Prof Receives Music Fellowship

As one of the Guggenheim Foundation’s 187 honorees this year, UCSD music professor, pianist and composer Anthony Davis has been selected to receive a fellowship ranging between $20,000 and $50,000.

The award will allow Davis to concentrate more on his current projects, most notably his latest opera, “Wakonda’s Dream,” a story about an American Indian family. The opera includes both a chamber orchestra and nontraditional aspects, including synthesizers, and is set to open in Omaha, Neb., next February.

The Guggenheim Foundation has awarded nearly $275 million in grants since 1925 to “men and women who have already demonstrated an exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability” and is one of the few remaining organizations to award fellowships to composers.

Water Responsible for Ant Invasion

Two UCSD biologists have discovered that Argentine ants need damp soil to live and breed and that people who implement strict watering limits in their gardens and yards may be able to get rid of ants without using toxic pesticides.

Scientists have long suspected that water plays a role in the spread of ants, but until now had no proof. To obtain results, the researchers irrigated normally dry land and determined that the water led to a 54-percent increase in the number of ant nest sites in the areas. However, they discovered that once they stopped watering the soil, the number of ants returned to pre-irrigation levels.

Argentine ants are very small, brown ants native to South America and are thought to have entered the United States via ships carrying coffee from Brazil during the 1890s. In California, the ants have thrived, and in the process have displaced many native species and become common household pests.

New Method Hushes Unwanted Noise

A new mathematical algorithm designed to improve existing noise-cancellation technology has been developed by UCSD researchers, improving the ability to generate destructive interference, the combination of anti-noise signals that destroy unwanted sounds.

Noise-control methods may be able to reduce helicopter or airplane cabin noises by as much as 40 decibels, but in the process can lead to unwanted acoustic feedback, which occurs when anti-noise signals feed back into the system’s microphone and are amplified to sound like shrill whistles.

However, unwanted sounds can be canceled by the new algorithm. To do this, researchers have used the algorithm to change noise-cancellation signals in the presence of acoustic feedback to lead to hundreds of new applications, including muffling the sounds of urban traffic and air-conditioning systems.