Tag Archives: science

Mittelman Astronomy Lecture Series

Mittelman Observatory is happy to announce the beginning of the Mittelman Astronomy Lecture Series. This aperiodic series will involve occasional astronomy and astronomy-related talks that will often be broad and interdisciplinary in nature.

The inaugural talk will be given virtually by planetary astronomer Heidi Hammel on Tuesday, September 8, from 7pm to 8:30pm. Dr. Hammel’s talk is entitled “Exploring the Solar System with the James Webb Space Telescope”. She is Vice President of Science for the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy and Interdisciplinary Scientist for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope.

This talk is presented in collaboration with the Southern Vermont Astronomy Group.

More talk details can be found at go/astrotalks.

And, please note that registration is required for this free webinar at go/astrotalk.

Mittelman Astronomy Lecture Series announcements will routinely happen through the Observatory News mailing list at go/observatorynews.

Mittelman Observatory. Because the sky is always open!

Through the Telescope – The Observatories of Middlebury College

Mittelman Observatory is proud to announce the opening of the exhibit “Through the Telescope: The Observatories of Middlebury College” by Alexandra Izzard ’20. Please visit go/throughthetelescope.

This exhibit explores the history of observatories, and of astronomy, at Middlebury College from the institution’s very beginning through the present day in the chronological context of both institutional history and scientific discovery.

Key highlights of this exhibit include:

  • astronomy has been taught at Middlebury since its inception, being a required third-year course when the College opened its doors in 1800;
  • the early Laws of Middlebury College have now been made broadly available and accessible online;
  • Old Chapel served as the College’s first astronomical observatory upon its opening in 1836;
  • the 1937 observatory that once stood on the knoll north of Pearsons Hall served both the College and community for more than 50 years;
  • the modern day Mittelman Observatory atop McCardell Bicentennial Hall draws strongly from the tradition and inspiration of 220 years of history of observatories and astronomy at Middlebury.

The historical research project that serves as the foundation for this exhibit has been two years in the making. Creator Alexandra Izzard ’20 graduated Summa Cum Laude and highest honors with a major in the History of Art and Architecture and a minor in Italian. Alexandra pursued numerous interdisciplinary primary research opportunities that bridged the liberal arts and included the sciences while at Middlebury.

The project’s exhibit also features art by Eva Bod ’20 as well as broad collaboration with the Middlebury College Special Collections team and numerous others.

The online exhibit can now be enjoyed at the link above. The physical exhibit will be opening soon.

Mittelman Observatory. Because the sky is always open!

Mittelman Observatory Status – Summer 2020

While thoughts this time of year often turn to the community gathering atop McCardell Bicentennial Hall on mild summer evenings under dark Vermont skies for stargazing at the Observatory, this coming summer will necessarily be somewhat different.

Mittelman Observatory has been developing a variety of potential programming that may involve live virtual stargazing, skywatching advice, astronomy dispatches, social media, online student exhibits, student astronomical imagery, and perhaps even an astronomy talk. However, the community situation is obviously quite fluid and subject to prevailing directives.

Please visit go/observatorynews to join our Observatory News e-mail list if you would like to be kept abreast of our evolving summer activity plans.

Mittelman Observatory. Because the sky is always open!

What Does Covid-19 Do to Your Brain?

By Megan Molteni April 15, 2020

Scientists are racing to figure out why some patients also develop neurological ailments like confusion, stroke, seizure, or loss of smell.

During the third week of March, as the pandemic coronavirus that causes Covid-19 was beginning to grip the city of Detroit, an ambulance sped through its streets to Henry Ford Hospital. Inside, a 58-year-old airline worker struggled to understand what was happening to her. Like hundreds of other Covid-19 patients flooding the city’s emergency rooms, the woman had a fever, cough, and aching muscles. But something else was happening too–something that had made her suddenly disoriented, unable to remember anything but her name.

