Welcome to Science Saturday, where the Overnight News Digest crew informs and entertains you with this week's news about science, space, and the environment. In keeping with the theme of the past four months, Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday is featuring science and other news from the major public research universities in the midwestern states where Republican governors and legislatures are threatening the collective bargaining rights of public employees.
This week's featured stories come from the University of Michigan with the assistance of the White House on YouTube and National Geographic.
President Obama kicks off the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP), a national collaboration between the government, industries, and universities to invest in cutting-edge technologies, create new jobs and bring about a renaissance in American manufacturing. June 24, 2011
University of Michigan: U-M president joins President Obama's new Advanced Manufacturing Partnership
June 24, 2011
Responding to President Obama's call to action, University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman joins leaders from five other universities as part of the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, a national effort bringing together industry, universities and the federal government.
The goal of the new AMP is to invest in the emerging technologies that will create high quality manufacturing jobs and enhance the United States' global competitiveness.
s part of the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, Obama's plan, which leverages existing programs and proposals, is to invest more than $500 million to jumpstart this effort. Investments will be made in the following key areas: building domestic manufacturing capabilities in critical national security industries; reducing the time needed to make advanced materials used in manufacturing products; establishing U.S. leadership in next-generation robotics; increasing the energy efficiency of manufacturing processes; and developing new technologies that will dramatically reduce the time required to design, build, and test manufactured goods.
"This initiative matters more to Michigan than any other state," Coleman said. "We are at ground zero for losses in manufacturing jobs. But we also are better positioned to be the epicenter of manufacturing innovation. We know how to retool."
National Geographic: Summer Solstice 2011: Why It's the First Day of Summer
Why summer starts today, and why it's the longest day—but not the hottest.
for National Geographic News
Updated June 21, 2011
The first day of summer—heralded today by a manic bunny and bear in a Google doodle by artist Takashi Murakami—officially kicks off today at 1:16 p.m. ET, the beginning of the summer solstice and of the longest day of the year, at least in the Northern Hemisphere.
The summer solstice is a result of the Earth's north-south axis being tilted 23.4 degrees relative to the sun. The tilt causes different amounts of sunlight to reach different regions of the planet.
Today the North Pole is tipped more toward the sun than on any other day of 2011. The opposite holds true for the Southern Hemisphere, where today is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year.
As a result, at high noon on the first day of summer, the sun appears at its highest point in the sky—its most directly overhead position—in the Northern Hemisphere.
A Belated Happy Solstice, Everyone!
More stories after the jump.
Recent Science Diaries and Stories
This week in science
Stay tuned for more.
IceHunters & New Horizons
by jim in IA
Stem Cell Champion Steps Down: new leader for California program
CalTech via physorg.com: Body temperatures of dinosaurs measured for the first time
by Marcus Woo
June 23, 2011
Were dinosaurs slow and lumbering, or quick and agile? It depends largely on whether they were cold or warm blooded. When dinosaurs were first discovered in the mid-19th century, paleontologists thought they were plodding beasts that had to rely on their environments to keep warm, like modern-day reptiles. But research during the last few decades suggests that they were faster creatures, nimble like the velociraptors or T. rex depicted in the movie Jurassic Park, requiring warmer, regulated body temperatures like in mammals.
Now, a team of researchers led by the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) has developed a new approach to take body temperatures of dinosaurs for the first time, providing new insights into whether dinosaurs were cold or warm blooded. By analyzing isotopic concentrations in teeth of sauropods, the long-tailed, long-necked dinosaurs that were the biggest land animals to have ever lived—think Apatosaurus (also known as Brontosaurus)—the team found that the dinosaurs were about as warm as most modern mammals.
"This is like being able to stick a thermometer in an animal that has been extinct for 150 million years," says Robert Eagle, a postdoctoral scholar at Caltech and lead author on the paper to be published online in the June 23 issue of Science Express.
"The consensus was that no one would ever measure dinosaur body temperatures, that it's impossible to do," says John Eiler, a coauthor and the Robert P. Sharp Professor of Geology and professor of geochemistry. And yet, using a technique pioneered in Eiler's lab, the team did just that.
Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for this story.
NASA Television on YouTube: The STS-135 crew and support personnel continue their preparations for the launch of space shuttle Atlantis targeted for July 8 from NASA's Kennedy Space Center. The 12-day mission to the International Space Station will be the final flight of the space shuttle program. Also, Bolden meets with Pope; comings and goings at the ISS; Rocket U.; space weather forum; the Glenn Lecture; and new building at Langley.
University of Michigan: Few parents enforce shower-before-pool rules that prevent illness from waterparks
Many parents do not understand risk of water infections from pools and water parks or recognize the role showering plays in preventing infections
June 20, 2011
Water parks offer families a chance to have fun and be physically active. That fun may come with the risk of getting sick with infections from the water, illnesses that affect over 10,000 Americans each year. One of the best ways to reduce the risk of infection is to make sure that parents and kids shower before playing at water parks.
The University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health asked parents of elementary school kids about their perceptions of water park risks and their opinions about basic water park rules. The sample included families who have taken their children to water parks within the past year.
“While 64 percent of parents feel it is very important for children to not swallow the water at a water park, only 26 percent of parents think it is very important to shower before getting in the water,” says Matthew Davis, M.D., director of the poll and associate professor in the Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit at the U-M Medical School. “Parents seem to understand the risk of contaminated water for their kids but few have their kids take the necessary preventive steps to keep everyone healthy.”
Science News: Spacecraft goes from crash landing to mission accomplished
Probe’s wreckage yields bonanza of discoveries about the early solar system
By Alexandra Witze
Web edition : Thursday, June 23rd, 2011
It took seven years and a lot of picking through the Utah sand with tweezers. But scientists have finally accomplished the top goal of NASA’s Genesis mission, which flew into space in 2001 to gather particles streaming from the sun but crashed while returning them to Earth in 2004.
After painstakingly gathering and analyzing the shards, researchers report that Earth’s chemistry is not like the sun’s. Compared with the sun, the planet is enriched in two types of oxygen and one type of nitrogen, two teams report June 24 in Science.
“The big thing is that the planets around us are so different from the sun,” says Donald Burnett, a cosmochemist at Caltech and the Genesis project leader. “We have uncovered something very fundamental about how the Earth as a planet evolved.”
Science News: NASA spacecraft puts moon in new focus
Images from Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter show fine details of lunar surface
By Nadia Drake
Web edition : Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011
After buzzing around the moon for two years, NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has beamed more than 192 terabytes of data back to its home planet — more than all the printed information contained in the U.S. Library of Congress, says project scientist Richard Vondrak of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
Among those data are 4 billion measurements made by the orbiter’s laser altimeter, which allowed scientists to construct a detailed elevation map of the moon’s pockmarked surface. An animation of the moon’s rotation shows the orbiter’s data compared with maps made in 2005 by the U.S. Geological Survey’s Unified Lunar Control Network. Scientists presented the animation during a conference held on June 21. “We go from a relatively fuzzy moon that kind of looks out of focus, to one that’s sharp and very well-defined,” says NASA’s Michael Wargo, chief lunar scientist for exploration.
