Tag Archives: American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

Global gathering in Rwanda for 5th International Conference on Governmental Science Advice (INGSA2024): “The Transformation Imperative”

The 4th gathering was in Montréal, Québec, Canada (as per my August 31, 2021 posting). Unfortunately,this is one of those times where I’m late to the party. The 5th International Conference on Governmental Science Advice (INGSA2024) ran from May 1 – 2, 2024 bu there are some satellite events taking place over the next few days.

I’m featuring this somewhat stale news because it offers a more global perspective on science policy and government advisors, from the May 1, 2024 International Network for Government Science Advice (INGSA) news release (PDF and on EurekAlert),

What? 5th International Conference on Governmental Science Advice, INGSA2024, marking the 10th Anniversary of the creation of the International Network for Governmental Science Advice (INGSA) & first meeting held in the global south.

Where?   Kigali Convention Center, Rwanda: https://ingsa2024.squarespace.com/

When?    1 – 2 May, 2024.

Context: One of the largest independent gatherings of thought- and practice-leaders in governmental science advice, research funding, multi-lateral institutions, academia, science communication and diplomacy is taking place in Kigali, Rwanda. Organised by Prof Rémi Quirion, Chief Scientist of Québec and President of the International Network for Governmental Science Advice (INGSA), speakers from 39 countries[1] from Brazil to Burkina Faso and from Ireland to Indonesia, plus over 300 delegates from 65 countries, will spotlight what is really at stake in the relationship between science, societies and policy-making, during times of crisis and routine.

From the air we breathe, the cars we drive, and the Artificial Intelligence we use, to the medical treatments or the vaccines we take, and the education we provide to children, this relationship, and the decisions it can influence, matter immensely. In our post-Covid, climate-shifted, and digitally-evolving world, the importance of robust knowledge in policy-making is more pronounced than ever. This imperative is accompanied by growing complexities that demand attention. INGSA’s two-day gathering strives to both examine and empower inclusion and diversity as keystones in how we approach all-things Science Advice and Science Diplomacy to meet these local-to-global challenges.

Held previously in Auckland 2014, Brussels 2016, Tokyo 2018 and Montréal 2021, Kigali 2024 organisers have made it a priority to involve more diverse speakers from developing countries and to broaden the thematic scope. Examining the complex interactions between scientists, public policy and diplomatic relations at local, national, regional and international levels, especially in times of crisis, the overarching theme is: “The Transformation Imperative”.

The main conference programme (see link below)will scrutinise everything from case-studies outlining STI funding tips, successes and failures in our advisory systems, plus regional to global initiatives to better connect them, to how digital technologies and A.I. are reshaping the profession itself.

INGSA2024 is also initiating and hosting a range of independent side-events that, in themselves, act as major meeting and rallying points that partners and attending delegates are encouraged to maximise. These include, amongst others, events organised by the Foreign Ministries Science & Technology Advice Network (FMSTAN); the International Public Policy Observatory Roundtable (IPPO); the High-Level Dialogue on the Future of Science Diplomacy (co-organised by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the European Commission, the Geneva Science & Diplomacy Anticipator (GESDA), and The Royal Society); the Organisation of Southern Cooperation (OSC)meeting on ‘Bridging Worlds of Knowledge – Promoting Endogenous Knowledge Development;the Science for Africa Foundation, University of Oxford Pandemic Sciences Institute’s meeting on ‘Translating Research Into Policy and Practice’; and the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) ‘World Build Simulation Training on Quantum Technology’ with INGSA and GESDA. INGSA will also host its own internal strategy Global Chapter & Division Meetings.   

Prof Rémi Quirion, Conference Co-Chair, Chief Scientist of Québec and President of INGSA, has said that:

“For those of us who believe wholeheartedly in evidence and the integrity of science, recent years have been challenging. Mis- and disinformation can spread like a virus. So positive developments like our gathering here in Rwanda are even more critical. The importance of open science and access to data to better inform scientific integration and the collective action we now need, has never been more pressing. Our shared UN sustainable development goals play out at national and local levels. Cities and municipalities bear the brunt of climate change, but also can drive the solutions. I am excited to see and hear first-hand how the global south is increasingly at the forefront of these efforts, and to help catalyse new ways to support this. I have no doubt that INGSA’s efforts and the Kigali conference, which is co-led with the Rwandan Ministry of Education and the University of Rwanda, will act as a carrier-wave for greater engagement. I hope we will see new global collaborations and actions that will be remembered as having first taken root at INGSA2024”.

Hon. Gaspard Twagirayezu, Minister of Education of Rwanda has lent his support to the INGSA conference, saying:

“We are proud to see the INSGA conference come to Rwanda, as we are at a turning point in our management of longer-term challenges that affect us all. Issues that were considered marginal even five or ten years ago are today rightly seen as central to our social, environmental, and economic wellbeing. We are aware of how rapid scientific advances are generating enormous public interest, but we also must build the capabilities to absorb, generate and critically consider new knowledge and technologies. Overcoming current crisis and future challenges requires global coordination in science advice, and INGSA is well positioned to carry out this important work. It makes me particularly proud that INGSA’s Africa Chapter has chosen our capital Kigali as it’s pan-African base. Rwanda and Africa can benefit greatly from this collaboration.”

Ass. Prof.  Didas Kayihura Muganga, Vice-Chancellor, University of Rwanda, stated:

“What this conference shows is that grass-roots citizens in Rwanda, across Africa and Worldwide can no longer be treated as simple statistics or passive bystanders. Citizens and communities are rightfully demanding greater transparency and accountability especially about science and technology. Ensuring, and demonstrating, that decisions are informed by robust evidence is an important step.  But we must also ensure that the evidence is meaningful to our context and our population. Complex problems arise from a multiplicity of factors, so we need greater diversity of perspectives to help address them.   This is what is changing before our very eyes. For some it is climate, biodiversity or energy supply that matters most, for others it remains access to basic education and public health. Regardless, all exemplify humanity’s interdependence.”

Daan du Toit, acting Director-General of the Department of Science & Innovation of the Government of South Africa and Programme Committee Member commented:

INGSA has long helped build and elevate open and ongoing public and policy dialogue about the role of robust evidence in sound policy making. But now, the conversation is deepening to critically consider the scope and breadth of evidence, what evidence, whose evidence and who has access to the evidence? Operating on all continents, INGSA demonstrates the value of a well-networked community of emerging and experienced practitioners and academics working at the interfaces between science, societies and public policy. We were involved in its creation in Auckland in 2014, and have stayed close and applaud the decision to bring this 5th International Biennial Meeting to Africa. Learning from each other, we can help bring a wider variety of robust knowledge more centrally into policy-making. That is why in 2022 we supported a start-up initiative based in Pretoria called the Science Diplomacy Capital for Africa (SDCfA). The energy shown in the set-up of this meeting demonstrates our potential as Africans to do so much more together”.

