RESEARCH REPORT: Project engineers preservation of cultural treasures

Lynne Friedmann is a science writer based in Solana Beach. Her regular column features local science news. Any comments, contact

By Lynne Friedmann

Pollution, natural disasters, overexposure, mismanagement and the unintended consequences of existing preservation efforts have all taken a toll on structures, sculptures, paintings, archaeological and other artifacts that constitute the world’s cultural heritage. It’s a global problem that UCSD engineering graduate students are tackling through an initiative known as Training, Research and Education in Engineering for Cultural Heritage Diagnostics (TEECH).

Using advanced imaging, information and visualization technologies, students will develop methodologies and techniques that create “digital clinical charts” — a baseline of an artifact’s “health” — that allow the monitoring of artifacts over time and informed decision making about restoration, repair, and other solutions.

The project is being carried out through UCSD’s Center of Interdisciplinary Science for Art, Architecture and Archaeology (CISA3), a partnership of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), Jacobs School of Engineering and UCSD’s Division of Arts & Humanities. Funding for TEECH comes from the National Science Foundation and could reach $3.2 million over five years. News release at

Treating epileptic seizures
A chemical compound that boosts the action of a molecule normally produced in the brain may provide the starting point for a new line of therapies for the treatment of epileptic seizures, according to scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI).

About 50 million people worldwide are affected by epilepsy, a disease characterized by recurrent, unprovoked seizures. Currently there are more than a dozen medicines on the market to treat the condition, however, as many as 30 percent of people with epilepsy do not respond to available treatments.

The new approach, taken by TSRI, is to target a molecule called galanin, a peptide produced in the brain that regulates a variety of functions, such as pain, memory, addition, mood and appetite. Research suggests that when seizures occur the brain steps up production of galanin, possibly as a way to protect itself against the seizures.

The findings are described in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

News release at

Data-sorting record set
UCSD computer scientists recently broke “the terabyte barrier” — and a world record — when they sorted more than one terabyte of data (1,000 gigabytes or 1 million megabytes) in just 60 seconds. The accomplishment came during the 2010 Sort Benchmark competition, known as the “World Cup” of data sorting.

Computer scientists from the UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering also tied a world record for fastest data sorting rate. They sorted one trillion data records in 172 minutes — and did so using just a quarter of the computing resources of the other record holder.

Sort Benchmark is a website run by the volunteer computer scientists from industry and academia who manage the competitions. The competitions provide benchmarks for data sorting and serve as an interactive forum for researchers working to improve data sorting techniques. More information at

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  5. Neurosciences Institute researcher gets grant to look at decision-making

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Posted by Halie Johnson on Aug 9, 2010. Filed under Columns, Health & Science, News, Research Report. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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