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President Obama honors UVM robotics scientist at White House ceremony

first_imgFor his work to understand how to build better robots, Joshua Bongard, a researcher at the University of Vermont, received Friday the highest award given by the US government to young scientists.President Barack Obama announced Bongard as one of 94 winners of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers on Sept. 26.Bongard received the award today at a ceremony at the White House. Bongard is only the second researcher in UVM history to receive the PECASE award, which provides $500,000 in research funds over several years.At a ceremony Friday in the White House, President Barack Obama announced UVM robotics researcher and assistant professor Joshua Bongard as one of 94 winners of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest award given by the U.S. government to young scientists.  After the ceremony, Bongard displayed the award.  To his right is Dr. John P. Holdren, the President’s science and technology advisor and director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.  To his left is Dr. Joan Ferrini-Mundy, assistant director for Education and Human Resources at the National Science Foundation.Inspired by evolutionBongard’s far-reaching work looks to nature for ideas. “The goal is to borrow ideas from neuroscience and evolution to help us build better and more intelligent robots,” he says.So far, scientists have had little success in building resilient machines that can continually perform behaviors that are fairly simple but require ongoing adaptation to changing conditions ‘ like paving a road or cleaning up a toxic dump. But Bongard is on a mission to make them.”The prevailing approach to create such machines is to copy physiological and neurological systems observed in animals, and build them into robots,” Bongard notes. “This raises the issue however of what, from among the infinitude of existing biological structures, should be copied.”Instead of guessing, Bongard has innovated systems in which computer programs copy the dynamics of biological evolution and replay them in a virtual space with numerous generations of synthetic creatures ‘ something like a highly sophisticated video game.The resulting algorithm yields ideas for robots that have optimized their neurological structures ‘ and their behaviors and body plans ‘ over many generations of being tested by virtual evolution, instead of human guesswork.With these ideas in hand, Bongard and his students can then build actual robots in their workshop that are adaptable and capable of responding to novel challenges.”My long-term goal is to give back to neuroscience and evolutionary biology, to give us a different tool to investigate: why does intelligence evolve?” Bongard says. “Under what conditions will intelligence evolve? Could we ever consider a machine to be intelligent, or is intelligence something limited to biological organisms?”Presidential visionRecognizing this kind of innovative work, the PECASE awards “embody the high priority the Obama Administration places on producing outstanding scientists and engineers to advance the Nation’s goals, tackle grand challenges, and contribute to the American economy,” the White House wrote in a press release.In 1996, the National Science and Technology Council was commissioned by President Clinton to create a program that would support and honor outstanding scientists and engineers early in their research careers ‘ from this council came the PECASE award.Each year, more than a dozen federal departments and agencies nominate scientists and engineers whose early accomplishments “show the greatest promise for assuring America’s preeminence in science and engineering and contributing to the awarding agencies’ missions,” the White House press office wrote.”It is inspiring to see the innovative work being done by these scientists and engineers as they ramp up their careers ‘ careers that I know will be not only personally rewarding but also invaluable to the Nation,” President Obama said in the White House release. “That so many of them are also devoting time to mentoring and other forms of community service speaks volumes about their potential for leadership, not only as scientists but as model citizens.”An innovatorBongard, an assistant professor of computer science in UVM’s College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences, was one of 21 nominees presented by the National Science Foundation for the most recent round of awards.Bongard’s research has received national and international attention, and has been featured in Wired magazine, the Boston Globe, The Voice of America, Popular Science, and many other outlets. He also received a fellowship from Microsoft Research in 2007 for research related to self-healing robots ‘ one of five given nationwide. He was named by MIT as one of the world’s top innovators under 35.”This award allows me to continue with my basic scientific research, but it also allows me to create tools that draw many people into my research beyond my graduate students,” Josh Bongard says. “Through this award, we’re developing a web interface that will allow people to perform evolutionary robotics experiments without having a background in evolution or robotics.”UVM. 10.14.2011###last_img read more

