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Big Think Interview With Edward Sion
Edward M. Sion is a Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at Villanova University. He received a B.A. in Astronomy from the University of Kansas in 1968, an M.A. in Astronomy from the University of Kansas in 1969, and a PhD in Astronomy from the University of Pennsylvania in 1975. His primary research interests include the formation and evolution of white dwarf stars, the physics and evolution of cataclysmic variable stars, and theoretical studies of accretion physics.
Ed Sion: Edward Sion, Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at Villanova University.\r\n
Question: What hazards exist in outer space that could pose a grave threat to Earth?\r\n
Ed Sion: Well one of the scenarios is the one regarding what our press release was about, concerning T Pyxidis. But I think that most scenarios now, for example, trying to account for the mass extinctions that have occurred throughout geological history that the, for example, the gamma ray burst. A burst of gamma rays from a very massive star that collapses on itself with a prompt formation of a black hole, and then with gamma ray jets that, if they’re oriented just right, the gamma ray burst will be directed at Earth. These could be potentially devastating, the gamma ray bursts.\r\n
In addition to that, there is a lot of debris in our solar system that was part of the fundamental building blocks of the solar system. Primordial matter is what we call it. Pristine chemical composition. There’s been no chemical alteration. The comets are good examples of that. And some of the asteroids are pretty primitive, that is they have a composition that is very pristine and primordial. It has been altered by geological evolution. That is, they haven’t been incorporated in large bodies that undergo geological evolution. So, these are the basic building blocks. Well, these building blocks, they’re out there and of course they can potentially collide with the planets, including Earth. And in fact this is how we think the moon originated.\r\n
The most widely held theory for the origin of the moon is the giant impacter theory where billions of years ago, after Earth had developed an iron core, after it had what we call it differentiation, where the heavy elements sink to the center of a newly formed planet and the lighter elements float to the surface because of their different density, that Earth once it differentiated early in the history of the solar system when collisions with other bodies was more frequent, earth was struck by a Mars-sized intruder body. That then liquefied a large portion of the Earth’s mantel at the collision site and ejected this liquid rock out into space. This liquid rock then cooled and solidified and then reassembled itself by gravity and that’s what we have now, according to this theory as the present day moon. It eventually then suffered other collisions, the moon suffered other collisions. That gives us the Man in the Moon appearance. The lunar seas, for example, those blue patches are actually gigantic impact basins that have been flooded with lava, with liquid rock during lunar volcanism, during volcanic activity in lunar history.\r\n
So, these collisions happened much more frequently in the past, but that doesn’t rule out that they can’t happen now. So, I think it’s an area that is really deserving of a lot of exploration as is being done now.\r\n
Question: How do you rate the danger of an asteroid or comet impact happening within our lifetimes?\r\n
Ed Sion: Well, within the human lifespan, it’s a very, very low probability. But on the other hand, one cannot rule it out. There are three families of asteroids that actually have the potential of colliding with Earth, the Amore Asteroids, the Apollo Asteroids, and the Aten Asteroids.\r\n
The Apollo Asteroids actually have orbits that are internal to Earth’s orbit and they’re perhaps the most likely, the Apollo Asteroids. And they are being monitored very carefully by telescopic patrol observatories that have been set up. And if one of the Apollo Asteroids were to enter into collision course with Earth, hopefully we’d have enough warning, but we do in fact have the technology now and in the future to intercept and possibly deflect such a body. But during the span of a human lifetime, it’s not likely. It’s rather improbable that something large enough to do a great deal of devastation of the globe would happen.\r\n
Now, there was an event in 1908, the Tunguska event, that appears to be a porous primitive asteroid that detonated, that exploded above the ground and this leveled an entire forest in central Siberia near the Tunguska River. But fortunately the area was very sparsely populated and there were no recorded human fatalities. But if that event had happened a few hours before, in other words, if it had happened – if the detonation had happened over the ocean, that could have generated tidal waves, tsunamis, and that could have had a devastating effect on the coast lines. So, it was really a lucky thing that the Tunguska even occurred over central Siberia and not over a populated area. Like for example in Western Europe.\r\n
