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  • richardmitnick 11:40 am on January 2, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Anna Frebel, , , , , HE 1327-2326, HE 1523-0901 a red giant star in the Milky Way galaxy, low “metallicity Second-generation stars identified giving clues about their predecessors, , Women in STEM   

    From MIT News: Women in STEM-“Anna Frebel is searching the stars for clues to the universe’s origins” 

    MIT News
    MIT Widget

    From MIT News

    January 1, 2019
    Jennifer Chu

    Anna Frebel. Image: Bryce Vickmark

    MIT astronomer and writer investigates ancient starlight and shares her excitement about the cosmos.

    In August 2002, Anna Frebel pressed pause on her undergraduate physics studies in Germany and spent her entire life savings on a plane ticket to take her halfway around the world, to a mountaintop observatory just outside Canberra, Australia.

    She spent the next five months volunteering at the Australian National University Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, where astronomers had regular access to a set of world-class telescopes set atop Mount Stromlo.

    On Jan. 18, 2003, brushfires that had been burning for weeks in the surrounding forest suddenly advanced toward Canberra, whipped up by a dry, scorching wind.

    “The fire front just swept in, and it marched at about six to seven miles an hour, and it just rode right into the city. The observatory was the first to fall,” recalls Frebel, who watched the calamity from the opposite end of Canberra.

    The fires obliterated the observatory’s historic telescopes, along with several administrative buildings and even some homes of researchers living on the mountainside.

    “It was a pretty big shock,” Frebel says. “But tragedy also brings out community, and we were all helping each other, and it really bonded us together.”

    As the campus set to work clearing the ash and rebuilding the facility, Frebel decided to extend her initially one-year visit to Australia — a decision that turned out to be career-making.

    “I wasn’t going to be deterred by a burned-down observatory,” says Frebel, who was granted a tenure position this year in MIT’s Department of Physics.

    Frebel’s star

    Soon after the fires subsided, Frebel accepted an offer by the Australian National University to pursue a PhD in astronomy. She chose to focus her studies on a then-fledgling field: the search for the universe’s oldest stars.

    It’s believed that, immediately after the Big Bang exploded the universe into existence, clouds of hydrogen, helium, and lithium coalesced to form the very first generation of stars. These incredibly massive stellar pioneers grew out of control and quickly burned out as supernovas.

    To sustain their enormous luminosities, atoms of hydrogen and helium smashed together to create heavier elements in their cores, considered to be the universe’s first “metals” — a term in astronomy used to describe all elements that are heavier than hydrogen and helium. These metals in turn forged the second generation of stars, which researchers believe formed just half a billion years after the Big Bang.

    Since then, many stellar generations have populated the night sky, containing ever more abundant metals. Astronomers suspect, however, that those early, second-generation stars can still be found in some pockets of the universe, and possibly even in our own Milky Way.

    Frebel set out to find these oldest stars, also known as “metal-poor” stars. One of her first discoveries was HE 1327-2326, which contained the smallest amount of iron ever known, estimated at about 1/400,000 that of the Earth’s sun. Given this extremely low “metallicity,” the star was likely a second-generation star, born very shortly after the Big Bang. Until 2014, Frebel’s star remained the record-holder for the most metal-poor star ever discovered.

    The results were published in 2005 in Nature, with Frebel, then just two years into her PhD, as lead author.

    A star turn

    Frebel went on to work as a postdoc at the University of Texas at Austin, and later the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, where she continued to make remarkable insights into the early universe. Most notably, in 2007, she discovered HE 1523-0901, a red giant star in the Milky Way galaxy. Frebel estimated the star to be about 13.2 billion years old — among the oldest stars ever discovered and nearly as old as the universe itself.

    In 2010, she unearthed a similarly primitive star in a nearby galaxy, that appeared to have the exact same metallic content as some of the old stars she had observed in the outskirts of our own Milky Way. This seemed to suggest, for the first time, that young galaxies like the Milky Way may “cannibalize” nearby, older galaxies, taking in their ancient stars as their own.

    “A lot more detail has come to light in the last 10 years or so, and now we’re asking questions like, not just whether these objects are out there, but exactly where did they form, and how,” Frebel says. “So the puzzle is filling in.”

    In 2012, she accepted an offer to join the physics faculty at MIT, where she continues to assemble the pieces to the early universe’s history. Much of her research is focused on analyzing stellar observations taken by the twin Magellan telescopes at the Las Campanas Observatory, in Chile.

    Carnegie 6.5 meter Magellan Baade and Clay Telescopes located at Carnegie’s Las Campanas Observatory, Chile. over 2,500 m (8,200 ft) high

    Frebel’s group makes the long trek to the observatory about three times per year to collect light from stars in the Milky Way and small satellite dwarf galaxies.

    Once they arrive at the mountaintop observatory, the astronomers adapt to a night owl’s schedule, sleeping through the day and rising close to dinner time. Then, they grab a quick bite at the observatory’s lodge before heading up the mountainside to one of the two telescopes, where they remain into the early morning hours, collecting streams of photons from various stars of interest.

    On nights when bad weather makes data collection impossible, Frebel reviews her data or she writes — about the solitary, sleep-deprived experience of observatory work; the broader search for the universe’s oldest stars; and most recently, about an overlooked scientific heroine in nuclear physics.

    Engaging with the public

    In addition to her academic work, Frebel makes a point of reaching out to a broader audience, to share her excitement in the cosmos. In one of many essays that she’s penned for such popular magazines as Scientific American, she describes the satisfied weariness following a long night’s work:

    “Already I am imagining myself drawing the thick, sun-proof shades on my window and resting my head against my pillow. The morning twilight cloaks the stars overhead, but I know they are there — burning as they have for billions of years.”

    In 2015, she published her first book, Searching for the Oldest Stars: Ancient Relics from the Early Universe. And just last year, she wrote and performed a 12-minute play about the life and accomplishments of Lise Meitner, an Austrian-Swedish physicist who was instrumental in discovering nuclear fission. Meitner, who worked for most of her career in Berlin, Germany, fled to Sweden during the Nazi occupation. There, she and her long-time collaborator Otto Hahn found evidence of nuclear fission. But it was Hahn who ultimately received the Nobel Prize for the discovery.

    “Scientifically, [Meitner] is absolutely in line with Marie Curie, but she was never recognized appropriately for her work,” Frebel says. “She should be a household name, but she isn’t. So I find it very important to help rectify that.”

    Frebel has given a handful of performances of the play, during which she appears in the first half, dressed in costume as Meitner. In the second half, she appears as herself, explaining to the audience how Meitner’s revelations influence astronomers’ work today.

    Getting into character is nothing new for Frebel, who, as a high school student in Gottingen, Germany, took on multiple roles in the school plays. She also took part in what she calls the “subculture of figure-rollerskating” — a competitive sport that is analogous to figure-skating, only on roller skates. During that formative time, Frebel partly credits her mother for turning her focus to science and to the women who advanced their fields.

    “When I was a teenager, my mom gave me a lot of biographies of women scientists and other notable women, and I still have a little book of Lise Meitner from when I was around 13,” Frebel says. “So I have been very familiar with her, and I do work basically on the topic that she was interested in. So I’m one of her scientific daughters.”

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 1:41 pm on December 7, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 36000 worms were aboard SpaceX Falcon 9 and 3600 were from Rutgers, Monica Driscoll, , School of Arts and Sciences-Molecular biology and Biochemistry, Studying the muscle deterioration that occurs during prolonged space flight, Women in STEM   

    From Rutgers University: Women in STEM- “Rutgers Scientist Sends Worms into Outer Space” Monica Driscoll 

    Rutgers smaller
    Our Great Seal.

    From Rutgers University


    Monica Driscoll and team studying muscle deterioration.

    Monica Driscoll with her team, Girish Harinat and Ricardo Laranjeiro at Cape Canaveral

    When the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral Wednesday, some 36,000 worms were aboard.

    And about 3,600 of those creatures were sent by Monica Driscoll, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry in the School of Arts and Sciences. Driscoll is part of an international team of scientists studying the muscle deterioration that occurs during prolonged space flight – and whether it can be overcome for extended stints at the International Space Station or long trips to Mars.

    “In the absence of gravity, muscle deteriorates very rapidly,” Driscoll says. “We will need to stop that if humans are to make the six month trip to Mars.”