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Chris Smith’s Browns teammate T. J. Carrie expresses shock at his release, tragic accident

first_img 9 months ago Myles Garrett net worth, annual salary, Steelers brawl and NFL suspension COMMENT The accident is even more tragic, considering that Chris Smith’s girlfriend had given birth to the couple’s daughter, four weeks before the accident. Chris Smith returned to play for Cleveland Browns in the nine NFL games registering one defensive tackle, and a pass defended before his release on Tuesday. The six-year NFL veteran recorded 22 total tackles, including 14 solo stops, eight assists, one sack, three passes defended and a forced fumble over the course of two seasons with the Browns.Also Read: Cowboys Vs Bears Fans Brawl After NFL Game, Hell Breaks Loose In ChicagoT. J. Carrie expresses shock at Cleveland Browns decision to release Chris SmithDefensive back T. J. Carrie said he was shocked and surprised with Cleveland Browns’ decision to let go of Chris Smith. According to American media reports, he said that it’s hard to see the business aspect of the NFL considering the bonds and relationships one develops with teammates. Carrie said that it’s easier to ward off distractions when you’re in a high energy environment, referring to Chris Smith’s situation. T. J. Carrie said the team tried their best to give Smith some time while also trying to laugh, joke and have fun with him.Also Read: NFL Playoffs: Patriots Stumbling, Seahawks Soaring High, Saints Through. Who Will Make It?Cleveland Browns players to stay in touch with Chris SmithT. J. Carrie said that he is yet to come to terms with Chris Smith not being around the team. He further added that the players have tried to consistently support him through his struggle and would continue to keep in touch with Smith to keep tabs on him and see if he’s okay. Cleveland Browns running back, Nick Chubb also said that it’s tough to see anybody go. He said the team loves him and it’s a very tough situation for everyone involved.Also Read: Dallas Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones Says Jason Garrett Will Coach In The NFL Next Year Last Updated: 6th December, 2019 20:03 IST Chris Smith’s Browns Teammate T. J. Carrie Expresses Shock At His Release, Tragic Accident Chris Smith, who tragically lost his girlfriend in September, has been released by Cleveland Browns. Teammate T.J. Carrie has expressed his shock over the case 9 months ago Chris Smith: Cleveland Browns release defensive end 83 days after tragic accident 9 months ago Dallas Cowboys kicker Brett Maher sets unwanted NFL record during loss against Bears The Cleveland Browns on Tuesday released defensive lineman Chris Smith from their NFL roster. While transactions happen each day in the NFL, with players released and signed up every day, Smith’s story is one of tragedy. The loss of contract comes just three months after Chris Smith lost his girlfriend, Petara Cordero. Teammate T. J. Carrie has expressed his disbelief at the Browns’ decision to release Smith from the roster saying he was ‘surprised and shocked.’Also Read: Dallas Cowboys Kicker Brett Maher Sets Unwanted NFL Record During Loss Against BearsNFL: Cleveland Browns release Chris Smith  LIVE TV WATCH US LIVE WE RECOMMEND SUBSCRIBE TO US 9 months ago NFL Playoffs: Patriots stumbling, Seahawks soaring high, Saints through. Who will make it? First Published: 6th December, 2019 20:03 IST Written By 9 months ago Following tragedy, Chris Smith’s release is explained by Cleveland Browns coach Freddie Sreehari Menon FOLLOW USlast_img read more

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The weatherman at the end of the western world

