Posts tagged experiments
The study, to be published in the May issue of the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, found that participants given more powerful roles in two experiments attributed fewer uniquely human traits — characteristics that distinguish people from other animals — to their peers who were given less powerful roles.
“I think a lot of us have the intuition that some powerful people can be pretty dehumanizing,” said Jason Gwinn, a doctoral student in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience and lead author of the study. “But our goal was to test if power, when randomly assigned to ordinary students, would have that effect. That would say something about power itself rather than about the sort of people who have the drive to take power.”
The researchers enlisted about 300 CU-Boulder students taking an introductory psychology course to participate in two experiments. In the first experiment, students were assigned to be either a manager or an assistant for a mock hiring task. The assistants were asked to review resumes for an open job and then list the strengths and weaknesses of each applicant. The managers then reviewed the list made by their assistants and made a final decision about whom to hire.
In the second experiment, participants were asked to play a game and were assigned to be either an allocator or a recipient. For the game, one allocator and one recipient were tasked with splitting a pot of money. The allocator, the higher-power role, made the first offer, suggesting how the money be split. If the recipient, the lower-power role, accepted the offer, both people received their share of the money. If the recipient declined the offer, neither person received any of the money.
At the end of each experiment, the participants were asked to rate each other on 40 traits. The result was that students in higher-power roles assigned fewer uniquely human traits to the students in lower-power roles than vice versa. Examples of traits considered to be more uniquely human, as defined and tested in a 2007 Australian study, include being ambitious, imaginative, frivolous and insecure. Examples of traits that are less uniquely human — those that could be used to describe a pet as well as a friend, for example — include being passive, timid, friendly and shy.
The question of whether power leads to dehumanization has part of its roots in the renowned Stanford Prison Experiment conducted in 1971. Twenty-four male students were randomly assigned to play the role of either inmate or guard in a mock prison in the basement of the Stanford psychology building. During the study, the guards were psychologically abusive to the prisoners, many of whom passively accepted the abuse, despite the fact that the participants knew that they were all students at the same elite university.
Though the guards were described as dehumanizing the prisoners, the term “dehumanization” was well defined at the time and the experiment was not designed to allow the researchers to confidently state that it was the increase in power that lead to the dehumanization. By contrast, Gwinn’s study, now available online, was designed specifically to test the relationship between power and dehumanization.
Gwinn cautions that the researchers cannot yet say whose perspective is being changed by the power differential imposed on participants in the CU study. It’s possible that being in a position of less power makes a person see those in power as more human rather than the other way around, or that both people are affected.
“We haven’t pinned down why this happens,” Gwinn said. “We don’t know whose perception is being affected.”
Charles Judd and Bernadette Park, both professors in CU-Boulder’s Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, co-authored the study.
CU-Boulder amphibian study shows how
biodiversity can protect against disease
The richer the assortment of amphibian species living in a pond, the more protection that community of frogs, toads and salamanders has against a parasitic infection that can cause severe deformities, including the growth of extra legs, according to a new study by the University of Colorado Boulder.
The findings, published Feb. 14 in the journal Nature, support the idea that greater biodiversity in larger-scale ecosystems, such as forests or grasslands, may also provide greater protection against diseases, including those that attack humans. For example, a larger number of mammal species in an area may curb cases of Lyme disease, while a larger number of bird species may slow the spread of West Nile virus.
“How biodiversity affects the risk of infectious diseases, including those of humans and wildlife, has become an increasingly important question,” said Pieter Johnson, an assistant professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and lead author of the study. “But as it turns out, solidly testing these linkages with realistic experiments has proven very challenging in most systems.”
Researchers have struggled to design comprehensive studies that could illuminate the possible connection between disease transmission and the number of species living in complex ecosystems. Part of the problem is simply the enormous number of organisms that may need to be sampled and the vast areas over which those organisms may roam.
The new CU-Boulder study overcomes that problem by studying smaller, easier-to-sample ecosystems. Johnson and his team visited hundreds of ponds in California, recording the types of amphibians living there as well as the number of snails infected by the pathogen Ribeiroia ondatrae. Snails are an intermediate host used by the parasite during part of its life cycle.
“One of the great challenges in studying the diversity-disease link has been collecting data from enough replicate systems to differentiate the influence of diversity from background ‘noise,’ ” Johnson said. “By collecting data from hundreds of ponds and thousands of amphibian hosts, our group was able to provide a rigorous test of this hypothesis, which has relevance to a wide range of disease systems.”
Johnson’s team buttressed its field observations both with laboratory tests designed to measure how prone to infection each amphibian species is and by creating pond replicas outside using large plastic tubs stocked with tadpoles that were exposed to a known number of parasites. All of the experiments told the same story, Johnson said. Greater biodiversity reduced the number of successful amphibian infections and the number of deformed frogs.
In all, the CU-Boulder researchers spent three years sampling 345 wetlands and recording malformations — which include missing, misshapen or extra sets of hind legs — caused by parasitic infections in 24,215 amphibians. They also cataloged 17,516 snails. The results showed that ponds with half a dozen amphibian species had a 78 percent reduction in parasite transmission compared to ponds with just one amphibian species. The research team also set up experiments in the lab and outdoors using 40 artificial ponds, each stocked with 60 amphibians and 5,000 parasites.
The reason for the decline in parasitic infections as biodiversity increases is likely related to the fact that ponds add amphibian species in a predictable pattern, with the first species to appear being the most prone to infection and the later species to appear being the least prone. For example, the research team found that in a pond with just one type of amphibian, that amphibian was almost always the Pacific chorus frog, a creature that is able to rapidly reproduce and quickly colonize wetland habitats, but which is also especially vulnerable to infection and parasite-induced deformities.
On the other hand, the California tiger salamander was typically one of the last species to be added to a pond community and also one of the most resistant to parasitic infection. Therefore, in a pond with greater biodiversity, parasites have a higher chance of encountering an amphibian that is resistant to infection, lowering the overall success rate of transmission between infected snails and amphibians.
This same pattern — of less diverse communities being made up of species that are more susceptible to disease infection — may well play out in more complex ecosystems as well, Johnson said. That’s because species that disperse quickly across ecosystems appear to trade off the ability to quickly reproduce with the ability to develop disease resistance.
“This research reaches the surprising conclusion that the entire set of species in a community affects the susceptibility to disease,” said Doug Levey, program director in the National Science Foundation’s Division of Environmental Biology, which helped fund the research. “Biodiversity matters.”
The sheer magnitude of the recent study also reinforces the connection between deformed frogs and parasitic infection, Johnson said. Beginning in the mid-1990s reports of frogs with extra, missing or misshapen legs skyrocketed, attracting widespread attention in the media and motivating scientists to try to figure out the cause. Johnson was among the researchers who found evidence of a link between infection with Ribeiroia and frog deformities, though the apparent rise in reports of deformations, and its underlying cause, remains controversial.
While the new study has implications beyond parasitic infections in amphibians, it does not mean that an increase in biodiversity always results in a decrease in disease, Johnson cautioned. Other factors also affect rates of disease transmission. For example, a large number of mosquitoes hatching in a particular year will increase the risk of contracting West Nile virus, even if there has been an increase in the biodiversity of the bird population. Birds act as “reservoir hosts” for West Nile virus, harboring the pathogen indefinitely with no ill effects and passing the pathogen onto mosquitoes.
“Our results indicate that higher diversity reduces the success of pathogens in moving between hosts,” Johnson said. “Nonetheless, if infection pressure is high, for instance in a year with high abundance of vectors, there will still be a significant risk of disease; biodiversity will simply function to dampen transmission success.”
CU-Boulder graduate students Dan Preston and Katie Richgels co-authored the study along with Jason Hoverman, a former postdoctoral researcher in Johnson’s lab who is now an assistant professor at Purdue. The research was funded by NSF, the National Geographic Society and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.
To view photos and a video about the research, visit http://freshwatersillustrated.org/link/AmphibianDeformities.
David J. Wineland, a lecturer in the University of Colorado Boulder physics department who today won the 2012 Nobel Prize in physics, was described as both “brilliant and humble” by one of his former graduate students.
Wineland is a physicist with the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder and internationally recognized for developing the technique of using lasers to cool ions to near absolute zero. His experiments have been used to test theories in quantum physics and may lead to the development of quantum computers. He shared the prize with Serge Haroche of France.
Wineland joined the CU-Boulder physics faculty as a lecturer in 2000 and currently works with four CU-Boulder graduate students pursuing doctorates, said physics department chair Paul Beale.
“It would be difficult to find a more brilliant and humble scientist,” said John Jost, who worked in Wineland’s group for about 10 years as a CU-Boulder doctoral student and postdoctoral researcher. “I feel lucky to have worked in his lab for my Ph.D. regardless of whether or not he won the Nobel Prize. He was always available when we had questions and problems in the lab and usually had some great idea about what to try next. At the same time, he gave us the freedom to figure things out on our own.”
