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Jan Zirnstein

Willing to learn

Jan Zirnstein says that when he started his job on the NOvA experiment he had no experience, apart from a 1000-level computer science course, in computer programming. Now he’s writing analysis software. He says that it is not unusual for students in experimental physics groups to arrive with little more than a willingness to learn. “After a month of sitting down and working on it, you’d be amazed at how much you have learned.” More »

Blake Rowedder

Society of Physics Students

A darkened room, spooky music, lots of colorful lights, and hundreds of excited elementary school age children, may sound like the setting for a Halloween party, but it was the home of dozens of hands-on physics displays in the Mystery Science room at the Math and Science Family fun fair, held annually at Coffman Union. One more element made the experience exciting and interesting for kids of all ages: the presence of the Society of Physics Students (SPS.) SPS members were on hand to walk the public through the demonstrations. More »

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Matter and anti-matter

Greg Pawloski is an expert on antimatter. As such he works on one of the great unsolved mysteries of physics: what is the cause of the great asymmetry in matter and antimatter? Physicists have long theorized that there are antiparticles for every particle in the Universe and that these annihilate one another in pairs. Yet, if there were an equal number of anti-matter particles, there would be no matter in the Universe. More »

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LIGO searches for Einstein's gravitational waves

Many a student has sat in freshman physics and asked, “when am I ever going to use this in real life?” Eric Thrane, a postdoctoral researcher in Professor Vuk Mandic’s LIGO group would answer that question by introducing you to Jeff Mondloch, an undergraduate working on a prototype pendulum for an interferometer designed to measure gravitational-waves–– minute ripples in the fabric of spacetime. More »

Brian Andersson prepares a lecture demonstration

When physics goes "boom"

Ask Brian Andersson, assistant education specialist, in charge of the School of Physics and Astronomy lecture demonstration area, what his favorite demo is and he’ll tell you: “anything that explodes.” Which could describe a significant number of the over 1,000 demonstrations that Andersson has in his repertoire. More »

Lcuy Fortson

A Zooniverse of Astrophysics

Lucy Fortson is an experimental high-energy astrophysicist working on blazars, which means that she uses telescopes to try to understand how the highest energy gamma rays are being produced by celestial objects. More »

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Physicists in training

When one imagines a room full of physicists in training, the image that comes to mind is perhaps not a group of students sitting around playing with Legos. But that is precisely the metaphor used by Kurt Wick to describe his classes in the Methods of Experimental Physics. The students do not play with actual interlocking colored bricks, but rather bits of computer systems that might fit together in larger experiments. More »

Allen Goldman

Ionic Liquids - Quantum Phase Transitions

Allen Goldman is a condensed matter experimentalist working on the properties of materials at low temperatures. His research involves the study of quantum phase transitions. These are transitions that are found at absolute zero with an external parameter of the system such as magnetic field, disorder, chemical composition or charge density, controlling the transition. More »

Sam Schreiner

Celestial Weather Man

Sam Schreiner is studying to be a weatherman of sorts. He is a student in the field of Heliophysics, the physics of the sun’s heliosphere and the objects (including the Earth) that interact with it. Specifically Sam been studying the “weather patterns” of particularly violent sun storms called Coronal Mass Ejections (CME). More »

Woods Halley

Alternative energy

J. Woods Halley has worked many years on problems associated with alternative energy. Halley applies his knowledge of the physics of electro-chemistry to energy-relevant problems. He has been working with chemists from 3M and Argonne National Laboratory on problems in hydrogen fuel cells proposed for use in cars that would refill at hydrogen stations. More »


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