    The Molecular Muscle group, including scientists from the U.K., Japan, Korea, Greece and U.S., will look at changes that occur in muscle and neurons, candidate drugs that should help maintain muscle mass, and the relationship of degradation to accelerated aging.

    Driscoll’s team includes, Girish Harinat, a Rutgers graduate who majored in cell biology and neuroscience, and Ricardo Laranjeiro, a post-doctoral associate in the molecular biology and biochemistry department.

    “Our particular interest is in the neurons that influence muscle health,” says Driscoll, who along with her team, was on hand for the launch. “We are sending up middle-aged worms with labeled neurons and will examine what happens at the structure level.”

    The C. elegans worms used by Driscoll and her team are ideal for the study, she said.

    “The animal is transparent, so we can look through the skin to see each neuron in the body in its native context,” she says. “The worm lives only three weeks, so we can effectively track what happens to neurons during its adult life, mimicking what might be a long stint for a person on Mars.”

    The SpaceX capsule will dock at the International Space Station, where the worms will live for five or six days before they are frozen and returned to Earth, Driscoll says.

    “At which point we will get to work on checking them out,” she added.

    Earthbound patients with muscle degeneration may also benefit from the findings.

    “We can test strategies for muscle and nerve maintenance solutions that might well translate to humans,” Driscoll said. “Although a focus here is on space, no one can ignore the tremendous spin-off discoveries from previous space efforts that improve life here on Earth.”

    See the full article here .


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  • richardmitnick 10:01 am on November 8, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Sarah Stewart, Synestia, The Woman Who Reinvented the Moon, Women in STEM   

    From Nautilus: Women in STEM- “The Woman Who Reinvented the Moon” Sarah Stewart 


    From Nautilus

    November 8, 2018
    Brian Gallagher

    Sarah Stewart is living her ideal life—and it just got sweeter. The University of California, Davis planetary physicist recently won a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, famously and unofficially known as the “genius grant,” for her work on the origin of Earth’s moon, upending a decades-old theory. She’s been awarded $625,000.

    “It’s an amazing concept to just say, ‘We’re going to give you the opportunity to do something, and we’re not going to tell you anything about what to do.’ That’s very unusual and freeing,” she told Nautilus, referring to the grant program. She was particularly thrilled by the recognition the award represents. The foundation speaks to several dozen of a candidate’s peers as a part of its vetting process. “What I really feel is appreciation for my colleagues,” she said. “That really touches me.”

    Nautilus spoke to Stewart during World Space Week, the theme of which, this year, is “Space Unites the World.” It compelled her to pen a poem, using the theme as a title. Nautilus asked Stewart about that, as well as how her laboratory experiments, which replicate the pressures and temperatures of planetary collisions, informed her model of the moon’s birth.

    Sarah Stewart. John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

    How can space bring us together?

    This World Space Week is happening at a time where the world seems to be highlighting divisions. And so I wrote what I wrote as a response to that. Space exploration and discovery of things that are surprising and new is a way to bring everyone together, and enjoy the profound beauty of nature. And I would like us to spend more time talking about the things that bring us together.

    Like the moon. Give us a brief history of its origin theories.

    Next year, 2019, is the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing. The rock samples that the Apollo missions brought back basically threw out every previous idea for the origin of the moon. Before the Apollo results were in, a Russian astronomer named Viktor Safronov had been developing models of how planets grow. He found that they grow into these sub- or proto-planet-size bodies that would then collide. A couple of different groups then independently proposed that a giant impact made a disc around the Earth that the moon accreted from. Over the past 50 years, that model became quantitative, predictive. Simulations showed that the moon should be made primarily out of the object that struck the proto-Earth. But the Apollo mission found that the moon is practically a twin of the Earth, particularly its mantle, in major elements and in isotopic ratios: The different weight elements are like fingerprints, present in the same abundances. Every single small asteroid and planet in the solar system has a different fingerprint, except the Earth and the moon. So the giant impact hypothesis was wrong. It’s a lesson in how science works—the giant impact hypothesis hung on for so long because there was no alternative model that hadn’t already been disproven.

    How is your proposal for the moon’s birth different?

    We changed the giant impact. And by changing it we specifically removed one of the original constraints. The original giant impact was proposed to set the length of day of the Earth, because angular momentum—the rotational equivalent of linear momentum—is a physical quantity that is conserved: If we go backward in time, the moon comes closer to the Earth. At the time the moon grew, the Earth would have been spinning with a five-hour day. So all of the giant impact models were tuned to give us a five-hour day for the Earth right after the giant impact. What we did was say, “Well, what if there were a way to change the angular momentum after the moon formed?” That would have to be through a dynamical interaction with the sun. What that means is that we could start the Earth spinning much faster—we were exploring models where the Earth had a two- to three-hour day after the giant impact.

    What did a faster-spinning Earth do to your models?

    The surprising new thing is that when the Earth is hot, vaporized, and spinning quickly, it isn’t a planet anymore. There’s a boundary beyond which all of the Earth material cannot physically stay in an object that rotates altogether—we call that the co-rotation limit. A body that exceeds the co-rotation limit forms a new object that we named a synestia, a Greek-derived word that is meant to represent a connected structure. A synestia is a different object than a planet plus a disc. It has different internal dynamics. In this hot vaporized state, the hot gas in the disc can’t fall onto the planet, because the planet has an atmosphere that’s pushing that gas out. What ends up happening is that the rock vapor that forms a synestia cools by radiating to space, forms magma rain in the outer parts of the synestia, and that magma rain accretes to form the moon within the rock vapor that later cools to become the Earth.

    How did the idea of a synestia come about?

    In 2012, Matija Ćuk and I published a paper that was a high-spin model for the origin of the moon. We changed the impact event, but we didn’t realize that after the impact, things were completely different. It just wasn’t anything we ever extracted from the simulations. It wasn’t until two years later when my student Simon Lock and I were looking at different plots, plots we had never made before out of the same simulations, that we realized that we had been interpreting what happened next incorrectly. There was a bonafide eureka moment where we’re sitting together talking about how the disc would evolve around the Earth after the impact, and realizing that it wasn’t a standard disc. These synestias have probably been sitting in people’s computer systems for quite some time without anyone ever actually identifying them as something different.

    Was the size of the synestia beyond the moon’s current orbit?

    It could have been bigger. Exactly how big it was depends on the energy of the event and how fast it was spinning. We don’t have precise constraints on that to make the moon because a range of synestias could make the moon.

    How long was the Earth in a synestia state?

    The synestia was very large, but it didn’t last very long. Because rock vapor is very hot, and where we are in the solar system is far enough away from the sun that our mean temperature is cooler than rock vapor, the synestia cooled very quickly. So it could last 1,000 years or so before looking like a normal planet again. Exactly how long it lasts depends on what else is happening in the solar system around the Earth. In order to be a long lived object it would need to be very close to the star.

    What was the size of the object that struck proto-Earth?

    We can’t tell, because a variety of mass ratios, impact angles, impact velocities can make a synestia that has enough mass and angular momentum in it to make our moon. I don’t know that we will ever know for sure exactly what hit us. There may be ways for us to constrain the possibilities. One way to do that is to look deep in the Earth for clues about how large the event could have been. There are chemical tracers from the deep mantle that indicate that the Earth wasn’t completely melted and mixed, even by the moon-forming event. Those reach the surface through what are called ocean island basalts, sometimes called mantle plumes, from near the core-mantle boundary, up through the whole mantle to the surface. It could be that that could be used as a constraint on being too big. Because the Earth and the moon are very similar in the mantles of the two bodies, that can be used to determine what is too small of an event. That would give us a range that can probably be satisfied by a number of different impact configurations.

    How much energy does it take to form a synestia?

    Giant impacts are tremendously energetic events. The energy of the event, in terms of the kinetic energy of the impact, is released over hours. The power involved is similar to the power, or luminosity, of the sun. We really cannot think of the Earth as looking anything like the Earth when you’ve just dumped the energy of the sun into this planet.

    How common are synestias?

