Daily Archives: October 6, 2013

The Demand for Liberal Arts Skills

In the September 30, 2013 issue of the Oredigger, Jordan Francis reported on a wonderful interview that he conducted with Kiewit CEO Bruce Grewcock. In this interview, Grewcock suggested that, in addition to a working knowledge of STEM skills (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), Mines students who wish to become successful engineers ought to develop proficient critical thinking and communication skills.

Energy of the Future

The world needs clean energy. At some point in the future, carbon dioxide emissions might rise to dangerous levels, and scientists and engineers are working vigorously to find a practical solution to that issue. Edward Maginn from the University of Notre Dame currently runs a project investigating the properties of the relatively new substance “ionic liquids” and how developing new materials for energy and environmental problems can be done through molecular simulation.

Scientific discoveries this week: 10/7/13

Princeton University and Michigan University
A new method developed by researchers called “in silico nano-dissection” uses computers to separate and identify genes from specific cell types. The team used this new method to identify genes expressed in cells called podocytes that often malfunction in kidney disease. They showed that certain patterns of activity of these genes correlated with the severity of the kidney disease. They also demonstrated that their computer-based approach was more accurate than existing methods at identifying cell lineage specific genes.Using the method on kidney biopsy samples the researchers identified 136 genes and showed that two of these genes are able to cause kidney disease. The computational method can be used for cells other than those found in the kidney suggesting that the method could be useful for identifying genes for a range of diseases.

AMS Colloquium: Exploring Lithium-Ion Batteries

Lithium-Ion batteries appear in nearly every piece of modern technology: phones, laptops, digital cameras, cordless drills, electric vehicles, and airplanes. Professor John Berger from the Colorado School of Mines Department of Mechanical Engineering presented as part of the Applied Mathematics and Statistics (AMS) Colloquium series. Berger’s presentation focused on the stresses due to intercalation and phase transformation in lithium-ion battery cathodes. Along with Mechanical Engineering PhD student at Mines, Veruska Malavé, Professor Robert Kee, and Research Associate Professor Huayang Zhu, Berger is researching the impacts of the above stresses on lithium-ion battery materials.

Rocket Science is Just Cool

After many years of long and difficult study, engineers can take comfort in the fact that they can be rewarded with a cool job, such as one in the field of rocket science. Companies like ATK allow engineers and others to combine their knowledge of math and science to the practical use of launching rockets and other crafts into atmosphere and outer space. As Dr. Janica Cheney, the Safety and Mission Assistance Director of ATK’s Defense and Commercial division explained, rocket science largely involves a combination of the principles of Physics and Chemistry combined with a fair bit of practical testing.

The Past, Present, and Future of Petroleum Systems Modeling

Dr. Marek Kacewicz of the Chevron Energy Technology Company spoke about the development of petroleum systems modeling, from some of the early stages, to the present day, while addressing some of his personal goals and wishes for the future. As he put it, petroleum systems modeling is “an integration of geological disciplines to basically evaluate sedimentary basins.” A majority of the work done by Kacewicz focuses over a broad slate of time scales and regional scenarios. Kacewicz was introduced to the crowd as a long-vetted member of the modeling community, and while he did not start out as a geologist, his background in mathematics helped him focus in on the technical issues facing the development of modeling systems.

Joint Ventures in Seabed Extractions in Disputed Water – Cases from East Asia

The often nonspecific International Laws of the Sea sometimes clash with the traditions of history and the goals and ambitions of existing countries. They clash in ways that result in regions of water which have multiple disputed claims of rights and ownership, particularly in countries around East Asia. As Dr. Yoichiro Sato conveyed, the conflicts of interests and power in that area of the world are fascinating, multi-faceted affairs. According to the international Law of the Sea, each country is allowed twelve nautical miles of territorial water which is to be split in the event of an overlap. Coastal states are each allowed an exclusive economic zone of two hundred nautical miles, and coastal countries are each allowed a natural prolongation of up to three hundred fifty miles of extended continental shelf.

Headlines from around the world: 10/7/13

The United States government has officially shut down. The recent failure to pass a national budget has forced a closure of many government services including national parks and monuments. Federal loan, passport, and permit services are frozen until further notice. Many government workers and military service men and women will retain their salaries, but approximately 800,000 nonessential were let go.

Mad Men Review

By the time most students graduate Mines, they will have jobs. Alumni will mostly have decent starting salaries and lead a comfortable lifestyle. In a few years there might be a promotion, then a wife, a nice new house, and a family. But what about those who want more than just a mundane existence? What about those who want not just a promotion but to own a company? Or maybe go out with the girl they were too nerdy for in high school? And own a mansion with so many bedrooms that it looks more like hotel? That is how the other half lives. They live like they have nothing to lose but the world to gain. That is what the show Mad Men is all about. How does the other half live? Or rather, how did they live?

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