UW-Whitewater Physics News
Assoc. Professor Bob Benjamin featured on the UW-W Home Page with a Why I Teach Video Transcript
UWW Society of Physics Students Field trip to the Chicago Museum of Science and IndustryThe SPS group went on a field trip to the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry on Saturday, November 7, 2009. Pictures of the trip are here.
UW-Whitewater Physics Department hosted the 2009 Wisconsin Association of Physics Teachers Meeting on October 30 and 31, 2009.
Event details can be found on the WAPT 2009 Meeting Information page or downloaded from the 2009 Meeting Program (pdf).
Dr. Steven Maran provided the keynote "Galileo to Hubble and Beyond" at 8 pm in the Hamilton Center.
A summary and links from the meeting are at http://www.uwec.edu/wapt/Meetings/2009/Summary/index.html and pictures of the meeting are here.
- Steven Sahyun provided a physics activity on creating sound with magnets, wires, and plastic cups and provided a presentation about the Milky Way galaxy to 40 students who participated in Whitewater High School's English Language Learners visit to UWW campus October 16, 2009. Details are at the UWW Media page description of the visit.
- Bob Benjamin arranges for the traveling poster exhibition From the Earth to the Universe of 40 images of Earth and space to be on display at the Physics Department from October 23 - Nov. 23, 2009
Benjamin has been awarded a three-year, $324 K grant from the NASA Astrophysics Theory program to support his research program entitled "Kinematics of the Interstellar Disk-Halo Interface in Galaxies". The project will develop simulations to track the motions and velocities of intergalactic gas clouds accreted by the Galaxy, and magneto- hydrodynamical models to examine the rotation of gas in galaxies. This will provide financial support for Dr. Benjamin during a proposed sabbatical, support for two undergraduate research assistants during the summers, financial support for Dr. Benjamin's collaborator Dr. Bart Wakker (UW-Madison), a single high-end workstation for numerical simulations, and travel support to Morelia, Mexco to work with a collaborator at the Centro de Radioastronomica y Astrofisica-UNAM.
Physics department welcomes new member: Dr. Jalal Nawash (8/24/09)
The physics department welcomes Assistant Professor Jalal Nawash who begins teaching at UW-Whitewater in Fall 2009. Dr. Nawash has a Ph.D. in Physics and Materials Science from Washington State University. His area of research is in Crystal Growth. He has also taught at Gonzaga University.
Physics professor Dr. Bob Benjamin, recent graduates play role in discovering path of giant gas cloud headed for Milky Way (1/12/08)
With the help of a University of Wisconsin-Whitewater physics professor and two recent graduates, crucial information has been gathered about a giant cloud of hydrogen gas headed toward the Milky Way Galaxy.
The information was gathered by Assistant Professor of Physics Robert Benjamin, and recent graduates AJ Heroux of West Bend and Travis Fischer of Hartford and was used to create an extremely detailed high-resolution image of the cloud, called Smith's Cloud after the astronomer who discovered it in 1963. This cloud of hydrogen gas is about a million times larger than the mass of the sun.
When Smith's Cloud was first discovered, the available images didn't have enough detail to show whether the cloud was part of the Milky Way Galaxy, something falling out or something falling in. "Now, we can see what's happening," Benjamin said.
The help provided by Benjamin, Heroux and Fischer proved that the cloud appears to be smashing into the Milky Way Galaxy, and it is breaking up as it hits the galaxy. These new images were presented at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Austin, Texas on Jan. 11.
" The gas cloud we are observing could potentially form into a million new suns," Benjamin said. "This bombardment of the galaxy by infalling gas means that the amount of time that our Milky Way can form new stars is being extended; it keeps our Galaxy young and vigorous. In fact, the impact of the cloud as it hits the Milky Way may actually 'trigger' star formation."
Heroux graduated in May 2007 with a double major in math education and physics and is in his first year of graduate school at the University of Virginia. Under the supervision of Felix J. Lockman of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, Heroux spent the summer processing data from Smith's Cloud and putting together the image using the NRAO Green Bank Telescope. This is not the average-sized telescope, as Heroux was trained how to climb the telescope two summers ago. The National Science Foundation sponsored this program titled "Research Experience for Undergraduates."