Question: What would actually happen if an asteroid or comet threatened us in the near future?\r\n
Ed Sion: Well, I presume that our leadership would meet with NASA officials and plan to intercept such a body with either a kinetic energy device, a missile that would ram into it, but they would have to be very careful because you don’t want to fragment it too much. You don’t want to fragment it in such a way that the fragments themselves would enhance the devastation. So, you want to make sure it has to be carefully calculated. But I think this kind of scenario has been anticipated and I think that both with our space program, with other space programs, the Russian space program, the Chinese, I think there are plans in case of such an event. And of course you would want to avoid worldwide panic and that kind of thing. I think the details remain to be seen, but such plans have been in the works in case of, for example, an Apollo Asteroid being perturbed into a collision with us, with Earth.\r\n
Question: What is a Type 1A supernova?\r\n
Ed Sion: A Type 1A Supernova is thought to be a white dwarf that undergoes total thermonuclear detonation. It explodes and completely obliterates itself leaving no remnant. For example, we have yet to detect a neutron star or a black hole remnant of a Type 1A supernova explosion. It appears that the stellar explosion complete destroys the star. This explosion is extremely energetic. The amount of energy release is approximately 10 to the 51 – 10 to the 52 ergs of energy. In other words, a type 1A supernova can outshine the galaxy it’s in. The entire galaxy for a short time. And so, they are extremely energetic.\r\n
Question: What properties of the T Pyxidis binary system make it a likely candidate for going supernova?\r\n
Ed Sion: Yes. T Pyxidis is a recurrent nova, not a supernova, but a classical nova, but it recurs. Most classical novae we see only once. T Pyxidis has a classical nova explosion every roughly 20 years. And this continued from the early 1890s until 1967. So, there were five nova explosions interspersed every roughly 20 years up until the 1967 explosion. Since 1967, this 20 year cycle has disappeared. Nothing has happened yet. In other words, it’s 44 years overdue for the next thermonuclear explosion.\r\n
What happens in a recurrent nova, and the reason I distinguish it from the supernova is the recurrent nova is a white dwarf. This is a star about the size of Earth, but it has an extremely high density. The density is a hundred million grams in a cubic centimeter. Except for a massive white dwarf, a hundred million grams in a cubic centimeter, which means a thimbleful of this material, would be hundreds of tons if we weighed it here on earth.\r\n
What happens is, the white dwarf is so dense that the electrons surrounding the nuclei have all been stripped away from the nuclei and the electrons are actually forced to forma separate gas. We call it a generate electron gas. What happens is, when you squeeze matter tighter and tighter, there’s a principle in physics called the Pauli Exclusion Principle that states that no more than two electrons with opposite spins can occupy the same energy state. So, what happens is, when you squeeze matter tighter and tighter to higher density, there are fewer and fewer energy states available for the electrons to occupy because all the lowest lying energy states are filled first. So the electron is forced to move very, very fast and it can’t slow down. It can’t de-excite because the Pauli Principle prevents it. And so what happens is, the electrons move extremely fast and as the density goes up, they move faster and faster and that exerts pressure. Well, it’s the pressure of these degeneral electrons, the degeneral electron gas, that prevents gravity from pulling this stuff in. But what happens is that as the white dwarf mass increases, there’s an ultimate mass limit called the Chandrasekhar Limit beyond which a white dwarf cannot exist. Because at the Chandrasekhar Limit the degenerate electron gas pressure can no longer withstand the pull of gravity. It can no longer balance gravity and prevent the collapse of the white dwarf.\r\n
Type 1A supernovae occur very close to the Chandrasekhar Limit. When the white dwarf mass is very close to the Chandrasekhar Limit, T Pyxidis has a white dwarf which is very close to the Chandrasekhar Limit. Its presently determined mass, fairly reliably well-determined, is 1.37 solar masses. The Chandrasekhar Limit for carbon oxygen white dwarf is 1.44 solar masses. So, it doesn’t have much more material to accumulate until it reaches the Chandrasekhar Limit in which case you would have instantaneous collapse. But just before that happens, as the white dwarf grows in mass, the compressional heating, the weight of the material from the neighboring star from its companion presses down and raises the temperature high enough to detonate carbon. That is to cause the carbon nuclei inside the white dwarf to fuse together, releasing energy.\r\n
