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News & Events

2008

 

Predicted Planet Seen--First Since Neptune 162 Years Ago

December 9, 2008

In 2006, astronomer Alice Quillen of the University of Rochester predicted that a planet of a particular size and orbit must lie within the dust of a nearby star. That planet has now been photographed by the Hubble Space  Telescope, making it only the second planet ever imaged after an accurate prediction. The only other planet seen after an accurate prediction was Neptune, discovered more than 160 years ago.

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Department Mourns Loss of Steven Varlese (BS, Physics, 1975)

December 6, 2008

The Department regrets to report that Steven Varlese (BS, Physics, 1975) unexpectedly passed away on November 29, 2008. As an undergraduate, Steve helped Judy Pipher develop her first instrumental programs in Infrared Astronomy. He also gave tours of the C.E.K. Mees Observatory (photo, right).

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Cambridge University Press Releases Book Co-Authored by Professor John H. Thomas

December 6, 2008

In November, Cambridge University Press published Sunspots and Starspots, co-authored by University of Rochester Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Sciences (and of Astronomy) John H. Thomas and University of Cambridge Professor of Astrophysics Nigel O. Weiss.

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Dusty Shock Waves Create Raw Materials for Planets

December 6, 2008

A team of astronomers led by Professor William Forrest and graduate student Ben Sargent have discovered that "[s]hock waves around dusty, young stars might be creating the raw materials for planets," according to a recent NASA press release. Using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, the researchers found the first evidence of cristobalite and tridymite crystals around several stars just beginning to transition into planets. These particular crystals require "flash heating events, such as shock waves, to form."

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Lynne Orr Named C.E. Kenneth Mees Professor of Physics

December 6, 2008

Prof. OrrChair Nicholas P. Bigelow recently announced that Lynne Orr has been named C.E. Kenneth Mees Professor of Physics. Orr, who has been with the Department since 1993, is a Theoretical High-Energy Physicist. Her research in collider phenomenology focuses on the physics of the top quark and Higgs boson (in the Standard Model and in Supersymmetry) and on Quantum Chromodynamics.

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World Scientific Publishing Company Releases Book by Professor Ashok Das

October 9, 2008

In September, World Scientific Publishing Company released Professor Ashok Das' new book, Lectures on Quantum Field Theory. Aimed at graduate students and researchers in theoretical physics, the book consists of the lectures for a two-semester course on quantum field theory. According to the publisher, "The course starts with relativistic one-particle systems, and develops the basics of quantum field theory with an analysis of the representations of the Poincare group. Canonical quantization is carried out for scalar, fermion, Abelian and non-Abelian gauge theories. Covariant quantization of gauge theories is also carried out with a detailed description of the BRST symmetry. The Higgs phenomenon and the standard model of electroweak interactions are also developed systematically. Regularization and (BPHZ) renormalization of field theories as well as gauge theories are discussed in detail, leading to a derivation of the renormalization group equation. In addition, two chapters -- one on the Dirac quantization of constrained systems and another on discrete symmetries -- are included for completeness, although these are not covered in the two-semester course."

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Department Welcomes Two New Faculty Members

October 9, 2008

The Department extends a warm welcome to our two new faculty members: Assistant Professor Aran Garcia-Bellido and Assistant Professor Eric E. Mamajek.

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University of Rochester to Host Frontiers in Optics/Laser Science 2008

October 9, 2008

From October 19-23, the University of Rochester will host this year's annual Frontiers in Optics/Laser Science 2008 at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center. The Chairs of the conference include Professor of Optics and Professor of Physics Lukas Novotny (photo left) and Professor of Chemistry and Professor of Physics Lewis Rothberg (photo right), as well as Karl Koch of Corning, Inc. and John Kitching of NIST.

