SVConnections May 2016
August 2020
Peril and Promise: Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Physical Sciences

To assist leaders in government, academic, the private sector and others who depend on the physical sciences as they craft specific recommendations to address the COVID-19 pandemic's impacts, the American Institute of Physics convened a panel of experts to forecast the effects on the physical sciences. 

The panel that produced this report is composed of nine experts who bring scientific, institutional, experiential, and other dimensions of diversity to this task. Over the course of six weeks, from May to June 2020, the panel focused on the actual and potential impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the physical sciences enterprise as a first step in envisioning a post-pandemic recovery strategy. This report discusses the pandemic's current and expected impacts on the physical sciences enterprise in three dimensions: workforce, infrastructure, and the conduct of research. READ FULL ARTICLE.

The Diversity and Greatness of Manhattan Project Alumni

By Nala Rogers, Inside Science

A selection of women and people of color who achieved remarkable things in science after working on the Manhattan Project. The Manhattan Project wasn’t only an endeavor of white men. Women and people of color played pivotal roles, despite discrimination and systematic barriers. Many members of these marginalized groups held nonresearch positions such as clerical work, construction, and maintaining and operating facilities. Some became renowned scientists -- both during and after World War II. READ FULL ARTICLE.

Image credits: Abigail Malate, Staff Illustrator
Rights information: This image may only be reproduced with this Inside Science article. 
A Forgotten Legacy: How Nuclear Reactors Built for War Transformed Peacetime Science

By Catherine Meyers, Inside Science

Isotopes produced in the original Manhattan Project reactors seeded decades of research and even a few Nobel Prizes. On July 16 this year, on what marks the 75th anniversary of the first nuclear bomb test, a patient may go to the doctor for a heart scan. A student may open her textbook to study the complex chemical pathways green plants use to turn carbon dioxide in the air into sugar. A curious grandmother may spit into a vial for a genetic ancestry test and an avid angler may wake up to a beautiful morning and decide to fish at one of his favorite lakes. READ FULL ARTICLE.

Image credits: Ed Westcott/US Army/Manhattan Engineer District via Wikipedia.
Rights information: Public Domain 
Touring The Trinity Test Site

By Karin Heineman, Inside Science

A glimpse into the history of the start of the atomic age. It was here in the middle of the desert, in what is now the U.S. Army White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico -- that the world's first atomic bomb was tested and exploded on July 16,1945.  WATCH VIDEO.
Scientists Invent Noise-Canceling Windows

By Charles Q. Choi, Inside Science

Speakers set on bars inside the windows cancel out unwanted noise, using technology similar to that in noise-canceling headphones. A device that acts like noise-canceling headphones could help reduce the din from open windows, a new study finds. READ FULL ARTICLE.

Image credits: NTU Singapore
Rights information: This image may only be reproduced with this Inside Science article. 
Researchers 3D-Print a Modern Damascus Steel

By Charles Q. Choi, Inside Science

The new metal alloy, created using a laser manufacturing technique, possesses properties that rival the legendary material from medieval times. Swords made of the legendary alloy known as Damascus steel were renowned in medieval times not only for their unique beauty -- possessing wavy bands on their surfaces reminiscent of flowing water -- but also for their incredible sharpness and toughness. Inspired by this ancient metal, researchers have now used lasers to create an even stronger alloy, a new study finds. READ FULL ARTICLE.

Image credits: Frank Vinken
Mars’ Little Moon Reveals Signs of an Ancient Ring Around the Planet

By Ramin Skibba, Inside Science

Scientists argue that Deimos’ tilted orbit owes to a Martian ring that disintegrated billions of years ago. Mars’ diminutive moon may be only 8 miles across, but it holds key information about the planet’s history. Deimos’ strangely off-kilter orbit can only be explained by Mars having a prominent ring orbiting it billions of years ago, astrophysicists argue. READ FULL ARTICLE.

