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SVConnections May 2016
October 2019
The Bold and Bewildering Curiosity of Alexander von Humboldt

By Catherine Meyers, Inside Science

Doing dangerous things in pursuit of new knowledge was par for the course for this Prussian polymath, born 250 years ago this month.  Around 1780 -- so the story goes -- the Italian scientist Luigi Galvani was dissecting frogs for study when his assistant touched a scalpel to one of the frog's nerves just as a nearby electrical machine sparked. The frog's leg twitched violently. That observation, and Galvani's many subsequent experiments, raised a major question: Did animals generate and store electricity -- could it even be an animal life force -- or did they just respond to it?  READ FULL ARTICLE.

Why Do We Need Super Accurate Atomic Clocks?

 By Yuen Yiu, Inside Science

Explore the applications of state-of-the-art clocks -- and the math that describes their performance and limitations. The GPS receiver in your car or cellphone works by listening to satellites broadcast their time and location. Once the receiver has "acquired" four satellites, it can calculate its own position by comparing the signals. Since the signals are broadcast using microwaves that travel at the speed of light, an error of a millionth of a second on a GPS satellite clock could put you a quarter mile off course. READ FULL ARTICLE.

Image credits: Liseykina/Shutterstock
The Strange Holes in Indiana Dunes, America's Newest National Park

By Catherine Meyers , Inside Science

Scientists now know much more about the underground cavities in the sand that nearly killed a boy in 2013.  On the shores of Lake Michigan, near the northeastern tip of Indiana Dunes National Park, an approximately 125-foot-high dune rises into the air. Named Mount Baldy, the crescent-shaped mound is arguably the most famous sand dune in the park. Rangers lead visitors on summer hikes to the top. READ FULL ARTICLE.

We Need a Better Way to Measure Hurricanes

 By Sofie Bates, Inside Science

The Saffir-Simpson scale relies on wind to categorize a hurricane, but it doesn't account for storm surge or flooding. Meteorologists rank hurricanes from category 1 to 5 based on wind speed. It’s called the Saffir-Simpson scale. And Kyra Bryant, graduate student at Tennessee State University, says we should update it. That scale doesn’t account for dangers like flooding or storm surge. And as ice melts and sea levels rise, we may see more storms with lower wind speed but lots of rain – the kind of storm that the Saffir-Simpson scale can’t accurately describe. READ FULL ARTICLE.
New Clock Claims Title of World's Most Accurate – For Now

By Katharine Gammon, Inside Science

Animals are often able to adapt to their human-influenced surroundings with remarkable ease.  In 2012 and 2013, Bill Bateman, a zoologist based in Perth, Australia, began to notice something interesting about how animals were navigating the bush: When mining companies created small paths through the previously tangled environment to install seismic lines, animals started preferentially using those trails to move from one place to another.   READ FULL ARTICLE.

Image credits: Bikeworldtravel/ Shutterstock
Shocking Find! Two New Electric Eel Species Discovered

By Joshua Learn, Inside Science

Expeditions in remote Amazon waterways result in identification of two previously unknown electrified fish.  After spending years trekking through Amazonian jungles to explore highland waterfalls and murky waterways researchers have discovered two new species of electric eels. “The eels are quite eye-catching, they grow over eight feet long and they discharge,” said David de Santana, a zoologist at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., and the lead author of the study  published in September  in  Nature Communications READ FULL ARTICLE.

Image credits: C. David de Santana
Welding Ceramics With a Laser

By Yuen Yiu, Inside Science

Researchers developed a way to weld pieces of brittle ceramics together using a laser that fires a million times per second. Humans have been using ceramics since antiquity. Although commonly known as the stuff of chipped coffee mugs and tableware, ceramics are a large family of materials that can be extremely durable depending on the composition and production process. Engineers use them in a broad range of modern applications from biomedical implants to body armors and even nose cones for nuclear missiles. READ FULL ARTICLE.

Rights information: Copyright American Institute of Physics ( reprinting information
Water Vapor Found on a Planet in the 'Goldilocks' Zone for Life

By Charles Q. Choi, Inside Science

Planet K2-18b is about twice as wide as Earth and located about 110 light-years away.  For the first time, scientists have detected water on a distant planet lying within its star's habitable zone, a new study finds. Since there is life virtually everywhere there is water on Earth, the search for life outside Earth typically concentrates on worlds that are the right distances from their stars to host liquid water on their surfaces. This range of distances is often called the habitable or "Goldilocks" zone.  READ FULL ARTICLE.

Image credits: ESA/Hubble, M. Kornmesser
Newest Pterosaur Was Likely as Tall as a Giraffe

By Charles Q. Choi , Inside Science

Ancient flying reptile dubbed Cryodrakon boreas, the "cold dragon of the north winds," may shed light on the evolution of these dinosaur relatives. A new species of giant pterosaur has been discovered in the Dinosaur Park Formation in Alberta, Canada, whose snowy, windy winters gave Cryodrakon its name. Based on the largest vertebra yet found of this species, adults may have possessed wingspans of roughly 10 meters (33 feet). READ FULL ARTICLE.

Image credits: David Maas
Rights information: Used with permission
Deadly Heat Waves Will Likely Get Worse

 By Karin Heineman, Inside Science

Heat is the number one cause of weather-related deaths in the U.S. Heat is the top cause of weather-related deaths in the United States – more than hurricanes, tornadoes, floods or cold temperatures. And the problem will likely get worse because of climate change.  READ FULL ARTICLE.
Another Pair of Eyes Does See Different Things

By Charles Q. Choi, Inside Science

New study shows that we direct our gazes differently even when we are staring at the same images.  If a picture is worth a thousand words, scientists now find that not everybody looks at the same words first. When shown a series of pictures some people might focus more on, say, faces, while others might fixate on food. The new findings emphasize how the world might look different from one person to the next. READ FULL ARTICLE.

Image credits : Taken from " The American encyclopedia and dictionary of ophthalmology , " published in 1913. Animated by Yuen Yiu.
Join us in Boston!

The 2019 MRS Fall Meeting will take place from December 1 to December 6, 2019 , in Boston, Massachusetts, at the Hynes Convention Center and adjacent Sheraton Boston Hotel. The world's foremost international scientific gathering for materials research, the MRS meeting showcases leading interdisciplinary research in both fundamental and applied areas presented by scientists from around the world. 

12 - 15 November 2019
Munich, Germany

This year SEMICON Europa is co-located with productronica in Munich, the strongest single event for electronics manufacturing in Europe. Together, the two events will connect industry leaders and international experts from every segment and sector of the European microelectronics industries including semiconductors, LEDs, MEMS, printed/ organic/ flexible, and other adjacent markets. Thanks to its central location, Munich will attract international visitors, giving SEMICON Europa attendees the opportunity to meet with high-level experts and researchers. You are all invited to SEMICON Europa Opening Ceremony, Networking Events, TechARENA and TechLOUNGE. 

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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