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Fire breaks out at Glacier Creek Stables in Rocky Mountain National Park    

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Fire breaks out at Glacier Creek Stables in Rocky Mountain National Park    

A structure fire broke out Saturday afternoon at the Glacier Creek Stables in Rocky Mountain National Park.

The 3 p.m. fire was limited to one structure, RMNP said on Twitter at 5:06 p.m.

Bear Lake Road was closed for inbound traffic because of the fire, park officials said. There were no reports of injuries. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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Big picture, big data: Switzerland unveils virtual reality software of universe

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Big picture, big data: Switzerland unveils virtual reality software of universe

LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND — The final frontier has rarely seemed closer than this — at least virtually.

Researchers at one of Switzerland’s top universities released open-source beta software this month that allows for virtual visits through the cosmos including up to the International Space Station, past the Moon, Saturn or exoplanets, over galaxies and well beyond.

The program — called Virtual Reality Universe Project, or VIRUP — pulls together what the researchers call the largest data set of the universe to create three-dimensional, panoramic visualizations of space.

Software engineers, astrophysicists and experimental museology experts at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, or EPFL, have come together to concoct the virtual map that can be viewed through individual VR gear, immersion systems like panoramic cinema with 3-D glasses, planetarium-like dome screens, or just on a PC for two-dimensional viewing.

“The novelty of this project was putting all the data set available into one framework, when you can see the universe at different scales — nearby us, around the Earth, around the solar system, at the Milky Way level, to see through the universe and time up to the beginning — what we call the Big Bang,” said Jean-Paul Kneib, director of EPFL’s astrophysics lab.

Think a sort of Google Earth — but for the universe. Computer algorithms churn up terabytes of data and produce images that can appear as close as three feet, or almost infinitely far away — as if you sit back and look at the entire observable universe.

VIRUP is accessible to everyone for free — though it does require at least a computer and is best visualized with VR equipment or 3-D capabilities. It aims to draw in a broad array of visitors, both scientists looking to visualize the data they continue to collect and a broad public seeking to explore the heavens virtually.

Still a work in progress, for now, the beta version can’t be run on a Mac computer. Downloading the software and content might seem onerous for the least-skilled computer users, and space — on a computer — will count. The broader-public version of the content is a reduced-size version that can be quantified in gigabytes, a sort of best-of highlights. Astronomy buffs with more PC memory might choose to download more.

The project assembles information from eight databases that count at least 4,500 known exoplanets, tens of millions of galaxies, hundreds of millions of space objects in all, and more than 1.5 billion light sources from the Milky Way alone. But when it comes to potential data, the sky is literally the limit: Future databases could include asteroids in our solar system or objects like nebulae and pulsars farther into the galaxy.

To be sure, VR games and representations already exist: Cosmos-gazing apps on tablets allow for mapping of the night sky, with zoom-in close-ups of heavenly bodies; software like SpaceEngine from Russia offers universe visuals; NASA has done some smaller VR scopes of space.

But the EPFL team says VIRUP goes much farther and wider: Data pulled from sources like the Sloan Digital Sky Survey in the United States, and European Space Agency’s Gaia mission to map the Milky Way and its Planck mission to observe the first light of the universe, all brought together in a one-stop-shop for the most extensive data sets yet around.

And there’s more to come: when the 14-country telescope project known as the Square Kilometer Array starts pulling down information, the data could be counted in the petabytes — that’s 1,000 terabytes or 1 million gigabytes.

Strap on the VR goggles, and it’s a trippy feeling seeing the Moon — seemingly the size of a giant beach ball and floating close enough to hold — as the horizon rotates from the sunny side to the dark side of the lunar surface.

Then speed out to beyond the solar system and swing by Saturn, then up above the Milky Way, swirling and flashing and heaving — with exoplanets highlighted in red. And much farther out still, imagine floating through small dots of light that represent galaxies as if the viewer is an unconscionably large giant floating in space.

“That is a very efficient way of visiting all the different scales that compose our universe, and that is completely unique,” said Yves Revaz, an EPFL astrophysicist. “A very important part of this project is that it’s a first step toward treating much larger data sets which are coming.”

Entire galaxies seem to be strung together by strands or filaments of light, almost like representation of neural connections, that link up clusters of light like galaxies. For one of the biggest pictures of all, there’s a colorful visualization of the Cosmic Microwave Background — the radiation left behind from the Big Bang.

“We actually started this project because I was working on a three-dimensional mapping project of the universe and was always a little frustrated with the 2-D visualization on my screen, which wasn’t very meaningful,” said Kneib, in a nondescript lab building that houses a panoramic screen, a half-dome cinema with bean-bag seating, and a hard-floor space for virtual-reality excursions.

“It’s true that by showing the universe in 3-D, by showing these filaments, by showing these clusters of galaxies which are large concentrations of matter, you really realize what the universe is,” he added.

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COVID boosters: Who’s eligible to receive additional Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines

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Boosters, employer mandates drive increase in U.S. COVID vaccines

Coloradans who received COVID-19 vaccines produced by Moderna or Johnson & Johnson have been approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to get booster shots under certain conditions, greatly expanding the pool of who can get additional doses.

In August, the CDC approved boosters for people who have suppressed immune systems. A month later came approval for certain people who’d received the Pfizer vaccine.