Image credits: Viking Project, JPL, NASA
Protests, A Retracted Paper, and a Super-Earth Planet

By Alistair Jennings, Inside Science

A month’s worth of cool science stories, summed up. This has been a month of protest, and academia is no exception. Scientists of color have been sharing their experiences of working in an academic environment that can hold them back -- often in unintended ways. A paper published at the beginning of this month found that Black scientists, matched to white scientists in gender, career stage, degree type, institute prestige and area of expertise, were 25% less likely to receive funding from the U.S. National Institutes of Health. This month has been a wake-up call for anyone who imagined science to be free of systemic racism. It is not. WATCH VIDEO.
Eruptions and Emissions Can Rapidly Alter the Ocean's Ability to Absorb Carbon

By Christian Fogerty, Inside Science

Climate scientists propose new explanation for the rapid changes to the ocean carbon sink in the 1990s. As humans pump more and more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the ocean is hard at work absorbing it, buying us more time to stave off the worst effects of climate change. Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the mid-18th century, the ocean has absorbed roughly 39% of all human emissions. This phenomenon, called the "ocean carbon sink," is driven by the difference between carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere and in the ocean. READ FULL ARTICLE.

Image credits: Dean Croshere via Flickr
Rights information: CC BY 2.0
Halos of Clay Can Preserve Billion-Year-Old Microbes

By Meredith Fore, Inside Science

New discovery could help scientists unearth more ancient microbial fossils and shed light on some big questions about early life on Earth. Putting together the history of life on Earth has a major stumbling block: Prior to about 540 million years ago, most life was squishy and microbial, which meant it rarely fossilized. This major blind spot makes it difficult for researchers to study ancient life at a key point in Earth’s evolutionary history, and even more difficult to potentially find evidence of ancient microbial life on Mars. But a recent study of kaolinite, an aluminum-rich clay, gives researchers some major hints about where to start looking. READ FULL ARTICLE.

Image credits: NorthStarPhotos via Shutterstock
The Protests that Rocked the Nation

By Abigail Malate, Inside Science

Public art displayed this month reflects widespread calls for action.June saw unrest and upheaval of the likes of which have not been seen in the U.S. in many decades. Across the United States, the intersection of Pride Month, Juneteenth, Black Lives Matter Protests, and the COVID-19 pandemic spurred a growing desire for change. This month we look at how these events have been expressed through public works of demonstration and art. VIEW SLIDESHOW.

Image credits: Ted Eytan
White-Throated Sparrow's Trendy New Song Catches On

By Nala Rogers, Inside Science

A new song type originated in western Canada and then spread East, replacing the sparrows’ traditional song. When researchers first noticed white-throated sparrows singing a strange song in the Canadian province of British Columbia, they figured it was a regional dialect. Dialects are common among birds and other singing animals living in isolated populations. Then the song began to spread. READ FULL ARTICLE.

Image credits: Scott M. Ramsay
Rights information: This image may only be reproduced with this Inside Science article. 
Legless Amphibians Have Snakelike Venomous Bites

By Charles Q. Choi, Inside Science

Wormlike amphibians called caecilians may have evolved venomous teeth long before the first snakes crawled the Earth. Long before snakes evolved their famous venomous fangs, toxic bites may have arisen in an ancient group of worm-like amphibians called caecilians, a new study finds. READ FULL ARTICLE.

Image credits: Carlos Jared
Rights information: This image may only be reproduced with this Inside Science article. 
Striving to MAKE A DIFFERENCE in the lives of our students.

One of the SVC’s long-term goals has always been to support charitable, educational, and scientific activities. As its first initiative, the Foundation created a scholarship program aimed at supporting enterprising students and practitioners who have an interest in furthering their education in the field of vacuum coating technology. 
The Foundation also grants travel awards to students to attend and present technical papers at the annual SVC Technical Symposium. Since its inception, both programs have awarded over $250,000 in scholarships to students from the United States, Canada, China, Lithuania and Spain.
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