Welcome to Science Saturday, where the Overnight News Digest crew, consisting of founder Magnifico, regular editors ScottyUrb, Bentliberal, wader, Oke, rfall, and JML9999, alumni editors palantir and jlms qkw, guest editors maggiejean and annetteboardman, and current editor-in-chief Neon Vincent, along with anyone else who reads and comments, informs and entertains you with this week's news about science, space, and the environment.
Between now and the end of the primary/caucus season, Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday will highlight the research stories from the public universities in each of the states having elections and caucuses during the week (or in the upcoming weeks if there is no primary or caucus that week). In addition, OND:SS will include stories from the University of Wisconsin system every weekend until the June 5 special election in Wisconsin. That written, tonight's edition features the science, space, environment, and energy stories from universities in the states of Indiana, North Carolina, Oregon, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
This week's featured stories come from the University of Wisconsin and Indiana University.
Important voting information for UW-Madison students
May 10, 2012
Dean of Students Lori Berquam emailed the following information to UW-Madison students Thursday, May 10 in an effort to help students vote in the June 5 recall election:
As you are aware, Wisconsin's recall election will be held on Tuesday, June 5.
As always, I strongly encourage you to be educated about the candidates and cast a ballot. Recent changes in voting laws, combined with the end of the semester, may require you to plan ahead.
Thank you, Dean Berquam. I have only one thing to add. May the UW's students do their part as important players in the following movie.
Now on to other important political news.
Indiana University expert available to comment on President Obama’s position on same-sex marriage
May 9, 2012
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- President Barack Obama told ABC News today that same-sex couples should be able to marry, ending a two-year period in which his views on the issue were said to be "evolving." Brian Powell, Rudy Professor of Sociology in the College of Arts and Sciences at Indiana University Bloomington, is available to comment on the president's statement.
"President Obama's evolving view about same-sex marriage is strikingly similar to Americans' evolving views on the same issue," said Powell, who has conducted extensive research on attitudes toward marriage and family. "Nearly all national surveys indicate that half or slightly more than half of all Americans believe that same-sex couples should have the same marital rights as heterosexual couples.
"This evolution in American views has been rapid," Powell said. "Just 10 years ago, same-sex marriage was a foreign idea to most Americans. Years from now, President Obama's comments from today will be viewed as a critical historical moment in the movement toward marriage equality."
You said it.
More stories after the jump.
Recent Science Diaries and Stories
Watch this space!
This week in science: This is the end ...
by Desert Scientist
BBC: Ferrari sorry after car damages Nanjing city wall
Italian sports car maker Ferrari has apologised after one of its cars drove on an ancient Chinese monument, prior to a publicity event, causing damage.
Ferrari suggested the incident was the fault of a local dealership employee.
The car was filmed wheel-spinning on top of a 600-year-old Ming-dynasty era wall in the city of Nanjing.
Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for this story.
West Virginia University: Melissa Latimer: helping advance the cause of women in science
May 7, 2012
In her professional career, she settled on identifying and eradicating unfairness in society. That’s what she’s worked to do as an associate professor of sociology and instructor of women’s studies.
Latimer is also working to bring about change that will encourage women to be able to stay in fields at West Virginia University in which they are typically the minority. Faculty members of either sex are increasingly striving to achieve a balance between work and the rest of their life.
She directs the WVU ADVANCE Center, part of a $3.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation that is intended to recruit, retain and promote women in the science, technology, engineering and math fields.
She knows how easy it is to be consumed in work, but she’s found that playing in her band Second Cousin, which includes other WVU faculty members, has helped her to keep as much of a balance as possible.
Find out more about Latimer as a scientist and how she balances her personal and work lives on this new video, the first in a series of videos that give glimpses into the lives of the female faculty at WVU showing the meeting place between who they are and what they do.
NASA Television on YouTube: Latest Update on New Space Station Crew on This Week @NASA
Activities for new Expedition 31 crewmembers, Soyuz Commander Gennady Padalka, NASA Flight Engineer Joe Acaba and Flight Engineer Sergei Revin include a pre-launch fit check in a Soyuz capsule at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the raising of flags outside the Cosmonaut Hotel crew quarters and launch to the orbiting laboratory to meet up with NASA Astronaut Don Pettit, Cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko and Andre Kuipers of the European Space Agency. Also, SpaceX continues its preparations for the planned May 19 launch of the Falcon 9 rocket and unmanned Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station, new findings about the asteroid Vesta by NASA's DAWN spacecraft and more!
NASA Television on YouTube: ScienceCasts: Don't Judge a Moon by its Cover
Superficially, Saturn's moon Phoebe doesn't look much like a planet, but on the inside, the little gray moon has a lot in common with worlds like Earth.
Purdue University: Students honor former astronaut with outdoor sculpture of solar system, hope to inspire others in STEM
May 10, 2012
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – An interactive sculpture of the planetary system, about a football field in length, will crown a new mall at the south end of Purdue's Discovery Park.