Ohio State University: ASTRONOMERS REACH FOR THE STARS TO DISCOVER NEW CANCER THERAPY
June 24, 2011
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Astronomers’ research on celestial bodies may have an impact on the human body.
Ohio State University astronomers are working with medical physicists and radiation oncologists to develop a potential new radiation treatment – one that is intended to be tougher on tumors, but gentler on healthy tissue.
In studying how chemical elements emit and absorb radiation inside stars and around black holes, the astronomers discovered that heavy metals such as iron emit low-energy electrons when exposed to X-rays at specific energies.
Their discovery raises the possibility that implants made from certain heavy elements could enable doctors to obliterate tumors with low-energy electrons, while exposing healthy tissue to much less radiation than is possible today. Similar implants could enhance medical diagnostic imaging.
Science News: Multicellular life arises in a test tube
Evolution experiment turns singleton yeast into multicellular organisms
By Susan Milius
NORMAN, Okla. — Since humanity missed the big moment the first time around, biologists trying to understand the origins of complex life have coaxed single-celled microbes to evolve into multicellular forms capable of reproduction.
Common lab yeast normally live as single cells that bud off single-celled offspring. But challenging generations of yeast with conditions that make solo life tough led to spiky multicelled yeast forms within about two months, said Will Ratcliff of the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. The experiment suggests going multicellular may happen more readily than previously thought, he told the Evolution 2011 conference June 18.
“It was certainly the buzz of the conference,” said Lee Dugatkin of the University of Louisville in Kentucky.
Science News: Evolution’s Wedges
Finding the genes that drive one species into two
By Daniel Strain
July 2nd, 2011; Vol.180 #1 (p. 18)
Look to Texas to see evolution’s true colors. There, speckling the state’s green fields, you’ll find the annual phlox, a flower also known as “Texas pride.” Its petals, a light purple elsewhere, are bright scarlet in the southeast near Austin. This color change isn’t a whim: It’s the annual phlox’s response to the presence of a close cousin, the pointed phlox. Native to East Texas, the pointed phlox also has purplish flowers.
Just two genes orchestrate the annual phlox’s shift from purple to red flowers in the fields where it meets its cousin. But this color change has a big impact. Like prudish governesses, the genes keep the annual species from mating with the pointed relative, because butterfly pollinators rarely swap pollen between red and purple flowers. Such governesses are an example of what many biologists call speciation genes: genes that impede mating between related organisms, potentially keeping two nascent species apart or splitting one species into two.
Though biologists have known that studying such genes could help reveal how species come to be, only recently have individual candidates been uncovered. New techniques in genetic sequencing have made the search for these evolutionary wedges much easier, says Patrik Nosil, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Michigan State University: Researchers examine federal delisting of wolves issue
June 23, 2011
EAST LANSING, Mich. – A team of researchers from Michigan State University, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Michigan Technological University is looking into the potential removal of wolves from federal protection under the Endangered Species Act and what that removal means for Michigan’s residents – both people and wolves.
"We’re covering new ground here," said Michelle Lute, graduate student in MSU’s Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, whose doctoral work focuses on this issue. "The distribution and abundance of wolves are just the beginning; we would like to understand why people value – or don’t value – wolves and what management strategies they will support."
"Once wolves are removed from federal protection, it is up to Michigan to manage its own wolf population," said Meredith Gore, assistant professor in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, and adviser to Lute. "Wolves can be considered an endangered species success story and are becoming the 'poster species' for delisting. We have a good idea of what current wolf management in Michigan looks like, yet we are trying to understand how people will coexist with wolves under potentially new management scenarios."
University of Michigan: Black heart attack patients wait longer for advanced treatment, U-M study shows
Quality of hospitals plays key role in racial differences in health care
June 20, 2011
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Black patients having a heart attack wait longer at hospitals than white patients to get advanced procedures that will restore blood flow to their hearts, according to a University of Michigan Health System study.
The differences in care may be explained by hospital quality, rather than the race of individual patients. Black patients were much more likely to go to slow hospitals than were whites, and as a result waited six hours longer to get life-saving procedures.
Most elderly black patients received care in a small number of hospitals that take longer to transfer their patients, regardless of race, according to the U-M study published in the July issue of Medical Care, the journal of the American Public Health Association.
Michigan State University: MSU launches new reproductive research initiative
June 21, 2011
EAST LANSING, Mich. — Cows soon may be sharing their fertility secrets to help human mothers conceive healthy babies, thanks to a new initiative that combines Michigan State University's research expertise in animal agriculture and human medicine.
MSU's Reproductive and Developmental Sciences Initiative will leverage ongoing collaborations among faculty in animal science, human medicine, genetics and regenerative medicine who work in labs across MSU's East Lansing and Grand Rapids campuses. By formalizing its unique cross-disciplinary focus on human/animal reproduction and development, the university expects to attract top researchers and funding.
"What makes this a particularly powerful initiative is that it is faculty driven," said J. Ian Gray, vice president for the Office of Research and Graduate Studies. "Over the next few years, the university will be investing in eight new positions across the colleges of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Human Medicine and Veterinary Medicine as well as AgBioResearch to support this area of research.
"We recognize that this cluster of scientific expertise could have a significant impact, not only in advancing human reproduction and development but also on animal production, which would have significant economic impact on the animal agricultural industry."
Michigan State University: MSU nets $5 million grant to increase dairy production efficiency
June 20, 2011
EAST LANSING, Mich. — As human populations increase and available arable land decreases, agricultural systems are under pressure to produce more food more efficiently.
Michigan State University researchers believe that breeding dairy cows that produce milk with less feed can help meet this goal.
“We already know how to get cows to produce more than 100 pounds of milk a day – we have the science to be able to do that,” said Mike VandeHaar, animal science professor and MSU AgBioResearch faculty member. “Our question now is whether some cows are genetically predisposed to produce that milk with less feed. If we find that feed efficiency is inherent in a cow’s DNA, it will improve our ability to sustainably produce the milk and dairy products that our growing population consumes.”
Purdue University: Study: Trying to lose weight? Lose the fat substitutes
June 21, 2011
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Fat substitutes used in popular snack foods to help people control weight may have the opposite effect, according to Purdue University research.
"These substitutes are meant to mimic the taste of fat in foods that are normally high in fat while providing a lower number of calories, but they may end up confusing the body," said Susan E. Swithers, professor of psychological sciences. "We didn't study this in people, but we found that when rats consumed a fat substitute, learned signals that could help control food intake were disrupted, and the rats gained weight as a result.
