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Research Scientist - Experimental Neutrino Physics | TRIUMF

Latest Jobs - 21 February 2018
CAN - BC - Vancouver, TRIUMF is Canada's particle accelerator centre, and one of the world's leading laboratories for particle and nuclear physics and accelerator-based science. We are an international centre for discover

BRIEF: How Winter Makes Shrews Stupid

Inside Science - 21 February 2018
BRIEF: How Winter Makes Shrews Stupid

To conserve energy in winter, shrews shrink their brains and sacrifice cognitive ability.

Shrew_topNteaser.jpg

Image credits:

Hanna Knutsson via Shutterstock

Creature

Wednesday, February 21, 2018 - 15:00

Nala Rogers, Staff Writer

(Inside Science) -- If you think you have trouble getting your brain into gear on a cold winter morning, be glad you're not a shrew. To survive the winter, common shrews reduce their food requirements by shrinking their bodies -- including their skulls and brains -- by about 15 to 20 percent. Now, researchers have shown that this loss of gray matter comes with a corresponding loss of mental shrewdness.

Common shrews are pointy-nosed, insect-eating mammals native to northern Europe. They typically live a little longer than a year, with the babies born in summer and spending the winter as juveniles. The juveniles shrink in fall, then regain most of their size in spring before producing the next year's batch of babies.

For the new study, researchers in Germany trapped 23 shrews at various times of year and released them into an enclosure with mealworms near one corner. The enclosures also contained glow sticks for the shrews to use as landmarks, as well as scattered mealworm bedding to disguise the mealworms' scent.

Shrews caught in spring and summer took relatively direct paths to the mealworms. Winter shrews, in contrast, wandered significantly farther before finding their goal, suggesting that they had poorer spatial skills. This makes sense given that two brain regions involved in spatial cognition, the neocortex and the hippocampus, are both known to shrink dramatically in shrews in winter.

Shrews maintain relatively large home ranges in spring and summer so they can search for mates, but in winter they don't have to travel as far. Thus, shrews in winter can probably afford to sacrifice some navigational ability for the sake of a less energy-hungry brain, according to the authors. The findings were published Jan. 22 in the Journal of Experimental Biology.

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Author Bio & Story Archive

Nala Rogers

Nala Rogers is a staff writer and editor at Inside Science, where she covers the Earth and Creature beats. She has a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Utah and a graduate certificate in science communication from U.C. Santa Cruz. Before joining Inside Science, she wrote for diverse outlets including Science, Nature, the San Jose Mercury News, and Scientific American. In her spare time she likes to explore wilderness.

Dynamic Compression Summer School | Institute for Shock Physics, Washington State University

Latest Jobs - 21 February 2018
US - IL - Lemont, Enrollment and Support Details• Enrollment is limited to 25 students.• Lodging and meals provided.• Travel support up to $500 is available. How to Apply https://shock.wsu.edu/eligibilit

Postdoctoral Research Associate: Computational Physics | Texas A&M Physics and Astronomy

Latest Jobs - 21 February 2018
US - TX - College Station, The Computational Physics group at Texas A&M University, led by Helmut Katzgraber, is seeking postdoctoral research associates. We are looking for creative, self-motivated individuals who have th

Dynamic Compression Summer School | Institute for Shock Physics Washington State University

SPS Jobs - 21 February 2018
US - IL - Argonne, Who is Eligible This opportunity is for students who are currently registered at a four year college/university and who are considering further studies in the fields of physics, chemistry, mechanical

MEMS Chips Get Metatlenses

Journal News Releases - 20 February 2018
From the Journal: APL Photonics

Postdoctoral Fellow in Computational Sciences | Korea Institute for Advanced Study (KIAS)

Latest Jobs - 20 February 2018
KOR - Seoul,   KOREA INSTITUTE FOR ADVANCED STUDY (KIAS)Postdoctoral Fellow in Computational Sciences at KIAS   The School of Computational Sciences at Korea Institute for Advanced Study (KIAS) invites

Postdoctoral Researcher (Fixed Term) | National Institute for Materials Science

Latest Jobs - 19 February 2018
JPN - Tsukuba, Elements Strategy Initiative Center for Magnetic Materials (ESICMM)   Job Summary: The successful candidate is expected to study physical properties of permanent magnets by applying

Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Program at Southern Illionis University | Southern Illinois University Carbondale

SPS Jobs - 19 February 2018
US - IL - Carbondale, We are pleased to report that the REU program in materials at SIUC has been funded by the NSF for another three year cycle. Southern Illinois University will sponsor research opportunities for underg

Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Program at Southern Illionis University | Southern Illinois University Carbondale

SPS Jobs - 18 February 2018
US - IL - Carbondale, We are pleased to report that the REU program in materials at SIUC has been funded by the NSF for another three year cycle. Southern Illinois University will sponsor research opportunities for underg

Are You Dyslexic in Chinese?

Inside Science - 16 February 2018
Are You Dyslexic in Chinese?

Learn about the different ways dyslexia manifests itself in languages.

Are You Dyslexic In Chinese?

Video of Are You Dyslexic In Chinese? Human

Friday, February 16, 2018 - 20:00

Yuen Yiu, Staff Writer

Can you be dyslexic in Chinese but totally fine when reading in English? Our staff writer Yuen Yiu explores the possibility for someone to be dyslexic in one language but not another.

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Yuen Yiu

Yuen Yiu covers the Physics beat for Inside Science. He's a Ph.D. physicist and fluent in Cantonese and Mandarin. Follow Yuen on Twitter: @fromyiutoyou.

Global Warming's Frozen Giant

Inside Science - 16 February 2018
Earth

Scientists are braving Arctic winters to study carbon frozen in soil. They keep finding surprises -- all of them bad.

02/16/2018

Nala Rogers, Staff Writer

https://www.insidescience.org/news/global-warmings-frozen-giant

Assistant Professor - Experimentalist | Institute for Shock Physics, Washington State University

Latest Jobs - 16 February 2018
US - WA - Pullman, Additional information about the Institute for Shock Physics and Washington State University follows:The Institute for Shock Physics OverviewThe Institute has ongoing research activities at the follow

Undergraduate Laboratory Director | Washington State University

Latest Jobs - 16 February 2018
US - WA - Pullman,   The Department of Physics and Astronomy at Washington State University (WSU) in Pullman seeks a permanent Undergraduate Laboratory Director starting summer/fall 2018. The Director is initially

Analyzing the Training of the World's Best Female Cross-Country Skier

Inside Science - 16 February 2018
Analyzing the Training of the World's Best Female Cross-Country Skier

Researchers took a detailed look at 17 years of training records for Norway's Marit Bjørgen.

SkiNorway.jpg

Image credits:

Cephas via Wikimedia Commons

Rights information:

CC BY-SA 4.0

Sports

Friday, February 16, 2018 - 14:30

Chris Gorski, Editor

(Inside Science) -- On Feb. 15, Norwegian cross-country skier Marit Bjørgen won a bronze medal in the 10-kilometer individual race. It was her second medal in Pyeongchang, and brought her total Olympic medal count to 12 -- more than any other female Winter Olympian has won. Researchers recently scoured 17 years of detailed training records to find insights into what made her so successful.

The results were published by a team of Norwegian researchers in December in a paper in the journal Frontiers in Physiology.

"This paper is an absolute goldmine of what is possible," said exercise physiologist Dan Heil, who was not involved in the research. "It's only now retrospectively that we see how valuable this is for Marit Bjørgen."

Olympic cross-country skiing events last from 3 minutes to nearly 2 hours and require competitors to race across flat surfaces and up and down hills as they employ the techniques known as classical and skating, as well as substyles of both throughout the different races. It's a completely unique endurance sport. The athletes that find success couple a marathoner's endurance with incredibly strong upper bodies.

It took a rare set of data to make the new research possible. The dataset begins in 2000, at about the time Bjørgen began competing in international adult races.

"[Bjørgen is] a unique subject. We found that she has really good training data for the 17-year senior career," said Guro Solli, a doctoral student at two universities in Norway and part of the research team. Solli is also a former international cross-country skiing competitor.

Using digital diaries designed by the Norwegian Ski Association and Olympic Federation, the researchers tracked Bjørgen's 8,105 training sessions from 2000-2017, capturing the amount of time she spent training for endurance, speed and strength, as well as whether that training was performed on the snow, on other surfaces using roller skis, or via running or other training methods.