In August, Jost began a Marie Curie fellowship as a postdoctoral researcher in the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Wineland’s first demonstration of laser cooling in 1978 led many other scientists to pursue the laser cooling and trapping of atoms. His research helped make possible the creation of the world’s first Bose-Einstein condensate, for which Carl Wieman of CU and JILA and Eric Cornell of NIST and JILA and CU were awarded the Nobel Prize in physics in 2001. JILA is a joint institute of CU-Boulder and NIST.
Five CU-Boulder faculty members have now won individual Nobel Prizes. The other two winners are Tom Cech in chemistry and John “Jan” Hall in physics.
Engineering faculty and students at the University of Colorado Boulder have produced the first experimental results showing that atomically thin graphene membranes with tiny pores can effectively and efficiently separate gas molecules through size-selective sieving.
The findings are a significant step toward the realization of more energy-efficient membranes for natural gas production and for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from power plant exhaust pipes.
Mechanical engineering professors Scott Bunch and John Pellegrino co-authored a paper in Nature Nanotechnology with graduate students Steven Koenig and Luda Wang detailing the experiments. The paper was published Oct. 7 in the journal’s online edition.
The research team introduced nanoscale pores into graphene sheets through ultraviolet light-induced oxidative “etching,” and then measured the permeability of various gases across the porous graphene membranes. Experiments were done with a range of gases including hydrogen, carbon dioxide, argon, nitrogen, methane and sulphur hexaflouride — which range in size from 0.29 to 0.49 nanometers — to demonstrate the potential for separation based on molecular size. One nanometer is one billionth of a meter.
“These atomically thin, porous graphene membranes represent a new class of ideal molecular sieves, where gas transport occurs through pores which have a thickness and diameter on the atomic scale,” said Bunch.
Graphene, a single layer of graphite, represents the first truly two-dimensional atomic crystal. It consists of a single layer of carbon atoms chemically bonded in a hexagonal “chicken wire” lattice — a unique atomic structure that gives it remarkable electrical, mechanical and thermal properties.
“The mechanical properties of this wonder material fascinate our group the most,” Bunch said. “It is the thinnest and strongest material in the world, as well as being impermeable to all standard gases.”
Those characteristics make graphene an ideal material for creating a separation membrane because it is durable and yet doesn’t require a lot of energy to push molecules through it, he said.
Other technical challenges will need to be overcome before the technology can be fully realized. For example, creating large enough sheets of graphene to perform separations on an industrial scale, and developing a process for producing precisely defined nanopores of the required sizes are areas that need further development. The CU-Boulder experiments were done on a relatively small scale.
The importance of graphene in the scientific world was illustrated by the 2010 Nobel Prize in physics that honored two scientists at Manchester University in England, Andre K. Geim and Konstantin Novoselov, for producing, isolating, identifying and characterizing graphene. Scientists see a myriad of potential for graphene as research progresses, from making new and better display screens and electric circuits to producing tiny biomedical devices.
The research was sponsored by the National Science Foundation; the Membrane Science, Engineering and Technology Center at CU-Boulder; and the DARPA Center on Nanoscale Science and Technology for Integrated Micro/Nano Electromechanical Transducers at CU-Boulder.
Space experiments dreamed up by three teenage winners of an international contest that will be streamed live on YouTube from the International Space Station Sept. 13 were made flight-ready by a University of Colorado Boulder space center.
The two winning experiments — one of which tests the ability of spiders to learn how to catch prey in the low-gravity of space, and the other which investigates how nutrients and compounds affect virulent bacteria growth in space — were announced in March. The contest is sponsored by YouTube, Lenova and Space Adventures with the involvement of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Japanese Space Agency.
“We took the ideas of the two winning experiments and transformed them into actual experiments that could be conducted in space,” said Stefanie Countryman, the business manager and outreach coordinator for BioServe Space Technologies, a NASA-sponsored center located in CU-Boulder’s aerospace engineering sciences department. The CU team also manifested the payload on an unmanned Japanese HTV rocket, conducted safety verifications and trained the astronaut flight crew on using BioServe hardware aboard the International Space Station, or ISS, for the project.
The global initiative sponsoring the contest is a new program known as YouTube Space Lab. YouTube Space Lab is one component of YouTube for Schools, a program that allows educators to access YouTube’s broad library of educational content from inside their school network. The contest generated more than 2,000 entries.
The student winners are Amr Mohamed, 18, of Alexandria, Egypt, who developed the idea for the spider experiment, and Dorothy Chen and Sara Ma, both 16, of Troy, Mich., who created the idea for the bacteria study. BioServe completed all of the mission integration and operations work for the two experiments and hand-delivered the loaded space flight hardware to the Tanegashima National Space Flight Center in Japan for launch to ISS on July 21.
The live, 45-minute YouTube Space Lab program stream from ISS, slated for 8:30 a.m. MDT on Sept. 13 will be hosted by Bill Nye “The Science Guy” and will include Mohamed, Chen and Ma. The winning experiments — selected by a panel that included British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, two NASA administrators, European Space Agency and Japanese Space Agency astronauts and Cirque de Soleil founder Guy Laliberte — will be performed by NASA astronaut Sunita Williams.
Countryman, who also will be part of the YouTube Space Lab live stream as she describes the role of BioServe in the project to Nye, said she was surprised by the sophistication of some of the experiments entered in the contest. “Seeing the level of intellect, not only from the top two winners but from six regional winners, makes us feel confident in the next generation of scientists and engineers,” she said.
Countryman said BioServe worked closely with Paula Cushing at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and MaryAnn Hamilton of the Butterfly Pavilion in Westminster, Colo., to obtain the jumping spiders and analyze their behavior. BioServe designed, developed and built the flight habitat for the spiders. Once aboard ISS, the habitat will be placed inside a BioServe-built device known as a Commercial Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus, or CGBA.
In addition, BioServe worked with AgraQuest in Davis, Calif., a company that manufactures and sells the bacteria strain B. subtilis, which will be used in the experiment by Chen and Ma. BioServe researchers worked with the students to design the experiment, which included 48 fluid processing devices carried in six Group Activation Packs built by BioServe and which have flown on dozens of space missions.
BioServe also developed an HD camera system to record high-resolution still images and HD video of the spider habitat, which included both the arachnids and their food, fruit flies, Countryman said. One of BioServe’s CGBA devices on board ISS is providing power for the lighting system of the spider habitat and thermal control for both experiments, said Countryman.
As part of the contest, 14- to 18-year-olds, either alone or in groups of up to three, submitted videos describing their experiments to YouTube. All experiments submitted to the contest had to involve either biology or physics. People tuned into the YouTube Space Lab event can vote for their favorite experiments, Countryman said.
“For decades, one of our major thrusts at CU-Boulder’s BioServe Space Technologies has been to provide educational opportunities for hundreds of thousands of K-12 students around the world,” said Countryman. “This has been another opportunity for us to work with students on space payloads, a unique project that we hope will help steer many students from around the world into careers in the sciences.”
BioServe is a nonprofit, NASA-funded center founded in 1987 at CU-Boulder to develop new or improved products through space life science research in partnership with industry, academia and government, said BioServe Director Louis Stodieck. Since 1991 BioServe has flown payloads on 40 NASA space shuttle microgravity missions and additional payloads on several Russian and Japanese space vehicles.
YouTube, a video-sharing website, is a subsidiary of Google. Lenovo, a global company headquartered in Morrisville, N.C., is the world’s third-largest PC maker. Space Adventures, headquartered in Vienna, Va., provides flights for private citizens into space, including trips to the ISS.
“Hotshots” looks at a movie!
The Skin I Live In is the latest movie from Spanish writer and director Pedro Almodovar, and of all the movies that he has made, this is one of them.
The story begins in 2012 in Toledo, Spain, and there will be some flashbacks and dream sequences designed to enlighten and confuse the audience, respectively, whereas the purpose of the whole movie is just to lead up to a whopping shocker at the end.
Antonio Banderas plays Dr. Robert Ledgard, a renowned plastic surgeon who is experimenting with developing artificial skin that is sensitive to gentle touches and yet at the same time is indestructible.
The reason that Robert is obsessed with creating this artificial skin is that years earlier his wife was in an automobile accident in which her skin was horribly burned, and she died as a result of that accident.
So, Robert has a patient locked up in his house, a beautiful young woman named Vera whose whole body is being covered with the artificial skin.
One day Vera cuts herself across her breasts, and Robert saves her and repairs the damage, but Vera says, “If you want me to stop breathing, kill me.”
Robert points out to her that if she had really wanted to kill herself, she would have cut her jugular vein.
Robert uses pig cells to strengthen the artificial skin, which is illegal, and he is ordered to stop his experiments or else he will be reported to the scientific and medical communities.
Of course, he doesn’t, because otherwise there wouldn’t be any movie.