"Substituting a part of the diet with a similar tasting item that has fewer or zero calories sounds like a common-sense approach to lose weight, but there are other physiological functions at work. Tastes normally alert the body to expect calories, and when those calories aren't present we believe the systems become ineffective and one of the body's mechanisms to control food intake can become ineffective."
Purdue University: Cooling system may build eggs' natural defenses against salmonella
June 21, 2011
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Once eggs are laid, their natural resistance to pathogens begins to wear down, but a Purdue University scientist believes he knows how to rearm those defenses.
Kevin Keener, an associate professor of food science, created a process for rapidly cooling eggs that is designed to inhibit the growth of bacteria such as salmonella. The same cooling process would saturate the inside of an egg with carbon dioxide and alter pH levels, which he has found are connected to the activity of an enzyme called lysozyme, which defends egg whites from bacteria.
"This enzyme activity is directly related to the carbon dioxide and pH levels," said Keener, whose results were published in the journal Poultry Science. "An increase in lysozyme would lead to increased safety in eggs."
Science News: Modern-day sea level rise skyrocketing
Increase began with the Industrial Revolution
By Janet Raloff
Web edition : Monday, June 20th, 2011
Sea levels began rising precipitously in the late 19th century and have since tripled the rate of climb seen at any time in at least two millennia, a detailed analysis of North Carolina marsh sediments shows.
“This clearly shows the recent trend is not part of a natural cycle,” says Ken Miller of Rutgers University in Piscataway, New Jersey, who was not associated with the analysis.
University of Wisconsin: Study details how heat waves drive hospital admissions
Importantly, the study identifies temperature thresholds that, when surpassed, tend to prompt increases in the incidence of particular conditions.
by Terry Devitt
June 22, 2011
In cities, the number of human deaths caused by heat waves is often the barometer of summer weather severity.
Yet mortality in urban areas is only a partial measure of the human toll of extreme hot weather. Now, a new study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Purdue University and the National Center for Climatic Research and appearing this week (June 22, 2011) in the journal Climatic Change, documents the medical conditions aggravated by hot weather, the age groups most affected, and forecasts an increase in hospital admissions in urban areas due to predicted climate change and accompanying weather extremes.
The study, which utilizes meteorological, air pollution and hospital admission data for the years 1989-2005 for the city of Milwaukee, is important because it documents the primary medical causes of heat-related hospital admission. The report also assesses potential future climate change and accompanying hot weather extremes and how those may affect vulnerable populations in the urban Midwestern United States.
Heat-sensitive illnesses and conditions identified by Patz’s group include diabetes, urinary tract and renal diseases such as kidney stones, respiratory conditions, accidents and suicide attempts. Surprisingly, the study did not find an increase in the incidence of hospital admissions due to heart disease, but Patz and his colleagues speculate that acute episodes of heart disease may be more lethal and are therefore reflected in records of mortality. Mortality records were intentionally excluded from the current study.
University of Wisconsin: UW-Madison expert to discuss role of research in global food security
by Jill Sakai
June 21, 2011
In the face of a changing climate and a world population forecast to reach 9 billion by 2050, feeding the world is a mounting challenge. And with 2 billion people worldwide already facing hunger or malnutrition, developing stable and effective food systems is a task of growing urgency.
On Thursday, June 23, Molly Jahn of the University of Wisconsin-Madison will discuss the need for new approaches in agricultural research in the quest to achieve global food security. The Africa College Food Security, Health and Impact Knowledge Brokering Conference, which runs June 22-24 at the University of Leeds, will focus on ways to translate scientific research results into improved food security and human health and how strategic partnerships can help deliver those impacts in sub-Saharan Africa.
A special adviser to the provost and chancellor for sustainability sciences at UW-Madison, Jahn has worked extensively in developing countries to increase crop plant biodiversity and help link crop breeding with improved nutrition and human welfare. Earlier this year, she was appointed to serve as the U.S. commissioner to the international Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change, a group of scientists and economists committed to improving the stability, security and sustainability of global food systems within the context of a changing climate.
Indiana University: New IUPUI Center for Urban Health focuses on half the world’s population
June 23, 2011
INDIANAPOLIS -- A new center at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis has a tall order to fill -- improving the quality of life for billions of people.
Center for Urban Health
The Center for Urban Health, hosted by the School of Science at IUPUI, will focus on the issues that affect individuals living in urban environments. The world's population is swelling, as are urban areas. Global population is projected to reach seven billion within the next year and nearly 50 percent will live in cities.
"Cities present unique challenges to the health of the individuals who reside in them. We need to know how to help more than three billion people live in a healthy way in places with high population density; a legacy of environmental burdens; current atmospheric and soil contamination; limited amounts of green space, and many other particularly urban issues," said Gabriel Filippelli, professor of earth sciences in the School of Science at IUPUI and the biogeochemist who is the founding director of the Center for Urban Health.
Purdue University: Fungicides may not increase corn yields unless disease develops
June 22, 2011
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Unless a corn crop is at risk of developing fungal diseases, a Purdue University study shows that farmers would be smart to skip fungicide treatments that promise increased yields.
Kiersten Wise, an assistant professor of botany and plant pathology, said fungicides used in fields where conditions were optimal for fungal diseases improved yields and paid for themselves. In fields where fungal diseases are unlikely to develop, however, applying a fungicide is likely a waste of money.
"About five years ago, we never used fungicides in hybrid corn. Then there was this push to use fungicides for yield enhancement, even without disease problems," said Wise, who collaborated on findings that were published as an American Phytopathological Society feature article in the journal Phytopathology. "We found that you would have to get a substantial yield increase for a fungicide treatment to pay for itself. We didn't see that yield increase on a consistent basis, and it wasn't predictable."
Science News: Death of a Continent, Birth of an Ocean
Africa’s Afar region gives glimpses of geology in action
By Alexandra Witze
July 2nd, 2011; Vol.180 #1 (p. 22)
To those who live there, east Africa’s Afar region is “the place the devil plows.” One of the hottest and lowest areas on Earth, it is a landscape of baking desert and barren lava flows. To scientists, though, Afar means something more promising: geology in the raw.
There, on the edge of Africa, the continent is splitting apart. Pulled inexorably by the grind of tectonic plates, Afar is ripping asunder like a gateway to hell. Molten rock wells up from below, pouring onto the sweltering surface.
Yet for all the fire and brimstone, Afar is on its way to a watery end. A million years or so from now, the geological processes that rip the continent will give birth to a new seafloor. And Afar will lie at the bottom of Earth’s freshest ocean.
Until then, researchers have a front seat to an unparalleled physical spectacle.
University of Michigan: Competition between brain cells spurs memory circuit development
From the petri dish into a living organism, for the first time U-M scientists observe key aspects of how the brain shapes itself
June 22, 2011
Scientists at the University of Michigan Health System have for the first time demonstrated how memory circuits in the brain refine themselves in a living organism through two distinct types of competition between cells.
