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  • richardmitnick 8:23 am on October 14, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Machine learning helps UW meet “always-on” wireless connectivity", , , Problems with wireless connectivity, University of Washington   

    From University of Washington: “Machine learning helps UW meet “always-on” wireless connectivity” 

    U Washington

    From University of Washington

    September 26, 2019
    Ignacio Lobos

    1

    When a biology lecturer noticed Poll Everywhere, a classroom response app, was failing to accept some of his students’ answers, he knew he had a serious problem.

    To find out what was happening, he sought help from UW-IT and Academic Technologies. They leveraged machine learning, analytics and data-driven insights to pinpoint an issue with the wireless connectivity and fix the problem.

    For David Morton, director of UW-IT’s Network & Telecommunications Design, this particular glitch represented something larger: “Our students have much higher expectations of technology: it just needs to work all the time.”

    After all, their grades can depend on “always-on network connectivity,” he explained.

    However, it is not just students who need secure and dependable wireless networks. Faculty and staff are increasingly relying on complex applications and smart devices.

    “Maintaining reliable communications is critical to everything we’re doing,” Morton said. “So, we’re leveraging machine learning to improve our systems, and in turn improving the classroom experience for students and faculty.”

    Artificial intelligence keeps Wi-Fi humming along

    Morton’s team uses Aruba NetInsight, a cloud-based system that employs artificial intelligence, to help track the health of the UW wireless network. The system analyzes the entire network, identifies performance problems in real time, and offers recommendations on how to fix them. As it tracks performance at the UW — and at 11 other major universities that also use the application — it learns as it amasses useful data that helps all institutions with critical decisions, such as where to expand Wi-Fi.

    The glitch in the biology lecturer’s classroom was indeed complex — when a wireless connection went down, it automatically switched some students to another connection, leaving their wireless devices in limbo as the switch took place, and their answers unrecorded.

    “It would have taken us countless hours of engineering sleuthing to track the problem and create a solution to prevent it from happening again,” Morton said. “But with machine learning, we zeroed in on the issues much faster.”

    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-washington-campus
    The University of Washington is one of the world’s preeminent public universities. Our impact on individuals, on our region, and on the world is profound — whether we are launching young people into a boundless future or confronting the grand challenges of our time through undaunted research and scholarship. Ranked number 10 in the world in Shanghai Jiao Tong University rankings and educating more than 54,000 students annually, our students and faculty work together to turn ideas into impact and in the process transform lives and our world. For more about our impact on the world, every day.
    So what defines us —the students, faculty and community members at the University of Washington? Above all, it’s our belief in possibility and our unshakable optimism. It’s a connection to others, both near and far. It’s a hunger that pushes us to tackle challenges and pursue progress. It’s the conviction that together we can create a world of good. Join us on the journey.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:15 am on October 8, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , University of Washington   

    From University of Washington: “New metasurface design can control optical fields in three dimensions” 

    U Washington

    From University of Washington

    October 4, 2019
    James Urton

    A team led by scientists at the University of Washington has designed and tested a 3D-printed metamaterial that can manipulate light with nanoscale precision. As they report in a paper published Oct. 4 in the journal Science Advances, their designed optical element focuses light to discrete points in a 3D helical pattern.

    The team’s design principles and experimental findings demonstrate that it is possible to model and construct metamaterial devices that can precisely manipulate optical fields with high spatial resolution in three dimensions. Though the team chose a helical pattern — a spiral helix — for their optical element to focus light, their approach could be used to design optical elements that control and focus light in other patterns.

    Devices with this level of precision control over light could be used not only to miniaturize today’s optical elements, such as lenses or retroreflectors, but also to realize new varieties. In addition, designing optical fields in three dimensions could enable creation of ultra-compact depth sensors for autonomous transportation, as well as optical elements for displays and sensors in virtual- or augmented-reality headsets.

    1
    A scanning electron micrograph image of the surface of the optical element.James Whitehead/University of Washington

    “This reported device really has no classical analog in refractive optics — the optics that we encounter in our day-to-day life,” said corresponding author Arka Majumdar, a UW assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering and physics, and faculty member at the UW Institute for Nano-Engineered Systems and the Institute for Molecular & Engineering Sciences. “No one has really made a device like this before with this set of capabilities.”

    The team, which includes researchers at the Air Force Research Laboratory and the University of Dayton Research Institute, took a lesser-used approach in the optical metamaterials field to design the optical element: inverse design. Using inverse design, they started with the type of optical field profile they wanted to generate — eight focused points of light in a helical pattern — and designed a metamaterial surface that would create that pattern.

    “We do not always intuitively know the appropriate structure of an optical element given a specific functionality,” said Majumdar. “This is where the inverse design comes in: You let the algorithm design the optics.”

    While this approach seems straightforward and avoids the drawbacks of trial-and-error design methods, inverse design isn’t widely used for optically active large-area metamaterials because it requires a large number of simulations, making inverse design computationally intensive.

    Here, the team avoided this pitfall thanks to an insight by Alan Zhan, lead author on the paper, who recently graduated the UW with a doctoral degree in physics. Zhan realized that the team could use Mie scattering theory to design the optical element. Mie scattering describes how light waves of a particular wavelength are scattered by spheres or cylinders that are similar in size to the optical wavelength. Mie scattering theory explains how metallic nanoparticles in stained glass can give certain church windows their bold colors, and how other stained glass artifacts change color in different wavelengths of light, according to Zhan.

    “Our implementation of Mie scattering theory is specific to certain shapes — spheres— which meant we had to incorporate those shapes into the design of the optical element,” said Zhan. “But, relying on Mie scattering theory significantly simplified the design and simulation process because we could make very specific, very precise calculations about the properties of light when it interacts with the optical element.”

    Their approach could be employed to include different geometries such as cylinders and ellipsoids.

