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The discovery explains the mechanism of this memory -- a sort of biological switch -- and how it can also be inherited by offspring.

The work was led by Professor Martin Howard and Professor Caroline Dean at the John Innes Centre.

Professor Dean said: "There are quite a few examples that we now know of where the activity of genes can be affected in the long term by environmental factors. And in some cases the environment of an individual can actually affect the biology or physiology of their offspring but there is no change to the genome sequence."

For example, some studies have shown that in families where there was a severe food shortage in the grandparents' generation, the children and grandchildren have a greater risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, which could be explained by epigenetic memory. But until now there hasn't been a clear mechanism to explain how individuals could develop a "memory" of a variable factor, such as nutrition.

The team used the example of how plants "remember" the length of the cold winter period in order to exquisitely time flowering so that pollination, development, seed dispersal and germination can all happen at the appropriate time.

Professor Howard said: "We already knew quite a lot about the genes involved in flowering and it was clear that something goes on in winter that affects the timing of flowering, according to the length of the cold period."

Using a combination of mathematical modelling and experimental analysis the team has uncovered the system by which a key gene called FLC is either completely off or completely on in any one cell and also later in its progeny. They found that the longer the cold period, the higher the proportion of cells that have FLC stably flipped to the off position. This delays flowering and is down to a phenomenon known as epigenetic memory.

Epigenetic memory comes in various guises, but one important form involves histones -- the proteins around which DNA is wrapped. Particular chemical modifications can be attached to histones and these modifications can then affect the expression of nearby genes, turning them on or off. These modifications can be inherited by daughter cells, when the cells divide, and if they occur in the cells that form gametes (e.g. sperm in mammals or pollen in plants) then they can also pass on to offspring.

Together with Dr Andrew Angel (also at the John Innes Centre), Professor Howard produced a mathematical model of the FLC system. The model predicted that inside each individual cell, the FLC gene should be either completely activated or completely silenced, with the fraction of cells switching to the silenced state increasing with longer periods of cold.

To provide experimental evidence to back up the model, Dr Jie Song in Prof. Dean's group used a technique where any cell that had the FLC gene switched on, showed up blue under a microscope. From her observations, it was clear that cells were either completely switched or not switched at all, in agreement with the theory.

Dr Song also showed that the histone proteins near the FLC gene were modified during the cold period, in such a way that would account for the switching off of the gene.

Funding for the project came from BBSRC, the European Research Council, and The Royal Society.

Professor Douglas Kell, Chief Executive, BBSRC said: "This work not only gives us insight into a phenomenon that is crucial for future food security -- the timing of flowering according to climate variation -- but it uncovers an important mechanism that is at play right across biology. This is a great example of where the research that BBSRC funds can provide not only a focus on real life problems, but also a grounding in the fundamental tenets of biology that will underpin the future of the field. It also demonstrates the value of multidisciplinary working at the interface between biology, physics and mathematics."

Source: ScienceDaily

 

The rapid growth of new blood vessels is a hallmark of cancer, and studies have shown that preventing blood vessel growth can keep tumors from growing, too. To better understand the relationship between cancer and the vascular system, researchers would like to make detailed maps of the complete network of blood vessels in organs. Unfortunately, the current mapping process is time-consuming: using conventional methods, mapping a one-centimeter block of tissue can take months.

Complex network of blood vessels in the mouse brain imaged by knife-edge scanning microscopy. The image represents an area about 2.9 millimeters across. Credit: Biomedical Optics Express

In a paper published in the October issue of the Optical Society's open-access journal Biomedical Optics Express, computational neuroscientists at Texas A&M University, along with collaborators at the University of Illinois and Kettering University, describe a new system, tested in mouse brain samples, that substantially reduces that time.

Reconstruction of a small section from the previous image, showing the relative thickness of each blood vessel in the network (color-coded by thickness). The area depicted in the image is about 0.275 millimeters across. Credit: Biomedical Optics Express

The method uses a technique called knife-edge scanning microscopy (KESM). First, blood vessels are filled with ink, and the whole brain sample is embedded in plastic. Next, the plastic block is placed onto an automated vertically moving stage. A diamond knife shaves a very thin slice – one micrometer or less – off the top of the block, imaging the sample line by line at the tip of the knife.

