Come Explore the Unknown!
By Zoom: at go.wisc.edu/240r59.
In Person: Room 1111 Genetics Biotech Center, 425 Henry Mall, Madison.
For 2 March 2022
Hi WN@TL Fans,
March 1 is the optimist’s and the meteorologist’s first day of spring. It is always astonishing when the calendar rolls over to the month of hope named for the god of war. What a bungee-cord 31 days of lion/lamb/lion. March wins the contest as The Month Most Like to Be Penalized 15 Yards for Taunting. The snow melts to mud, the lake ice goes brittle and weak, the Sun zooms over the Equator. The cadence this year is especially remarkable: Mardi Gras tonight, Ash Wednesday tomorrow, UW Spring Break on the 12th, Daylight Savings Time on the 13th; Purim, St Patrick’s and the Full Month pell-mell on the 16th, 17th & 18th; the aforementioned Equinox on the 20th.
March is a great time for us to take the pulse of the Sun. The days lengthen fastest now. Get your Wayfarers on: it’ll be a blinding few weeks to be driving Regent Street eastbound at sunrise or westbound at sunset.
So it’s fitting we get to focus on the Sun this week, not only as a celestial orb tracking across the sky, but also as the great plasma furnace around which our tilted, spinning Earth orbits. As King Solomon & Pete Seeger wrote, and as we sang in the St. Mary’s Boys Choir in 1966, “To everything there is a season–turn, turn, turn—and a time to every purpose under heaven…”
On March 2 Cary Forest of the Department of Physics will warm up the room with his talk on “Fusion Energy, Solar Flares, and Black Holes in the Wisconsin Plasma Physics Lab.”
Description: Plasma Physics is the overarching discipline describing plasma, the hot and energetic state of matter that makes up 99% of the visible universe. In my talk I will introduce you the exciting world of experimental plasma physics in which we build devices, here on Earth that replicate and mimic what we see in the Universe: from fusion energy powered stars; planetary and stellar magnetic fields spontaneously created by flows of plasma and liquid metals; spontaneous explosive bursts of plasma in solar flares that hammer our planet, satellites, and astronauts; and accretion of plasma onto supermassive black holes that gives rise to the galaxy sized radio jets that accelerate cosmic rays in the Universe. Each of these systems is built up from plasmas and have processes that can be studied terrestrially, which is what we do in the Wisconsin Plasma Lab. Experiments consist of big rooms, heavy equipment like large vacuum chambers, intense amounts of electric energy in the form of magnetic fields, high voltage power, and microwave heating, and specialized diagnostics to measure properties of plasma at temperatures greater than 100000 degrees.
I will tell two stories in my talk. The first will describe a recent experiment we carried out to investigate how plasma might break away from the magnetosphere of our Sun and give rise to the Solar Wind that fills our solar system. This experiment complements a recently launched NASA mission called Parker Solar Probe that is a satellite that is now probing close to the sun.
The second will be about revisiting an old idea called the magnetic mirror with new technology for making fusion in a simpler and more useful way than currently envisioned in reactors along the path that Iter is going. We are now building a new experiment called the Wisconsin High-Temperature-Superconductor Axisymmetric Mirror (WHAM) at the Physical Sciences Lab to test our ideas.
Bio: Prof. Cary B Forest received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1986 in the Applied Math, Engineering and Physics program and then attended graduate school at Princeton University where he received a Ph.D. in 1992 in Astrophysical Sciences. In the course of his thesis work he invented and demonstrated a novel method for “bootstrapping up” a tokamak (a donut shaped magnetic bottle used to confine hot fusion plasmas) and helped build the first “spherical tokamak” in the US.
After graduate school he spent 5 years working at a private company, General Atomics, as a Scientist where his work focused on advancing the tokamak towards a fusion reactor.
Forest’s research program at the UW since 1997 is on the border between nuclear fusion research and laboratory plasma astrophysics. During his time at Wisconsin, Forest’s group has brought into operation four (and soon five) new major experiments, including the Madison Dynamo Experiment (sodium), the Rotating Wall Machine, the Plasma Couette Experiment, and the Big Red Plasma Ball in the Wisconsin Plasma Physics Laboratory. Most recently, Forest has reinitiated magnetic mirror research in the United States and is constructing the Wisconsin High Temperature Superconductor Axisymmetric Mirror (WHAM) device as a prototypical fusion reactor with both academic and industrial applications. Three of Forest’s students have received the Rosenbluth Thesis Award for best thesis in Plasma Physics from the APS.
