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Science & Tech

Short Science Snippets



Ocean Research That’s Anything But Fishy

In addition to being one of the top universities in energy research, UCSB is home to Bren Hall, the first building to be awarded two platinum standings by the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program for being one of the greenest laboratories in the nation. A large portion of research at UCSB is focused on improving the sustainability of various resources and dealing with problems arising from global climate change.

Nanotechnology: Because Bigger Isn’t Necessarily Better.

The California NanoSystems Institute at UCSB is a leading research facility for nanotechnology research. The institute, located within Elings Hall, houses powerful computers, spectroscopy facilities, nanostructure laboratories and a clean room, making the CNSI a very useful facility for scientists that would like to work with materials at the nano scale. The institute has recently received a grant to develop diamond-based electronics and construct a diamond synthesis facility for use in quantum computing.

The CNSI building is also home to the Allosphere, a massive three-story structure that allows researchers to immerse themselves in their research using full 3-D visualizations of their data through a projected visual sphere and full 3-D sound.

Stem Cells and You: Self-Repairing Your Biology and Self-Esteem

The Biological Sciences II building at UCSB houses the Center for Stem Cell Biology and Engineering, which studies stem cells and their potential use in future medical treatments. The research group at the center includes world-renowned “father of stem cell research” James Thomson, who led the first group of scientists that isolated stem cells.

The center, which receives funding from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, has recently been successful in finding a compound that can cause adult cells to turn back into stem cells.

Cool Note:

The FDA approved the first treatment derived from stem cells for human clinical trials in January. The treatment, developed at UCI, has been found to repair spinal damage in mice.

Physics: Keeping that Fine Structure Constant

Did you know that UCSB’s Physics Dept. has made a significant contribution to the Large Hadron Collider, the largest supercollider ever made?

The LHC, built under Switzerland and France, will attempt to recreate conditions that existed during the Big Bang by smashing particles into each other at near-light speeds. UCSB’s contribution, the Compact Muon Solenoid apparatus, detects the collision of the super-accelerated particles and analyzes the result.

The LHC was damaged in September by a liquid helium leak but is expected to be operational by 2010.

Warning:

Watch your head if you’re walking under Broida Hall, lest you be assaulted by balls of various masses and surface areas.

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