Each tiny movement of the stage triggers the camera to take a picture. In this way, the researchers can get the full 3-D structure of the mouse brain's vascular network – from arteries and veins down to the smallest capillaries – in less than two days at full production speed. In the future the team plans to augment the process with fluorescence imaging, which will allow researchers to link brain structure to function.

Source: Optical Society of America - via ZeitNews.org

 

They could lead to "superlenses" able to image proteins, viruses and DNA, and perhaps even make a "Star Trek" cloaking device.

Other metamaterials offer unique magnetic properties that could have applications in microelectronics or data storage.

The limitation, so far, is that techniques like electron-beam lithography or atomic sputtering can only create these materials in thin layers. Now Cornell researchers propose an approach from chemistry to self-assemble metamaterials in three dimensions.

Two polymer molecules linked together will self-assemble into a complex shape, in this case a convoluted "gyroid." One of the polymers is chemically removed, leaving a mold that can be filled with metal. Finally the other polymer is removed, leaving a metal gyroid with features measured in nanometers. Credit: Wiesner Lab

Uli Wiesner, the Spencer T. Olin Professor of Engineering, and colleagues present their idea in the online edition of the journal Angewandte Chemie.

Wiesner's research group offers a method they have pioneered in other fields, using block copolymers to self-assemble 3-D structures with nanoscale features.

A polymer is made up of molecules that chain together to form a solid or semisolid material. A block copolymer is made by joining two polymer molecules at the ends so that when each end chains up with others like itself, the two solids form an interconnected pattern of repeating geometric shapes -- planes, spheres, cylinders or a twisty network called a gyroid. Elements of the repeating pattern can be as small as a few nanometers across. Sometimes tri-polymers can be used to create even more complex shapes.

After the structure has formed, one of the two polymers can be dissolved away, leaving a 3-D mold that can be filled with a metal -- often gold or silver. Then the second polymer is burned away, leaving a porous metal structure.

In their paper the researchers propose to create metal gyroids that allow light to pass through, but are made up of nanoscale features that interact with light, just as the atoms in glass or plastic do. In this way, they say, it should be possible to design materials with a negative index of refraction, that is, materials that bend light in the opposite direction than in an ordinary transparent material.

Special lenses made of such a material could image objects smaller than the wavelength of visible light, including proteins, viruses and DNA. Some experimenters have made such superlenses, but so far none that work in the visible light range. Negative refraction materials might also be configured to bend light around an object -- at least a small one -- and make it invisible.

The Cornell researchers created computer simulations of several different metal gyroids that could be made by copolymer self-assembly, then calculated how light would behave when passing through these materials. They concluded that such materials could have a negative refractive index in the visible and near-infrared range. They noted that the amount of refraction could be controlled by adjusting the size of the repeating features of the metamaterial, which can be done by modifying the chemistry used in self-assembly.

They tried their calculations assuming the metal structures might be made of gold, silver or aluminum, and found that only silver produced satisfactory results.

Could these materials actually be made? According to graduate student Kahyun Hur, lead author on the paper, "We're working on it."

Source: Cornell University

 

Experts in gravitational waves from the School of Physics and Astronomy have secured almost 16.7 million hours worth of supercomputer time to simulate and map the most violent events in the universe since the big bang – namely, collisions of black holes.

The team will use more than 1,900 computer processors over the next year to try and solve the equations of Einstein’s general theory of relativity.

The ultimate goal of the simulations is the direct observation of black-hole collisions through the gravitational waves they emit.

"Gravitational waves are ripples in space and time – predicted by Einstein almost 100 years ago," according to Mark Hannam, School of Physics and Astronomy, who will lead the Cardiff research team.

