Stanford University Report Ranks Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Mohammed Cherkaoui Among the World’s Top 2% of Scientists

In the discipline of “materials” science, Dr. Cherkaoui ranked in the top 3,000 of the world’s more than 177,000 researchers in the field. He is best known for his pioneering work in micromechanics and nuclear engineering, and he has authored more than 200 publications including the first-ever micromechanics textbook. His international accolades include the France Medal from the National Center for Scientific Research, the Obama Award under the Material Genome Initiative, and the Lorraine Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer. He has also achieved a tenured professorship at Georgia Institute of Technology and a Boeing Endowed Chair and professorship at Mississippi State University.

“I am humbled by this recognition, and I owe a debt of gratitude to all of my co-authors and the vast network of Ph.D. students and contributors who have supported my work throughout my career,” said Dr. Cherkaoui. “I am proud to bring LIU to the forefront of global research as we strive to become a world-leading, pioneering university of the future.”

Dr. Cherkaoui was a pioneering influence of the International University of Rabat in Morocco, the International Joint Units (UMI) research institution between the French government and the Georgia Institute of Technology, and the France National Center for Scientific Research. He is a member of the European Commission material science division, and he is the associate editor of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Journal of Engineering Materials and Technology.

“Dr. Cherkaoui’s visionary leadership and collaborative approach to interdisciplinary research across LIU has led to some of our most forward-thinking initiatives such as our Digital Health Institute and competitive artificial intelligence program,” said LIU President Dr. Kimberly R. Cline. “I am proud to see him recognized as one of the world’s greatest scientists; an honor he truly deserves.” 

About Long Island University
Long Island University, founded in 1926, continues to redefine higher education, providing high quality academic instruction by world-class faculty. Recognized by Forbes for its emphasis on experiential learning and by the Brookings Institution for its “value added” to student outcomes, LIU offers close to 265 accredited programs, with a network of 267,000 alumni that includes industry leaders and entrepreneurs all across the globe. Visit liu.edu for more information. 

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How Boeing is building the world’s most powerful deep-space rocket

When NASA sends the first woman and the next man to the moon, those astronauts won’t just be the first humans to land on the lunar surface since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972, they’ll also be riding atop the biggest and most powerful rocket in NASA’s history: the Space Launch System, built by Boeing.

The SLS will stand taller than the Statue of Liberty when it’s ready to take off from the launchpad with the crew of NASA’s Artemis program. And with almost 9 million pounds of thrust, it will be powerful enough to carry a 38-metric ton payload to the moon.


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According to Matt Duggan, mission management and operation manager for the Boeing Company, the Space Launch System is a key piece of technology that will enable humans to travel farther into space and for longer periods. 

“The reason we need larger and larger rockets, as we go further and further into space, is that we want to take more and more stuff with us as we go,” Duggan said in an interview for CNET’s Now What series. “You’re going to pack differently if you’re going on a monthlong trip, than if you’re going on an overnight trip.

“That’s where the SLS comes in. It can carry these huge, huge payloads … and include all the supplies that humans need to live and work in deep space.”

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An artist’s image of the SLS, shortly after launch. 


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That ability to carry large payloads isn’t just vital for carrying crew and cargo to the moon, but also for future missions to Mars. Unlike previous rockets developed for NASA missions, the SLS will be able to carry entire payloads, pre-assembled, to deep space so that supplies are ready to go on Mars as humans arrive. 

While the team working on the SLS includes veterans who worked on the space shuttle program and the International Space Station (and the design of the SLS itself incorporates parts used on shuttle missions) a lot has changed since those earlier spacecraft were built. 

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This interview is part of CNET’s Now What series, covering the leaders and trends shaping the world.

“It’s never been done before quite this way,” said Duggan “We’re taking advantage of the very best, most modern engineering practices that we have today. And I think that’s a huge advantage we have now over the people who — successfully, of course — but who designed Saturn V. That was a rocket where you had people doing designs on paper, doing calculations by hand, and making parts by hand. 

“We can do as much analysis in a single day as they did on their entire program over years. And with computer-aided manufacturing, we can build parts that are so precise, that they’re literally sculpted to be

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Listed in Stanford University World’s Top 2% Scientists

The US-based Stanford University has recently released a list that represents the top 2 percent of the most-cited scientists in various disciplines. A publicly available database of 100,000 top-scientists across multiple fields that provides standardized information on citations, h-index, co-authorship adjusted hm-index, citations to papers in different authorship positions, and a composite indicator was used. The exhaustive list has 1,59,683 persons included in my name with a ranking of 66823 worldwide. Separate data are shown for career-long and single year impact. Metrics with and without self-citations and ratio of citations to citing papers are given. Scientists are classified into 22 scientific fields and 176 sub-fields, my name was associated with three main subfields: Building & Construction, Energy, Built Environment and Design. Field- and subfield-specific percentiles are also provided for all scientists who have published at least 5 papers. Career-long data are updated to end-of-2019.