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Professor Robert W. Boyd to Receive Willis E. Lamb Award for Laser Science and Quantum Optics

October 9, 2008

M. Parker Givens Professor of Optics and Professor of Physics Robert W. Boyd will receive the Willis E. Lamb Award for Laser Science and Quantum Optics at the Physics of Quantum Electronics (PQE) Winter Colloquium in January, 2009. This annual award honors Willis E. Lamb, Jr., the laser scientist who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1955. Along with Professor Boyd, the 2009 winners are Robert L. Byer of Stanford University and Norbert Kroo of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

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Professor Emil Wolf Wins OSA/SPIE 2008 Joseph W. Goodman Book Writing Award

July 30, 2008

Wilson Professor of Optical Physics and Theoretical Physics Emil Wolf has won the 2008 Joseph W. Goodman Book Writing Award presented by the Optical Society of America (OSA) and the International Society for Optical Engineering (SPIE). His winning book is Introduction to the Theory of Coherence and Polarization of Light, which was published in September 2007 by Cambridge University Press.

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Upgrade to the Advanced Lab (PHY 243): Positon Tomography Teaching Laboratory

June 25, 2008

By far, the course that our undergraduates like the most is the Advanced Lab (PHY 243), which they take in the fall of senior year. This course is a centerpiece of the curriculum leading to a BS in Physics, enabling students to perform sophisticated experiments, where they apply everything they've learned.

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Eric Prebys (PhD, Physics, 1990) Appointed Leader of U.S. LHC Accelerator Research Program (LARP)

June 21, 2008

Eric Prebys, head of the Proton-Source Department at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) and one of our outstanding former Physics graduate students, has been appointed leader of the U.S. Large Hadron Collider (LHC) Accelerator Research Program (LARP). Eric will lead activities at affiliated universities and at four major U.S. national laboratories: Brookhaven, Fermilab, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. LARP's mission is to develop advanced instrumentation and new superconducting magnets for the LHC in Geneva, Switzerland. More than 50% of U.S. experimental particle physicists are working on the LHC project, including University of Rochester faculty who are working on the Compact Muon Spectrometer (CMS) experiment.

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Class of 2008 Graduates with Many Honors

May 18, 2008

Congratulations to the 2008 graduates of the Department of Physics and Astronomy! In the graduation ceremony held today:

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Benjamin Schmitt Wins Fulbright Award

April 25, 2008

Benjamin Schmitt (BS, Physics; BA, Mathematics; BA, German) is one of five UR students who recently earned 2008-2009 Fullbright Awards, national scholarships that foster international academic and research collaborations. The Fulbright Awards are among the most prestigious honors in the world, with international collaborations in well over a hundred countries.

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Twenty Students Present Results at 2008 Rochester Symposium for Undergraduate Physics Students (RSPS)

April 5, 2008

April 4, 2008 marked the day of the twenty-seventh Annual Rochester Symposium for Undergraduate Physics Students (RSPS), where twenty Physics, Astronomy, and Optics majors presented their research findings. The northeast regional RSPS conference is typically held each year during the Spring semester. This year's participants represented the University of Rochester, Houghton College, Rochester Institute of Technology, Colgate College, West Point Military Academy, Binghamton University, Siena College, and SUNY at Oswego.

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Five Physics Professors Honored as APS Outstanding Referees

March 29, 2008

The American Physical Society (APS) has honored five University of Rochester Physics Professors as Outstanding Referees:

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John K. Golden and Samuel T. Harrold Win 2008 Goldwater Scholarships

March 29, 2008

University of Rochester Physics sophomore John K. Golden and junior Samuel T. Harrold have been named 2008 Barry M. Goldwater Scholars, one of the most prestigious awards available to undergraduates in this country.

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Professor Wins 2 Million Supercomputer Hours

March 12, 2008

Chuang Ren, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and physics at the University of Rochester has won a U. S. Department of Energy award--and with it a chance to conduct his fusion research on a supercomputer.

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Finally, the 'Planet' in Planetary Nebulae?

