Those were the glory days. Amy Wright would plop down into the seat inside a giant acrylic dome to be submerged 3,000 feet underwater, with a front-row seat on the wonders far below the waters off the Florida coast. It was Wright’s first job as a chemist. She didn’t know it then, but she was riding a wave that would rise from expeditions in the Johnson-Sea-Link submersible vehicles to the breakthrough inventions in medicine she is known for today.
Days spent diving from a research ship and using robotic equipment on a manned submersible vehicle allowed Wright and her collaborators to travel to underwater vistas in the depths where, over the course of the next few decades, they would collect thousands of samples of marine invertebrates, the source materials for marine natural products.
Christine Spiten is the 27 year old co-founder and chief global strategist of Blueye Robotics, a company making underwater drones that connect with your smartphone, tablet, laptop or a pair of goggles to explore the marine environment 150 meters underwater. In an interview for Sea Technology with Spiten just a few hours after she emerged from an underwater adventure in the fjords of Trondheim Norway, where Blueye Robotics is based, I asked her about the company’s debut model, the Pioneer.
We also discussed future development plans and Spiten’s ideas about democratizing access to the ocean to make underwater inspection—whether the hull of a ship, an aquaculture farm, for search-and-rescue, or just for fun—an everyday activity without the need for expensive, heavy equipment or professional crews of divers.
BERKELEY, California—A group of eager writers attending the World Conference of Science Journalists 2017 stood on an upper platform at Berkeley’s Advanced Light Source (ALS) research lab. Under their feet, electrons raced at nearly the speed of light. Overhead, an iconic domed ceiling—the same ceiling under which Nobel laureate and nuclear scientist Ernest Lawrence invented the cyclotron—endowed a jumbled space full of laboratory pipes and instruments with the airy feel of a giant atrium.
As the journalists enjoyed their visit to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory on 29 October, magnets steered groups of electrons around a giant circle, 200 meters in circumference, and released light at 40 different openings. “Think of the electrons as cars with their headlights on,” said physicist Roger Falcone, director of ALS. “As they drive around, flashes of light come out each of those ports.”
Peering into molecules
At the ends of each of the 40 light beams—in a range of wavelengths spanning the electromagnetic spectrum from infrared to both soft and hard X-rays—instruments perform experiments that depend on this constant flow of electrons. The relentless light penetrates materials and allows scientists to study the atoms and molecules inside. Each beam can be tuned to a different wavelength to reveal a particular element or molecule. Scientists use the beams to study everything from how the crystallographic structure of a new polymer reflects light rays to how a bacterium breathes in the absence of oxygen.
WASHINGTON, D.C., February 6, 2018– Silicon has long been the go-to material in the world of microelectronics and semiconductor technology. But silicon still faces limitations, particularly with scalability for power applications. Pushing semiconductor technology to its full potential requires smaller designs at higher energy density.
“One of the largest shortcomings in the world of microelectronics is always good use of power: Designers are always looking to reduce excess power consumption and unnecessary heat generation,” said Gregg Jessen, principal electronics engineer at the Air Force Research Laboratory. “Usually, you would do this by scaling the devices. But the technologies in use today are already scaled close to their limits for the operating voltage desired in many applications. They are limited by their critical electric field strength.”
Transparent conductive oxides are a key emerging material in semiconductor technology, offering the unlikely combination of conductivity and transparency over the visual spectrum. One conductive oxide in particular has unique properties that allow it to function well in power switching: Ga2O3, or gallium oxide, a material with an incredibly large bandgap.
In August 2017 a research group led by explorer and philanthropist Paul G. Allen used ultra-high-tech underwater equipment to locate the wreckage of the USS Indianapolis, a ship that sank in the final days of WWII after it was struck by Japanese torpedoes. The discovery was made by Mr. Allen’s company, Vulcan Inc., using a new expedition ship it acquired for the purpose of seabed discovery—the RV Petrel.
Petrel was outfitted with cutting-edge technologies, including an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), which uses side-scan sonar to locate objects on the seabed, and a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) for further investigation and video documentation.
While AUVs and ROVs are becoming more common, the USS Indianapolis was discovered at a depth of nearly 6,000 m, and technologies suitable for robust research at great depth can be hard to find.
I applied because I wanted to gain a global perspective on my research and reporting. Less than a year later, I found myself standing on an empty beach near Bugøynes on the northern coast of Norway, silent except for the call of a distant bird and the lapping of cold water against the shore. Towering overhead were the sharp black rocks and dark islands of the fjords, silhouetted by midnight sun that glowed a soft, radiant white behind a sheet of fog…
From discovering the rings of Supernova 1987A during his time at the European Southern Observatory (Garching‚ Germany) to pioneering supernova spectropolarimetry in Texas‚ Lifan Wang has followed his passion for cosmology around the world. Wang is the director of the Chinese Center for Antarctic Astronomy (CCAA) responsible for design and deployment of two robotic telescopes to Antarctica – the Chinese Small Telescope ARray (CSTAR) and three Antarctic Survey Telescopes (AST3). Working remotely‚ Wang and collaborators obtained hundreds of thousands of observations of the night sky above the South Pole.