    We actually think that synestias should happen quite frequently during rocky planet formation. We haven’t looked at the gas giant planets. There are some different physics that happen with those. But for growing rocky bodies like the Earth, we attempted to estimate the statistics of how often there should be synestias. And for Earth-mass bodies anywhere in the universe probably, the body is a synestia at least once while it’s growing. The likelihood of making a synestia goes up as the bodies become larger. Super-Earths also should have been a synestia at some point.

    You say that all of the pressures and temperatures reached during planet formation are now accessible in the laboratory. First, give us a sense of the magnitude of those pressures and temperatures, and then tell us how accessing them in labs is possible.

    The center of the Earth is at several thousand degrees, and has hundreds of gigapascals of pressure—about 3 million times more pressure than the surface. Jupiter’s center is even hotter. The center-of-Jupiter pressures can be reached temporarily during a giant impact, as the bodies are colliding together. A giant impact and the center of Jupiter are about the limits of the pressures and temperatures reached during planet formation: so tens of thousands of degrees, and a million times the pressure of the Earth. To replicate that, we need to dump energy into our rock or mineral very quickly in order to generate a shockwave that reaches these amplitudes in pressure and temperature. We use major minerals in the Earth, or rocky planets—so we’ve studied iron, quartz, forsterite, enstatite, and different alloy compositions of those. Other people have studied the hydrogen helium mixture for Jupiter, and ices for Uranus and Neptune. In my lab we have light gas guns, essentially cannons. And, using compressed hydrogen, we can launch a metal flyer plate—literally a thin disk—to almost 8 kilometers per second. We can reach the core pressures in the Earth, but I can’t reach the range of giant impacts or the center of Jupiter in my lab. But the Sandia Z machine, which is a big capacitor that launches metal plates using a magnetic force, can reach 40 kilometers per second. And with the National Ignition Facility laser at Lawrence Livermore National Lab, we can reach the pressures at the center of Jupiter.

    Sandia Z machine

    National Ignition Facility at LLNL

    What happens to the flyer plates when they’re shot?

    The target simply gets turned to dust after being vaporized and then cooling again. They’re very destructive experiments. You have to make real time measurements—of the wave itself and how fast it’s traveling—within tens of nanoseconds. That we can translate to pressure. My group has spent a lot of time developing ways to measure temperature, and to find phase boundaries. The work that led to the origin of the moon was specifically studying what it takes to vaporize Earth materials, and to determine the boiling points of rocks. We needed to know when it would be vaporized in order to calculate when something would become a synestia.

    How do you use your experimental results?

    What runs in our code is a simplified version of a planet. With our experiments we can simulate a simplified planet to infer the more complicated chemical system. Once we’ve determined the pressure-temperature of the average system, you can ask more detailed questions about the multi-component chemistry of a real planet. In the moon paper that was published this year, there’s two big sections. One that does the simplified modeling of the giant impact—it gives us the pressure-temperature range in the synestia. Then another that looks at the chemistry of the system that starts at these high pressures and temperatures and cools, but now using a more realistic model for the Earth.

    What was it like to get a call from the MacArthur Foundation?

    It did come out of the blue. They called me in my office, and I answered the phone. There were three people on the other end, and they said they were from the MacArthur Foundation. I knew what it was, and I stopped listening, because it was such a nice surprise. To me it probably is just unreal at the moment, meaning it will probably take some time to really sink in.

    How did you come to study planetary physics?

    I had enjoyed science fiction, not thinking I was going to be a scientist. But while I was in high school I had phenomenal math and physics teachers. That really grabbed my interest, so when I went to college I wanted to be a physics major. I quickly learned that the astronomers very much welcomed undergraduate researchers because the work was very accessible to someone with undergraduate skills. I met amazing scientists, and that sparked a whole career.

    What would you be doing if you weren’t a scientist?

    That’s hard. Because it has been my ideal for a very long time. In college I did a lot of theater. More theater than homework. The best theatrical experience I had was directing Sweeney Todd. It was absolutely amazing. So I did watch with some envy as some of my friends pursued a theatrical life. That is something that you can be wistful about, except that that would have been a hard path.

    NASA is celebrating its 60th anniversary. What does that mean to you as a scientist studying space?

    It feels like we’ve learned so much over 60 years, because we’ve had our first visits to everything in the solar system now. But at the same time, we’re completely surprised every time we arrive at a new object. So in some ways we’re still in the youthful period in planetary science, where we’re trying to work out basic knowledge. That’s a very exciting time. We’re still on a very big growth curve.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Welcome to Nautilus. We are delighted you joined us. We are here to tell you about science and its endless connections to our lives. Each month we choose a single topic. And each Thursday we publish a new chapter on that topic online. Each issue combines the sciences, culture and philosophy into a single story told by the world’s leading thinkers and writers. We follow the story wherever it leads us. Read our essays, investigative reports, and blogs. Fiction, too. Take in our games, videos, and graphic stories. Stop in for a minute, or an hour. Nautilus lets science spill over its usual borders. We are science, connected.

  • richardmitnick 10:52 am on November 7, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Jody Deming, , , Women in STEM   

    From University of Washington: Women in STEM- “‘Ocean memory’ the focus of cross-disciplinary effort by UW’s Jody Deming” 

    U Washington

    From University of Washington

    November 2, 2018
    Hannah Hickey

    Jody Deming

    The vast oceans of our planet still hold many unsolved questions. Uncovering some of their mysteries has been a decades-long focus for University of Washington oceanography professor Jody Deming.

    This fall, Deming embarks on a very different type of ocean exploration. A $500,000 grant from the National Academies Keck Futures Initiative, or NAKFI, will allow her and a group representing various disciplines in the sciences and the arts to look at the oceans in new ways.

    The Ocean Memory Project was one of three selected this fall as the inaugural winners of the NAKFI Challenge Grants, a program of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine with funding from the W.M. Keck Foundation. Deming is among a small group of leaders of the effort that will generate events, distributed interactive spaces and grants for cross-disciplinary mentoring around the idea of ocean memory.

    Deming had participated previously in smaller NAKFI-funded projects, which bring a few dozen people together to explore ideas through a cross-disciplinary lens. One of these groups, the Deep Sea Memory Project, met for the first time in September 2017 at Friday Harbor Laboratories. There, 20 participants and two facilitators spent five days sharing their various fields of expertise and coming up with new ideas. (Ben Fitzhugh, a UW professor of anthropology, and John Baross, a UW professor of oceanography, also participated in the workshop.)

    The format was different from a typical science conference, Deming said. Facilitators had smaller groups of people generate ideas quickly, then work together to create tangible objects reflecting those ideas.

    “If you are making something with your hands, then your brain works differently,” she said. “Although I may have been a skeptic in the beginning, I am a believer now, because I saw how we think and create differently.”

    The group held a second workshop at the Djerassi Resident Arts Program in central California, and will have a final workshop in 2019 on Santa Catalina Island.

    These smaller NAKFI-funded projects all emerged from a larger NAKFI conference in 2016, Discovering The Deep Blue Sea, led by oceanographer David Karl at the University of Hawaii. In one of many small break-out group discussions at that conference, an artist asked the question, “Does the ocean have memory?” and the phrase “ocean memory” immediately took hold.

    “Our group was looking for something we could all connect to,” recalls Deming, who holds the Karl M. Banse professorship in the School of Oceanography. “And that question, ‘Does the ocean have memory?’ galvanized us. It resonated with me personally, as that’s what I believe I have been studying all my life, without having those words to describe it.”

    The new grant will fund various activities around the theme of ocean memory, each led by participants from earlier NAKFI workshops using a rotating, collective leadership model. Deming is among the first group of leaders that also includes two artists, a marine biologist and cellist, and a cognitive scientist.

    Their winning proposal reads: “Our ocean and its inhabitants hold memories of events throughout the evolution of the planet, awaiting our cognition. We propose to establish a thriving community exploring and expressing Ocean Memory, a new line of scientific inquiry highly evocative beyond science, aiming for a sea change in our ability to address challenges of the Anthropocene.”

    The leadership team met for the first time in late October, and hopes to start accepting applications in early 2019 for the launching activity later that year. The group will select roughly 20–30 participants using criteria similar to those of the NAKFI workshops, which seeks people of varied expertise who are keen to work across boundaries.

    The grant will fund three annual “seed seminars,” each followed by a breakout working group and awards of small grants to pursue specific ideas, all culminating in 2022 with a larger conference at the UW. Also in the works are a science-oriented paper articulating the many meanings of ocean memory and plans for an exhibit at the San Francisco Art Institute.