The dataset and code provides an update to previously released (version 1) data under https://doi.org/10.17632/btchxktzyw.1; The version 2 dataset is based on the May 06, 2020 snapshot from Scopus and is updated to citation year 2019. In addition to the time period and datacut update, it provides a long list of authors: it also includes the top 2% for every subfield.

Citation: Baas, Jeroen; Boyack, Kevin; Ioannidis, John (2020), “Data for “Updated science-wide author databases of standardized citation indicators””, Mendeley Data, V2, doi: 10.17632/btchxktzyw.2, http://dx.doi.org/10.17632/btchxktzyw.2

Complete Study: https://data.mendeley.com/datasets/btchxktzyw/2?fbclid=IwAR24fqDFUuPjar12DA4JPShk2qySYZELk0rJmLJgdUtpphfjnNcShwMReY0

 https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fi/yr8a252tywqhfq72zgndx/Table-S7-singleyr-2019.xlsx?dl=0&rlkey=lj909sskon98ifiaen3vkshkp

I was surprised and overwhelmed with joy when Mohamed Hamdy, my friend, informed me about being rated number 66823 on the list of 100,000 top scientists across all fields that was just published by colleagues from Stanford University. The new standardized citation method they applied to screen over seven million scientists worldwide appears to be fair and well-balanced. I am grateful to all of you who were part of this success. Thank you Hamdy. Field: Building & Construction, Energy, Built Environment and Design.

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Professor in Sustainable Architecture and Building Technology at Université de Liège

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World’s first graduate-level AI university appoints world-renowned academic Eric Xing as President

His Excellency Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and Chairman of the MBZUAI Board of Trustees, said: “We are excited to welcome Professor Dr. Xing as the president of MBZUAI. He is one of the world’s foremost academics in the field of AI, and an exceptional business leader who understands the practical application of artificial intelligence. We are confident that Professor Dr. Xing will bring immense expertise to MBZUAI and our ambitions in this industry.”

Ranked as one of the top computer science professors worldwide, Professor Dr. Xing joins MBZUAI from Carnegie Mellon University in the US, where he most recently served as Associate Department Head of Research at the Machine Learning Department, part of Carnegie Mellon’s School of Computer Science. Additionally, he is the Founding Director of the Center for Machine Learning and Health, Carnegie Mellon University and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Professor Dr. Xing has also spent time as Visiting Associate Professor at Stanford University, and as Visiting Research Professor at Facebook Inc.

A highly recognised and award-winning member of the AI community, the new MBZUAI President has authored or contributed to more than 370 research papers and reports. His research has been cited more than 35,000 times by leading academics and academic journals.

Professor Dr. Xing is also the Founder, Chairman, and Chief Scientist of Petuum, Inc, which has raised over $120 million funding since 2016 and was selected as a 2018 World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer.

Commenting on his appointment, Professor Dr. Xing said: “AI is one of the most transformational technologies of our time, with the potential to have an immeasurable positive impact on economies, industries, and society. As President of MBZUAI, my vision is to build and enable a generation of leaders who have the necessary understanding, expertise, and skills to unlock the full potential of AI through academic research and industry applications. It is a privilege to have this opportunity to lead such a ground-breaking establishment, and do so in the UAE, a country that has made AI a strategic national priority.” 

Since launching in October 2019, MBZUAI has achieved several important milestones, including the completion of its state-of-the-art campus in Masdar City and the successful completion of its first admissions cycle. The university recently extended admission offers to 101 students for the first academic year commencing in January 2021. Students accepted into the first cohort were selected from an elite group of 2,223 applicants of 97 different nationalities. Admitted students come from 31 countries.

SOURCE Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI)

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Megalodon nurseries reveal world’s largest shark had a soft side

The enormous, extinct shark Megalodon probably doesn’t make you think of parenting and playdates. But a growing body of evidence suggests that these massive marine predators nurtured their babies by raising them in nurseries, and scientists just added five potential Megalodon nurseries to the list. 



a bird flying over a body of water: Megalodon, the biggest predatory shark of all time, watched over its young as many modern sharks do — by raising them in defined geographic areas known as nurseries.