    2
    These images show the performance of the 1,550-nanometer optical element. The images are light-intensity profiles of the optical field as it appears approximately 185 micrometers above the surface of the optical element. To the left is a simulated light-intensity profile that predicts how the optical element should perform. Note the focal point of light near the center of the image. To the right, an actual light-intensity profile of the optical element, showing that the device does produce a focal point of light at the predicted location. The researchers designed the element to focus light at eight such points at different distances above the element’s surface. Scale bar is 10 micrometers.Alan Zhan/University of Washington.

    The optical element the team designed is essentially a surface covered in thousands of tiny spheres of different sizes, arranged in a periodic square lattice. Using spheres simplified the design, and the team used a commercially available 3D printer to fabricate two prototype optical elements — the larger of the two with sides just 0.02 centimeters long — at the Washington Nanofabrication Facility on the UW campus. The optical elements were 3D-printed out of an ultraviolet epoxy on glass surfaces. One element was designed to focus light at 1,550 nanometers, the other at 3,000 nanometers.

    The researchers visualized the optical elements under a microscope to see how well they performed as designed — focusing light of either 1,550 or 3,000 nanometers at eight specific points along a 3D helical pattern. Under the microscope, most focused points of light were at the positions predicted by the team’s theoretical simulations. For example, for the 1,550-nanometer wavelength device, six of eight focal points were in the predicted position. The remaining two showed only minor deviations.

    With the high performance of their prototypes, the team would like to improve the design process to reduce background levels of light and improve the accuracy of the placement of the focal points, and to incorporate other design elements compatible with Mie scattering theory.

    “Now that we’ve shown the basic design principles work, there are lots of directions we can go with this level of precision in fabrication,” said Majumdar.

    One particularly promising direction is to progress beyond a single-surface to create a true-volume, 3D metamaterial.

    “3D-printing allows us to create a stack of these surfaces, which was not possible before,” said Majumdar.

    Co-authors are Ricky Gibson with the Air Force Research Laboratory and the University of Dayton Research Institute; Evan Smith and Joshua Hendrickson with the Air Force Research Laboratory; and James Whitehead, a UW doctoral student in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. The research was funded by the National Science Foundation, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Samsung, the UW Reality Lab, Facebook, Google and Huawei.

    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-washington-campus
    The University of Washington is one of the world’s preeminent public universities. Our impact on individuals, on our region, and on the world is profound — whether we are launching young people into a boundless future or confronting the grand challenges of our time through undaunted research and scholarship. Ranked number 10 in the world in Shanghai Jiao Tong University rankings and educating more than 54,000 students annually, our students and faculty work together to turn ideas into impact and in the process transform lives and our world. For more about our impact on the world, every day.
    So what defines us —the students, faculty and community members at the University of Washington? Above all, it’s our belief in possibility and our unshakable optimism. It’s a connection to others, both near and far. It’s a hunger that pushes us to tackle challenges and pursue progress. It’s the conviction that together we can create a world of good. Join us on the journey.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:28 am on October 3, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Garvey Institute for Brain Health Solutions, , University of Washington   

    From University of Washington: “$50 million gift is foundation for brain disorders research” 

    U Washington

    From University of Washington

    October 3, 2019
    Susan Gregg
    sghanson@uw.edu
    206.616.6730

    1
    Scott Areman for UW Medicine

    UW Medicine is creating the Garvey Institute for Brain Health Solutions to develop effective new treatments for brain disorders, such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, addiction and Alzheimer’s disease. The foundational $50 million gift to establish the institute was made by local philanthropists Lynn and Mike Garvey.

    “At some point, almost every family is affected by a brain health problem such as depression, Alzheimer’s disease or addiction,” said Lynn Garvey. “These diseases are so common and so devastating, and we wanted to do something to help.”

    In its first five years, the Garvey Institute will work on three flagship projects that have the potential to benefit millions of people: cognitive aging and brain wellness, the effects of physical and emotional trauma on the brain, and addiction.

    The Garvey Institute will build on existing brain health research and clinical programs with a goal of enhancing diagnostic capabilities and developing fast-track treatments for patients. The gift will fund an interdisciplinary training program for students, clinicians and researchers as well as a patient and family engagement and support team. It will also fund leadership positions, provide resources for operations and help support the creation of a space to bring the institute’s collaborators together.

    “Through their gift, the Garveys are showing their strong belief in UW Medicine’s ability to improve brain health and mental health for our city, for our region, and for the world,” said Dr. Jürgen Unützer, professor and chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Washington School of Medicine. “The new institute will bring together scientists, patients, families and our community to help those struggling with brain disorders.”

    The Garveys said their gift was inspired, in part, by recent investments in behavioral health made by the Washington State Legislature.

    “Lynn and I were impressed with the legislature’s commitment to funding UW Medicine’s new behavioral health teaching facility,” said Mike Garvey. “We took it as a timely sign that we should make our own contribution — helping to create a strong public-private partnership.”

    ”These new programs will change the future of mental health and brain health in our region and beyond,” said Unützer.

    “Our previous philanthropic investments at UW Medicine have had real impact,” said Mike Garvey. “This gift may be the most important thing we can do to invest in the well-being of our community.”

    Washington State Legislature support for behavioral health at UW Medicine

    The Washington State Legislature recently made a $225 million investment in the UW Medicine Behavioral Health Teaching Facility, expected to be located at Northwest Hospital & Medical Center and slated to open in 2023. The legislature has also allocated funds to support predesign work on a new UW Medicine Behavioral Health Institute at Harborview Medical Center, expand UW Medicine’s psychiatry residency program, and start a statewide telepsychiatry consultation program.

