UW-Madison course examines natural disasters

With the human misery caused by the twin hurricanes all over the headlines, Professor of Geoscience Tobin wanted to explain the backdrop – the whys and wherefores of cyclones – to a capacity crowd of 75 undergraduate students. Geoscience 140, Natural Hazards and Disasters, uses current events to teach the science behind the news, but it also examines how government policies and human choices affect risk.

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Wisconsin Idea: UW’s “mission statement” under the microscope in fall course

The “Wisconsin Idea,” often described as the most succinct explanation for the university’s role in the state of Wisconsin, will be dissected on campus during 15 lectures this fall in Sociology 496:  “FORWARD?  The Wisconsin Idea, Past and Present.”

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UW-Madison spinoff helps libraries help local musicians

Rabble LLC, a Madison startup with UW–Madison roots, offers software to libraries that presents the sound of local musicians in an easy-to-access format.

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As continents continue moving, study suggests effects on biodiversity

Continental drift and plate tectonics — the notion that large chunks of Earth’s crust slowly but inexorably shift positions — was proposed in 1912 but not accepted until the 1960s. Scientists began to speculate about how these alterations would affect the formation and extinction of species and thus, what we call biodiversity.

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As computing moves to cloud, UW-Madison spinoff offers faster, cleaner chip for data centers

Whether you are tagging a photo in Facebook, asking Siri for directions to an eatery, or translating French into English, much of the action happens far from your phone or laptop, in a data center. These warehouses, each holding thousands of computers, are expanding quickly, and they already consume an estimated 2 percent of the national electricity supply.

Associate professor of computer sciences Karu Sankaralingam has formed a startup to advance a streamlined chip design that will run up to 10 times faster than those now inside data centers.

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Analysis: Gender differences in depression appear at age 12

An analysis just published online has broken new ground by finding gender differences in both symptoms and diagnoses of depression appearing at age 12. The analysis, based on existing studies that looked at more than 3.5 million people in more than 90 countries, confirmed that depression affects far more females than males.

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Massive, computer-analyzed geological database reveals chemistry of ancient ocean

A study that used a new digital library and machine reading system to suck the factual marrow from millions of geologic publications dating back decades has unraveled a longstanding mystery of ancient life: Why did easy-to-see and once-common structures called stromatolites essentially cease forming over the long arc of earth history?

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UW helps schools update approach to science education

On a cold January morning, a few students cheer as three recent alumni of the Biology Core Curriculum honors program at UW–Madison enter a 4th grade classroom in Mazomanie, Wisconsin. These “Biocore Outreach Ambassadors” bear gifts: plastic containers, soil, fertilizer and seed from the university’s “Wisconsin Fast Plants” program.

These minimal props, combined with a basic light box — two milk crates lined with aluminum foil — are the raw materials for plant-growth experiments that Bree Wilhelmson’s students will pursue for almost two months.

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Fossil fuel formation: Key to atmosphere’s oxygen?

A study now online in the February issue of Earth and Planetary Science Letters links the rise in oxygen to a rapid increase in the burial of sediment containing large amounts of carbon-rich organic matter. 

The key, says study co-author Shanan Peters, a professor of geoscience at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, is to recognize that sediment storage blocks the oxidation of carbon.

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