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Megalodon, the biggest predatory shark of all time, watched over its young as many modern sharks do — by raising them in defined geographic areas known as nurseries.

These baby-shark grounds are showing up all over. Scientists reported in 2010 that they had identified a Megalodon nursery in Panama. Recently, another team of researchers described a new Megalodon nursery site in northeastern Spain; fossils of fully grown sharks and youngsters were found together, with most of the fossils belonging to juveniles and newborns. 

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Those same scientists also analyzed data from eight other sites — from 16 million to 3 million years ago — where Otodus megalodon fossils were plentiful. They evaluated the body sizes of individual sharks to determine the ratio of juveniles to adults, and named four additional nursery sites. 

The results suggest that Megalodon adults commonly raised their young in nursery areas, where the wee shark babies would be protected until they were able to fend for themselves against other ocean predators. It also raises the possibility that the decline of available nursery sites may have contributed to the giant shark’s extinction, according to a new study.

Related: Photos: These animals used to be giants

O. megalodon is estimated to have measured up to 50 feet (15 meters) in length, making it the biggest predatory shark that ever lived. Most Megalodon fossils date to about 15 million years ago, and the giant fish vanished from the fossil record about 2.6 million years ago.

Today, many modern sharks raise their young in nurseries. Waters near northern Patagonia’s Buenos Aires province hold a nursery for several shark species, and a nursery of sand tiger sharks (Carcharias taurus) in Long Island’s Great South Bay hosts juvenile sharks that live there until they are 4 or 5 years old. And the oldest known shark nursery is more than 200 million years old, according to fossilized egg cases found alongside shark “baby teeth” that are just 0.04 inches (1 millimeter) long, Live Science previously reported.

For the new study, the researchers investigated 25 teeth belonging to O. megalodon  from the Reverté and Vidal quarries in Spain’s Tarragona province. They used tooth crown height to estimate body size and to identify which of the sharks were babies; very young sharks — likely about one month old — that measured about 13 feet (4 m) long, and older juveniles measured up to 36 feet (11 m) in length. 

The scientists then used algorithms to model and compare the ratio of O. megalodon juveniles to adults at eight other sites across “a wide geographical area” that included the Atlantic, Caribbean and Pacific basins. They determined five potential nurseries “with higher densities of

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The UAE has successfully launched the Arab world’s first Mars mission

The United Arab Emirates successfully launched its Mars-bound Hope Probe on Sunday, marking the the Arab world’s first interplanetary mission — and the first of three international missions to the Red Planet this summer.



a satellite in space


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The Hope Probe took off from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan, after a delay last week due to bad weather. The solid rocket booster successfully separated from the launch vehicle, and the probe has established two-way communication with the ground segment in Dubai.

The Al Amal probe, as it is called in Arabic, is expected to reach Mars by February 2021. It will be the first time the UAE has orbited Mars, and the probe will stay in orbit for a Martian year — equivalent to 687 days on Earth — to gather data about Mars’ atmosphere.

“It’s an honor to be part of the global efforts to explore deep space,” tweeted the official Hope Mars Mission account after the launch. “The Hope Probe is the culmination of every single step that humans have taken throughout history to explore the unknown depths of space.”

The United States and China are also embarking on Mars missions this summer. NASA’s Perseverance Rover and China’s Tianwen 1 are expected to launch sometime between late July and early August, though the exact date will depend on daily launch conditions.

These three countries are all launching this summer due to the occurrence of a biennial window when Earth and Mars are closest together, making the journey a little bit shorter.

NASA tweeted its congratulations after Hope’s successful launch, writing on Perseverance’s official Twitter page: “I wish you a successful journey and look forward to the sol when we are both exploring Mars … I cannot wait to join you on the journey!”

Growing space sector

The Hope Probe is the UAE’s latest and most ambitious step in its burgeoning space sector.

The UAE has launched satellites before — in 2009 and 2013 — but they were developed with South Korean partners. The country founded its space agency in 2014, and has set ambitious targets including a colony on the Martian surface by 2117.

Government officials have previously spoken of the space program as a catalyst for the country’s growing STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) sector.

Simply making it this far was an impressive feat for the Gulf country. Most Mars missions take between 10 to 12 years to develop — but UAE scientists had just six years to carry out the project.