And so, that is what we call a detonation and that’s, the T Pyxidis we believe is very close to that point where a little bit more mass accreted onto the white dwarf will lead to so much heating that the temperature will rise to a few billion degrees detonating carbon. But the carbon, when it ignites, through fusion it ignites, it’s explosive because this weird gas, this degenerate electron gas, unlike an ideal gas like what the sun is made, or the air we breathe where it heat it and it expands, the degenerate electron gas has no sensitivity to temperature, so it doesn’t know it’s being heated. In other words, the heat builds up, the nuclear reactions occur faster and faster and faster, but there’s no compensating expansion to cool off. And so it’s like a time bomb. Energy builds up very rapidly and you get a tremendous thermonuclear explosion. That’s a type 1A supernova.\r\n
That is, a class – a classical nova takes place when the accreted hydrogen burns. But it burns in a degenerate region and you get a classical nova explosion. That’s about 10 to the 45 ergs of energy. It’s a million times less energetic than a supernova. The supernova I’m talking about is the carbon nuclei, not the hydrogen, accreted hydrogen, but the carbon nuclei detonate and fuse together and that’s a type 1A supernova. That will happen to T Pyxidis when it reaches the – close to the Chandrasekhar Limit.\r\n
Question: How soon do you predict that this could happen?\r\n
Ed Sion: At the present rate of accretion that our modeling indicates for T Pyxidis, it will take another 10 million years, roughly 10 millions years to reach 1.4 solar masses. If the present mass of the white dwarf is 1.37 solar masses and if the accretion rate that we’ve estimated from our accretion disk model fitting, from theoretical models of accretion disk, there’s a pancake of matter surrounding the white dwarf. A pancake-shaped disk of gas we call an accretion disk. And that accretion disk is adding material to the white dwarf. But at the rate at which it is adding material to the white dwarf, it’s going to be another 10 million years, roughly before the Chandrasekhar Limit is reached.\r\n
Question: What would happen to Earth if a nearby star went supernova?\r\n
Ed Sion: Yes. What will happen is that as the interior – the core of the white dwarf becomes hotter and hotter due to the compression and the temperature gets up into a few billion degrees, the ignition temperature of carbon will be reached. That is, carbon will be able to undergo carbon on carbon fusion with the release of energy. This will start out, according to supernova models that have been carried out in the last few years; this will start out as what we call a deathlagration. A burning front will propagate, will move outward at subsonic speeds, but as this burning front moves out, very soon it will turn into a supersonic burning front. You’ll have a breakout of the shock wave, or blast wave from this thermonuclear explosion. That breakout will, should – will produce a burst of gamma rays and hard x-rays – very high energy radiation for a few seconds. This radiation, if the supernova is close enough. This radiation could then affect earth. In other words, you would have input of hard x-rays and gamma rays into our atmosphere. This could introduce chemical reactions producing nitrous oxides which could then, eventually destroy the ozone layer. That’s the first thing you think about is if the ozone layer is destroyed, then very high energy radiation is very lethal to DNA, it would destroy the biosphere. But the supernova has to be close enough.\r\n
Now, Type 1A supernovae, they’re more common than the Type 2. The Type 2 supernova, when the ordinary person thinks of a Type 2 supernova, when a public thinks of a normal supernova, they think of a huge massive star that collapses in on itself and produces a black hole or a pulsar at the center and then this high velocity expanding gas. That type of supernova called a Type 2 Supernova comes from very massive stars that are very luminous before they went supernova. They can be seen at great, great distances. What makes a Type 1A supernova really unusual in that regard is that a white dwarf is very dim. And even white dwarfs in close binaries where mass transfers are going on, they’re really very faint. You don’t see them out to very long distances, and they are a more common type of star. And therefore, since they are more common and fainter, they really pose some reason to be concerned because you don’t see them as easily as more massive stars that are much more luminous. So, I think the main thing that one might be concerned about is the input of high radiation into our atmosphere. But the supernova – if you go on the basis of Type 2 Supernovae, then the current estimates are that if the Type 2 Supernova is within roughly 30 light-years, 30 or 40 light years, or closer, then you’d really have massive input of high radiation. But that’s for Type 2 supernovae.\r\n
