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Atmosphere of Far Worlds Probed with New Technique and Large Telescope
31 August 2010Astronomers on two research teams, including an astronomer at Penn State University, have demonstrated the power of a new technique to determine the chemical composition of the atmospheres of planets far outside our solar system. Using the technique -- called narrow-band transit spectrophotometry, -- the teams discovered the element potassium in the atmospheres of giant planets similar in size to Jupiter.
Scientists Develop the First Atomic View of Key Genetic Processes
25 August 2010In a landmark study to be published in the journal Nature, scientists have been able to create the first picture of genetic processes that happen inside every cell of our bodies. Using a 3-D visualization method called X-ray crystallography, Song Tan, an associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Penn State University, has built the first-ever image of a protein interacting with the nucleosome — DNA packed tightly into space-saving bundles organized around a protein core. The research is expected to aid future investigations into diseases such as cancer
Penn State's 2010 Forensic Science Lecture Series
16 August 2010Students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the public are invited to a series of presentations on forensic science, criminal justice, and crime fiction. The 2010 Forensic Science Lecture Series will feature four leaders within the forensic-science field. Lecturers will discuss innovative techniques for identifying human remains, analyzing crime scenes, tracking down criminals, and authoring best-selling thriller novels. All lectures are free and will be held on Mondays from 12:20 p.m. to 1:10 p.m. in 111 Wartik Laboratory on the Penn State University Park campus.
Penn State is Partner in Large Telescope Awarded Top U.S. Priority
13 August 2010A report released this morning for the National Academy of Sciences by a committee of the National Research Council ranked the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) as its top priority for the next large ground-based astronomical facility. The "Astro2010" report states that, of all the competing astronomy projects, the LSST achieved the top rank for its compelling science objectives and because "the committee judged that LSST was the most ready-to-go."
Bob Shaler, Founding Director of the Penn State Forensic Science Program, Retires
13 August 2010Robert C. Shaler, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, has retired after having served as the founding director of the Penn State Forensic Science Program since 2005. Shaler is well known for supervising the massive DNA-testing effort to identify thousands of victims of the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks, and he is the author of Who They Were: Inside the World Trade Center DNA Story: The Unprecedented Effort to Identify the Missing.
To the Point: Astronomer discusses NASA's future
12 August 2010After more than a half-century of involvement sending humans into space, the United States is now preparing for the shut down of NASA's human space flight programs. Findings from the Review of United States Human Space Flight Plans Committee, known as the Augustine Commission, report that the current human space program, the Constellation program, was underfunded, behind schedule and over budget. Because of these findings the program was not included in the 2010 U.S. budget and the program is winding down. Chris Palma, senior lecturer in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at Penn State, whose specialty is education and outreach in astronomy, explains the implications of the end of this NASA program.
Public Astronomy Presentation on Other Worlds Set for August 16
11 August 2010A free public presentation by astronomer John Johnson, an assistant professor of astronomy at the California Institute of Technology, will be given at 8:00 p.m. on Monday, 16 August 2010, in room 101 Thomas Building on the Penn State University Park campus. His talk on the study of planets in orbit around other stars is titled "Other Worlds."
Gaertner to Represent Penn State's Eberly College of Science as Student Marshal at Summer Commencement 2010
06 August 2010Carol Lynn Gaertner of Wexford, Pennsylvania, will be honored as the student marshal for both the Eberly College of Science and the College of Engineering during Penn State's summer commencement ceremonies on 14 August 2010 at the University Park campus. Gaertner has selected Victor Nistor of the Department of Mathematics and Moses Ling of the Department of Architectural Engineering to be her faculty escorts for the commencement exercises.
Lizards Show Stress Reactions to Fire Ant Neighbors
02 August 2010New research shows that when some fence lizards are attacked by fire ants they "stress out"-- a response that actually helps the species to survive by heightening the animal's awareness of imminent danger. Tracy Langkilde, assistant professor of biology at Penn State University, found that lizards living in areas of the southeastern United States, where large numbers of fire ants also live, have elevated levels of stress hormones, called glucocorticoids.
Epileptic Seizures May Be Linked to an Ancient Gene Family
01 August 2010New research points to a genetic route to understanding and treating epilepsy. Timothy Jegla, an assistant professor of biology at Penn State University, has identified an ancient gene family that plays a role in regulating the excitability of nerves within the brain.