    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-washington-campus
    The University of Washington is one of the world’s preeminent public universities. Our impact on individuals, on our region, and on the world is profound — whether we are launching young people into a boundless future or confronting the grand challenges of our time through undaunted research and scholarship. Ranked number 10 in the world in Shanghai Jiao Tong University rankings and educating more than 54,000 students annually, our students and faculty work together to turn ideas into impact and in the process transform lives and our world. For more about our impact on the world, every day.
    So what defines us —the students, faculty and community members at the University of Washington? Above all, it’s our belief in possibility and our unshakable optimism. It’s a connection to others, both near and far. It’s a hunger that pushes us to tackle challenges and pursue progress. It’s the conviction that together we can create a world of good. Join us on the journey.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:24 pm on September 27, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Two UW ice researchers to participate in year-long drift across Arctic Ocean", Alfred Wegener Institute’s Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, “This project is a once-in-a-generation endeavor” said Light-a member of the UW Polar Science Center., Bonnie Light and Madison Smith will participate in the expedition’s fifth leg., Following the sea ice for a full year offers unique opportunities said Light who studies “rotting” or melting ice., Researchers from 17 countries will be on board: from Belgium; Canada; China; Denmark; Finland; France; Germany; Great Britain; Japan; the Netherlands; and Norway, Researchers from Poland; Russia; Spain; Sweden; Switzerland; and the United States will also be on board., The German icebreaker Polarstern, University of Washington   

    From University of Washington: “Two UW ice researchers to participate in year-long drift across Arctic Ocean” 

    U Washington

    From University of Washington

    September 20, 2019
    Hannah Hickey

    1
    The Polarstern in Antarctica in 2013, on a previous expedition. The ship becomes frozen in sea ice, allowing an interdisciplinary research program on atmosphere, sea ice, ocean, and ecosystem as the sea ice grows and then melts.Alfred-Wegener-Institut/Stefan Hendricks

    When the German icebreaker Polarstern leaves Norway’s coast on Sept. 20, it will embark on a year-long drift across the Arctic Ocean. Two University of Washington researchers are among scientists from 17 nations who will study climate change from a unique floating research platform.

    The Arctic has warmed dramatically over recent decades, but observations are scarce during the ice-covered winter. The MOSAiC expedition, or Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate, will enclose the research icebreaker Polarstern in sea ice for a year, creating a drifting research platform that will pass near the North Pole.

    2
    Bonnie Light and Madison Smith will participate in the expedition’s fifth leg.

    Two UW researchers — Bonnie Light, a principal physicist at the UW’s Applied Physics Laboratory and an affiliate associate professor of atmospheric sciences, and Madison Smith, a recent UW graduate who is now doing her postdoctoral research at the UW — will join for the fifth of the six two-month legs, in summer 2020.

    “This project is a once-in-a-generation endeavor,” said Light, a member of the UW Polar Science Center. “It takes a tremendous amount of commitment, resources and planning to pull off a campaign of this scope.”

    The UW scientists will leave from Norway in June aboard the Swedish icebreaker Oden, then travel for about two weeks to the research base, which at that point is projected to be between 85 degrees and 90 degrees north latitude, to the north or northeast of Greenland. They will then make a final leg to reach the ship.

    The massive international collaboration, years in the planning, begins this week in Tromsø. The main research vessel will remain in visual contact with an escort icebreaker through September as the two ships head across the Barents and Kara seas on course for the Central Arctic. After roughly two weeks they are expected to reach the target region at 130 degrees east longitude and 85 degrees north latitude. The first of six teams will then search for a suitable ice floe to set up the complex research camp. They will be working against the clock, since just a few days after their arrival the sun will cease to rise above the horizon. Expedition participants will connect the base camp to a network of measuring stations set up over a radius of about 30 miles (50 kilometers). The escort ship, a Russian icebreaker, will then leave.

    3

    The first group of people living aboard the Polarstern will remain there until mid-December, when they will be replaced by the second team. In late summer 2020, between Greenland and Svalbard, the Polarstern will free itself from the sea ice and head back to its homeport of Bremerhaven, Germany, where it is expected to arrive in mid-October 2020.

    Following the sea ice for a full year offers unique opportunities, said Light, who studies “rotting” or melting ice. She and Smith will be part of the sea ice team and will focus on how sunlight is reflected, transmitted and absorbed by the ice cover as it melts.

    “If you just show up in summer to study the summer melt, you have to do a lot of guessing about how the ice got to that point,” Light said. “I’m particularly interested in the melt ponds that we expect to form on the ice surface, which affect how sunlight is reflected to the atmosphere and transmitted to the ocean.”

    Light said she feels especially lucky to participate because as a UW doctoral student she participated in 1997-98 in ice station SHEBA, a UW-led project that also involved a full year of continuous Arctic observations.

    “The nature and character of the Arctic ice cover has changed tremendously in the 21 years,” Light said. Multiyear ice is shifting to thinner, seasonal sea ice, she said.

    “We didn’t used to talk much about sunlight penetrating beneath the ice cover, but the ice is thinner than it was 20 years ago,” Light said. “We think sunlight is now a significant factor in the heat content of the central Arctic Ocean.”

    The MOSAiC expedition, led by the Alfred Wegener Institute’s Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, entails unprecedented challenges. An international fleet of four icebreakers, helicopters and aircraft will supply the team during the year-long voyage. A total of 600 international participants, half of them researchers, will participate.

    “This mission is ground-breaking. Never before has there been such a complex Arctic expedition,” said mission lead Markus Rex of Germany’s Alfred Wegener Institute. “For the first time we will be able to measure the climate processes in the Central Arctic in winter.”

    The budget for the expedition is roughly $155 million. During the course of the year, some 300 researchers from 17 countries will be on board, from Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States. They will be supported on land by researchers from Austria and South Korea. The questions that the researchers will be investigating during the expedition are closely linked. Together they will study the entire climate system in the Central Arctic for the first time. They will gather data on five subareas: atmosphere, sea ice, ocean, ecosystems and biogeochemistry, in order to gain insights into the interactions that shape the Arctic climate and life in the Arctic Ocean.