Fischer also graduated in May 2007 with a major in physics and is in his first year of graduate school in astronomy at Georgia State University in Atlanta. While Fischer's name won't be associated with this project, he played an important role in the discovery of the cloud's path. He developed the theory and models that were used to calculate and interpret the orbit of the cloud. He determined the impact parameter, degree inclination and random velocities of the cloud. Fischer developed the theory, and Heroux made the observations. Benjamin connected the two projects together to analyze Smith's Cloud.
It was determined that the cloud will likely strike a region somewhat farther from the Galactic center of our Solar System and about 90 degrees ahead of us in the Milky Way disk, in about 20 to 40 million years. The collision may trigger a period of rapid star formation fueled by the new gas and the shock from the collision. Some theories say that the ring of bright stars near the sun, called Gould's Belt, was created by a similar collision event.
- USA Today
- Associated Press
- New Scientist
- Universe Today
- Astronomy Magazine
- Physics Students recognized at 2007 Science & Mathematics Scholarship Ceremony. May 3rd 2007. For some pictures of the ceremony see the 2007 Science Awards Pictures page.
Physics Students present research at NCUR (4/18/07)
Excerpt from Royal Purple Article
Eric Phillips presented a poster on his two-year research of "Constraints on the Vertical Stellar Structure of the Galactic Disk, Bar, and Spiral Arms." His study covered the sky within five degrees of the Galactic plane, which passes through the Milky Way galaxy.
While at the conferences, he took the chance to compare the works of other schools.
"It's a good opportunity to see how Whitewater compares to other schools in terms of the level of research," Phillips said.
Not only did students have the opportunity to show their work, they also had the benefit of networking. Participants were able to meet fellow students researching the same topic, as well as influential people who could help them get into graduate school.
"I met a grad student from Madison, Wisc., who is doing the same research as I am," Phillips said.
- Ashley Vincent, Royal Purple.
Shery Boschert presents "Plug-in Hybrids: The Cars that will Recharge America" as part of UWW 2007 Earth Day (4/20/07)
UWW Physics Students Present posters of research at the Synchrotron Radiation Center. (4/26/07)
(4/27/07)Intermediate Physics Laboratory students presented posters of research the Synchrotron Radiation Center (SRC) at the Friday, April 26, 2007 UWW physics colloquium. Their posters highlighted X-ray photo-emission experiments they performed at the SRC on the SPECTRA beamline as part of the Intermediate Physics Laboratory course. Picture
(4/25/06)Intermediate Physics Laboratory students Chase Sutherland, Travis Fischer, and Kyle Kalbus presented their posters to SRC staff at the Synchrotron Radiation Center (SRC) on Tuesday, April 25, 2006. Picture
Dr. Steven Sahyun awarded National Instruments LabVIEW software grant for Physics Department(9/28/06)
National Instruments' Grant Program recently awarded University of Wisconsin-Whitewater associate physics professor Steven Sahyun a departmental site license to LabVIEW software that will give students a step up on the competition in the physics and electronics field. LabVIEW will be installed in all of Upham Hall's computer labs. The software is valued at $5,000 and will be used in several Physics courses, most notably the Intermediate Physics Laboratory course.
For the past two decades, LabVIEW has been widely considered the industry standard for experimental research and equipment monitoring involving all kinds of electrical devices. Engineers and scientists use LabVIEW as a quick and easy way to compute text code, which up until now has been tedious and time-consuming work. LabVIEW is used for equipment modifications in electrical machinery, controlling robotic arms in production, as well as many other uses in the field of physics and electronics.
"By teaching LabVIEW, students are provided with a powerful software tool that makes them more marketable in the workplace and more efficient in research," Sahyun said. " LabVIEW is a 'real world' application that our graduates may encounter in their work environment."
In order for the LabVIEW software to benefit students, a matching grant from the College of Letters and Sciences Interim Dean Mary Pinkerton was provided to the physics department to purchase data acquisition units. These units make it possible for the program on the computer screen to be transferred to hands-on electronic experiments. " This site license will allow students to learn and experiment with the program not only in class, but outside of class for assignments and other research activities," Sahyun said.
September 28, 2006 - Mike Varga
UW-Whitewater student to compete in Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium sounding rocket competition. (5/5/06)
Given only a motor and an altimeter, the students will create a design, purchase parts and calculate flight patterns for their rocket. Although the UW-Whitewater students are not chock full of engineering experience, they view the competition as an opportunity to learn from both trial and error and the competing schools, like the Milwaukee School of Engineering and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, that specialize in research and engineering. For the complete story visit UW-W News and Publications.
