Boston University Physics News Archive: 2011
Prof. Ophelia Tsui has been elected to Fellowship in the American Physical Society by the APS Council. Prof. Tsui was nominated by the Division of Polymer Physics for "outstanding contributions on the dynamics of thin polymer films." The American Physical Society has selected Fellows annually since 1899, with election limited to no more than one half of one percent of the total membership each year. Fellowship is a distinct honor signifying recognition by one's professional peers.
Profs. Andrew Cohen and Sheldon Glashow have weighed in on a hot result in neutrino physics. The OPERA collaboration reported an experimental measurement consistent with neutrinos traveling faster than the speed of light. The science reporting community and blogosphere covered this extensively when the result was announced on September 23. Cohen and Glashow say: "not so fast", by noting that such neutrinos would lose energy by a mechanism analogous to cherenkov radiation. Their estimates cast doubt on the interpretation of the CERN result and provide new and tight constraints on superluminality. The work is published in Physical Review Letters and was spotlighted by APS as well as BU Today.
Other reports include:
Physics graduate student James Silva represented Boston University at the 2011 Joint Annual Conference of the National Societies of Black and Hispanic Physicists (NSBP/NSHP). This meeting, the largest gathering of African-American and Hispanic physicists in the world, took place in Austin, Texas from September 21-24. Over 500 people attended the conference, more than 250 being students. Boston University rented an exhibitor's booth and displayed catalogs and pamphlets from Astronomy, Engineering, Photonics and Physics. Sponsors for the conference included the NSF, the University of Texas, and the Southeastern University Research Association.
Congratulations to senior undergraduate physics major Lina Necib on her election for membership in Phi Beta Kappa by the Epsilon of Massachusetts Chapter at Boston University. Lina’s election to the Society recognizes her demonstrated high level of scholarship and academic achievement. She will be formally initiated at the Initiation Ceremony, which will be held on Tuesday, December 6, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. at The Castle, 225 Bay State Road.
- Boston Globe - "Boston University smashes pumpkins" (video; subscription required)
- Boston Globe - "Explosion of pumpkin and physics" (subscription required)
- Boston.com - "Smashing pumpkins at Boston University" (photo gallery and video)
- Boston Herald - "Pumpkin drop at BU" (video)
- TheBostonChannel.com - "Photos: Pumpkin Drop Physics Lesson"
- WCVB-TVCh. 5 - "BU pumpkin drop" (video)
- WHDH-TVCh. 7 - "BU pumpkin drop" (video)
A new muon g-2 experiment, which is planned to begin operation in 2016, was featured in Fermilab Today. The experiment aims to measure the gyromagnetic ratio “g” of the muon. This ratio is particularly sensitive to any new particles or interactions that might be lurking beyond the Standard Model, our current understanding of elementary particle physics.
Professor Lee Roberts, a co-spokesperson for the experiment, said "one of the most important things about this experiment is that it will help guide what's found in the LHC and the Tevatron data. It will help us figure out how the results fit into the grand scheme."
Professors Rob Carey, Jim Miller, and postdoc Emma Barnes are also involved in the project.
Our Physics undergraduate students at CERN contributed to the following dance video, illustrating the proof that scientists know how to get down:
<iframe src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/7C-6SUipDno" width="560" height="349"></iframe>
Karl Ludwig, Christopher Sanborn and two collaborators from the University of McGill were highlighted in the APS Physics Synopses for their recent Physical Review Letter, "Atomic avalanches show up in x rays."
Michael Wells, a sophomore student at BU Academy, placed second in the US among Division 02 students in the 2011 Physics Bowl Annual Competition for high school students, an annual event sponsored by the American Association of Physics Teachers. The exam itself consists of 50 questions, with Division 02 students answering the 40 most challenging questions in the 50-question exam (Division 01 students answer the "easier" questions 1-40). As part of his preparation for this competition, Michael was enrolled in PY 251, our freshman physics majors course that was taught by Professor Claudio Rebbi in Fall 2009. Michael credits the "clarity of the teaching in [Rebbi’s] course" as one of the ingredients for his success. Congratulations to Michael on his achievement, and kudos to Claudio Rebbi for helping provide the physics training that contributed to Michael's performance!
Michael plans to continue studying Physics as well as Computer Science as he enters his Junior Year at the Academy.