Their results, published today in Neuron, mark a step forward in the search for the causes of neurological disorders associated with abnormal brain circuits, such as Alzheimer’s disease, autism and schizophrenia.
“Much of our understanding of the brain’s wiring has come from studying our sensory and motor systems, but far less is understood about the mechanisms that organize neural circuits involved in higher brain functions, like learning and memory,” says senior author Hisashi Umemori, M.D., Ph.D., assistant research professor at U-M’s Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience Institute and assistant professor of biological chemistry at the U-M Medical School.
Michigan State University: Youth cybercrime linked to friends’ influence
June 23, 2011
EAST LANSING, Mich. — Peer influence and low self-control appear to be the major factors fueling juvenile cybercrime such as computer hacking and online bullying, according to a new study led by a Michigan State University criminologist.
Thomas Holt, assistant professor of criminal justice, said the findings reinforce the need for parents to be more aware of their children’s friends and Internet activities.
“It’s important to know what your kids are doing when they’re online and who they are associating with both online and offline,” Holt said.
The study, which appears online in the American Journal of Criminal Justice, is one of the first to examine the cybercrime motivations of students in middle and high school. Previous research has focused on college students, creating questions about the causes of cybercrime involvement among youth.
Michigan State University: Prejudice linked to women’s menstrual cycle
June 22, 2011
EAST LANSING, Mich. — Women’s bias against male strangers increases when women are fertile, suggesting prejudice may be partly fueled by genetics, according to a study by Michigan State University psychology researchers.
The study, funded by the National Science Foundation, appears online in Psychological Science, a major research journal.
“Our findings suggest that women’s prejudice, at least in part, may be a byproduct of their biology,” said Melissa McDonald, a doctoral student and lead author on the paper.
The researchers conducted scientific studies with two groups of women that investigated how women’s implicit attitudes toward men change across the menstrual cycle. They found that fertile women were more biased against men of different races and men of different social groups than men of their own group.
Wayne State University: Wayne State University researchers win grant from the National Science Foundation to target tinnitus
June 20, 2011
DETROIT - A team of Wayne State University researchers was awarded $330,000 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop a 3-D neural probe. Their aim is to develop an implantable device that will suppress tinnitus, a neurological disorder that affects more than 250 million people worldwide.
With the ever-expanding knowledge in the fields of neuroscience and neurosurgery, there is an increasing need for devices and tools that enable neuroscientists to delve deeper into the physiological and pathological function of neural tissue at the level of groups of neurons. A variety of neural probes developed have significantly contributed to important discoveries within the neuroscience community. Despite this steady progress over the past two decades, there is a strong demand for improved probes with new functionality. The Wayne State team will address this need by developing a 3-D neural probe that simplifies the fabrication and assembly process of high-density 3-D arrays of electrodes.
Currently, there is no reliable treatment for tinnitus. Pharmacologic treatment and rehabilitation can improve the emotional and psychological reaction to tinnitus, but this therapy has been unreliable and requires long periods of time and a considerable amount of patient compliance. Recent clinical studies have shown that stimulation of the auditory cortex through transcranial magnetic stimulation or direct electrical stimulation has acute or longer-lasting suppressive effects, providing a new hope in finding an effective and reliable therapy.
Indiana University: Insights into infidelity: Study examines influence of sexual personality characteristics
June 24, 2011
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- In a new study, men and women were more likely to report infidelity, or cheating -- often a marriage or relationship deal-breaker -- when they also experienced an increased sensitivity for sexual performance problems and a decreased likelihood to lose their sexual arousal in the face of risk or danger.
The study, by researchers at Indiana University's Center for Sexual Health Promotion, The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction, and the University of Guelph, is the first to look at the influence of lovers' sexual personality traits on infidelity. Their findings, published online this month in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior, show that these sexual personality characteristics carry more sway than factors typically studied, namely demographic information such as gender and marital status.
Consistent with previous studies, the IU study found little difference in the rates of infidelity reported by men and women (23 percent and 19 percent, respectively). However, there were difference between the sexes in reasons related to infidelity. The propensity for sexual excitation, or the ease with which one becomes sexually aroused by all kinds of triggers and situations, played a bigger role for the men compared to the women, for whom lower relationship happiness and poor compatibility with their spouse or partner in terms of sexual attitudes were more important to the prediction of infidelity.
Purdue University: Genius of Einstein, Fourier key to new humanlike computer vision
June 20, 2011
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Two new techniques for computer-vision technology mimic how humans perceive three-dimensional shapes by instantly recognizing objects no matter how they are twisted or bent, an advance that could help machines see more like people.
The techniques, called heat mapping and heat distribution, apply mathematical methods to enable machines to perceive three-dimensional objects, said Karthik Ramani, Purdue University's Donald W. Feddersen Professor of Mechanical Engineering.
"Humans can easily perceive 3-D shapes, but it's not so easy for a computer," he said. "We can easily separate an object like a hand into its segments - the palm and five fingers - a difficult operation for computers."
Both of the techniques build on the basic physics and mathematical equations related to how heat diffuses over surfaces.
Lund University (Sweden) via physorg.com: Cutting edge training developed the human brain 80,000 years ago
June 21, 2011
Advanced crafting of stone spearheads contributed to the development of new ways of human thinking and behaving.
This is what new findings by archaeologists at Lund University have shown. The technology took a long time to acquire, required step by step planning and increased social interaction across the generations. This led to the human brain developing new abilities.
200 000 years ago, small groups of people wandered across Africa, looking like us anatomically but not thinking the way we do today. Studies of fossils and the rate of mutations in DNA show that the human species to which we all belong – Homo sapiens sapiens – has existed for 200 000 years. But the archaeological research of recent years has shown that, even though the most ancient traces of modern humans are 200 000 years old, the development of modern cognitive behaviour is probably much younger. For about 100 000 years, there were people who looked like us, but who acted on the basis of cognitive structures in which we would only partially recognise ourselves and which we do not define today as modern behaviour.
BBC: Early human fossils unearthed in Ukraine
By Jennifer Carpenter Science reporter, BBC News
Ancient remains uncovered in Ukraine represent some of the oldest evidence of modern people in Europe, experts have claimed.
Archaeologists found human bones and teeth, tools, ivory ornaments and animal remains at the Buran-Kaya cave site.
The 32,000-year-old fossils bear cut marks suggesting they were defleshed as part of a post-mortem ritual.
Details have been published in the journal PLoS One.
Agence France Presse via physorg.com: Lascaux's 18,000 year-old cave art under threat
by Laurent Banguet
June 23, 2011
They call her the Old Lady, for she is some 18,000 years old and frail, which is why she is protected by steel doors, security cameras and the gentlest nurturing the 21st century has to offer.
Tucked away on a hillside in Montignac, in the Dordogne region of southwest France, the dame of Lascaux is an Ice Age treasure.
