Thursday, May 24, 2012
The Stanford Daily
trical system, including “fabrica-tion processes that had neverbeen tried before, data analysistechniques for hundreds of giga-bytes of data, infrared projec-tion systems 1,000 times brighterthan had ever been tried.”Retinal implants have beensuccessfully trialed in the U.K.,with two men who were com-pletely blind subsequently ableto perceive light and someshapes.However, Stanford researchersasserted that compared to otherretinal prostheses requiring abattery connected to the im-plant, the Stanford device’s useof near-infrared light and lack of large power-consuming hard-ware makes surgically implanti-ng and then maintaining thechip more straightforward.“The surgeon needs only tocreate a small pocket beneath theretina and then slip the photo-voltaic cells inside it,” Palankersaid.Utilizing photovoltaic cells onthe retinal implant would alsoallow the insertion of multiplearrays selectively positioned tocreate a wider field of vision at ahigher resolution than compara-ble implants, according to re-searchers.As development continues,however, researchers have beguntesting the effect of implants onlive rats, analyzing electricalspikes to measure whether lightperception has changed.“We recorded the response of their retinal ganglion cells(RGCs) to our stimulation.When successfully stimulated, aRGC will cause an electrical‘spike.’ The strongest response isthus the one that produces themost spikes,” Loudin wrote.Thus far, researchers have de-termined that the implant’s visu-al signals are successfully trans-mitted to the brain in blind andnormal rats alike. However,human trials remain an ultimate,if distant, ambition.
Contact Alexis Garduno at email@example.com.
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Stanford offers greenenergy certificate
By THE DAILY NEWS STAFF
In response to an increasingemphasis on addressing risingglobal energy consumption, Stan-ford has started to offer a new pro-fessional certificate program in re-newable energy.The online program, EnergyInnovation and Emerging Tech-nologies, aims to examine emerg-ing renewable energy technolo-gies and their practical applica-tion, as well as guiding the devel-opment and marketing of newtechnologies.“Determining which technolo-gies work and can be brought tomarket mass-scale is an urgentchallenge for engineers and busi-nesses,” said Michael McGehee,associate professor of materialsscience and engineering and theprogram’s academic director, ac-cording to Enhanced OnlineNews. “This is an exciting time tobe in the energy field.”Faculty from the schools of en-gineering and earth sciences willlead course instruction. Partici-pants will attain a professional cer-tificate through the completion of four courses from a portfolio of sixor more courses, covering topicssuch as biofuels and shale gas.The program is offered by theStanford Center for ProfessionalDevelopment, Stanford’s principaloutlet for distance learning.
— Marshall Watkins
Obama makes Bay Area fundraising trip
By THE DAILY NEWS STAFF
President Barack Obama ar-rived in the Bay Area Wednesdayfor a two-day fundraising trip, dur-ing which he will hope to raise atleast $3 million in campaign dona-tions for the upcoming presiden-tial election, according to the WallStreet Journal.The president attended afundraiser Wednesday evening at aprivate Atherton home. The$35,800-a-plate dinner was attend-ed predominantly by Silicon Valleyexecutives, as well as some promi-nent figures from other industries,such as actor Don Cheadle.The President subsequently at-tended a larger event Wednesdayevening at Redwood City’s FoxTheatre, before continuing hiscampaign schedule today in SanJose. His trip marks the first timethat Obama has visited the BayArea since September, and may —according to an invitation for yes-terday’s event — “be his last visitthere this cycle.”Obama’s trip comes amidstconcerns that Silicon Valley execu-tives have lost faith in his adminis-tration and have instead donatedheavily to Republican candidateMitt Romney. Obama has raised$2.6 million from the technologyindustry this election cycle, as op-posed to $3.5 million at this pointin 2008.By contrast, Romney’s experi-ence in venture capital appears tohave won over some technologyexecutives, a fundraising inroad hewill hope to reinforce with a WestCoast fundraising trip scheduledfor next week.
— Marshall Watkins
IAN GARCIA-DOTYThe Stanford Daily
Paul Ingrassia, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and deputy editor in chief of Reuters News, spoke Wednes-day on the role of the car in American culture and history. Ingrassia framed the automotive as a reflection ofthe prevalent zeitgeist of a period and detailed its impact in areas as diverse as politics and sociology.