    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-washington-campus
    The University of Washington is one of the world’s preeminent public universities. Our impact on individuals, on our region, and on the world is profound — whether we are launching young people into a boundless future or confronting the grand challenges of our time through undaunted research and scholarship. Ranked number 10 in the world in Shanghai Jiao Tong University rankings and educating more than 54,000 students annually, our students and faculty work together to turn ideas into impact and in the process transform lives and our world. For more about our impact on the world, every day.
    So what defines us —the students, faculty and community members at the University of Washington? Above all, it’s our belief in possibility and our unshakable optimism. It’s a connection to others, both near and far. It’s a hunger that pushes us to tackle challenges and pursue progress. It’s the conviction that together we can create a world of good. Join us on the journey.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:28 am on September 25, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Enable transparent and open science that contributes to the search for life in the universe, Model diverse planetary and star systems, Simulate newly discovered exoplanets, University of Washington, VPLanet-virtual planet simulator   

    From University of Washington: “Introducing VPLanet: A virtual planet simulator for modeling distant worlds across time” 

    U Washington

    From University of Washington

    September 19, 2019
    Peter Kelley

    1
    University of Washington astrobiologist Rory Barnes and co-authors have created VPLanet, a software package that simulates multiple aspects of planetary evolution across billions of years, with an eye toward finding and studying potentially habitable worlds.PHL@UPR Arecibo / ESA/Hubble, NASA

    University of Washington astrobiologist Rory Barnes has created software that simulates multiple aspects of planetary evolution across billions of years, with an eye toward finding and studying potentially habitable worlds.

    Barnes, a UW assistant professor of astrobiology, astronomy and data science, released the first version of VPLanet, his virtual planet simulator, in August. He and his co-authors described it in a paper accepted for publication in the Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.

    “It links different physical processes together in a coherent manner,” he said, “so that effects or phenomena that occur in some part of a planetary system are tracked throughout the entire system. And ultimately the hope is, of course, to determine if a planet is able to support life or not.”

    VPLanet’s mission is three-fold, Barnes and co-authors write. The software can:

    simulate newly discovered exoplanets to assess their potential to possess surface liquid water, which is a key to life on Earth and indicates the world is a viable target in the search for life beyond Earth
    model diverse planetary and star systems regardless of potential habitability, to learn about their properties and history, and
    enable transparent and open science that contributes to the search for life in the universe

    The first version includes modules for the internal and magnetic evolution of terrestrial planets, climate, atmospheric escape, tidal forces, orbital evolution, rotational effects, stellar evolution, planets orbiting binary stars and the gravitational perturbations from passing stars.

    It’s designed for easy growth. Fellow researchers can write new physical modules “and almost plug and play them right in,” Barnes said. VPLanet can also be used to complement more sophisticated tools such as machine learning algorithms.

    An important part of the process, he said, is validation, or checking physics models against actual previous observations or past results, to confirm that they are working properly as the system expands.

    “Then we basically connect the modules in a central area in the code that can model all members of a planetary system for its entire history,” Barnes said.

    And though the search for potentially habitable planets is of central importance, VPLanet can be used for more general inquiries about planetary systems.

    “We observe planets today, but they are billions of years old,” he said. This is a tool that allows us to ask: ‘How do various properties of a planetary system evolve over time?’”

    The project’s history dates back almost a decade to a Seattle meeting of astronomers called “Revisiting the Habitable Zone” convened by Victoria Meadows, principal investigator of the UW-based Virtual Planetary Laboratory, with Barnes. The habitable zone is the swath of space around a star that allows for orbiting rocky planets to be temperate enough to have liquid water at their surface, giving life a chance.

    They recognized at the time, Barnes said, that knowing if a planet is within its star’s habitable zone simply isn’t enough information: “So from this meeting we identified a whole host of physical processes that can impact a planet’s ability to support and retain water.”

    Barnes discussed VPLanet and presented a tutorial on its use at the recent AbSciCon19 worldwide astrobiology conference, held in Seattle.

    The research was done through the Virtual Planetary Laboratory and the source code is available online.

    Barnes’s other faculty co-authors are astronomy professor Tom Quinn; Cecilia Bitz, professor of atmospheric sciences; and research scientist Pramod Gupta. Other UW co-authors are doctoral students David Fleming, Rodolfo Garcia, and Hayden Smotherman; and undergraduate researchers Caitlyn Wilhelm, Benjamin Guyer and Diego McDonald.

    Other co-authors are Peter Driscoll of the Carnegie Institution for Science; Rodrigo Luger of the Flatiron Institute, Patrick Barth of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany, Russell Deitrick of the University of Bern, Shawn Domagal-Goldman of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and John Armstrong of Weber State University.

    The research was funded by a grant from the NASA Astrobiology Program’s Virtual Planetary Laboratory team, as part of the Nexus for Exoplanet System Science research coordination network, or NExSS.

    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-washington-campus
    The University of Washington is one of the world’s preeminent public universities. Our impact on individuals, on our region, and on the world is profound — whether we are launching young people into a boundless future or confronting the grand challenges of our time through undaunted research and scholarship. Ranked number 10 in the world in Shanghai Jiao Tong University rankings and educating more than 54,000 students annually, our students and faculty work together to turn ideas into impact and in the process transform lives and our world. For more about our impact on the world, every day.
    So what defines us —the students, faculty and community members at the University of Washington? Above all, it’s our belief in possibility and our unshakable optimism. It’s a connection to others, both near and far. It’s a hunger that pushes us to tackle challenges and pursue progress. It’s the conviction that together we can create a world of good. Join us on the journey.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:21 am on September 11, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Lightning ‘superbolts’ form over oceans from November to February", , University of Washington   

    From University of Washington: “Lightning ‘superbolts’ form over oceans from November to February” 

    U Washington

    From University of Washington

    September 9, 2019
    Hannah Hickey

    The lightning season in the Southeastern U.S. is almost finished for this year, but the peak season for the most powerful strokes of lightning won’t begin until November, according to a newly published global survey of these rare events.

    A University of Washington study [JGR Atmospheres] maps the location and timing of “superbolts” — bolts that release electrical energy of more than 1 million joules, or a thousand times more energy than the average lightning bolt, in the very low frequency range in which lightning is most active. Results show that superbolts tend to hit the Earth in a fundamentally different pattern from regular lightning, for reasons that are not yet fully understood.