Her walls are covered with remarkable pictures of horses, extinct bison and ibexes, painted when Man was still a hunter-gatherer and his survival far from certain.
But the cave is also at threat from invisible invaders: microbial contaminants resulting from some awful mistakes made last century.
Smithsonian Institution via physorg.com: Scientists reveal a first in Ice Age art
Researchers from the Smithsonian Institution and the University of Florida have announced the discovery of a bone fragment, approximately 13,000 years old, in Florida with an incised image of a mammoth or mastodon. This engraving is the oldest and only known example of Ice Age art to depict a proboscidean (the order of animals with trunks) in the Americas. The team's research is published online in the Journal of Archaeological Science.
The bone was discovered in Vero Beach, Fla. by James Kennedy, an avocational fossil hunter, who collected the bone and later while cleaning the bone, discovered the engraving. Recognizing its potential importance, Kennedy contacted scientists at the University of Florida and the Smithsonian's Museum Conservation Institute and National Museum of Natural History.
"This is an incredibly exciting discovery," said Dennis Stanford, anthropologist at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History and co-author of this research. "There are hundreds of depictions of proboscideans on cave walls and carved into bones in Europe, but none from America—until now."
USA Today:Arrow origins traced to Africa
By Dan Vergano, USA TODAY
Back in 1991, archaeologists unearthed the frozen body of a man who died some 5,300 years ago in the Alps.
Nicknamed Otzi, for his resting place in the Ötztal Alps, the "Iceman" was outfitted with a copper ax, flint knife and bearskin hat, a surprise to archaeologists because they all were so well-crafted. His bow and 12 arrows, two of them nicely feathered and tipped with flint points, were likely less surprising, because they nicely fit with the then-current story of the bow and arrow's origins.
"The invention of the bow and arrow used to be closely linked to the late Upper Paleolithic (Stone Age) in Europe," less than 30,000 years ago, says anthropologist Marlize Lombard of South Africa's University of Johannesburg, in a study in the current Journal of Archaeological Science.
BBC: Jersey is described as "Ice Age time capsule"
Jersey has been described as an "Ice Age time capsule" by a team of archaeologists exploring a potential Ice Age camp.
In 2010 a team from four universities made Neanderthal finds at a site in St Brelade.
The team, led by archaeologist Matt Pope, is returning to explore a 14,000-year-old site in St Saviour.
The team will also be using sonar to map ancient landscapes beneath the seas off Jersey's coast.
Agence France Presse via physorg.com: Archaeologists to raise ancient Egyptian ship
June 23, 2011
Egyptian and Japanese archaeologists on Thursday began to unearth an ancient boat belonging to King Khufu and buried near the Giza pyramids for more than 4,500 years.
A mission from Japan's Waseda University, the Japanese Institute of the Solar Boat and Egypt's antiquities ministry have been preparing to lift the boat from its underground pit for the past two years.
The project is "one of the most important" archaeological projects, antiquities minister of state Zahi Hawass told reporters at the site.
Agence France Presse via Google: Iraq's ancient Ur treasures 'in danger'
By Jacques Clement (AFP) – 6 days ago
UR, Iraq — Standing before the imposing ziggurat which was once part of a temple complex at the Sumerian capital of Ur, Iraqi archaeologist Abdelamir Hamdani worried about the natural elements that are eating away at one of the wonders of Mesopotamia.
"Is there anybody thinking about preserving these monuments?" asked the doctoral student from New York's Stony Brook University who is one of the leaders of a nascent project to conserve the few unearthed remains of ancient Mesopotamia, one of the cradles of civilisation.
The buried treasures of Ur still beckon foreign archaeologists who have begun cautiously returning to Iraq, but experts like Hamdani say that preserving the sites is more urgent than digging for more.
Agence France Presse via Google: French Egyptologist who saved Nubian temples dies
PARIS — French Egyptologist Christiane Desroches-Noblecourt, known for her books on art and history and for saving the Nubian temples from flooding caused by the Aswan Dam, has died at the age of 97, her editor Telemaque said Friday.
In a career spanning more than half-a-century, Desroches-Noblecourt also helped preserve the mummy of King Ramses II, which was threatened by fungus, and became the first French woman to lead an archaeological dig in 1938.
Born on November 17, 1913 in Paris, she was captivated by Howard Carter's discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamon, and joined the Egyptian Antiquities department at the Louvre.
During World War II she joined the Resistance, and hid the Louvre's Egyptian treasures in free areas of France.
The Daily Mail (UK): Iron Age settlement found on one of Europe's most inhospitable islands
By Daily Mail Reporter
Archaeologists have discovered evidence of a settlement which could date back to the Iron Age on one of Europe's most inhospitable islands.
It had been thought that no people had ever lived on the St Kilda island of Boreray, 40 miles west of the Outer Hebrides in the Atlantic Ocean.
Inhabitants of nearby Hirta island used to visit Boreray only in the summer to hunt birds and gather wool, a practice which ended in the early 20th century.
But the new discovery suggests that people may have lived on the steep slopes of the island as far back as prehistoric times.
The remaining 36 inhabitants of the St Kilda archipelago were evacuated from the islands at their own request in 1930.
BBC: Iron-Age brewing evidence found in southeastern France
Archaeologists have uncovered evidence that the occupants of southeastern France were brewing beer during the Iron Age, some 2,500 years ago.
A paper in Human Ecology outlines the discovery of barley grains that had been sprouted in a process known as malting; an oven found nearby may have been used to regulate the process.
Beer brewing's heritage stretches back to the Bronze Age in China and the Middle East, but this is the earliest sign of the practice in France, where wine-making had already taken hold.
Sofia News Service (Bulgaria):Bulgarian Archaeologists Uncover Story of Ancient Thracians' War with Philip II of Macedon
Archaeology | June 21, 2011, Tuesday
Bulgarian archaeologists have made crucial discoveries at the residence of the rulers of the Odrysian Kingdom, the state of the most powerful tribe of Ancient Thrace, including details about its sacking by the troops of Philip II of Macedon.
The discoveries have been made within the project of Bulgaria's National History Museum, whose team started in early June 2011 the largest alpine expedition in the history of Bulgarian archaeology in order to excavate the residence of the rulers of the Odrysian Kingdom.
Bulgarian archaeologists uncovered the unique residence of the rulers of the Odrysian Kingdom in July 2010, after its location was initially detected in 2005.
NPR: Archaeologists Unscramble Ancient Graffiti In Israel
by Jacki Lyden
June 19, 2011
Aramaic is the lingua franca of the ancient Middle East, the linguistic root of modern day Hebrew and Arabic.
"Once you understand Aramaic," says Karen Stern, "you can read anything. You can read Hebrew, you can read Phoenician. I always call it the little black dress of Semitic languages."