Purdue students in a service-learning class designed the sculpture -Visiting Our Solar System, VOSS - and named it in honor of the late Janice Voss, a Purdue alumna who flew on five shuttle missions. Trustees and other Purdue leaders will get their first look at a three-foot high model at 3 p.m. Friday (May 11) on the future mall.
Completion of the mall, between the Hall for Discovery and Learning Research and Terry House west of Martin Jischke Drive, is expected in 2013. VOSS will be added in 2014 with spiral walkways and a model of the sun standing as much as 30 feet in diameter, while Saturn will be 4 feet and Earth 6 inches. Each planet will be lighted and suspended from 6-foot-high curved walls. Jeff Laramore teamed with Tom Fansler of Smock Fansler Construction, both of Indianapolis, to be selected as the artists from 10 entries in a national design contest.
Discovery News: Early Man Shared Florida With Mammoths
The discovery adds Florida to the list of places in North America where humans coexisted with massive, now extinct, creatures.
By Emily Sohn
Not far from West Palm Beach in southern Florida, people once lived alongside giant ground sloths, mammoths, tapirs, mastodons and other enormous creatures.
The discovery adds the far southeast corner of the United States to the list of places in North America where humans coexisted with massive creatures more than 10,000 years ago. The finding also adds to a growing body of evidence that modern humans spread rapidly after arriving in the Americas, though it’s still not clear when and where they first set foot on the continent.
“We found that humans came into Florida before the extinction of megafauna -- they were in Florida by 10,000 years ago,” said Bruce MacFadden, a paleontologist at the University of Florida, Gainesville. This is “clearly documenting that humans were widespread in North America.”
Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for this story.
Oregon State University: Study finds prey distribution, not biomass, key to marine food chain
May 2, 2012
A new study has found that each step of the marine food chain is clearly controlled by the trophic level below it – and the driving factor influencing that relationship is not the abundance of prey, but how that prey is distributed.
The importance of the spatial pattern of resources – sometimes called “patchiness” – is gaining new appreciation from ecologists, who are finding the overall abundance of food less important than its density and ease of access to it.
Kelly Benoit-Bird, an Oregon State University oceanographer and lead author on the study, said patchiness is not a new concept, but one that has gained acceptance as sophisticated technologies have evolved to track relationships among marine species.
West Virginia University: WVU researchers study how to keep wind turbines out of eagles' flight path
May 10, 2012
In Mother Nature’s world, everything is related to everything else – some call it the butterfly effect.
So when researchers at West Virginia University were trying to figure out why so many golden eagles were being killed by wind turbines – and how to prevent it – they decided they needed to know how the birds figured out where to fly.
And that led them to try to understand whether birds opted to fly fast, and get to their feeding grounds early, but tired, or fly more slowly, and arrive well-rested.
Why would that help with a solution to placement of wind turbines? If the answer was “fast, but tired,” then the birds would be choosing to fly in the same areas that were also the best places for wind turbines – locations with high winds.
The answer? Fast, but tired.
If this story looks familiar, it's because it covers the same territory as Researchers aim to lessen clash between raptors, wind turbines
from Penn State University, which I included Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Earth Day 2012 edition)
. Insert joke about West Virginia being behind the times here.
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill: Nutrition Research Institute receives Grand Challenges Explorations Grant for global health research
May 9, 2012
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Nutrition Research Institute in Kannapolis is a Grand Challenges Explorations winner, an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Steven H. Zeisel, M.D., Ph.D., institute director and Kenan Distinguished University Professor in nutrition and pediatrics in the Gillings School of Global Public Health and the School of Medicine, will pursue an innovative global health and development research project titled “Choline and Optimal Development.”
Grand Challenges Explorations funds individuals worldwide to explore ideas that can break the mold in solving persistent global health and development challenges. Zeisel’s project is one of more than 100 Grand Challenges Explorations Round 8 grants announced today (May 9) by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
North Carolina State University: Researchers Use Light to Switch On Gene Expression
May 10, 2012
Imagine being able to control genetic expression by flipping a light switch. Researchers at North Carolina State University are using light-activated molecules to turn gene expression on and off. Their method enables greater precision when studying gene function, and could lead to targeted therapies for diseases like cancer.
Triplex-forming oligonucleotides (TFOs) are commonly used molecules that can prevent gene transcription by binding to double-stranded DNA. NC State chemist Dr. Alex Deiters wanted to find a way to more precisely control TFOs, and by extension, the transcription of certain genes. So Deiters attached a light-activated “cage” to a TFO. When exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light, the cage is removed, and the TFO is free to bind with DNA, inhibiting transcription of the gene of interest.
“In the absence of light, transcription activity is 100 percent,” says Deiters. “When we turn on the light, we can take it down to about 25 percent, which is a significant reduction in gene expression.”