    Deming described the project in October at the D.C. Art Science Evening Rendezvous, or DASER, event:

    Deming’s other, more conventionally funded, research investigates microbes in the polar regions. Members of her research group recently returned from the joint Sweden-U.S. icebreaker expedition to the North Pole, where they examined how acidifying waters of the high Arctic might affect the productivity of microbes on the underside of the sea ice and between ice floes, and how such microbes, when lofted into the air in sea spray, might affect the formation of Arctic clouds. The group is also studying microbial communities, found thriving in ancient brines deep in Alaskan permafrost, which may hold surprising “memories” of their past ocean.

    While the NAKFI grant allows her to explore different ways of knowing, there is overlap between the purely scientific efforts and those that bridge science and art, Deming said.

    “Here is one idea of what we want to explore: To what extent do microorganisms living in the ocean hold a memory of past conditions, so when they get challenged by a changing environment — whether more acidity from more carbon dioxide, or changing temperatures, or both — will some networks of organisms be better prepared, more fit, than others because they’ve retained genetic memories of the past?”

    For more information, visit http://memory.ocean.washington.edu, or contact Deming at jdeming@uw.edu.

    See the full article here .


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  • richardmitnick 11:09 am on November 1, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Abigail Hsu, Harshitha Menon, Laura Stephey, Margaret Lawson, More women more science, , Tess Bernard, Who says women don't like science?, Women in STEM   

    From Science Node: Women in STEM-” Who says women don’t like science? From renewable energy to big data, these five women are making a difference with advanced computing.” 

    Science Node bloc
    From Science Node

    31 Oct, 2018
    Alisa Alering


    From renewable energy to big data, these five women are making a difference with advanced computing.

    There’s a misconception out there that women don’t like science. Or computers.

    But let’s not forget that it was Ada Lovelace who kicked off the computer era in 1843 when she outlined a sequence of operations for solving mathematical problems with Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine. Or that up through the 1960s, women actually were the computers and the primary programmers.

    Times have changed, but women’s contributions to computing haven’t. So to correct some mistaken ideas, here are five cool things women are doing with high-performance computing.

    Speeding up our understanding of the Universe

    The Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) survey will make the largest, most-detailed 3D map of the Universe ever created and help scientists better understand dark energy. Every night for 5 years, DESI will take images of the night sky that will be used to construct a 3D map spanning the nearby universe to 11 billion light years.

    LBNL/DESI Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument for the Nicholas U. Mayall 4-meter telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory near Tucson, Ariz, USA

    NOAO/Mayall 4 m telescope at Kitt Peak, Arizona, USA, Altitude 2,120 m (6,960 ft)

    But in order for that map to be made, images from the telescope must be processed by the Cori supercomputer.

    NERSC Cray Cori II supercomputer at NERSC at LBNL, named after Gerty Cori, the first American woman to win a Nobel Prize in science

    Laura Stephey, a postdoctoral fellow at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (LBNL) is optimizing data processing for the DESI experiment so that results can be returned to researchers overnight in order to plan their next night of observation.

    Developing fusion as a renewable energy source

    Model power source. University of Texas student Tess Bernard is developing computer simulations to model the physics of plasmas in order to design successful fusion experiments. Courtesy Kurzgesagt.

    Plasma is the fourth state of matter, made up of energetic, charged particles. Fusion happens when two light elements, like hydrogen, fuse together to form a heavier element, such as helium, and give off a lot of energy. This process happens naturally in stars like our sun, but scientists are working to recreate this in a lab.

    Tess Bernard, a graduate student at the University of Texas at Austin is developing computer simulations to model the physics of plasmas in order to help design successful fusion experiments. Says Bernard, “If we can successfully harness fusion energy on earth, we can provide a clean, renewable source of energy for the world.”

    Dealing with big data

    Modern scientific computing addresses a wide variety of real-world problems, from developing efficient fuels to predicting extreme weather. But these applications produce immense volumes of data which are cumbersome to store, manage, and explore.

    Which is why Margaret Lawson, a PhD student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Sandia National Laboratories is creating a system that allows scientists working with massive amounts of data to tag and search specific data. This makes it easier for scientists to make discoveries since the most interesting data is highlighted for further analysis.

    Preparing for exascale

    Exascale computing will represent a 50- to 100-fold increase in speed over today’s supercomputers and promises significant breakthroughs in many areas. But to reach these speeds, exascale machines will be massively parallel, and applications must be able to perform on a wide variety of architectures.

    Abigail Hsu, a PhD student at Stony Brook University, is investigating how different approaches to parallel optimization impact the performance portability of unstructured mesh Fortran codes. She hopes this will encourage the development of Fortran applications for exascale architectures.

    Sanity-checking simulations

    Computers make mistakes. And sometimes those failures have serious consequences. Like during the Gulf War, when an American missile failed to intercept an incoming Iraqi Scud. The Scud struck a barrack, killing 28 soldiers and injuring a hundred others. A report attributed this to computer arithmetic error–specifically a small error of 0.34 seconds in the system’s internal clock.

    Harshitha Menon, a computer scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) is developing a method to understand the impact of arithmetic errors in computing. Her tool identifies vulnerable regions of code to ensure that simulations give correct results.

    Says Menon, “We need to understand the impact of these errors on our computer programs because scientists and policy makers rely on their results to make accurate predictions that can have lasting impact.”

    More women, more science

    Want to find out more? All of these researchers—and many more—will be presenting their work at SC18 in the Women in HPC workshop on Sunday, November 11, 2018.

    So that covers astronomy, physics, computer science, and math. And they say women don’t like science. We say that’s a pretty unscientific conclusion.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Science Node is an international weekly online publication that covers distributed computing and the research it enables.

    “We report on all aspects of distributed computing technology, such as grids and clouds. We also regularly feature articles on distributed computing-enabled research in a large variety of disciplines, including physics, biology, sociology, earth sciences, archaeology, medicine, disaster management, crime, and art. (Note that we do not cover stories that are purely about commercial technology.)

    In its current incarnation, Science Node is also an online destination where you can host a profile and blog, and find and disseminate announcements and information about events, deadlines, and jobs. In the near future it will also be a place where you can network with colleagues.

    You can read Science Node via our homepage, RSS, or email. For the complete iSGTW experience, sign up for an account or log in with OpenID and manage your email subscription from your account preferences. If you do not wish to access the website’s features, you can just subscribe to the weekly email.”

  • richardmitnick 2:08 pm on October 6, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Female physics laureate No. 3, Good news at the start of the pipeline, Implicit biases about who does science, Is the number of women in STEM jobs increasing?, , What’s not working for women, Why more women don’t win science Nobels, Women in STEM   

    From The Conversation: Women in STEM-“Why more women don’t win science Nobels” 

    From The Conversation

    October 5, 2018
    Mary K. Feeney

    Only 3 percent of these prizes have gone to women since 1901. Reuters/Pawel Kopczynski

    One of the 2018 Nobel Prizes in physics went to Donna Strickland, a major accomplishment for any scientist. Yet much of the news coverage has focused on the fact that she’s only the third female physicist to receive the award, after Marie Curie in 1903 and Maria Goeppert-Mayer 60 years later.

    Though biochemical engineer Frances Arnold also won this year, for chemistry, the rarity of female Nobel laureates raises questions about women’s exclusion from education and careers in science. Female researchers have come a long way over the past century. But there’s overwhelming evidence that women remain underrepresented in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

    Studies have shown those who persist in these careers face explicit and implicit barriers to advancement. Bias is most intense in fields that are predominantly male, where women lack a critical mass of representation and are often viewed as tokens or outsiders.

    When women achieve at the highest levels of sports, politics, medicine and science, they serve as role models for all of us, especially for girls and other women. But are things getting better in terms of equal representation? What still holds women back in the classroom, in the lab, in leadership and as award winners?

    Good news at the start of the pipeline

    Traditional stereotypes hold that women “don’t like math” and “aren’t good at science.” Both men and women report these viewpoints, but researchers have empirically disputed them. Studies show that girls and women avoid STEM education not because of cognitive inability, but because of early exposure and experience with STEM, educational policy, cultural context, stereotypes and a lack of exposure to role models.

