Astronomers have long turned their telescopes, be they on satellites in space or observatories on Earth, to the wide swaths of interstellar medium to get a look at the formation and birth of stars. However, the images produced over the last 50 years look more like weather maps showing storm systems instead of glittering bursts of light that the untrained observer might expect of a “star map.” That is, until now.

Led by University of Florida astronomer Peter Barnes and Erik Muller at the National Astronomy Observatory of Japan, a team of international researchers has just released the most comprehensive images anyone has ever seen of the Milky Way’s cold interstellar gas clouds where new stars and solar systems are being born.

“These images tell us amazing new things about the Milky Way’s star-forming clouds,” said Peter Barnes. “For example, they show that we have probably underestimated the amount of material in these clouds by a factor of two or three. This has important consequences for how we measure the star formation activity, not only throughout the Milky Way, but also for all other galaxies beyond. Additionally, it gives us important new insights into the circumstances of the birth of our own solar system, such as the overall temperature, density and mass distribution in these clouds.”

The complexity of the images was made possible because of the telescope used for the study, the Mopra radio telescope located in Australia. The mapping survey itself is called “ThrUMMS,” which stands for the Three-mm Ultimate Mopra Milky Way Survey. The interstellar clouds that this survey targeted are so cold that they are made up molecules of hydrogen, rather than much warmer clouds where the hydrogen may be atomic or ionized.

“Only the molecular clouds are cold enough to allow gravity to collect material to form stars, but in fact, they are so cold that the hydrogen itself is undetectable by telescopes,” said Barnes.

The Mopra telescope was critical to the project’s success, because it can map several molecules at once, such as carbon monoxide and cyanogen, which act as tracers for the otherwise hard-to-see hydrogen. Simultaneously mapping multiple tracers allows astronomers to deduce the conditions in these clouds much more reliably and efficiently than if they had to map them separately.

The worldwide ThrUMMS team includes astronomers from the U.S., Japan, Australia, the U.K., Canada and several other countries. The survey is published in the Oct. 5, 2015 issue of Astrophysical Journal.

“We are working on several follow-up projects with the Mopra data,” said Barnes. “We continue to be enthused and inspired by these extraordinary images.”

book cover for French Cinema

Traveling in French

Sylvie Blum-Reid
Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

This book covers different travel modes and tropes at play in French cinema since 1980 to the present day. It follows the archetypal figure of the traveler and the way these journeys are ‘performed.’ Films travel for us, spectators, and we in turn virtually take off with them. Examinations of departures and returns, as well as destinations and healing rituals attached to travels, take place, as do the way women travel and the urgent situation of migrants attempting to find refuge in the Global North across borders. The book questions high-speed travel, efficiency and technology at a time when slow speed and inner reflection are being revisited, and analyses film narratives that offer a way out of the daily routine and allow the traveler to escape a situation at home.

Available for purchase from palgrave macmillan

 

book cover for Getting Insiders Undergrad Research

Getting In

David G. Oppenheimer

David G. Oppenheimer is the associate professor of biology at the University of Florida, and Paris Grey, research scientist and undergraduate research mentor in Dr. Oppenheimer’s research laboratory. Available from Amazon books

Getting In helps undergraduate students find the perfect research experience while preparing them for the challenges that will be part of their life in the lab.

Getting In starts with an overview designed to help students examine what they want to gain from a research experience, what is realistic to achieve with the commitment they are willing to make, and gain a solid understanding of what will be expected of them from their research mentor.

In addition, Getting In includes direct, specific advice on how to search, apply, and interview for research positions, and includes step-by-step strategies on how to master time management and professionalism during those processes.

 

book cover for Tokaido

Tokaido Texts and Tales: Tokaido gojusan tsui by Kuniyoshi, Hiroshige, and Kunisada

Ann Wehmeyer

Ann Wehmeyer is associate professor of Japanese and linguistics at the University of Florida and the translator of Motoori Norinaga’s Kojiki-den, Book 1.

Throughout the Edo period (1615-1868), the Tokaido was the most vital road in a network of highways across Japan. Connecting Edo (modern-day Tokyo) and Kyoto, the road and its fifty-three rest stations became a popular theme for artistic expression in a variety of mediums. Read More.