INGSA-Africa’s Regional Chapter

INGSA2024 is very much ‘coming home’ and represents the first time that this biennial event is being co-hosted by a Regional Chapter. In February 2016, INGSA announced the creation of the INGSA-Africa Regional Chapter, which held its first workshop in Hermanus, South Africa. The Chapter has since made great strides in engaging francophone Africa, organising INGSA’s first French-language workshop in Dakar, Senegal in 2017 and a bi-lingual meeting as a side-event of the World Science Forum 2022, Cape Town.  The Chapter’s decentralised virtual governance structure means that it embraces the continent, but new initiatives, like the Kigali Training Hub are set to become a pivotal player in the development of evidence-to-policy ecosystems across Africa.

Dr M. Oladoyin Odubanjo, Conference Co-Chair and Chair of INGSA-Africa, outlined that:

“As a public health physician and current Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Academy of Sciences (NAS), responsible for providing scientific advice to policy-makers, I have learnt that science and politics share common features. Both operate at the boundaries of knowledge and uncertainty, but they approach problems differently. Scientists question and challenge our assumptions, constantly searching for empiric evidence to determine the best options. In contrast, politicians are most often guided by the needs or demands of voters and constituencies, and by ideology. Our INGSA-Africa Chapter is working at the nexus of both communities and we encourage everybody to get involved. Hosting this conference in Kigali is like a shot in the arm that can only lead us on to even bigger and brighter things.”

Sir Peter Gluckman, President of the International Science Council, and founding chair of INGSA mentioned: “Good science advice is critical to decision making at any level from local to global. It helps decision makers understand the evidence for or against, and the implications of any choice they make. In that way science advice makes it more likely that decision makers will make better decisions. INGSA as the global capacity building platform has a critical role to play in ensuring the quality of science policy interface.”

Strength in numbers

What makes the 5th edition of this biennial event stand out is the perhaps the novel range of speakers from all continents working at the boundary between science, society and policy willing to make their voices heard. More information on Parallel Sessions organisers as well as speakers can be found on the website.

About INGSA

Founded in 2014 with regional chapters in Africa, Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean, and key partnerships in Europe and North America, INGSA has quicky established an important reputation as a collaborative platform for policy exchange, capacity building and operational research across diverse global science advisory organisations and national systems. INGSA is a free community of peer support and practice with over 6,000 members globally. Science communicators and members of the media are warmly welcomed to join for free.

Through workshops, conferences and a growing catalogue of tools and guidance, the network aims to enhance the global science-policy interface to improve the potential for evidence-informed policy formation at sub-national, national and transnational levels. INGSA operates as an affiliated body of the International Science Council. INGSA’s secretariat is based at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, while the office of the President is hosted at the Fonds de Recherche de Quebec in Montreal, which has also launched the Réseau francophone international en conseil scientifique (RFICS), which mandate is towards capacity reinforcement in science advice in the Francophonie.

INGSA2024 Sponsors

As always, INGSA organized a highly accessible and inclusive conference by not charging a registration fee. Philanthropic support from many sponsors made the conference possible. Special recognition is made to the Fonds de recherche du Québec, the Rwanda Ministry of Education as well as the University of Rwanda. The full list of donors is available on the INGSA2024 website (link below).

[1] Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Cote d’Ivoire, Denmark, Egypt, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, India, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Lebanon, Malawi, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, Portugal, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Uganda, UK, USA, Zimbabwe

Satellite session are taking place today (May 3, 2024),

  • High-Level Dialogue on the Future of Science
  • Bridging Worlds of Knowledge
  • Translating Research into Policy and Practice
  • Quantum Technology in Africa

The last session on the list, “Quantum Technology …,” is a science diplomacy role-playing workshop. (It’s of particular interest to me as the Council of Canadian Academies (CCA) released a report, Quantum Potential, in Fall 2023 and about which I’m still hoping to write a commentary.)

Even though the sessions have already taken place,it’s worth taking a look at the conference programme and the satellite events just to get a sense of the global breadth of interest in this work. Here’s the INGSA2024 website.

Overall winner of the 2024 global Dance Your PhD: Kangaroo Time (Club Edit)

I can’t resist the dance. First, the submission for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Dance Your Ph.D. competition on Youtube and then, the video,

Science and Artistic Rationale:

In our 2024 AAAS [American Association for the Advancement of Science]/Science Magazine Dance Your Ph.D. Contest submission, we explore kangaroo behavior through dance and promote diversity. The performance, titled “Kangaroo Time”, is based on my [Weliton Menário Costa] Ph.D. field research at Wilsons Promontory National Park, Australia, conducted at the Australian National University in collaboration with the University of Sherbrooke, Canada. My thesis, “Personality, Social Environment, and Maternal-Level Effects: Insights from a Wild Kangaroo Population”, is accessible here: https://openresearch-repository.anu.e…. I am honored to have worked under the expert supervision of Prof Loeske Kruuk and Prof Marco Festa-Bianchet. We delve into animal personality, defined as consistent behavior that distinguishes individuals, and social plasticity, the extent to which behavior changes in response to the social environment. We explain how both personality traits and social environment influence kangaroo behavior, including responses to stimuli like a remote-controlled car, and we demonstrate the role of personality on social dynamics. The diversity of the dancers, ranging from classical to urban styles, reflects the variations in kangaroo personality, e.g. bolder to shier. These dancers, unchoreographed, improvise their movements, responding to cues and interacting with each other. The dance thus serves as a visual narrative, capturing how kangaroos react based not only on their instincts but also on their social context. This approach demonstrates that kangaroo decisions are a complex interplay of intrinsic tendencies (personality) and social awareness leading to adjustment (plasticity). I hope this performance makes the scientific concepts both accessible and engaging for the audience. I completed my Ph.D. at the Australian National University, Canberra, in 2021, and worked as a Research Officer. Now, I’m pursuing music, having released my debut EP “Yours Academically, Dr. WELI” and the single “Kangaroo Time (Club Edit),” featured in the video. This project represents a fusion of my scientific work and my foray into performance and creative arts, combining animal behavior with artistic expression.

A February 26, 2024 Australian National University (ANU) press release on EurekAlert provides more detail about the researcher and about his work with kangaroos, Note: Links have been removed,

Dr Weliton Menário Costa, a PhD graduate from The Australian National University (ANU), has been announced the overall winner of the 2024 global Dance Your PhD contest after wowing judges with his wickedly creative and quirky dance submission, ‘Kangaroo Time (Club Edit)’.