    For the past several decades, efforts to improve the representation of women in STEM fields have focused on countering these stereotypes with educational reforms and individual programs that can increase the number of girls entering and staying in what’s been called the STEM pipeline – the path from K-12 to college to postgraduate training.

    Is the number of women in STEM jobs increasing?

    Women with college degrees remain underrepresented in science and engineering occupations in the United States, although less so than in the past. Except in computer/mathematical sciences, women have increased their proportion in each broad occupational group since the early 1990s.


    These approaches are working. Women are increasingly likely to express an interest in STEM careers and pursue STEM majors in college. Women now make up half or more of workers in psychology and social sciences and are increasingly represented in the scientific workforce, though computer and mathematical sciences are an exception. According to the American Institute of Physics, women earn about 20 percent of bachelor’s degrees and 18 percent of Ph.D.s in physics, an increase from 1975 when women earned 10 percent of bachelor’s degrees and 5 percent of Ph.D.s in physics.

    More women are graduating with STEM Ph.D.s and earning faculty positions. But they go on to encounter glass cliffs and ceilings as they advance through their academic careers.

    What’s not working for women

    Women face a number of structural and institutional barriers in academic STEM careers.

    In addition to issues related to the gender pay gap, the structure of academic science often makes it difficult for women to get ahead in the workplace and to balance work and life commitments. Bench science can require years of dedicated time in a laboratory. The strictures of the tenure-track process can make maintaining work-life balance, responding to family obligations, and having children or taking family leave difficult, if not impossible.

    Additionally, working in male-dominated workplaces can leave women feeling isolated, perceived as tokens and susceptible to harassment. Women often are excluded from networking opportunities and social events and left to feel they’re outside the culture of the lab, the academic department and the field.

    When women lack critical mass – of about 15 percent or more – they are less empowered to advocate for themselves and more likely to be perceived as a minority group and an exception. When in this minority position, women are more likely to be pressured to take on extra service as tokens on committees or mentors to female graduate students.

    With fewer female colleagues, women are less likely to build relationships with female collaborators and support and advice networks. This isolation can be exacerbated when women are unable to participate in work events or attend conferences because of family or child care responsibilities and an inability to use research funds to reimburse child care.

    Universities, professional associations, and federal funders have worked to address a variety of these structural barriers. Efforts include creating family-friendly policies, increasing transparency in salary reporting, enforcing Title IX protections, providing mentoring and support programs for women scientists, protecting research time for women scientists, and targeting women for hiring, research support and advancement. These programs have mixed results. For example, research indicates that family-friendly policies such as leave and onsite child care can exacerbate gender inequity, resulting in increased research productivity for men and increased teaching and service obligations for women.

    Implicit biases about who does science

    All of us – the general public, the media, university employees, students and professors – have ideas of what a scientist and a Nobel Prize winner looks like. That image is predominantly male, white and older – which makes sense given 97 percent of the science Nobel Prize winners have been men.

    This is an example of an implicit bias: one of the unconscious, involuntary, natural, unavoidable assumptions that all of us, men and women, form about the world around us. People make decisions based on subconscious assumptions, preferences and stereotypes – sometimes even when they are counter to their explicitly held beliefs.

    Research shows that an implicit bias against women as experts and academic scientists is pervasive. It manifests itself by valuing, acknowledging and rewarding men’s scholarship over women’s scholarship. Implicit bias can work against women’s hiring, advancement and recognition of their work. For instance, women seeking academic jobs are more likely to be viewed and judged based on personal information and physical appearance. Letters of recommendation for women are more likely to raise doubts and use language that results in negative career outcomes.

    Implicit bias can affect women’s ability to publish research findings and gain recognition for that work. Men cite their own papers 56 percent more than women do. Known as the “Matilda Effect,” there is a gender gap in recognition, award winning and citations. Women’s research is less likely to be cited by others and their ideas are more likely to be attributed to men. Women’s solo-authored research takes twice as long to move through the review process. Women are underrepresented in journal editorships, as senior scholars and lead authors, and as peer reviewers. This marginalization in research gatekeeping positions works against the promotion of women’s research.

    When a woman becomes a world-class scientist, implicit bias works against the likelihood that she will be invited as a keynote or guest speaker to share her research findings, thus lowering her visibility in the field and the likelihood that she will be nominated for awards. This gender imbalance is notable in how infrequently women experts are quoted in news stories on most topics.

    Women scientists are afforded less of the respect and recognition that should come with their accomplishments. Research shows that when people talk about male scientists and experts, they’re more likely to use their surnames and more likely to refer to women by their first names. Why does this matter? Because experiments show that individuals referred to by their surnames are more likely to be viewed as famous and eminent. In fact, one study found that calling scientists by their last names led people to consider them 14 percent more deserving of a National Science Foundation career award.

    Donna Strickland outside her lab at the University of Waterloo. Reuters/Peter Power

    Female physics laureate No. 3

    Strickland winning a Nobel Prize as an associate professor in physics is a major accomplishment; doing so as a woman who has almost certainly faced more barriers than her male counterparts is, in my view, monumental.

    When asked what it felt like to be the third female Nobel laureate in physics, Strickland noted that at first it was surprising to realize so few women had won the award: “But, I mean, I do live in a world of mostly men, so seeing mostly men doesn’t really ever surprise me either.”

    Seeing mostly men has been the history of science. Addressing structural and implicit bias in STEM will hopefully prevent another half-century wait before the next woman is acknowledged with a Nobel Prize for her contribution to physics. I look forward to the day when a woman receiving the most prestigious award in science is newsworthy only for her science and not her gender.

    See the full article here .


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    The Conversation US launched as a pilot project in October 2014. It is an independent source of news and views from the academic and research community, delivered direct to the public.
    Our team of professional editors work with university and research institute experts to unlock their knowledge for use by the wider public.
    Access to independent, high quality, authenticated, explanatory journalism underpins a functioning democracy. Our aim is to promote better understanding of current affairs and complex issues. And hopefully allow for a better quality of public discourse and conversation.

  • richardmitnick 5:59 pm on October 4, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: CPA-chirped-pulse amplification, Donna Strickland, , , Women in STEM   

    From Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory: Women in STEM “Nobelist Strickland’s invention helped spark LLNL’s short-pulse laser breakthroughs” Donna Strickland 

    From Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

    Oct. 4, 2018

    Anne M Stark

    Charlie Osolin


    The Nobel Prize-winning research by Donna Strickland, a former staff scientist in Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s (LLNL’s) Laser Programs Directorate, was instrumental in the Laboratory’s development of a series of groundbreaking short-pulse, high-energy laser systems over the past two decades.

    Self-described “laser jock” Strickland, who worked at LLNL in 1992, is only the third woman in history to win a Nobel Prize in physics, joining Marie Curie (1903) and Maria Goeppert-Mayer (1963). Strickland and her mentor, French physicist Gérard Mourou, were named Nobel Prize laureates on Oct. 2 for their work in developing chirped-pulse amplification (CPA) to amplify ultrashort laser pulses up to the petawatt (quadrillion-watt) level.

    CPA is the underlying and enabling technology for all ultra-high-peak-power laser systems, such as LLNL’s Advanced Radiographic Capability (ARC) and High-repetition-rate Advanced Petawatt Laser (HAPLS), as well as in laser eye surgery and ultrafast cameras used for imaging molecular processes. As noted by the Nobel Committee for Physics, the Laboratory’s NOVA Petawatt, the world’s first petawatt laser, was a famous early example of a CPA laser.

    Strickland and Mourou share the 2018 prize with Arthur Ashkin of the United States, inventor of “optical tweezers,” a process that uses light from a highly focused laser beam to manipulate viruses, bacteria and other microscopic objects.

    Strickland, now a professor at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, received her Ph.D. in optical physics from the University of Rochester, home to LLNL’s frequent collaborator, the Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE). Her work with Mourou, a former optics professor and scientist at LLE, was the basis for her Ph.D. dissertation.