Antarctica is more like interstellar space than any other place on earth. It is extremely cold‚ dry‚ calm‚ and extra dark with clear seeing to great cosmic distances. As a result‚ a telescope just a few meters tall near the South Pole can make observations as good as larger telescopes at more temperate locations and study the same objects that space satellites can study ‚ but at lower cost without sending telescopes into orbit . But installing a telescope in Antarctica is not easy. It requires the use of a giant ice-breaker ship‚ track-wheeled tractors pulling huge storage containers‚ and a crew of woolen boot- and parka-clad “expedition astronomers” . In 2005 a Chinese expedition became the first to reach the peak of the Antarctic ice cap‚ the highest point on the Antarctic Plateau 4093 meters above sea level. It was called Dome Argus‚ now known as Dome A.
The computer scientists working on INSTRUMENT: One Antarctic Night view programming as an art form. They are also versed in the language of statistics‚ and they provide a valuable translation for the team. Theirs is the task of designing a data engine that allows for both graphic rendering and interaction‚ handling hundreds of thousands of data files to create an immersive art + science experience.
INSTRUMENT: One Antarctic Night is a suite of data instruments that use data from hundreds of thousands of stars captured by robotic telescopes in Antarctica. The interactive‚ and immersive aesthetic data experience will provide visitors the opportunity to explore characteristics of the stars seen above the South Pole through responsive sound‚ movement‚ graphics and visualization. To create sound for INSTRUMENT‚ the team is developing new paradigms‚ working in a blended space between practices of data sonification and computer-assisted composition to create a conversation between traditional practices‚ contemporary digital music and working with new mediums‚ new methods‚ and new theories.
The interaction system they are creating will represent the diversity of the dataset with diversity in sound. For instance‚ as they collect statistical metadata about the stars‚ the INSTRUMENT team
determines how to use those statistics to drive the system’s audio‚with human interaction as a medium.
INSTRUMENT: One Antarctic Night obtained more than one million data files and optical data images of the night sky over the South Pole‚ and the team is building an interactive‚ immersive art + science experience that allows people to interact with star data through sound‚ movement‚ and visuals. To make the data readable‚ the team must map parameters of the data onto various parts of interaction. That means the more data they can obtain about each star‚ the richer the context for the sonification and experience design.
Marvin Minsky, computing pioneer, cognitive scientist, and a founding father of artificial intelligence known for his relentless ambition and forward thinking, died in late January of this year at age 88, leaving a legacy.
Minsky lived his life on the cutting edge of computer technology, trailblazing the path to discovery and embracing humor in his quest to elucidate the mysteries of the human brain in order to make better machines.
He worked alongside collaborators who were also revolutionizing their fields…
Eight-thousand, two-hundred feet above sea level on the northern slope of Mauna Loa in a place surrounded by the barren, lava-rock landscape of an abandoned quarry, six scientists are living in isolation for 365 days in a roughly 1,000 sq. ft. dome.
That’s tight quarters. That’s a year stuck in a space not much larger than a racquetball court.
The domed habitat is called HI-SEAS, the Hawai’I Space Exploration Analog and Simulation…
Ira Greenberg treats himself like a computer. His is the art + science of using coding as a paintbrush and exploring the iterative process of creation. Working generatively, Ira creates art using code and algorithms that are art themselves. The self-dubbed “coding evangelist” believes that coding is the creative mode of our time.
While he has two degrees in painting Greenberg decided he wanted to start working with software for art-making. But he found the shrink-wrapped variety wouldn’t do, and he decided to teach himself coding so he could work creatively at the level of math and algorithms. Now, he’s spent 25 years working to figure out the physical disconnect of the computational medium versus painting.
The intersection of art + science is not a place to which a map can be drawn. Its practitioners won’t give you a neat definition of the field or summarize the nut graph of its literature.
They will tell you that it’s not about answering the question, “What is art + science?” It’s about asking it. And then immersing yourself in the virtual space of discovery that follows. Taking notes on the journey between the asking and the answering. It’s also about learning to ask really good questions…
If you’re following VR, you’re probably hearing a lot about presence. But what is it?
The definition is elusive. Presence in virtual environments has been described, measured, and theorized in all kinds of ways. Whether they have dedicated decades of their lives to the subject or they are part of today’s new generation with a fresh take on VR, researchers are still struggling to come up with a unified conception of presence.