Andreas Marks is head of the Japanese and Korean Art Department at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and the author of Kunisada’s Tokaido: Riddles in Japanese Woodblock Prints. Laura Allen is curator of Japanese art at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco and the coeditor of The Printer’s Eye: Ukiyo-e from the Grabhorn Collection.

Available from University Press of Florida.

Hundreds turn out to leave their mark on new chemistry building

Almost a year after the groundbreaking ceremony for the University of Florida’s new chemistry/chemical biology at the corner of University Avenue and Buckman Drive, hundreds gathered to leave their signature on a one-ton beam that will be placed on the tallest portion of the building.

Skanska, the development company building the facility, and UF sponsored a beam signing and topping-out ceremony on the construction site on Friday.

“Topping out is an interesting tradition in construction and generally relates to installing the last and highest beam in the building,” said UF’s Frank Javaheri, senior project manager for the building. “It is a mini goal within the major goal and a reminder that this portion of the milestone is completed.”

Guests, including workers, faculty and staff, students and alumni, also signed two columns on the ground floor.

 

two people sign a beam while others look on
Attendees wait their turn to sign a beam
line of people entering the beam-signing ceremony
The line grows.

 

Alumnus Jorge Quintana was among those who signed the beam and columns. “I hope my children will someday attend UF, and I’ll be able to say I’ve literally left my mark on the university,” he said.

When completed next June, the $67 million facility will provide 110,493 square feet of space for undergraduate and graduate education, including an entire floor devoted to chemical biology and chemical synthesis.

 

people hold orange and blue permanent markers as they prepare to sign a beam
People were happy to leave their mark on the beam.
men in hard hats and two women sign the beam
Skanska workers join UF students and faculty in signing a beam.
a group of men signing the beam
L to R, Robert Kincart ’72, Mike Lee ’85, PhD ’87, Dr. Howard Sheridan ’65 and Professor of Chemistry Rick Yost sign their “Albert Alligator” to the highest beam of the new Chemistry/Chemical Biology Building.Hannah Pietrick

 

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean David Richardson said he is having the best year of his 30-year career at UF, largely because of this new construction. Richardson, a chemistry professor, has long advocated for a state-of-the-art building to replace the outdated and outmoded facilities. He thanked the workers at the ceremony, saying, “Thousands of students will pass through these halls that you have worked so hard to build. Where you are sitting now will become a major hub for research, learning and innovation at the University of Florida.”

See on UF News.

CIRCE equipment
The world’s largest telescope – the Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC) 10.4-meter telescope on the island of La Palma, Spain – announced the unveiling of a new window into the mysteries of deep space, with the release of the Canarias InfraRed Camera Experiment (CIRCE) for the use of astronomers worldwide.

Read more.

book cover for Emergent Brazil

Emergent Brazil: Key Perspectives on a New Global Power

Jeffrey D. Needell

Jeffrey D. Needell, Professor and Affiliate Professor of Latin American Studies. Available from University Press of Florida

For decades, scholars and journalists have hailed the enormous potential of Brazil, which has been one of the world’s largest economies for the last twenty years. But its promise has too often been curtailed by dictatorship, racism, poverty, and violence.

Offering an interdisciplinary approach to the critical issues facing Brazil, the contributors to this volume analyze the democratization of the country’s media, its nuclear capabilities, changing crime rates, the spread of Pentecostalism and indigenous religions, the development of popular culture, the growth of Brazilian agribusiness, and the implementation of sustainable economic development, especially in the Amazon.

The only member of the large, newly industrialized, fast-growing BRICS economies (along with Russia, China, India, and South Africa) in the Western hemisphere, Brazil plays a unique role regionally and throughout the world. Emergent Brazil is a comprehensive and timely collection of essays that explore the country’s major domestic concerns and the impact of its trends, institutions, culture, and religion across the globe.

 

book cover for Rethinking Therapeutic Culture

Rethinking Therapeutic Culture

Trysh Travis, Associate Director and Undergraduate Coordinator for the Center for Women’s Studies and Gender Research. Available from University of Chicago Press.

Social critics have long lamented America’s descent into a “culture of narcissism” as Christopher Lasch so lastingly put it fifty years ago. From “first world problems” to political correctness, from the Oprahfication of emotional discourse to the development of Big Pharma products for every real and imagined pathology, therapeutic culture gets the blame. Ask not where the stereotype of feckless, overmedicated, half-paralyzed millennials comes from, for it comes from their parents’ therapist’s couches.