    After postdoctoral research at the National Research Council in Ottawa, Strickland joined LLNL’s inertial confinement fusion program under Mike Perry, now a vice president at General Atomics in San Diego. She divided her time between work on high harmonic generation in noble gases and helping Todd Ditmire, then a graduate student and now director of the Center for High Energy Density Science at the University of Texas at Austin, build a CPA laser from a new, promising laser material called Cr-doped LiSAF. She contributed to papers on the design and performance of the Cr-doped LiSAF regenerative amplifier, extreme ultraviolet radiation (XUV) in laser-driven plasmas and a compact high-power femtosecond (quadrillionths of a second) laser.

    “I have for 25 years told everyone that Donna taught me to align my first laser, and, in fact, she mentored me greatly during my first year in grad school,” Ditmire said. “I always joked that she had a god-like talent to be able to lay her hands on a laser cavity and get it to lase. I learned an incredible amount from Donna, which launched me on my own career in high-intensity, short-pulse lasers, first at LLNL and then as a professor here at the University of Texas.”

    LLNL physicist John Crane, who worked with Strickland on the XUV paper, said she was already well known in her field because of her graduate work inventing CPA to build terawatt-scale lasers. “Several of Mike Perry’s graduate students and postdocs were female,” Crane said, “and she served as a great mentor, as she was young and already very accomplished, upbeat and fun to be around.”

    One of those female graduate students was Kim Budil, now vice president for national laboratories at the University of California Office of the President. “I was over the moon when I saw that she was being honored for the truly transformative work she did with Gérard,” Budil said. “I met Donna when I was a graduate student working in the short-pulse laser lab at LLNL. She was very smart and already extremely accomplished, and that alone made her a great role model.

    “However, what I remember most was how good a colleague and friend she was. I was struggling in my Ph.D. research and having a hard time believing I could be an independent researcher. She reminded me to stop apologizing for being there — I belonged and was contributing in a real way. She showed me how to be a real scientist, confident in her knowledge and ability to contribute and ready to be a member of the team. She was fun — and funny — and loved the work.”

    In her comments after the prize was announced, Strickland reflected on Goeppert-Mayer’s career and said her award shows how far the scientific field has come since 1963 in terms of gender parity, even though women still make up only a quarter of attendees at major conferences. “It’s true that a woman hasn’t been given the Nobel Prize since then,” she said, “but I think things are better for women than they have been. We should never lose the fact that we are moving forward. We are always marching forward.”

    Strickland, born in 1959 in Guelph, Canada, and Mourou, born in 1944 in Albertville, France, published the revolutionary article that would become the basis of Strickland’s dissertation in 1985.

    The chirped-pulse amplification technique makes it possible for a petawatt laser’s high-power pulses to pass through laser optics without damaging them. Before amplification, low-energy laser pulses are passed through diffraction gratings to stretch their duration by as much as 25,000 times. After amplification, the pulses are recompressed back to near their original duration. Because the pulses pass through laser optics when they are long, they cause no damage. Credit: The Nobel Committee for Physics.

    In a summary of the prizewinning work, the Nobel Committee for Physics said the inspiration for their invention “came from a popular science article that described radar and its long radio waves. However, transferring this idea to the shorter optical light waves was difficult, both in theory and in practice.”

    “The breakthrough was described in the article and was Donna Strickland’s first scientific publication,” the committee said. “She had moved from Canada to the University of Rochester, where she became attracted to laser physics by the green and red beams that lit up the laboratory like a Christmas tree and, not least, by the visions of her supervisor, Gérard Mourou.”

    Using what the committee called “an ingenious approach,” they succeeded in creating ultrashort high-peak-power laser pulses without exceeding the optical damage threshold and damaging the amplifying material. They stretched the laser pulses in time to reduce their peak power, a process called chirping, then amplified them, and finally recompressed them. The technique to reduce large amounts of anomalous dispersion was described by O.E. Martinez, J.P. Gordon, and R.L. Fork in 1984, but not recognized for its potential to stretch and unstretch pulses and reduce their peak power. If a pulse is compressed in time and becomes shorter, then more light is packed together in the same tiny space — the peak power of the pulse increases dramatically.

    The chirped-pulse amplification technique makes it possible for a petawatt laser’s high-power pulses to pass through laser optics without damaging them. Before amplification, low-energy laser pulses are passed through diffraction gratings to stretch their duration by as much as 25,000 times. After amplification, the pulses are recompressed back to near their original duration. Because the pulses pass through laser optics when they are long, they cause no damage.

    The development of the highest intensity laser pulse. The CPA technique being rewarded this year is the foundation for the explosive development of increasingly strong laser pulses. Credit: The Nobel Committee for Physics

    Strickland is continuing her research career in Canada, while Mourou, who has returned to France, initiated and led the early development of the European Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI) project. The HAPLS advanced petawatt laser system, which was designed, developed and constructed by LLNL’s NIF and Photon Science Directorate, is a key element in the ELI project. The system recently was declared fully integrated and operational at the ELI Beamlines Research Center in Dolní Břežany, Czech Republic.

    The CPA technique being rewarded this year is the foundation for the explosive development of increasingly strong laser pulses. “The invention of chirped pulse amplification realized by Donna and Gérard was truly a transformative change,” said Constantin Haefner, LLNL program director for Advanced Photon Technologies. “The ability to amplify lasers to extreme powers enabled discovery of new physics, quickly followed by many industrial applications. The invention of CPA has not only inspired several generations of laser physicists and researchers but also has mobilized a multi-billion-dollar market of applications.”

    See the full article here .


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    LLNL Campus

    Operated by Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC, for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration
    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) is an American federal research facility in Livermore, California, United States, founded by the University of California, Berkeley in 1952. A Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC), it is primarily funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and managed and operated by Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC (LLNS), a partnership of the University of California, Bechtel, BWX Technologies, AECOM, and Battelle Memorial Institute in affiliation with the Texas A&M University System. In 2012, the laboratory had the synthetic chemical element livermorium named after it.

    LLNL is self-described as “a premier research and development institution for science and technology applied to national security.” Its principal responsibility is ensuring the safety, security and reliability of the nation’s nuclear weapons through the application of advanced science, engineering and technology. The Laboratory also applies its special expertise and multidisciplinary capabilities to preventing the proliferation and use of weapons of mass destruction, bolstering homeland security and solving other nationally important problems, including energy and environmental security, basic science and economic competitiveness.

    The Laboratory is located on a one-square-mile (2.6 km2) site at the eastern edge of Livermore. It also operates a 7,000 acres (28 km2) remote experimental test site, called Site 300, situated about 15 miles (24 km) southeast of the main lab site. LLNL has an annual budget of about $1.5 billion and a staff of roughly 5,800 employees.

    LLNL was established in 1952 as the University of California Radiation Laboratory at Livermore, an offshoot of the existing UC Radiation Laboratory at Berkeley. It was intended to spur innovation and provide competition to the nuclear weapon design laboratory at Los Alamos in New Mexico, home of the Manhattan Project that developed the first atomic weapons. Edward Teller and Ernest Lawrence,[2] director of the Radiation Laboratory at Berkeley, are regarded as the co-founders of the Livermore facility.

    The new laboratory was sited at a former naval air station of World War II. It was already home to several UC Radiation Laboratory projects that were too large for its location in the Berkeley Hills above the UC campus, including one of the first experiments in the magnetic approach to confined thermonuclear reactions (i.e. fusion). About half an hour southeast of Berkeley, the Livermore site provided much greater security for classified projects than an urban university campus.

    Lawrence tapped 32-year-old Herbert York, a former graduate student of his, to run Livermore. Under York, the Lab had four main programs: Project Sherwood (the magnetic-fusion program), Project Whitney (the weapons-design program), diagnostic weapon experiments (both for the Los Alamos and Livermore laboratories), and a basic physics program. York and the new lab embraced the Lawrence “big science” approach, tackling challenging projects with physicists, chemists, engineers, and computational scientists working together in multidisciplinary teams. Lawrence died in August 1958 and shortly after, the university’s board of regents named both laboratories for him, as the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory.

