Boston University Physics News Archive: 2009

Professor Gene Stanley received a doctorate honoris causa
December 09, 2009:

Professor Gene Stanley received a doctorate honoris causa from the University of Messina, Italy, in November ’09.

Rachele Elizabeth Dominguez - Welcome Baby Mila - Newborn Physicist!
December 07, 2009:

Congratulations to the Proud Parents!!

Mike and I wanted to let you know of the arrival of our beautiful new baby girl, Mila. Here are the stats:

Aamila Aya
Nov 15th at 1:42 am
7lb 7 oz
20.5 in

First collisions observed in the Large Hadron Collider
November 24, 2009:

The first proton-proton collisions have been observed in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) located at the CERN laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland. Groups at BU have been deeply involved in the two large LHC experiments ATLAS and CMS since the mid-1990’s.

From today’s CERN press release:

“Geneva, 23 November 2009. Today the LHC circulated two beams simultaneously for the first time, allowing the operators to test the synchronization of the beams and giving the experiments their first chance to look for proton-proton collisions. With just one bunch of particles circulating in each direction, the beams can be made to cross in up to two places in the ring. From early in the afternoon, the beams were made to cross at points 1 and 5, home to the ATLAS and CMS detectors, both of which were on the lookout for collisions. Later, beams crossed at points 2 and 8, ALICE and LHCb.
These developments come just three days after the LHC restart, demonstrating the excellent performance of the beam control system. Since the start-up, the operators have been circulating beams around the ring alternately in one direction and then the other at the injection energy of 450 GeV. The beam lifetime has gradually been increased to 10 hours, and today beams have been circulating simultaneously in both directions, still at the injection energy.
Next on the schedule is an intense commissioning phase aimed at increasing the beam intensity and accelerating the beams. All being well, by Christmas, the LHC should reach 1.2 TeV per beam, and have provided good quantities of collision data for the experiments’ calibrations.”

For the complete press release, click here. For event displays and movies of the first events observed by ATLAS and CMS, go to:

Follow the LHC on Twitter for the most up-to-date commissioning news.

Professor Smith elected Fellow of the American Physical Society
November 16, 2009:

Upon the recommendation of the Division of Materials Physics Professor Kevin Smith has been elected Fellow of the American Physical Society “for pioneering contributions to the study of the electronic structure of solids using angle resolved photoemission spectroscopy, soft x-ray emission spectroscopy and resonant inelastic x-ray scattering.” Election to Fellowship in the APS is limited to no more than one half of one percent of the membership and it is quite a recognition of outstanding contributions to physics.

Professor Castro Neto to be Editor for Europhysics Letters
November 16, 2009:

Professor Antonio Castro Neto, who already serves as Divisional Associate Editor for the Physical Review Letters and Colloquium Editor for Reviews of Modern Physics, as of January 1st 2010 will also be Editor for Europhysics Letters.

2009 Pumpkin Drop: In the News
November 03, 2009:
Research Professor Jim Shank elected Computing Coordinator for the ATLAS experiment
October 16, 2009:

The Collaboration Board of the ATLAS experiment elected Research Professor Jim Shank to be the next Deputy Computing Coordinator for ATLAS. He will serve one year as Deputy and then take over from the current Computing Coordinator, Kors Bos of Nikhef, for the following year. Shank already holds many key leadership roles in ATLAS computing, among which include the Executive Program Manager for Physics Support and Computing for US ATLAS and the coordinator for ATLAS Distributed Computing. In his new position, Shank will be responsible for all aspects of ATLAS computing as the experiment addresses the challenges of the first data-taking period.

ATLAS is a particle physics experiment at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. Starting in late 2009, the ATLAS detector will search for new discoveries in the head-on collisions of protons of extraordinarily high energy. The ATLAS collaboration is comprised of physicists from 37 countries, from more than 172 universities and laboratories, and includes 700 students.

"How Many Licks?" by Aaron Santos, out now!
October 05, 2009:

Hi Everybody,

My book “How Many Licks?” is now available for order, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and many other vendors.

That’s where you guys come in. I need your help publicizing it. Please email me if you work at, know someone who works at, or even just know the names of any of the following organizations that might be interested in the book:

  • newspapers
  • magazines
  • catalogs
  • radio stations
  • TV stations
  • web programs
  • specialty bookstores
  • special groups
  • professional groups
  • blogs
  • video blogs
  • anything/anyone else who might be willing to review, interview, or advertise

A description of the book is given below. Please spread the word!