Editors Timothy Aubry and Trysh Travis bring us a dazzling array of contributors and perspectives to challenge the prevailing view of therapeutic culture as a destructive force that encourages narcissism, insecurity, and social isolation. The collection encourages us to examine what legitimate needs therapeutic practices have served and what unexpected political and social functions they may have performed. Offering both an extended history and a series of critical interventions organized around keywords like pain, privacy, and narcissism, this volume offers a more nuanced, empirically grounded picture of therapeutic culture than the one popularized by critics. Rethinking Therapeutic Culture is a timely book that will change the way we’ve been taught to see the landscape of therapy and self-help.

 

book cover for The Lily and the Thistle

The Lily and the Thistle: The French Tradition and the Older Literature of Scotland

William Calin professor of Language, Literature and Culture, argues for a reconsideration of the French impact on medieval and renaissance Scottish literature. Available from Amazon Books.

In The Lily and the Thistle, William Calin argues for a reconsideration of the French impact on medieval and renaissance Scottish literature. Calin proposes that much of traditional, medieval, and early modern Scottish culture, thought to be native to Scotland or primarily from England, is in fact strikingly international and European. By situating Scottish works in a broad intertextual context, Calin reveals which French genres and modes were most popular in Scotland and why.

The Lily and the Thistle provides appraisals of medieval narrative texts in the high courtly mode (equivalent to the French “dits amoureux”); comic, didactic, and satirical texts; and Scots romance. Special attention is accorded to texts composed originally in French such as the Arthurian “Roman de Fergus,” as well as to the lyrics of Mary Queen of Scots and little known writers from the French and Scottish canons. By considering both medieval and renaissance works, Calin is able to observe shifts in taste and French influence over the centuries.

In the movie Avatar, so many magnificent animals have gone extinct that scientists can only study them virtually. This environmentally ravaged Earth is set in the near future, in the year 2154, but according to University of Florida biologist Todd Palmer and his colleagues, the Earth in 2015 is already undergoing an accelerated mass extinction.

In a study published today in the journal Science Advances, Palmer and his colleagues say there no longer is any doubt: We are entering a mass extinction that threatens humanity’s existence.

“The Earth’s biodiversity plays a really critical role in sustaining the human species, from the pollination of our crops, to the purification of our water supply to the amelioration of climate change. We simply cannot afford to continue losing species at the rate they are currently disappearing,” Palmer said.

There is general agreement among scientists that extinction rates have reached levels unparalleled since the dinosaurs died out 66 million years ago. However, some have challenged the theory, believing earlier estimates rested on assumptions that overestimated the crisis.

The new study shows that even with extremely conservative estimates, species are disappearing up to about 100 times faster than the normal rate between mass extinctions, known as the background rate.

“If it is allowed to continue, life would take many millions of years to recover, and our species itself would likely disappear early on,” said lead author Gerardo Ceballos of the Universidad Autónoma de México.

Conservative approach

Using fossil records and extinction counts from a range of records, the researchers compared a highly conservative estimate of current extinctions with a background rate estimate twice as high as those widely used in previous analyses. This way, they brought the two estimates – current extinction rate and average background or going-on-all-the-time extinction rate – as close to each other as possible.

Focusing on vertebrates, the group for which the most reliable modern and fossil data exist, the researchers asked whether even the lowest estimates of the difference between background and contemporary extinction rates still justify the conclusion that people are precipitating “a global spasm of biodiversity loss.” The answer: a definitive yes.

“We emphasize that our calculations very likely underestimate the severity of the extinction crisis, because our aim was to place a realistic lower bound on humanity’s impact on biodiversity,” the researchers write.

To history’s steady drumbeat, a human population growing in numbers, per capita consumption and economic inequity has altered or destroyed natural habitats. The long list of impacts includes:

  • Land clearing for farming, logging and settlement
  • Introduction of invasive species
  • Carbon emissions that drive climate change and ocean acidification
  • Toxins that alter and poison ecosystems

Now, the specter of extinction hangs over about 41 percent of all amphibian species and 26 percent of all mammals, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which maintains an authoritative list of threatened and extinct species.

