UA in the News: June 5, 2012
June 5, 2012 - Filed under: UA in the News
University of Alabama scientists seek the subatomic neutrino
Birmingham News – June 5
At 5:30 Saturday morning, Andreas Piepke got on a plane in Birmingham for the first leg of his flight to Kyoto, Japan. At the high-powered Neutrino 2012 conference, physicist Piepke and his team of Alabama researchers will be part of a 78-author paper detailing a hunt for one of the most elusive events in physics. The University of Alabama is famous for big football, but the researchers’ work shows the university also plays in the game of big science and its quest to learn more about the mysterious subatomic particle called a neutrino. Neutrinos stagger human comprehension. They have almost no mass and, unlike an electron or proton, have no charge. They are able to speed through solid matter without detection or interaction. They can easily punch through the entire Earth or sun without being touched, and it would take a piece of lead one-third-of-a-light-year thick — about 2 trillion miles — to stop an average neutrino. “Every time atomic nuclei come together, like in the sun, or break apart, like in a nuclear reactor, they produce neutrinos,” Debbie Harris of Fermilab has written in Symmetry magazine. “Even a banana emits neutrinos, which come from the natural radioactivity of the potassium in the fruit.” “Once produced, these ghostly particles almost never interact with other matter,” Harris continued. “Tens of trillions of neutrinos from the sun stream through your body every second, day and night, but you can’t feel them.”
UA student films shown at Cannes Film Festival
Tuscaloosa News – June 5
The task was to make a five-minute film in under a week. They didn’t know the reward would be a trip to the world’s biggest and glitziest film festival, Cannes. University of Alabama film majors Carlos Estrada and Connor Simpson took their short film, “Through the Valley,” from UA’s Campus MovieFest all the way to France’s picturesque Mediterranean city, where they walked the red carpet along with the very best in cinema. The two began filming in January. The film was Estrada’s idea and centers on a father and daughter spending their last moments together in a church as an unknown doom threatens them from outside. Estrada said he wanted to get the viewer involved by leaving certain elements ambiguous. “Through The Valley” went on to receive nominations for best drama and cinematography at UA’s Feb. 2 competition, but weeks later, the two found another surprise in their in boxes. “I thought it was just a spam email,” Simpson said. “I almost ignored it.” “Through the Valley” was chosen as one of 30 films from the national Campus MovieFest to be shown at Cannes Film Festival in May. Out of the 30 selected, UA had three films in the mix, including “Through the Valley,” Hamilton Henson’s “Miss Peabody is Dead” and Alex Beatty’s “Here and Now.”
Alabama streams recovering from mine’s coal washing spill
Birmingham News – June 5
Aquatic life is recovering in North River tributaries swamped last summer by a massive coal slurry spill, but the accident has produced lasting changes in the regulations that govern injection wells at Alabama coal mines. The Alabama Surface Mining Commission on Monday said it would end its requirement that the mine’s owner Walter Energy pay for monthly fish surveys in Freeman Creek and the unnamed tributary that took the brunt of the spill. Officials estimated 600,000 gallons of water and sediment overflowed from a plugged injection well that disposed of wastewater from a coal washing operation at an underground mine north of Tuscaloosa. According to the survey conducted by University of Alabama biologist Bernard R. Kuhajda, some sections directly affected by the July 15 spill were devoid of life in the immediate aftermath but have made a steady recovery in numbers and fish diversity. The cleanup process has cost the company millions of dollars.
Venus takes center stage in upcoming rare sky show
Atlanta Journal-Constitution – June 5
It’s a spectacle that won’t repeat for another century — the sight of Venus slowly inching across the face of the sun. So unless scientists discover the fountain of youth, none of us alive today will likely ever witness this celestial phenomenon again, dubbed a “transit of Venus.”…The entire transit, lasting 6 hours and 40 minutes, will be visible from the western Pacific, eastern Asia and eastern Australia. Skywatchers in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Central America, and the northern part of South America will see the beginning of the show before the sun sets … University of Alabama astronomer William Keel was determined not to miss the 2004 transit, the first one in 122 years. But he only caught 45 minutes of the action before clouds rolled in. This time, he plans to set up telescopes on the roof and hopes for clear skies. The early Venus viewings were a big deal to scientists who used the alignment to measure the size of our solar system. The technique is still used today to search for alien worlds outside our solar system.