March 10, 2008

Astronomers at the University of Rochester, home to one of the world’s largest groups of planetary nebulae specialists, have announced that low-mass stars and possibly even super-Jupiter-sized planets may be responsible for creating some of the most breathtaking objects in the sky.

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Nobelist Steven Weinberg Praises Professor Carl Hagen and Collaborators for Higgs Boson Theory

March 3, 2008

Carl HagenIn October 2007, Nobel Prize Winner Steven Weinberg reminded a new generation of physicists about the crucial contribution regarding the Higgs boson theory made by Professor Carl Hagen of the University of Rochester and his collaborators. Weinberg's comments were part of his invited presentation at a conference celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of John Bardeen, Leon Cooper, and J. Robert Schrieffer's (BCS) theory of superconductivity.

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Kevin Short (BS, Physics, 1985) Wins Grammy Award

February 27, 2008

It's not often that a physicist wins a Grammy award. But Kevin Short, who earned his BS in Physics along with a BA in Geological Sciences from the University of Rochester in 1985, scored a Grammy on February 10, 2008. Kevin is currently a professor of mathematics at the University of New Hampshire and won his Grammy for being the master engineer on a team that restored a 1949 wire recording of a Woody Guthrie concert. He attended the ceremony, and with his wife Michelle, represented science in a lavish concert hall adorned with the singing stars of today.

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Slowing and Stopping Images

February 6, 2008

Associate Professor John Howell reported in January of 2007 that his group showed how to slow images down to "300 times lower than the speed of light" and preserve the amplitude and phase of the image. He also stated that, "we're working on systems that slow images down to 10 million times lower than the speed of light." Howell and his Quantum Optics team of Ryan Camacho, Curtis Broadbent, and Irfan Ali Khan used a technique known as slow light. When close to a narrow resonance feature, the group velocity of the light can be very slow. His team used naturally-occurring resonances in a cesium vapor to precisely slow images and delayed them for about 10 nanoseconds while retaining their properties.

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Building Super-Amplifiers in Nano-Electric Systems using Strange Weak Values

February 5, 2008

In a recent Physical Review Letters (PRL 100, 026804) article, Assistant Professor Andrew Jordan and third-year PhD student Nathan Williams describe how to implement one of the most bizarre predictions in quantum mechanics: a strange weak value in a nano-electric system. For a quantum system, their proposed method could provide an electrical current that exceeds the current supplied by the analogous classical system by factors of hundreds or thousands; that is, their device could boost a nano-amp to one amp or even to ten amps. This new method could also be used to determine whether an experimental system is a quantum mechanical device.

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Kristin M. Beck Wins 2007 Physics Honors Prize

January 20, 2008

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Alexander Mitov (2003 UR Physics PhD) Awarded the First Large Hadron Collider Theory Initiative Postdoctoral Fellowship

January 17, 2008

Alexander Mitov, who earned his PhD in theoretical particle physics from the University of Rochester in 2003, has received the first $150,000 National Science Foundation Large Hadron Collider (LHC) Theory Initiative Postdoctoral Fellowship. Mitov was a researcher in the Department of Theoretical Physics at Liverpool University until December 1, 2007, when he moved to the University of Hamburg. During the Fellowship, he will collaborate and be hosted by Stony Brook University's C. N. Yang Institute for Theoretical Physics starting in Spring 2008.

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From the LHC to Molecular and Bio-Electronics, and Onwards!

January 1, 2008

Daniel Schwaab was a student with Prof. Regina Demina's group for only one term, but he nevertheless made an enormous impression on the group's effort in silicon-detector development for the CMS experiment at the LHC. During his brief stay, he decided that, despite his success in the laboratory and the remarkable lectures of Prof. Ashok Das on quantum field theory, at heart, he was more interested in applying his love of physics to solving problems in his physical surroundings, rather than conquering new multi-dimensional worlds.

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Appointments and Promotions in 2007

January 1, 2008

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