Hope you guys are well.

Much love,


Have you ever wondered how many calories are in the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, how many times you would have to wash your favorite t-shirt before it turns entirely to dryer lint, or how many people are simultaneously achieving an orgasm this second? Help is here. /How Many Licks?/ explains how to calculate these and other amusing tidbits quickly and easily using math that anyone can grasp. Whether you’re a budding Einstein, a trivia-loving math hater, or a Sunday paper puzzle lover, /How Many Licks?/ is for you!

Professor James Stone selected as 2009 Jefferson Science Fellow
September 11, 2009:

Physics Professor James Stone was selected as a Jefferson Science Fellow for the year 2009. The prestigious Jefferson Science Fellowships have been established to create opportunities for substantial engagement of tenured scientists and engineers from U.S. academic institutions in the work of the State Department. One can read about Jefferson Science Fellows at the National Academies website. Biographies and profiles of the Fellows can be found here.

It is also worth noting that Boston University Physics Professor Michael El-Batanouny was selected as Jefferson Science Fellow for the year 2008. It is quite an honor for all of us to have two faculty from the same university, indeed from the same department, being awarded the Jefferson Science Fellowship in two years back to back.

Eva Keesey Hipolito: Newborn Physicist
August 20, 2009:

We are pleased to announce the birth of Eva Keesey Hipolito, daughter of Rafael and Charlotte Hipolito. Eva was born February 12, 2009, at 8 lb. 5 ounces, and 21 cm length. Congratulations to Rafael and Charlotte!

Bansil, Erramilli and collaborators uncover mechanism for trans-mucin migration of ulcer-causing bacteria
August 12, 2009:

Professors Rama Bansil and Shyam Erramilli, former graduate student Jonathan Celli, and collaborators from Harvard Medical School and MIT, have uncovered the process by which the bacterium H. Pylori is able to move through the mucous lining in our stomachs, causing ulcers and even cancer. Celli, currently a research fellow at Harvard/MGH, used rheology and microscopy to solve the problem of how the bacterium is able to move through the gel.

Those findings, which have been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could have implications for the prevention and treatment of H. Pylori infections.

Read more about their discovery at the NSF website.

Galen Mark Betnel: Newborn physicist
June 19, 2009:

Galen Mark Betnel was born last Thursday at 5:49pm. 7lbs. 1oz., 19 1/4 inches. Perfect and healthy! :) Sara and I have been settling in at home since Saturday and we’re having a great, exhausting, time.

Mark Betnel

Skocpol recognized as an Outstanding Referee of Physical Review and Physical Review Letters
April 02, 2009:

Professor Bill Skocpol has been recognized by the American Physical Society as one among the 360 Outstanding Referees of the Physical Review and Physical Review Letters journals.

Initiated in 2008, the Outstanding Referee program expresses appreciation for the essential work that anonymous peer reviewers do for their journals. Each year a small percentage of their 42,000 referees are to be selected and honored with the Outstanding Referee designation. Selections are made based on the number, quality, and timeliness of referee reports as collected in a database over the last 20 years. The program will recognize about 150 referees each year, although larger groups are being selected in 2008 and 2009. A full listing and further details on the program are available on the APS website. You may also view the associated press release as a Word document.

Chamon and Goldberg elected Fellows of the American Physical Society
April 01, 2009:

Professors Claudio Chamon’s and Bennett Goldberg’s research achievements have been recognized by their election as Fellows of the American Physical Society. The citations read as follows:

Chamon, Claudio, Boston University
Citation: For his important theoretical work on the probing of fractional charge and statistics in strongly correlated systems.
Nominated by: Condensed Matter Physics (DCMP)

Goldberg, Bennett, Boston University
Citation: For the development and application of nanoscale optical spectroscopy to semiconductors and biological systems and for the commitment to improving urban education.
Nominated by: Condensed Matter Physics (DCMP)

Kipton Barros declared winner of GSNP Student Speaker Award
March 25, 2009:

At the APS meeting in Pittsburgh graduate student Kipton Barros was the winner of the GSNP (Group for Statistical and Nonlinear Physics) Student Speaker Award.

