1,000,000 degrees with a chance of solar flares: a Pint of Science solar weather report

Solar flare. Image provided by Author. Credit: NASA

 

Mendeley is proud to be partnering with Pint of Science for the third year running.

 

As an introduction to the great talks on offer we’re going to be previewing some of the most interesting here on the Mendeley Blog, featuring speakers from across all Pint of Science themes. You can follow along on our blog under the tag PintofScience17 or on Twitter under the hashtag #pint17.

Matthew Allcock

Matthew Allcock is previewing his talk/weather report “1,000,000 degrees with a chance of solar flares,” which you can attend on 17 May The Holt Cafe in Sheffield

Matthew (@matthew_allcock) is a PhD Student in the School of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Sheffield. You can follow his work on Mendeley or on his personal website.

 

 

What is the biggest threat to the UK? The UK has a continually updated list of events that pose a catastrophic risk to our society, which includes events such as major terror attacks and flooding due to climate change. High on this list is severe space weather.

Why do such solar weather events occur?

Space weather encompasses the effects that charged particles ejected from the Sun have on the Earth. From satellite malfunction to large-scale power shortages, the volatile Sun poses a significant threat to modern society. The Sun waxes and wanes through a cycle of fluctuating activity with a period of approximately 11 years. During ‘solar maximum’, magnetic activity on the Sun is at its most violent. Tubes of plasma the size of the Moon, shaped by the Sun’s intense magnetic field, rise from the deep solar interior and penetrate the surface. Where these tubes break the surface, we see what are known as sunspots: near-circular dark regions that can be many times the size of Earth.

These magnetic tubes can also dramatically elevate tonnes of hot plasma from the bubbling surface to the high solar atmosphere, known as the corona, and remain in a semi-stable state. Energy stored in the magnetic field near the Sun’s surface builds up as these magnetic tubes are buffeted from below by convection currents until this energy can be stored no longer and is released as an ultra-bright solar flare. This blast can destabilise the elevated plasma, dynamically releasing it as a stream of charged particles, known as a coronal mass ejection (CME), into interplanetary space.

Are we prepared for the next major solar event?

The mid 1800s saw an anomalously active period for the Sun. In September 1859, amateur astronomer Richard Carrington was completing his daily observations of the solar surface when he noticed a blurry brightening around a sunspot. This was the first observation confirming the existence of solar flares and is the largest solar flare in recorded history. It triggered a huge CME that headed straight for Earth. In the hours following this sighting, a huge geomagnetic storm was detected and people witnessed the northern lights phenomenon as far south as Colombia.

What would be the impact of a Carrington Event today? Satellites rely on a complex system of intricate electronics. If a CME hits a satellite, induced electrical currents can cause short-circuits that can disrupt the operation of the satellite. A large CME hitting Earth induces ground-based electrical currents which can short-circuit power stations and cause blackouts and damage to electrical transformers. Had the Carrington Event occurred today, the financial impact of the predicted large-scale blackout is estimated to be upwards of £1 trillion. Blasts from solar flares and CMEs cause waves to propagate along the surface and in the atmosphere of the Sun.

In my research, I use these waves to probe solar structures and understand what makes them erupt by combining mathematical models of magnetic structures with the latest solar observations. It is all incredibly difficult to forecast.

 

How and why to do an online conference — #WSTC2

How we do research is changing every day, with new tools and technologies that can be harnessed to ease and further research. We think Mendeley is one of them, of course. This is why we were intrigued and honored to sponsor a Twitter conference organized and hosted by one of our own Mendeley Advisors, Sjurdur Hammer.

No, this is not a conference about Twitter, it is aconference held via Twitter! Sjurdur, who studies what he calls “bad-ass predatory seabirds” called Skua, said people in his field are often isolated as they do their research in remote locations. But professional growth is still important, even if you are doing research on an arctic island miles from the mainland.

In this guest blog post, Sjurdur tells us how and why he and his fellow seabird researchers organized this unique conference.