West Virginia University: New study examines role of intimate partner violence in workplace homicides among U.S. women
May 4, 2012
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Researchers from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Injury Control Research Center at West Virginia University (WVU-ICRC) have found that intimate partner violence resulted in 142 homicides among women at work in the U.S. from 2003 to 2008, a figure which represents 22 percent of the 648 workplace homicides among women during the period.
The paper, “Workplace homicides among U.S. women: the role of intimate partner violence,” published in the April 2012 issue of “Annals of Epidemiology,” reports that the leading cause of homicides among women was criminal intent, such as those resulting from robberies of retail stores (39 percent), followed closely by homicides carried out by personal relations (33 percent). Nearly 80 percent of these personal relations were intimate partners.
Risk factors associated with workplace-related intimate partner homicides include occupation, time of day and location. Women in protective-service occupations had the highest overall homicide rate; however, women in healthcare, production and office/administration had the highest proportion of homicides related to intimate partner violence. Over half of the homicides committed by intimate partners occurred in parking lots and public buildings.
“Workplace violence is an issue that affects the entire community,” said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. “Understanding the extent of the risk and the precipitators for these events, especially for women, of becoming victims of workplace violence is a key step in preventing these tragedies.”
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill: Culturally sensitive research in United Arab Emirates pinpoints indoor air quality risks
May 9, 2012
The rapid shift from nomadic life to modern-day culture in the United Arab Emirates has exposed residents to significant indoor air quality risks that can lead to respiratory illness, according to a new study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
With the swift modernization of the country, UAE governmental agencies have not performed the research required to pinpoint health risks, the study reported. The need to develop governmental research capacity makes collaborations with U.S. research teams vital, but the studies must be conducted in a culturally appropriate way.
"This is an important area of investigation, and the UAE is completely under-researched," said Karin Yeatts, Ph.D., lead study author and assistant professor of epidemiology at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. "There are many good scientific questions that need to be answered, and this area of the world is very deserving of science and public health work."
Knowing about indoor air quality risks is important, Yeatts said, because people in the UAE spend 80 percent to 95 percent of their time indoors escaping the high temperatures.
North Carolina State University: Model Forecasts Long-Term Impacts Of Forest Land-Use Decisions
May 10, 2012
The drive to develop crops for use in biofuels is raising questions about how to use forest land. A new computer model developed at North Carolina State University offers the most detailed insight yet into predicting how these new land uses might impact the environment – and may also help us understand how the forest ecosystem will respond to global climate change.
“We think the model will help policy makers and forest managers make informed decisions to maintain forest productivity while minimizing the environmental impact of managed forest plantations,” says Dr. Shiying Tian, a postdoctoral researcher at NC State, and lead author of a paper on the new model. “It also will help us understand how these forest systems will respond if we see changes in temperature or precipitation related to climate change,” says Dr. Mohamed Youssef, an assistant professor biological and agricultural engineering at NC State, and co-author of the paper.
NC State researchers had previously developed models that accounted for the hydrology, carbon and nitrogen cycles in agricultural land with high water table soils. The new model, called DRAINMOD-FOREST, extends the models’ applicability to forest land by accounting for plant growth in the forest ecosystem. The model addresses how trees and other forest vegetation affect – and are affected by – the water, carbon, and nitrogen cycles. DRAINMOD-FOREST looks specifically at forests in areas with a high water table – such as coastal regions.
Oregon State University: Study finds stream temperatures don’t parallel warming climate trend
May 2, 2012
A new analysis of streams in the western United States with long-term monitoring programs has found that despite a general increase in air temperatures over the past several decades, streams are not necessarily warming at the same rate.
Several factors may influence the discrepancy, researchers say, including snowmelt, interaction with groundwater, flow and discharge rates, solar radiation, wind and humidity. But even after factoring out those elements, the scientists were surprised by the cooler-than-expected maximum, mean and minimum temperatures of the streams.
Results of the research, which was supported by the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Forest Service and Oregon State University, have been published online in Geophysical Research Letters.
West Virginia University: Grass guzzling bovine or efficient eater? WVU leads way in figuring it out
May 9, 2012
Imagine you’ve got two bulls in front of you. They look equally healthy and robust; they’re roughly the same size. But one of them will cost you a whole lot more in feed over its lifetime to grow at the same rate as the other.
Can you tell which one is the grass guzzler, and which is more fuel-efficient?
West Virginia University can.
University of North Carolina, Wilmington: The Rock Whisperer: UNCW Professor Principal Investigator on Major Climate Change Research Shares $4.25 Million NSF Grant
May 3, 2012
The Earth is warming. Determining what this will mean for future generations is one of the greatest challenges in modern science, and UNCW Environmental Science Studies Professor Paul Hearty has been tapped as one of a world-class team of scientists working to provide answers to this question.