    The study was published Sept. 9 in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.

    “It’s very unexpected and unusual where and when the very big strokes occur,” said lead author Robert Holzworth, a UW professor of Earth and space sciences who has been tracking lightning for almost two decades.

    1
    Bob Holzworth stands on top of the UW’s Atmospheric Sciences Building with the test lightning sensor. The pipe contains an antenna that detects frequencies generated by lightning. The sensor for the Seattle detection site is on a neighboring building.Dennis Wise/University of Washington

    Holzworth manages the World Wide Lightning Location Network, a UW-managed research consortium that operates about 100 lightning detection stations around the world, from Antarctica to northern Finland. By seeing precisely when lightning reaches three or more different stations, the network can compare the readings to determine a lightning bolt’s size and location.

    The network has operated since the early 2000s. For the new study, the researchers looked at 2 billion lightning strokes recorded between 2010 and 2018. Some 8,000 events — one in 250,000 strokes, or less than a thousandth of a percent — were confirmed superbolts.

    “Until the last couple of years, we didn’t have enough data to do this kind of study,” Holzworth said.

    The authors compared their network’s data against lightning observations from the Maryland-based company Earth Networks and from the New Zealand MetService.

    2
    The dots represent superbolts, lightning with an energy of at least 1 million joules. Red dots are particularly large superbolts, with an energy of more than 2 million joules. Superbolts are most common in the northeast Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea, with smaller concentrations in the Andes, off the coast of Japan, and near South Africa.Holzworth et al./Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres.

    The new paper shows that superbolts are most common in the Mediterranean Sea, the northeast Atlantic and over the Andes, with lesser hotspots east of Japan, in the tropical oceans and off the tip of South Africa. Unlike regular lightning, the superbolts tend to strike over water.

    “Ninety percent of lightning strikes occur over land,” Holzworth said. “But superbolts happen mostly over the water going right up to the coast. In fact, in the northeast Atlantic Ocean you can see Spain and England’s coasts nicely outlined in the maps of superbolt distribution.”

    “The average stroke energy over water is greater than the average stroke energy over land — we knew that,” Holzworth said. “But that’s for the typical energy levels. We were not expecting this dramatic difference.”

    The time of year for superbolts also doesn’t follow the rules for typical lightning. Regular lightning hits in the summertime — the three major so-called “lightning chimneys” for regular bolts coincide with summer thunderstorms over the Americas, sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia. But superbolts, which are more common in the Northern Hemisphere, strike both hemispheres between the months of November and February.

    The reason for the pattern is still mysterious. Some years have many more superbolts than others: late 2013 was an all-time high, and late 2014 was the next highest, with other years having far fewer events.

    “We think it could be related to sunspots or cosmic rays, but we’re leaving that as stimulation for future research,” Holzworth said. “For now, we are showing that this previously unknown pattern exists.”

    Co-authors are research associate professor Michael McCarthy and senior research scientist Abram Jacobson at the UW; and James Brundell and Craig Rodger at the University of Otago in New Zealand. The research was funded by the UW.

    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-washington-campus
    The University of Washington is one of the world’s preeminent public universities. Our impact on individuals, on our region, and on the world is profound — whether we are launching young people into a boundless future or confronting the grand challenges of our time through undaunted research and scholarship. Ranked number 10 in the world in Shanghai Jiao Tong University rankings and educating more than 54,000 students annually, our students and faculty work together to turn ideas into impact and in the process transform lives and our world. For more about our impact on the world, every day.
    So what defines us —the students, faculty and community members at the University of Washington? Above all, it’s our belief in possibility and our unshakable optimism. It’s a connection to others, both near and far. It’s a hunger that pushes us to tackle challenges and pursue progress. It’s the conviction that together we can create a world of good. Join us on the journey.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:17 am on September 5, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "New study tracks sulfur-based metabolism in the open ocean", A study by University of Washington oceanographers published this summer in Nature Microbiology looks at how photosynthetic microbes and ocean bacteria use sulfur a plentiful marine nutrient., , Field samples were collected during a 2015 cruise in the North Pacific., In the ocean phytoplankton use energy from the sun to create sulfonate molecules. Bacteria then consume the phytoplankton to gain nutrients and energy., In the Seattle lab the team cultured 36 species of marine microbes and then tested their ability to produce sulfonates., , The new study focused on sulfonates in which a sulfur atom is connected to three oxygen atoms and a carbon-based molecule., The open ocean contains tiny organisms — phytoplankton — that perform half the photosynthesis on Earth., The study discovered “some striking similarities between sulfonate pathways in terrestrial and ocean systems.", University of Washington, We returned from sea with a freezer’s worth of samples that generated over six terabytes of data for us to explore.   

    From University of Washington: “New study tracks sulfur-based metabolism in the open ocean” 

    U Washington

    From University of Washington

    September 4, 2019
    Hannah Hickey

    1
    In the Seattle lab, the team cultured 36 species of marine microbes and then tested their ability to produce sulfonates. Each phytoplankton type has its own unique set of pigments that absorb and reflect different wavelengths of light, creating the range of colors in the test tubes.Bryndan Durham/University of Washington

    2
    Field samples were collected during a 2015 cruise in the North Pacific. Co-authors Bryndan Durham (center) and Laura Carlson (right) recover the sampling instrument. The gray bottles open and close at specific depths to collect seawater samples.Dror Shitrit/Simons Collaboration on Ocean Processes and Ecology.

    One of the planet’s most active ecosystems is one most people rarely encounter and scientists are only starting to explore. The open ocean contains tiny organisms — phytoplankton — that perform half the photosynthesis on Earth, helping generate oxygen for animals on land.

    A study by University of Washington oceanographers, published this summer in Nature Microbiology, looks at how photosynthetic microbes and ocean bacteria use sulfur, a plentiful marine nutrient.

