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Hawaii Star Wire

UH leads $20 million study on water quality, policy

The National Science Foundation has awarded $20 million to the University of Hawaii to do a five-year, groundbreaking study of water sustainability issues through a collaboration called ‘Ike Wai. UH officials say the project will provide critical data and data models to water resource stakeholders. Increasing population, changing land use practices and issues relating to climate change are contributing to growing concerns over water quality and quantity in Hawaii. “Water really is life,” said UH President David Lassner. [...]

CoralBeat Wins First NASA App Challenge in Hawaii

The threat that climate change and human activity poses to the world’s coral reefs was the focus of the winning entry in Hawaii’s first NASA Space Apps Challenge event. CoralBeat won “Best Overall App” at the Honolulu competition, which was held at the Manoa Innovation Center from April 22-24. The diverse team included coders, scientists and science enthusiasts, and subject matter experts from NOAA and the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology. CoralBeat is an app focused on coral bleaching in Hawaii, with an interactive map that displays years of NASA satellite data depicting sea surface temperatures observed over the entire globe. An animation in the app shows how the ocean has warmed during the most recent El Niño event. [...]

Treat jellyfish stings with heat, not cold

When confronted with a jellyfish sting, people often reach for an ice pack for relief. But a new study out of the University of Hawaii has found that the opposite approach is more effective. A recent study by researchers at UH Mānoa, published this month in the journal Toxins, may finally put to rest the ongoing debate about whether to use cold or heat to treat jellyfish stings. Their systematic and critical review provides overwhelming evidence that clinical outcomes from all kinds of jellyfish stings are improved following treatment with hot packs or hot-water immersion. Jellyfish stings are a growing public health concern worldwide and are responsible for more deaths than shark attacks each year. [...]

April is Tsunami Awareness Month in Hawaii

Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA) is encouraging the public to take tsunami preparedness into their own hands this April during Tsunami Awareness Month. Seventy years ago, on April 1, 1946, one of the deadliest tsunamis to ever hit Hawaii caused widespread devastation on all islands. Generated by an earthquake in the Aleutian Islands, the massive tsunami took 159 lives and caused more than $26 million in damage. April was chosen as the month to honor and remember the lives lost in all tsunamis to hit the state. Due to Hawaii’s location in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, we are extremely vulnerable to the threat of tsunamis. Distantly generated tsunamis can reach Hawaii within several hours and are triggered by earthquakes that take place along the Ring of Fire, which circles the Pacific Rim. Locally generated tsunamis are caused by earthquakes or volcanic activity that occur in or near the Hawaiian Islands, and can make landfall in a matter of minutes. [...]

Contemporary island art featured in ‘Contact 2016’

For
 the
 third
 year,
 Pu‘uhonua
 Society’s
 Maoli
 Arts
 Alliance
 is
 presenting 
its 
juried 
contemporary 
art 
exhibition “Contact 2016.” The 
exhibition 
features 
new 
and
 recent
 artworks
 by
 Hawaii’s
 contemporary
 artists,
 and
 is
 the
 only
 show
 of
 its
 kind
 in
 the
 islands. Selected
 artworks
 explore
 themes
 of
 “Contact,” cultural
 exchange
 and
 migratory
 movements, many of
 them 
reflecting 
on 
personal 
narratives 
of 
heritage 
and 
connection.

 This
 year’s
 show
 is
 titled
 “Foreign
 and
 Familiar.” Jurors
 are
 expected
 to
 select
 work
 by
 over
 80
 submissions
 in
 a
 wide
 variety
 of
 media
 from
 over
 50
 artists
 for
 the
 exhibition.
 On
 view
 at
 the
 Honolulu
 Museum
 of
 Art
 School
 from
 March
 24
 to April
 17,
 2016,
 “Contact 2016” also
 includes
 a
 series
 of
 free
 programs,
 including
 lectures,
 panel
 discussions,
 and
 films,
 designed
 to
 complement
 the
 show. [...]

Report: Honolulu has 10th worst traffic in U.S.

