|SPECIAL SECTION: ENERGY|
America's Energy Future
With Phase I complete, a national science initiative reports on U.S. energy technologies.
Three years ago, a
group of leading scientists and engineers decided that the time had come to
look at the state of energy technology and try to determine what was truly
feasible. The result was America's Energy Future, an initiative of the National
Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering.
America's Energy Future (AEF) has two phases. The first focuses on
sorting out the claims and counter-claims about various energy technologies;
the second on analyzing the range of possible policy solutions. Phase I was completed this summer, producing
series of reports to establish what NAS executive Peter Blair calls a
"definitive technology base" for future policy debates. Now Phase II has begun
and, when concluded, AEF expects to provide a range of recommendations wide
enough to find takers across the political spectrum. Full story.
Fred Kavli Chair of Nanotechnology, UC Santa Barbara
John Bowers, Energy Efficiency Expert
When it comes to supply and demand, John Bowers is a demand-side leader. Instead of working on how the world will find a future supply of
environmentally-friendly energy, he's focused on making our
demand of energy less wasteful. A longtime professor of electrical and computer engineering, his duties include leading UC Santa Barbara's Institute for Energy Efficiency (IEE), home of wide-ranging
research on energy-saving ideas.
It's a job that just got busier. In April 2009 IEE was awarded a $19 million grant
in federal stimulus funds to host of one of the federal government's
new Energy Frontier Research Centers. Full story.
Three New U.S. Research Centers
Explore the Frontiers of Energy
In an effort to spur the development of new energy-related technology,
the federal government has established 46 Energy Frontier Research
Centers (EFRC) at universities, national laboratories, corporations and
non-profit organizations. Scientists affiliated with the Kavli Prize or
Kavli Institutes play leading roles in three of these EFRCs. Based at the California Institute of Technology, Columbia University and the University of California, Santa Barbara, here is a
look at these centers. Full story.
Yale Announces Center Dedicated to Human Brain Development and Evolution
The Yale School of Medicine has created a new research center to study how our brain evolved uniquely human traits. Named the Yale Center for Human Brain Development and Evolution, the Center will be part of the Kavli Institute for Neuroscience at Yale (KIN).
The Center's founders hope that the center will identify new treatment options for many forms of mental illness, including schizophrenia, autism and bipolar disease. Key will be to help create a transcriptome atlas of the developing human brain and launch a multi-disciplinary search for genetic changes responsible for the evolution over the last 100 million years of the cerebral cortex, the brain region responsible for human intelligence.
"We are looking at the biological basis of what makes us unique," said Pasko Rakic, director of KIN and chairman of the Department of Neurobiology.
|FEATURE: SCIENCE AND SOCIETY
From Students to Judges, Interest Broadens in the Neuroscience of Decision-Making
this year, UC San
Diego held a graduate seminar on the neuroscience behind moral
decision-making -- a topic certain to attract neuroscience and philosophy
students. Also in the classroom, however, were students from fields such as
computer science and political science. They came to understand how the brain shapes social behavior, their
areas of study and in some cases, their careers.
the seminar were Patricia Churchland and Ralph Greenspan. A philosopher and
neurobiologist respectively, both are finding a widening interest in how moral
decision-making takes shape within the brain. Full story.
First Black Holes Born Starving
The first black holes in the universe had dramatic effects on their surroundings, despite the fact that they were small and grew very slowly.
This was the finding of recent supercomputer simulations carried out by astrophysicists Marcelo Alvarez and Tom Abel of the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology at Stanford University, and John Wise, formerly of KIPAC and now of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
Several popular theories posit that the first black holes gorged themselves on gas clouds and dust in the early universe, growing into the supersized black holes that lurk in the centers of galaxies today. However, the new results published in Astrophysical Journal Letters point to a much more complex role for the first black holes. Full story.
Even When Faced with Nanoslits,
Bacteria Conforms to Tight Spaces
It appears that bacteria can squeeze through practically
anything. Using nanofabrication, researchers at the Kavli Institute of Nanoscience at Delft University of Technology made minuscule channels,
measuring a micrometer or less in width and 50 micrometer in length, on a
silicon chip between tiny chambers containing bacteria. The bacteria swarmed as usual through channels that were only 30 percent
wider than their own diameter (of about 1 micrometer). Even in narrower
submicron channels where the bacteria stopped swimming, the bacteria still made their way through ultra-narrow
passageways by growing and dividing. The researchers
found that in this way, E. coli bacteria
could squeeze through narrow slits that were only half their own diameter in
width. Full story.
Carbon Nanotubes Could Be Basis for
Future High Efficiency Solar Cells
Using a carbon nanotube instead of traditional silicon, researchers
affiliated with the Kavli Institute at Cornell for Nanoscience have
created the basic elements of a solar cell that, hopefully, will lead to
much more efficient ways of converting light to electricity. The researchers fabricated, tested and measured a simple solar cell
called a photodiode, formed from an individual carbon nanotube.
The device converted light to
electricity in an extremely efficient process that multiplies the
amount of electrical current that flows. According to the researchers, this process could prove
important for next-generation high efficiency solar cells. Full story.
Influence of a Single Electron Measured on a 'Nano Violin String'
Researchers at TU Delft have succeeded in measuring the influence of a
single electron on a vibrating carbon nanotube, which may be important toward the development of ultra-small measuring
instruments. The scientists of the Kavli Institute for Nanoscience at TU Delft based
their project on a suspended vibrating carbon nanotube, comparable to
an ultra-small violin string. They then applied an alternating electric
field to the nanotube using an antenna. As a result of the alternating
electric field, the suspended nanotube begins to vibrate at a certain
frequency. Full story.