Hearty is one of five principal investigators on a grant to build a comprehensive model of past climate change by integrating elements of the world's crust, oceans, atmosphere and ice sheets, using fossil and geological data from an ancient warming period 3 million years ago. The National Science Foundation has funded the five-year study for $4.25 million, a rare achievement in an age when basic research budgets have been drastically cut and many studies are funded.
Approximately 3 million years ago, the Earth was warmer. Global average temperatures were 2-3 Celsius (3.6F to 5.4F) greater than today. Known as the Mid-Pliocene Climatic Optimum (PLIOMAX), this interval has received renewed attention by researchers because its temperatures and composition of the atmosphere are similar to those predicted by global climate change models of the coming century.
"We have to go back 3 million years to find CO2 levels of 400 ppm. Our atmosphere, now at about 393 ppm, will easily reach 400 ppm by the end of this decade." said Hearty.
University of Oregon: A few individual brains may predict the behaviors of larger populations
May 3, 2012
Brain scans of a few people were more telling about the actual responsiveness of larger populations than what was expected through conventional verbal reports in a new study that could affect political advertising, commercial market research and public health campaigns.
The study by researchers at the University of Michigan, University of Oregon and the University of California, Los Angeles, involved smokers who want to kick the habit and their willingness to act after viewing three different advertising campaigns aimed at smokers.
The study is online ahead of regular publication in Psychological Science. Researchers found that what people reported in focus groups can be different than what their brain scans indicated.
Irish Examiner: 6,000-year-old settlement poses tsunami mystery
By Andrew Hamilton
Wednesday, May 09, 2012
Archeologists have uncovered evidence of pre-farming people living in the Burren more than 6,000 years ago — one of the oldest habitations ever unearthed in Ireland.
Radiocarbon dating of a shellfish midden on Fanore Beach in north Clare have revealed it to be at least 6,000 years old — hundreds of years older than the nearby Poulnabrone dolmen.
The midden — a cooking area where nomad hunter-gatherers boiled or roasted shellfish — contained Stone Age implements, including two axes and a number of smaller stone tools.
Excavation of the site revealed a mysterious black layer of organic material, which archeologists believe may be the results of a Stone Age tsunami which hit the Clare coast, possibly wiping out the people who used the midden.
The Independent (UK): Ancient language discovered on clay tablets found amid ruins of 2800 year old Middle Eastern palace
Archaeologists have discovered evidence for a previously unknown ancient language – buried in the ruins of a 2800 year old Middle Eastern palace.
The discovery is important because it may help reveal the ethnic and cultural origins of some of history’s first ‘barbarians’ – mountain tribes which had, in previous millennia, preyed on the world’s first great civilizations, the cultures of early Mesopotamia in what is now Iraq.
Time Magazine: 5 Things You Didn’t Know About China’s Terra-Cotta Army
Relics from the legendary Chinese archaeological site are now on display in New York City. Here's what you need to know
By Kate Springer
While digging a well near Mount Li in Shaanxi, China, in 1974, a farmer stumbled upon one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of the century: the tomb of Qin Shi Huang Di, an Emperor who died in 210 B.C. and was buried with a terra-cotta entourage. Since then, archaeologists have spent the past 40 years carefully uncovering the life-size warriors from 22 sq. mi. (57 sq km) of earth-and-wood pits.
So far, excavations at the Museum of the Terracotta Army, located roughly 25 miles (40 km) east of Xi’an, have unearthed about 2,000 of the 6,000 figures thought to exist. Alongside the subterranean army lie horses, chariots, weaponry — even acrobats meant to entertain Emperor Qin in death. Scholars say the warriors were buried with China’s first Emperor to protect him in the afterlife and were never meant to be seen. Today, this so-called eighth wonder of the world attracts an estimated 2 million tourists per year.
For those who can’t make it to Xi’an, a handful of figures are on display in New York City through Aug. 26 as the centerpiece of an immersive exhibit in Times Square. The show will feature artifacts dating back to 221 B.C., including 10 of the authentic, 6-ft.-tall (183 cm) clay soldiers and their armor. In honor of the exhibit, here are five important bits of terra-cotta trivia:
N.Y. Times: Painted Maya Walls Reveal Calendar Writing
By JOHN NOBLE WILFORD
Published: May 10, 2012
Hacking through jungle growth and clearing away rubble, archaeologists made their way to excavate a house buried at the edge of ruins of a large Maya city in the remote Petén lowlands of northeastern Guatemala. It turned out to have been the studio for royal scribes with a taste for art and a devotion to the heavens as the source of calculations for the ancient culture’s elaborate calendars.
Inside, two of the three standing masonry walls were decorated with a faded but still impressive mural, including a painting of a seated king with a scepter and wearing blue feathers. It seemed that, like the Alec Guinness character in the 1958 movie “The Horse’s Mouth,” no Maya artist could abide a wall without a touch of inspired paint. The third wall, on the east side, appeared to have served as the scribes’ blackboard.