Robert keeps Vera locked up in her room, but he can observe her with all the surveillance cameras he has installed, and we learn more about Vera, Robert’s housekeeper, visitors to Robert’s house, and even about Robert himself.
When Robert is finished, Vera can boast of having the best skin in the world, but apparently Vera has now become attracted to Robert, and she tells him that she wants to live together with him as equals, like everyone else.
However, Robert’s housekeeper warns Robert that he has to kill Vera or Vera will kill herself. She also says that Robert shouldn’t have constructed Vera’s face to resemble the face of his dead wife.
The Skin I Live In is unnecessarily shocking and becomes even more unnecessarily shocking.
I’m Dan Culberson and this is “Hotshots.”
CU-BOULDER PYTHON STUDY MAY HAVE
IMPLICATIONS FOR HUMAN HEART HEALTH
A surprising new University of Colorado Boulder study shows that huge amounts of fatty acids circulating in the bloodstreams of feeding pythons promote healthy heart growth, results that may have implications for treating human heart disease.
CU-Boulder Professor Leslie Leinwand and her research team found the amount of triglycerides — the main constituent of natural fats and oils — in the blood of Burmese pythons one day after eating increased by more than fiftyfold. Despite the massive amount of fatty acids in the python bloodstream there was no evidence of fat deposition in the heart, and the researchers also saw an increase in the activity of a key enzyme known to protect the heart from damage.
After identifying the chemical make-up of blood plasma in fed pythons, the CU-Boulder researchers injected fasting pythons with either “fed python” blood plasma or a reconstituted fatty acid mixture they developed to mimic such plasma. In both cases, the pythons showed increased heart growth and indicators of cardiac health. The team took the experiments a step further by injecting mice with either fed python plasma or the fatty acid mixture, with the same results.
“We found that a combination of fatty acids can induce beneficial heart growth in living organisms,” said CU-Boulder postdoctoral researcher Cecilia Riquelme, first author on the Science paper. “Now we are trying to understand the molecular mechanisms behind the process in hopes that the results might lead to new therapies to improve heart disease conditions in humans.”
The paper is being published in the Oct. 28 issue of the journal Science. In addition to Leinwand and Riquelme, the authors include CU postdoctoral researcher Brooke Harrison, CU graduate student Jason Magida, CU undergraduate Christopher Wall, Hiberna Corp. researcher Thomas Marr and University of Alabama Tuscaloosa Professor Stephen Secor.
Previous studies have shown that the hearts of Burmese pythons can grow in mass by 40 percent within 24 to 72 hours after a large meal, and that metabolism immediately after swallowing prey can shoot up by fortyfold. As big around as telephone poles, adult Burmese pythons can swallow prey as large as deer, have been known to reach a length of 27 feet and are able to fast for up to a year with few ill effects.
There are good and bad types of heart growth, said Leinwand, who is an expert in genetic heart diseases including hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, the leading cause of sudden death in young athletes. While cardiac diseases can cause human heart muscle to thicken and decrease the size of heart chambers and heart function because the organ is working harder to pump blood, heart enlargement from exercise is beneficial.
“Well-conditioned athletes like Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps and cyclist Lance Armstrong have huge hearts,” said Leinwand, a professor in the molecular, cellular and developmental biology department and chief scientific officer of CU’s Biofrontiers Institute. “But there are many people who are unable to exercise because of existing heart disease, so it would be nice to develop some kind of a treatment to promote the beneficial growth of heart cells.”
Riquelme said once the CU team confirmed that something in the blood plasma of pythons was inducing positive cardiac growth, they began looking for the right “signal” by analyzing proteins, lipids, nucleic acids and peptides present in the fed plasma. The team used a technique known as gas chromatography to analyze both fasted and fed python plasma blood, eventually identifying a highly complex composition of circulating fatty acids with distinct patterns of abundance over the course of the digestive process.
In the mouse experiments led by Harrison, the animals were hooked up to “mini-pumps” that delivered low doses of the fatty acid mixture over a period of a week. Not only did the mouse hearts show significant growth in the major part of the heart that pumps blood, the heart muscle cell size increased, there was no increase in heart fibrosis — which makes the heart muscle more stiff and can be a sign of disease — and there were no alterations in the liver or in the skeletal muscles, he said.
“It was remarkable that the fatty acids identified in the plasma-fed pythons could actually stimulate healthy heart growth in mice,” said Harrison. The team also tested the fed python plasma and the fatty acid mixture on cultured rat heart cells, with the same positive results, Harrison said.
The CU-led team also identified the activation of signaling pathways in the cells of fed python plasma, which serve as traffic lights of sorts, said Leinwand. “We are trying to understand how to make those signals tell individual heart cells whether they are going down a road that has pathological consequences, like disease, or beneficial consequences, like exercise,” she said.
The prey of Burmese pythons can be up to 100 percent of the constricting snake’s body mass, said Leinwand, who holds a Marsico Endowed Chair of Excellence at CU-Boulder. “When a python eats, something extraordinary happens. Its metabolism increases by more than fortyfold and the size of its organs increase significantly in mass by building new tissue, which is broken back down during the digestion process.”
The three key fatty acids in the fed python plasma turned out to be myristic acid, palmitic acid and palmitoleic acid. The enzyme that showed increased activity in the python hearts during feeding episodes, known as superoxide dismutase, is a well-known “cardio-protective” enzyme in many organisms, including humans, said Leinwand.
The new Science study grew out of a project Leinwand began in 2006 when she was named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor and awarded a four-year, $1 million undergraduate education grant from the Chevy Chase, Md.-based institute. As part of the award Leinwand initiated the Python Project, an undergraduate laboratory research program designed to focus on the heart biology of constricting snakes like pythons thought to have relevance to human disease.
Undergraduates contributed substantially to the underpinnings of the new python study both by their genetic studies and by caring for the lab pythons, said Leinwand. While scientists know a great deal about the genomes of standard lab animal models like fruit flies, worms and mice, relatively little was known about pythons. “We have had to do a lot of difficult groundwork using molecular genetics tools in order to undertake this research,” said Leinwand.
CU-Boulder already had a laboratory snake facility in place, which contributed to the success of the project, she said.
“The fact that the python study involved faculty, postdoctoral researchers, a graduate student and an undergraduate, Christopher Wall, shows the project was a team effort,” said Leinwand. “Chris is a good example of how the University of Colorado provides an incredible educational research environment for undergraduates.” Wall is now a graduate student at the University of California, San Diego.
Hiberna Corp., a Boulder-based company developing drugs based on natural models of extreme metabolic regulation, signed an exclusive agreement with CU’s Technology Transfer Office in 2008, licensing technology developed by Leinwand based on the natural ability of pythons to dramatically increase their heart size and metabolism.
Directed by Nobel laureate and CU Distinguished Professor Tom Cech, the Biofrontiers Institute was formed to advance human health and welfare by exploring critical areas of biology and translating new knowledge into practical applications. The institute is educating a new generation of interdisciplinary scientists to work together on solutions to complex biomedical challenges and to expand Colorado’s leadership in biotechnology. For more information on the Biofrontiers Institute visit http://cimb.colorado.edu/.