“There are currently over 2,400 animal and 2,000 plant species that are critically endangered, and some of those are essentially the walking dead, whose populations have been so drastically reduced that there’s little hope for their recovery,” Palmer said.

As species disappear, so do crucial ecosystem services such as honeybees’ crop pollination and wetlands’ water purification. At the current rate of species loss, people will lose many biodiversity benefits within three generations, the study’s authors write.

“We are responsible for the current extinction crisis. There is no question about it. We simply cannot continue to treat nature like a bottomless checking account,” Palmer said.

Hope for the future

Despite the gloomy outlook, there is a meaningful way forward, according to Palmer and his colleagues. “Avoiding a true sixth mass extinction will require rapid, greatly intensified efforts to conserve already threatened species, and to alleviate pressures on their populations – notably habitat loss, over-exploitation for economic gain and climate change,” the study’s authors write.
In the meantime, the researchers hope their work will inform conservation efforts, the maintenance of ecosystem services and public policy.

Co-authors on the paper include Gerardo Ceballos of Universidad Autónoma de México, Paul R. Ehrlich of Stanford University, Anthony D. Barnosky of the University of California at Berkeley, Andrés García of Universidad Autónoma de México, Robert M. Pringle of Princeton University.
– Gigi Marino and Rob Jordan

Congratulations to Professor William Hager for being named a 2015 Fellow in the Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics. He is being honored for contributions to optimal control, optimization theory, and numerical optimization algorithms. Hager is a co-director of the Center for Applied Optimization here at UF. His research work focuses on numerical analysis, optimization, optimal control, and lightning.

The Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM), headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is an international society of over 14,000 individual members, including applied and computational mathematicians and computer scientists, as well as other scientists and engineers. Members from 85 countries are researchers, educators, students, and practitioners in industry, government, laboratories, and academia. The Society, which also includes nearly 500 academic and corporate institutional members, serves and advances the disciplines of applied mathematics and computational science by publishing a variety of books and prestigious peer-reviewed research journals, by conducting conferences, and by hosting activity groups in various areas of mathematics. SIAM provides many opportunities for students including regional sections and student chapters. Further information is available here.

book cover for Defining Duty

Defining Duty in the Civil War: Personal Choice, Popular Culture, and the Union Home Front (Civil War America)

J. Matthew Gallman

J. Matthew Gallman, Professor of History. Available from Amazon.
The Civil War thrust Americans onto unfamiliar terrain, as two competing societies mobilized for four years of bloody conflict. Concerned Northerners turned to the print media for guidance on how to be good citizens in a war that hit close to home but was fought hundreds of miles away. They read novels, short stories, poems, songs, editorials, and newspaper stories. They laughed at cartoons and satirical essays.

Their spirits were stirred in response to recruiting broadsides and patriotic envelopes. This massive cultural outpouring offered a path for ordinary Americans casting around for direction.

Examining the breadth of Northern popular culture, J. Matthew Gallman offers a dramatic reconsideration of how the Union’s civilians understood the meaning of duty and citizenship in wartime. Although a huge percentage of military-aged men served in the Union army, a larger group chose to stay home, even while they supported the war. This pathbreaking study investigates how men and women, both white and black, understood their roles in the People’s Conflict. Wartime culture created humorous and angry stereotypes ridiculing the nation’s cowards, crooks, and fools, while wrestling with the challenges faced by ordinary Americans. Gallman shows how thousands of authors, artists, and readers together created a new set of rules for navigating life in a nation at war.

book cover for Algerian Imprints

Algerian Imprints: Ethical Space in the Work of Assia Djebar and Hélène Cixous

Brigitte Weltman-Aron
Brigitte Weltman-Aron, Associate Professor in French. Available from Columbia University Press

Born and raised in French Algeria, Assia Djebar and Hélène Cixous represent in their literary works signs of conflict and enmity, drawing on discordant histories so as to reappraise the political on the very basis of dissensus.

In a rare comparison of these authors’ writings, this book shows how Cixous and Djebar consistently reclaim for ethical and political purposes the demarcations and dislocations emphasized in their fictions.

