So, You Want to be an Astrophysicist?

Posted on December 25, 2006  Comments (1)

Dynamics of Cats (good name don’t you think) has an interesting series of posts: So, you want to be an astrophysicist? The latest is: Part 2.5 – grad school by Steinn Sigurðsson:

Think very seriously about whether you want to do theory, observation, data analysis or instrumentation.
You may end up doing things you never imagined out of necessity (like theorists go take observations, cause if they don’t no one else will; or observers running simulations, or building the instrument they need to do the observations etc etc).

Finally: READ!!! Pro-actively.
Check arXiv regularly and thoroughly. Read the papers relevant to you and anything else that looks interesting.
Read the references! They are there for a reason. Read the citations – if a paper is interesting, papers which cite it are also likely to be interesting. Use the ADS “C” option liberally and look through it quickly. If in doubt ask you advisor, or just read it anyway.

Next, the slightly tricky issue of what we actually “do”, research wise type of thingy. Might take a while…

arXiv.org is a (even the) great open access article resource. “Open access to 400,419 e-prints in Physics, Mathematics, Computer Science and Quantitative Biology.”

State Foster Science for Future Jobs

Posted on December 25, 2006  Comments (0)

State eager to foster young scientists for future jobs

The challenge for Massachusetts is to figure out how to inspire more youths to take the same steps. Across the region, observers from chief executives to policymakers are fretting that Massachusetts is not grooming a work force for the future. Part of that includes funneling enough young people into math, science, engineering and related professions to sustain the state’s companies and economy.

“I think as citizens we need to have a basic literacy of principles of science and technology, and that the level of literacy needed to sift through decisions and certain public policy debates has become greater,” Mr. Schneider said. “As science is more in the public policy arena, having fundamental knowledge of basic scientific principles is key.”

I agree. Education in science and engineering is needed both to provide skilled workers for a strong economy and to provide a level of understanding for people to participate in the modern world.

Getting Students Hooked on Engineering

Posted on December 24, 2006  Comments (1)

Another article on project lead the way: Project is getting students hooked on engineering early

Brent Kindred, state leader for Project Lead the Way at the Department of Public Instruction, said the pre-engineering education movement has been gathering momentum since 2003 largely because “we are a manufacturing state, and we have a lack of engineers and highly skilled, highly trained workers.”

“Project Lead the Way is the first national pre-engineering program that’s had any real sustainability,” said John Farrow, a professor at the Milwaukee School of Engineering who is also the state affiliate director of the program. MSOE is the only Wisconsin college certified to offer the teacher training courses. In summer, MSOE expected 15 teachers in the middle school training course but ended up with about 37, Farrow said.

Related: Engineering Education Program for k-12Middle School EngineersScience Education in the USA, Japan…Engineering Resources for K-12 Teachersk-12 Science Education Podcast

Smallest Known Living Organisms Found – 200 nanometers

Posted on December 23, 2006  Comments (0)

Shotgun sequencing finds nanoorganisms by Robert Sanders:

Once Baker had found gene segments (ribosomal RNA) from three Archaea, he was able to fish the microbes out of the slime soup and found that they were extremely small, around 200 nanometers in diameter, the size of large viruses. Bacteria average about five times this diameter. These therefore could be the smallest organisms ever found, though Baker needs to culture them before confirming this. Because they’re so small, however, they may not be free-living.

“We’re not sure they can live independently, whether they have enough genes to fend for themselves, but instead are symbiotic with another organism or are feeding off another organism,” Baker said. Baker now is trying to find the right conditions for these Archaea to thrive in a culture dish. For now, he has dubbed them ARMAN-1, -2 and -3, for Archaeal Richmond Mine Acidophilic Nanoorganisms.

Related: Microbe Types (Archaea, Bacteria, Fungi, Protista and VirusesLife Untouched by the SunWhat is an Extremophile?

Jetson Jetplane

Posted on December 23, 2006  Comments (1)

photo of person flying a jet-pack with wings

Finally the Jetpacks we were promised by the Jetson’s 🙂 Well not really but still pretty cool. Many very cool videos (they broke link so I removed it 🙁 ) on the Jet-man website show the jetpack in action. The flight is controlled by body movements (not controls, other than the gas). To fly, currently, Yves Rossy jumps from a plane and then extends the wings turns on the jets. Some additional improvements are needed to allow Yves to achieve ground take-offs, aerobatic operations and vertical climbs.

Related: Robot postsA plane You Can PrintAutonomous Flying VehiclesThe Silent Aircraft Initiative

Science and Engineering Search Engine

Posted on December 23, 2006  Comments (0)

The December 2006 Newsletter of the Google Librarian Center mentions the Curious Cat Science and Engineering Custom Search Engine. As they state it “searches a combination of lay and official sites for science and engineering information.”