One of the world’s leading researchers in kangaroo behaviour, he is the first person from ANU to win the Dance Your PhD competition, and just the fourth person from an Australian institution to do so since its inception in 2008. Better known as ‘WELI’, the singer-songwriter, creator and biologist weaves together a funky beat, original songwriting, drag queens and Brazilian funk dancers to create something that’s both entertaining and educational; the final product is something that looks like it’s been plucked straight out of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

WELI stars in and directs the music video, which draws on his Brazilian roots to illustrate the distinct and varying personality traits of kangaroos using the powerful mediums of song and dance. The original and club mixes have been played more than 7,000 times on Spotify, and the song has already featured in clubs, festivals, dance classes and radio stations.

“Winning this contest is the equivalent of winning Eurovision for me. I think it not only shows the incredible might of the research conducted here in Australia, but also how creative we are as a nation. Even us scientists!” he said.

Reflecting on the success of ‘Kangaroo Time’ and the global mark it’s made on the scientific community and further afield, WELI notes that at the core of his video is a message of inclusivity and diversity – something he hopes will be one of the main takeaways that viewers hold onto.

“As a queer immigrant from a linguistically diverse developing country, I understand the challenges of feeling disconnected in certain environments,” he said.

“One of the main messages I wanted to convey through this piece of work is that differences lead to diversity, and this is evident throughout the entire video. It’s evident with the different dancers that herald from various cultures and backgrounds.

“I think it’s extremely important that we celebrate diversity and creating a video explaining kangaroo personality was an excellent medium for me to do this.”

In 2017, WELI relocated from his home country of Brazil to Canberra to undertake a PhD in animal behaviour at the ANU Research School of Biology, which he finished in 2021.

Armed with a remote-controlled car, the ANU graduate spent more than three years studying the spectrum of behavioural differences of a group of more than 300 wild eastern grey kangaroos in Victoria.

“We found that kangaroos like to socialise in groups but prefer smaller social circles. Like humans, kangaroo personalities manifest early in life. Mothers and their offspring have similar personalities, and so do siblings,” he said.

“Kangaroos are very socially aware and will adjust their behaviour based off cues from other roos.

“The diversity of the dancers, from classical ballet to twerking, and the urban street dancers to the Brazilian dancing styles, reflect the variations in kangaroo personality across the full spectrum, from bolder types to shier roos.”

On the surface, ‘Kangaroo Time’ is an effective display of science communication that expertly utilises the creative arts medium. It’s engaging, quirky and niche. But WELI admits the decision to incorporate the words kangaroo time into the video’s title acts as a double entendre of sorts.

“The use of kangaroo time is not just to explain my research studying kangaroo personality – it’s also about my time living and studying in Australia as a whole,” he said.

“It’s been a time of exploration for me, a time where I’ve been able to reconnect with and grow my passion for music, dance and the creative arts.

“Working on this project was the spark I needed to encourage me to take that next step with my music. It’s made me realise I want to focus on my music for the next little while and put my scientific career on the backburner.

“Speaking of which, I’m about to release a new EP called ‘Yours Academically, Dr WELI’!”

WELI will continue working at ANU as a Visiting Fellow until early 2025.

The Dance Your PhD contest challenges researchers from across the globe to explain their PhD in a simple, effective and engaging way – bridging the gap between the scientific community and the general public.

There’s more about WELI in George Booth’s February 27, 2024 article (‘It’s like winning Eurovision’: an ANU graduate’s journey from kangaroo whisperer to global dance sensation) for ANU Reporter.

It was nice to stumble across a ‘Dance your PhD contest’ story. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen often. I have two previous postings (from 2011and 2018) about the contest. Strangely, both are Canadian-centric,

Enjoy!

Windows and roofs ‘self-adapt’ to heating and cooling conditions

I have two items about thermochromic coatings. It’s a little confusing since the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), which publishes the journal featuring both papers has issued a news release that seemingly refers to both papers as a single piece of research.

Onto, the press/new releases from the research institutions to be followed by the AAAS news release.

Nanyang Technological University (NTU) does windows

A December 16, 2021 news item on Nanowerk announced work on energy-saving glass,

An international research team led by scientists from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) has developed a material that, when coated on a glass window panel, can effectively self-adapt to heat or cool rooms across different climate zones in the world, helping to cut energy usage.

Developed by NTU researchers and reported in the journal Science (“Scalable thermochromic smart windows with passive radiative cooling regulation”), the first-of-its-kind glass automatically responds to changing temperatures by switching between heating and cooling.

The self-adaptive glass is developed using layers of vanadium dioxide nanoparticles composite, Poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA), and low-emissivity coating to form a unique structure which could modulate heating and cooling simultaneously.

A December 17, 2021 NTU press release (PDF), also on EurekAlert but published December 16, 2021, which originated the news item, delves further into the research (Note: A link has been removed),

The newly developed glass, which has no electrical components, works by exploiting the spectrums of light responsible for heating and cooling.

During summer, the glass suppresses solar heating (near infrared light), while boosting radiative cooling (long-wave infrared) – a natural phenomenon where heat emits through surfaces towards the cold universe – to cool the room. In the winter, it does the opposite to warm up the room.

In lab tests using an infrared camera to visualise results, the glass allowed a controlled amount of heat to emit in various conditions (room temperature – above 70°C), proving its ability to react dynamically to changing weather conditions.

New glass regulates both heating and cooling

Windows are one of the key components in a building’s design, but they are also the least energy-efficient and most complicated part. In the United States alone, window-associated energy consumption (heating and cooling) in buildings accounts for approximately four per cent of their total primary energy usage each year according to an estimation based on data available from the Department of Energy in US.[1]

While scientists elsewhere have developed sustainable innovations to ease this energy demand – such as using low emissivity coatings to prevent heat transfer and electrochromic glass that regulate solar transmission from entering the room by becoming tinted – none of the solutions have been able to modulate both heating and cooling at the same time, until now.

The principal investigator of the study, Dr Long Yi of the NTU School of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) said, “Most energy-saving windows today tackle the part of solar heat gain caused by visible and near infrared sunlight. However, researchers often overlook the radiative cooling in the long wavelength infrared. While innovations focusing on radiative cooling have been used on walls and roofs, this function becomes undesirable during winter. Our team has demonstrated for the first time a glass that can respond favourably to both wavelengths, meaning that it can continuously self-tune to react to a changing temperature across all seasons.”

As a result of these features, the NTU research team believes their innovation offers a convenient way to conserve energy in buildings since it does not rely on any moving components, electrical mechanisms, or blocking views, to function.

To improve the performance of windows, the simultaneous modulation of both solar transmission and radiative cooling are crucial, said co-authors Professor Gang Tan from The University of Wyoming, USA, and Professor Ronggui Yang from the Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China, who led the building energy saving simulation.

“This innovation fills the missing gap between traditional smart windows and radiative cooling by paving a new research direction to minimise energy consumption,” said Prof Gang Tan.