 

The what and how of a Twitter Conference – #WSTC2

image001For most researchers, attending conferences is an essential part of developing our careers. While mainstream media often portrays scientists as lone discoverers in our ivory towers buried amongst books, this is possibly as far from the truth as it can be – at least in my area of research. Being a researcher in a modern and competitive field requires you to collaborate and interact with many different people, and through these connections build a viable network of people with whom you can have active partnerships with in the future. Conferences are in this regard perhaps some of the most important events of a researcher’s calendar.

However, there are many hurdles for those of us who are in the early stage of our research career to be able to take part in conferences. The first and probably biggest limitation is money. We may find ourselves in between projects, with no clear financial flexibility to cover our conference costs, and may end up having to pay for travel etc. out of our own pockets. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a low-cost or free platform to present and interact with other researchers?

In my own academic world of seabird ecology we have a world seabird conference every five years which is fun and interesting. In order to build connections between academics globally and maintain some interaction during those years in between, a colleague – Grant Humphries had the idea to set up a world twitter conference. The World Seabird Twitter Conference (#WSTC2) was born and quickly became an opportunity for researchers, conservation organisations and NGOs to showcase some of their work relating to seabirds, and would allow for conversations and interactions much like a “real” conference.

Last year we had 42 people sign up, this year there are 71 people from 11 countries presenting their work. Each participant is given a 15-minute time slot, where they can present their work in a maximum of 6 tweets. Those tweets can feature key findings, illustrations, graphs or photographs – all for the purpose of presenting a simple research or conservation story. Because we have so many sign ups this year, the presentation will run one and a half times around the world. It can therefore be a logistical challenge to account for the time difference, as we want to make it as convenient as possible for everyone to participate, regardless of where they might be.  

The arrangement of the Twitter conference requires a little effort of organising, but costs funds to set up, so I sincerely think that this format could be suitable for many medium to small societies and research organisations to try out.

While this conference turns to seabird researchers and various stakeholders, it is at the same time publicly available to anyone. Following the Twitter conference, we curate all the tweets and conversations, so that it has a lasting impact and can become a valuable resource to refer back to. An added benefit is also that since it hosted on an open platform such as Twitter, the general field of seabird science becomes well represented on there. Perhaps there are unseen long-term benefits of an improved public understanding of seabird conservation issues such as pollution, climate change and unsustainable fisheries. I firmly believe that this is crucial to also break down the public perception of scientists as suspicious geniuses.    

My hope with this brief explanation would spark some curiosity and perhaps some societies or academic communities would like to try a similar Twitter conference. Feel free to get in touch with me, if you’d like to bounce ideas on how we can improve academic interaction online, and boost our scientific outreach at the same time! The Twitter conference starts today (Wednesday), feel free to tune into the hashtag #WSTC2 if you’re curious.
image003 Sjurdur Hammer is a PhD student at Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine at University of Glasgow. He studies seabird ecology, and have for a number of years been very interested in experimenting with different online platforms for academic and public engagement. “In fact this was probably one of the things that got me interested in Mendeley originally, the way it allows for curating public reference collections, and collaboration with other researchers around a topic of interest,” he said. He can be found on different social media platforms except Facebook, but mostly I’m pretty active on Twitter, so feel free to follow me: @sjurdur.

“Prevention is the Better Cure” — Bridging Science and Policy

prevention is the better cure
by Claudia Stocker/vividbiology.com

Our Mendeley Advisors are one of the groups participating in the global conversation launched by Atomium — The European Institute for Science, Media, and Democracy — on increasing collaboration and cooperation between policy makers, scientists and other people.

This week we are featuring an essay by Thembelihle Hwalima, a librarian at Lupane State University in Zimbabwe and a Mendeley Advisor, on why Prevention is the Better Cure.

You can also participate in this conversation by filling out weekly questionnaires on chronic disease at the REISearch forums.

 

“Prevention is the Better Cure”

by Thembelihle Hwalima

Chronic diseases have well been researched on their cause, treatment and how best to avoid them but still individuals still find themselves faced with a myriad of these, suffering till some die or get diagnosed at a very late stage.