the Corvette and discussed theVolkswagen Beetle at length.“I always find it funny thatHitler’s car became the hippieicon,” he remarked, referring tothe Volkswagen’s troubled history.Initially, the Beetle was sold inAmerica simply to bring hard cur-rency to German automakers’ cof-fers, but “the combination of breakthrough marketing practicesand a steady counter-culture[movement] against excess andconspicuous consumption pro-pelled the car in the Americanmarket.”Ingrassia went on to claim half in jest that the 1960 Chevy Corvair“changed the outcome of the 2000presidential election.” Ingrassiaargued that Ralph Nader’s excori-ating book “Unsafe at AnySpeed,” which featured the Cor-vair heavily, contributed toNader’s popularity and siphonedoff votes from Al Gore in the nar-rowest of recent U.S. presidentialelections.Ingrassia demonstrated linksbetween American history andcar design and production, mostmemorably with a discussion of fins on cars as indicative of thegrowing influence of marketingand a carefree post-war boommentality.“The ’70s were not a gooddecade in America,” Ingrassiasaid. “We had oil shocks, a humili-ating loss in Vietnam, Watergate,stagflation. Enter Honda, who, 30years to this year, opened its firstfactory in Ohio, marking a water-shed moment in American auto-motive industry, and brought glob-alization over here.”Ingrassia subsequently focusedon companies’ efforts to tap intodifferent generations of drivers, ar-guing that certain vehicles arrivedat seminal moments that ensuredtheir success and place in automo-tive industry.“Chrysler, with its minivans,was able to tap into the baby-boomers when they had grown up,cleaned up, taken a shower, gottenserious, gotten jobs, gotten mar-ried and had children,” Ingrassiaclaimed.The BMW by contrast definedthe notion of luxury for a genera-tion “of yuppies whose whole un-derstanding of luxury had shiftedfrom ornamental and ostentatiousto comfort,” a sentiment to whichthe German manufacturer, ac-cording to Ingrassia, obviously ap-pealed.“Personal journeys and auto-motive journeys intertwine,” hesaid. “Think about it. We wentfrom hippie to yuppie and fromBeetle to Beamer. That tells yousomething about us.”He went on to discuss the influ-ence of the pickup truck as politi-cal statement and the Toyota Priusas an environmental one, repeat-edly pressing the point that carsare salient representations of cul-ture.Speaking to The Daily after theevent, Ingrassia framed the sub- ject as not “a uniquely Americanstory.”“There is something distinctabout cars here, the wide openroads . . . but this can be seen allaround the world,” he said, recall-ing observing a similar passionand thrill for cars in India on a re-cent trip.With regards to the future of cars, Ingrassia said he sees “au-tonomous cars as disruptive, inthe long term.” He retains the be-lief, however, that “cars can bepractical or they can be for the joy of driving them, which meansthat different functions willchange the way we approach fu-ture cars.”And what does he drive? “Ared BMW,” he said with a smile.
Contact Aaron Sekhri at asekhri@ stanford.edu.
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visory committees to every majoradministrative or policy-makingbody, and Abbasi said that theUniversity chancellor very rarelydisregards the students’ advisoryopinions.“The way the culture is [atBerkley] is that you never sayno,” he said. “The University willtry to take this power-wheedlingstance sometimes, and we justdon’t accept it. It’s very much apush-back relationship.”“It’s an amazing association,and never before have I seen thismuch regard for student opin-ion,” Abbasid added. “The stu-dents are so involved in the deci-sion-making. When I’ve spokento my colleagues at other institu-tions, I would say it is unparal-leled.”The ASSU, with a mission to“advocate[s] on behalf of Stan-ford students on issues such ascost of living, diversity, studentlife and student activities space,”garners authority through its con-stitution, a contractual agreementbetween the University, theBoard of Trustees, and the stu-dent body (the Associated Stu-dents of Stanford University, of which all students are members).Additionally, it distributes annu-ally between $2 and $3 million of independent funding from its en-dowment and student fees to stu-dent activities, according to Cruz.The ASSU also theoreticallyhas jurisdiction over the Office of Judicial Affairs (OJA), whichoversees all judicial procedure oncampus. It is ostensibly requiredthat the Undergraduate Senateand the Graduate Student Coun-cil (GSC), in addition to the Pres-ident of the University, approveany amendment made to the Ju-dicial Charter before it can gointo effect.However, the ASSU constitu-tion explicitly states that “nothingin this Charter limits or contra-venes the authority of the Presi-dent . . . to promulgate and en-force regulations governing stu-dent conduct,” and that, “in ex-traordinary circumstances,” he orshe may alter judicial procedurewithout input or consent from theSenate or GSC.While Zimbroff expressedconfidence that the administra-tion and the student body gener-ally want the same things, Cruzsaid that student advisors oftendisagree with University officials,particularly in areas such as in-vestment responsibility, whereTrustees oversee the investmentand management of endowmentsecurities.Cruz said that he believes thatthe influence of student voice isvested predominately in the stu-dent appointments made by theNominations Committee to over40 University committees everyyear, similar to the structure of student input at Berkeley. Cruzsaid, however, that because of theNomination Commission’s grad-ual loss of prestige and its discon-nect from the ASSU representa-tive bodies, the student body’svoice has been weakened.