    Historically, the Berkeley and Livermore laboratories have had very close relationships on research projects, business operations, and staff. The Livermore Lab was established initially as a branch of the Berkeley laboratory. The Livermore lab was not officially severed administratively from the Berkeley lab until 1971. To this day, in official planning documents and records, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is designated as Site 100, Lawrence Livermore National Lab as Site 200, and LLNL’s remote test location as Site 300.[3]

    The laboratory was renamed Lawrence Livermore Laboratory (LLL) in 1971. On October 1, 2007 LLNS assumed management of LLNL from the University of California, which had exclusively managed and operated the Laboratory since its inception 55 years before. The laboratory was honored in 2012 by having the synthetic chemical element livermorium named after it. The LLNS takeover of the laboratory has been controversial. In May 2013, an Alameda County jury awarded over $2.7 million to five former laboratory employees who were among 430 employees LLNS laid off during 2008.[4] The jury found that LLNS breached a contractual obligation to terminate the employees only for “reasonable cause.”[5] The five plaintiffs also have pending age discrimination claims against LLNS, which will be heard by a different jury in a separate trial.[6] There are 125 co-plaintiffs awaiting trial on similar claims against LLNS.[7] The May 2008 layoff was the first layoff at the laboratory in nearly 40 years.[6]

    On March 14, 2011, the City of Livermore officially expanded the city’s boundaries to annex LLNL and move it within the city limits. The unanimous vote by the Livermore city council expanded Livermore’s southeastern boundaries to cover 15 land parcels covering 1,057 acres (4.28 km2) that comprise the LLNL site. The site was formerly an unincorporated area of Alameda County. The LLNL campus continues to be owned by the federal government.


    DOE Seal

  • richardmitnick 3:16 pm on October 4, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Directed evolution has transformed how we make proteins and how we think about new protein catalysts" says Jacqueline K. Barton Caltech's John G. Kirkwood and Arthur A. Noyes Professor of Chemistry a, "I am absolutely floored. I have to wrap my head around this. It's not something I was expecting.", 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for "the directed evolution of enzymes", , Directed evolution pioneered by Arnold in the early 1990s, Frances Arnold Wins 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Women in STEM   

    From Caltech: Women in STEM-“Frances Arnold Wins 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry” 

    Caltech Logo

    From Caltech


    Whitney Clavin
    (626) 395-1856

    Frances Arnold. Credit: Caltech.

    Frances H. Arnold, the Linus Pauling Professor of Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering and Biochemistry, has won the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for “the directed evolution of enzymes,” according to the award citation. Directed evolution, pioneered by Arnold in the early 1990s, is a bioengineering method for creating new and better enzymes in the laboratory using the principles of evolution. Today, the method is used in hundreds of laboratories and companies that make everything from laundry detergents to biofuels to medicines. Enzymes created with the technique have replaced toxic chemicals in many industrial processes.

    Arnold shares the prize with George P. Smith of the University of Missouri in Columbia, who developed a “phage display” method for evolving proteins, and Sir Gregory P. Winter of the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, United Kingdom, who used phage display for evolving antibodies. One half of the prize, which comes with an award of 9 million Swedish krona (about $1 million), goes to Arnold, with the other half shared by Smith and Winter.

    Arnold received the call at a hotel in Dallas, Texas, at around 4 a.m. local time; she was scheduled to give a lecture today at UT Southwestern, but had to reschedule to fly back to California. She says she was in a “deep, deep sleep” when awakened by the call. “I am absolutely floored. I have to wrap my head around this. It’s not something I was expecting.”

    “Frances’s work on directed evolution is a beautiful example of an enterprise that has both deep scientific significance and enormous practical consequences,” says David A. Tirrell, Caltech’s provost, the Carl and Shirley Larson Provostial Chair, and the Ross McCollum-William H. Corcoran Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering. “Through decades of commitment to exploring a powerful idea, Frances has transformed the fields of protein chemistry, catalysis, and biotechnology. She has changed the way we think about things and the way we do things.”

    “Directed evolution has transformed how we make proteins and how we think about new protein catalysts,” says Jacqueline K. Barton, Caltech’s John G. Kirkwood and Arthur A. Noyes Professor of Chemistry and the Norman Davidson Leadership Chair of the Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering. “Through this work, she has broadened the repertoire of nature’s catalysts.”

    “Life—the biological world—is the greatest chemist, and evolution is her design process,” says Arnold. “I may not be the best chemist but I do appreciate evolution.”

    Arnold was born on July 25, 1956, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She received her undergraduate degree in mechanical and aerospace engineering from Princeton University in 1979 and her graduate degree in chemical engineering from UC Berkeley in 1985. She arrived at Caltech as a visiting associate in 1986 and was named assistant professor in 1987, associate professor in 1992, and professor in 1996. In 2000, she was named the Dick and Barbara Dickinson Professor of Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering and Biochemistry; she became the Linus Pauling Professor in 2017. She became the director of the Donna and Benjamin M. Rosen Bioengineering Center at Caltech in 2013.

    Directed evolution works in the same way that breeders mate cats or dogs to bring out desired traits. To perform the method, scientists begin by inducing mutations to the DNA, or gene, that encodes a particular enzyme (a molecule that catalyzes, or facilitates, chemical reactions). An array of thousands of mutated enzymes is produced and then tested for a desired trait. The top-performing enzymes are selected and the process is repeated to further enhance the enzymes’ performances. For instance, in 2009, Arnold and her team engineered enzymes that break down cellulose, the main component of plant cell walls, creating better catalysts for turning agricultural wastes into fuels and chemicals.

    A number of additional enzymes produced through directed evolution are now used for a host of products, including biofuels, agricultural chemicals, paper products, and pharmaceuticals. For example, the method led to a better way to produce a drug for treating type 2 diabetes.

    More recently, Arnold and her colleagues used directed evolution to persuade bacteria to make chemicals not found in nature, including molecules containing silicon-carbon or boron-carbon bonds, or bicyclobutanes, which contain energy-packed carbon rings. By using bacteria, researchers can potentially make these chemical compounds in “greener” ways that are more economical and produce less toxic waste.

    “My entire career I have been concerned about the damage we are doing to the planet and each other,” said Arnold when she won the 2016 Millennium Technology Prize, granted by the Technology Academy Finland. “Science and technology can play a major role in mitigating our negative influences on the environment. Changing behavior is even more important. However, I feel that change is easier when there are good, economically viable alternatives to harmful habits.”

    Arnold was the first woman to receive the 2011 Charles Stark Draper Prize from the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). She is among the small number of individuals, and the first woman, elected to all three branches of the National Academies: the NAE (2000), the National Academy of Medicine (2004; it was then called the Institute of Medicine), and the National Academy of Sciences (NAS; 2008). She received the 2011 National Medal of Technology and Innovation and was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014. She has won numerous other awards, including the 2017 Sackler Prize in Convergence Research from the NAS and the Society of Women Engineers’ 2017 Achievement Award.

    She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society, and is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Royal Academy of Engineering.

    “Frances’s methods have been adopted by scientists and engineers around the world, and many more have been inspired by her vision and her impact on chemical science and technology,” says Tirrell. “Her extraordinary accomplishments reflect the unconventional research environment at Caltech, where scholars are encouraged to dream, to take risks, and to venture beyond the constraints of disciplinary boundaries.”

    The 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry is the 39th Nobel Prize awarded to Caltech faculty and alumni. Other Caltech faculty with Nobel Prizes include: Kip S. Thorne (BS ’62) and Barry C. Barish, winners of the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics with Rainer Weiss; Robert Grubbs, winner of the 2005 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Yves Chauvin and Richard R. Schrock; David Politzer, recipient of the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physics with David J. Gross and Frank Wilczek; Rudy Marcus, sole winner of the 1992 Nobel Prize in Chemistry; and David Baltimore, winner of the 1975 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Renato Dulbecco and Howard M. Temin.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The California Institute of Technology (commonly referred to as Caltech) is a private research university located in Pasadena, California, United States. Caltech has six academic divisions with strong emphases on science and engineering. Its 124-acre (50 ha) primary campus is located approximately 11 mi (18 km) northeast of downtown Los Angeles. “The mission of the California Institute of Technology is to expand human knowledge and benefit society through research integrated with education. We investigate the most challenging, fundamental problems in science and technology in a singularly collegial, interdisciplinary atmosphere, while educating outstanding students to become creative members of society.”