Researchers, citizens and policy makers have dealt with these in more detail. This has been shown by the increased amount of workshops, conferences, and research fellows but still members of the public still suffer from these ailments because most of these forums target those who already know and not those who are most vulnerable. This essay seeks to dwell on the dissemination of such public health information to the populations. Many a times such information dissemination is done when an outbreak has occurred hence there is need to change mindset from having to cure than prevent. Correct, appropriate and relevant information should be disseminated to the public such that they always have knowledge of how best to prevent such diseases, and ensure that they don`t perpetuate to becoming chronic.

Information dissemination is defined as a proactive information service designed to educate and inform focused groups of users on social, economic and educational issues, problems and opportunities of interest to them (Dhawan). By disseminating information, an organization can reach members of its target audience and have a greater impact on policy and programming. In instances of having prevention being better than cure, the internet serves as an “in-viable” tool to communicate health information across a wide audience. This should especially be targeted towards third world countries where use of internet has not yet been very effective due to issues of illiteracy, lack of IT skills, hardware, software, and high costs to set up to mention but a few challenges.

When disseminating information there is need to establish communication messages that is what is to be said? This assists to define the audience to send the communication to. Understanding or knowledge of target audience then enables one to determine the channel of communication or medium to be used, and how best it will be marketed. Thereafter there is need to evaluate the impact. For instance, many a times do we receive flyers written about a disease alert, that is, Cholera or Ebola, but that doesn’t guarantee that the message has been understood.

Also, basic understanding of population variations, infants, teenagers, young adults, and the old assists also in information dissemination; level of literacy understanding of geographical location and culture existing in the location. This is highly important as it helps in understanding behaviors and informs strategies and designs of information dissemination.

Hence, yes prevention is better than cure by ensuring proper information is disseminated to the right audience, using understandable media and having evaluated the feedback of the dissemination and above all using future predictions from past experiences as preventative arenas.

 

Over the next five weeks, we will publish guest blog posts by Advisors on each of the five topic areas, alongside an exclusive art by science illustrator Claudia Stocker. The five subtopics are:

Prevention is the better cure (week of 15 Feb)
New technologies and innovation (week of 22 Feb)
Citizens’ rights and responsibilities (week of 29 Feb)
Diabetes and nutrition (week of 7 March)
More and better data (week of 14 March)

The REIsearch platform  is available in six languages: French, Italian, English, Polish, Portuguese, and German. The platform asks researchers and others to answer short weekly questionnaires on five different topic areas on a weekly basis. Though the launch is in the EU, researchers from all parts of the world are encouraged to join the conversation.

"Changing the way we do research, Thirty-five at a time!" – Olayinka Fatoki on sharing Mendeley in Nigeria

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Mendeley has a vision: to change the the way we do research, for all researchers!

Today’s guest blog post comes from Olayinka Fatoki, who works in Information Science at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria. Olayinka tells us how she is sharing Mendeley with researchers and shares some of the feedback she’s received after her workshops.

In March 2014, I was in a training room during the TEEAL/AGORA workshop at the Kenneth Dike Library of the University of Ibadan, when I first heard of Mendeley. The facilitator took a group of researchers and librarians through a session on using the reference manager to organize citations and manage their references. I was fascinated by the power of this tool and the electrifying applause from the participants at the end of the session.

Information Training and Outreach Centre for Africa (ITOCA) through partnerships with institutions in Nigeria organizes 3-day workshops which highlights Research4Life programmes, The Essential Electronic Agricultural Library (TEEAL) and Reference Management software, Mendeley. As the Training and Outreach Officer for ITOCA in Nigeria, the responsibility of delivering training sessions on Mendeley soon fell on me and so I had to learn expressly and became conversant with the application. Mendeley is easy to learn and use especially with the different user guides available. At each of the TEEAL/AGORA workshops, with at least thirty-five participants, I have discovered more about Mendeley features and the saving grace it brings to researchers.