    Sulfur is the odorous element that gives beaches their distinctive smell. The new study focused on sulfonates, in which a sulfur atom is connected to three oxygen atoms and a carbon-based molecule. In the ocean, phytoplankton use energy from the sun to create sulfonate molecules. Bacteria then consume the phytoplankton to gain nutrients and energy.

    Bryndan Durham, then a postdoctoral researcher in oceanography at the UW and now an assistant professor at the University of Florida, drew on the recent genetic studies of soils to learn which microbial pathways are used to process sulfonates in the ocean. The study first focused on 36 marine microbes that the team cultured in the lab, using a UW-developed method to test which organisms produce sulfonates on their own in a lab environment.

    The study discovered “some striking similarities between sulfonate pathways in terrestrial and ocean systems,” Durham wrote in a “Behind the Paper” post in Nature Microbiology that discusses the project. In soils, plants typically produce sulfonates. In the oceans most sulfonates are also produced by photosynthetic organisms, in this case by unicellular phytoplankton.

    The study then considered microbes in the open ocean that cannot yet be bred in the lab. During a 2015 research cruise north of Hawaii co-led by a team of researchers including Virginia Armbrust and Anitra Ingalls, both professors of oceanography and senior authors on the new study, microbial samples were collected at different times of day and night. The researchers then froze the samples in order to analyze their genetic and chemical contents back in Seattle.

    “We returned from sea with a freezer’s worth of samples that generated over six terabytes of data for us to explore,” Durham wrote, “a major computational hurdle.”

    The team eventually succeeded in extracting the relevant data and found patterns that backed up the findings from the lab samples. They also detected a day–night rhythm in sulfonate metabolism that reflects the activity of photosynthetic organisms.

    “Sulfonates are produced and consumed by certain groups of microbes, so we can use them to track specific relationships in seawater communities,” Durham said. “And because sulfonates contain a carbon–sulfur bond, they are part of the global carbon cycle which controls the flux of carbon dioxide into and out of the ocean. This is increasingly important to understand as the climate changes.”

    Other co-authors are Angela Boysen, Laura Carlson, Ryan Groussman, Katherine Heal, Kelsy Cain, Rhonda Morales, Sacha Coesel and Robert Morris, all at the UW. This research was funded by the National Science Foundation, the Simons Foundation and the Gordon and Betty Moore 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

    u-washington-campus
    The University of Washington is one of the world’s preeminent public universities. Our impact on individuals, on our region, and on the world is profound — whether we are launching young people into a boundless future or confronting the grand challenges of our time through undaunted research and scholarship. Ranked number 10 in the world in Shanghai Jiao Tong University rankings and educating more than 54,000 students annually, our students and faculty work together to turn ideas into impact and in the process transform lives and our world. For more about our impact on the world, every day.
    So what defines us —the students, faculty and community members at the University of Washington? Above all, it’s our belief in possibility and our unshakable optimism. It’s a connection to others, both near and far. It’s a hunger that pushes us to tackle challenges and pursue progress. It’s the conviction that together we can create a world of good. Join us on the journey.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:14 am on September 4, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Internet of Things security, , University of Washington   

    From University of Washington: “UW colleges, offices share three-year NSF grant to make ‘internet of things’ more secure” 

    U Washington

    From University of Washington

    September 3, 2019

    Contacts:

    Laura Osburn
    lbusch@uw.edu

    Carrie Dossick
    cdossick@uw.edu

    Jessica Beyer
    jlbeyer@uw.edu

    Chuck Benson
    cabenson@uw.edu.

    Several University of Washington schools and offices will team up to research how organizational practices can affect the interagency collaboration needed to keep the “internet of things” — and institutional systems — safe and secure.

    1

    Cooperating in the work, funded by the National Science Foundation, will be the UW College of Built Environments, College of Arts & Sciences and Jackson School of International Studies as well as UW Facilities and UW Information Technology.

    Devices connected to the internet of things, now becoming standard components in new buildings, can increase energy performance while reducing costs. But such highly connected sensors can also bring potential security vulnerabilities.

    And though technical solutions to such security concerns exist, implementing them can be impeded by differences in communication and work cultures between workers in information technology, and operations and maintenance. These challenges, together with a policy environment that rarely regulates internet of things devices, can increase risks and leave buildings vulnerable to attack.

    The NSF in August awarded a grant of $721,104 over three years to the Communication, Technology and Organizational Practices lab in the College of Built Environment’s Construction Management Department to study how organizational policies and procedures can help — or hinder — the needed collaboration between information technology and operations and maintenance professionals. The lab is housed in the department’s Center for Education and Research in Construction.

    Several UW faculty, staff and administrators are involved in the research. Co-principal investigators are Laura Osburn, a research scientist in the Center for Education and Research in Construction; and Carrie Dossick, professor of construction management.

    Jessica Beyer, lecturer, research scientist and co-director of the Jackson School’s Cybersecurity Initiative also is an investigator, as is Chuck Benson, director of the UW’s new risk mitigation strategy program for the internet of things.

    The three-year project will use the investigators’ expertise in communication, collaboration, cybersecurity policy and internet of things practices to study two critical areas:

    How operations and maintenance and information technology groups currently share their knowledge and skills to improve security for the internet of things; and
    How public policies and an organization’s own rules on privacy and security impact how information technology and operations and maintenance teams collaborate

    The team will work on these issues through ethnographic research of university cybersecurity efforts, interviews with information technology and operations and maintenance professionals and case studies of cybersecurity efforts in the built environments of higher education.

    A graduate research assistant and undergraduate students from the Jackson School’s Cybersecurity Initiative also will be involved in the work.

    The aim is to better understand how elements of organization, practice and policy interact and affect collaboration in keeping the internet of things safe and secure — and to provide clear examples of how such elements might help or hinder the necessary collaboration to implement smart building technologies.

    The interdisciplinary nature of the project is an important part of the approach, Osburn said.

    “What’s most important about this project is finding ways to help technology experts from different departments and different disciplines work and communicate better together so that they can keep our buildings safe and make sure that the data that internet of things devices are collecting stay secure.”