My collaborator, Dr. Patrick Godon at Villanova, just did a quick back of the envelope calculation and determined that if you had, within a thousand parsecs, a Type 1A supernova go off, and if it was a low tilt such as at the accretion disk and material didn’t block the breakout of the blast, you would have a burst of gamma rays that would essentially be as bright as the sun and the estimate by Peter **** is that 10 to the 48, or 10 to the 50 ergs per second of hard x-rays and gamma rays would be emitted. And we don’t know exactly how far away – we know that it’s closer than a thousand parsecs, but how much closer. Our best estimates right now are – the models allow it to be even as close as 500 parsecs. But that may be too far for it to do real damage to Earth, but we’re still working on this and we’re submitting a paper to the Astrophysical Journal Letters on this topic.\r\n
Question: If nothing destroys Earth from the outside, how will the world end?\r\n
Ed Sion: I think the world would end, leaving out all these other catastrophes and leaving aside all the possibilities that they could completely destroy Earth, which is not clear. I think that the real end of Earth will take place when the sun, which is now a very average star on what we call the main sequence stage of evolution, when the sun runs out of hydrogen in its core. It’s building up helium right now. When this happens, the sun will drastically change its structure. When it uses up hydrogen it no longer has thermonuclear fusion energy to provide its luminosity. In other words, it's shining because of its thermonuclear fusion of hydrogen to helium. When that hydrogen fuel source runs out, the sun will drastically change its structure and evolve into what we call a red giant star. A red giant star is one like, for example, you may be familiar with Antares, which is the brightest star in the constellation Scorpius. It’s a very red star. It’s a red super giant star; another example is Betelgeuse in the constellation Orion, a famous wintertime constellation here in the northern hemisphere. These stars, these red supergiants, for example Antares, if you placed it where the sun is located our orbit would be inside of that star.\r\n
So I think the ultimate end of the earth is going to be when the sun expands to a red giant. Its outer layers swell up to beyond 93 billion miles; Earth will then start to experience viscous drag as it orbits the red giant sun. This viscous drag will cause the orbit of earth to decay much like an artificial satellite we launch around Earth will eventually burn up in the atmosphere. Earth will eventually be incinerated inside the sun. Mercury, Venus, and Earth, and possibly Mars will undergo what we call death spirals. Their orbits will decay as they loose orbital angle due to the viscous drag they will decay and spiral into the sun where they encounter very high temperatures and essentially Earth will vaporize.\r\n
Now this won’t happen for at least, well the sun has approximately 5.4 billion more years as a main sequence star. Then a few hundred million years beyond that. So, I would say, in roughly six billion years from now, the inter planets should be engulfed by the giant sun. But by then, presumably advanced life here on earth will have colonized other worlds and so we don’t have to worry about it. But I think that’s perhaps the best answer to your question is that eventually it’s got to happen. The sun will become a red giant star and the inner planets will then decay and burn up inside the sun, vaporize. And then Jupiter will start to accumulate mass and if Jupiter accumulates more hydrogen-rich gas, than its present mass, its present mass is 1/1000 of the sun’s mass. If Jupiter creates about, I’d say roughly reaches 10 times It’s present mass, and it could do this by sweeping up solar gas as it orbits the sun, or the future giant sun, it could undergo a thermonuclear ignition and become a star and so then you’d have the sun and Jupiter as a binary system. But this is, of course, something that is billions of years into the future.
Recorded on January 20, 2010
Interviewed by Austin Allen
A conversation with the astronomer and astrophysicist at Villanova University.
Higher education faces challenges that are unlike any other industry. What path will ASU, and universities like ASU, take in a post-COVID world?
- Everywhere you turn, the idea that coronavirus has brought on a "new normal" is present and true. But for higher education, COVID-19 exposes a long list of pernicious old problems more than it presents new problems.
- It was widely known, yet ignored, that digital instruction must be embraced. When combined with traditional, in-person teaching, it can enhance student learning outcomes at scale.
- COVID-19 has forced institutions to understand that far too many higher education outcomes are determined by a student's family income, and in the context of COVID-19 this means that lower-income students, first-generation students and students of color will be disproportionately afflicted.