As a researcher myself, I use Mendeley for my work and have also organized training for PHD students, and lecturers in my faculty. Fifteen workshops and several training sessions down the line, I am always very happy to see the relief, excitement and brightened up faces after each Mendeley session.

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TEEAL/AGORA Training-of-Trainers Workshop at the BABCOCK University, Ilishan-Remo, Ogun State, Nigeria which took place between 27-29 October, 2015

Some of the testimonies shared by participants at the end of different Mendeley training sessions are as follows:

I think Mendeley is great. The fact that a search and reference tool like this exists beats my imagination. It’s great for research.

I have had Mendeley for six years but I have just discovered it is a unique program, that I am able to download and keep my download in it as a backup for my work is unique. It is an essential tool for me as a researcher.

Mendeley experience has opened a novel pathway for literature search, archiving and retrieval. Thus making research reporting easy and fun. Thanks to the MENDELEY TEAM!

Excellent tool for management of references. How I wish I could have been introduced to this immediately I enrolled for my postgraduate study. It will definitely help and boost my writing.

Mendeley is the best thing that happened to me in the world of referencing. I simply love it!

It gets better when participants from these workshops send in exciting stories about how they have been sharing the knowledge about Mendeley with friends and colleagues. Gradually and steadily, as more and more researchers and librarians learn about Mendeley, the way we do research indeed is changing – Thanks to Mendeley!

TReND in Africa: Sustainable development through higher education and scientific innovation.

scti1ZSTMendeley has a vision: to make science more open and to broaden access to scientific content where it can make a real difference to people’s lives. This is particularly relevant to developing countries and is thus the motivation to our support of Research4Life.

TReND in Africa is an organisation that is also working hard to improve scientific literacy and capacity in the developing countries of Africa. Since 2011, they have been organising a range of workshops and summer schools across the continent in the aim of bringing efficient, effective and low-cost research resources to labs, building research infrastructure, and supporting the scientific development of Africa.

Overcoming global inequality through education and local empowerment are well established worldwide development goals, however, existing projects often focus on primary and secondary education. Investment in tertiary, university level education is a key foundation towards sustainable development in which future primary and secondary teachers are educated locally to the highest standards.

In addition, scientific education is pivotal to the ability of societies to sustainably develop, innovate, and integrate within the global society. Developing nations too often need to import their solutions, innovations and patents from abroad, while losing their most capable minds to universities abroad. Therefore we, TReND in Africa, believe that providing top-level education to local elites in their home country is key to enabling developing societies to take their futures into their own hands.

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A 3-D printable micro-positioning device (“manipulator”) with an accuracy is in the order of 10s of microns.

In line with this, we run a wide range of educational activities, and support the establishment of top-level scientific facilities at several countries across the continent. We do this by leveraging large scale, low cost approaches to innovation and research – we make use of latest technologies and developments, ranging from free and open source software and hardware (FOSS / FOSH) approaches such as 3D printing, online teaching tools, and the use of the cost-effective yet powerful model organism, the fruit fly Drosophila.

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The pipette works by creating an air-tight chamber below a membrane (e.g. a lab glove) pushed upon by a piston at the end of a biro-filling (hence “Biro”pette). The accuracy can be in the order of ~5 microliters for a “P200”.

One such course is our upcoming Bioinformatics Approaches for Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) Analysis at ICIPE, Nairobi (Kenya). The aim of this course is to introduce a range of bioinformatics analysis techniques for dealing with NGS data, including an introduction to programming and analysis best practices. The workshop will start with an introduction to programming, mainly focusing on the R statistical programming language, and will then build on this foundation to introduce tools for data visualisation and analysis. We will introduce software development concepts such as databases and version control, and move on to cover NGS analysis topics including de novo genome and transcriptome assembly, ChIP-seq and RNA-seq, rare variant calling and population genetics. As with all our courses. there will be a focus on using freely available data and open source technologies, and encouraging open reproducible research.