"However, despite Einstein’s predictions – they have not yet been directly detected. Gravitational waves are generated by accelerating masses, such as orbiting black holes, similar to the way accelerating electrical charges emit electromagnetic waves, like light, infra-red and radio waves - with the important difference that gravitational waves are far weaker.

"For this reason it is electromagnetic waves that have told us everything we have learnt about the cosmos since ancient times. If we could also detect gravitational waves, that would push open a new window on the universe, and tell us about its `dark side'," he added.

Over the past decade a network of gravitational wave detectors has been built, including the US Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) and the European GEO600 and Virgo detectors, with the ambitious goal of not only making the first direct detection of the gravitational waves, but also to observe the entire Universe through gravitational radiation.

Cardiff's researchers work on theoretical modelling of black-hole-binary collisions using state-of-the-art numerical techniques and high performance computer clusters, strong field tests of gravity with gravitational-wave observations and the development of algorithms and software to search for gravitational waves.

Researchers at Cardiff play leading roles within the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, in particular in gravitational-wave searches for compact binary coalescences, supernovae, gamma-ray bursts, and other transient sources.

Coalescing black holes are prime candidates for the first observations. The results of this project will help to identify the sources of these signals, and contribute to answering important open questions in astrophysics and fundamental physics, such as whether the objects created in these cosmic collisions are really black holes, or even more exotic objects like naked singularities.

In the process the team hope to be able to test if Einstein's theory of gravity is correct, or whether, just as Newton's gravity gave way to Einstein's, perhaps Einstein's relativity gives way to even deeper insights into the nature of space and time.

The research team comprises more than 20 physicists working at Cardiff, the Universities of Jena, Vienna, and the Balearic Islands, the Albert Einstein Institute in Potsdam, and the California Institute of Technology. Solving Einstein's equations on supercomputers to accurately describe black holes became possible only after a series of breakthroughs in 2005, and the mostly young researchers are excited to be part of a scientific revolution.

"The detectors are pushing against the limits of current technology, and now we will help them with simulations that are at the cutting edge of computing power. Access to such vast computing resources is a fantastic boost for scientific research in Wales," Dr. Hannam added.

While supercomputing resources in Europe used to be relatively scarce, the PRACE Research Infrastructure now provides access to world-class supercomputers for European research projects, which undergo a competitive peer review process.

The PRACE infrastructure currently consists of three world-class supercomputers, which can each perform about 1 Petaflop which is a thousand billion arithmetic operations per second. The first machine in the network, the German Jugene, started operation in 2010, and it was joined in early 2011 by the French machine Curie, and the German system Hermit is about to officially start operation on November 1.

Future computers in the PRACE network are planned in Germany, Italy, and Spain.

Source: Cardiff University

 

New research by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington shows that innovative and improved methods for analyzing verbal autopsies – a method of determining individuals' causes of death in countries without a complete vital registration system – are fast, effective, and inexpensive, and could be invaluable for countries struggling to understand disease trends.

While many high-income countries such as the United States, Canada, and Australia have death certification systems, many countries cannot afford these systems, which means causes of death are not officially recorded. As a result, these countries lack critical information about why people are dying and which risk factors contribute to those deaths, as they attempt to track and address health challenges.

Verbal autopsy (VA) consists of a trained interviewer using a questionnaire to collect information about the signs, symptoms, and demographic characteristics of a recently deceased person from an individual who knew them. Methods used to analyze interviews and assign a cause of death include physician certification, whereby physicians review each questionnaire to assign a cause, and new automated methods where the VA interview is conducted on a hand-held device and a cause of death is automatically generated at the end of the interview. Until now, there has been no clear evidence as to how accurate the methods were, and some methods such as the physician review were costly and time consuming.

A new collection of research published in the Population Health Metrics thematic series, Verbal autopsy: innovations, applications, opportunities, provides the most up-to-date research in the field, including the use of a new automated tool to do the analysis instantaneously at the completion of the interview. Yielding fast and affordable results, this new automated method outperforms any other method to date.