Stern, 35, is an archaeologist and an assistant professor in the history department at Brooklyn College. Her passion is the tomb graffiti of the ancient Jews in what was then Roman Palestine. Graffiti has been "published, but sort of disregarded," she says. "Whereas I think it is intimate, vocal and spontaneous, and adds to the historical record."
AOL Travel via Gadling.com: Gladiator died because of ref's error, says archaeologist
by Sean McLachlan (RSS feed) on Jun 19th 2011 at 12:00PM
A gladiator who fought 1,800 years ago may have died because of a bad call from a ref.
Archaeologists have long puzzled over a line in the epitaph of Diodorus the gladiator's gravestone. It reads, "After breaking my opponent Demetrius I did not kill him immediately. Fate and the cunning treachery of the summa rudis killed me."
The summa rudis was a referee who oversaw gladiator games. Unlike what we see in the movies, real gladiator fights were highly ritualized and had strict rules. One rule was that if a man pleaded for mercy, it was up to the sponsor of the fight (a local bigwig or even the Emperor) to decide if the defeated gladiator should live or die. Another rule was that if a gladiator fell without being pushed down by his opponent, he was allowed to get up and retrieve his weapons before the match continued.
PennLive: Diggers unearth tavern’s history
By Roger Quigley
Published: Thursday, June 23, 2011, 12:25 PM Updated: Thursday, June 23, 2011, 2:50 PM
Bob Graham gently scraped a trowel coated with dirt from a ledge in a shallow pit at Dill’s Tavern, used a small hand broom to brush it onto a dustpan, and gently dropped it in a white 5-gallon bucket.
Graham, a volunteer taking part in an archaeological dig at the historic tavern on North Baltimore Street in Dillsburg, spent most of his morning scraping, brushing and dropping dirt into that bucket.
Such is the glamour of archaeology.
Later, he took the bucket to a large wooden frame with a fine metal screen to sift the dirt, looking for artifacts to help uncover more of the history of the tavern operated as a living museum by the Northern York County Historical and Preservation Society.
University of Maryland via physorg.com: Hidden lives of Baltimore's Irish immigrants unearthed for first time
June 24, 2011
An archaeological team from the University of Maryland is unearthing a unique picture of the Baltimore-area's early Irish immigrants - of city children taught to read and write at home before widespread public education and child labor laws, as well as insular rural residents who resisted assimilation for one hundred years.
The excavation in the city represents the first formal archaeological research to focus on Baltimore's early Irish settlement and labor force.
"Behind the closed doors of their modest Baltimore homes, beyond the view of their bosses, these unskilled railroad workers maintained a rich social, religious and family life," says University of Maryland archaeologist Stephen Brighton, whose students just finished digging in the backyards of 19th century Baltimore immigrants.
Washington Post: U-Md. archaelogists in Annapolis use a trowel to understand the past
By Patricia Sullivan, Published: June 16
Squatting in a 4-by-5-foot dirt pit, the former site of a backyard privy, University of Maryland students Justin Uehlein and Sophia Chang carefully scrape deeper into the fine, brown soil of Annapolis.
They are looking for glass, pottery, discarded household goods — anything that will help their archaeological team understand how a middle-class African American family fared here during the Civil War and beyond.
Bit by bit, the story of a family is excavated. A toothbrush missing its bristles, broken ceramic plates, tiny painted figurines, a carved pipe bowl, a domino: Those are among the 10,000 items painstakingly retrieved from the privy, a dirt kitchen floor and a trash pile.
The Mississippi Press via Gulf Live: Chris Wiggins and his team of archaeologist scour river floor for Moss Point's town cannon
Published: Monday, June 20, 2011, 7:30 AM
MOSS POINT, Mississippi -- An expert in the field of underwater archaeology brought his state-of-the-art technology to the Escatawpa River last week to look for a "small" piece of artillery thought to be a mid-19th century cannon.
A grant from the Mississippi Gulf Coast National Heritage Area and private donations made possible an extensive magnetometer survey directed by Michael K. Faught of Tallahassee, Florida, a senior maritime archaeologist with Panamerican Consultants Inc., of Memphis, Tenn.
Newspaper accounts and oral history indicate Moss Point's town cannon was dumped in the river near and slightly north of the present-day downtown river walk and piers.
Edinburgh Evening News via The Scotsman: Scottish Enlightenment digs proposal is a smashing idea
By MICHAEL BLACKLEY
City Council Reporter
Published Date: 24 June 2011
A SERIES of archaeological digs are to take place in the Lothians to try to find products produced during the Scottish Enlightenment.
Locals will be invited to join in the digs at Portobello, Prestonpans and East Linton.
It is hoped that some of the wares produced by Scotland's ceramic industry during the 18th century will be found.
Items dating back to the Scottish Enlightenment are extremely rare, but recent research has indicated that there is a likelihood that there may be items in the area.
Hat/Tip to annetteboardman, who sent in the above articles.
Science News: New data zap views of static electricity
Charges build up due to exchange of material, study suggests
By Devin Powell
Web edition : Friday, June 24th, 2011
A balloon rubbed against the head can be both a hair-raising and a hair-tearing experience, a new study suggests. Clumps of balloon and hair invisible to the naked eye may break off each object during contact and stick to the other.
The existence of this exchange could challenge traditional theories about how static electricity builds up, a process known as contact electrification.
“The basic assumptions people have made about contact electrification are wrong,” says Bartosz Grzybowski, a physical chemist at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. He and his colleagues describe their new take on static electricity online June 23 in Science.
American Chemical Society via physorg.com: 'Super sand' for better purification of drinking water (Update)
June 23, 2011
Scientists have developed a way to transform ordinary sand -- a mainstay filter material used to purify drinking water throughout the world -- into a "super sand" with five times the filtering capacity of regular sand. The new material could be a low-cost boon for developing countries, where more than a billion people lack clean drinking water, according to the report in the ACS journal Applied Materials & Interfaces.
Researchers at Rice University are spinning a bit of nano-based magic to create "coated sand" that has enhanced properties for water purification. The breakthrough may benefit developing countries where more than a billion people lack clean drinking water.
University of Michigan: Collaborative efforts between GM and the U-M College of Engineering create technology to maximize the Volt's battery weld quality
June 24, 2011
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Collaborative work being done by engineers and researchers at General Motors, alongside faculty and students at the University of Michigan College of Engineering is helping to guarantee the 16 kWh lithium-ion battery system used in the Chevrolet Volt meets exceptional quality standards.
"We have greatly enjoyed this productive partnership with General Motors, which is in its fourteenth year. The technology we implemented in the Volt battery plant is another example of the fruits of this successful partnership," commented Jack Hu, G. Lawton and Louise G. Johnson Professor of Engineering and the university co-director of the General Motors Collaborative Research Lab (CRL) in Advanced Vehicle Manufacturing and leader of the project.