Mechanism That Constructs Key Brain Structure Found
Scientists have known for years that information processing in the
cerebral cortex depends upon groupings of neurons that assemble in the
shape of vertical columns. If the number and mix of neurons in the
column are wrong, severe cognitive problems can result. Now a team led by Pasko Rakic,
the Kavli Institute for Neuroscience at Yale University, has found the molecular mechanism that allows the proper
mixing of neurons during the formation of columns essential for the
operation of the cerebral cortex. Full story.
|For Navigation, the Brain Relies on a Series of Maps
Instead of just one big map, the brain creates multiple independent
maps while finding the way in the physical world, according to researchers at the Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
Separately, researchers also found that the mental maps are
constructed in a systematic way. The maps are stored as extremely thin "cards in a deck" in the
hippocampus, the area that is regarded as the brain's memory focal
point. The deck is sorted by rank, so that the fine-grained detail maps
are located at the top, with the biggest, most coarsely drawn maps
farther down the deck. Full story.
|The Kavli Foundation
Enhanced Videos, Smarter Navigation Among Highlights of New Website
The Foundation has redesigned its website, making it easier to take advantage of the many resources freely available for educators, scientists and the general public. Among the new features include embeddable, higher-resolution videos, simpler printing and sharing of feature stories, and improved navigation. VIsit website.
2010 Nomination Call
The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters has posted the nomination period for the 2010 Kavli Prizes.
The call for nominations will be open through December 15, 2009. For additional information about the call for nominations and application process, as well as committee membership, please visit www.kavliprize.no.
|Cambridge Institute's Opening Ceremony Scheduled in November
His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh to Open KICC
In a ceremony to be held
November 18, His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh will
open the Kavli Institute for Cosmology at the University of Cambridge. Presentations will also be made by Martin Rees,
president of the Royal Society, and Richard Ellis, Steele Professor at
the California Institute of Technology.
The ceremony will be preceded by a scientific workshop held on November 17, with guest speakers including directors from other Kavli Institutes -- Roger Blandford (KIPAC, Stanford University), John Carlstrom (KICP, University of Chicago), Jacqueline Hewitt (MKI, Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and Douglas Lin (KIAA, Peking University).
KIBST-Affiliated Researcher Receives MacArthur Grant
Lakshminarayanan Mahadevan, a researcher affiliated with the Kavli Institute for Bionano Science and Technology at Harvard University (KIBST), has been named a recipient of the MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant. The award honors individuals for their creativity, originality, and potential for making important contributions in the future. Full story.
Also in September, KIBST director George Whitesides was honored in a ceremony for earlier receiving the inaugural Dreyfus Prize in the Chemical Sciences -- a prize that recognizes exceptional and original research in a selected area of
chemistry that has advanced the field in major ways. In addition, KIBST-affiliated researcher Zhigang Suo received a Humboldt Research Award, which recognizes researchers whose work have had
a significant impact on their own discipline, and are expected to continue
producing cutting-edge research.
Kavli Institute for Bionano Science and Technology at Harvard University.
Michael Brenner has become
the new Associate Dean for Applied Mathematics at the
Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Brenner -- who is working on the
theoretical underpinnings of self-assembly, biofilms, and the nature of
evolution -- also was among the faculty to receive a KIBST grant designated to promote greater interaction among
theorists and experimentalists. The two other recipients were L. Mahadevan and Zhigang Suo. (See related Newsletter story.)
Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The Susan F. Gurley Chair in Theoretical Physics and Biology was established at KITP. Endowed by Gus Gurley, co-founder of Santa
Barbara based Digital Instruments (DI), the first holder of the chair is
condensed matter theorist turned theoretical biologist Boris Shraiman.
Kavli Nanoscience Institute at the California Institute of Technology.
Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, the 11th President of India,
recently received a behind-the-scenes tour of the Institute. Dr. Kalam, who is also a
distinguished professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, was at Caltech
to receive the 25th Annual International von Kármán Wings award.
Kavli Institute for Brain Science at Columbia University. The Institute has three new investigators: Drs. Randy Bruno and Nathaniel B. Sawtell, Assistant Professors in the Department of Neuroscience, and Dr. Charles Zuker, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator who recently joined the university.
Kavli Institute for Brain and Mind at the University of California, San Diego. In the July 16 issue of Science,
a paper co-authored by Institute executive committee member Terrence J. Sejnowski discusses the foundations for a new science of
learning -- a science that brings together leaders in
education, and machine learning to
reshape how we think about learning. Full story.
Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics at the University of Chicago. In September, a special "origins" issue of Scientific American
included a prominent feature
by Michael S. Turner on the origins of the universe. The same month, Turner also provided Physics Today a "Reference Frame" that took a backward -- and forward -- look at physics titled "A century of physics: 1950 to 2050."
California NanoSystems Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Directed by Paul S. Weiss, Fred Kavli Chair in Nanosystems Sciences, the
California NanoSystems Institute is hosting a Core Lab Open House and
Exhibitor Showcase on Thursday, October 15, 2009. All labs will be open
to view equipment and learn more about each facility's specialty. Event information.
Institute of Nanoscience at Delft University of Technology.
On November 4th, the Van Leeuwenhoek
Laboratorium formally opens -- a new nanofacility that will offer the
latest lab technology to researchers at the Institute.
Opening the facility will be Ronald Plasterk, the Minister of
Education, Culture and Science for the Netherlands.
Kavli Institute for Cosmology at the University of Cambridge. November 18, the Institute will hold its opening ceremony. (For event details, see Newsletter story.)
Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. November 19-20, the Institute's Education and Outreach Group will host a conference on science programs for older youth (age 14-19) in out-of-school time. The conference marks three years of the National Science Foundation-funded Youth Astronomy Apprenticeship. Event information.