    Caltech campus

  • richardmitnick 5:18 pm on October 2, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Nobel Prize in Physics to Donna Strickland, , Washngon Post, Women in STEM   

    From The Washington Post (Presented by Symmetry Magazine): Women in STEM “Nobel Prize in physics awarded for ‘tools made of light’; first woman in 55 years honored” 

    Symmetry Mag
    Presented by Symmetry

    From The Washington Post

    October 2
    Sarah Kaplan

    Donna Strickland Photo: REUTERS/Peter Power

    The 2018 Nobel Prize in physics was awarded Tuesday to Arthur Ashkin, Gérard Mourou and Donna Strickland for their pioneering work to turn lasers into powerful tools.

    Ashkin, a researcher at Bell Laboratories in New Jersey, invented “optical tweezers” — focused beams of light that can be used to grab particles, atoms and even living cells and are now widely used to study the machinery of life.

    Mourou, of École Polytechnique in France and the University of Michigan, and Strickland, of the University of Waterloo in Canada, “paved the way” for the most powerful lasers ever created by humans via a technique that stretches and then amplifies the light beam.

    “Billions of people make daily use of optical disk drive, laser printers and optical scanners . . . millions undergo laser surgery,” Nobel committee member Olga Botner said. “The laser is truly one of the many examples of how a so-called blue sky discovery in a fundamental science eventually may transform our daily lives.”

    Strickland is the first woman to be awarded the physics prize since 1963, when Maria Goeppert-Mayer was recognized for her work on the structure of atomic nuclei. Marie Curie won the physics prize in 1903 and the chemistry Nobel Prize in 1911.

    Astronomer Vera Rubin at the Lowell Observatory in 1965. Denied the Nobel (The Carnegie Institution for Science)

    Vera Rubin measuring spectra (Emilio Segre Visual Archives AIP SPL)

    Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell, discovered pulsars with radio astronomy. Jocelyn Bell at the Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory, Cambridge University, taken for the Daily Herald newspaper in 1968. Denied the Nobel.

    Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell 2009

    A reporter asked Strickland Tuesday what it felt like to be the third woman in history to win the prize.

    “Really? Is that all? I thought there might have been more,” she responded, sounding surprised. “Obviously, we need to celebrate women physicists, because we’re out there. I don’t know what to say. I’m honored to be one of those women.”

    Ashkin, 96, is the oldest person to be awarded the Nobel Prize. He would not be available for interviews, the committee said Tuesday morning; he was too busy working on his next paper.

    An artist’s illustration of wavelengths of light in a laser beam. (Johan Jarnestad)

    In a laser beam, light waves are tightly focused, rather than mixing and scattering as they do in ordinary white light. Since the first laser was invented in 1960, scientists speculated that the energy of these focused beams could be put to work to move and manipulate objects — a real life version of Star Trek’s “tractor beams.”

    “But this was science fiction for a very long time,” committee member Mats Larsson said.

    Ashkin spent two decades studying the properties of lasers, first recognizing that objects could be drawn toward the center of a beam, where the radiation was most intense. (A committee member demonstrated this phenomenon during the news conference by using a hair dryer to suspend a ping-pong ball in the air.) By further focusing the beam with a lens, he developed a “light trap” that could suspend a small spherical object at its center.

    Ashkin used his new tool to hold a particle in place, then an atom, and, eventually, in 1987, a living bacterium. Ashkin even demonstrated that the tool could be used to reach into a cell without damaging the living system.

    Atomic physicist Bill Phillips, who shared the Nobel Prize in 1997 for his work on cooling and trapping atoms with lasers, said Ashkin’s discoveries were vital to his own research. “I feel like I owe a great debt to Art,” he said.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Symmetry is a joint Fermilab/SLAC publication.

  • richardmitnick 4:18 pm on September 28, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Dame Burnell discovered Pulsars, Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell awarded a special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics, , , , Women in STEM   

    From CNN: Women in STEM – “Scientist omitted from Nobel Prize finally gets her due” Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell 


    September 14, 2018

    FNAL Don Lincoln

    A special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics has been awarded this month to British astronomer Jocelyn Bell Burnell for a distinguished research career, including her key role in the 1967 discovery of pulsars.

    Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell 2009

    Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell, discovered pulsars with radio astronomy. Jocelyn Bell at the Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory at Cambridge University, taken for the Daily Herald newspaper in 1968.

    Bell Burnell’s discovery was a very important one in the field of astronomy — one sufficiently impressive to receive the Nobel Prize, although she was not awarded it. Her Ph.D. thesis adviser received that prize instead — a sad, but not uncommon, outcome. Bell Burnell is now receiving her due with the prestigious breakthrough prize.

    The Breakthrough Prize is awarded to “recognize an individual(s) who has made profound contributions to human knowledge.” Each recipient of the prize receives $3 million, more than twice the financial award associated with the older Nobel Prize.

    Although Bell Burnell’s Breakthrough Prize was partially awarded for “a lifetime of inspiring leadership in the scientific community,” she is most known for her crucial contribution to the discovery of pulsars, which are remnants of long-dead stars that emit radio waves in pulses, separated by milliseconds to seconds and detectable on Earth.

    These pulses are kind of like the beeping of the alarm that wakes you up in the morning, but with radio waves instead of sound and with a much faster chirp. Pulsars are too distant and too dim to see by eye. But, as Bell Burnell found, their presence is observable through their rhythmic signal, detectable by a suitable radio.

    In 1967, as a graduate student at the fabled Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge University, Bell Burnell helped build a radio telescope that would be used to scan the sky and pick up radio waves. Once the telescope was operational, she began collection data on the signals coming from the sky (printed on literally miles of old-style continuous printer paper), when she observed a faint and repeating signal of radio waves. She had no idea what it was, as nothing of the sort had been discovered before.

    After considerable cross-checking of her work, she brought it to the attention of her thesis adviser, British radio astronomer Antony Hewish. While they first interpreted her observation as an unwanted signal from somewhere here on Earth, a more careful study revealed that it was actually of extraterrestrial origin. Given that the signal was so faithfully periodic, they jokingly labeled the radio source as LGM-1 (for “little green men”).

    However, an announcement of the discovery of extraterrestrial life was not to be. Instead, Bell Burnell had discovered pulsars.
    For this discovery, her adviser Hewish shared the 1974 Nobel Prize in Physics with Sir Martin Ryle, who was awarded his portion of the Nobel for a different contribution to radio astronomy.

    Much has been written about the fact that Bell Burnell did not share in the Nobel Prize. While there is no question that there are a distressing number of examples of women overlooked for a well-deserved Nobel Prize, it is unclear whether gender played a role in Bell Burnell’s omission from the award. She was a young graduate student working with an established scientist. Historically, in science, the leader of a research group gets both the acclaim and blame for the performance of the group, and this is irrespective of the gender of the students they work with.

    Even Bell Burnell has said that it is very difficult to separate the contribution of student and supervisor and that it would demean the Nobel Prize if it were awarded to students, except in very exceptional cases. She did not believe that this was one of them.

    In many ways, I think she’s right. Students are able to conduct their research because they are educated and mentored by their professors and it is thus appropriate that the professor is recognized for their scientific leadership. Still, I would not have objected if she had been recognized by the Swedish Academy for her work. I would include her name with other overlooked female luminaries, like Lise Meitner, Rosalind Franklin, Vera Rubin, and others.

    However, Nobel Prize aside, Bell Burnell’s life after graduate school has been full of accolades and achievements. She has been a professor at a number of institutions and was president of both the Royal Astronomical Society and the Royal Society of Edinburgh. She was also made a Dame Commander of the British Empire for her astronomical work, the second highest level recognition of the Order of the British Empire, equivalent to Knight Commander.

    Despite the accolades, Bell Burnell has proven that she does what she does not for the prestige or money, but for the sake of science. She has announced that she is donating the entire $3 million dollars to the Institute of Physics to provide scholarships and support to students and scholars from underrepresented groups in science.

    The face of cutting edge science is changing, but not quickly. Women were awarded only about 5% of physics bachelor’s degrees in 1967, when Bell Burnell made her discovery, but has risen to 20% as of last year. And when one looks more broadly at science, technology, engineering and math over the same time period, the percentage of STEM degrees awarded to women has jumped from about 17% to over 35%. Things are getting better, but there is still room for improvement.

    It’s nice to see a brilliant career recognized in this way, and even nicer to see such a magnanimous gesture toward future students. By supporting the next generation of scientists, Bell Burnell’s legacy will include not only her own discoveries, but future ones as well.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

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