Eric G. Blackman's Home Page

Eric G. Blackman

Professor of Physics and Astronomy

Contact Information

Curriculum Vitae and Publications

Postdoctoral Fellowships: Caltech (1998-1999); Cambridge (1995-1998)

PhD.: (Theoretical Astrophysics) Harvard (1995)

M.A.S. (Part III Applied Maths. Tripos): Cambridge (1991)

S.B.: (Physics); S.B. (Mathematics) MIT (1990)

Research Style and Selected Interests

My research spans a range of problems in theoretical astrophysics and has also included a few excursions into geophysics and the physics of brain injury and helmet protection. The work that I do by myself is primarily analytical or semi-analytical theory, but I collaborate with computational simulators, observers, and experimentalists in additon to other analytic theorists. I particularly enjoy working on projects that identify "first order" principles rather than "higher order" details. This can sometimes mean working in a subfield for which even the basic questions are still being formulated and not many others are working yet.

As a professor, I consider myself to be a "player-coach" of theoretical astrophysics. That is, I maintain a steady subset of projects for which I myself do the primary calculations, interpretation, and writing. I also have projects for which I supervise or advise others, contributing at different levels depending on the project and the collbaoration team. I often think about the analogy with sports, and particularly the distinction between coaching and playing. Merely coaching provides none of the exercise, fitness, or skill training that actually playing the sport offers. Playing is necessary to stay in shape and avoid crustiness, even if one also coaches.

Plasma astrophysics has been an underlying theme in much of my recent research because many fascinating astrophysical sources contain highly conducting magnetized plasma. For example, observations of the interplanetary medium, the sun, stars, galaxies, active galactic nuclei (AGN), and planetary nebulae, indicate that magnetized plasmas are important to the dynamics and/or the emission in these systems. Some of my recent activities can be divided in three categories:


This category of projects is devoted to understanding high energy accreting or jetted astrophysical sources such as active galactic nuclei (AGN), Galactic microquasars, gamma-ray bursts (GRB), solar flares, and planetary nebulae. These sources are magnetized, exhibit aspherical outflows and efficient particle acceleration, and involve turbulence. The physics of particle acceleration, accretion disks, and high energy plasmas are important for these studies.


This category of projects focues on a rigorous understanding of the the orgin and dynamics of astrophysical magnetic fields and the associated MHD turbulence. Magnetic fields are not only fundamental for their dynamical role as an intermediary between gravitational energy and radiation in many sources, but are observable astrophysical entities themselves, detected by a variety of techniques. See the following figure (from ApJ 584 L99 (2003). ) which encapsulates some progress (e.g. Phys. Rev. Lett., 89, 265007 (2002)) of how magnetic dynamos conserve magnetic helicity. Here is a more recent review in "Space Science Reviews" Some of the underlying MHD physics also has application to magnetic pinch configurations in laboratory plasma configurations of fusion devices. I am now directing attention toward these applications.


I have been involved in projects focusing on planet formation, star formation, and molecular cloud evolution.

Selected Talks

(to come..)

Brain Injury / Helmet Research:

Presentation on Protection Against Traumatic Brain Injury (covers both Impacts and Blasts, from spring 2014)

Presentation on Hemlet Protection Against Traumatic Brain Injury (Version focusing on Impacts)

Presentation on Hemlet Protection Against Traumatic Brain Injury (Version focusing on Blasts)

Paper for the Defense Science Study Group (DSSG) 2006-2007 (note: section 3.3.5 modifed 1/11)

Phys. Rev Letter on Blast vs. Impact Injury Mechanism


Some places where I've enjoyed productive time

Past/Present research collaborators at U. Rochester as full time students, postdocs, or summer research students

(click on names to find present whereabouts)

as Undergraduate Research Students

Wen-Fei Fong; Sean Hartnoll ; Scott Lucchini ; Robert Penna ; Ryan Pettibone ; Robert Siller ; Scott Verbridge ; Lauren Weiss ; Bill Wolf ; Karen Xu ;

as Graduate Students

Farrukh Nauman ; Shule Li ; Kiwan Park ; Jaehong Park ; Jonathan Carroll-Nellenback ; Alex Hubbard ; Jason Nordhaus; Alexei Poludnenko ; Tom Gardiner ; Rob Selkowitz ;

as Postdoctoral Scholars

Jared Workman ; Martin Huarte-Espinosa ; Joachim Moortgat ; Richard Edgar ; Jason Maron ; Gunnar Paesold; Vladimir Pariev; Peggy Varnière

as Visiting Scientist Affiliates

Maxim Lyutikov


Insight the Parrot

Video clips of Insight, my african grey parrot friend (hatchdate: 29 Jun 2006): on YouTube

Pictures of Insight on Facebook

Audio recording of Insight speaking for 25 minutes on his play gym alone in the kitchen early in the morning (August 2009). (video showing him at his play gym on another ocassion to show his location) , and comments and transcript of the first half.

KITCHEN WEBCAM Live (video + audio) showing Insight's feeding area. He may or may not be there as he is free to fly around the house.

1950-60s Rhythm and Blues Vocal Group Sound / Doo-wop

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