This will enhance our longtime research partnerships with several federal labs, create exceptional educational opportunities for both graduate and undergraduate students and produce more than 70 high-paying jobs in our community with an annual payroll of $20 million. It will further position CU-Boulder as a center of innovation in solar research and is another example of how our entrepreneurial spirit will benefit Colorado’s economy.Our ability to win the National Solar Observatory came about because of a terrific joint effort led by Professor Dan Baker, director of our Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, coordinating the university, the city of Boulder, the business community and Colorado’s political leadership. Senators Michael Bennet and Mark Udall, Congressmen Jared Polis and Ed Perlmutter, our federal lab partners and Governor John Hickenlooper were all closely involved. Collaboration with these important partners put us in position to win the NSO.Boulder Daily Camera, Sept. 30: “CU-Boulder tops Alabama to land National Solar Observatory headquarters”In another instance of how we help build Colorado’s economy, Long Island-based Arrow Electronics announced its relocation to Colorado this week. Arrow CEO Michael Long said that a highly educated workforce—including access to CU-Boulder’s engineering programs—rivals Colorado tax incentives as an inducement to relocate. Arrow plans to create 1,200 additional Colorado jobs in five years and we look forward to partnering with this dynamic company.CBS4 News: Oct. 12: “Arrow Electronics’ Move Is A Bet On Colorado: What’s Behind The Move Of Arrow Electronics?”State of the CampusThe relocation of Arrow Electronics is a good example of how we can help lead the state to prosperity, a subject I focused on in my annual State of the Campus address last week. In the speech I detailed how the state’s flagship university, despite having very little financial support from the state, can and must help Colorado move forward in these challenging economic times. We prepare students for highly skilled jobs in the 21st century global workplace, contribute billions annually to Colorado’s economy, and our research innovations create and attract companies. Technology transfer is just one of many ways we move the state ahead economically. Here’s an example of how our research innovations improve lives, while creating companies, through technology transfer.CU News Services, Sept. 19: “Suvica Inc. of Boulder to commercialize CU-Boulder cancer screening technology”Center of EntrepreneurshipCU-Boulder continues to be a center of entrepreneurship inspired by both our faculty and students. We were pleased our students’ entrepreneurial activities were detailed in this Boulder Daily Camera story.We have many resources to support and help our entrepreneurial students. One of those is a cross-campus Certificate in Entrepreneurshipdeveloped for students of all majors—from engineering to theater—offered through the Deming Center for Entrepreneurship in the Leeds School of Business. The Deming Center also gives students a host of entrepreneurial opportunities in a number of transformational industry sectors such as bioscience, clean energy and organic business. We have entrepreneurial programs and certificates in specific schools, colleges and Residential Academic Programs (RAPS) such as engineering, music and our sustainable design RAP.It’s also notable that the Department of Energy last week awarded the CU Cleantech Program at the Deming Center a grant to host a regional competition for students working on renewable energy start-up companies. Students from 10 states will submit clean-technology business plans to compete for $100,000. The university and the Deming Center are leaders in commercializing renewable energy.Boulder County Business Report, Oct. 11: “CU to host clean-tech competition”Here are just a handful of entrepreneurial projects our students are working on:Boulder County Business Report, Sept. 28: “New app inspired by Fourmile Fire”Boulder Daily Camera, Sept. 16: “Sounds of fun: CU-Boulder students engineer toys for the blind” Boulder Daily Camera, Sept. 24: “CU-Boulder students to get involved with solar-powered Wi-Fi project in Haiti” CU-Boulder will prepare space experiments designed by students 14 to 18 in an international contest sponsored in part by YouTube.
Macky Auditorium symbolizes CU’s contribution to community and culture. (Video by Boulder Daily Camera.)Macky Auditorium celebratedAn iPad loaded with contemporary digital content was part of a time capsule buried at Macky Auditorium last week to replace one opened a year ago on Macky’s 100th birthday. Macky has been a community cultural hub on campus for a century. Today, more than 385,000 citizens a year enhance their quality of life by visiting CU-Boulder’s museums, performing and visual arts, debates and other cultural events. CU-Boulder was awarded the National Solar Observatory on Sept. 30. (Photo courtesy of NASA.) Chancellor Philip DiStefano delivers the 2011 State of the Campus address in the Glenn Miller Ballroom. Daniel Schaefer, a CU-Boulder doctoral candidate in communication, holds up his Android smart phone with a special keyboard app that he created for easier Twitter posting during disasters.The Golden Buffalo Marching Band practices on Farrand Field. The band will be featured in Homecoming festivities Friday and Saturday.
Graphene, considered the most exciting new material under study in the world of nanotechnology, just got even more interesting, according to a new study by a group of researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder.
The new findings — that graphene has surprisingly powerful adhesion qualities — are expected to help guide the development of graphene manufacturing and of graphene-based mechanical devices such as resonators and gas separation membranes, according to the CU-Boulder team. The experimentsshowed that the extreme flexibility of graphene allows it to conform to the topography of even the smoothest substrates.
Graphene consists of a single layer of carbon atoms chemically bonded in a hexagonal chicken wire lattice. Its unique atomic structure could some day replace silicon as the basis of electronic devices and integrated circuits because of its remarkable electrical, mechanical and thermal properties, said Assistant Professor Scott Bunch of the CU-Boulder mechanical engineering department and lead study author.
A paper on the subject was published online in the Aug. 14 issue of Nature Nanotechnology. Co-authors on the study included CU-Boulder graduate students Steven Koenig and NarasimhaBoddeti and Professor Martin Dunn of the mechanical engineering department.
“The real excitement for me is the possibility of creating new applications that exploit the remarkable flexibility and adhesive characteristics of graphene and devising unique experiments that can teach us more about the nanoscale properties of this amazing material,” Bunch said.
Not only does graphene have the highest electrical and thermal conductivity among all materials known, but this “wonder material” has been shown to be the thinnest, stiffest and strongest material in the world, as well as being impermeable to all standard gases. It’s newly discovered adhesion properties can now be added to the list of the material’s seemingly contradictory qualities, said Bunch.
The CU-Boulder team measured the adhesion energy of graphene sheets, ranging from one to five atomic layers, with a glass substrate, using a pressurized “blister test” to quantify the adhesion between graphene and glass plates.
Adhesion energy describes how “sticky” two things are when placed together. Scotch tape is one example of a material with high adhesion; the gecko lizard, which seemingly defies gravity by scaling up vertical walls using adhesion between its feet and the wall, is another. Adhesion also canplay a detrimental role, as in suspended micromechanical structures where adhesion can cause device failure or prolong the development of a technology, said Bunch.
The CU research, the first direct experimental measurements of the adhesion of graphene nanostructures, showed that so-called “van der Waals forces” — the sum of the attractive or repulsive forces between molecules — clamp the graphene samples to the substrates and also hold together the individual graphene sheets in multilayer samples.
The researchers found the adhesion energies between graphene and the glass substrate were several orders of magnitude larger than adhesion energies in typical micromechanical structures, an interaction they described as more liquid-like than solid-like, said Bunch.
The CU-Boulder study was funded primarily by the National Science Foundation and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
The importance of graphene in the scientific world was illustrated by the 2010 Nobel Prize in physics that honored two scientists at Manchester University in England, Andre K. Geim and Konstantin Novoselov, for producing, isolating, identifying and characterizing graphene.
There is interest in exploiting graphene’s incredible mechanical properties to create ultrathin membranes for energy-efficient separations such as those needed for natural gas processing or water purification, while graphene’s superior electrical properties promise to revolutionize the microelectronics industry, said Bunch.
In all of these applications, including any large-scale graphene manufacturing, the interaction that graphene has with a surface is of critical importance and a scientific understanding will help push the technology forward, he said.
Aug. 11, 2011
University of Colorado Boulder engineering faculty are leading a $7.2 million multidisciplinary research initiative on soil blast modeling and simulation for the U.S. Department of Defense.
The research, which starts this month, is aimed at creating a more accurate representation of the impact of buried landmines and improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, on light-armored military vehicles so that the vehicles can be better designed to withstand such blasts.
The award is administered by the Office of Naval Research as part of the defense department’s competitive Multi-University Research Initiative or MURI program, which supports basic science and engineering research at U.S.universities related to long-term national security needs.
MURI awards are provided to accelerate progress in cutting-edge research areas by supporting multidisciplinary teams with larger and longer awards than other DOD research programs.
The grant will provide $4.2 million to CU-Boulder and $3 million to co-investigators at four other institutions. The other schools involved are the University of California, Berkeley; University of Texas at Dallas; University of Tennessee Knoxville; and the University of Utah.
Richard Regueiro, assistant professor in CU-Boulder’s Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering, is the principal investigator. CU-Boulder professors Ronald Pak, John McCartney and Stein Sture of civil engineering, and Oleg Vasilyev of mechanical engineering, also areinvolved.
The research initiative will involve experiments using CU-Boulder’s large 400-g ton geotechnical centrifuge coupled with computational modeling. The objective is to develop and validate a model that accurately represents explosive blasts of varying charges, depths and soil types.
CU-Boulder’s proposal was one of 27 MURI awards made to academic institutions in different topical areas in 2011. The proposals, which are being funded with a total of $191 million over five years, were selected from a field of 332 proposals, including 17 on the topic of soil blast modeling and simulation.
Several University of Colorado Boulder faculty and students are participating in NASA’s Juno Mission to Jupiter, now slated for launch Aug. 5 from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center and which is expected to help steer scientists toward the right recipe for planet-making.
The primary goal of the mission is to understand the origin and evolution of the massive gas planet, said CU-Boulder Professor Fran Bagenal of the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, a mission co-investigator. The data should reveal not only the conditions of the early solar system, but also help scientists to better understand the hundreds of planetary systems recently discovered around other stars, she said.
After the sun formed, Jupiter got the majority of the “leftovers,” said Juno Mission principal investigator Scott Bolton from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. Since Jupiter has a larger mass than all of the other planets in the solar system combined, scientists believe it holds the keys to understanding how the planets formed and why some are rocky and others are gas giants, Bagenal said.
Once Juno reaches Jupiter orbit in 2016 after a 400-million-mile trip, the spacecraft will orbit the planet’s poles 33 times, skimming roughly 3,000 miles above the cloud tops in a region below Jupiter’s powerful radiation belts. While the spacecraft itself is about the size of a Volkswagen and encased in a protective radiation vault, its three solar panels that will unfurl in space will make the spinning spacecraft more than 65 feet in diameter.