What conditions of the new normal were already appreciated widely?<p>First, we understand that higher education is unique among industries. Some industries are governed by markets. Others are run by governments. Most operate under the influence of both markets and governments. And then there's higher education. Higher education as an "industry" involves public, private, and for-profit universities operating at small, medium, large, and now massive scales. Some higher education industry actors are intense specialists; others are adept generalists. Some are fantastically wealthy; others are tragically poor. Some are embedded in large cities; others are carefully situated near farms and frontiers.</p> <p>These differences demonstrate just some of the complexities that shape higher education. Still, we understand that change in the industry is underway, and we must be active in directing it. Yet because of higher education's unique (and sometimes vexing) operational and structural conditions, many of the lessons from change management and the science of industrial transformation are only applicable in limited or highly modified ways. For evidence of this, one can look at various perspectives, including those that we have offered, on such topics as <a href="https://www.insidehighered.com/digital-learning/blogs/rethinking-higher-education/lessons-disruption" target="_blank">disruption</a>, <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/20/education/learning/education-technology.html" target="_blank">technology management</a>, and so-called "<a href="https://www.insidehighered.com/sites/default/server_files/media/Excerpt_IHESpecialReport_Growing-Role-of-Mergers-in-Higher-Ed.pdf" target="_blank">mergers and acquisitions</a>" in higher education. In each of these spaces, the "market forces" and "market rules" for higher education are different than they are in business, or even in government. This has always been the case and it is made more obvious by COVID-19.</p> <p>Second, with so much excitement about innovation in higher education, we sometimes lose sight of the fact that students are—and should remain—the core cause for innovation. Higher education's capacity to absorb new ideas is strong. But the ideas that endure are those designed to benefit students, and therefore society. This is important to remember because not all innovations are designed with students in mind. The recent history of innovation in higher education includes several cautionary tales of what can happen when institutional interests—or worse, <a href="https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2016/02/09/apollos-new-owners-seek-fresh-start-beleaguered-company" target="_blank">shareholder</a> interests—are placed above student well-being.</p>
Photo: Getty Images<p>Third, it is abundantly apparent that universities must leverage technology to increase educational quality and access. The rapid shift to delivering an education that complies with social distancing guidelines speaks volumes about the adaptability of higher education institutions, but this transition has also posed unique difficulties for colleges and universities that had been slow to adopt digital education. The last decade has shown that online education, implemented effectively, can meet or even surpass the quality of in-person <a href="https://link-springer-com.ezproxy1.lib.asu.edu/article/10.1007/s10639-019-10027-z" target="_blank">instruction</a>.</p><p>Digital instruction, broadly defined, leverages online capabilities and integrates adaptive learning methodologies, predictive analytics, and innovations in instructional design to enable increased student engagement, personalized learning experiences, and improved learning outcomes. The ability of these technologies to transcend geographic barriers and to shrink the marginal cost of educating additional students makes them essential for delivering education at scale.</p><p>As a bonus, and it is no small thing given that they are the core cause for innovation, students embrace and enjoy digital instruction. It is their preference to learn in a format that leverages technology. This should not be a surprise; it is now how we live in all facets of life.</p><p>Still, we have only barely begun to conceive of the impact digital education will have. For example, emerging virtual and augmented reality technologies that facilitate interactive, hands-on learning will transform the way that learners acquire and apply new knowledge. Technology-enabled learning cannot replace the traditional college experience or ensure the survival of any specific college, but it can enhance student learning outcomes at scale. This has always been the case, and it is made more obvious by COVID-19.</p>
What conditions of the new normal were emerging suspicions?<p>Our collective thinking about the role of institutional or university-to-university collaboration and networking has benefitted from a new clarity in light of COVID-19. We now recognize more than ever that colleges and universities must work together to ensure that the American higher education system is resilient and sufficiently robust to meet the needs of students and their families.</p> <p>In recent weeks, various commentators have suggested that higher education will face a wave of institutional <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/scott-galloway-predicts-colleges-will-close-due-to-pandemic-2020-5" target="_blank">closures</a> and consolidations and that large institutions with significant online instruction capacity will become dominant.</p> <p>While ASU is the largest public university in the United States by enrollment and among the most well-equipped in online education, we strongly oppose "let them fail" mindsets. The strength of American higher education relies on its institutional diversity, and on the ability of colleges and universities to meet the needs of their local communities and educate local students. The needs of learners are highly individualized, demanding a wide range of options to accommodate the aspirations and learning styles of every kind of student. Education will become less relevant and meaningful to students, and less responsive to local needs, if institutions of higher learning are allowed to fail. </p> <p>Preventing this outcome demands that colleges and universities work together to establish greater capacity for remote, distributed education. This will help institutions with fewer resources adapt to our new normal and continue to fulfill their mission of serving students, their families, and their communities. Many had suspected that collaboration and networking were preferable over letting vulnerable colleges fail. COVID-19's new normal seems to be confirming this.</p>
President Barack Obama delivers the commencement address during the Arizona State University graduation ceremony at Sun Devil Stadium May 13, 2009 in Tempe, Arizona. Over 65,000 people attended the graduation.
Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images<p>A second condition of the new normal that many had suspected to be true in recent years is the limited role that any one university or type of university can play as an exemplar to universities more broadly. For decades, the evolution of higher education has been shaped by the widespread imitation of a small number of elite universities. Most public research universities could benefit from replicating Berkeley or Michigan. Most small private colleges did well by replicating Williams or Swarthmore. And all universities paid close attention to Harvard, Princeton, MIT, Stanford, and Yale. It is not an exaggeration to say that the logic of replication has guided the evolution of higher education for centuries, both in the US and abroad.</p><p>Only recently have we been able to move beyond replication to new strategies of change, and COVID-19 has confirmed the legitimacy of doing so. For example, cases such as <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2020/03/10/harvard-moves-classes-online-advises-students-stay-home-after-spring-break-response-covid-19/" target="_blank">Harvard's</a> eviction of students over the course of less than one week or <a href="https://www.nhregister.com/news/coronavirus/article/Mayor-New-Haven-asks-for-coronavirus-help-Yale-15162606.php" target="_blank">Yale's apparent reluctance</a> to work with the city of New Haven, highlight that even higher education's legacy gold standards have limits and weaknesses. We are hopeful that the new normal will include a more active and earnest recognition that we need many types of universities. We think the new normal invites us to rethink the very nature of "gold standards" for higher education.</p>
A graduate student protests MIT's rejection of some evacuation exemption requests.
Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images<p>Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we had started to suspect and now understand that America's colleges and universities are among the many institutions of democracy and civil society that are, by their very design, incapable of being sufficiently responsive to the full spectrum of modern challenges and opportunities they face. Far too many higher education outcomes are determined by a student's family income, and in the context of COVID-19 this means that lower-income students, first-generation students and students of color will be disproportionately afflicted. And without new designs, we can expect postsecondary success for these same students to be as elusive in the new normal, as it was in the <a href="http://pellinstitute.org/indicators/reports_2019.shtml" target="_blank">old normal</a>. This is not just because some universities fail to sufficiently recognize and engage the promise of diversity, this is because few universities have been designed from the outset to effectively serve the unique needs of lower-income students, first-generation students and students of color.</p>
Where can the new normal take us?<p>As colleges and universities face the difficult realities of adapting to COVID-19, they also face an opportunity to rethink their operations and designs in order to respond to social needs with greater agility, adopt technology that enables education to be delivered at scale, and collaborate with each other in order to maintain the dynamism and resilience of the American higher education system.</p> <p>COVID-19 raises questions about the relevance, the quality, and the accessibility of higher education—and these are the same challenges higher education has been grappling with for years. </p> <p>ASU has been able to rapidly adapt to the present circumstances because we have spent nearly two decades not just anticipating but <em>driving</em> innovation in higher education. We have adopted a <a href="https://www.asu.edu/about/charter-mission-and-values" target="_blank">charter</a> that formalizes our definition of success in terms of "who we include and how they succeed" rather than "<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/10/17/forget-varsity-blues-madness-lets-talk-about-students-who-cant-afford-college/" target="_blank">who we exclude</a>." We adopted an entrepreneurial <a href="https://president.asu.edu/read/higher-logic" target="_blank">operating model</a> that moves at the speed of technological and social change. We have launched initiatives such as <a href="https://www.instride.com/how-it-works/" target="_blank">InStride</a>, a platform for delivering continuing education to learners already in the workforce. We developed our own robust technological capabilities in ASU <a href="https://edplus.asu.edu/" target="_blank">EdPlus</a>, a hub for research and development in digital learning that, even before the current crisis, allowed us to serve more than 45,000 fully online students. We have also created partnerships with other forward-thinking institutions in order to mutually strengthen our capabilities for educational accessibility and quality; this includes our role in co-founding the <a href="https://theuia.org/" target="_blank">University Innovation Alliance</a>, a consortium of 11 public research universities that share data and resources to serve students at scale. </p> <p>For ASU, and universities like ASU, the "new normal" of a post-COVID world looks surprisingly like the world we already knew was necessary. Our record breaking summer 2020 <a href="https://asunow.asu.edu/20200519-sun-devil-life-summer-enrollment-sets-asu-record" target="_blank">enrollment</a> speaks to this. What COVID demonstrates is that we were already headed in the right direction and necessitates that we continue forward with new intensity and, we hope, with more partners. In fact, rather than "new normal" we might just say, it's "go time." </p>
Parenting could be a distraction from what mattered most to him: his writing.