Their works affirm the chance for thinking afforded by marginalization and exclusion and delineate political ways of preserving a space for difference informed by expropriation and non-belonging. Cixous’s inquiry is steeped in her formative encounter with the grudging integration of the Jews in French Algeria, while Djebar’s narratives concern the colonial separation of “French” and “Arab,” self and other. Yet both authors elaborate strategies to address inequality and injustice without resorting to tropes of victimization, challenging and transforming the understanding of the history and legacy of colonized space.

book cover for Iconic Photographs of Civil War

Lens of War: Exploring Iconic Photographs of the Civil War (Uncivil Wars)

edited by
J. Matthew Gallman
J. Matthew Gallman, Professor in History. Available from Amazon.

Lens of War, grew out of an invitation to leading historians of the Civil War to select and reflect upon a single photograph. Each could choose any image and interpret it in personal and scholarly terms.

The result is a remarkable set of essays by twenty-seven scholars whose numerous volumes on the Civil War have explored military, cultural, political, African American, women’s, and environmental history.

The essays describe a wide array of photographs and present an eclectic approach to the assignment, organized by topic: Leaders, Soldiers, Civilians, Victims, and Places. Readers will rediscover familiar photographs and figures examined in unfamiliar ways, as well as discover little-known photographs that afford intriguing perspectives. All the images are reproduced with exquisite care. Readers fascinated by the Civil War will want this unique book on their shelves, and lovers of photography will value the images and the creative, evocative reflections offered in these essays.

Contributors: Stephen Berry, William A. Blair, Stephen Cushman, Gary W. Gallagher, J. Matthew Gallman, Judith A. Giesberg, Joseph T. Glatthaar, Thavolia Glymph, Earl J. Hess, Harold Holzer, Caroline E. Janney, James Marten, Kathryn Shively Meier, Megan Kate Nelson, Susan Eva O’Donovan, T. Michael Parrish, Ethan S. Rafuse, Carol Reardon, James I. Robertson Jr., Jane E. Schultz, Aaron Sheehan-Dean, Brooks D. Simpson, Daniel E. Sutherland, Emory M. Thomas, Elizabeth R. Varon, Joan Waugh, Steven E. Woodworth.

 

book cover for Masculine Virtue in Early Modern Spain

Masculine Virtue in Early Modern Spain

edited by
Shifra Armon

Shifra Armon, Associate Professor in Spanish. Available here.
Masculine Virtue in Early Modern Spain extricates the history of masculinity in early modern Spain from the narrative of Spain’s fall from imperial power after 1640. This book culls genres as diverse as emblem books, poetry, drama, courtesy treatises and prose fiction, to restore the inception of courtiership at the Spanish Hapsburg court to the history of masculinity.

Refuting the current conception that Spain’s political decline precipitated a ‘crisis of masculinity’, Masculine Virtue maps changes in figurations of normative masculine conduct from 1500 to 1700. As Spain assumed the role of Europe’s first modern centralized empire, codes of masculine conduct changed to meet the demands of global rule. Viewed chronologically, Shifra Armon shows Spanish conduct literature to reveal three axes of transformation. The ideal subject (gendered male in both practice and law) became progressively more adaptable to changing circumstances, more intensely involved in currying his own public image, and more desirous of achieving renown.

By bringing recent advances in gender theory to bear on normative rather than non-normative masculinities of early modern Spain, Armon is able to foreground the emergence of energizing new models of masculine virtue that continue to resonate today.

Receive 50% discount by downloading the PDF

 

book cover for Orature and Yoruba Riddles

Orature and Yoruba Riddles

edited by
Akíntúndé Akínyẹmí
Akíntúndé Akínyẹmí, Associate Professor in Languages, Literatures and Cultures. Available from Amazon.

Orature and Yorùbá Riddles takes readers into the hitherto unexplored undercurrents of riddles in Africa. Because of its oral-and all too often ephemeral-nature, riddles have escaped close scrutiny from scholars. The strength of the Yorùbá as the focus of this study is impressive indeed: a major ethnic group in Africa, with established connections with the black diaspora in North America and the Caribean; a rich oral and written culture; a large and diverse population; and an integrated rural-urban society.

The book is divided into six chapters for readers’ convenience. When read in sequence, the book provides a comprehensive, holistic sense of Yorùbá creativity where riddles are concerned. At the same time, the book is conceived in a way that each chapter could be read individually. Therefore, those readers seeking understanding of a specific type of riddle may target a single chapter appearing most relevant to her/his curiosity.