Bagenal said scientists were continually surprised by the data beamed back from NASA’s Galileo mission to Jupiter, which arrived at the planet in 1995 and carried 16 instruments, including two developed by CU-Boulder’s LASP. Among other discoveries, Galileo scientists identified the global structure and dynamics of the planet’s magnetic activity, confirmed the presence of ammonia clouds in its atmosphere and discovered that one of its moons, Europa, has a global ocean beneath a thick crust of ice.
“One of the biggest questions left after the Galileo mission was how much water there is in Jupiter’s atmosphere,” said Bagenal. “The amount of water is key, because water played a huge role in the formation of the solar system.” Bagenal also is a professor in the astrophysical and planetary sciences department.
“Most of us know that water absorbs microwaves, because that is what happens when you put a cup of tea in your microwave oven,” said Bagenal. “We are going to be using a microwave detector and fly just over the clouds of Jupiter, looking down at different cloud depths to measure the amounts of water below. It’s a bit like doing a CT scan of Jupiter’s dense clouds.”
Bagenal’s role in the mission is to coordinate observations of Jupiter’s magnetosphere –the area of space around the planet that is controlled by its magnetic field. She and her collaborators are especially interested in understanding the processes that control auroral activity at the planet’s poles — its northern and southern lights — and assess the roles of the planet’s strong magnetic field on its surroundings.
In addition to collaborating closely with the Juno science team, Bagenal is working with CU-Boulder Professor Robert Ergun of LASP, who has extensively studied Earth’s magnetosphere and associated polar auroras. Ergun will use his expertise in auroral physics as part of the mission to compare the physical processes at Jupiter with those seen on Earth.
“This will be the first time anyone has flown over the poles of Jupiter to look directly down on the aurora,” said Bagenal. “We will be flying the spacecraft through regions where charged particles are accelerated to the point of bombarding the atmosphere of Jupiter hard enough to make it glow at the poles.”
Bagenal also is working with LASP Research Associate Peter Delomere on the Jovian magnetosphere studies and with physics department graduate student Mariel Desroche, who is modeling the outer region of Jupiter’s magnetosphere as part of the Juno effort.
CU-Boulder senior Dinesh Costlow of the astrophysical and planetary sciences department also is collaborating with Bagenal and the Juno science team by using computer models to simulate the trajectory of the spacecraft through all 33 individual orbits as it passes through Jupiter’s magnetosphere. “We are interested in finding the optimal places in orbit to point the spacecraft for our data collection,” he said.
Costlow, who is from Auburn, Maine, said he knew CU-Boulder had a good astronomy program before he ever set foot on campus. “Everything fell into place, and I feel very lucky to have an opportunity to work on this mission,” Costlow said. “I think graduate school may be my next step, and after that maybe I can make a career out of this kind of planetary research.”
By mapping Jupiter’s gravitational and magnetic fields, mission scientists should be able to see the planet’s interior structure and determine if it has a rocky iron core — a core that some scientists believe could be 15 or 20 times the size of Earth. But because of the immense pressure in the Jovian atmosphere, any spacecraft seeking the core would be crushed long before it neared the middle of the planet, much as the Galileo spacecraft was crushed after it was crashed into the planet’s clouds after the mission concluded in 2003.
“My biggest hope is that all of our predictions about Jupiter are wrong, and that we find something completely different than what we expect,” said Bagenal. “When our preconceived notions are off, it shows us we can never become complacent. New data from the solar system’s planets keeps us excited enough to re-visit them to learn more about the history and fate of our solar system.”
The Juno spacecraft is carrying 11 experiments to probe the planet’s mass, magnetic field, charged particles, auroras, plasma, radio waves, thermal and ultraviolet emissions, and includes a camera to provide images of the colorful Jovian cloud tops. The Juno Mission is being managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company of Denver built the spacecraft, which will be launched aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.
The University of Colorado Boulder is involved with five different space science payloads ranging from antibody tests that may lead to new bone-loss treatments to an experiment to improve vaccine effectiveness for combating salmonella when Atlantis thunders skyward July 8 on the last of NASA’s 135 space shuttle missions.
One experiment, sponsored by the global pharmaceutical companies Amgen and UCB, will test an antibody to sclerostin — a protein that has a negative effect on bone formation, mass and strength — on lab mice flying on the shuttle. Researchers on the project hope the sclerostin antibody treatment will inhibit the action of sclerostin.
The research team hopes the findings may lead to potential therapeutic treatments for astronauts, who suffer significant bone loss during spaceflight, especially on long-term missions. They also might provide insight for future research in the prevention and treatment of skeletal fragility that may be caused by stroke, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, spinal cord injury and reduced physical activity. Amgen is headquartered in Thousand Oaks, Calif., while UCB is headquartered in Brussels, Belgium.
There are seven co-principal investigators on the sclerostin antibody experiment, including Louis Stodieck, director of CU-Boulder’s BioServe Space Technologies and a faculty member in the aerospace engineering sciences department. The research team includes a second CU-Boulder co-principal investigator, Assistant Professor Virginia Ferguson of mechanical engineering, an expert in biomaterials, including bone.
A second payload, called the Recombinant Attenuated Salmonella Vaccine, or RASV, will allow scientists to search for novel gene targets for vaccine development and improvement using the low gravity of space. The principal investigator on the experiment is Associate Professor Cheryl Nickerson of Arizona State University.
The RASV experiment will be carried aboard Atlantis in sets of specially designed fluid-processing cylinders built by BioServe known as GAPs, said Stodieck. Each GAP holds eight test-tube-like devices that allow Salmonella and growth media to be mixed in space. Astronauts will operate the experiments using hand cranks to first trigger cell growth via fluid mixing and later to terminate it.
A third payload will allow researchers to examine genetic alterations spurred by cellular changes in yeast. Since some cells have been shown to undergo significant changes in microgravity — like producing larger quantities of rare antibiotics or making large amounts of bioactive medicinal proteins — the team will analyze 6,000 different genetically altered yeast strains aboard the payload to identify specific genes that are linked to such space-based changes. This knowledge could someday help efforts to produce new and better medicines, said Stodieck.
Led by Timothy Hammond of the Veteran’s Administration in Washington, D.C., the payload will be flown inside two types of BioServe flight hardware known as an opticell processing module and a plate habitat that rides inside a BioServe Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus, or CGBA. The CGBA is an automated, suitcase-sized device developed by CU-Boulder that has been launched on more than 20 NASA space shuttle missions and which provides steady temperature control. There currently are two BioServe CGBA devices on the International Space Station, one of which will be used for processing the yeast experiment at an elevated temperature.
A fourth payload involving biofilms may help scientists understand how and why slimy and troublesome clumps of microorganisms flourish in the low-gravity conditions of space. The experiments on biofilms — clusters of microorganisms that adhere to each other or to various surfaces — are of high interest to space scientists because of their potential impacts on astronaut and spacecraft health, said Stodieck.
Led by Professor Cynthia Collins of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., the biofilm experiment riding inside a second BioServe CGBA will target the growth, physiology and cell-to-cell interactions in microbial biofilms. The team will examine how the formation of the three-dimensional structure of biofilms formed by microbes differs in spaceflight versus normal gravity.
A fifth payload will be used to assess the effects of microgravity on the formation, establishment and multiplication of cells in a tropical plant known as Jatropha that produces energy-rich nuts, a popular new renewable crop for biofuels. The team will be looking for genes that help or hinder Jatropha growth to see if new strains can be developed and commercially grown in “warm-temperate” areas like the southern United States. The lead scientist on the experiment is Associate Professor Wagner Vendrame of the University of Florida.
BioServe is a nonprofit, NASA-supported center founded in 1987 at CU-Boulder to develop new or improved products through space life science research in partnership with industry, academia and government. Since 1991 BioServe has flown payloads on 37 NASA space shuttle microgravity missions.
Although NASA’s space shuttle program will be shuttered following the Atlantis mission, hardware and experiments developed by BioServe are manifested on various international resupply vehicles traveling to the International Space Station, as well as on U.S. spacecraft now under development, said Stodieck.
“We would be unable to carry out all of our research without the help of CU-Boulder students,” he said. “Both undergraduate and graduate students play an important role in designing, building and testing spaceflight payloads, activities that can give them a significant advantage when they move on to careers in the aerospace industry.”
BioServe also has flown several K-12 educational experiments on the space station, including seed-germination studies, spider web-weaving experiments, butterfly life cycle experiments and crystal garden growth experiments — all of which have provided learning opportunities for thousands of middle school and high school students around the world. The K-12 efforts have been led by Stefanie Countryman, BioServe’s business manager and coordinator of education outreach.
When NASA’s 30-year-old space shuttle program is shuttered following the Atlantis mission in July, the University of Colorado Boulder will look back at a rich relationship filled with triumph and tragedy and look ahead to an evolving international program of government and private efforts that will send humans and cargo into orbit.
