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Shelter in place lifted after a threat over its Black Lives Matter mural

A “shelter in place” order at the University of North Carolina Asheville was lifted Friday evening after the university received a threatening email demanding that a Black Lives Matter mural on campus be painted over.



a car parked on the side of a road: Entrances to the UNC Asheville campus are blocked Friday after the campus is locked down over an emailed threat demanding the university paint over a Black Lives Matter mural.


© Angeli Wright/Asheville Citizen-Times/USA Today Network
Entrances to the UNC Asheville campus are blocked Friday after the campus is locked down over an emailed threat demanding the university paint over a Black Lives Matter mural.

The university announced Friday morning that it was canceling all classes and campus activities for the day, advising residential students to stay in place and nonessential personnel to return home.

Chancellor Nancy J. Cable said in a statement that the order was lifted at 7 p.m. Friday “in consultation with federal, state, and local law enforcement.”

“Today has been a challenging time for UNC Asheville and I am grateful for your support and cooperation,” Cable said. “I encourage every member of our campus community to remain vigilant. Please take care of one another. We remain fully committed to our University values of diversity, equity and inclusion. Black Lives Matter.”

A safety alert sent by the university just after 8:30 a.m. Friday said that “several offices at the University received an email communicating a direct threat to members of the UNC Asheville community. The email demanded that the Black Lives Matter mural on University Heights on campus be painted over.”

“A decision has been made to send a Bulldog Alert to all faculty, staff, and students to shelter in place until further notice. We ask that employees, other than essential personnel, stay away from campus today.”

The university did not specify the details of the threat, but said in the alert that it would continue to update the campus community. Officials said the campus would remain closed at least until Saturday morning.

In another safety alert later on Friday afternoon, university officials said multiple law enforcement agencies were investigating the threat, along with campus police.

UNC Asheville is part of the state’s multi-campus public university system and has about 3,600 students, according to its website.

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University of Rhode Island tells frats, sororities to shelter in place

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The University of Rhode Island issued a two-week shelter-in-place order Friday for fraternity and sorority members, citing a high number of coronavirus cases in the school’s Greek system.

The school sent the notice in tandem with its Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Association.

“We ask our Greek Life students to comply with this request with a focus on returning to full campus participation in 14 days,” the notice said. “We know your collective actions can have a positive impact on our ability to continue the fall semester with face-to-face classes.”

The order is in effect from 9 p.m. Friday to Saturday, Oct. 24, the school said. Members of fraternities and sororities should not leave their houses, on or off campus, whether Greek housing or not, except for medical visits and other essential services, such as grocery shopping and essential employment.

The notice says students will take all classes virtually for the duration of the order and should not visit campus if they don’t already live there.

The school said it based its decision on statistics showing a much higher rate of coronavirus positivity among students in Greek housing, 11.17%, than in total off-campus housing, 3.83%, and the on-campus population, 0.65%.

There was no evidence as of Friday that the virus had been spread in classrooms or labs, the school said. Chapters with no cases can apply for an exception.

Students and chapters that don’t follow guidelines could be suspended or dismissed, the notice said.

Upcoming sorority and fraternity bid days can be held virtually only, the school said.

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Students told shelter in place after a threat over its Black Lives Matter mural

The University of North Carolina Asheville is under a “shelter in place” order as of Friday afternoon after the university received a threatening email demanding that a Black Lives Matter mural on campus be painted over.



a car parked on the side of a road: Entrances to the UNC Asheville campus are blocked Friday after the campus is locked down over an emailed threat demanding the university paint over a Black Lives Matter mural.


© Angeli Wright/Asheville Citizen-Times/USA Today Network
Entrances to the UNC Asheville campus are blocked Friday after the campus is locked down over an emailed threat demanding the university paint over a Black Lives Matter mural.

The university announced Friday morning that it was canceling all classes and campus activities for the day, advising residential students to stay in place and nonessential personnel to return home.

“During the night several offices at the University received an email communicating a direct threat to members of the UNC Asheville community. The email demanded that the Black Lives Matter mural on University Heights on campus be painted over,” according to a safety alert sent by the university just after 8:30 a.m.

“A decision has been made to send a Bulldog Alert to all faculty, staff, and students to shelter in place until further notice. We ask that employees, other than essential personnel, stay away from campus today.”

The university did not specify the details of the threat, but said in the alert that it would continue to update the campus community. Officials said the campus would remain closed at least until Saturday morning.

In another safety alert later on Friday afternoon, university officials said multiple law enforcement agencies were investigating the threat, along with campus police.

UNC Asheville is part of the state’s multi-campus public university system and has about 3,600 students, according to its website.

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Fundamental constants place a new speed limit on sound

Sound has a speed limit. Under normal circumstances, its waves can travel no faster than about 36 kilometers per second, physicists propose October 9 in Science Advances.

Sound zips along at different rates in different materials — moving faster in water than in air for example. But under conditions found naturally on Earth, no material can host sound waves that outpace this ultimate limit, which is about 100 times the typical seed of sound traveling in air.

The team’s reasoning rests on well-known equations of physics and mathematical relationships.  “Given the simplicity of the argument, it suggests that [the researchers] are putting their finger on something very deep,” says condensed matter physicist Kamran Behnia of École Supérieure de Physique et de Chimie Industrielles in Paris.

The equation for the speed limit rests on fundamental constants, special numbers that rule the cosmos. One such number, the speed of light, sets the universe’s ultimate speed limit — nothing can go faster. Another, known as the fine-structure constant, determines the strength with which electrically charged particles push and pull one another. When combined in the right arrangement with another constant — the ratio of the masses of the proton and electron — these numbers yield sound’s speed limit.

Sound waves, which consist of the vibrations of atoms or molecules, travel through a material as one particle jostles another. The wave’s speed depends on various factors, including the types of chemical bonds holding the material together and how massive its atoms are.

None of the sound speeds previously measured in a variety of liquids and solids surpass the proposed limit, condensed matter physicist Kostya Trachenko and colleagues found. The fastest speed measured, in diamond, was only about half the theoretical maximum.  

The limit applies only to solids and liquids at pressures typically found on Earth. At pressures millions of times that of Earth’s atmosphere, sound waves move faster and could surpass the limit.

One material expected to boast a high sound speed exists only at such high pressures: hydrogen squeezed hard enough to turn into a solid metal (SN: 6/28/19). That metal has never been convincingly created, so the researchers calculated the expected speed instead of using a measurement. Above about 6 million times Earth’s atmospheric pressure, the sound speed limit would be broken, the calculations suggest.

The role of the fundamental constants in sound’s maximum speed results from how the waves move through materials. Sound travels thanks to the electromagnetic interactions of neighboring atoms’ electrons, which is where the fine-structure constant comes into play. And the proton-electron mass ratio is important because, although the electrons are interacting, the nuclei of the atoms move as a result.

The fine-structure constant and the proton-electron mass ratio are dimensionless constants, meaning there are no units attached to them (so their value does not depend on any particular system of units). Such dimensionless