Smith appointed as member of Panel of Experts advising the Irish Government on science policy
March 09, 2009:

Professor Kevin Smith has been appointed as one of eight members in a Panel of Experts advising the Irish Government on science policy. The Panel will assist the Chief Science Advisor to the Government in the formulation of science related policies and directives.

D0 announces discovery of new top quark production process
March 09, 2009:

The D0 Collaboration at Fermilab has submitted a paper to Physical Review Letters announcing the discovery of a new production process for the top quark. BU Associate Professor Ulrich Heintz, who co-led the top quark physics analysis group of the D0 Collaboration between 2006 and 2008 and postdoc Shabnam Jabeen have contributed directly to the work that resulted in this discovery.

The top quark is the most massive elementary particle known. It was discovered at Fermilab in 1995 by the D0 and CDF experiments. The Tevatron collides protons and antiprotons at an energy of 2 TeV, the highest energy particle collisions ever produced in the laboratory. In some of these collisions top quarks are created, most of the time together with their antiparticle, the anti-top quark, through the strong force, the force that holds together the atomic nucleus. Theorists have predicted that sometimes only a top quark or only an antitop quark is created through the weak force, which is responsible for nuclear decay. Scientists at Fermilab have been searching for this so-called single top production mechanism for many years. The D0 Collaboration reached a major milestone in December 2006, when it announced that it had observed evidence for this process, indicating that it had observed some collisions in which top quarks seemed to be produced singly but not quite enough to be certain (see BU faculty and students integral to Fermilab discovery). In the meantime the D0 Experiment has collected more than twice as many data and many more such collisions were found confirming the 2006 result and establishing single production of top quarks beyond any reasonable doubt.

This discovery is significant because the interaction of the top quark through the weak interaction can only be measured in this process and its measurement may be sensitive to possible new fundamental interactions or elementary particles that have not yet been directly observed. The observation of this process thus creates a whole new laboratory in which the standard model can be tested. The measurement by the D0 Experiment shows that single top quark production occurs at a rate consistent with the prediction of the standard model of particle physics, the theoretical framework that summarizes our understanding of the fundamental particles and their interactions.

Please also check out the Fermilab press release and related photos and graphics.

Polkovnikov awarded prestigious Sloan Research Fellowship
February 17, 2009:

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation announced today the selection of 118 outstanding early career scientists, mathematicians, and economists as Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellows. Physics Assistant Professor Anatoli Polkovnikov was one of the recipients of the prestigious fellowship. Professor Polkovnikov’s research focuses on Quantum Condensed Matter Theory. You may view the complete list of Sloan Fellows at the Sloan Foundation website.

Professor El-Batanouny selected as Jefferson Science Fellow
February 09, 2009:

Our own faculty member, Professor Michael El-Batanouny, was recently awarded as a Jefferson Science Fellow, “established to create opportunities for substantial engagement of tenured scientists and engineers from U.S. academic institutions in the work of the [State] Department.” You can read more about this award at the National Academies website. Please also visit our photo gallery for the event.

Photon selected as Outstanding SPS Chapter
February 09, 2009:

Photon, the Boston University Chapter of the Society of Physics Students (SPS), has been selected as an Outstanding SPS Chapter for the 2007-2008 school year. Please visit Photon’s web page.

Mohanty Group featured in Nature Nanotechnology
January 12, 2009:

Research done by Professor Raj Mohanty, former graduate students Guiti Zolfagharkhani and Alexei Gaidarzhy, and collaborators, was featured on the cover of the December 2008 issue of Nature Nanotechnology. This work utilizes a nanoscale torsion oscillator to measure the torque in a metal nanowire with unprecedented sensitivity, and could have applications in spintronics and fundamental physics, chemistry and biology.

Read the article in Nature Nanotechnology. Additional information can be found here.

Professor Castro Neto awarded Miller Professorship, becomes Colloquium Editor for Reviews of Modern Physics
January 09, 2009:

Professor Antonio Castro Neto has been awarded a prestigious Visiting Miller Professorship from the Miller Institute at the University of California at Berkeley. ‘The purpose of the Visiting Miller Professorship is to bring promising or eminent scientists to the Berkeley campus on a short-term basis for collaborative research interactions.’ You can read more about the Miller Institute by visiting their homepage.

Professor Castro Neto has also been appointed the new Colloquium Editor for Reviews of Modern Physics. For more information about the journal, visit their website.