Surman Paper Published in Physical Review C, Featured in Physical Review Focus

A paper by a team of researchers including Union Prof. Rebecca Surman has been featured in the March 20th, 2008 issue of Physical Review Focus. The paper, “Fission Cycling in a Supernova r Process” by J. Beun, G. C. McLaughlin, R. Surman, and W. R. Hix appeared in the March 2008 issue of Physical Review C, one of the top journals in physics. It presents new calculations of the formation of heavy elements in supernovae, and is described as “one of the most complete [models] to date.”

Physical Review Focus is an online journal produced by the American Physical Society highlighting approximately one paper per week from the Physical Review journals, and presenting an explanation suitable for students in all fields of physics.

Amanuel Presents Paper at March Meeting

Samuel Amanuel from the Department of Physics and Astronomy (in collaboration with Sanford Sternstein of RPI) presented their paper on “Enthalpic Relaxation of Silica-Polyvinyl Acetate Nanocomposites” at the American Physical Society meeting in New Orleans, March 10-14, 2008. Their thermal measurements on glassy polyvinyl acetate revealed that nano silica particles reduced the extent of relaxations in the polymer. This could imply that nano particle can alter the ageing mechanism of polymers and improve their shelf life.

The annual March Meeting of the APS is the largest physics conference of the year. This year’s meeting was held in New Orleans, LA, with more than 7,000 paper presented by speakers from all over the world.

Nate Calabro ‘08 Presents at Arecibo Observatory Workshop

Prof. Becky Koopmann and Nate Calabro ‘08 at the Areicbo Observatory in Puerto Rico.

Nathan Calabro ’08 presented results of his senior thesis project at the first ALFALFA (Arecibo Legacy Fast ALFA) Undergraduate Team Workshop at Arecibo Observatory in January.The observatory, located in Puerto Rico, is home to the 305-m diameter Arecibo telescope, the largest telescope in the world. Calabro’s project is contributing to the development of an interactive exhibit showcasing ALFALFA results, to be displayed at the observatory’s Angel Ramos Foundation Visitor Center.Astronomers around the world are collaborating on the ALFALFA project, led by astronomers Riccardo Giovanelli and Martha Haynes of Cornell University.The project is mapping a large area of the sky at radio wavelengths appropriate for the detection of neutral hydrogen gas in other galaxies and is expected to detect more than 30,000 galaxies out to a distance of 750 million light years.“Calabro’s exhibit will allow visitors to explore the properties of galaxies and compare observations made at radio wavelengths at Arecibo to optical and other wavelength observations made at other observatories,” said Rebecca Koopmann, associate professor of Physics and Astronomy.The Undergraduate ALFALFA Team workshop, made possible by a National Science Foundation grant to Union, was organized by Koopmann and collaborators.“The workshop highlight was an ALFALFA observing run in which each student had the chance to control the telescope to make ALFALFA observations,” Koopmann said. Students also had the opportunity to tour the facility, including the 450-foot high platform above the reflecting surface.
See the story in the Union College Chronicle.

Crystal Smith ‘08 Presents at State Research Expo

Crystal Smith ‘08

Three Union College students showcased their work in the first “Independent Sector Undergraduate Research Exposition” this week at the Legislative Office Building in Albany.The students were among 70 chosen statewide by a faculty review panel for the daylong event, which featured a display of student research posters and special presentations. A book chronicling all of the research projects will be given to state legislators. […]Crystal Smith ’08Faculty sponsor: Rebecca Surman, Physics and Astronomy“Analysis of Proton-Rich Elemental Abundances Created in Outflows from Gamma-Ray Burst Accretion Disks”[…]Prof. Surman said the event will help legislators “appreciate the value of undergraduate research experiences and understand the resources required to make it happen.”(Read the full story at the Union College Chronicle.)

Chili Cook-Off Feb. 14

Because nothing says “romance” like a big pot of spicy stew, the Department of Physics and Astronomy will hold a chili cook-off this Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14th. Faculty members will cook their best chili recipes, and students and faculty are invited to taste them all and vote for their favorite.

The cook-off will be at noon, in the break room, just off the Department office. Bring your appetite!

Focus the Nation Teach-In Event

Students, faculty and staff will join more than 1,500 campuses nationwide Thursday, Jan. 31 for the “Focus the Nation” teach-in for global warming designed to mobilize people beyond the discussion level to demand real solutions.

Focus challenges 50 faculty members on each campus to spend 10 minutes discussing sustainability in their classrooms.

Campus-wide activities kick off Wednesday, Jan. 30 with a live, one-hour Webcast of “The 2% Solution” in the F.W. Olin Center Auditorium at 8 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. Audiences will be invited to weigh in with cell phone voting.

[Physics major] Steve Po-Chedley ’08 is coordinating Union’s student events. He has created a Web site,, which includes links to sustainability efforts on campus, a sign-up form and a list of participating faculty.

“This event not only encourages faculty to demonstrate a commitment to and foster an awareness of these imminent problems, it will allow them to reach out to a great deal of students on campus, shedding light on issues of sustainability and climate change,” Po-Chedley said.

(Read the full artilce in the Union College Chronicle.)

Luncheon 10/30/07

The Department of Physics and Astronomy will have a potluck luncheon on October 30th. In honor of Halloween, the dishes for the luncheon should be scary, or at the very least, orange.

Planned dishes include chili, Thai chicken, and roast turkey (which isn’t all that scary, but what can you do?). Lunch will be at noon in the department lounge. All are welcome.

Physics 100 Dinner

Physics 100 Dinner

On October 25th, students and faculty from the First-Year Seminar (Physics 100) class went to dinner at Sitar, a local Indian restaurant and department favorite. Eleven of the twelve students, and four of the five faculty came to dinner, and feasted on reshmi kebab, lamb vindaloo, chicken tikka masala and the ever-popular “special naan.”

Students Present at DNPAPS Meeting

Three physics majors presented posters at the Fall Meeting of the Division of Nuclear Physics of the American Physical Society (DNPAPS) in Newport News, VA, October 11-13. Richie Bonventre (’08) presented his work on the “Extraction of Yields for Neutral Meson Photoproduction from the Proton and Helium-3 with the CLAS Detector at Jefferson Lab.” “Fiducial Volumes for Photons Detected in the Forward Calorimeters of the CLAS Detector at JLab” was the title of the poster presented by Christian Shultz (’08). Crystal Smith reported on her work on the “Analysis of Proton-Rich Elemental Abundances Created in Outflows from Gamma-Ray Burst Accretion Disks.” Richie and Christian work with Prof. Michael Vineyard on their projects and Crystal is working with Prof. Rebecca Surman. Ninety-seven undergraduate posters were presented at the meeting, and all three of the Union College students were awarded lodging and travel grants from the Conference Experience for Undergraduates program of the DNPAPS.

Pictures from the meeting: Richie Bonventre, Christian Shultz, Crystal Smith

(See also the story in the Union College Chronicle)

SPS Trip to Boston 10/9/07

On October 9th, 2007 the Union College chapter of the Society of Physics Students organized a bus trip to Boston. Nine students and two faculty from the department spent the morning visiting the MIT Museum, where they played with an interactive topographic mapping system (seen at left), and saw exhibits on the history of robotics at MIT and a display of kinetic sculpture.

After lunch, the group visited the research group of Wolfgang Ketterle, who shared the 2001 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on Bose-Einstein Condensation. The students received tours of two of the Ketterle labs, before splitting up to spend the afternoon in Boston.

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