LiveScience: Ballplayer Statue Suggests Sports Were Big in Ancient Mexico
Jennifer Welsh, LiveScience Staff Writer
Date: 11 May 2012 Time: 11:44 AM ET
Sports may have been all the rage for ancient Mesoamericans, scientists say after discovering a portion of a figurine of an athlete near Oaxaca, Mexico.
The figure indicates the activity known as "the ballgame" was even more widespread than thought in Mesoamerica, which extended from central Mexico to Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica.
I'm not the least bit surprised about the ballgame being important at Oaxaca, as I saw a ballcourt at Monte Alban above Oaxaca last October. That site is 2,000 years older than the Aztecs.
University of Reading (UK) via Physorg: Glastonbury Abbey excavations reveal Saxon glass industry
May 8, 2012
New research led by the University of Reading has revealed that finds at Glastonbury Abbey provide the earliest archaeological evidence of glass-making in Britain.
Professor Roberta Gilchrist, from the Department of Archaeology, has re-examined the records of excavations that took place at Glastonbury in the 1950s and 1960s.
Glass furnaces recorded in 1955-7 were previously thought to date from before the Norman Conquest. However, radiocarbon dating has now revealed that they date approximately to the 680s, and are likely to be associated with a major rebuilding of the abbey undertaken by King Ine of Wessex. Glass-making at York and Wearmouth is recorded in historical documents in the 670s but Glastonbury provides the earliest and most substantial archaeological evidence for glass-making in Saxon Britain.
Asian News International via News Track India: Ancient Buddhist temple found in China's Taklimakan Desert
May 7, 2012
Keriya (Xinjiang, China) May 7 (Xinhua-ANI) -- The ruins of a Buddhist temple dating back 1,500 years ago have been discovered in China's largest desert, offering valuable research material for historians studying Buddhism's spread from India to China.
The temple's main hall, with a rare structure based around three square-shaped corridors and a huge Buddha statue, has been uncovered after two months of hard work in Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, Dr. Wu Xinhua, the leading archaeologist of the excavation project, said Monday.
New Zealand Herald: Northland dig uncovers 800-year-old signs of living
By Joseph Aldridge of the Northern Advocate
5:49 PM Friday May 11, 2012
Significant evidence of early Maori settlement in the Kamo area of Whangarei was discovered during work on a bypass last year.
Archaeologists found hangi pits, fire scoops, post holes and stone mounds, as well as charcoal believed to be almost 800 years old. Earthworks for the bypass were carried out under an archaeological Historic Places Trust authority.
Lead archaeologist Sarah Phear said radio-carbon dating techniques were used to place some of the features to around 1230-1275AD "with a high degree of certainty".
Washington Post: Civil War fort at Jamestown is dug up to get at 1607 site
By W. Barksdale Maynard
Published: May 7
Since the sensational 1994 discovery of James Fort, the first permanent English settlement in the New World, excavations have revealed palisade walls and numerous buildings, along with remarkable clues about the Anglo-American culture that started with the landing of colonists on Virginia’s Jamestown Island in 1607.
But because much of the original fort is buried underneath a Confederate earthwork called Fort Pocahontas, these discoveries forced a painful historical and archaeological trade-off. To reveal James Fort, nearly half of Fort Pocahontas has been removed.
In the process, invaluable traces of America’s founding have been discovered right next to remains from the Civil War. “It’s probably the only place you would have a story like that,” says Colin Campbell, president of Colonial Williamsburg, citing the conjunction of two pivotal moments in U.S. history. “I think it’s absolutely fascinating.”
University of Nevada, Reno via Science Daily: Anthropologists Discover New Research Use for Dental Plaque: Examining Diets of Ancient Peoples
May 2, 2012
While we may brush and floss tirelessly and our dentists may regularly scrape and pick at our teeth to minimize the formation of plaque known as tartar or dental calculus, anthropologists may be rejoicing at the fact that past civilizations were not so careful with their dental hygiene.
University of Nevada, Reno researchers G. Richard Scott and Simon R. Poulson discovered that very small particles of plaque removed from the teeth of ancient populations may provide good clues about their diets. Scott is chair and associate professor of anthropology in the College of Liberal Arts. Poulson is research professor of geological sciences in the Mackay School of Earth Sciences and Engineering.
Tucson Sentinel: Agents discover archaeological artifacts west of Tucson
Janet Rose Jackman TucsonSentinel.com
Tucson Sector Border Patrol agents have discovered two sets of archaeological artifacts in the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument since February, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced Tuesday.
In late February, Ajo Station agents patrolling on foot came across what they believed to be an ancient bowl hidden in a shady outcropping of rock, the Border Patrol said.
Times of Trenton via NJ.com: Man trapped by fallen boulder as he sought artifacts at a county park
By Joshua Rosenau/Times of Trenton
Published: Sunday, May 06, 2012, 12:30 PM Updated: Sunday, May 06, 2012, 12:39 PM
HOPEWELL TOWNSHIP — A lifelong interest in lost and buried artifacts led an amateur archaeologist from Lawrence into peril yesterday when a shifting mass of rock pinned his leg and nearly buried him.