The study is an example of groundbreaking research that supports the NTU 2025 strategic plan, which seeks to address humanity’s grand challenges on sustainability, and accelerate the translation of research discoveries into innovations that mitigate human impact on the environment.

Innovation useful for a wide range of climate types

As a proof of concept, the scientists tested the energy-saving performance of their invention using simulations of climate data covering all populated parts of the globe (seven climate zones).

The team found the glass they developed showed energy savings in both warm and cool seasons, with an overall energy saving performance of up to 9.5%, or ~330,000 kWh per year (estimated energy required to power 60 household in Singapore for a year) less than commercially available low emissivity glass in a simulated medium sized office building.

First author of the study Wang Shancheng, who is Research Fellow and former PhD student of Dr Long Yi, said, “The results prove the viability of applying our glass in all types of climates as it is able to help cut energy use regardless of hot and cold seasonal temperature fluctuations. This sets our invention apart from current energy-saving windows which tend to find limited use in regions with less seasonal variations.”

Moreover, the heating and cooling performance of their glass can be customised to suit the needs of the market and region for which it is intended.

“We can do so by simply adjusting the structure and composition of special nanocomposite coating layered onto the glass panel, allowing our innovation to be potentially used across a wide range of heat regulating applications, and not limited to windows,” Dr Long Yi said.

Providing an independent view, Professor Liangbing Hu, Herbert Rabin Distinguished Professor, Director of the Center for Materials Innovation at the University of Maryland, USA, said, “Long and co-workers made the original development of smart windows that can regulate the near-infrared sunlight and the long-wave infrared heat. The use of this smart window could be highly important for building energy-saving and decarbonization.”  

A Singapore patent has been filed for the innovation. As the next steps, the research team is aiming to achieve even higher energy-saving performance by working on the design of their nanocomposite coating.

The international research team also includes scientists from Nanjing Tech University, China. The study is supported by the Singapore-HUJ Alliance for Research and Enterprise (SHARE), under the Campus for Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise (CREATE) programme, Minster of Education Research Fund Tier 1, and the Sino-Singapore International Joint Research Institute.

Here’s a link to and a citation for the paper,

Scalable thermochromic smart windows with passive radiative cooling regulation by Shancheng Wang, Tengyao Jiang, Yun Meng, Ronggui Yang, Gang Tan, and Yi Long. Science • 16 Dec 2021 • Vol 374, Issue 6574 • pp. 1501-1504 • DOI: 10.1126/science.abg0291

This paper is behind a paywall.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab; LBNL) does roofs

A December 16, 2021 Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory news release (also on EurekAlert) announces an energy-saving coating for roofs (Note: Links have been removed),

Scientists have developed an all-season smart-roof coating that keeps homes warm during the winter and cool during the summer without consuming natural gas or electricity. Research findings reported in the journal Science point to a groundbreaking technology that outperforms commercial cool-roof systems in energy savings.

“Our all-season roof coating automatically switches from keeping you cool to warm, depending on outdoor air temperature. This is energy-free, emission-free air conditioning and heating, all in one device,” said Junqiao Wu, a faculty scientist in Berkeley Lab’s Materials Sciences Division and a UC Berkeley professor of materials science and engineering who led the study.

Today’s cool roof systems, such as reflective coatings, membranes, shingles, or tiles, have light-colored or darker “cool-colored” surfaces that cool homes by reflecting sunlight. These systems also emit some of the absorbed solar heat as thermal-infrared radiation; in this natural process known as radiative cooling, thermal-infrared light is radiated away from the surface.

The problem with many cool-roof systems currently on the market is that they continue to radiate heat in the winter, which drives up heating costs, Wu explained.

“Our new material – called a temperature-adaptive radiative coating or TARC – can enable energy savings by automatically turning off the radiative cooling in the winter, overcoming the problem of overcooling,” he said.

A roof for all seasons

Metals are typically good conductors of electricity and heat. In 2017, Wu and his research team discovered that electrons in vanadium dioxide behave like a metal to electricity but an insulator to heat – in other words, they conduct electricity well without conducting much heat. “This behavior contrasts with most other metals where electrons conduct heat and electricity proportionally,” Wu explained.

Vanadium dioxide below about 67 degrees Celsius (153 degrees Fahrenheit) is also transparent to (and hence not absorptive of) thermal-infrared light. But once vanadium dioxide reaches 67 degrees Celsius, it switches to a metal state, becoming absorptive of thermal-infrared light. This ability to switch from one phase to another – in this case, from an insulator to a metal – is characteristic of what’s known as a phase-change material.

To see how vanadium dioxide would perform in a roof system, Wu and his team engineered a 2-centimeter-by-2-centimeter TARC thin-film device.

TARC “looks like Scotch tape, and can be affixed to a solid surface like a rooftop,” Wu said.

In a key experiment, co-lead author Kechao Tang set up a rooftop experiment at Wu’s East Bay home last summer to demonstrate the technology’s viability in a real-world environment.

A wireless measurement device set up on Wu’s balcony continuously recorded responses to changes in direct sunlight and outdoor temperature from a TARC sample, a commercial dark roof sample, and a commercial white roof sample over multiple days.

How TARC outperforms in energy savings

The researchers then used data from the experiment to simulate how TARC would perform year-round in cities representing 15 different climate zones across the continental U.S.

Wu enlisted Ronnen Levinson, a co-author on the study who is a staff scientist and leader of the Heat Island Group in Berkeley Lab’s Energy Technologies Area, to help them refine their model of roof surface temperature. Levinson developed a method to estimate TARC energy savings from a set of more than 100,000 building energy simulations that the Heat Island Group previously performed to evaluate the benefits of cool roofs and cool walls across the United States.

Finnegan Reichertz, a 12th grade student at the East Bay Innovation Academy in Oakland who worked remotely as a summer intern for Wu last year, helped to simulate how TARC and the other roof materials would perform at specific times and on specific days throughout the year for each of the 15 cities or climate zones the researchers studied for the paper.

The researchers found that TARC outperforms existing roof coatings for energy saving in 12 of the 15 climate zones, particularly in regions with wide temperature variations between day and night, such as the San Francisco Bay Area, or between winter and summer, such as New York City.

“With TARC installed, the average household in the U.S. could save up to 10% electricity,” said Tang, who was a postdoctoral researcher in the Wu lab at the time of the study. He is now an assistant professor at Peking University in Beijing, China.

Standard cool roofs have high solar reflectance and high thermal emittance (the ability to release heat by emitting thermal-infrared radiation) even in cool weather.

According to the researchers’ measurements, TARC reflects around 75% of sunlight year-round, but its thermal emittance is high (about 90%) when the ambient temperature is warm (above 25 degrees Celsius or 77 degrees Fahrenheit), promoting heat loss to the sky. In cooler weather, TARC’s thermal emittance automatically switches to low, helping to retain heat from solar absorption and indoor heating, Levinson said.