"Accountability is becoming increasingly important to both governments and funders as they try to allocate resources and measure success," said Dr. Christopher Murray, Director of IHME and Professor of Global Health at the University of Washington. "With the new innovative methods outlined in our research, countries can now choose the best and most cost-effective verbal autopsy techniques to better monitor progress toward health and development goals."

The Random Forest method, developed by IHME, performed better than physician review, which traditionally has been seen as the gold standard, and is also cheaper and provides faster results.

The Random Forest method was more accurate than physicians in assigning the correct cause of death to individual VAs for adults and children older than 28 days. For VAs on adults, the Random Forest method performed 27% better than physicians when there is no accompanying medical information from those interviewed. In cases where there is additional information, the Random Forest method was better by 8%. For VAs on children older than 28 days, the Random Forest method performed 28% better than physicians with no additional medical information and 8% better for VAs including other information.

"While it may take days for a team of physicians to complete a VA survey analysis, requiring them to stop servicing health needs in a population, a computer approach such as the Random Forest method requires only seconds of processing on hardware that is currently affordably available," said Dr. Abraham Flaxman, lead author of the Random Forest study and Assistant Professor of Global Health at IHME. The Random Forest method can be used on a hand-held device with the cause of death automatically generated at the conclusion of the interview.

"Understanding causes of deaths is a public health priority especially in low-resource settings such as Uganda where most deaths occur at home and no regular system for cause of death registration exists," said Dr. Peter Waiswa of the Department of Health Policy, Planning and Management at Makerere University School of Public Health in Uganda. "We have wanted to use verbal autopsy to bridge that gap. However, available methods are cumbersome, data collection is time consuming, and coding by physicians is not always done correctly, or there is no physician available, so these new automated methods are a real breakthrough."

"This is a major discovery and we are excited about the possibilities," said Dr. Palitha Mahipala, Additional Secretary, Medical Services at Sri Lanka's Ministry of Health. "Nothing can replace a complete and efficient vital registration system. But as countries work to implement or improve those systems, the new methods in verbal autopsy are ready now, at low cost, and with rapid results. This allows us to better understand cause of death trends and to measure program performance."

"Even in countries with vital registration systems, this is a tremendous benefit," said Jarbas Barbosa da Silva Jr., Secretary of Health Surveillance at Brazil's Ministry of Health. "This is a way to validate whether your death certification system is accurately classifying deaths."

The research published in the Population Health Metrics thematic series emerged from the Global Congress on Verbal Autopsy: State of the Science, held in Bali, Indonesia, in February 2011. The conference was co-sponsored by IHME, the University of Queensland School of Population Health, and Population Health Metrics to discuss important aspects of instrument design, analysis methods, and the use of verbal autopsy in national health information systems, with the goal being to take VA methods from infancy to maturity, so that countries that needed them could start using them right away.

"This body of work is by far the biggest breakthrough in years in this field," said Alan Lopez, one of the Editors-in-Chief of Population Health Metrics. "For the first time, countries will be able to measure with confidence whether people are dying from HIV/AIDS, maternal causes, or from largely preventable noncommunicable diseases, which gained the world's attention at the recent United Nations meeting."

As part of this work, IHME researchers developed standardized metrics to compare the performance of all types of VA methods to help identify the best ways to estimate causes of death in a population. IHME researchers also helped to create the first strictly defined gold standard database of diagnoses for causes of death to test VA methods, validated over five years in four countries with large populations, including India, Mexico, the Philippines, and Tanzania.

Source: EurekAlert

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) is an independent global health research center at the University of Washington that provides rigorous and comparable measurement of the world's most important health problems and evaluates the strategies used to address them. IHME makes this information freely available so that policymakers have the evidence they need to make informed decisions about how to allocate resources to best improve population health. For more information, please visit http://www.healthmetricsandevaluation.org

 

But when it comes to wall-climbing robots its hard to go past the humble gecko for inspiration. The gecko's specialized toe pads containing hair-like structures that allow it to scale smooth vertical surfaces have already provided inspiration for the four-legged Stickybot and now researchers at Canada's Simon Fraser University Burnaby (SFU) claim to be the first to apply the gecko's wall-climbing technique to a robot that operates like a tank.