Robert J. Goss, 56, and his friend, Ralph E. Mundy, 63, were out for a hike at the Baldpate Mountain park in Hopewell when they saw a pair of old buildings around noon and decided to check them out.
“We came walking through the woods, and I wish we would have made a right,” Mundy said. “Then we never would have seen it.”
What attracted the men was a shallow hole, about 4 feet deep, near one of the buildings that had a large stone in a side wall. Goss would be trapped in the hole for the next five hours.
There is a follow-up letter at nj.com
Hat/Tip to annetteboardman, who sent in the above articles.
University of Wisconsin: Networking pioneer Landweber named to Internet Hall of Fame
by Chris Barncard
May 10, 2012
The decision to put Lawrence Landweber in the "Innovators" circle of the newly-created Internet Hall of Fame is not likely one that cost the nominating committee any sleep.
"What's neat about this field is that there is always something new," says Landweber, the University of Wisconsin-Madison emeritus professor of computer sciences. "Everywhere you look you find new, exciting applications opened up by new, exciting technologies."
Landweber joined 31 other Internet luminaries — names like Vint Cerf ("Father of the Internet"), Tim Berners-Lee (inventor of the World Wide Web) and Ray Tomlinson (he chose the "@" symbol and gave us email) — in the hall's first class of inductees in a ceremony in Geneva.
University of Wisconsin: New round of federal funding received for $85 million medical isotope project
by Jennifer Sereno
May 8, 2012
The Morgridge Institute for Research has received a $20.6 million cooperative agreement from the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration to support development of a new process and manufacturing plant for a medical isotope needed by tens of thousands of U.S. patients daily.
The cooperative agreement through the National Nuclear Security Administration's Global Threat Reduction Initiative will support the Morgridge Institute and partner SHINE Medical Technologies in efforts to produce molybdenum-99 without weapons-usable highly enriched uranium.
Thomas "Rock" Mackie, principal investigator for the project and director of medical devices at the Morgridge Institute for Research in Madison, says the private, nonprofit research institute located on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus will serve as the prime contractor on the project.
University of Wisconsin: In metallic glasses, researchers find a few new atomic structures
by Renee Meiller
May 11, 2012
Drawing on powerful computational tools and a state-of-the-art scanning transmission electron microscope, a team of University of Wisconsin-Madison and Iowa State University materials science and engineering researchers has discovered a new nanometer-scale atomic structure in solid metallic materials known as metallic glasses.
Published May 11 in the journal Physical Review Letters, the findings fill a gap in researchers' understanding of this atomic structure. This understanding ultimately could help manufacturers fine-tune such properties of metallic glasses as ductility, the ability to change shape under force without breaking, and formability, the ability to form a glass without crystalizing.
Glasses include all solid materials that have a non-crystalline atomic structure: They lack a regular geometric arrangement of atoms over long distances. "The fundamental nature of a glass structure is that the organization of the atoms is disordered-jumbled up like differently sized marbles in a jar, rather than eggs in an egg carton," says Paul Voyles, a UW-Madison associate professor of materials science and engineering and principal investigator on the research.
West Virginia University: WVU's Human Powered Vehicle Team finishes seventh in international competition
May 9, 2012
Human-powered transport is often the only type of personal transportation available in underdeveloped or inaccessible parts of the world. If well designed, it can be an increasingly viable form of sustainable transportation.
The American Society of Mechanical Engineers international Human Powered Vehicle Challenge provides a unique opportunity for students to demonstrate the application of sound engineering design principles in the development of sustainable and practical transportation alternatives. Undergraduate engineering students work in teams to design, develop and build efficient, highly engineered vehicles for everyday use—from commuting to work, to carrying goods to market.
Science, Space, Environment, and Energy Policy
Portland State University: Landmark Oregon Study Documents Economic Impact and Resilience of the Nonprofit Sector
May 4, 2012
A new study of Oregon’s nonprofit sector by the Nonprofit Association of Oregon and Portland State University, with funding from three prominent Oregon-based foundations, has captured headlines in the business press for its documentation of the sector’s economic impact. The Portland Business Journal notes that nonprofits, which account for 13 percent of Oregon’s private sector payroll and eight percent of its gross domestic product, rival the state’s manufacturing sector “for sheer impact on Oregon’s economy.” Oregon Business Editor-in-Chief Robin Doussard notes, “I think everyone greatly appreciates the work that nonprofits do. But rarely do I encounter a business group or summit that brings in the nonprofit sector as a constant, equal partner to discuss the economy of the state.”
Economic impact is only part of the story, however. The landmark study, based on financial data (primarily for the year 2010) from the Oregon Department of Justice’s database of public charities, as well as a February 2012 detailed survey representing over 600 nonprofit respondents, also suggests that the state’s nonprofits have weathered the worst of the long recession and are showing signs of resilience.