The search box for this search is conveniently located on the right hand side of each page on our blog (there is a search box for this search and one for searching just this blog). The science and engineering Custom Search Engine (CSE) uses our selection of sites along with Google search technology to provide search results. We hope you find it useful. Please share your feedback.

Related: Curious Cat Management Improvement Search EngineConfessions of a Science Librarian mentions of our search engine back in OctoberCurious Cat Search

Batfish Key to Keeping Reefs Clean

Posted on December 22, 2006  Comments (1)

Batfish may come to Great Barrier Reef’s rescue by Catherine Brahic:

Neither species was able to make a dent in the damaging algae. Nor did any of the remaining 41 herbivorous fish found in the area make much of a difference. Instead, the researchers found that a rare batfish, Platax pinnatus, moved in. The team was surprised to see the batfish act this way, as they usually feed on plankton and invertebrates on the sea bed. “In five days the batfish had halved the amount of weed. In eight weeks it was completely gone and the coral was free to grow unhindered,”

Batfish are vulnerable because of their large size, which makes them attractive to spear fishers, and because their young depend on coastal mangroves which are in decline in many areas. For now, they are one of the last populations apparently capable of reversing the fate of coral reefs that have been damaged by overfishing. Already, the reef has all but lost two major weed-mowers: dugongs and green turtles.

Which relates to a story this morning on NPR (I can’t find the link on the site?). It had to do with village officials paying fisherman… to maintain the mangrove swamps since the swamps were shown to greatly decrease the impact of tidal waves (and large storms) on land. Previously government officials had supported (and I would imagine many still do…) large developers raising the mangrove swamps and building big beachfront hotels.

Related: Plotting a Better FutureTsunami, Mangroves and Market Economy

Photos of Mason Neck State Park

Posted on December 21, 2006  Comments (0)

Mason Neck State Park butterfly - Mason Neck SP

Photos of Mason Neck State Park, Virginia

I have posted photos from quite a few of my travels. For example, see some national park photos: Shenandoah National Park, United States Botanical Garden, Olympic National Park, Egypt…

UK Science and Research Funding

Posted on December 20, 2006  Comments (1)

UK Science and Innovation Awards from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council:

University of Oxford – over £3.3 million has been awarded to establish a forward looking world class research centre in the Analysis of Non-linear Partial Differential Equations (PDEs).

Universities of Cambridge and Oxford and Imperial College London – almost £6 million to create a new collaboration of complementary expertise between the Physics Departments at Cambridge, Imperial & Oxford in the area of quantum coherence…

Universities get £31m research awards:

The money is going to leading research-intensive universities. Four out of the seven awards are for joint projects, indicating how even players like Cambridge and Imperial are having to collaborate to keep up with the international competition.

Short Mental Workouts May Slow Decline of Aging Minds

Posted on December 20, 2006  Comments (1)

Short Mental Workouts May Slow Decline of Aging Minds, Study Finds by Shankar Vedantam:

the brief training sessions seemed to confer enormous benefits as many as five years later. That would be as if someone went to the gym Monday through Friday for the first two weeks of the new year, did no exercise for five years, and still saw significant physical benefits in 2012.

The researchers also showed that the benefits of the brain exercises extended well beyond the specific skills the volunteers learned. Older adults who did the basic exercises followed by later sessions were three times as fast as those who got only the initial sessions when it came to activities of daily living, such as reacting to a road sign, looking up a number in a telephone book or checking the ingredients on a medicine bottle — abilities that can spell the difference between living independently and needing help.

Related: Feed your Newborn NeuronsAnother Paper Questions Scientific Paper Accuracy (just a reminder that the conclusions of many studies are not confirmed in future studies) – Virus may be eating your brain

$25 Million for Marquette College of Engineering

Posted on December 20, 2006  Comments (2)

$25 million gift for the Marquette College of Engineering:

The Marquette University College of Engineering has received a gift commitment of more than $25 million as the first part of a legacy grant that could provide the university with an additional future $1 million a year in perpetuity, Marquette President Robert A. Wild announced Monday. The gift is from an engineering alumnus and his wife who have asked to remain anonymously.

The $25 million gift is part of a broader fund-raising initiative to “transform the College of Engineering through endowed scholarships and faculty positions, an enhanced curriculum, extensive research opportunities and completion of a Discovery Learning Complex with state-of-the-art facilities and equipment,” Wild said. The benefactors, he noted, hope the gift “inspires others to help fund the bold initiatives that will position the College of Engineering as the premiere Catholic institution in the nation for engineering education.”