New Laser System Provides a Sharper Image
UC Santa Cruz – Currents Online
March 1

A team of astronomers working with UCSC’s Center for Adaptive Optics has obtained sharp, twinkle-free images of the faint, dusty disks of distant massive stars using a recently mounted laser guide star system at Lick Observatory.

The images clearly show that stars two to three times larger than the sun form in the same way as solar-type stars – inside a swirling spherical cloud that collapses into a disk, like that from which the sun and its planets emerged.

The team of astronomers from UC Berkeley with researchers at UCSC, Caltech and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) reported their results in the Feb. 27 issue of the journal Science.

“Without adaptive optics, we’d see only a big fuzzy blob from the ground and would be unable to detect any of the fine structure around the sources,” UC Berkeley graduate student Marshall D. Perrin said. “Our observations provide strong support for an emerging view that low- and intermediate-mass stars form in a similar manner.”

The sodium dye laser, developed by laser scientists Deanna Pennington and Herbert Friedman of LLNL, completes the adaptive optics system so that astronomers can use it to view any part of the sky, whether or not a bright star is nearby.

Strapped to the bore of the Lick telescope, the laser shines a narrow beam about 60 miles through the turbulent zone into the upper atmosphere, where the laser light stimulates sodium atoms to absorb and re-emit light of the same color.

UC Contemplates Revisions to Financial Policy
UC Davis – California Aggie
March 2

University of California campuses are mulling changes to a policy that would dictate how student governments can spend mandatory student fees. UC hopes to have a final version of the policy in place before the start of the 2004-05 school year.

The university has said that the revision is part of a series of updates to the UC’s Policy on Student Governments, which had gone untouched since 1994. Under the current version of the policy, university units such as student government would be prohibited from using university resources “to support or oppose a particular candidate or ballot proposition in a non-university political campaign.” UC spokesman Hanan Eisenman said the change is necessary to comply with state laws that ban a public organization – like the UC – from participating in partisan campaigns.

However, many student groups have concerns about the policy, saying it infringes on their right to free speech. Rob Thompson, an organizer for UC Davis’ Center for Campus Speech, said the change would unfairly prevent student governments from effectively lobbying on behalf of students.

“To preclude student government is to really disable them in working on behalf of the students they represent,” he said.

Eisenman said the issue of student governments’ involvement in politics intensified over the summer, when UC Berkeley’s Graduate Student Association spent $35,000 on a campaign opposing ballot Proposition 54, the racial privacy initiative.

UCSD Gathers for Geisel’s “Seusscentennial” Birthday
UCSD Guardian
March 4

UCSD officials and Dr. Seuss fans of all ages gathered at the Geisel Library on March 2 to celebrate Theodor Seuss Geisel’s 100th birthday. Called the “Seusscentennial,” the gathering featured the unveiling of a life-size bronze sculpture of Geisel.

Dennis Smith, executive director of the San Diego Council on Literacy, spoke of the importance of literacy and thanked Geisel for his contribution to the cause.

“There are millions of adults who never experienced the joy of reading ‘Cat in the Hat’ to their children,” Smith said. “In order for a free democratic society to exist, all its members need the necessary literacy skills to function.”

The sculpture, designed by Lark Grey Diamond-Cates, the daughter of Geisel’s widow, Audrey Geisel, features a life-size representation of Geisel sitting in his study chair with a 7-foot Cat in the Hat looking over his shoulder. Diamond-Cates said she employed the Cat in the Hat in her piece because “it depicts [Geisel’s] alter ego.”