Physics Students Visit Marquette for Nobel Prize Lecture (10/13/05)
Seventeen physics majors and three faculty members piled into two vans to attend a public lecture at Marquette University by Dr. Eric Cornell, one of the recipients of the Nobel Prize in Physics for his work with a new form of matter called Bose-Einstein condensates. The lecture auditorium was almost full to capacity and Dr. Cornell gave a very informative and entertaining lecture. Everything you need to know about quantum mechanics and thermodynamics was contained on only two slides.
Physics Department Welcomes New Member: Prof. Abdelkrim Boukahil (8/25/05)
The Physics Department welcomes Prof. Abdelkrim Boukahil to its ranks starting in the Fall 2005 semester. Before joining us, he was a popular professor in the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science here at UW-Whitewater. Dr. Boukahil obtained his Master's degree in theoretical physics at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor in 1984, and a PhD in theoretical physics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1991. His research interests focus on the intersection of magnetism, quantum mechanics, and condensed matter physics, where he has done analytical and computation work in the area of disordered systems and spin glasses. He has been the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater representative to the Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium, is a member of the American Physical Society and has most recently presented a paper entitled "Why Students Avoid Physics in High School and College" at the August 2005 meeting of the American Association of Physics Teachers in Salt Lake City. In his first week on the job, Prof Abdelkrim organized a visit of the entire UW-Whitewater Physics department to the nationally recognized physics department at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse.
Entire UW-Whitewater Physics Faculty Roadtrips to Nationally Recognized Physics Department (8/24/05)
New physics department member , Prof. Abdelkrim Boukahil, arranged for the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Physics faculty to visit the Physics Department of UW-LaCrosse for an all-day tour on Aug 25,2005. Once a program slated for cancellation in the early 1990s, UW-LaCrosse has bounced back to become one of the top physics departments in the country, graduating approximately 20 majors a year. Prof. Gubbi Sudhakaran, chair of the UW-LaCrosse department, gave a presentation to the UW-W faculty on the changes and reforms that resulted in this amazing turnaround. The UW-Whitewater physics department is currently instigating several reforms inspired by the UW-LaCrosse example, as well as obtaining new equipment and facilities in recent renovation.
Four UW-Whitewater Physics Students Honored With Wisconsin Space Grant Scholarships (8/20/05)
Four UW-Whitewater students and a faulty members were honored with Fellowships and Research grants from the Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium . Physics majors Jeffrey Polak, Brian Morrison, and Greg Erdahl, all students in the Department of Physics, and Heidi Gneiser, from the Department of Mathematics, were honored with 2005-2006 Undergraduate Scholarships. Heidi Gneiser was also awarded a Undergraduate Research grant for her Spitzer Space Telescope study of the star forming region W43 (featured on the cover of the L&S magazine in Spring 2005). Prof. Robert Benjamin was also awarded a "Seed Research Grant" for a project "Toward a Galactic Center: Synthesizing Recent Results on Galactic Structure". Congratulations to all for their accomplishments.
Galactic Discovery by Dr. Bob Benjamin Makes International Headlines (8/17/05)
A scientific paper by Prof. Bob Benjamin on the stellar structure of the Galaxy that was accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal Letters has made international headlines! The paper presents an analysis of the number of stars seen along the Galactic plane using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope for a galactic survey called GLIMPSE (Galactic Legacy Midplane Survey Extraordinaire). This work provides the best parameters yet for the distribution of stars in our Milky Way. The biggest surprise of the study was the detection of a stellar bar much longer and at a much different angle than had been previously indicated. A press release by UW-Madison and UW-Whitewater was publicized around the world, appearing in the Washington Post, USA Today, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, CNN, CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox News, National Geographic, Scientific American, Times of London, Sydney Morning Herald, People's Daily of China, and more than a hundred other news sources around the world. A partial listing of news outlets carrying the story can be found here . Prof. Benjamin will talk about the discovery and the subsequent press coverage at the first Whitewater Observatory lecture for this semester.
Boschert is a medical news reporter based in San Francisco, who has become a leading spokesperson for plug-in hybrids, especially as a way to reduce our carbon footprint. She is the author of Plug-in Hybrids: The Cars that will Recharge America. According to Boschert, a "perfect storm" of forces is bringing plug-in hybrids to market now. Advances in technology, concern about global warming, and heightened American vulnerability to oil-producing nations are pushing automakers toward plug-ins.