The researchers created adhesives that mimic the dry, but sticky toe pads of the gecko, also known as dry fibrillar adhesives, by using a material called polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) that was manufactured to contain very small mushroom cap shapes that were 17 micrometers wide and 10 micrometers high.

"The thin, flexible overhang provided by the mushroom cap ensures that the area of contact between the robot and the surface is maximized," says Jeff Krahn. "The adhesive pads on geckos follow this same principle by utilizing a large number of fibers, each with a very small tip. The more fibers a gecko has in contact, the greater attachment force it has on a surface."

The researchers say applying the adhesive to tank-like robots driven by belts instead of legs offers several advantages. Tank-like robots have a simplified mechanical design and control architecture and also boast increased mobility and can be easily expanded if there is the need to increase the load a robot is carrying.

The 240 g (8.46 oz) robot developed by the SFU researchers, which has been given the catchy name of the Timeless Belt Climbing Platform (TBCP-II) has been fitted with a multitude of sensors that allow it to detect its surroundings and change its course accordingly. It is also able to transfer from a flat horizontal surface to a flat vertical surface over both inside and outside corners at speeds of up to 3.4 cm/s (1.34 in/s).

The SFU researchers say the wall-climbing technology employed in TBCP-II has wide-ranging potential applications, including inspecting pipes, buildings, aircraft and nuclear power plants, and in search and rescue operations.

The team's study A tailless timing belt climbing platform utilizing dry adhesives with mushroom caps was published today in the journal Smart Materials and Structures.

The video below shows the TBCP-II climbing a whiteboard and transitioning from a horizontal surface to a vertical surface around an outside corner.

Source: GizMag

 

The Desertec Industrial Initiative (DII), a coalition of companies including E.ON, Siemens, Munich Re and Deutsche Bank, announced at its annual conference being held in Cairo on Wednesday that "all systems are go in Morocco", with construction of the first phase of a 500MW solar farm scheduled to start next year. The precise location of the €2bn plant is yet to be finalised, but it is expected to be built near the desert city of Ouarzazate. It will use parabolic mirrors to generate heat for conventional steam turbines, as opposed to the photovoltaic cells used in the UK.

The 12 square kilometre Moroccan solar farm will, said Paul van Son, Dii's chief executive, be a "reference project" to prove to investors and policy makers in both Europe and the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region that the Desertec vision is not a dream-like mirage, but one that can be a major source of renewable electricity in the decades ahead.

Van Son described Desertec as a "win-win" for both Europe and MENA, adding that the Arab spring had created both opportunities and "questions" for the ambitious project. Discussions are already underway with the Tunisian government about building a solar farm, he said, and Algeria is the next "obvious" country, due to its close proximity to western Europe's grid. Countries such as Libya, Egypt, Turkey, Syria and Saudi Arabia are predicted to start joining the network from 2020, as a network of high voltage direct current cables are built and extended across the wider region.

German companies and policymakers have dominated the Dii conference, reflecting the nation's recent decision to totally phase out nuclear power by 2022 in reaction, in part, to the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan in March. By comparison, not a single representative from the UK was at the conference.

Jochen Homann, the state secretary at Germany's Federal Ministry for Economics and Technology, told the conference: "We undertook major reforms in German energy policy this summer and Desertec opens up an opportunity for us. We want to enter the age of renewables with sustainable sources of electricity supplying 80% of our power generation by 2050. As we accelerate our phase-out of nuclear power, we need to safeguard an affordable supply of electricity and we will be interested in importing renewables supplies in the future. Germany's government will continue to support Desertec. It is an inspiring vision which is good for foreign, climate and economic policies."

But Homann stressed there would be "pre-conditions" for guaranteeing long-term support from the Germany government. He said there must be "liberalisation" of the energy markets across the MENA region: "North Africa still provides huge subsidies for fossil fuels. There will need to be regulatory improvements. Only then will renewables be able to compete and a common market created. And other European states must participate, too."

