Fusion power density demonstrated

We have long focused on power density as the central arrow of energy system evolution. The recent achievement of the Joint European Torus (JET) to set a new fusion energy record of 69.26 megajoules of heat released during a single pulse over six seconds from only 0.21 milligrams of fuel, equalling the energy released from burning 2 kilograms of coal, prompts us to update our classic figure, below and as a pdf. Thanks to long-time PHE research associate Dr. Nadedja M. Victor, now at US DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.

Fuel mass per energy, including nuclear fuels. Economies of scale favor fuels suited to higher power density, thus decarbonization and finally nuclear sources, at least 10,000 times more compact than hydrocarbons.  The recent JET fusion experiment achieved density 10,000,000 times coal  with deuterium-tritium fuel.  Note: *CANDU is a pressurized heavy water reactor.  Sources of data: and  Figure prepared by N.M.Victor, 2/9/2024.  Program for the Human Environment, The Rockefeller University.

2023    Discussion Paper on commercial dimensions of US aquatic eDNA strategy

Together with Chris Scholin (Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute), Alan Curry and Jesse Ausubel have prepared a Discussion Paper Assessing the financial, commercial, and economic dimensions of a US National Aquatic eDNA Strategy. This is a contribution to the effort to develop a strategy for release at the 3rd national conference on marine eDNA which will take place in June 2024. Comments welcome.

St Andrews Prize for the Environment to Amazon forest protection

The St Andrews Prize for the Environment of the University of St Andrews recognizes and supports innovative and inspirational responses to environmental challenges.  In 2023, Jesse Ausubel joined the jury, which awarded the $100,000 2023 prize to Alianza Ceibo for their Indigenous-led effort for protection of the Upper Amazon Rainforest. 

eDNA of Newtown Creek, industrial waterway separating Queens & Brooklyn

RockEDU summer students Priyam Shah and Michael Epelman, who just completed high school, teamed with mentor extraordinaire Mark Stoeckle to study the fishes of an NYC Superfund Site, Newtown Creek.  Their excellent poster shows that eDNA detected a surprising diversity of fish in Newtown Creek, despite ongoing pollution and sewage overflow. The number and relative abundance of fish species differed among sites consistent with species habitat preference and pollution tolerance. Our data support eDNA as a cost-effective, non-destructive method for monitoring fish populations and assessing habitat restoration efforts in Newtown Creek and other Superfund sites

Quiet Ocean news

IQOE Newsletter #11  reports on the IQOE Science Committee meeting and Global Library on Underwater Sounds (GLUBS) workshop in Woods Hole in April in which Jesse participated, as well as  the first World Ocean Passive Acoustic Monitoring Day in June. The newsletter also provides updates on the global hydrophone metadatabase, low-cost hydrophones, and effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on ocean sound.

New version of Loglet Lab released, LL5

The newest version of PHE’s Loglet Lab software, LL5 is now available to users online. Software improvements in LL5 include more tools for statistical analysis, cleaner graphs, and a ‘Get started’ section that guides new users step by step. We welcome users to try LL5 and send their feedback to

Paper comparing epidemics of COVID and suppression in many countries & regions published by Burg & Ausubel

Nations and regions which implemented interventions sufficient to block community spread effectively experienced a rapid decline in confirmed cases. However, with lifting of interventions, rates rebounded to the previous high infection rates and attained a relatively stable empirical steady state. For COVID-19, societies so far appear to face a choice between relatively high oscillations involving waves of suppression and infection and lesser oscillations around an endemic setpoint.

Trajectories of COVID-19: A longitudinal analysis of many nations and subnational regions David Burg, Jesse H. Ausubel published 23 Jun 2023 PLOS ONE

Trajectories of COVID-19: A longitudinal analysis of many nations and subnational regions

Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic is the first to be rapidly and sequentially measured by nation-wide PCR community testing for the presence of the viral RNA at a global scale. We take advantage of the novel “natural experiment” where diverse nations and major subnational regions implemented various policies including social distancing and vaccination at different times with different levels of stringency and adherence. Initially, case numbers expand exponentially with doubling times of ~1–2 weeks. In the nations where interventions were not implemented or perhaps lees effectual, case numbers increased exponentially but then stabilized around 102-to-103 new infections (per km2 built-up area per day). Dynamics under effective interventions were perturbed and infections decayed to low levels. They rebounded concomitantly with the lifting of social distancing policies or pharmaceutical efficacy decline, converging on a stable equilibrium setpoint. Here we deploy a mathematical model which captures this V-shape behavior, incorporating a direct measure of intervention efficacy. Importantly, it allows the derivation of a maximal estimate for the basic reproductive number Ro (mean 1.6–1.8). We were able to test this approach by comparing the approximated “herd immunity” to the vaccination coverage observed that corresponded to rapid declines in community infections during 2021. The estimates reported here agree with the observed phenomena. Moreover, the decay (0.4–0.5) and rebound rates (0.2–0.3) were similar throughout the pandemic and among all the nations and regions studied. Finally, a longitudinal analysis comparing multiple national and regional results provides insights on the underlying epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2 and intervention efficacy, as well as evidence for the existence of an endemic steady state of COVID-19.

Remembrance of marine biologist Vera Alexander

A stalwart member of the International Scientific Steering Committee of the Census of Marine Life, Vera Alexander passed away at the age of 90 in Fairbanks AK in May. The Arctic Research Consortium US earlier offered this informative tribute.

Jesse worked closely with Vera during the Census of Marine Life from 1999-2010 and offers this remembrance of The Many Contributions of Vera Alexander.