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The “FlyPi” is an optical microscope designed for behavioural work with fruit flies, zebrafish or C. elegans

In addition to this, and to further support our students in their research careers, well will additionally cover subjects of science writing and science communication, covering the key topics from our previous Science Writing and Communication School in Zomba (Malawi) earlier this year that was run in partnership with the Training Centre in Communication. We are thankful to Mendeley for their sponsorship towards my (Dr Sarah Hoey‘s) travel to the course where I will teach on traditional science communication and introduce students to Mendeley as a free reference management and resource for colleague and international collaboration, as well as non-traditional science communication and how to talk to and engage with non-scientists about their research.

Developing a Global Education Ethos: We've teamed up with Think Global UK Japan

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Think Global UK Japan is a the first UK-Japan Forum on International Perspectives in Education, and will host its first events in Japan during August 2015. The aims of this organisation is to facilitate an exchange of ideas between Japanese and British teachers, to encourage a global outlook in the classroom, for both students and teachers, to embed a global perspective in teacher professional development in Japan and the UK, and to promote gender equality in education and in global leadership

During the events this August, teachers from the UK and Japan will meet in forums and seminars in Fukushima, Kyoto and Tokyo. They will exchange ideas and resources about how to encourage and develop a global ethos among teachers and students with the aim of developing a programme of forums in the UK and in Japan, and to offer seminars and training for teachers.

Today’s guest blog post comes from this new Mendeley partner as we work to support the development of a global education ethos to benefit both teachers and students.

The Think Global UK Japan Project is delighted to team up with Mendeley, who will be sponsoring their venture in Japan this summer, and working together for future events in the UK. Lizzy Murdock, Head of Biology at a London school and member of the Think Global team, came across Mendeley at a Pint of Science event and instantly saw the opportunity for a productive partnership with them.

There is a demand for access to research papers among teachers in the UK, and the need for a network to share this information. Mendeley could help bridge the gap between research institutions and schools, and allow teachers and researchers to communicate directly and share ideas. It could also easily allow this collaboration to happen on an international level, and offer a forum for discussion around areas of common interest and the research that informs these interests.

The Think Global team will be in Japan this August delivering workshops at three venues – in Fukushima, Kyoto and Tokyo. The workshops are for Japanese teachers and are all based on the theme of global citizenship and international awareness. The members of the Think Global team will be exploring these ideas through the perspectives of science, languages, humanities and technology. Representatives of Japanese universities will also be present at the workshops, and the team hope to build link with teacher training colleges and other Higher Education establishments as well as with schools across Japan.

There is a long history of research collaboration between the UK and Japan, extending back to the Meiji era when small groups of Japanese came to study at UCL https://www.ucl.ac.uk/museums/about/japanese-pioneers . This project is a direct descendant of those programmes 150 years ago. It evolved naturally from the UK Japan Young Scientist Workshops, where British and Japanese students get together at top research institutions in the UK and Japan (such as Cambridge and Kyoto universities) to participate in real research projects with scientists. The teachers accompanying the students started to discuss teaching and learning in the two countries and saw the need for a separate event to develop ideas and share resources. This year sees the launch of the Think Global project, but there are already plans for a series of conferences and workshops in the UK next year, and talk of extending the programme so that in the future it is truly global. One way of doing this will be through the creation of an online forum for discussion for teachers.

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If you are interested in finding out more about the Think Global UK Japan Forum, please have a look at our website, or contact the organiser at rgallagher@thomas-hardye.net.

An advocate for encouraging more women into scientific research and STEM careers, in Japan Lizzy will be discussing how we can promote the sciences to girls as educators. Excitingly, the project will also be linking up with the World Assembly for Women in Tokyo – a global forum for discussion on how to promote “a society where women shine”. If you are interesting in this aspect of the project or in her workshop on bridging the gap between high school and university science, then contact her at e.murdock@skhs.net.

Mendeley and Elsevier continue to support the CSL project

For the second consecutive year, Mendeley supports the open source Citation Style Language (CSL) project with a US$ 5,000 donation. With CSL, Mendeley users can format their citations and bibliographies in over 1,200 different citation formats, covering more than 7,500 scientific journals.