Hassan Younes, Egypt's minister of electricity and energy, told the conference that Egypt was keen to participate and that it hoped to have a 1,000MW windfarm built by 2016 in the Gulf of Suez, adding to the 150MW "hybrid" gas-solar power plant that opened 100km south of Cairo earlier this year.

The conference was told via a Dii promotional video that the network of solar and windfarms across the MENA region would help to "halt migration" into Europe, by fast-tracking the rise of the region's youthful population out of poverty and unemployment.

The Desertec plan was welcomed by many in Germany, including chancellor Angela Merkel. However, some German critics argued that the concept of transmitting solar power from Africa to Europe was not proven and that a billion dollar project does not fit in to the country's green energy plan.

German development NGO Germanwatch raised concerns that local people should benefit from the scheme, though Desertec representatives said the energy generated will first be used by the people of north Africa before being exported. Andree Böhling, energy expert at Greenpeace Germany, said: "We have to avoid European companies getting their hands on local resources, therefore we will follow the project carefully."

• This article was amended on 3 November 2011 to remove an incorrect reference to Germanwatch and neocolonialism

Source: Guardian

 

Instead, the team has developed a way to improve air filter technology to specifically target influenza viruses, effectively stopping them beforethey get inside our bodies and make us ill. The nice thing about air filters is that they work both ways, so sick individuals wearing the modified filters will end up shedding less viruses into the environment too, which can also help reduce the rate of new infections.

In their study recently published online in the journal, Biomacromolecules, researchers Xuebing Li, Peixing Wu et al, point out that worldwide every year, on average, nearly 300,000 succumb to flu viruses. Millions more are sickened, which, aside from the suffering, translates into substantial economic losses.

Antibiotics don't work on viruses and so don't enter the equation, but there are numerous anti-viral drugs (amantadine, oseltamivir, rimantidine and zanamivir, to name a few) which, while initially effective, are beginning to lose some of their clout. It doesn't help that the little buggers are constantly mutating into new strains either, meaning pharmaceuticals and vaccines are always playing catch-up.

Since viruses can only replicate inside of living host cells, Li and his group reasoned that a new approach was needed to help stop these deadly pathogens from multiplying and hit upon an adaptation of the very mechanism viruses use to infect cells.When a virus targets a host cell, a protein which peppers its outer surface, hemagglutinin (HA), seeks out and binds to multiple sugars or glycans (the bound monosaccharides sialic acid and lactose- SL) on the host's membrane surface. The researchers found that the versatile linear polysaccharide, chitosan, made from the chitin found in crab and shrimp shells, was an ideal substance to bind SL to otherwise pristine filter fibers. As the diagram below shows, viruses now have to run a gauntlet of fibers festooned with the very substance they're attracted to, effectively stopping them in their tracks. That's news that should help all of us breathe just a little bit easier.

Source: GIZMAG

 

The company's most recent launch includes new solar chargers that can power up your laptop while latched on to a durable backpack.

The new Array backpack pairs up with the Fuse 10W. The Fuse 10W is a detachable solar cell that can be attached to other packs or bike racks. But the Array is a great option for anyone from a student who needs extra battery power to hikers and campers who are off-grid.

According to Voltaic, the Fuse 10W provides as much as 30 minutes of laptop run-time for every hour in the sunlight. The charger will also work for tablet devices, digital cameras and other handheld devices. The holy grail for solar chargers is one powerful enough to run a laptop. While we don't have anything that can be basically plugged in and keep a laptop running all day long, this one sounds like a really solid option.

It's not exactly a cheap option though -- you pay for quality. The Fuse 10W is $339, and the Array backpack with the charger is $389. While it sounds expensive, this is actually competitive pricing for high end solar-powered backpacks. And the solar cell on the Array can be removed and attached elsewhere just like the Fuse 10W.

“Since we launched the first solar backpack in 2004, the number one customer request has been to make a backpack that charges laptops,” said Shayne McQuade, CEO of Voltaic Systems. “With the Array and Fuse 10W, we are giving our customers two great portable charging options.”