    Learn more at the project website.

    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-washington-campus
    The University of Washington is one of the world’s preeminent public universities. Our impact on individuals, on our region, and on the world is profound — whether we are launching young people into a boundless future or confronting the grand challenges of our time through undaunted research and scholarship. Ranked number 10 in the world in Shanghai Jiao Tong University rankings and educating more than 54,000 students annually, our students and faculty work together to turn ideas into impact and in the process transform lives and our world. For more about our impact on the world, every day.
    So what defines us —the students, faculty and community members at the University of Washington? Above all, it’s our belief in possibility and our unshakable optimism. It’s a connection to others, both near and far. It’s a hunger that pushes us to tackle challenges and pursue progress. It’s the conviction that together we can create a world of good. Join us on the journey.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:22 am on August 15, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , University of Washington   

    From University of Washington: “Scientists can now control thermal profiles at the nanoscale” 

    U Washington

    From University of Washington

    August 9, 2019
    James Urton

    1
    Handwritten notes from David J. Masiello, associate professor of chemistry at the University of WashingtonDavid J. Masiello / U. of Washington

    At human scale, controlling temperature is a straightforward concept. Turtles sun themselves to keep warm. To cool a pie fresh from the oven, place it on a room-temperature countertop.

    At the nanoscale — at distances less than 1/100th the width of the thinnest human hair — controlling temperature is much more difficult. Nanoscale distances are so small that objects easily become thermally coupled: If one object heats up to a certain temperature, so does its neighbor.

    When scientists use a beam of light as that heat source, there is an additional challenge: Thanks to heat diffusion, materials in the beam path heat up to approximately the same temperature, making it difficult to manipulate the thermal profiles of objects within the beam. Scientists have never been able to use light alone to actively shape and control thermal landscapes at the nanoscale.

    At least, not until now.

    In a paper published online July 30 by the journal ACS Nano, a team of researchers reports that they have designed and tested an experimental system that uses a near-infrared laser to actively heat two gold nanorod antennae — metal rods designed and built at the nanoscale — to different temperatures. The nanorods are so close together that they are both electromagnetically and thermally coupled. Yet the team, led by researchers at the University of Washington, Rice University and Temple University, measured temperature differences between the rods as high as 20 degrees Celsius. By simply changing the wavelength of the laser, they could also change which nanorod was cooler and which was warmer, even though the rods were made of the same material.

    “If you put two similar objects next to each other on a table, ordinarily you would expect them to be at the same temperature. The same is true at the nanoscale,” said lead corresponding author David Masiello, a UW professor of chemistry and faculty member in both the Molecular & Engineering Sciences Institute and the Institute for Nano-Engineered Systems. “Here, we can expose two coupled objects of the same material composition to the same beam, and one of those objects will be warmer than the other.”

    Masiello’s team performed the theoretical modeling to design this system. He partnered with co-corresponding authors Stephan Link, a professor of both chemistry and electrical and computer engineering at Rice University, and Katherine Willets, an associate professor of chemistry at Temple University, to build and test it.

    Their system consisted of two nanorods made of gold — one 150 nanometers long and the other 250 nanometers long, or about 100 times thinner than the thinnest human hair. The researchers placed the nanorods close together, end to end on a glass slide surrounded by glycerol.

    2
    This figure shows evidence that the two nanorods were heated to different temperatures. The researchers collected data on how the heated nanorods and surrounding glycerol scattered photons from a beam of green light. The five graphs show the intensity of that scattered light at five different wavelengths, and insets show images of the scattered light. Arrows indicate that peak intensity shifts at different wavelengths, an indirect sign that the nanorods were heated to different temperatures.Bhattacharjee et al., ACS Nano, 2019.

    They chose gold for a specific reason. In response to sources of energy like a near-infrared laser, electrons within gold can “oscillate” easily. These electronic oscillations, or surface plasmon resonances, efficiently convert light to heat. Though both nanorods were made of gold, their differing size-dependent plasmonic polarizations meant that they had different patterns of electron oscillations. Masiello’s team calculated that, if the nanorod plasmons oscillated with either the same or opposite phases, they could reach different temperatures — countering the effects of thermal diffusion.

    Link’s and Willets’ groups designed the experimental system and tested it by shining a near-infrared laser on the nanorods. They studied the beam’s effect at two wavelengths — one for oscillating the nanorod plasmons with the same phase, another for the opposite phase.

    The team could not directly measure the temperature of each nanorod at the nanoscale. Instead, they collected data on how the heated nanorods and surrounding glycerol scattered photons from a separate beam of green light. Masiello’s team analyzed those data and discovered that the nanorods refracted photons from the green beam differently due to nanoscale differences in temperature between the nanorods.

    “This indirect measurement indicated that the nanorods had been heated to different temperatures, even though they were exposed to the same near-infrared beam and were close enough to be thermally coupled,” said co-lead author Claire West, a UW doctoral candidate in the Department of Chemistry.

    The team also found that, by changing the wavelength of near-infrared light, they could change which nanorod — short or long — heated up more. The laser could essentially act as a tunable “switch,” changing the wavelength to alter which nanorod was hotter. The temperature differences between the nanorods also varied based on their distance apart, but reached as high as 20 degrees Celsius above room temperature.

    The team’s findings have a range of applications based on controlling temperature at the nanoscale. For example, scientists could design materials that photo-thermally control chemical reactions with nanoscale precision, or temperature-triggered microfluidic channels for filtering tiny biological molecules.

    The researchers are working to design and test more complex systems, such as clusters and arrays of nanorods. These require more intricate modeling and calculations. But given the progress to date, Masiello is optimistic that this unique partnership between theoretical and experimental research groups will continue to make progress.

    “It was a team effort, and the results were years in the making, but it worked,” said Masiello.