Doctors at Henry Ford tested the woman for Covid-19, and she came back positive. They also ordered CT and MRI scans. The images showed a brain aflame, its folds swelling against the patient’s skull. On the computer screen, white lesions dotted the gray cross-sectioned landscape–each one filled with dead and dying neurons in regions that normally relay sensory signals, regulate alertness, and access memories. On the screen they appeared white. But in the electrical grid of the patient’s brain, those areas had gone dark.

Her doctors diagnosed a dangerous condition called acute necrotizing hemorrhagic encephalopathy, or ANE, which they detailed in the journal Radiology last month. It’s a rare complication known to occasionally accompany influenza and other viral infections, though usually in children. With the flu, scientists believe such brain damage is caused not so much by the virus itself but by squalls of inflammation-inducing molecules called cytokines, which are sometimes produced in excess by the body’s immune system during an infection. Scientists are still trying to figure out if the same is true for Covid-19, or if the coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2 is actually invading the nervous system directly. It’s an open question, the answer to which could have wide-ranging implications for how doctors diagnose and treat Covid-19 patients.

By now you’re probably familiar with the typical hallmarks of Covid-19, the disease that has so far killed more than 125,000 people around the world: fever, cough, difficulty breathing. But stories of other, stranger symptoms–headaches, confusion, seizures, tingling and numbness, the loss of smell or taste–have been bubbling up from the frontlines for weeks. Published data on how frequently the disease manifests in these types of neurological symptoms is still sparse, and experts say they likely occur in a minority of the 2 million officially tallied Covid-19 infections worldwide. But for physicians, they are important because some of these new symptoms may require a different line of treatment, one designed for the brain rather than the body.

“The medicines we use to treat any infection have very different penetrations into the central nervous system,” says S. Andrew Josephson, a neurologist at UC San Francisco. Most drugs can’t pass through the blood-brain barrier, a living border wall around the brain. If the coronavirus is breaching the blood-brain barrier and infecting neurons, that could make it harder to find effective treatments.

Right now, many doctors are trying a two-pronged approach. The first is finding antiviral drugs that can knock back how fast SARS-CoV-2 replicates. They often combine that with steroids, to prevent the immune system from going overboard and producing inflammation that can be damaging on its own. If doctors knew people had coronavirus in their brains, that would alter the equation. Unlike the lungs, the brain can’t be put on a ventilator.

Register for the 4th annual Summit for Women in STEM

Belong. Connect. Create. Pass it on.

Saturday, April 4, 2020
8:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Where
Mars Center for Science & Technology
Fillmore Drive, Norton, MA, 02766

Wheaton’s Fourth Annual Summit for Women in STEM brings together a powerhouse network of industry leaders, researchers, and academics with undergraduate students who represent the next generation of innovators. At a time when women represent only 24% of professionals in all STEM fields, the Summit will open new worlds to aspiring young female scientists. By connected industry leaders with up-and-coming talent, the full-day meeting creates connections, forges new relationships, builds knowledge, and matches students with inspiring role models.

Undergraduate students are encouraged to give a talk. Registration is free and will remain open until full.

One-of-a-kind opportunity to work in a Microbiology & Immunology lab at Columbia University!

Dr. Christian Schindler, parent of recent MBBC major Joseph Schindler, is once again inviting a Middlebury College student to intern in his Columbia University lab. Students interested in the opportunity may contact him directly with a cover letter, résumé, and one letter of recommendation from a science faculty member. He also shares that “there are a number of Junior Faculty in the Department who would be delighted to host Middlebury summer interns, and should reach out to them directly. They are welcome to mention my name.”

Faculty members include:

Hachung Chung

Tony (Yeufeng) Huang

Mimi (Chi-Min) Ho

Middlebury Dark Sky Survey – 2019

Mittelman Observatory requests your participation! The Observatory is embarking on a project to study awareness, knowledge, perceptions, perspectives, and sensibilities of the local Middlebury community about issues related to dark skies, light pollution, and the environment. Please visit go/darkskysurvey to anonymously participate in our 2019 Middlebury Dark Sky Survey.