WCBI-CBS (Columbus, MS) – June 5
San Francisco Chronicle – June 1
TIME – June 1
Washington Post – June 1
NBC planning multimedia views of the Olympic Games
PopMatters – June 4
For two decades, Dick Ebersol brought the Olympics to Americans. As president and later chairman of NBC Sports, he made his employer synonymous with the games. That includes the 1996 Atlanta and the 2008 Beijing contests, the latter the most-watched TV event in U.S. history with 215 million total viewers, according to Nielsen…“Ebersol made a conscious effort to show events in prime time that the whole family will watch,” said Andrew C. Billings, a professor and sports media expert at the University of Alabama and author of the book “Olympic Media: Inside the Biggest Show on Television.” “He quickly discovered there was a large tune-out factor from women as soon as boxing came on; thus, there’s no longer boxing in prime time.” (Or at least that was true in the past; there will be evening coverage on CNBC this time around, according to NBC.) “In fact, 93 percent of the 2008 prime-time coverage in Beijing was devoted to just five sports: swimming, track and field, gymnastics, diving and beach volleyball,” Billings added. “All of these events can be spliced into digestible TV-friendly segments and all, even more critically, appeal beyond the core sports base of men.”
Tide Bass Anglers fishing for national championship
Tuscaloosa News – June 5
Logan Johnson takes his fishing seriously, so much so that the University of Alabama senior from Jasper hopes to make a career of it once he graduates. Thanks to the Crimson Tide Bass Anglers, Johnson, the club team’s president, is not only getting hands-on experience competing in fishing tournaments, he’s learning first-hand how to secure sponsorships, put together and stick to a budget and even foster public relations. “I’ve probably learned more for my major doing this than in the classroom,” said Johnson, an advertising major who learned of Alabama’s team in high school from watching televised college fishing events. Nine sponsors help pad a club stipend from the university, donating product and helping cover costs such as team uniforms. The boats, the gas, the hotel rooms and travel are all on the team. Each team member is required to either own or have access to a boat. There are 24 members on the 2011-12 team whose season will end at the B.A.S.S. Collegiate National Championship on July 25-27 in Little Rock, Ark., on the Arkansas River, Lake Maumelle and, on the final day, a “mystery” location that won’t be unveiled until tournament time.
JOEY KENNEDY: Overreaching immigration law creates more trouble for Alabama
Birmingham News – June 4
Alabama never had a serious problem with undocumented residents. As one newspaper said, the state’s toughest-in-the-nation immigration law is a solution searching for a problem. But that didn’t stop Alabama lawmakers from going full speed with an immigration law designed to make everyday life for undocumented residents so difficult and uncomfortable they would self-deport…The law has had a negative impact on farming, construction and economic development…The immigration law will cost the state between $2.3 billion and $10.8 billion in annual gross domestic product, based on estimates that 40,000 to 80,000 undocumented workers would flee, according to a 2011 study by University of Alabama economist Samuel Addy.
Green Creek resident honored by University of Alabama
Tryon Daily Bulletin (Tryon, N.C.) – June 4
Mark Levin, former Carolina Day School (Asheville) fifth-grade teacher and current director of communications at Carolina Day School, was honored on Thursday, May 10 by the University of Alabama and the Alabama Scholastic Press Association for “his lifetime of service to scholastic journalism and for his exemplary leadership in founding the National Elementary Schools Press Association.” Formed in 1994 by Mr. Levin at Carolina Day School, the National Elementary Schools Press Association (NESPA) works with elementary and middle schools across the country to start class and school newspapers and improve existing ones. According to Levin, the organization has more than 760 member schools nationwide. Levin has run the association single-handedly for the past 17 years.
Big Spring students nabs National Merit Scholarship
The Abilene Reporter (Texas) – June 4
As a result of being named a National Merit Scholarship finalist, recent Big Spring High School graduate Shermila Kher already was in line for a full scholarship from the University of Alabama. In addition to the $150,000 college-sponsored scholarship the Tuscaloosa school had already awarded her, the 18-year-old also won a one-time $2,500 scholarship from the National Merit Scholarship Program. More than half of the 15,000 National Merit Scholarship finalists will be named National Merit Scholarship winners at the conclusion of the competition in July, the Illinois-based corporation stated in a news release…Shermila said the University of Alabama awards its students a college-sponsored Presidential Scholarship if they are named a National Merit semifinalist, which covers their tuition. Students then are eligible to receive room and board if they advance to the National Merit finalist round, which she did in February.
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