first_imgWilliam Wells lives and works at what may be the nation’s most remote weather station. It’s 300 miles off the west coast of Alaska (and 500 miles off the east coast of Siberia) in the Bering Sea. Even by St. Paul Island standards, his station is remote: it’s off by itself, a few miles away from the village of 400 people who call St. Paul home.Download AudioWilliam Wells releases a weather balloon on Alaska’s St. Paul Island. (KUCB/John Ryan photo)Each afternoon, he walks from his office into a two-story-tall garage to fill up a six-foot-wide balloon with hydrogen gas.“You wouldn’t be able to use your equipment while I would be inflating,” Wells says afterward. “We would have to do this interview outside in the wind because of the risk of static electricity that would create a potential explosion hazard.”“But we’re no under threat right now because it’s contained safely within that latex,” he assures me.Helium would be safer but more expensive, especially with shipping to the middle of the Bering Sea. So the St. Paul National Weather Service station generates its own hydrogen on site.Once the big latex balloon is inflated, Wells takes a string and ties a small gadget known as a “radiosonde” to the balloon.“It tracks the temperature, relative humidity, and wind speed and wind direction as it goes up through the atmosphere,” Wells says.He pulls on a heavy chain to open the double-tall garage door. Then he grabs the balloon’s string in one hand and checks his watch with the other. When the clock strikes three, he sprints out the door in a mad dash: across a patch of tundra toward the gravel road in front of the station.As the balloon above him clears the high garage door, a 30-knot wind whips it hard to the east. The wind that strafes low, treeless St. Paul Island pummels the balloon into a shape basically like a 3-D comma.Wells needs to get far enough away from the weather station’s buildings that the wind doesn’t plow the balloon or its electronics into the side of one of them.Once he reaches the road, he releases the balloon, and it shoots away. In this wind, the balloon takes off more like an airplane than a balloon.Wells returns to the garage and quickly closes it up.“Now, I’m going to apologize, but I’m going to take off almost at a full-bore sprint,” he says before doing just that.He sprints the 100 yards back to his office to make sure the radiosonde is transmitting data in real time. It is. No need for a second launch today.William Wells runs back to his National Weather Service office. (KUCB/John Ryan photo.)Hundreds of BalloonsIt’s a daily routine for Wells. For the balloon, it’s a one-time affair. As it rises 20 miles into the sky, it swells to about 40 feet in diameter. Then it bursts and returns to Earth as debris, most likely somewhere in the Bering Sea. But not before it has sent back valuable data.“We are such a remote location,” Wells says, “Our data is pretty precious.”That data gets used within the hour in the 4 p.m. NOAA weather forecasts that mariners and others rely on in the Bering Sea and beyondTwice a day, like clockwork, balloons are released from hundreds of locations around the world at noon and midnight Universal Time (3:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m. Alaska Daylight Time). Before they burst in the upper atmosphere, they help weather forecasters pinpoint what’s going on overhead.In a report on the impacts of released balloons, marine biologist Jan van Franeker with Wageningen University in the Netherlands says, even if made of natural latex, they are a danger to wildlife, especially seabirds. He says remains of weather balloons can be found regularly on European beaches.“The risk of wildlife suffering or dying from balloons may be best balanced against usefulness or necessity of balloons released,” van Franeker writes. “Latex weather-balloons are an essential element for reliable weather forecasts to the extent that human life may be affected. But the short joy of a mass of party balloons disappearing into the sky?”Each National Weather Service radiosonde includes a self-addressed envelope encouraging anyone who finds it to mail the gadget back for reuse.A National Weather Service radiosonde awaiting launch on St. Paul Island, Alaska. (KUCB/John Ryan photo)A Century in St. PaulThe St. Paul weather station has been collecting data since 1915. It’s been successfully sending balloons into the sky, in winds up to 50 miles per hour, since 1948.Wells says he’s always loved the weather, especially the meat and potatoes of gathering the raw information needed to make a forecast.“It takes a lot of skill and hardiness to do it, and I’m proud to do it,” he says.William Wells prepares a weather balloon for launch. (KUCB/John Ryan photo)The National Weather Service is testing an automatic balloon-launching device at its station in Kodiak in November. Some day, human launchers like Wells could be replaced by machines at the 13 weather stations in Alaska and those across the country.Far From HomeFor now, Wells is a continent–and 300 miles of Bering Sea–away from his native North Carolina, but he doesn’t mind.“I feel privileged to be doing this,” he says. “I’d always wanted to work for the weather service and now I am working for the weather service, and I couldn’t be happier.”Some St. Paul residents dislike it when their home is described as “the middle of nowhere.” And in some ways, the Pribilof Islands are centrally located: St. Paul is home to the world’s largest Aleut community; Trident Seafoods claims to run the world’s largest crab-processing plant there. Nearly half of all seafood harvested in the United States is hauled up from the Bering Sea.Still, travel to St. Paul from almost anywhere else (it’s a three-hour, thrice-weekly flight from Anchorage on planes so small they ask you what you weigh before assigning you a seat), and you realize that St. Paul is on the distant outer perimeter of the Last Frontier.Wells says his quiet life on the outskirts of St. Paul, on the outskirts of America, is lacking in some creature comforts, but it’s been good for him.“I lost 25 pounds after moving up here because I didn’t have the temptations of fast-food restaurants about me,” he says.It’s a different career path than his classmates who get dressed up and made up and sweep their arms in front of maps on TV news. Jobs like his make their forecasts possible.“They can have the TV and the radio,” Wells says. “I’ll stick with this.”William Wells, about to launch a weather balloon on St. Paul Island, Alaska. (KUCB/John Ryan photo)last_img read more

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