At the UW, Forest has received the Romnes Fellowship, the Vilas Associate Award, the Kellett Mid Career Award and a WARF Named Professorship. Nationally, he is the recipient of the Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, the David and Lucille Packard Foundation Fellowship, is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, received a Research Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, and is a Fellow of Merton College, Oxford. He currently serves as Director of the Wisconsin Plasma Physics Laboratory.
Explore More: https://wippl.wisc.edu
On March 9 Hilary Dugan of the Center for Limnology will spread the news about “The Impact of Salt on Wisconsin’s Freshwaters.”
Description: We will dive into salinization of Wisconsin’s freshwater environments, and probe how, why, and where
salinization is occurring–and what we can do to curtail current trends.
Bio: Dr. Hilary Dugan is an assistant professor at the Center for Limnology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. As a
limnologist, Hilary studies how terrestrial and atmospheric changes, such as warming air temperatures or land use patterns,
alter biogeochemical fluxes and aquatic processes in lakes. Her research balances field-based programs, which rely heavily
on sensor networks, with the use and development of analytical models, and the application of geophysical and geospatial
tools. Her research focus is on temperate and polar lakes, with sites spanning from Wisconsin to Antarctica.
Explore More: https://dugan.limnology.wisc.edu/
On March 16, in celebration of Brain Awareness Week, Jerry Yin of Genetics and Neurology in the School of Medicine and Public Health will speak on “What Can Fruit Flies Teach Us About the Persistence of Memory?”
Description: It is now generally accepted that memories involve changing the efficiency of transmission between relevant neurons in specific parts of the brain. Molecules (metabolites, signaling molecules, etc.) and macromolecules (RNAs, proteins and lipids) mediate these processes.
One of the deep problems in neuroscience is how memories can persist for periods of time that far exceed the half-lives of almost all these molecules. This problem is central to an understanding of memory consolidation (the extended process of memory formation) occurs, and how our brain “works.” The hippocampus is a key memory/integration center in the mammalian brain. Hippocampal-dependent memories also require extended periods of time (weeks) to form, a process known as “systems consolidation.”
Both these temporal properties (duration and the time required for consolidation) are mysterious, especially given that the best known “memory molecules” (eg. CaM kinase, protein kinase A, PKMz, CREB, CPEB, Arc, BDNF etc.) need to be replenished, and require acute neuronal activity to catalyze their activation.
Long after training, how are these molecules replenished, and what activities catalyze their activation? In this talk, we will discuss new insights into this process using the Drosophila (fruit fly) model system. Oscillatory processes (which can persist forever) and their associated molecules are likely important for memory consolidation.
Bio: Jerry Yin is a professor in the departments of genetics and of neurology in the UW-Madison School of Medicine & Public Health. He studied at Princeton University and then received his PhD in molecular biology from UW-Madison. He was a post-doc at MIT and then at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, where he was promoted first to assistant professor and then to associate professor before coming to UW-Madison in 2004. He is known for showing the transcription factor CREB is important for the formation of long-term memory.
“Time, Love, Memory: A Great Biologist and His Quest for the Origins of Behavior” by Jonathan Weiner (about Seymour Benzer)
Remember, we’ve now shifted to Hybrid so we can both Zoom and gather in one Room—Room 1111 Genetics Biotech Center, 425 Henry Mall, Madison WI.
Hope to see you soon at Wednesday Nite @ The Lab!
Tom ZinnenBiotechnology Center & Division of Extension, Wisconsin 4-H
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UW-Madison: 5.9 million owners, one pretty good public land-grant teaching, research and extension university.
Visit UW-Madison’s science outreach portal at science.wisc.edu for information on the people, places & programs on campus that welcome you to come experience science as exploring the unknown, all year round.
Here are the components of the WN@TL User’s Guide:
1. The live WN@TL seminar, every Wednesday night, 50 times a year, at 7pm CT in Room 1111 Genetics Biotech Center and on Zoom at go.wisc.edu/240r59
2. The WN@TL YouTube channel
3. WN@TL on the University Place broadcast channel of PBS Wisconsin
4. WN@TL on the University Place website