BGSU’s Torelli discusses citizen science in Washington D.C.

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS BGSU chemist Dr. Andrew Torelli is part of an international effort to raise awareness of the importance of science to society and to engage the public and legislators with current issues. Torelli recently served on an invited panel of experts as part of an informational briefing for members of Congress, their representatives and the public in Washington, D.C. The panel’s topic was “Citizen Science: Empowering a Robust National Effort.” Torelli shared the exciting example of the Smartphone InSpector, a device developed by an interdisciplinary team of BGSU faculty and students that equips a cell phone to identify and measure contaminants in water and upload the data to an online site. The system is being field tested by a number of area Rotary clubs to monitor regional water quality. The June 7 briefing was part of the American Chemical Society (ACS) Science and the Congress Project and the Consortium for Science Policy Outcomes at Arizona State University. “The purpose of these briefings is to provide members of the public and legislators on Capitol Hill with information on important topics in science that address national challenges,” Torelli said. The panel was moderated by Dr. Jamie Vernon of Sigma Xi and American Scientist magazine, with honorary co-hosts Sens. Steve Daines (Rep. Mont.), and Chris Coons (Dem., Del.). “It was great to see bipartisan support for the briefing,” Torelli said. The importance of citizen science is becoming clearer. According to the ACS, “As professional scientists explore the universe, they find instances and places where more hands, eyes, and voices are needed to collect, analyze, and report data.” The panel discussed “how various citizens are enhancing the nation’s scientific enterprise as well as ensuring that the government maximizes its benefits while avoiding any negative impact on the progress of science.” Since it can be used by ordinary citizens, BGSU’s Smartphone InSpector is a perfect example of how anyone, not only scientists, can contribute to the body of knowledge on the increasingly important question of water quality. Also on the ACS panel were Dr….

The cosmos is ready for its close up in Eric Zeigler’s exhibit

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The universe is on view in downtown Toledo. Or at least photographer Eric Zeigler’s vision of the universe, which includes: Galaxies of 100,000 stars, compressed into one small frame the size of a computer monitor. One of Pluto’s moons, the smear of light as good as anyone will likely ever see it. The rust on a meteorite in an image blown up 36-times its natural size. A computer image of neutrinos – subatomic particles so small 65 billion of them fit into a square centimeter – interacting. The exhibit “Under Lying” is now on view at River House Arts, 425 Jefferson St. The exhibit is open through July 30. For hours call 419-441-4025. The show will be part of Art Loop on July 21. The work, Zeigler explained, comes from his interest in astronomy that was sparked by a class he took at Bowling Green State University, where he earned a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Photography in 2008. He’d been taking photos since his early teens, inspired by his grandfather. Above the television in his grandparents’ home was a landscape photo his grandfather had taken. And scattered around the house were copies of Popular Photography magazine. His grandfather, Zeigler said, was interested in optics, and during World War II maintained sights on bombers that flew missions over Germany. Young Eric was fascinated by the data included in Popular Photography. What did the shutter speeds and aperture opening numbers mean? “I was totally addicted to figuring all this stuff out,” he said. He set his family’s new digital camera on manual. That helped him understand shutter speed, but the optics weren’t advanced enough to really vary the depth of field much. Then at about 16, a friend’s family gave him a film camera. It all clicked. The son of a carpenter, who worked with his father, he first attended BGSU to study construction management. “That lasted one day.” Then architecture. Then, since he liked making furniture, he decided to try the School of Art. Zeigler discovered he could take…

BGSU photochemical researchers make breakthrough

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS A BGSU photochemical sciences research team has shown that a new and unusual reaction path in chemistry occurs not only in the gas phase, but also in solution. According to Dr. Alexander N. Tarnovsky, the finding, which is important to atmospheric photochemistry, also establishes the direct link between chemical reactivity in the gas phase and in solution. Tarnovsky and doctoral graduate assistants Andrey Mereschenko, Evgeniia V. Butaeva, Veniamin Borin and Anna Eyzips are the listed authors of a Nature Chemistry journal article about the finding. “Dissociation, the process of breaking a chemical bond, lies at the heart of chemistry,” Tarnovsky said. Dissociation of molecular bromine is one of the key steps in ozone depletion chemistry, so establishing the connection between bromoform and bromine is important in atmospheric photochemistry, he explained. About 10 years ago, chemists discovered a novel reaction mechanism in dissociation reactions of gas-phase molecules, called roaming. In roaming, a fragment, which can be an atom or a group, moves away from the rest of a molecule, as if the molecule were breaking into two pieces. But instead, the fragment separates just enough to give itself some space, and then starts wandering around in the vicinity of the remaining atoms. If long-range attractive and repulsive molecular forces are fairly balanced, the fragment roams other fragments until it finds a second attractive domain or opens enough space for the other group or atom to move in. The BGSU team showed that following ultraviolet excitation of geminal tribromides, including bromoform, what looks like simple fission of a carbon-bromine bond at first look is in fact isomerization (the process by which one molecule is transformed into another molecule with exactly the same atoms but in a different arrangement, and with different chemical properties) at fairly large distances via roaming of the molecular fragments. This new and unusual reaction path occurs not only in the gas phase, but also in solution. Bromoform is abundantly produced by nature. The practical consequence of roaming isomerization of this molecule is that it is thought…