The T2K collaboration has submitted their first physics paper to Physical Review Letters. In it they report the most significant evidence to date that muon neutrinos transform into electron neutrinos. This transformation is governed by a previously unmeasured parameter of nature, called θ13 ("theta one three"). The neutrinos are produced in a beam by the J-PARC accelerator. They travel 295 kilometers through the earth's crust, and are detected in the Super-Kamiokande detector across Japan. In this paper T2K reports the detection of six electron neutrino events in a carefully controlled beam that should have at most 1.5 electron neutrino events. The probability that T2K observe as many as six by chance is less than one percent. The publication of this result is accompanied by a press release from the accelerator labs KEK/J-PARC.
The Boston University authors on this paper include graduate student Mike Litos, research associate Jen Raaf, and Profs. Ed Kearns, Jim Stone, and Larry Sulak. The BU neutrino group has been involved in a series of neutrino experiments using the Super-Kamiokande detector for more than 15 years, thanks to support from the US Department of Energy's Office of Science.
The 2011 High Energy and Particle Physics Prize for an outstanding contribution to High Energy Physics in experimental, theoretical or technological area was awarded to Sheldon Lee Glashow, along with colleagues John Iliopoulos and Luciano Maiani, "for their crucial contribution to the theory of flavour, presently embedded in the Standard Theory of strong and electroweak interactions." In 1970, they discovered a compelling argument for the existence of a yet undiscovered particle - the "charm" quark - to solve a number of problems that particle physicists were facing at the time. Their proposal, now called "GIM mechanism" from the initials of the three authors, was spectacularly confirmed four years later, when particles containing the charm quark were finally discovered.
The department was recently awarded a grant from the Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PhysTEC), bringing in $100K to the university each year for the next three years to, primarily, fund a teacher-in-residence (TIR). The TIR will be an experienced physics teacher who will work jointly with Physics and the School of Education (SED) on various education projects. Boston University’s PhysTEC project is led by Andrew Duffy, Bennett Goldberg, and Manher Jariwala of Physics, and Peter Garik of SED. At the end of the three years of PhysTEC funding, the Office of the Provost, the Department of Physics, and the School of Education have agreed to jointly fund a TIR for an additional three years.
For the Department of Physics at Boston University, having PhysTEC funding to support a Teacher in Residence for the next few years comes at a perfect time. Beginning in Fall 2011, we will be using Learning Assistants in the discussion sections of our introductory physics courses. Learning Assistants are undergraduate students who took the course previously, returning to help the graduate teaching assistant work with the students. The TIR will help to train the Learning Assistants, and work with the graduate students to help them with their preparation for teaching. Also in the fall, we are starting an experimental studio section in our algebra-based physics course. Studio is a mode of learning in which the emphasis is on hands-on activities, rather than on lecture. Having an experienced physics teacher in-house will be a great asset as we re-design our curricular materials to do studio. Finally, after spending several years focusing on teaching courses for in-service physics teachers, we will branch out to start encouraging more undergraduates to consider teaching high school physics. The will be a role model for these students.
The presence of a Teacher in Residence also provides very special opportunities for the School of Education at Boston University. The Science Program in the School of Education is working towards defining programs to offer more students in the STEM disciplines the opportunity to earn initial licensure to teach while completing their science major. An important component of this is pre-practicum placements of interested students in easily accessible schools. Local schools for Boston University are in the high need urban district of Boston. As a result, a science teacher with experience in a high need district will prove invaluable for the development of our new programs and providing supervision of students during practicums. The TIR may also contribute to a course for Education students on the management of a science classroom in a high need district.
BU Physics graduate student Alex Petersen Featured in BU Today Science and Technology:
Welcome Nandu! Congratulations Fanny and Vishal!!
Bonjour tout le monde / hello everyone,
We are very happy to announce/ Nous sommes tres heureux de vous annoncer
The birth of / la naissance de
Nandu Robin Sood
Le 2 mars 2011 a 12h35 / on March 2nd 2011 at 12.35pm
He is a big guy of 3.750 kg and 51 cm / c’est un grand garcon de 3.750
kg et 51 cm.
Tous le monde se porte bien/ The whole family is doing fine :)
Fanny and Vishal
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 “Pankaj Mehta“http://physics.bu.edu/people/show/pankajm was one of the recipients of the prestigious fellowship. Professor Mehta’s research focuses on Biological Physics, Systems Biology, and Statistical Physics. You may view the complete list of Sloan Fellows at the Sloan Foundation website.
Congratulations Pankaj and Nicole!
“We are happy to announce the birth of a baby girl on Feb. 5 at 10:18 pm. Her name is Simi Joan Mehta. She weighed 7.3 oz and measured 20.25 inches. She is doing beautifully!”