Findings from infrared spectroscopy experiments using advanced tools at Berkeley Lab’s Molecular Foundry validated the simulations.

“Simple physics predicted TARC would work, but we were surprised it would work so well,” said Wu. “We originally thought the switch from warming to cooling wouldn’t be so dramatic. Our simulations, outdoor experiments, and lab experiments proved otherwise – it’s really exciting.”

The researchers plan to develop TARC prototypes on a larger scale to further test its performance as a practical roof coating. Wu said that TARC may also have potential as a thermally protective coating to prolong battery life in smartphones and laptops, and shield satellites and cars from extremely high or low temperatures. It could also be used to make temperature-regulating fabric for tents, greenhouse coverings, and even hats and jackets.

Co-lead authors on the study were Kaichen Dong and Jiachen Li.

The Molecular Foundry is a nanoscience user facility at Berkeley Lab.

This work was primarily supported by the DOE Office of Science and a Bakar Fellowship.

The technology is available for licensing and collaboration. If interested, please contact Berkeley Lab’s Intellectual Property Office, ipo@lbl.gov.

Here’s a link to and a citation for the paper,

Temperature-adaptive radiative coating for all-season household thermal regulation by Kechao Tang, Kaichen Dong, Jiachen Li, Madeleine P. Gordon, Finnegan G. Reichertz, Hyungjin Kim, Yoonsoo Rho, Qingjun Wang, Chang-Yu Lin, Costas P. Grigoropoulos, Ali Javey, Jeffrey J. Urban, Jie Yao, Ronnen Levinson, Junqiao Wu. Science • 16 Dec 2021 • Vol 374, Issue 6574 • pp. 1504-1509 • DOI: 10.1126/science.abf7136

This paper is behind a paywall.

An interesting news release from the AAAS

While it’s a little confusing as it cites only the ‘window’ research from NTU, the body of this news release offers some additional information about the usefulness of thermochromic materials and seemingly refers to both papers, from a December 16, 2021 AAAS news release,

Temperature-adaptive passive radiative cooling for roofs and windows

When it’s cold out, window glass and roof coatings that use passive radiative cooling to keep buildings cool can be designed to passively turn off radiative cooling to avoid heat loss, two new studies show.  Their proof-of-concept analyses demonstrate that passive radiative cooling can be expanded to warm and cold climate applications and regions, potentially providing all-season energy savings worldwide. Buildings consume roughly 40% of global energy, a large proportion of which is used to keep them cool in warmer climates. However, most temperature regulation systems commonly employed are not very energy efficient and require external power or resources. In contrast, passive radiative cooling technologies, which use outer space as a near-limitless natural heat sink, have been extensively examined as a means of energy-efficient cooling for buildings. This technology uses materials designed to selectively emit narrow-band radiation through the infrared atmospheric window to disperse heat energy into the coldness of space. However, while this approach has proven effective in cooling buildings to below ambient temperatures, it is only helpful during the warmer months or in regions that are perpetually hot. Furthermore, the inability to “turn off” passive cooling in cooler climes or in regions with large seasonal temperature variations means that continuous cooling during colder periods would exacerbate the energy costs of heating. In two different studies, by Shancheng Wang and colleagues and Kechao Tang and colleagues, researchers approach passive radiative cooling from an all-season perspective and present a new, scalable temperature-adaptive radiative technology that passively turns off radiative cooling at lower temperatures. Wang et al. and Tang et al. achieve this using a tungsten-doped vanadium dioxide and show how it can be applied to create both window glass and a flexible roof coating, respectively. Model simulations of the self-adapting materials suggest they could provide year-round energy savings across most climate zones, especially those with substantial seasonal temperature variations. 

I wish them all good luck with getting these materials to market.

‘Superconductivity: The Musical!’ wins the 2018 Dance Your Ph.D. competition

I can’t believe that October 24, 2011 was the last time the Dance Your Ph.D. competition was featured here. Time flies, eh? Here’s the 2018 contest winner’s submission, Superconductivity: The Musical!, (Note: This video is over 11 mins. long),

A February 17, 2019 CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) news item introduces the video’s writer, producer,s musician, and scientist,

Swing dancing. Songwriting. And theoretical condensed matter physics.

It’s a unique person who can master all three, but a University of Alberta PhD student has done all that and taken it one step further by making a rollicking music video about his academic pursuits — and winning an international competition for his efforts.

Pramodh Senarath Yapa is the winner of the 2018 Dance Your PhD contest, which challenges scientists around the world to explain their research through a jargon-free medium: dance.

The prize is $1,000 and “immortal geek fame.”

Yapa’s video features his friends twirling, swinging and touch-stepping their way through an explanation of his graduate research, called “Non-Local Electrodynamics of Superconducting Wires: Implications for Flux Noise and Inductance.”

Jennifer Ouelette’s February 17, 2019 posting for the ars Technica blog offers more detail (Note: A link has been removed),

Yapa’s research deals with how matter behaves when it’s cooled to very low temperatures, when quantum effects kick in—such as certain metals becoming superconductive, or capable of conducting electricity with zero resistance. That’s useful for any number of practical applications. D-Wave Systems [a company located in metro Vancouver {Canada}], for example, is building quantum computers using loops of superconducting wire. For his thesis, “I had to use the theory of superconductivity to figure out how to build a better quantum computer,” said Yapa.

Condensed matter theory (the precise description of Yapa’s field of research) is a notoriously tricky subfield to make palatable for a non-expert audience. “There isn’t one unifying theory or a single tool that we use,” he said. “Condensed matter theorists study a million different things using a million different techniques.”

His conceptual breakthrough came about when he realized electrons were a bit like “unsociable people” who find joy when they pair up with other electrons. “You can imagine electrons as a free gas, which means they don’t interact with each other,” he said. “The theory of superconductivity says they actually form pairs when cooled below a certain temperature. That was the ‘Eureka!’ moment, when I realized I could totally use swing dancing.”

John Bohannon’s Feb. 15, 2019 article for Science (magazine) offers an update on Yapa’s research interests (it seems that Yapa was dancing his Masters degree) and more information about the contest itself ,

..

“I remember hearing about Dance Your Ph.D. many years ago and being amazed at all the entries,” Yapa says. “This is definitely a longtime dream come true.” His research, meanwhile, has evolved from superconductivity—which he pursued at the University of Victoria in Canada, where he completed a master’s degree—to the physics of superfluids, the focus of his Ph.D. research at the University of Alberta.

This is the 11th year of Dance Your Ph.D. hosted by Science and AAAS. The contest challenges scientists around the world to explain their research through the most jargon-free medium available: interpretive dance.

