Natural Science

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Media Contact:Katherine Unger Baillie | kbaillie@upenn.edu | 215-898-9194June 8, 2015

Evolution Is Unpredictable and Irreversible, Penn Biologists Show

blurb: 
A study by University of Pennsylvania biologists now provides evidence that, at the molecular level, evolution is both unpredictable and irreversible.

Evolutionary theorist Stephen Jay Gould is famous for describing the evolution of humans and other conscious beings as a chance accident of history. If we could go back millions of years and “run the tape of life again,” he mused, evolution would follow a different path. 

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Media Contact:Katherine Unger Baillie | kbaillie@upenn.edu | 215-898-9194June 3, 2015

Penn Historian Discusses the Threat Birds Posed to the Power Grid in 1920s California

blurb: 
In a new paper in the journal Environmental Humanities, the University of Pennsylvania’s Etienne Benson examines the suspected cause of the problems to the power grid in Southern California in the 1920s: voluminous streams of bird excrement.

In 1913 in Southern California, two 241-mile-long electric lines began carrying power from hydroelectric dams in the Sierra Nevada to customers in Los Angeles—a massive feat of infrastructure. In 1923, power company Southern California Edison upgraded the line to carry 220,000 volts, among the highest voltage lines in the world at the time.

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Media Contact:Evan Lerner | elerner@upenn.edu | 215-573-6604June 2, 2015

Penn Engineers Show How “Perfect” Materials Begin to Fail

Crystalline materials have atoms that are neatly lined up in a repeating pattern. When they break, that failure tends to start at a defect, or a place where the pattern is disrupted. But how do defect-free materials break?

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Media Contact:Katherine Unger Baillie | kbaillie@upenn.edu | 215-898-9194June 1, 2015

Penn Vet Lends Expertise to Improve Colombian Cattle Producers’ Livelihoods

blurb: 
Emphasizing a holistic management approach based on sound nutrition and assisted reproduction strategies, the University of Pennsylvania’s Victor Absalón-Medina's aim is to promote cross-institutional collaborations to help Colombian farmers keep their animals healthy, productive and profitable.

Cattle in the United States are generally managed to either produce milk or to produce beef. However, in most of the world, cattle are counted on to do both in what are called dual-purpose production systems.

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Media Contact:Evan Lerner | elerner@upenn.edu | 215-573-6604May 27, 2015

Penn Mechanical Engineers Win Top Prizes at the Cornell Cup

The senior design classes held in each of the School of Engineering and Applied Science’s six departments are an opportunity for University of Pennsylvania students to put their skills to the test, by picking a real-world problem and developing a new piece of technology to solve it.

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Media Contact:Evan Lerner | elerner@upenn.edu | 215-573-6604May 19, 2015

Penn Telescope Minerva-Red Joins Hunt for Earth’s Twin

University of Pennsylvania astronomers are celebrating the dedication of a new planet-hunting telescope known as Minerva-Red. Installed at the Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory in Arizona, Minerva-Red is part of the Minerva project, an array of low-cost telescopes that are designed to discover planets orbiting stars other than the sun.

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Media Contact:Katherine Unger Baillie | kbaillie@upenn.edu | 215-898-9194May 19, 2015

Penn’s Kang Ko Has a Promising Future in Academic Dentistry

blurb: 
Kang Ko never planned to become a typical dentist. Long before he came to the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine to pursue his degree, he fell in love with teaching and research.

By Madeleine Stone  @themadstone

Kang Ko never planned to become a typical dentist. Long before he came to the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine to pursue his degree, he fell in love with teaching and research. 

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Media Contact:Katherine Unger Baillie | kbaillie@upenn.edu | 215-898-9194May 15, 2015

Making Friends of Friends Benefits Hyenas, Penn Biologist Finds

blurb: 
The spotted hyena seems to instinctively know the benefits of bonding with friends of friends, according to a new study from researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis and Michigan State University that considers the structural factors affecting the social network of these animals.

Bonding with a friend of a friend is something most humans gravitate toward naturally, or at least Facebook likes to think so every time it suggests friends for you to “friend.”

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Media Contact:Evan Lerner | elerner@upenn.edu | 215-573-6604May 18, 2015

Penn Researchers Show That Mental ‘Map’ and ‘Compass’ Are Two Separate Systems

If you have a map, you can know where you are without knowing which way you are facing. If you have a compass, you can know which way you're facing without knowing where you are. Animals from ants to mice to humans use both kinds of information to reorient themselves in familiar places, but how they determine this information from environmental cues is not well understood.

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Media Contact:Evan Lerner | elerner@upenn.edu | 215-573-6604May 14, 2015

Penn Researchers Join Two NSF Projects on Medical Cyber-physical Systems

The University of Pennsylvania is participating in two National Science Foundation projects designed to advance cyber­physical systems with medical applications. Cyber­physical systems are built from and depend upon the seamless integration of computation and physical components.