Of the 19 astronaut-affiliates from CU — 18 from CU-Boulder and one from University of Colorado Colorado Springs — 16 flew on a total of 40 NASA space shuttle missions. The two who flew the most shuttle missions were Jim Voss, (M.S. aerospace engineering, 1974) a current scholar in residence at CU-Boulder who flew five missions, as did CU alumna Marsha Ivins (B.S. aerospace engineering, 1973).
Vance Brand, a Longmont native with two CU-Boulder degrees (B.A. business 1953, B.S. aerospace, 1960), began his astronaut career with the Apollo program — he flew on the historic Apollo-Soyuz mission that brought together astronauts and cosmonauts in space in 1981 — and went on to command three space shuttle flights.
Two CU-Boulder astronaut-alumni died aboard space shuttles. In 1986, Ellison Onizuka (B.S., M.S. aerospace engineering, 1969), was killed when Challenger exploded 73 seconds after liftoff, an event witnessed by millions around the world. In 2003, Kalpana Chawla (Ph.D. aerospace engineering, 1988) perished when Columbia disintegrated over Texas during Earth re-entry.
CU-Boulder’s Air Force ROTC honors the two fallen astronauts annually on campus with a color guard and wreath-laying ceremony.
A celebrated university reunion in space occurred on Dec. 2, 1990, when Columbia blasted off with three CU astronaut-alums. Brand, the Columbia space shuttle commander, was joined by mission specialist John “Mike” Lounge (M.S. astrogeophysics, 1970) and payload specialist Sam Durrance (Ph.D., astrogeophysics 1980) as part of the seven-man crew on the ASTRO-1 mission. Toting four telescopes in the cargo bay, the shuttle mission was the first ever dedicated to astronomy.
In addition to its prominent role in the astronaut program, CU-Boulder has flown dozens of science payloads on NASA’s 135 space shuttle missions. BioServe Space Technologies, a NASA-funded center in the aerospace engineering sciences department, has launched experiments onboard space shuttles 39 times since 1991, using the low-gravity of Earth orbit as a testing ground for a variety of agricultural, biomedical and educational payloads.
BioServe has worked with industrial and academic partners on experiments ranging from bone loss mitigation and the development of new antibiotics to K-12 educational payloads involving butterflies and spiders that drew the participation of more than a million students around the world. BioServe personnel have trained dozens of astronauts to operate their experimental hardware in space, both on the shuttle and the International Space Station.
NASA space shuttles also toted two key instruments developed by teams led by CU-Boulder faculty for the Hubble Space Telescope. The launch of Hubble aboard Atlantis in 1990 included a high-resolution spectrograph designed and built by a team led by CU-Boulder retired Professor John “Jack” Brandt of the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics. The instrument broke down wavelengths of light emanating from distant celestial objects to determine their compositions, motions and temperatures to help astronomers understand the conditions of the early universe.
Fittingly, the final Hubble repair mission launched in 2009 included a $70 million instrument designed by a CU-Boulder team and constructed with the help of Boulder’s Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., which also built the high resolution spectrograph launched on Hubble in 1990. Known as the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph, the CU instrument is being used to probe the fossil record of gases in the early universe for clues to the formation and evolution of galaxies, stars and planets, according to principal investigator and CU-Boulder Professor James Green of the Center for Astrophysics and Space Astronomy.
In 1989, the space shuttle Atlantis carried NASA’s Galileo spacecraft into orbit, the first leg of a six-year journey to Jupiter and its moons. The science instruments included two CU-Boulder ultraviolet spectrographs designed and built by LASP at a cost of $3.5 million under the direction of retired Professor Charles Hord and which were used for research ranging from analyzing complex organic molecules in the Jovian system to documenting the activity of volcanoes on one of Jupiter’s moons, Io.
In 1991, Discovery launched the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite carrying seven instruments, including an $8 million instrument called the Solar Stellar Irradiance Comparison Experiment, or SOLSTICE, designed and built by LASP. The satellite went on to make accurate measurements of the sun in the ultraviolet and far UV light for a full 11-year solar cycle, allowing scientists to better understand the effects of solar radiation on Earth’s atmosphere and climate, said SOLSTICE Mission Manager Tom Sparn.
CU-Boulder’s LASP also built and flew two space shuttle payloads — one in 1998 aboard Columbia and a second in 2001 on Endeavour — that allowed scientists and students to explore the gentle collisions of particles of dust in space. The experiment provided new insights into the fundamental processes thought to have helped form planetary rings and perhaps played a role in the earliest stages of planet formation.
In addition, a small satellite designed and built by a LASP team that was to be deployed from the Challenger space shuttle in 1986 to orbit Earth and observe Halley’s comet was lost during the tragic explosion.
CU also flew experiments targeting the mechanics of granular material three times on space shuttles — in 1996, 1997 and 2003. Led by civil, environmental and architectural engineering Professor Stein Sture, now CU-Boulder’s vice chancellor for research, and managed by LASP, the tests allowed scientists to observe the behavior and cohesiveness of granular materials in microgravity and have led to a better understanding of how Earth’s surface responds during earthquakes and landslides. The 2003 mission successfully returned data from the in-flight experiments, but the seven astronauts and experimental hardware were lost when Columbia disintegrated during re-entry.
CU-Boulder’s involvement with the space shuttle program also included three payloads designed, built and flown by students, primarily undergraduates, from the Colorado Space Grant Consortium headquartered in aerospace engineering sciences. The first payload, dubbed ESCAPE, and which flew on Discovery in 1993, measured the sun’s effects on Earth’s atmosphere using a spectrometer to record extreme UV solar radiation and a camera to photograph the sun. The effort included the participation of nearly 100 students, primarily undergraduates, over a two-year span.
ESCAPE-2, flown on Atlantis in 1994, was a follow-on version of the Escape 1 payload that probed how solar radiation affected Earth’s thermosphere, a portion of Earth’s upper atmosphere. The payload involved about 75 students, mostly undergraduates, said Colorado Space Grant Consortium Director Chris Koehler.
A third CU-Boulder student-built space shuttle payload known as DATA-CHASER, was a two-part experiment launched aboard Discovery in 1997. The payload included hardware to test advanced remote technologies, as well as instruments to measure the sun in far UV wavelengths. DATA-CHASER was designed and built and tested by dozens of CU-Boulder students, primarily undergraduates, over a three-year span.
So what’s on deck at CU-Boulder following the end of NASA’s space shuttle program, in terms of both manned and unmanned flight vehicles? Hardware and experiments developed by BioServe already are manifested on various international resupply vehicles traveling to the International Space Station as well as on U.S. spacecraft now under development, said BioServe Director Louis Stodieck.
In August 2010 CU-Boulder was one of nine institutions selected by the Federal Aviation Administration to participate in a newly formed Center of Excellence for Commercial Space Transportation. The center focuses on four major research areas: space launch operations and traffic management; launch vehicle systems; commercial human space flight; and space commerce, including law, insurance, policy and regulation. All are aimed at ensuring safe and efficient private human space flight for non-NASA missions, said aerospace engineering Professor Dave Klaus, who directs the new CU-Boulder center.
CU-Boulder also is involved in a research partnership with Sierra Nevada Corp. of Louisville, Colo., which is designing and building a manned spacecraft called the Dream Chaser intended to replace the space shuttle for transporting humans and cargo into low-Earth orbit. Sierra Nevada has received about $200 million in NASA contracts to design and build the vehicle, which will be launched vertically and can land on conventional runways.
As part of its collaboration, Sierra Nevada is funding a CU team led by Klaus to develop methods for evaluating safety and operational aspects of the spacecraft. Klaus’ lab has a mock-up cockpit section of the Dream Chaser being used to test the ergonomic layout for instrument displays and controls. The students on the project are being advised by CU-Boulder’s Voss — who also is a vice president at Sierra Nevada Corp. — and his colleague Joe Tanner, both of whom joined the CU-Boulder faculty after retiring as NASA astronauts.
CU-Boulder currently is housing a full-scale mock-up of the Dream Chaser based on an earlier design of the spacecraft, as well as a 15 percent scale model that was successfully flight tested by a team including Sierra Nevada engineers and CU aerospace engineering faculty and students in December 2010. The hope of Sierra Nevada and CU-Boulder is that the Dream Chaser will provide routine crew transportation to and from the International Space Station as NASA turns its focus to deep space exploration missions.
In December 1990, when the space shuttle Columbia launched, Commander Vance Brand took with him a 10,000-year-old Paleo-Indian spear point that had been discovered on Colorado’s eastern plains. One wonders what the thundering liftoff of a NASA space shuttle might have looked like through the eyes of the earliest Americans, and what the next 10,000 years holds for human exploration of space in the solar system and beyond.
For more information visit the “CU in Space” website at http://www.colorado.edu/news/reports/space/.