The battery included with the Fuse 10W has 60 watt hours of capacity, and the backpack can fit a laptop along with other items. And of course, as with other Voltaic packs, the fabric is made from 100% recycled PET.

Source: TreeHugger

 

Experts in gravitational waves from the School of Physics and Astronomy have secured almost 16.7 million hours worth of supercomputer time to simulate and map the most violent events in the universe since the big bang – namely, collisions of black holes.

The team will use more than 1,900 computer processors over the next year to try and solve the equations of Einstein’s general theory of relativity.

The ultimate goal of the simulations is the direct observation of black-hole collisions through the gravitational waves they emit.

"Gravitational waves are ripples in space and time – predicted by Einstein almost 100 years ago," according to Mark Hannam, School of Physics and Astronomy, who will lead the Cardiff research team.

"However, despite Einstein’s predictions – they have not yet been directly detected. Gravitational waves are generated by accelerating masses, such as orbiting black holes, similar to the way accelerating electrical charges emit electromagnetic waves, like light, infra-red and radio waves - with the important difference that gravitational waves are far weaker.

"For this reason it is electromagnetic waves that have told us everything we have learnt about the cosmos since ancient times. If we could also detect gravitational waves, that would push open a new window on the universe, and tell us about its `dark side'," he added.

Over the past decade a network of gravitational wave detectors has been built, including the US Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) and the European GEO600 and Virgo detectors, with the ambitious goal of not only making the first direct detection of the gravitational waves, but also to observe the entire Universe through gravitational radiation.

Cardiff's researchers work on theoretical modelling of black-hole-binary collisions using state-of-the-art numerical techniques and high performance computer clusters, strong field tests of gravity with gravitational-wave observations and the development of algorithms and software to search for gravitational waves.

Researchers at Cardiff play leading roles within the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, in particular in gravitational-wave searches for compact binary coalescences, supernovae, gamma-ray bursts, and other transient sources.

Coalescing black holes are prime candidates for the first observations. The results of this project will help to identify the sources of these signals, and contribute to answering important open questions in astrophysics and fundamental physics, such as whether the objects created in these cosmic collisions are really black holes, or even more exotic objects like naked singularities.

In the process the team hope to be able to test if Einstein's theory of gravity is correct, or whether, just as Newton's gravity gave way to Einstein's, perhaps Einstein's relativity gives way to even deeper insights into the nature of space and time.

The research team comprises more than 20 physicists working at Cardiff, the Universities of Jena, Vienna, and the Balearic Islands, the Albert Einstein Institute in Potsdam, and the California Institute of Technology. Solving Einstein's equations on supercomputers to accurately describe black holes became possible only after a series of breakthroughs in 2005, and the mostly young researchers are excited to be part of a scientific revolution.

"The detectors are pushing against the limits of current technology, and now we will help them with simulations that are at the cutting edge of computing power. Access to such vast computing resources is a fantastic boost for scientific research in Wales," Dr. Hannam added.

While supercomputing resources in Europe used to be relatively scarce, the PRACE Research Infrastructure now provides access to world-class supercomputers for European research projects, which undergo a competitive peer review process.

The PRACE infrastructure currently consists of three world-class supercomputers, which can each perform about 1 Petaflop which is a thousand billion arithmetic operations per second. The first machine in the network, the German Jugene, started operation in 2010, and it was joined in early 2011 by the French machine Curie, and the German system Hermit is about to officially start operation on November 1.

Future computers in the PRACE network are planned in Germany, Italy, and Spain.

Source: Cardiff University

 
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Hi, it's Nathan!Pretty much everyone is using voice search with their Siri/Google/Alexa to ask for services and products now, and next year, it'll be EVERYONE of your customers. Imagine what you are ...
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Now Colorado is one love, I'm already packing suitcases;)
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Nice read, I just passed this onto a friend who was doing some research on that. And he just bought me lunch since I found it for him smile So let me rephrase that Thank you for lunch! Whenever you ha...
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