“Most people would not normally think of interpretive dance as a tool for scientific communication,” says artist Alexa Meade, one of the judges of the contest. “However, the body can express conceptual thoughts through movement in ways that words and data tables cannot. The results are both artfully poetic and scientifically profound.”

Getting back to the February 17, 2019 CBC news item,

Yapa describes his video, filmed in Victoria where he earned his master’s degree, as a “three act, mini-musical.”

“I envisioned it as talking about the social lives of electrons,” he said. “The electrons starts out in a normal metal, at normal temperatures….We say these electrons are non-interacting. They don’t talk to each other. Electrons ignore each other and are very unsociable.”

The electrons — represented by dancers wearing saddle oxfords, poodle skirts, vests and suspenders — shuffle up the dance floor by themselves.

In the second act, the metal is cooled.

“The electrons become very unhappy about being alone. They want to find a partner, some companionship for the cold times,” he said

That’s when the electrons join up into something called Cooper pairs.

The dancers join together, moving to lyrics like, “If we peek/the Coopers are cheek-to-cheek.

In the final act, Yapa gets his dancers to demonstrate what happens when the Cooper pairs meet the impurities of the materials they’re moving in. All of a sudden, a group of black-leather-clad thugs move onto the dance floor.

“The Cooper pairs come dancing near these impurities and they’re like these crotchety old people yelling and shaking their fists at these young dancers,” Yapa explained.

Yapa’s entry to the annual contest swept past 49 other contestants to earn him the win. The competition is sponsored by Science magazine and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Congratulations to Pramodh Senarath Yapa.

Gold’s origin in the universe due to cosmic collision

An hypothesis for gold’s origins was first mentioned here in a May 26, 2016 posting,

The link between this research and my side project on gold nanoparticles is a bit tenuous but this work on the origins for gold and other precious metals being found in the stars is so fascinating and I’m determined to find a connection.

An artist's impression of two neutron stars colliding. (Credit: Dana Berry / Skyworks Digital, Inc.) Courtesy: Kavli Foundation

An artist’s impression of two neutron stars colliding. (Credit: Dana Berry / Skyworks Digital, Inc.) Courtesy: Kavli Foundation

From a May 19, 2016 news item on phys.org,

The origin of many of the most precious elements on the periodic table, such as gold, silver and platinum, has perplexed scientists for more than six decades. Now a recent study has an answer, evocatively conveyed in the faint starlight from a distant dwarf galaxy.

In a roundtable discussion, published today [May 19, 2016?], The Kavli Foundation spoke to two of the researchers behind the discovery about why the source of these heavy elements, collectively called “r-process” elements, has been so hard to crack.

From the Spring 2016 Kavli Foundation webpage hosting the  “Galactic ‘Gold Mine’ Explains the Origin of Nature’s Heaviest Elements” Roundtable ,

Astronomers studying a galaxy called Reticulum II have just discovered that its stars contain whopping amounts of these metals—collectively known as “r-process” elements (See “What is the R-Process?”). Of the 10 dwarf galaxies that have been similarly studied so far, only Reticulum II bears such strong chemical signatures. The finding suggests some unusual event took place billions of years ago that created ample amounts of heavy elements and then strew them throughout the galaxy’s reservoir of gas and dust. This r-process-enriched material then went on to form Reticulum II’s standout stars.

Based on the new study, from a team of researchers at the Kavli Institute at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the unusual event in Reticulum II was likely the collision of two, ultra-dense objects called neutron stars. Scientists have hypothesized for decades that these collisions could serve as a primary source for r-process elements, yet the idea had lacked solid observational evidence. Now armed with this information, scientists can further hope to retrace the histories of galaxies based on the contents of their stars, in effect conducting “stellar archeology.”

Researchers have confirmed the hypothesis according to an Oct. 16, 2017 news item on phys.org,

Gold’s origin in the Universe has finally been confirmed, after a gravitational wave source was seen and heard for the first time ever by an international collaboration of researchers, with astronomers at the University of Warwick playing a leading role.

Members of Warwick’s Astronomy and Astrophysics Group, Professor Andrew Levan, Dr Joe Lyman, Dr Sam Oates and Dr Danny Steeghs, led observations which captured the light of two colliding neutron stars, shortly after being detected through gravitational waves – perhaps the most eagerly anticipated phenomenon in modern astronomy.

Marina Koren’s Oct. 16, 2017 article for The Atlantic presents a richly evocative view (Note: Links have been removed),

Some 130 million years ago, in another galaxy, two neutron stars spiraled closer and closer together until they smashed into each other in spectacular fashion. The violent collision produced gravitational waves, cosmic ripples powerful enough to stretch and squeeze the fabric of the universe. There was a brief flash of light a million trillion times as bright as the sun, and then a hot cloud of radioactive debris. The afterglow hung for several days, shifting from bright blue to dull red as the ejected material cooled in the emptiness of space.

Astronomers detected the aftermath of the merger on Earth on August 17. For the first time, they could see the source of universe-warping forces Albert Einstein predicted a century ago. Unlike with black-hole collisions, they had visible proof, and it looked like a bright jewel in the night sky.

But the merger of two neutron stars is more than fireworks. It’s a factory.

Using infrared telescopes, astronomers studied the spectra—the chemical composition of cosmic objects—of the collision and found that the plume ejected by the merger contained a host of newly formed heavy chemical elements, including gold, silver, platinum, and others. Scientists estimate the amount of cosmic bling totals about 10,000 Earth-masses of heavy elements.

I’m not sure exactly what this image signifies but it did accompany Koren’s article so presumably it’s a representation of colliding neutron stars,

NSF / LIGO / Sonoma State University /A. Simonnet. Downloaded from: https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/10/the-making-of-cosmic-bling/543030/

An Oct. 16, 2017 University of Warwick press release (also on EurekAlert), which originated the news item on phys.org, provides more detail,

Huge amounts of gold, platinum, uranium and other heavy elements were created in the collision of these compact stellar remnants, and were pumped out into the universe – unlocking the mystery of how gold on wedding rings and jewellery is originally formed.

The collision produced as much gold as the mass of the Earth. [emphasis mine]

This discovery has also confirmed conclusively that short gamma-ray bursts are directly caused by the merging of two neutron stars.

The neutron stars were very dense – as heavy as our Sun yet only 10 kilometres across – and they collided with each other 130 million years ago, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, in a relatively old galaxy that was no longer forming many stars.

They drew towards each other over millions of light years, and revolved around each other increasingly quickly as they got closer – eventually spinning around each other five hundred times per second.

Their merging sent ripples through the fabric of space and time – and these ripples are the elusive gravitational waves spotted by the astronomers.

The gravitational waves were detected by the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (Adv-LIGO) on 17 August this year [2017], with a short duration gamma-ray burst detected by the Fermi satellite just two seconds later.