Three University of Colorado Boulder professors will receive five-year, $750,000 grants as part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Early Career Research Program created in 2010 to bolster the nation’s scientific workforce with top young researchers
The three CU-Boulder winners — Alireza Doostan of the aerospace engineering sciences department, Minhyea Lee of the physics department and Alexis Templeton of the geological sciences department — were among 65 winners nationwide selected by the DOE in 2011. They join four other CU-Boulder faculty selected in the 2010 — the most of any university in the nation — making CU-Boulder and MIT tops in the country with seven faculty each in the DOE Early Career Research Program.
Trailing CU-Boulder and MIT in total awards for the program in 2010 and 2011 were such schools as Princeton University, Caltech, the University of California, San Diego and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
“For CU-Boulder to be honored by the U.S. Department of Energy with seven of these coveted Early Career Research Program awards in the past two years is testimony to our excellence as a research university and our ability to recruit extremely talented young faculty,” said CU-Boulder Vice Chancellor for Research Stein Sture. “It also is great news for our students, who will be even more involved in critical energy research efforts that benefit Colorado, the nation and world,” said Sture, also dean of the graduate school.
Templeton will be exploring chemical reactions between water, carbon dioxide and several common minerals found beneath Earth’s surface, including olivine, which become unstable in water and will dissolve. Chemical reactions caused by dissolving olivine can react with and sequester CO2, essentially taking it out of the atmosphere and water and storing it in other rocks.
The twist, said Templeton, is that all of the experiments will be conducted in the presence and absence of bacteria that can survive extreme conditions. She and her team will be using high energy X-rays to study how “extremophiles” that can survive such high temperatures and pressures in the deep subsurface might change the reaction pathway involved in dissolving the rocks, producing new minerals, or creating other greenhouse gases like methane.
Lee’s research is focused on uncovering and identifying new states of matter resulting from strong interactions between electrons. The effort involves studying new materials with unusual properties, such as novel magnetism or unconventional superconductivity.
In addition to the fundamental interest in discovering new states, there is great potential for new technological applications in the future, according to Lee.
Doostan’s research centers on developing scalable computational techniques for uncertainty representation and propagation in complex engineering systems. To enhance the credibility of simulation tools and increase confidence in model predictions, Doostan and his group construct probabilistic approaches to characterize uncertainties and their impacts on model predictions.
One of Doostan’s research efforts will be to attempt to improve simulation-based prediction of failure mechanisms in lithium-ion batteries.
To be eligible for the DOE Early Career Research awards, researchers must have received their doctorates in the past 10 years and be untenured, tenure-track assistant or associate professors at U.S. academic institutions or full-time employees at DOE laboratories. The three CU-Boulder faculty winners in 2011 were selected from a pool of more than 1,000 applicants, as were CU-Boulder’s 2010 winners.
The four 2010 recipients from CU-Boulder were Michael Hermele, Alysia Marino and Tobin Munsat of the department of physics and Arthi Jayaraman of the department of chemical and biological engineering.
There was one other DOE Early Career Award winner from Colorado in 2011 — Zhigang Wu from the Colorado School of Mines, who will be studying quantum mechanical simulations of complex nanostructures for photovoltaic applications.
For more information on the DOE awards go to http://science.energy.gov/news/in-the-news/2011/05-06-11/.
Planet Earth the Latest Weapon of War
By Rosalie Bertell
The Women’s Press, London,
Review by Moyra Bremner. First published in Caduceus Magazine, issue 51,
ALL THINGS ARE CONNECTED
Rosalie Bertell’s new book, “Planet Earth the Latest weapon of War”, reveals the unbelievable truth in the new generation of super-weapons.
Important books are rare – very rare. “Planet Earth the Latest Weapon of War” is one such rarity. Like Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring it deserves to be read by everyone who cares a jot about their future. For it reveals that, behind carefully spin doctored names like ‘the Star Wars project’, the military is now testing radically new weapons which so profoundly imperil the earth, and all life on it, that to deploy them in the name of security is like suggesting that becoming a suicide-bomber increases life expectancy.
—– As a distinguished American scientist, world expert on radiation, and winner of major international awards for science, Dr Bertell is no scaremonger. Yet her cool, incisive, fact-packed, prose not only reveals weapons worthy of science fiction, but shows that testing them may be costing thousands of innocent civilian lives – in peacetime.
—– She exposes how the military have, for decades, been secretly conducting experiments, including high-level nuclear explosions, which may disrupt the vital layers of the atmosphere which protect us from the sun’s lethal radiation. She says these experiments are often conducted without even discussing with non-military experts the hazards of damaging these life-preserving earth-veils. And she believes that such experiments may already have accelerated global warming and contributed to earthquakes and freak weather conditions.
—– The story unfolds gently. She tells us that, for four years, a Russian thermonuclear bomb a thousand times more powerful than Hiroshima bomb circled above our heads. And that a single rocket launched by the US military merely carried enough plutonium to cause lung cancer in 20 million people – had it exploded like some of its non-loaded predecessors.
—– In July 1962 NASA announced that high altitude nuclear tests had created a new radiation belt 750 miles deep, girdling the earth. This damage and pollution was compounded by ‘me too’ experiments by the USSR. Dr Bertell says it was 10 years before American scientists realised that it would be hundreds of years before the vital earth-shielding Van Allen belts of the earth’s atmosphere would recover from such onslaughts.
—– However, the repercussions may not be limited to the atmosphere itself. She says that, after one nuclear experiment, which created new electromagnetic belts in the atmosphere, the caribou mysteriously failed to migrate for the first time in 3000 years. A warning perhaps of how the migration of animals, fish and birds may be affected by disturbances to electromagnetic fields – and of the potential impact on man. For, without the caribou, many Inuit people starved to death. Moreover, the nuclear radiation was not confined to the upper atmosphere: caribou and people who survived were dangerously contaminated with caesium 137, and cancer, lung disease and infant mortality soared.
—– Despite opposition from the International Union of Astronomers, the US military even put 350,000,000 copper needles into orbit. An experiment which Dr Bertell says some scientist believed may have upset the balance of the planetary magnetic field, causing the massive 8.5 Alaskan earthquake and losing Chile part of its coast. Yet she shows that such experiments are small beer compared with what is being done today – and is to come.
HAARP – Ionosphere modification
—– For example, she describes HAARP (America’s High-frequency Active Auroral Research Programme) a multimillion pound ‘civilian’ installation, hidden away in Alaska, ostensibly intended to ‘alter the performance of communications and surveillance systems’. Seemingly innocent enough, until she explains that this grid of 180 transmission towers is funded by the military and is part of the ‘Star Wars’ defence network. HAARP, and its linked brother projects are, she says, known to the military as ‘ionosphere modification facilities’. For, according to the proposal for its installation, HAARP is intended to trigger and control natural processes in the ionosphere in ways ‘that could be potentially exploited for department of Defence Purposes’. In other words the ionosphere, which shelters the earth, will be used as the barrel of the gun.
—–Dr Bertell suggests that so great is the power of such transmitters that even living near them could be dangerous. She quotes a US federal Environmental Impact statement which says that HAARP can ‘raise the internal body temperature of nearby people …(and) detonate aerial munitions, scramble aircraft communications and flight controls’. Even slight increases in body temperature can alter functioning of brain and body and, as she points out, even a small rise in electromagnetic radiation may cause an increase in cataracts and leukaemia and alter brain and body chemistry, blood pressure and heart rates. But such direct harm is the mere tip of the iceberg.
—– In one type of experiment these transmission towers will, Dr Bertell reveals, combine to emit a giant beam, of such power that, ‘in a burst lasting more than a few minutes – it will slice through the ionosphere like a microwave knife’ producing a long incision in this vital layer of the atmosphere. However, the main aim of HAARP is, she explains, to heat sections of the ionosphere until they bulge to form a curved ‘lens’ which will ‘reflect’ HAARP’s massive energy beams back to earth to destroy selected targets – presumably without leaving even a trace of what caused the devastation.
—– The layers of our atmosphere are so little understood that no one can possibly know the impact of cutting the ionosphere open, or of making it bulge like a lens. Moreover, she points out that scientists have warned that the energy from HAARP may combine with a natural wave frequency with results which are ‘quite disproportionate to the level of input’ – including disrupting the harmony between ‘earth life forms….and….earth’s life support systems’.
—– The rings round Saturn are thought to have been caused by a comparable interaction between energy waves. So, the possibility that HAARP, and its confreres, might trigger catastrophic changes to this planet cannot be ruled out. As Dr Bertell explains, everything is connected, ‘everything in our universe is in dynamic equilibrium and this interference (from HAARP) may destabilise a system that has established and maintained its own cycle for millions of years’ – protecting life on earth.
ELF pulsed into the earth
—– Nor is that all. Dr Bertell says that both HAARP and installations in Russia – on which America has, remarkably, collaborated – can also create pulsed, extremely low frequency (ELF) waves which have been directed deep into the earth itself, potentially disrupting delicately poised tectonic plates of the earth’s crust, such as those of California’s San Andreas fault. Given the little understood interplay between tectonic plates, volcano’s and the earth’s molten core, to call this playing with fire would be an absurd understatement.
