Eric G. Blackman's Home Page

Eric G. Blackman

Professor of Physics and Astronomy

(on leave at IAS 2014-2015)

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)

Selected Research 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 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 basic testable principles.

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 and star formation

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 ; Scottt 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 (PhD U. Arizona/Los Alamos; U. Rochester 01-04; U. Wisconsin 04-08; Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute 2009-); 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.


The playists below include ~1000 selections from YouTube of mostly 1950s and early 1960s doo-wop vocal group recordings (with some Jazz and newer R&B mixed in, mainly in playlist 1). I've aimed for the more obscure gems. Good music can of course be found in a plethora of styles, but doo-wop has stuck with me since I was a small child. Perhaps ironically, its original heyday was long over before I was born. (A good doo-wop song has some characteristics that I also value in effective research papers.)

Quoting a 1993 NYT article on doo-wop: "...from about 1951 to 1956, it often possessed an unaffected beauty created with the simplest ingredients -- a straightforward chord structure, spare instrumentation, a strong lead singer and baroque background harmonies...Embedded in this era are a trove of powerful, self-taught tenors whose names are all but forgotten, as well as silky, ethereal harmonies, offered up by groups that fans can distinguish instantly ...At the top were groups with more mysterious, murky sounds, their tenors softer and idiosyncratic.."

Playlist 11 ; Playlist 10 ; Playlist 9 ; Playlist 8 ; Playlist 7 ; Playlist 6 ; Playlist 5 ; Playlist 4 ; Playlist 3 ; Playlist 2 ; Playlist 1;

Some examples:

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