To build the spacecraft, they partnered with a team in the US, at the University of Colorado Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics. And to find a novel science objective for Hope’s mission, they consulted the Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group (MEPAG), a forum created by NASA to plan explorations of Mars.

They decided to use Hope to build the first full picture of Mars’ climate throughout the Martian year, said Sarah Al Amiri, the mission’s science lead.

“The data gathered by the

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Even Mount Everest, the World’s Tallest Peak, Can’t Escape Microplastics | Smart News

Two years ago, scientists reported that plastic pollution has found its way into the Mariana Trench, the darkest, deepest part of the ocean. Now, plastic has officially infiltrated the highest point above sea level: Mount Everest.

A study published November 20 in the journal One Earth reveals microplastics have been found up and down Mount Everest in staggering concentrations, reports Carolyn Wilke for Science News.

Last year, a team of 34 scientists embarked on an icy expedition up Mount Everest to better understand how climate change is affecting the highest point above sea level on Earth. (Mount Chimborazo in Ecuador is the furtherest point away from Earth’s core, and Mauna Kea is the tallest from base to peak.) As part of their research, they scooped up snow samples from various spots on the mountain and stored them in stainless steel jars to bring back to the lab for testing, reports Freddie Wilkinson for National Geographic. Upon analysis, the team found that all 11 of the samples they collected had tiny shreds of microplastics imbued in the snow, reports Science News.

“It really surprised me to find microplastics in every single snow sample I analyzed,” lead author Imogen Napper, a marine scientist at the University of Plymouth in England, says in a press release. “Mount Everest is somewhere I have always considered remote and pristine. To know we are polluting near the top of the tallest mountain is a real eye-opener.”

On average, the team detected around 30 bits of microplastics per quart of water. But they detected the highest concentration of microplastics—119 particles per quart of water—around Everest Base Camp, where climbers spend time resting, regrouping and acclimatizing to the high elevation, reports Damian Carrington for the Guardian.

Most of the fibers were polyester, but they also found significant traces of acrylic, polypropylene and nylon, reports National Geographic. Given the type of plastic and the fact that the highest concentrations were found around base camp, the fibers were most likely shed from the mountaineers’ clothing and equipment, such as insulated jackets, tents and ropes.

Microplastic fibers are so small that they are often invisible to the naked eye, but those tiny threads accumulate in massive numbers. A study published in February suggests that a two-pound synthetic jacket sheds 400 microplastic fibers for every 20 minutes of use. Over the course of a year, that jacket can shed a billion fibers, reports National Geographic.

Even the highest points of Everest weren’t spared from plastic pollution. Scientists found trace amounts of plastic at an elevation of 27,690 feet, just 1,345 feet shy of the mountain’s peak, reports Science News.

“These are the highest microplastics discovered so far,” Napper says. “While it sounds exciting, it means that microplastics have been discovered from the depths of the ocean all the way to the highest mountain on Earth. With microplastics so ubiquitous in our environment, it’s time to focus on informing appropriate environmental solutions. We need to protect and care

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Fossils purported to be world’s earliest animals revealed as algae

Nov. 23 (UPI) — Fossils previously heralded as the earliest evidence of animal life have been revealed to be algae. The reinterpretation, announced Monday in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, will force scientists to reconsider early animal evolution.

“It brings the oldest evidence for animals nearly 100 million years closer to the present day,” study co-author Lennart van Maldegem said in a news release.

“We were able to demonstrate that certain molecules from common algae can be altered by geological processes — leading to molecules which are indistinguishable from those produced by sponge-like animals,” said van Maldegem, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Australian National University.

The new research reverses the trend of fresh discoveries pushing the emergence of animal life further and further back on the evolutionary timeline.

For decades, scientists have struggled to pinpoint the origins of animal life, but recently, a series of discoveries suggested sponge-like animals began proliferating in Earth’s oceans during the Ediacaran Period, as many 635 million years ago.

“Ten years ago, scientists discovered the molecular fossils of an animal steroid in rocks that were once at the bottom of an ancient sea in the Middle East,” said study co-author Jochen Brocks.

“The big question was, how could these sponges have been so abundant, covering much of the seafloor across the world, but leave no body fossils?” said Brocks, an ANU professor.

It turns out, sponges weren’t abundant — they didn’t exist yet.

Though it’s true that sponges remain the only organisms that produce the steroids of note, the latest research suggests ocean chemistry can convert algae sterols into ‘animal’ sterols.