A new report out of transportation analytics firm INRIX ranks Honolulu 10th on its list of the 10 most congested cities in the country, with each commuter wasting 49 hours per year stuck in traffic. The top 10 list also includes Los Angeles, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Houston, New York and Seattle, and commuters spent a total of 8 billion hours stuck in traffic in 2015 across all ten cities combined. INRIX also notes that the U.S. accounts for 50 percent of the top 10 metros with the worst traffic congestion across both the U.S. and Europe. Only London has worse traffic than top-ranked U.S. cities. INRIX released its 2015 Traffic Scorecard today, a benchmark for governments and agencies in the U.S. and Europe to measure progress in improving urban mobility. [...]

Hawaiian language poetry, writing competition launched

A new Hawaiian poetry and writing competition is now accepting entries. The first of its kind, “He Hookuku Mele a Moolelo” (Poetry and Short Story Competition), is open to people of all ages from around the world, and is aimed at increasing skill and proficiency in the Hawaiian language. The only requirements to compete are an Internet connection to submit contest entries and the ability to compose or write in olelo Hawaii, the Hawaiian language. “There are many places to learn Hawaiian now, but this kind of effort links up all the learners, and even the teachers, in a fun, “give it your very best” kind of competition. This contest will generate new poetry and short stories that the whole Hawaiian language community can enjoy.” says Dr. Puakea Nogelmeier, a professor of Hawaiian language at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, a multi-award-winning composer, and the executive director of Awaiaulu, Inc., the organization sponsoring the competition. [...]

Kids win latest Startup Weekend Honolulu

History was made on Sunday when 12-year-old Buddy Leong, 10-year-old Koko Leong and 6-year-old Kyndra Leong beat out a field of over fifty adults to win first place at Startup Weekend Honolulu. The achievement may represent the youngest team to win a Startup Weekend worldwide. Founded in 2009, Startup Weekend has been held over 1,200 times in over 560 cities with an estimated 105,000 participants. The Global Startup Battle is now being held in over 250 cities worldwide. Over 25 individuals pitched an idea on Friday night and the 10 ideas with the most votes went on to recruit a team. The teams had until Sunday afternoon to create a business model, prototype, get customer validation and deliver a five-minute final presentation. They are judged by industry experts and a winner is named. [...]

Tech-Savvy Educator Named Windward Teacher of the Year

Stephanie Mew of Kapunahala Elementary is the 2016 Windward District Teacher of the Year. The third-grade instructor has taught at the Kaneohe school for 13 years and possesses 26 years of professional teaching experience. Known for her high energy, Mew incorporates topics that interest her into her classroom to inspire students. Topics have included technology, engineering, math, robotics, science and gardening. Fostering creativity, Mew also teaches that failure is sometimes good. [...]

KeckWatch App Fuels Fans of Astronomy

Today, W. M. Keck Observatory launched a new smartphone app to stoke the curiosity and wonder of astronomy. KeckWatch offers mankind’s collected knowledge of the cosmos on the screen of your iOS device. In addition to being able to easily identify stars and planets with both conventional and Hawaiian names, it offers a unique glimpse through the gigantic eyes of the Keck I and Keck II telescopes, the two largest and most scientifically productive telescope on Earth. The app was built by First Light Design, the makers of category-defining app Distant Suns, and can be can be downloaded from the iTunes App Store today. “Our work studying the cosmos these past two decades has led to remarkable understandings of our Universe and has placed Hawaii as the premiere location on Earth for astronomical research,” said Hilton Lewis, director of Keck Observatory. [...]

Solar Impulse Extends Hawaii Stay through April 2016

The solar powered airplane of Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg will stay in Hawaii until early spring 2016, despite early efforts to repair the batteries which overheated in the record breaking oceanic flight from Nagoya to Hawaii. Following the longest and most difficult leg of the round-the-world journey — which lasted five days and five nights (117 hours and 52 minutes) — Solar Impulse will undergo maintenance repairs on the batteries due to damages brought about by overheating. “After checking what happened, we came to the conclusion that we preferred to change these batteries before going further in the flight around the world,” said Borschberg in a special interview with Bytemarks Cafe on Hawaii Public Radio that will air later today. “And it’s not so simple, it’s not like changing the batteries of a car, it’s a bit more complex, so it will take more time.” [...]