As a huge new wave of presence-inducing technologies hits the market this year, for the first time many people will experience presence and broken presence in virtual environments, so understanding what works and doesn’t is important.
This BBC report live from Kirkenes in the High North of Norway talks about Russia-NATO relations, hundreds of refugees on bicycle entering Norway, the firing of an editor reporting on cross-border relations, and points to an uncertain but hopeful future for Arctic border life in a place called a test of east-west relations.
ANDERSON — Straddling a dammed-up creek 20 miles east of College Station squats the Gibbons Creek Steam Electric Station, a massive coal-fired power plant supplying the city-owned utilities of Denton, Bryan, Garland and Greenville.
In the plant, a boiler is suspended from a steel beam like a glowing bee’s nest hanging from a giant tree limb. A conveyor feeds the boiler finely ground coal, fueling a fireball hotter than flowing lava. . . The control room on top of the plant is aglow with computer screens where workers in overalls press buttons to control feeders, fans and flow rates, and monitor the behavior of the fireball inside the boiler. Good behavior is determined by how much and what form of sulfur, carbon, mercury, nitrogen, particulates and other contaminates the burning coal produces.
“All this is just a giant chemistry experiment,” said Jan Horbaczewski.
Professor Ruth West, together with two students and a University of Tasmania collaborator, published in the proceedings of the SPIE, The Engineering Reality of Virtual Reality 2015. West presented the paper to an enthusiastic audience at the conference held in San Francisco Feb. 8-12, 2015, followed by a lively question-and-answer session.
The paper “Embodied Information Behavior, Mixed Reality and Big Data” is a snapshot of the current renaissance in virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality technology and the promissory contexts in which those systems are developed.
Written with two xREZ Art + Science Lab students – psychology senior Max Parola and journalism graduate student Amelia Jaycen – the study outlines the process of innovation as it unfolds in developers’ laboratories and the consumer marketplace, where a narrative about a hybrid physical-digital future affects how the Internet of Things will become a part of our human lives.
The Landfill Gas and Biogas Symposium March 16-19, 2015 in New Orleans will give biomass managers a chance to assess their system and look for ways to increase efficiency using successful case studies. “At a DTE Biomass Energy site consisting of (2) CAT 3520 engines, a series of incremental improvements cascaded on each other, leading to a drop in plant operating costs of over 35% from 2010 to 2013 and a plant on-stream rate improvement from 93.2% to 96.6%. What appear to be common sense applications of problem solving proved themselves to be game changers…”
Dec. 2, 2014 — The world’s largest publicly traded energy company is weathering the storm of falling oil prices with a show of healthy profits, but the oil giant may not be exempt from facing further price drops that could mean curbing investments in 2015.
Over the course of 2014 ExxonMobil led explosive growth in production in a booming energy market, a market which today suffers from a glut of supply that has continued to push the price of oil down since June — to $70 a barrel Friday for a four-year low.
The company’s stock dropped a whopping 4% on Friday after OPEC did not to agree to reduce oil production, pushing down oil prices in order to push out unwanted competition — a move analysts are calling “commodity gamesmanship” aimed at targeting U.S. shale producers.
I lived in Kirkenes, Norway for five weeks this summer, and I could not put into words what it mean or how it felt. Thanks to Bittner’s op-ed, I can share with you a little about why it shook me, why I’m in love with some far-away thing, why I was scared and elated, at the top of the world and the depths of me, why I couldn’t sleep, why I did some of the best reporting and deepest loving of my life there. Why I’ll never be the same, why no one can quite “get” that.
I’ll keep trying to tell it when i’m a better reporter. But for now, see the New York Times editorial on my home away from home…
This incredible, short piece by Pico Iyer captures some of the heavy psychological burdens of creativity. Indeed, many of my literary colleagues talk about the writer’s “pain cave,” while a theme in my young writer’s life sang of a “curse of consciousness.” Neither is a very far cry from Pico’s “Art of Darkness”:
“To what extent is the price of immortality humanity, as you could put it? Must the revolutionary artist ignore — even flout — the basic laws of decency that govern our world in order to transform that world? “Perfection of the life, or of the work,” as Yeats had it. “And if it take the second,” he went on, the intellect of man “must refuse a heavenly mansion, raging in the dark.” It was an ancient question even then..”
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Nov. 2 issued its Synthesis Report – a combination three IPCC Working Group reports, which IPCC says are “the most comprehensive assessment of climate change ever undertaken.”
The report is the joint effort of 800 lead authors, almost 1,000 more supporting authors and a combination of 30,000 scientific papers. The report “distills and integrates the findings” and provides information critically important for policymakers, IPCC says.
But David Malakoff poses the pertinent question in his article in Science magazine: “whether the new IPCC report can help overcome the political and economic obstacles that have blocked major movement of reducing emissions.”