"I guarantee that any and every coach from age groupers up to elite coaches are going to know of this paper and try and read it, purely to know what Marit Bjørgen has done," said Heil.

The data track Bjørgen's gradual progression from about 500 hours of training per year as a 20-year-old to about 950 hours per year at 32, a level at which she continued to train before a reduction in hours that coincided with the birth of her son in 2015.

The researchers identified such a slow and steady increase in training hours as beneficial. Building up the capacity to endure a large training load is important, Solli said, a lesson she learned the hard way during her own competitive career.

"I regret that I wasn't more patient. I think I was increasing my training too fast and I had some good seasons but then I got a lot of injuries and illness," she said. "The message to young athletes and coaches is that it takes time to develop endurance capacity, and to have the right progression in your training, too."

Other insights researchers found in the nearly two decades of training records included the finding that Bjørgen nearly doubled the number of hours per year spent strength training after reaching her largest overall training volume; that up to 25 percent of her training volume took place at high altitude camps; and that her reduction in training before competition was lower than typical recommendations found in the scientific literature.

Because this is one case study of an exceptional individual who had exceptional success, it's tough to know how much the results would carry over to other athletes, said Heil. "It would be great if we got similar articles on less successful skiers, like middle-of-the-packers or notably unsuccessful skiers."

But for athletes competing at the top levels, any new insight could be valuable.

"In elite sports the difference between the first place and the fourth place is so small, so if you're going to see the details you have to have case studies instead of group studies," said Solli.

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Going For A Gold Medal Weather Forecast

Inside Science - 16 February 2018
Going For A Gold Medal Weather Forecast

Behind the scenes of forecasting winter weather at the Olympics

Going For A Gold Medal Weather Forecast

Video of Going For A Gold Medal Weather Forecast Earth

Friday, February 16, 2018 - 14:15

Emilie Lorditch, Staff Writer

(Inside Science) -- As athletes from around the world set their sights on winning a gold medal at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, an international team of meteorologists behind the scenes will be keeping their eyes on the skies to ensure medalworthy weather forecasts.

Accuracy and precision are two words that you expect to hear during the judging of an Olympic athlete’s performance, but these may also be used to measure a weather forecast. “If you think of the Winter Olympic Games, most people will think that it’s only for sports,” said Yoonjin Lee, a graduate student at Colorado State University. “We need to provide accurate forecasts for the management of the game,” said Lee.

While sports are the main event during the Olympic Games, a surprise weather event can impact both indoor and outdoor events. During the 1984 Sarajevo Games, strong winds and snow caused many of the outdoor ski events to be postponed, and in 1960, 11 inches of snow fell the first two days of competition in Squaw Valley, California. What can we expect from the weather for the rest of the Olympics in Pyeongchang?

“The Pyeongchang area is located in the east side of Korean peninsula. It has very complex terrain and it’s located right next to the East Sea,” said Lee.

The average daily high temperature in Pyeongchang is 30-40 degrees Fahrenheit and the low is typically 12-22 degrees Fahrenheit. But what are the chances for snow? February is usually cold and dry, so the chances of a blizzard during the Olympic games are low.

The meteorologists who are part of the ICE-POP 2018 team, the International Collaborative Experiment for the PyeongChang Olympics and Paralympic Winter 2018 Games, are using radar and other weather instruments to measure the clouds, precipitation and surface conditions at various Olympic event locations. The goal is to provide precise and accurate short-term forecasts called nowcasts. These forecasts will anticipate weather conditions two to six hours ahead which could make the difference between holding the alpine skiing event or rescheduling it.

After keeping her eyes glued to weather data all day, which Olympic event is Lee’s favorite? “I’ll be watching figure skating,” responded Lee.

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Author Bio & Story Archive

Emilie Lorditch

Emilie Lorditch is the assistant news director at AIP.

Visiting Assistant Professor or Lecturer in Physics | University of Southern Maine, Department of Physics

Latest Jobs - 16 February 2018
US - ME - Portland, PhD in Physics The Department of Physics at the University of Southern Maine invites applications for a full-time, one-year, Visiting Assistant Professor or Lecturer beginning in Fall 2018.&

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