01/05/2016: Physics Professor Using 3-D Map of the Milky Way to Determine Its Star Formation Rate

Anderson_2016Radio telescopes have provided scientists with incredible information about our own galaxy, as well as those around us. While researchers understand a great deal of galaxies far away, gaps remain in the knowledge about our own, the Milky Way – specifically, how global star formation works in our own backyard, and how many stars our galaxy is making per year.

“We have that information about other galaxies, just not our own,” said Loren Anderson, assistant professor of physics at West Virginia University.

“We’re stuck inside of our galaxy, so it’s difficult to get a three-dimensional view of it, like we can others,” he said.

Anderson has been awarded $363,734 by the National Science Foundation to create a three-dimensional map that will shed light on star formation in our galaxy.

Published by Newswise.  See more at: http://newswise.com/articles/physics-professor-using-3-d-map-of-the-milky-way-to-determine-its-star-formation-rate

06/29/2016: Seeking Radio Silence in West Virginia’s Quiet Zone

Newsweek_Radio_Silence_2016The town of Green Bank, West Virginia, is a sleepy Appalachian town, the kind one might move to in order to escape the grind of urban centers and bustling suburbs.

But its 143 residents didn’t exactly move there for literal quiet. Green Bank is located in eastern West Virginia, in what’s known as the National Radio Quiet Zone, where radio transmissions are heavily restricted and cellphones are scarce, all in service of actual radio silence for the world’s largest steerable radio telescope. The Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope, which opened in 2001 and is operated by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, is used to detect electromagnetic signals in deep space. Any man-made interference limits its ability to “hear” information from the universe’s farthest reaches, necessitating its location in Green Bank.

Between 50 and 60 of Green Bank’s residents suffer from electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS), a condition purported to be a debilitating sensitivity to the electromagnetic waves emitted by Wi-Fi routers and cellphone towers. Its sufferers report experiencing headaches, nausea, nosebleeds, sleep problems and other symptoms they believe are connected to exposure to such waves. Though medical research on the persistent condition is still scarce, it often inspires sufferers to rearrange their lives to limit such exposure, insulating their living spaces, eschewing wireless technology and, for some, moving to Green Bank.

Published by Newsweek.  See more at: http://www.newsweek.com/seeking-radio-silence-west-virginias-quiet-zone-475589


06/14/2016: A Molecule In Space Could Help Us Understand The Origin Of Life On Earth

popular_science_chiral_2016Are your molecules lefties or righties?

There are a lot of concepts that help life exist here on Earth. One is as simple as whether a molecule is right handed or left handed. As straightforward as it is, we still don’t know how the molecules got that way. But a recent discovery of a molecule in space might help us out.

The complex molecules that exist here on our planet often come in two versions, each mirror images or enantiomers of one another. But while its ordinary on Earth, we’ve never seen these kinds of molecules anywhere else in the universe. Now, for the first time, a team of scientists at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Virginia, the California Institute of Technology, and Harvard University discovered one of these so-called “chiral” molecules in space. The researchers think this discovery could help explain why some chiral molecules on Earth exist more commonly as one hand than as another.

Published by .  See more at: http://www.popsci.com/molecule-in-space-could-help-us-understand-life-on-earth

Many more articles can be viewed at: https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&gl=us&tbm=nws&authuser=0&q=chiral+molecule+gbt

06/14/2016: Astronomers find first evidence of chiral chemistry in distant cosmic cloud

Center_of_the_Milky_Way_Galaxy_IV__CompositeAn organic (if toxic) alcohol could point the way toward finding more “handed” molecules — the kind that make up RNA, DNA, and other building blocks to life.

 To make life, our bodies require many chemicals to have a certain “handedness,” a left or right orientation called chirality that determines the behavior of those substances in our bodies. The requirement is the molecular equivalent of why sticking your left hand onto your right wrist won’t work — despite being mirror images, they are not interchangeable.  Chiral molecules are an essential building block of life. They are ubiquitous on Earth and in some comets / asteroids, but scientists have never observed them in interstellar space.Until now.

Published by .  See more at: http://www.astronomy.com/news/2016/06/astronomers-find-first-evidence-of-chiral-chemistry-in-distant-cosmic-cloud

Many more articles can be viewed at: https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&gl=us&tbm=nws&authuser=0&q=chiral+molecule+gbt

06/07/2016: Growing crops, business in WV no small potatoes

Daily_Mail_potatoes_2016What can people in West Virginia do to make the state more economically productive and diverse, particularly to overcome the loss of many of its traditional big money industries?

How about agriculture?

A crazy idea considering the rugged terrain of much of the Mountain State, but when you look further, is it such a crazy idea after all?

The Sunday Gazette-Mail featured a group of farmers working together at a place you’d least expect it, the grounds of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory at Green Bank.

Last week, farmers planted the last of six five-acre plots on a stretch of level land between the Observatory’s headquarters building and the 100-meter Green Bank Telescope with potatoes. The work, done by six teams of Pocahontas County farmers using a state-owned planting machine, is part of an effort by the West Virginia Department of Agriculture to encourage farmers to consider growing potatoes as a new cash crop.

Records show that in 1927, West Virginia’s best year for agricultural production, about 53,000 acres were devoted to potato production statewide, compared with less than 1,000 acres today.

Published by T.  See more at: http://www.wvgazettemail.com/daily-mail-editorials/20160607/daily-mail-editorial-growing-crops-business-in-wv-no-small-potatoes#sthash.XWYbqbDe.dpuf