    West’s co-lead authors on the paper are Ujjal Bhattacharjee, a former researcher at Rice University now at the Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology, Shibpur, and Seyyed Ali Hosseini Jebeli, a researcher at Rich University. Co-authors are Harrison Goldwyn and Elliot Beutler, both doctoral students in the UW Department of Chemistry; Xiang-Tian Kong and Zhongwei Hu, both research associates in the UW Department of Chemistry; and Wei-Shun Chang, a former research scientist at Rice, now an assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. The research was funded by the National Science Foundation, the Robert A. Welch Foundation, and the University of Washington.

    For more information, contact Masiello at 206-543-5579 or masiello@uw.edu.

    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-washington-campus
    The University of Washington is one of the world’s preeminent public universities. Our impact on individuals, on our region, and on the world is profound — whether we are launching young people into a boundless future or confronting the grand challenges of our time through undaunted research and scholarship. Ranked number 10 in the world in Shanghai Jiao Tong University rankings and educating more than 54,000 students annually, our students and faculty work together to turn ideas into impact and in the process transform lives and our world. For more about our impact on the world, every day.
    So what defines us —the students, faculty and community members at the University of Washington? Above all, it’s our belief in possibility and our unshakable optimism. It’s a connection to others, both near and far. It’s a hunger that pushes us to tackle challenges and pursue progress. It’s the conviction that together we can create a world of good. Join us on the journey.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:28 am on August 9, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "How the Pacific Ocean influences long-term drought in the Southwestern U.S.", , “Our study shows that when you have a large El Niño event and a La Niña event is coming next that could potentially start a multiyear drought in the Southwestern U.S.”, , El Niño is known to influence rain in the Southwest but it’s not a perfect match., Most recently from late 2011 to 2017 California experienced years of lower-than-normal rainfall., University of Washington   

    From University of Washington: “How the Pacific Ocean influences long-term drought in the Southwestern U.S.” 

    U Washington

    From University of Washington

    August 6, 2019
    Hannah Hickey

    1
    A rain storm brings water to agricultural fields outside Elgin, Arizona.Luke Parsons

    The Southwest has always faced periods of drought. Most recently, from late 2011 to 2017, California experienced years of lower-than-normal rainfall.

    El Niño is known to influence rain in the Southwest, but it’s not a perfect match. New research from the University of Washington and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution explores what conditions in the ocean and in the atmosphere prolong droughts in the Southwestern U.S.

    The answer is complex, according to a study published Aug. 6 in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.

    “What causes droughts that last for decades in some parts of the world, and why does that happen? Can we predict it?” said first author Luke Parsons, a UW postdoctoral researcher in atmospheric sciences. “Our study shows that when you have a large El Niño event, and a La Niña event is coming next, that could potentially start a multiyear drought in the Southwestern U.S.”

    2
    Cracked mud along the shoreline of the Great Salt Lake outside Salt Lake City, Utah.Luke Parsons

    The general rule of thumb had been that El Niño years — when the sea surface in a region off the coast of Peru is at least 1 degree Celsius warmer than average — tend to have more rainfall, and La Niña years, when that region is 1 degree Celsius cooler than average, tend to have less rain. But that simple rule of thumb doesn’t always hold true.

    “People often think that El Niño years are wet in the Southwest, but research over the years shows that’s not always the case,” Parsons said. “An El Niño sometimes brings rain, or can help cause it, but frequently that’s not what makes any given year wet.”

    The recent 2015 winter was a case in point, and Parsons said that event helped inspire the new study. As 2015 shaped up to be an El Niño year, there was hope that it would end California’s drought. But the rain didn’t start to arrive until the following year.

    The new study uses climate models to explore the relationship between the world’s largest ocean and long-term droughts in the Southwestern U.S., which includes California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona and western Colorado and New Mexico.

    “When it’s dry one year after another, that’s hard on people, and it can be hard on ecosystems,” Parsons said.

    Weather observations for the Southwest date back only about 150 years, and in that time, only 10 to 15 multiyear droughts have occurred. So the authors used climate models that simulate thousands of years of weather, including over 1,200 long-term droughts in the Southwest. The authors defined a drought as multiple years with lower-than-average rainfall. The drought ended when the region had two consecutive wetter-than-normal years.

    “A lot of people have looked at what’s going on over the ocean during a drought, but we’re trying to take a step back, and look at the whole life cycle — what happens before a drought starts, what maintains a drought, and then what ends it,” Parsons said.

    Parsons and co-author Sloan Coats at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution separated the system into pre-drought, during-drought and post-drought periods. They found that before a long-term drought starts, there is often an El Niño year. Then the first year of a drought is often colder than normal in that region of the ocean, though it might not be enough to qualify as a La Niña year.

    “Where that warm pool of water sits ends up disturbing, or changing, the jet stream, and that shifts where the winter rains come in off the ocean in the Northern Hemisphere winter,” Parsons said. “La Niña can kick off a drought, but you don’t have to have multiple La Niña events to continue the drought and keep the Southwest dry.”

    An El Niño that’s slightly farther offshore than normal, in the central tropical Pacific, often ends the drought. But the study shows that’s not always true: About 1 in 20 drought years could see an El Niño that doesn’t deliver rain.

    Better understanding of long-term droughts could help managers make decisions like whether to release water from the Colorado River, or whether to save some in anticipation of another low year.

    The study was funded by the Washington Research Foundation. Weather data and climate model results came from the National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Department of Energy.

    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-washington-campus
    The University of Washington is one of the world’s preeminent public universities. Our impact on individuals, on our region, and on the world is profound — whether we are launching young people into a boundless future or confronting the grand challenges of our time through undaunted research and scholarship. Ranked number 10 in the world in Shanghai Jiao Tong University rankings and educating more than 54,000 students annually, our students and faculty work together to turn ideas into impact and in the process transform lives and our world. For more about our impact on the world, every day.
    So what defines us —the students, faculty and community members at the University of Washington? Above all, it’s our belief in possibility and our unshakable optimism. It’s a connection to others, both near and far. It’s a hunger that pushes us to tackle challenges and pursue progress. It’s the conviction that together we can create a world of good. Join us on the journey.

     
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