This led to a flurry of observations as night fell in Chile, with a first report of a new source from the Swope 1m telescope.

Longstanding collaborators Professor Levan and Professor Nial Tanvir (from the University of Leicester) used the facilities of the European Southern Observatory to pinpoint the source in infrared light.

Professor Levan’s team was the first one to get observations of this new source with the Hubble Space Telescope. It comes from a galaxy called NGC 4993, 130 million light years away.

Andrew Levan, Professor in the Astronomy & Astrophysics group at the University of Warwick, commented: “Once we saw the data, we realised we had caught a new kind of astrophysical object. This ushers in the era of multi-messenger astronomy, it is like being able to see and hear for the first time.”

Dr Joe Lyman, who was observing at the European Southern Observatory at the time was the first to alert the community that the source was unlike any seen before.

He commented: “The exquisite observations obtained in a few days showed we were observing a kilonova, an object whose light is powered by extreme nuclear reactions. This tells us that the heavy elements, like the gold or platinum in jewellery are the cinders, forged in the billion degree remnants of a merging neutron star.”

Dr Samantha Oates added: “This discovery has answered three questions that astronomers have been puzzling for decades: what happens when neutron stars merge? What causes the short duration gamma-ray bursts? Where are the heavy elements, like gold, made? In the space of about a week all three of these mysteries were solved.”

Dr Danny Steeghs said: “This is a new chapter in astrophysics. We hope that in the next few years we will detect many more events like this. Indeed, in Warwick we have just finished building a telescope designed to do just this job, and we expect it to pinpoint these sources in this new era of multi-messenger astronomy”.

Congratulations to all of the researchers involved in this work!

Many, many research teams were  involved. Here’s a sampling of their news releases which focus on their areas of research,

University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-10/uotw-wti101717.php

Weizmann Institute of Science (Israel)

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-10/wios-cns101717.php

Carnegie Institution for Science (US)

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-10/cifs-dns101217.php

Northwestern University (US)

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-10/nu-adc101617.php

National Radio Astronomy Observatory (US)

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-10/nrao-ru101317.php

Max-Planck-Gesellschaft (Germany)

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-10/m-gwf101817.php

Penn State (Pennsylvania State University; US)

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-10/ps-stl101617.php

University of California – Davis

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-10/uoc–cns101717.php

The American Association for the Advancement of Science’s (AAAS) magazine, Science, has published seven papers on this research. Here’s an Oct. 16, 2017 AAAS news release with an overview of the papers,

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-10/aaft-btf101617.php

I’m sure there are more news releases out there and that there will be many more papers published in many journals, so if this interests, I encourage you to keep looking.

Two final pieces I’d like to draw your attention to: one answers basic questions and another focuses on how artists knew what to draw when neutron stars collide.

Keith A Spencer’s Oct. 18, 2017 piece on salon.com answers a lot of basic questions for those of us who don’t have a background in astronomy. Here are a couple of examples,

What is a neutron star?

Okay, you know how atoms have protons, neutrons, and electrons in them? And you know how protons are positively charged, and electrons are negatively charged, and neutrons are neutral?

Yeah, I remember that from watching Bill Nye as a kid.

Totally. Anyway, have you ever wondered why the negatively-charged electrons and the positively-charged protons don’t just merge into each other and form a neutral neutron? I mean, they’re sitting there in the atom’s nucleus pretty close to each other. Like, if you had two magnets that close, they’d stick together immediately.

I guess now that you mention it, yeah, it is weird.

Well, it’s because there’s another force deep in the atom that’s preventing them from merging.

It’s really really strong.

The only way to overcome this force is to have a huge amount of matter in a really hot, dense space — basically shove them into each other until they give up and stick together and become a neutron. This happens in very large stars that have been around for a while — the core collapses, and in the aftermath, the electrons in the star are so close to the protons, and under so much pressure, that they suddenly merge. There’s a big explosion and the outer material of the star is sloughed off.

Okay, so you’re saying under a lot of pressure and in certain conditions, some stars collapse and become big balls of neutrons?

Pretty much, yeah.

So why do the neutrons just stick around in a huge ball? Aren’t they neutral? What’s keeping them together? 

Gravity, mostly. But also the strong nuclear force, that aforementioned weird strong force. This isn’t something you’d encounter on a macroscopic scale — the strong force only really works at the type of distances typified by particles in atomic nuclei. And it’s different, fundamentally, than the electromagnetic force, which is what makes magnets attract and repel and what makes your hair stick up when you rub a balloon on it.

So these neutrons in a big ball are bound by gravity, but also sticking together by virtue of the strong nuclear force. 

So basically, the new ball of neutrons is really small, at least, compared to how heavy it is. That’s because the neutrons are all clumped together as if this neutron star is one giant atomic nucleus — which it kinda is. It’s like a giant atom made only of neutrons. If our sun were a neutron star, it would be less than 20 miles wide. It would also not be something you would ever want to get near.

Got it. That means two giant balls of neutrons that weighed like, more than our sun and were only ten-ish miles wide, suddenly smashed into each other, and in the aftermath created a black hole, and we are just now detecting it on Earth?

Exactly. Pretty weird, no?

Spencer does a good job of gradually taking you through increasingly complex explanations.

For those with artistic interests, Neel V. Patel tries to answer a question about how artists knew what draw when neutron stars collided in his Oct. 18, 2017 piece for Slate.com,

All of these things make this discovery easy to marvel at and somewhat impossible to picture. Luckily, artists have taken up the task of imagining it for us, which you’ve likely seen if you’ve already stumbled on coverage of the discovery. Two bright, furious spheres of light and gas spiraling quickly into one another, resulting in a massive swell of lit-up matter along with light and gravitational waves rippling off speedily in all directions, towards parts unknown. These illustrations aren’t just alluring interpretations of a rare phenomenon; they are, to some extent, the translation of raw data and numbers into a tangible visual that gives scientists and nonscientists alike some way of grasping what just happened. But are these visualizations realistic? Is this what it actually looked like? No one has any idea. Which is what makes the scientific illustrators’ work all the more fascinating.

“My goal is to represent what the scientists found,” says Aurore Simmonet, a scientific illustrator based at Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park, California. Even though she said she doesn’t have a rigorous science background (she certainly didn’t know what a kilonova was before being tasked to illustrate one), she also doesn’t believe that type of experience is an absolute necessity. More critical, she says, is for the artist to have an interest in the subject matter and in learning new things, as well as a capacity to speak directly to scientists about their work.

Illustrators like Simmonet usually start off work on an illustration by asking the scientist what’s the biggest takeaway a viewer should grasp when looking at a visual. Unfortunately, this latest discovery yielded a multitude of papers emphasizing different conclusions and highlights. With so many scientific angles, there’s a stark challenge in trying to cram every important thing into a single drawing.