Jeff Abell, lab group manager in manufacturing systems research at GM and co-director of the CRL added, "This is a great example of successful technology development and transfer resulting from the partnership between GM and U-M."
Purdue University: Indiana wind power conference expands to other renewable tech
June 21, 2011
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - An annual wind power conference in July is expanding this year to include other renewable energies, including solar and alternative fuels, and educational workshops to help homeowners and small businesses use the technologies.
WIndiana/Indiana Renewable Energy Conference, July 20-21 at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis, will bring together experts from industry, academia and government to address key issues in wind power. The conference is organized by the Indiana Office of Energy Development and the Energy Center at Purdue University's Discovery Park.
The conference kicks off with an update on the "state of the renewable energy industry" from both an Indiana and national perspective, with a keynote address by Indiana Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman.
Science, Space, Environment, and Energy Policy
Huffington Post: Is Gaddafi Stashing Rocket Launchers In The Roman Ruins Of Leptis Magna To Stymie NATO?
Posted: 06/22/11 12:46 AM ET
Embattled Libyan leader Muammar el-Gaddafi may be hiding weapons among some of the most spectacular Roman ruins in the Mediterranean, daring NATO to risk damaging the site if it decides to destroy the cache. The site, Leptis Magna, is located in the Libyan town of Al Khums, halfway between the capital of Tripoli and Misurata, a city that has seen some of the fiercest recent fighting. Leptis Magna was the birthplace of Roman emperor Septimius Severus, who assumed power in 193 A.D. and greatly enhanced the city's infrastructure over the course of his reign.
Salt Lake Tribune: Utah fires its state archaeologists
By Brandon Loomis and judy fahys
The Salt Lake Tribune
First published Jun 21 2011 12:40PM
Updated Jun 23, 2011 10:57AM
The Utah Department of Community and Culture on Tuesday laid off the state archaeologist and two assistants, leaving the Antiquities section with just two employees: those responsible for maintaining a database necessary for development of roads, railways, buildings and other projects.
Department acting Director Mike Hansen said he was simply carrying out budget cuts ordered by the Legislature to eliminate programs that receive state funds and that do not carry out requirements of state or federal law. A plan from state Human Resources suggested consolidating the three positions into one new "forensic archeologist" job that will be posted Wednesday.
Al-Ahram (Egypt): Antiquities ministry denies any misappropriation of public funds using artefacts
An official from the antiquities ministry alleges that the independent press and political opponents are behind a rumour campaign to settle old scores
Monday 20 Jun 2011
On Sunday, the Public Funds Prosecution investigated accusations made by archaeologist Nour Abdel Samad that former First Lady Suzanne Mubarak and Minister of State for Antiquities Zahi Hawass abused their official government positions and misappropriated public funds in the form of national artefacts.
Hawass had said during a talk show that a Tutankhamun exhibition collected $17 million in donations for Suzanne Mubarak’s charity fund which Abdel Samad said was illegal as the charity is privately owned.
The archaeologist also accused Hawass of illegally signing a contract with the National Geographical Society to exhibit unique Egyptian artefacts in the United States and Australia.
The accusation points to the contract which allowed artefacts from the Tutankhamun collection to be sent to Minnesota on an exhibition in which runs until 15 April 2012 without documenting the number or types of the pieces. It also said that the Egyptian Museum sent 143 artefacts to Washington between 30 July and 14 October 2002 which have not yet been returned.
Columbia Tribune: NRC considers MU’s timeline for radiation
By Janese Silvey
Jeff Wilcox hasn’t experienced any symptoms or illnesses he suspects would have been caused by the low-level radiation in his building on the University of Missouri campus.
Still, he’s not exactly comfortable being required to wear a dosimeter — which measures the radiation he’s exposed to — when he’s working in Pickard Hall. That and the radiation signs in parts of the building are a little unnerving, he said.
Wilcox, who has worked at the Museum of Art and Archaeology at Pickard for 35 years, expressed his concerns during a Nuclear Regulatory Commission hearing yesterday. It was part of NRC’s yearlong process to consider the university’s request to indefinitely extend a federal timeline that would require MU to clean up the radioactive material at Pickard within two years.
Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for these stories.
Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation: Survey shows health coverage is important — but not sufficient to guarantee access to care
Center for Healthcare Research & Transformation survey reveals those with Medicaid coverage face more difficulties accessing care than all but the uninsured
June 20, 2011
Ann Arbor, MI – The second annual Cover Michigan Survey, released today by the Center for Healthcare Research & Transformation (CHRT), shows that people who lack health coverage are more likely to seek medical treatment in costlier care settings and less likely to have regular, preventive care.
The survey of 1,000 Michigan adults also reveals that simply having health coverage does not guarantee access to care.
Among those with health coverage, those with Medicaid coverage reported the greatest difficulty gaining access to preferred primary care providers or specialists and were the most likely to delay seeking care when needed.
The uninsured—who reported more difficulty accessing care when compared to the insured—appeared to be sicker or more acutely ill at the point they sought health care services. And among the uninsured, nearly one in three (32 percent) reported having been diagnosed with depression, compared to one in ten (11 percent) of the insured.
CHRT is a partnership between the University of Michigan Health System and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.
Indiana University: IU Maurer School of Law professor named to oversight council for online adult content
June 22, 2011
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A professor at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law has been appointed to the policy council for a new organization advocating responsible business practices in the online adult entertainment community.
Professor Fred H. Cate is one of four founding members named to the policy council of the International Foundation for Online Responsibility (IFFOR). IFFOR is an independent nonprofit body created by ICM Registry, the organization responsible for the new .xxx top level domain (TLD), which opens to trademark owners under a sunrise launch period in September 2011.
The council will be tasked with developing policies for responsible business practices and conduct within the online adult entertainment community. This includes making adult content less accessible to children online and protecting the privacy and security of consenting adult consumers of online adult entertainment goods and services.
A .xxx top domain? That's an acknowledgment that "The Internet's made for porn."
Penn State via physorg.com: High technology, not low taxes, may drive states' economic growth
June 23, 2011
High-tech training may trump tax breaks for creating more jobs and improving a state's economy, according to a team of economists.
"We found that lower state taxes were not statistically associated with a state's economic performance," said Stephan Goetz, professor of agricultural economics and regional economics, Penn State. "The tax climate was not linked to either growth or income distribution."
Goetz, who serves as director of the Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development, said states that favor low taxes do not necessarily spend funds efficiently. They may skimp on funding needed public services like road maintenance and education. Those costs are often transferred to businesses directly or become obstacles for businesses seeking to attract qualified workers to the state.
"It's essentially a case of you get what you pay for," Goetz said. "You can't attract businesses if you can't provide needed public services."
The Western Mail via Wales Online: ‘Indiana Jones in reverse’ wins archaeology ‘Oscar’
by Robin Turner, Western Mail
Valuable archaeological sites are being “decimated” to service a full-scale industry in selling human history, according to the man dubbed “Indiana Jones in reverse”.