Lawmakers commit to 100 percent renewable energy by 2045

Hawaii lawmakers voted 74-2 today to pass the nation’s first 100% renewable energy requirement. The measure, House Bill 623, makes Hawaii a global leader in renewable energy policy by requiring that 100% of the islands’ electricity must be generated from renewable energy resources—such as wind, solar, and geothermal—no later than 2045. “Hawaii lawmakers made history today—not only for the state, but for the planet,” said Jeff Mikulina, Executive Director of the Blue Planet Foundation. The measure, if enacted by Governor David Ige, would make Hawaii the first state in the nation with such a 100% renewable energy standard. Blue Planet Foundation, whose mission is to clear the path for 100% renewable energy, praised the move. “Passage of this measure is a historic step towards a fossil fuel free Hawaii,” said Mikulina. “This visionary policy is a promise to future generations that their lives will be powered not by climate-changing fossil fuel, but by clean, local, and sustainable sources of energy.” “We applaud the leadership of both the House and the Senate, and of the energy committee chairs, Rep. Chris Lee and Sen. Mike Gabbard, for helping make this historic policy a reality,” he added. [...]

Astronomers Discover Three Earth-Like Planets

Extrasolar planets are being discovered by the hundreds, but are any of these newfound worlds really like Earth? A planetary system recently discovered by the Kepler spacecraft will help resolve this question. The system of three planets, each just larger than Earth, orbits a nearby star called EPIC 201367065. The three planets are 1.5-2 times the size of Earth, and the outermost planet orbits on the edge of the so-called “habitable zone,” where the temperature may be just right for liquid water, believed necessary to support life, on the planet’s surface. “We’ve learned in the past year that planets the size and temperature of Earth are common in our Milky Way galaxy,” explains University of Hawaii astronomer Andrew Howard. “We also discovered some Earth-size planets that appear to be made of the same materials as our Earth, mostly rock and iron.” [...]

Feds Asked to Boost Hawaii Macadamia Nut Exports

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard today sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agriculture Services (FAS) calling on the agency to provide greater visibility to Hawaii macadamia nuts on its export list to foreign markets. Hawaii farmers in the macadamia nut industry generated more than $36 million in revenue in 2013. Growth in this industry would expand business and employment opportunities in rural Hawaii communities. Industry leaders like Troy Keolanui, John Cross, and Richard Schnitzler applauded Congresswoman Gabbard’s efforts to encourage FAS to prioritize macadamia nut exports. “Promoting Hawaiian Macadamia nuts to foreign markets is a big boost to our industry, and we are grateful to Congresswoman Gabbard for again taking the lead to represent the farmers of Hawaii,” said Troy Keolanui, co-owner of the Hilo-based OK Farms. [...]

Honolulu Neighborhood Board applications open

Beginning today, O‘ahu residents can file to run for a seat on their Neighborhood Board. “Serving on your Neighborhood Board presents the opportunity to create real change in your community, build a legacy, and network with other leaders,” said Mayor Kirk Caldwell. “No one knows a neighborhood better than the people who live in it. I was honored to serve on both the Manoa and Kaimuki Neighborhood Boards.” Candidacy is open to O‘ahu residents who will be at least 18 years of age by February 20, 2015. Mailed forms must be postmarked by February 20 and received by February 27, 2015. This is also the deadline to for residents to register to vote in the Neighborhood Board elections. [...]

Thirty Meter Telescope groundbreaking set

A groundbreaking and blessing ceremony for the next-generation Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014, launching a multi-national $1.4 billion project near the summit of Mauna Kea, Hawaii. Although access to the TMT construction site will be limited due to the area’s sensitive environment and harsh physical conditions, the ceremony will be fully accessible via a live-stream webcast. George Takei, noted actor, director and author, known for his role in the television series Star Trek, will present pre-recorded science segments during the live webcast. Dr. Robert Hurt, researcher, science podcaster and lecturer, will host the webcast. [...]