The Oregon study provides strong evidence that the nonprofit sector’s economic contributions are significant, and its health affects overall prospects for the state’s economic recovery. Furthermore, because of the people it serves (the study reports that 78 percent of Oregon’s public charity nonprofits serve low income populations), the sector’s health also affects the lives of the state’s most vulnerable people and communities. Finally, with 83 percent of its revenue coming from sources other than government, nonprofits are leveraging a tremendous amount of private capital for community betterment.
West Virginia University: WVU graduate students work to revitalize Moundsville, W.Va.
May 10, 2012
A small town nestled in the northern panhandle of West Virginia, Moundsville derives its name from the area’s many Adena Indian burial mounds constructed more than 1,000 years ago.
Now, a West Virginia University professor, the West Virginia Campus Compact and graduate students working toward their master’s degrees in public administration are collaborating with the community to address community and economic development opportunities.
Margaret Stout, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the WVU Division of Public Administration, has taken on a two-year project to help the town engage citizens in planning. The resulting comprehensive plan will guide all city policies and programs that have to do with social, economic and environmental quality of life.
“This type of collaborative project, addressing community needs, is part of our 2020 strategic plan,” said Eberly College of Arts and Sciences Dean Robert Jones. “Partnering to develop successful and healthy West Virginia communities is an invaluable way for our students to gain field experience and an important service component of our college and University.”
Indiana University: Sustainability research grants focus on urban forestry, PCB impact
May 8, 2012
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Indiana University Office of Sustainability has announced the recipients of the Sustainability Research Development Grants for the 2012-13 academic year. Two teams of IU Bloomington faculty and graduate students will engage in new collaborative research projects on topics related to environmental sustainability.
The grant program, jointly sponsored by the University Graduate School, the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, and the IU Office of Sustainability, provides opportunities for faculty members and students to develop externally funded research related to sustainability.
"These two research initiatives will enhance our knowledge of the critical interrelationships between human and natural systems while providing opportunities for our faculty and students to test their research ideas," said Bill Brown, IU director of sustainability. "Past awards have proven to be fruitful seeds for much larger, externally funded research."
Indiana University: Review: Classroom observation is variable, imprecise measure of teacher performance
May 7, 2012
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Classroom observation measures don't necessarily provide a clearer picture of teacher effectiveness than value-added measures based on student test scores, according to a review of the most recent report from the Measures of Effective Teaching Project's large-scale examination of teacher evaluation methods. The review was led by Cassandra Guarino, associate professor in the Educational Leadership and Policy Studies department at the Indiana University School of Education, and co-authored by Brian Stacy, a doctoral fellow at Michigan State University.
The MET describes its latest report, published by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, as "the largest study of instructional practice and its relationship to student outcomes." The report, issued earlier this year, is part of a series examining issues of teaching and learning assessment. For this study, the MET team videotaped multiple lessons from teachers across the nation and scored lessons using several different classroom observation rubrics and trained raters. It found that classroom observation scores varied substantially from lesson to lesson, from rater to rater, and from instrument to instrument.
While Guarino and Stacy concur with the MET report authors that multiple measures of teacher effectiveness are needed to provide a more complete picture of teacher performance, they take the interpretation of the MET report findings several steps further.
North Carolina State University: White House Honors NC State Student’s Efforts to Make STEM Accessible to Disabled
May 7, 2012
President Barack Obama recognized North Carolina State University student Sina Bahram as one of 14 “Champions of Change” at a White House ceremony May 7, honoring those who have made significant efforts to make science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) more accessible to people with disabilities.
Bahram, who earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees from NC State, is currently a Ph.D. student in computer science. His research focuses on improving the interaction between users and technology. This field of study is of particular importance to Bahram, who is blind.
“The leaders we’ve selected as Champions of Change are proving that when the playing field is level, people with disabilities can excel in STEM, develop new products, create scientific inventions, open successful businesses, and contribute equally to the economic and educational future of our country,” says Kareem Dale, Special Assistant to the President for Disability Policy.
University of North Carolina, Greensboro: Warming kids up to the coolness of math
Professor shapes the scientists and engineers of the future
May 11, 2012
Dr. Sarah Berenson’s grandchildren pasted an orange sticky note adorned with stars and peace signs on her office door: “Math is awesome. Math is cool.” Berenson has a way of helping kids warm up to math. She’s built her career on it.
Berenson, who retires from the School of Education July 31, spent 23 years at NC State directing a research center for math and science education before she came to UNCG in 2007 as the Yopp Distinguished Professor of Mathematics Education. She was the principal investigator for an National Science Foundation STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) grant that examined young women’s career choices.
More recently, she has studied methods for teaching math to elementary students of both genders.