In addition to approval for Moderna and Johnson & Johnson boosters, the CDC authorized a “mix and match” approach to the shots, noting people may get a different type of vaccine for their booster than their original shot.

The authorization kicks in immediately for anyone eligible to receive boosters.

“For many Coloradans, a booster dose is an important part of maintaining the greatest protection against COVID-19,” said Dr. Eric France, the state’s chief medical officer, in a news release. “People who are eligible should get their booster dose as soon as possible, especially as we approach the holidays and look forward to safely celebrating with our families and friends.”

The state health department said Colorado has “ample inventory” to provide booster shots to those who are eligible while still administering first and second doses to people completing their initial vaccine series.

Eligible Coloradans can receive free COVID-19 vaccines or boosters at any of the more than 1,700 vaccine providers across the state or at one of the state’s mobile vaccination clinics, officials said. No insurance, identification, proof of residency, or proof of medical history is required.

Here’s who is eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccination booster shots:

Immunocompromised people

Late this summer, the CDC approved booster shots for people who had been inoculated with Pfizer or Moderna vaccines and have suppressed immune systems. But the agency declined to authorize the additional doses for the full population.

People qualify for additional doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines because they’re immunocompromised if they:

  • Had an organ transplant at any time, or a recent stem cell transplant
  • Are being treated for cancer
  • Were born with a compromised immune system
  • Have uncontrolled HIV
  • Are being treated with high doses of immune-suppressing drugs
  • Have another condition that can severely affect the immune system, like chronic kidney disease

The CDC’s authorization of additional doses for people who are immunocompromised did not include Johnson & Johnson, but boosters of that vaccine are now allowed for anyone above the age of 18 regardless of health condition.

Pfizer and Moderna vaccine recipients

This week’s CDC approval of Moderna vaccines comes with the same qualifications as the authorization of third doses of Pfizer.

People who are fully vaccinated with Pfizer or Moderna vaccines can get a third shot if they are 65 or older, or if they’re 18 or older and have qualifying health conditions, live in long-term care settings, or work or live in places that put them at higher risk of contracting the virus.

People who meet those conditions are eligible for a booster six months after completing their original vaccination series.

The health conditions that qualify for the Pfizer or Moderna boosters include:

  • Cancer
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Chronic lung disease, including moderate or severe asthma
  • Dementia
  • Diabetes
  • Down syndrome
  • Heart conditions
  • HIV
  • Weakened immune system
  • Liver disease
  • Overweight or obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Sickle cell disease or thalassemia
  • Current or former smoking
  • Organ or stem cell transplants
  • Stroke or cerebrovascular disease
  • Substance use disorder (addiction)

Johnson & Johnson vaccine recipients

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A triangular block in RiNo slated to become 49-unit, income-restricted condo complex

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A triangular block in RiNo slated to become 49-unit, income-restricted condo complex

A narrow, triangular block in RiNo is slated to be the site of a new 49-unit, income-restricted condominium complex.

The Chestnut Place Condos are planned to have 14 one-bedroom units, 27 two-bedroom units and eight three-bedroom units, as well as one commercial space.

All units will be sold to buyers making at or below 80 percent of the area median income, which is about $55,000 for a single-person household and $64,000 for a two-person household.

According to city documents, Elevation Community Land Trust has promised to buy the land and building when the project is completed. The trust will then sell the units. The 80 percent area median income requirement will last for 99 years.

The land includes two parcels that total 7,010 square feet, or 0.16 acres, that makes up a block formed by Chestnut Place, Arkins Court and 36th Avenue. There is currently one house on the site, which is kitty-corner from Ironton Distillery and across Chestnut Place from Number 38 beer hall.

Lauren DeBell, the chief strategy officer with Elevation Community Land Trust, told BusinessDen that planned amenities at the Chestnut Place Condos include a rooftop deck, bike shop and bike storage, as well as close access to the riverfront promenade Denver is constructing.

DeBell said the immediate area has an “extremely low” 18 percent homeownership rate.

“It is our hope that residents who have been displaced from the Five Points neighborhood will be able to return as homeowners,” she said, “and that current residents who desire to stay long-term but never dreamed they could own a home will have a new opportunity to purchase a beautiful condo where they can gain stability, wealth and a place to call home.”

Provided by the city of Denver

A rendering shows the north and south view of the proposed Chestnut Place Condos.

As BusinessDen previously reported, the land was sold in November to Chestnut Lofts LLC, which has ties to the Urban Land Conservancy, and 3501 Chestnut Land LLC, which has ties to Shanahan Development, the contractor for the project.

The entities paid $1.13 million across two deals for 3501 and 3563 Chestnut Place, according to public records, with the Urban Land Conservancy retaining about a 70 percent interest and the Shanahan Development entity retaining about 30 percent.

“The biggest challenge this development has faced is the site itself,” according to a briefing on the project from the city. “The very narrow, triangular site, currently comprised of two parcels, required an increasingly challenging building form.”

Developers sought a zoning variance to raise the building height for more units, but the Board of Adjustment for Zoning offered only a “partial variance,” the briefing stated. The land is currently zoned for a five-story building, but it’s within a zoning overlay district that lets developers build higher if certain conditions are met.

“Additionally, the existing structure on the site requires asbestos and lead-based paint mitigation during demolition, increasing overall site preparation expenses,” the briefing stated.

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