“These molecules can be generated in the lab when simulating geological time and temperatures, but we also showed such processes did happen in ancient rocks,” said ANU researcher Ilya Bobrovskiy, who first discovered the steroid fossils 10 years ago.

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The education app that is making equals of Bill Gates and the world’s masses

  • The Covid-19 pandemic has led to the 500 million-download mark for Duolingo.
  • Swedish is the most popular language studied in Sweden because of Syrian refugees, while Bill Gates uses it to study French.
  • The language learning start-up was just valued at $2.4 billion by investors, which is just about $1 billion more than its valuation from just a year ago.



Luis von Ahn standing posing for the camera: Duolingo Co-founders Severin Hacker (L) and Luis von Ahn (R)


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Duolingo Co-founders Severin Hacker (L) and Luis von Ahn (R)

During the coronavirus crisis, Duolingo has seen a huge spike in new users. In fact, it’s become the world’s

How Duolingo is disrupting language learning with free app

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language learning app, amassing more than 500 million downloads to date.

What many don’t know is that the world’s most popular education app began as a computer science project for co-founders Severin Hacker and Luis von Ahn, teaching people foreign languages while trying to simultaneously translate the entire internet. Von Ahn was one of the developers behind the invention of CAPTCHA and ReCAPTCHA, which are used to distinguish humans from machines.

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But von Ahn says that what he really wanted to do was make education more accessible.

“We’ve always been a very mission-driven company,” he told CNBC at Wednesday’s Disruptor 50 Summit. “A lot of people talk about education as something that brings equality to social classes, but I always thought of it as the opposite — something that brings inequality.”

Von Ahn grew up in Guatemala, where education is free and compulsory through sixth grade, or between the ages of 7 and 14. Today, there are approximately 9,300 primary schools, which are attended by 1.3 million students. More than 290,000 students attend private secondary schools, and approximately 88,000 are enrolled in university.

“What happens, particularly in poor countries like Guatemala, is that people who have money can buy themselves the best education in the world, whereas people who don’t have money barely learn how to read or write,” von Ahn said.

The universal language: Duolingo co-founder and CEO joins CNBC’s Disruptor 50 Summit

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Pittsburgh-based Duolingo offers 95 courses across 38 distinct languages — from the world’s most spoken, such as Spanish, French and Italian, to endangered languages like Hawaiian, Navajo and Scottish Gaelic. In addition to its core platform, the company created the Duolingo English Test, an affordable and convenient language certification option accepted by more than 2,000 universities and institutions worldwide. 

“One of the things that makes me proudest is that Duolingo really is used by the whole spectrum of society,” von Ahn said. “On one end there are a lot of Syrian refugees that use Duolingo to learn the language of the country that they move to … in Sweden, the most commonly learned language is Swedish and it’s because of Syrian refugees.”

On the other end of the spectrum, Bill Gates uses Duolingo to learn French.

“The same system is being used by billionaires and people who don’t have very much money,

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World’s Largest Wetland Has Worst October Fires on Record

(Bloomberg) — Brazil’s Pantanal wetlands, a fragile cradle of endangered species, burned at the fastest rate for the month of October since record keeping started in 1998, further damaging the country’s environmental credentials.

At least 2,846 fire spots have been registered this month in the biome, surpassing a previous 2002 record, according to data from Brazil’s Spacial Research Institute, known as INPE. So far this year, an area larger than the size of Belgium has been lost to the flames.



chart: Brazil's wetlands are burning at a record rate this year.


© Bloomberg
Brazil’s wetlands are burning at a record rate this year.

The Pantanal is home to around 1,200 species of animals, about 40 of which are threatened with extinction. Photos of burnt animals found among the ashes, including rescued Brazilian jaguars with bandaged paws, have shocked the world and raised questions about Brazil’s environmental policies.

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With the Amazon rainforest also burning at a record pace this year, foreign investors have started to demand more action from President Jair Bolsonaro’s administration to protect the environment.

Although a wetland, the Pantanal is facing its worst drought in 47 years, which has contributed to the spread of the flames. Brazil’s government has pointed to the drought as the “major cause” of the fires, but environmental organizations say the blazes have been caused primarily by humans. The environment ministry did not respond to a request for comment.

Read more: Bolsonaro Slams Biden’s Plan to Stop Amazon Deforestation

INPE uses satellites to detect fire spots at least 30 meters long and 1 meter wide. One spot, however, can encompass a vast area. More than 3.5 million hectares — an area larger than Belgium — have already burned this year in the Pantanal, according to data from the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, where the majority of the biome is located.

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