Memorial Day special: Let There Be Light

In 1945, legendary director John Huston was assigned by the US Army to make a documentary about men returning from war with “shell shock” or “psychoneurosis” — what we would now call post-traumatic stress disorder. But after the documentary, “Let There Be Light,” was completed, the Army refused to allow it to be shown and it disappeared from view. It was shown in a poor quality print in 1980, but not widely appreciated by critics.

Now the National Film Preservation Foundation has released a new, restored version of the film, available online. Scott Simmon, professor and chair of English at UC Davis and a well-known film historian, supplied notes for the NFPF site.

Don’t throw out those solar glasses; transit of Venus is June 5!

Keep those glasses from the May 20 eclipse, because you’ll need them for an even rarer celestial event: on June 5 (in North America) the planet Venus will pass across the Sun. Transits of Venus occur in pairs a few years apart — the last was in 2004 — but the next one won’t be occur until 2117, so this will most likely be your one and only chance to see it.

Once again, follow Dr Ivan Schwab’s advice and use proper eye protection to view the transit.

More eclipse photos, video

Pulled from the comments section — a few photos compiled by the good people of the UC Davis physics department. Full set here.

Photograph by Professor John Conway, taken in Marysville, CA.








Professor Manuel Calderon projecting an image at Lake Tahoe.








The holes of a straw hat make multiple pinhole cameras. (Sam Schmidt)







Eclipse photos; any more?

UC Davis physicist Marusa Bradac took this fabulous timelapse of the May 20 solar eclipse from Tahoe City. Thanks Marusa for sharing!


Talk: Forecasting to prevent the next viral storm

Nathan Wolfe, Lorry I. Lokey Visiting Professor of Human Biology at Stanford University and Director of the Global Viral Forecasting Network Initiative will give a public talk at UC Davis on May 24, “Before it Strikes: Forecasting the Next Viral Storm.” His talk will begin at 4.10 pm in room 180, Medical Sciences C building on the UC Davis campus (near Tupper Hall and the Genome and Biomedical Sciences Facility).

Get your solar glasses, get ready for the May 20 solar eclipse!

On May 20th, northern California will be treated to an eclipse of the Sun as the moon’s shadow sweeps across the Earth. Best views of the event will be a bit north of Davis, closer to Redding where a total eclipse should be visible. The eclipse will begin about 6.20 pm Pacific Time and last for about four minutes.

This is an annular not a total eclipse, so even in the best location, a rim of the Sun will be visible around the Moon. That’s because the size of the Moon’s shadow varies a bit depending on the exact distance between the Earth and Moon.

Public talk on the Lotus Valley meteorite — plus solar eclipse viewing!

UC Davis geology professor Qing-Zhu Yin will give a public talk, “The “Lotus Valley” Meteorite: What does it mean to science? What does it mean to our valley? What can it mean to you?” on Sunday, May 20.

Where: Gold Trail Grange #452, 319 State Highway 49

Coloma, CA 95613 (located within Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park)

Time: 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. (Free Parking at Sutter’s Mill Parking Lot next door)

Hunting meteor fragments, older than the Earth

The minivan-sized meteorite that broke up over the Sierra on Sunday, April 22 was not just any old space rock. It was one of the rarest types of meteorites to fall to Earth — a carbonaceous chondrite, the earliest solid material to form in our Solar System more than four and a half billion years ago, before the planets, including the Earth, formed.

Carbonaceous chondrite meteorite

If its age and identity are confirmed, this meteorite could turn out to be one of the most scientifically important to fall to Earth since the late 1960s, says UC Davis geology professor Qing-zhu Yin. Which explains why Yin’s out-of-office email currently reads, “Gone meteorite hunting.”

Vice Chancellor for Research elected to National Academy of Sciences

Harris Lewin, vice chancellor for research and professor of evolution and ecology at the University of California, Davis, has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, one of the highest honors given to a scientist or engineer in the United States. Including Lewin, 21 UC Davis faculty are members of the academy.

“I am grateful to all those institutions, and the individuals within them, who enabled me to maximize the extraordinary opportunities presented by more than 30 years in science,” Lewin said. “In particular, I must thank the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for allowing me the freedom to explore and to create; my family and mentors; and the many graduate students, postdocs and staff who are the primary reasons for my success.