Latest crew set for 8-month simulated Mars mission

The six astronaut-like crew members of the next Hawai‘i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) mission starting October 15 will be isolated in their dome habitat for eight months. This mission is twice as long as any previously completed at the Hawaiʻi site, and second only to Russia’s Mars500 experiment in total duration. Also, for the first time, HI-SEAS will have a female commander. In NASA history, only two women have ever commanded the spaceship: astronauts Eileen Collins in July 1999, and Pamela Melroy in November 2007. For true space flight, the commander role requires previous astronaut experience as well as at least 1,000 hours experience piloting a jet aircraft. For HI-SEAS, Commander Martha Lenio was selected based on feedback from fellow crew members and from instructors of the National Outdoor Leadership Skills course that both NASA and HI-SEAS require of their teams in training. [...]

Energy Excelerator announces latest cohort

The Energy Excelerator selected 17 startups from a pool of high quality applicants to transform Hawaii’s energy system. Fifty percent of the new portfolio startups has principal team members with previous exits. “We are excited to work with a new cohort of startups with a ton of experience in running successful companies,” says Dawn Lippert, Director of the Energy Excelerator. “These are really smart people that have vetted technologies and are eager to partner with our local businesses to help solve some of our most difficult energy challenges.” The Energy Excelerator’s goal is to strategically address Hawaii’s energy challenges across many different sectors. The 2015 cohort consists of startups with innovative solutions for the State’s energy, transportation, water, and agriculture industries. [...]

Microbes touted as key to future agriculture

A local technology commercialization company is working with two mainland biotechnology firms to encourage the adoption of microbial treatments to boost agricultural productivity while reducing water consumption as well as cutting the use of fertilizers and pesticides. “Everything we’ve been taught about farming is incorrect,” declares Vincent Kimura, president of Inovi Green. “Historical and current agricultural processes of crop fertilization and soil tilling are falling out of favor, damaging ecosystems and producing diminishing returns. Environmentally-friendly microbial treatments have evolved to do this work far more effectively.” [...]

Hawaii scientist maps, names ‘Laniakea’ galaxy cluster

An international team of astronomers has defined the contours of the immense supercluster of galaxies containing our own Milky Way. They have named the supercluster “Laniakea,” meaning “immense heaven” in Hawaiian. The team was led by University of Hawaii at Manoa astronomer R. Brent Tully, who recently shared the 2014 Gruber Cosmology Prize and the 2014 Victor Ambartsumian International Prize. The paper explaining this work is the cover story of the September 4 issue of the prestigious journal Nature. [...]

Hiki Nō Festival showcases student video stories

The public is invited to view outstanding student-produced video stories on the big screen at PBS Hawaii’s first-ever Hiki Nō Festival. The featured stories, produced last school year, have aired on PBS Hawaii’s student news program, Hiki Nō, and are nominated in this year’s Hiki Nō Awards. Hiki Nō is Hawaii’s first statewide student news network, made up of 86 public, private and charter schools from across the islands. Through the production of video news stories about their schools and communities, students gain valuable workforce and life skills, while teachers engage their students in hands-on, collaborative learning. [...]

Three UH scientists selected for Mars rover teams

NASA has announced the selection of seven science instruments to be included on the Mars 2020 rover. Three scientists from the University of Hawaii at Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) — Sarah Fagents, Shiv Sharma and Anupam Misra — will be members on the instrument teams to conduct unprecedented science and exploration technology investigations on the Red Planet. The new rover will carry sophisticated hardware and instruments to perform geological assessments of the rover’s landing site, determine the potential habitability of the environment, and directly search for signs of ancient Martian life. [...]

New Partnership Uses Technology to Assist Public with Legal Forms

The Hawaii State Public Library System will provide access to the Self-Help Interactive Forms on their 800 library computers and 250 netbooks statewide. Legal Aid kicked off their first training session for library staff on Wednesday, and will be providing similar trainings across the state to demonstrate how to navigate the new software. The software also includes a new chat feature to enable individuals to ask questions directly to Legal Aid about the self-help forms on its LawHelp website. [...]