—– Nor, it seems are these the only military installations threatening earth’s viability. Dr Bertell tells us that HAARP is just one of a growing chain of astonishingly powerful, and potentially interactive, military installations, using varied types of electromagnetic fields or wavelengths, each with a different ability to affect the earth or its atmosphere. For example, an installation in Alaska will have a magnetic field more than 60,000 times greater than the earth itself.
—– To anyone who knows the impact of magnetic fields on the human body the potential risks of such an installation are obvious. Equally, as Dr Bertell points out, the earth’s magnetic field is both produced by electric currents in the earth’s liquid core and interacts with the Van Allen belts of the earth’s atmosphere in ways not yet understood.
—– With typical restraint, she chooses not to guesstimate the effect that a magnetic field 60,000 times greater than the earth’s will have on the earth’s core or the atmosphere. Yet she believes that military tests may already have disturbed earth equilibrium. In addition to showing how earlier military tests have massively contributed to ozone depletion and global warming Dr Bertell suggests that some freak weather conditions and ‘natural’ disasters may have been directly caused by testing installations such as HAARP.
Links to earthquakes and freak weather
—– For example, in 1977 a freak storm which devastated a small town in Wisconsin and destroyed 350 hectares of forest, followed hot on the heels of a government ELF wave experiment. While The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist reported that an ELF wave transmitter lay right in the middle of another storm which brought down 150 – 200 times more rain than normal. These links are more than purely circumstantial, for she says that weather modification is on the US air force agenda, and in 1992 the Russians told the Wall Street Journal they could already achieve it. And the Wisconsin storm offers what looks very much like direct evidence.
—– The question is, does anyone have the wisdom to control weather wisely, and unselfishly? And do they even begin to understand the potential for unexpected side-affects from all these experiments. As she points out, it is since the inception of Star Wars experiments that El Nino has changed its cycle and become far more severe with devastating effects.
—– Equally, a Soviet experiment with the ionosphere directly preceded an earthquake in China which killed 650,000 people. While in America ELF – type waves were detected immediately before a San Francisco earthquake in 1989, and unnatural and unexplained low frequency waves were detected before earthquakes in Japan and California in 1989, and before an earthquake in Los Angeles in 1994. We can only wonder whether such ELF waves preceded the recent earthquakes in El Salvador and India this year, and whether the carnage has been caused by ‘security experiments’ by one of the ‘great powers’.
—– What is certain, as Dr Bertell shows, is that, globally, the number of earthquakes a year has more than doubled since the inception of military experiments which affect the earth and its atmosphere. Even this could, of course, be mere coincidence but another fact suggests something unusual is going on. Inexplicably, an earthquake in Bolivia in 1994 originated 600km below the earth’s surface – 24 times deeper than normal.
—– However, even if no such disasters can be laid at the door of the world’s military, weapons which interfere with the atmosphere violate the 1976 Environment Modification Convention. Yet, she tells us that in January 1991, despite America having signed that convention, the White House waived the requirement for actions by the Pentagon to be assessed for environmental impact. However, America and Russia are not alone in possessing such weapons. Her revelations of 30 years of military innovations show that Britain, Germany and NATO have all been involved in military developments which show a cavalier disregard for life on earth.
—– Dr Bertell is perhaps one of the few people in the world who could write this book. As leader of medical commissions to both Bhopal and Chernobyl she is skilled in unearthing facts from beneath mountains of dis-information – accurately scooping the world’s media, on the truth about depleted uranium weapons, by more than a year. As a nun dedicated to serving in the world she does not shrink from the unpopularity accorded a messenger. And her standing as a scientist, personal integrity, and evidence of meticulous research, challenge any yearning to disbelieve her.
—– A long-standing opponent of nuclear weapons, she sees today’s military research as a ‘cancer of the body politic’ consuming human, financial, and natural resources which are desperately needed elsewhere. ‘I would liken society’s dependence on the military to a family in which one partner is addicted to something and claims a large proportion of money for feeding the addiction’. As she points out, the billions annexed by defence projects create the very deprivation which eventually fosters war. Moreover, she says military research sequesters many top scientists, ‘This “brain drain” from the civilian economy may be depriving us of those who could resolve the most serious survival problems now facing the biosphere’.
—– This is not a comfortable, or easy, book and needs to be chewed slowly, in small helpings. Yet it is well worth chewing and her overall message is one of hope. She says we need to redefine the militaristic word ‘security’ to mean ‘the protection and responsible stewardship of the Earth’ – and redirect former military expenditure towards conflict resolution, social justice and sustainable living. A change which, she believes, can be achieved through active citizenship, global co-operation, information exchange between caring people and organisations, and the kind of peaceful pressure which, in 1996, led to the International Court of Justice declaring the use of nuclear weapons unlawful.
—– She concludes:
—– ‘I hope this book has given readers some inspiration as to how the might become involved in helping this peaceful planet evolve to its full potential. Despite years of abuse, it is still an amazing and beautiful creation. It deserves our best efforts. Enjoy it, love it, and save it’.
—– There she is wrong. It is not the planet which may die: it is us. It is ourselves we must love enough to cherish the miraculous web of life which radiates from the earth’s core to the farthest limits of our universe.
* * * * *
Bertell Reveals Many New Weapons of Mass Destruction
by Larry Ross, February 28, 2005
The book is: “Planet Earth the Latest Weapons of War” by Rosalie Bertell, a distinguished and world-famous scientist. She is a winner of major international awards for science. As a Catholic Nun she has dedicated her life to her continuous work for humanity.
What she reveals is unbelievably stunning – almost stupefying. Even I did not want to believe it at first, and I’ve been fighting against a global nuclear doomsday for over 50 years. But her credentials are impressive and impeccable.
She reveals how “the military is testing radically new weapons which imperil the earth and all life on it. Such as HAARP, which heats sections of the ionosphere until they bulge to form a curved ‘lens’ which will ‘reflect’ HAARP’s massive energy beams back to earth to destroy selected targets. She thinks ‘HAARP may destabilize a system that has established its own cycle for millions of years’ – protecting life on earth.
Or ELF, which ‘creates pulsed, extremely low frequency waves which have been directed deep into the earth itself, potentially disrupting delicately poised tectonic plates of the earths crust’ Off the Coast of Indonesia, tectonic plates in the Indian Ocean shifted to cause the Boxing Day Tsunami, killing over 250,000 people in 2004.
Dr Bertell tells us that HAARP and ELF are some of ‘growing chain of astonishingly powerful, and potentially interactive, military installations, using varied types of electromagnetic fields or wavelengths, each with a different ability to affect the earth or its atmosphere’.
Did the Pentagon test HAARP on tectonic plates off Indonesia, thereby causing the Boxing Day Tsunami? I don’t know, but I think there should be a scientific investigation of the causes, with a HARRP test as one of the possibilities. If the Pentagon has nothing to hide, they should welcome such an opportunity.
A few facts: A danger is: ‘A HAARP installation in Alaska will have a magnetic field more than 60,000 times greater than the earth itself’. A potential result of tests is: …’Globally, the number of earthquakes a year has more than doubled since the inception of military experiments which affect the earth or its atmosphere’
Conclusion; the amount of sheer power available to the Bush Administration, from their superpower nuclear arsenal, their other WMD, and now HAARP, ELF and other devices, is mind-boggling. Adding up all the risks, from nuclear weapons and their potential usage, to the new weapons, it is likely that due to “accident, miscalculation, act of madness, or faulty policy decision” a terminal global disaster will occur.
Everything has been put in place, including thousands of nuclear missiles on alert status, for a terminal disaster to occur. There are huge resources in terms of people, money, machines and corporate organizations – the biggest ever –devoted to increasing the preparations to unleash what can quickly become a global disaster.
The most important factor of all is the human factor. The Bush Administration is the most militaristic and dangerous in history – unleashing wars, such as that on Iraq, based on lies as justification, and creating pre-emptive war doctrines that sanction the use of nuclear weapons. They are hostile to advice, even from conservative sources, and proclaim the ‘truth’ as they decide it to be. They claim a vision of an American Empire dominating the world, and a vision of a God-proclaimed nuclear Armageddon in case things go wrong. They think the gamble is worth it.
What we see in America today is an insane system. It is a military/industrial juggernaut, in the grip of mad hubristic doctrines, run by a power-crazed psychopathic but a superficially sane Administration. They are dedicated, function effectively and sanely to accomplish their objectives. They are willing to take any risk, and then deny there is any risk.
They have committed many crimes so far. But like past war criminals, will always claim such crimes are not crimes, but justified steps to achieve their objectives. They are unlikely to turn back or learn any lessons. They define the truth as they decide it to be. They greatly increase both the danger of a nuclear catastrophe, and the system which makes it increasingly likely.