Ernest Hemingway was affectionately called “Papa," but what kind of dad was he?
Hollywood has created an idea of aliens that doesn't match the science.
- Ask someone what they think aliens look like and you'll probably get a description heavily informed by films and pop culture. The existence of life beyond our planet has yet to be confirmed, but there are clues as to the biology of extraterrestrials in science.
- "Don't give them claws," says biologist E.O. Wilson. "Claws are for carnivores and you've got to be an omnivore to be an E.T. There just isn't enough energy available in the next trophic level down to maintain big populations and stable populations that can evolve civilization."
- In this compilation, Wilson, theoretical physicist Michio Kaku, Bill Nye, and evolutionary biologist Jonathan B. Losos explain why aliens don't look like us and why Hollywood depictions are mostly inaccurate.
Can an orgasm a day really keep the doctor away?
- Achieving orgasm through masturbation provides a rush of feel-good hormones (such as dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin) and can re-balance our levels of cortisol (a stress-inducing hormone). This helps our immune system function at a higher level.
- The surge in "feel-good" hormones also promotes a more relaxed and calm state of being, making it easier to achieve restful sleep, which is a critical part in maintaining a high-functioning immune system.
- Just as bad habits can slow your immune system, positive habits (such as a healthy sleep schedule and active sex life) can help boost your immune system which can prevent you from becoming sick.
How masturbation affects your brain...<p>Orgasms are a very common human phenomenon. The physical and mental health benefits have been researched frequently as a result, and yet, there is still so much to be learned about how our bodies and brains react to the chemicals and hormones released during and after experiencing this type of sexual release.</p><p>"The amount of speculation versus actual data on both the function and value of orgasm is remarkable" explains Julia Heiman, director of the <a href="https://kinseyinstitute.org/" target="_blank">Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction</a>.</p><p>Masturbation causes a rush of <a href="https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/what-is-dopamine" target="_blank">dopamine</a>, which is a chemical that is associated with our ability to feel pleasure. Along with the rush of dopamine that is released during an orgasm, there is also a release of a hormone called <a href="https://www.livescience.com/42198-what-is-oxytocin.html" target="_blank">oxytocin</a>, which is commonly referred to as the "love hormone."<br></p><p>This concoction of chemicals does more than just boost our mood, it also can play a key role in decreasing stress and promoting relaxation. Oxytocin decreases <a href="https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/what-is-cortisol" target="_blank">cortisol</a>, which is a stress hormone that is usually present (in high volumes) during times of anxiety, fear, panic, or distress. </p><p>According to BDSM and fetish researcher <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists/dr-gloria-brame-colbert-ga/278388" target="_blank">Dr. Gloria Brame</a>, an orgasm is the biggest non-drug induced blast of dopamine that we can experience. </p><p>By boosting the oxytocin and dopamine levels and subsequently decreasing our cortisol levels, the brain is placed in a more relaxed, euphoric, and calm state. </p>
Masturbation boosts your immune system and raises your white blood cell count.<p>How do those effects on the brain from reaching orgasm translate to boosting our immune system and making our body healthier?</p><p>The increase of oxytocin and dopamine that causes a decrease in cortisol levels can help boost our immune system because cortisol (well-known for being a stress-inducing hormone) actually helps maintain your immune system if released in small doses. </p><p>According to <a href="https://www.health24.com/Sex/Great-sex/incredible-health-benefits-to-masturbating-20181030-2" target="_blank">Dr. Jennifer Landa</a>, a hormone-therapy specialist, masturbation can produce the right kind of environment for a strengthened immune system to thrive. </p><p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15316239" target="_blank">A study</a> conducted by the Department of Medical Psychology at the University Clinic of Essen (in Germany) showed similar results. A group of 11 volunteers were asked to participate in a study that would look at the effects of orgasm through masturbation on the white blood cell count and immune system.