“The role of sitting as a mem-ber of the Nominations Commis-sion is not one that is particularlylauded on this campus, and there-by the accessibility metrics be-tween the elected bodies of theassociation — and thereby thestudents — and the NominationsCommission tends to bestrained,” he explained. “Linkingit more directly to students andmore directly to elected studentrepresentatives greatly improvesthe ability of students to feel likethey’re having a say in the gover-nance of the University.”Cruz said that he feels theseproblems would have been allevi-ated by the establishment of thecentralized Nominations Com-mission outlined in a revised con-stitution proposed at the end of winter quarter by the GoverningDocuments Commission (GDC),which was chaired by Cruz andASSU Parliamentarian AlexKindel ’14 and chartered last yearby the 13th Undergraduate Sen-ate.Due to strong opposition fromGraduate Student Council mem-bers and ASSU alumni, however,the drafted ASSU constitutionwas not placed on the spring bal-lot in time for the student body toapprove its passage, despite sup-port from most current ASSUrepresentatives.“The University’s relationshipwith students and student repre-sentation would greatly im-prove,” Cruz said of the aimedconsequences of a new constitu-tion. “As it stands . . . each of theNominations Commissions thatI’ve had the privilege to overseehas faced significant hurtles infilling all of the nominated posi-tions . . . There would have beenmandated greater oversight overthese nominees, thereby ensuringthat student input is more direct-ly linked toward what nomineesare saying or voting on.”
Contact Julia Enthoven at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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times the speed of sound.“We considered many appli-cations for our predictive scienceprogram before submitting ourfinal proposal,” said Parviz MoinM.S. ’75 ’78 Ph.D. ’78, professorof mechanical engineering andPSAAP faculty director. “We fi-nally settled with hypersonicflight as we thought it would be aproject we would have fun withand enjoy working on, and it wasa technological grand challenge.”The project also allows formultidisciplinary cooperationbetween the Computer Science,Aeronautic and Astronautic En-gineering, Mechanical Engineer-ing and Mathematics depart-ments, as well as Stanford’s Insti-tute for Computational andMathematical Engineering.“An overarching problem likethis one is the best catalyst topromote interdisciplinary re-search,” Moin said. “Thanks tothe combined work of these de-partments, we have alreadypushed and developed new nu-merical techniques, physicalmodels and computational plat-forms that are paving the way forpredictive science.”Stanford is at the cutting edgeof research in the discipline, ac-cording to Moin, having even pi-oneered a new science known asuncertainty quantification.“Uncertainty quantificationallows us to assess uncertaintiesin our numerical solutions,”Moin explained. “We can backup our predictions with dataabout the error bounds.Thismight be the most importanttopic in the future of computa-tional science.”Moin also highlighted the im-pact of the DOE grant on theprogram’s operations.“We have essentially beenable to create a new mini nation-al laboratory,” Moin said. “Wehave a large cadre of postdoctor-al fellows and graduate studentswho interact in a way that hasnever been seen before. It hasbeen a paradigm shift in the waywe do research.”The “large cadre” of faculty,postdoctoral fellows and gradu-ate students is necessary to tacklethe challenges of hypersonicflight, according to Moin.“Nobody has been able to sus-tain hypersonic flight propulsionfor a longer amount of time,”Moin said. “Most tests havefailed, and the few who succeededlasted for only a few seconds.”The problem, Moin said, is thatat hypersonic speed air flows intothe combustion chamber of ascramjet engine at speeds up toMach 15. The time in which thecombustion has to occur is infini-tesimally short, and masteringsuch a reaction is the main chal-lenge of the project.“The equations are all well-known, but they are very hard tosolve,” Moin said.The team’s extensive collabo-ration with the Computer ScienceDepartment, and the use of someof the world’s fastest supercom-puters to model hypersonic flight,is a direct consequence of theequations’ complexity.“We are heading towards exas-cale computations, with morethan one quintillion flops [float-ing-point operations per second]and one million cores running si-multaneously,” Moin said, ex-plaining that the coding and han-dling of such supercomputers hasrequired extensive Computer Sci-ence involvement.The breakthroughs the Stan-ford PSAAP team has alreadymade and anticipates making inresearching hypersonic flight arelikely to impact many other fields.“We now know how to simu-late very complex flow dynam-ics,” Moin said. “This very tech-nology can also be applied to au-tomobiles, wind turbines, new en-ergy conversion technologies andin environmental science.”
Contact Felix Boyeaux at email@example.com.
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I think studentgovernment issomethingdifferent thanpolitics.
— ROBBIE ZIMBROFF,