Clearly, however, the illustrations needed to center around the kilonova. Simmonet loves colors, so she began by discussing with the researchers what kind of color scheme would work best. The smash of two neutron stars lends itself well to deep, vibrant hues. Simmonet and Robin Dienel at the Carnegie Institution for Science elected to use a wide array of colors and drew bright cracking to show pressure forming at the merging. Others, like Luis Calcada at the European Southern Observatory, limited the color scheme in favor of emphasizing the bright moment of collision and the signal waves created by the kilonova.

Animators have even more freedom to show the event, since they have much more than a single frame to play with. The Conceptual Image Lab at NASA’s [US National Aeronautics and Space Administration] Goddard Space Flight Center created a short video about the new findings, and lead animator Brian Monroe says the video he and his colleagues designed shows off the evolution of the entire process: the rising action, climax, and resolution of the kilonova event.

The illustrators try to adhere to what the likely physics of the event entailed, soliciting feedback from the scientists to make sure they’re getting it right. The swirling of gas, the direction of ejected matter upon impact, the reflection of light, the proportions of the objects—all of these things are deliberately framed such that they make scientific sense. …

Do take a look at Patel’s piece, if for no other reason than to see all of the images he has embedded there. You may recognize Aurore Simmonet’s name from the credit line in the second image I have embedded here.

What’s happening to the scientists in Turkey?

In the wake of the July 15-16, 2016 attempted coup in Turkey, there have been widespread reprisals including one focused on the scientific community. An Aug. 3, 2016 news item on the Al Jazeera website describes a situation at Turkey’s national science research council,

Turkish police have raided the offices of the national science research council, private broadcaster NTV reported.

Many people were detained in the raid on the offices of the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (Tubitak) in the northwestern province of Kocaeli on Wednesday [Aug. 3, 2016], NTV said.

Tubitak funds science research projects in universities and the private sector and employs more than 1,500 researchers, according to its website.

An Aug. 3, 2016 CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) news item adds some detail,

… a Tubitak official told Reuters the raid had happened on Sunday [July 31, 2016], adding he did not have any details about the number of detentions. He declined to comment further.

The raid on TÜBİTAK takes place within the context of widespread retaliation. A July 20, 2016 article by John Bohannon for Science magazine describes the situation,

In the wake of a failed coup attempt last weekend, the Turkish government has brought higher education to a grinding halt. It appears to be part of a massive political purge in which the government has arrested and fired thousands of people. And educators across the country are bracing for more bad news after the government this week suspended teachers and academic deans. “They are restructuring academia,” says Caghan Kizil, a Turkish molecular biologist based at the Dresden University of Technology in Germany who has been in close communication with colleagues in Turkey. “People are very scared and not hopeful.”

In the span of a few days, more than 45,000 civil servants in the military and judiciary have been fired or suspended. Although there are ambiguous and conflicting media reports, it appears that some 15,000 staff members of the ministry of education also were fired, 21,000 teachers lost their professional licenses, and more than 1500 university deans were all but ordered to resign.

The latest clampdown took place yesterday [July 19, 2016] when the government ordered universities to call back Turkish academics from abroad. “They want to take the universities under their full control,” says Sinem Arslan, a Turk doing a political science Ph.D. at the University of Essex in the United Kingdom. “Academic freedoms will no longer exist. I don’t think that anybody will be able to work on research areas that are considered taboo by the government or write anything that criticizes the government.”

With its latest raid, the Turkish government has raised concerns about Turkish scientists and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has produced a letter in response. From an Aug. 3, 2016 AAAS news release,

As the Turkish government restores order after the failed coup, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and seven other leading science and engineering societies today expressed concern for the human rights of the Turkish scientific community, which has reportedly been subject to restrictions including travel bans and the ordered return of Turkish academics working abroad.

“The future prosperity and security of any nation depends on its ability to be a knowledge-based, innovative society and to a considerable extent on the work of its scientists, engineers, academics, and researchers,” the science group wrote, in a letter to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey.

They emphasized that the health of the scientific enterprise requires that scientists have freedom to think independently and innovatively and are able to engage with scientists around the world. Noting that the Turkish government had previously stated that “democracy, freedom, and the rule of law are nonnegotiable in Turkey,” the science organizations urged President Erdoğan to “follow through on this pledge to fully respect human rights, the rule of law, and due process” to protect both citizens and the scientific community.

The letter was signed by AAAS CEO Rush Holt, executive publisher of the Science family of journals, as well as the leaders of the American Anthropological Association, the American Association of Geographers, the American Physical Society, the American Sociological Association, the American Statistical Association, Sigma Xi, and the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues.

“Reports of forced resignations, suspensions, and travel bans affecting thousands of Turkish scientists and academics are deeply troubling, and deeply problematic for any civil society,” said Rush Holt, CEO of AAAS and executive publisher of the Science family of journals. “We urge President Erdoğan to follow through on his pledge to protect basic human rights, the rule of law, and academic freedoms for citizens and scholars alike.”

This is not the first time in this decade that the Turkish government has ordered repressive measures against scientists. Here’s more from my Sept. 9, 2011 posting, a time when Erdogan was Prime Minister,

Scientists in Turkey are threatening to walk out on the Turkish Academy of Sciences due to some recent government initiatives affecting the academy’s governance. From the Sept.9, 2011 news item on physorg.com,

Members of TÜBA [founded in 1993], the Turkish Academy of Sciences, are threatening to resign en masse in order to fight a decree issued by the government of Turkey that would strip the Academy of its autonomy.

The decree, issued on 27th August, which was just after the start of a nine-day holiday in Turkey, says that one-third of the members of the academy will now be appointed by the government and a further one-third by the Council of Higher Education, which is also a government body. [emphasis mine] Only the remaining one-third will be elected by current members. The president and vice-president of the academy will in future be appointed by the government rather than by sitting members. In addition, honorary members will lose their voting rights and the age at which members are deemed honorary will be reduced from 70 to 67.

A Sept. 7, 2011 editorial in Nature provides a more comprehensive description of what was then occurring,

On the eve of a week-long holiday to celebrate the end of the fasting period of Ramadan, the Turkish government executed an extraordinary scientific coup. On 27 August, it issued a decree with immediate effect, giving itself tighter control of Turkey’s two main scientific organizations: the funding agency TÜBİTAK and the Turkish Academy of Sciences (TÜBA), the governance of which is now so altered that it can no longer be considered an academy at all.

The move has startled and appalled Turkish scientists. It should also sound an alarm bell throughout Turkish society. The government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is also taking greater control of other sectors through a series of decrees requiring no parliamentary debate. …

This time scientists are being targeted along with many other groups and, if rumours are even partially correct, government actions are more severe than they were in 2011.