reality,” he said.

    “A back-of-the-envelope calculation showed the numbers to be on my side, and when I set off to the lab with camera and tripods one quiet Sunday afternoon, I was rewarded with this particular picture of a small, pale blue dot.”

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Oxford campus

    Oxford is a collegiate university, consisting of the central University and colleges. The central University is composed of academic departments and research centres, administrative departments, libraries and museums. The 38 colleges are self-governing and financially independent institutions, which are related to the central University in a federal system. There are also six permanent private halls, which were founded by different Christian denominations and which still retain their Christian character.

    The different roles of the colleges and the University have evolved over time.

     
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