West Virginia University: WVU Davis College students participate in PLANET career days
May 10, 2012
A group of West Virginia University students recently competed in the Professional Landcare Network Student Career Days event in Manhattan, Kan.
Hosted by Kansas State University, the three-day competition gives collegiate students pursuing majors like horticulture, landscape architecture and agribusiness management and rural development the chance to compete in events directly related to the skills necessary for careers in the green industry.
This year’s contest featured 700 students from 63 colleges and universities across the country.
Science Writing and Reporting
University of Oregon: UO vision materializes: Atlas of Yellowstone
May 7, 2012
What was first envisioned nine years ago as a class project in the University of Oregon’s Department of Geography was published this spring as a comprehensive, hard-bound reference book filled with colorful maps and data-rich graphics, and covering a broad-spectrum history that reaches back millions of years.
The Atlas of Yellowstone – published by the University of California Press – is the product of collaboration between the UO, the National Park Service, Yellowstone area universities and other federal and private agencies. It documents in images and words everything from the archeology to evidence of climate change at Yellowstone National Park. Its topics range from Yellowstone art to regional economy, and from vegetation to bison movement.
“Pulling together all these materials was a daunting task – which explains why it has never been done before,” said W. Andrew Marcus, a geography professor and associate dean of social sciences at the UO, and senior editor on the Yellowstone project.
West Virginia University: New website provides resources, challenges and trackers to help West Virginians improve health
May 11, 2012
Telling West Virginian’s stories and providing easier access to resources like walking trackers, recipes, and research are the main goals behind the new website LiveWell West Virginia (http://livewellwv.ext.wvu.edu/).
A partnership website from the West Virginia University Extension Service and The Charleston Gazette, the site provides West Virginians with easier access to current health and wellness research and grant funding. The site also offers up recipes and blogs on topics like gardening, finances and relationships.
“Our state is consistently ranked high for risk factors associated with health and wellness,” Emily Murphy, WVU Extension Service childhood obesity prevention specialist, said. “At the same time, our state has great programs and resources to help people change their lifestyles and lower their risks for chronic disease. This site is a great resource and source of hope.”
Science is Cool
Discovery News: Tour the Pyramids Online
Analysis by Rossella Lorenzi
The most realistic and complete virtual rendition of Egypt's Giza Plateau is now available online, allowing anyone with a computer to wander the necropolis, explore shafts and burial chambers, and enter four of the site’s ancient temples, including Khufu's and Menkaure’s pyramids.
Engineered by software design firm Dassault Systèmes, in collaboration with Harvard University and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the free application is available on multiple devices, including 3-D-enabled computer monitors and TVs, and immersive environments.
Indeed, this is not just another too-clean looking and ultimately boring 3-D virtual tour of Egypt's famous archaeological site.
New Delhi Television (India): Howard Carter, archaeologist, celebrated by Google doodle
May 9, 2012
Howard Carter was an English archaeologist, whose most significant contribution to his field was the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun, the Egyptian pharaoh of the 18th dynasty.
Born in London on 9 May 1874, Carter took off to Egypt at the age of 17, to assist in the excavation and recording of Middle Kingdom tombs. He turned his inexperience into an asset, coming up with some rather innovative techniques while replicating the decoration of tombs being excavated.
After working for 8 years as an artist, recording and replicating the work, Carter was appointed the first chief inspector of the Egyptian Antiquities Service (EAS) in 1899. It was in this role he caught the attention of Lord Carnarvon, who got Carter on-board to supervise his excavations.
National Geographic News: Howard Carter: "Miraculous," Misunderstood Man Behind Google's Doodle
Ker Than for National Geographic News
Updated 4:30 p.m. ET, May 9, 2012
Around the world Wednesday, searchers were stumbling upon a gilt- and sepia-toned artifact of the Internet age—a Google doodle heralding the 138th birthday of Howard Carter, the British archaeologist who discovered the ancient Egyptian tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun in 1922.
The King Tut find brought Carter overnight—and lasting—fame, but it was anything but a stroke of luck, experts say.
When talking about the tomb discovery, "everyone likes to use the phrase 'stumble upon,' and that always ticks me off a little bit," said Yale University Egyptologist John Darnell.
Carter spent decades as an archaeological excavator exploring burial sites in ancient Thebes (now Luxor) before finding the roughly 3,000-year-old resting place of Tutankhamen, Darnell pointed out.
Innovation News Daily: New Interactive Map Calculates Travel Times in Ancient Rome
A new online tool, made by a team of historians and information technology specialists at Stanford University, shows just how long and costly it was to send people and wheat between cities in the Roman Empire. "It's Google Maps for the ancient world, complete with the 'Avoid Highways' feature," Scott Weingart, a doctoral student in library sciences at the University of Indiana, wrote in a blog-post review. Weingart was not involved in creating the tool, called ORBIS, but its creators asked him to preview and comment on it. His review appeared May 4 in the Editor's Choice column in Digital Humanities Now.
Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for these stories.