Mendeley recently (1) made it much easier to use CSL styles into your preferred language. In this guest post, CSL developers Rintze Zelle and Sebastian Karcher describe how this works.

Say, for example, that you wish to publish an article about Barcelona’s recent Champions League victory—in your native Catalan—and therefore need a Catalan citation style. At first glance, things might look bleak. If we go to the “View” menu, select “Citation Style” and then “More Styles…”, switch to the “Get More Styles” tab, and search for “Catalan”, we don’t see a lot of results:

CSL 1

Fortunately, you can actually use any style you want in Catalan. If we select the “Chicago Manual of Style 16th edition (author-date)” style, a reference to a book chapter will be in US English by default and look something like:

Mares, Isabela. 2001. “Firms and the Welfare State: When, Why, and How Does Social Policy Matter to Employers?” In Varieties of Capitalism. The Institutional Foundations of Comparative Advantage, edited by Peter A Hall and David Soskice, 184–213. New York: Oxford University Press.

To use the style in Catalan, you can open the Citation Style window again (“View” → “Citation Style” → “More Styles”). In the “Installed” tab, look for the “Citation and Bibliography Language” drop-down menu. When set to “default”, styles localize to their own language (and US English if no language is set as default). The menu further includes with the 50 languages CSL styles can automatically localize to, from Afrikaans to Welsh. Let’s pick “Catalan”.

CSL 2

If we now create the same Chicago Manual of Style reference again, it will be in Catalan:

Mares, Isabela. 2001. «Firms and the welfare state: When, why, and how does social policy matter to employers?» En Varieties of capitalism. The institutional foundations of comparative advantage, editat per Peter A Hall i David Soskice, 184-213. New York: Oxford University Press.

Notice how this didn’t just change the vocabulary (“In” turned into “En”, “edited by” into “editat per”, and “and” into “i”) but also the quotation marks. Localization of CSL styles further extends to date formats, ordinal numbers, and other punctuation.

How Does It Work?
For those interested in a bit of technical background, here goes: To allow for automatic localization, the Citation Style Language defines a fixed set of terms that are translated to the various locales in separate “locale files”. When a CSL style uses one of these terms, the proper translation is automatically selected. For example, the CSL code that resulted in “edited by Peter A Hall and David Soskice” and “editat per Peter A Hall i David Soskice” in the examples above is:

<names variable=”editor translator” delimiter=”. “>
<label form=”verb” text-case=”capitalize-first” suffix=” “/>
<name and=”text” delimiter=”, “/>
</names>

This prints the translation of “editor” term (of form “verb”) from the US English or Catalan locale files in front of the names of the editors.

What If My Language Is Missing or Incorrect?
At CSL headquarters, we are fluent in only a handful of languages. So, if your favorite language is absent from the drop-down menu, you might be the best person to help us add it! Just follow our translation instructions, and feel free to ask for help at the CSL locale file issue tracker. You can also use the issue tracker to suggest better translations for existing CSL locale files.

Some CSL styles will localize better than others. E.g. if a style doesn’t use the “editor” term but directly uses “edited by”, this string cannot be automatically translated. The same holds for punctuation and dates: only styles that fully rely on the CSL locale files can properly localize. If you come across styles that don’t fully localize, you can either contact Mendeley support (who often pass your comments on to us), or create an issue at the CSL style issue tracker.

Finally, there are some limits in CSL when it comes to localization, and CSL might not support all the idiosyncrasies of your preferred language. While we hope to keep improving localization support in future versions of CSL, for now you can either correct such issues by hand after generating your bibliographies, or create a CSL style dedicated to your language.

We hope you enjoy the improvements, but let us know what you think in the comments or via the feedback channels above!


1. The features described in this post were introduced in Mendeley Desktop v1.13.4.
2. All non-English locale-specific CSL styles include their locale in the style name (in English). E.g. “Archéologie médiévale (French)”.