Summer Mathematics Program Welcomes Peking University Students to Penn State
21 July 2010Penn State's 3rd Annual PSU-PKU Summer Mathematics Program kicked off on Saturday, July 17, with a welcome lunch for the twelve Peking University students and their faculty members, Professor Zhiping Li and Professor Yulong Liu.
New Hypothesis for Human Evolution and Human Nature
20 July 2010It's no secret to any dog-lover or cat-lover that humans have a special connection with animals. But in a new journal article and forthcoming book, paleoanthropologist Pat Shipman of Penn State University argues that this human-animal connection goes well beyond simple affection. Shipman proposes that the interdependency of ancestral humans with other animal species — "the animal connection" — played a crucial and beneficial role in human evolution over the last 2.6 million years.
Record-Breaking X-ray Blast Briefly Blinds Space Observatory
14 July 2010A blast of the brightest X-rays ever detected from beyond our Milky Way galaxy's neighborhood temporarily blinded the X-ray eye on NASA's Swift space observatory earlier this summer, astronomers now report. The X-rays traveled through space for 5-billion years before slamming into and overwhelming Swift's X-ray Telescope on 21 June.
Einstein Fellow Houtz Joins Summit to Improve Education
13 July 2010Barbara Houtz, Director of Outreach at Penn State's Eberly College of Science and an Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow recently joined more than 80 current and former Fellows for a 20th Anniversary Summit, sponsored by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Houtz is one of only two Einstein Fellows from Pennsylvania.
Newborn Stars Discovered in Dark Cosmic Cloud
07 July 2010A wave of massive star formation appears poised to begin within a mysterious, dark cloud in the Milky Way. NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed a secluded birthplace for stars within a wispy, dark cloud named named M17 SWex. The dark cloud is part of the larger, parent nebula known as M17, a vast region of our galaxy with a bright, central star cluster. "We believe we've managed to observe this dark cloud in a very early phase of star formation before its most massive stars have ignited," said Penn State astronomer Matthew Povich, a postdoctoral fellow and the lead author of a study published recently in The Astrophysical Journal Letters. The new research could shed light on the question of how and when massive stars form.
Depressed Mice Could Aid Research on Drug-Resistant Depression in Humans
29 June 201029 June 2010 -- New research shows that a unique strain of laboratory mice characterized at Penn State University has behavioral, hormonal, and neurochemical characteristics that are similar to those of human patients with drug-resistant forms of depression. The mice -- which have a defect in a gene -- are expected to be useful as a new model organism in the effort to develop more effective medications for specific forms of depression. The research, led by Bernhard Luscher, a professor of biology at Penn State, will be published in the journal Biological Psychiatry.
Discovery of How Coral Reefs Adapt to Global Warming Could Aid Reef Restoration
23 June 2010Discoveries about tropical coral reefs are expected to be invaluable in efforts to restore the corals, which are succumbing to bleaching and other diseases at an unprecedented rate as ocean temperatures rise worldwide. The research gives new insights into how the scientists can help to preserve or restore the coral reefs that protect coastlines, foster tourism, and nurture many species of fish. The research, which will be published in the journal PLoS One, was accomplished by an international team whose leaders include Iliana Baums, an assistant professor of biology at Penn State University.
Peter Mészáros Elected a Member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences
21 June 2010Peter Mészáros, Holder of the Eberly Family Chair in Astronomy and Astrophysics and professor of physics at Penn State, has been elected a member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
Video: Researcher Studies Warming Oceans' Effects on Coral Reef Life
15 June 2010Iliana Baums, an assistant professor of biology at Penn State, dons scuba gear for work. She studies coral reef ecosystems, the "forests of the oceans," diverse habitats that are vital to many species of ocean life. Warming ocean temperatures disrupt that ecosystem and cause episodes of coral bleaching, which, over time, can kill coral and the life supported by it. Watch the video as Baums explains her research conducted under the sea.
Xu Appointed as Francis R. and Helen M. Pentz Professor of Science
10 June 2010Jinchao Xu, Distinguished Professor of Mathematics at Penn State, has been honored by the University's Eberly College of Science by being appointed the Francis R. and Helen M. Pentz Professor of Science. The Pentz professorship was established in 1989 to provide outstanding faculty members with the resources necessary to further their teaching, research, and public service.

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