Swansea University archaeologist Dr David Gill said many fortune hunters are abandoning all care in recovering artefacts and resorting instead to means, like mechanical diggers, that produce quick results.
The 48-year-old from Sketty, Swansea, has now been given one of the highest honours in the rarified world of antiquities for his work in getting artefacts returned to their countries of origin.
The reader in Mediterranean archaeology has been selected as the 2012 recipient of the Archaeological Institute of America’s (AIA) Outstanding Public Service Award
Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for this story.
University of Michigan: A century of bird study in Northern Michigan
June 20, 2011
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—This year marks a full century that instructors at the University of Michigan Biological Station on Douglas Lake near Pellston have been teaching students about northern Michigan's birds. The station was established in 1909, and two years later a course titled "The Natural History of Birds" first appeared in the summer bulletin.
According to the 1911 description: "Birds will be studied with especial reference to their environment. Field work will include identification, observations on habitat preferences, food habits, nesting activities and the early autumnal migration movements."
That same description could apply to the course today. Dave Ewert, who currently teaches Biology of Birds, described a typical class session: "We arrive at a site in early morning, take a field quiz, have breakfast, and then learn other species at the site." The field quiz covers 10 birds, and students are expected to know them by voice and sight. Ewert noted that the field breakfast—eggs, bacon and cowboy coffee cooked over a fire—is a longstanding tradition started by professor Olin Sewall Pettingill, Jr., who taught at the station from the late '30s to the mid-'70s.
Michigan State University: MSU to provide talent for national nuclear security pipeline
June 22, 2011
EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State University is among several institutions that will share a five-year, $25 million grant designed to prepare students to work on the country’s nuclear security needs, including the threat posed by the potential proliferation of nuclear weapons.
The grant is from the Department of Energy’s Nuclear Security Administration. It will fund the Nuclear Science and Security Consortium, which will focus on education and hands-on training of undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral students. The core set of experimental disciplines that support this mission include nuclear physics, nuclear chemistry, nuclear instrumentation and nuclear engineering.
“MSU’s role is one of the sources for the pipeline of talented researchers who can take positions at the U.S. national laboratories to solve some of the greatest challenges of U.S. national security,” said Brad Sherrill, chief scientist of the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams at MSU and leader of the MSU team on the NSSC project. “MSU is the top nuclear physics graduate program in the nation and hence is one of the top places where students learn about nuclear science. This makes MSU a natural partner in such a venture.”
University of Calgary (Canada) via physorg.com: Building a better math teacher: Math professor considers new ways to use what we already know
June 23, 2011
For years, it has been assumed that teachers -- specifically math teachers -- need to master the content they intend to teach. And the best way to do this is to take courses beyond that content.
Yet in a paper published today in the Education Forum of the journal Science, Dr. Brent Davis of the University of Calgary says research does not support this common belief. There is little evidence that advanced courses in mathematics contribute to more effective teaching.
Indiana University: IU Trustees approve the IU Public Health Initiative, work continues
June 24, 2011
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The Indiana University Board of Trustees today (June 24) approved key components of the IU Public Health Initiative, an effort by the university to address pressing health needs across the state through the establishment of the state's first schools of public health.
Trustees approved a request to change the name of the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation at IU Bloomington to the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington, and to create a new IU School of Public Health-Indianapolis at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.
Indiana traditionally ranks poorly in major public health benchmarks, such as obesity, tobacco use, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Citing these and other Hoosier health needs, IU officials announced in 2009 plans to leverage the university's vast public health resources through the creation of schools of public health at IU Bloomington and IUPUI.
Indiana University: Interesting, not just advanced classes may best promote interest in STEM careers
Findings in new paper co-authored by School of Education faculty member; grant will fund further study
June 22, 2011
BLOOMINGTON, Ind.-- A new study published in the journal Science Education finds that pushing high school students into more advanced courses in the STEM fields -- science, technology, engineering and mathematics -- does not have the greatest impact on whether they choose STEM careers.
"We want them to be skilled at math and science, but we also need to think about what we can do in terms of teaching it in ways to get them more interested," said Adam V. Maltese, assistant professor of science education in the Indiana University School of Education. "This provides some numbers and some data to back up the importance of that."
Maltese, also an adjunct faculty member of the Department of Geological Sciences in the College of Arts and Scienes, authored "Pipeline Persistence: Examining the Association of Educational Experiences with Earned Degrees in STEM Among U.S. Students." The articles is co-authored by Robert H. Tai, associate professor of science education at the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia. Maltese and Tai recently received funding that will allow them to conduct analysis of younger students' motivations to select STEM careers.
Science Writing and Reporting
Science News: BOOK REVIEW: Annoying: The Science of What Bugs Us
By Joe Palca and Flora Lichtman
Review by Devin Powell
July 2nd, 2011; Vol.180 #1 (p. 31)
In their new book, radio science journalism veterans Palca (a member of the board of Society for Science & the Public, which publishes Science News)and Lichtman roam the landscape of human annoyance. Like 18th century naturalists, they collect specimens of the sights, sounds and smells that drive folks crazy: nails on chalkboards, public cell phone chats, chili peppers, insects, insults, dreams, sirens and spouses. The authors are joined by psychologists, neuroscientists, screenwriters and philosophers speculating about the root causes of irritation.
“Part of the recipe for what makes something annoying seems to be its level of unpredictability,” the authors write. Lack of control also seems to play a role.
Science is Cool
Ohio State University: SMARTPHONE APP HELPS YOU FIND FRIENDS IN A CROWD
June 23, 2011
MINNEAPOLIS – Can a smartphone app enable meaningful, face-to-face conversation?
Engineers are trying to find out, with software that helps people locate their friends in a crowd – and make new friends who share similar interests.
It uses nearby wireless networks and smartphones’ wireless communication technologies to alert users that a friend who also uses the software is in the area – and gives directions to that friend’s location.
Dong Xuan, associate professor of computer science and engineering at Ohio State University, hopes that his research group’s software will also build bridges between strangers who share personal or professional interests.
Science News: Better putting in a few simple steps
A physicist’s advice on getting the ball in the hole
By Devin Powell
Web edition : Tuesday, June 21st, 2011
A Yale physicist with a lifelong passion for golf has figured out a better way to putt on a slope. Thanks to the geometry of the game, he says, there’s a magic spot just uphill of a hole. The trick is to line up the putt not only from where the ball is actually lying, but also from several equidistant points nearby. Do that and the sweet spot will reveal itself.
There are countless mental tricks golfers use to sink putts on a tilted green.
“Many golfers use a mental image of pouring a bucket out on the green and visualize where the water would flow,” says Mark Broadie, a professor at the Graduate School of Business at Columbia University who developed a new statistic for measuring putting performance recently adopted by the PGA Tour.