</p><p>During this experiment, the white blood cell count of each participant was analyzed through measures that were taken 5 minutes before and 45 minutes after reaching a self-induced orgasm. </p><p>The results confirmed that sexual arousal and orgasm increased the number of white blood cells, particularly the natural killer cells that help fight off infections. </p><p>The findings confirm that our immune system is positively affected by sexual arousal and self-induced orgasm and promote even more research into the positive impacts of sexual arousal and orgasm. </p>
Masturbation can ease and prevent pain, which allows you to achieve the restful sleep that helps your immune system stay strong and healthy.<p>The benefits of masturbation have long been debated, but the more research that is done on the topic the more we understand that there are many positive reactions that happen in our bodies and brains when we orgasm.</p><p>Orgasms can help prevent or mitigate pain, which boosts the immune system, preventing cold and flu symptoms. </p><p>According to neurologist and headache specialist Stefan Evers, about one in three patients experience relief from migraine attacks by experiencing sexual activity or orgasm. Evers and his team <a href="https://www.livescience.com/27642-sex-relieves-migraine-pain.html" target="_blank">conducted an experiment</a> with 800 migraine patients and 200 patients who suffered from cluster-headaches to see how their experiences with sexual activity impacted their pain levels. </p><p>The study showed that 60% of migraine sufferers experienced pain relief after participating in sexual activity that resulted in orgasm. Of the cluster-headache sufferers, about 50% said their headaches actually worsened after sexual arousal and orgasm. </p><p>Evers suggested in his findings that the people who did not experience pain relief from migraines of headaches during their sexual activity did not release as large amounts of endorphins as those who did experience pain relief. </p><p>According to <a href="https://www.sharecare.com/health/chronic-pain/chronic-pain-affect-immune-system" target="_blank">rheumatologist Dr. Harris McIlwain</a>, people who suffer from chronic pain have immune systems that are simply not functioning at full capacity - therefore, alleviating pain (through orgasm, as an example) can help boost the immune system. </p><p>Orgasms can also promote relaxation and make it easier to fall asleep. Serotonin, oxytocin, and norepinephrine are all hormones that are released during sexual arousal and orgasm, and all three are known for counteracting stress hormones and promoting relaxation, which makes it much easier for you to fall asleep.</p><p>There are <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1233384" target="_blank">several studies</a> showing that serotonin and norepinephrine help our body cycle through REM and deep non-REM sleeping cycles. During these sleep cycles, the immune system releases proteins called <a href="https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/how-sleep-affects-your-immunity" target="_blank"><span id="selection-marker-1" class="redactor-selection-marker"></span>cytokines<span id="selection-marker-2" class="redactor-selection-marker"></span></a>, which target infection and inflammation. This is a critical part of our immune response. Cytokines are both produced and released throughout our bodies while we sleep, which proves the importance of a good sleep schedule to a healthy immune system.</p>
Masturbation promotes a high-functioning immune system; a healthy immune system prevents cold and flu.<p>The immune system is a balanced network of cells and organs that work together to defend you against infections and diseases by stopped threats like bacteria and viruses from entering your system. While there are many things we need to do to keep our immune systems functioning at optimal levels, masturbation (or other means of achieving orgasm) has proven to have positive effects on the immune system as a whole.</p><p>Just as bad habits (such as an inconsistent sleep schedule or harmful chemicals in your body) can slow your immune system, positive habits (such as a healthy sleep schedule and active sex life) can help boost your immune system. </p>
Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.