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Clem Pryke at the South Pole with the Keck Array team

Viewing the Beginning of the Universe from the Bottom of the World

Clem Pryke is a cosmologist who uses telescopes at the South Pole in Antarctica to learn about the origins of the Universe. Over the last couple of decades cosmology has moved from being the domain of mystics and philosophers to being a hard observational science. One of the pillars of this progress has been measurements of the radio "after-glow" of the Big Bang - known as the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB). More »

Bryan Dahmes

Trigger Man

Sifting through data is a monumental task on physics experiments and the larger the experiment, the more the data piles up. At the Compact Muon Solenoid experiment at the Large Hadron Collider in CERN, Switzerland, the problem is so great that physicists can’t even record all of the events created by the collider. “We get data at a rate of more than a million events per second," says Bryan Dahmes a Research Associate at the University of Minnesota, who lives and works at CERN. More »

Neil Barnaby

Talking about the Primordial Universe

Neil Barnaby is a theoretical cosmologist whose research deals with the physics of primordial Universe. Barnaby says he was drawn to Cosmology because “it was a way to do some of the same mathematical calculations and still be in touch with real-world observations.” More »

Lee Wienkes adjusts some research aparatus

Understanding Amorphous Silicon

Lee Wienkes is a graduate student working with Professor Jim Kakalios on mixed-phase silicon thin films. The materials they study have two main applications, solar cells and thin film transistors (which help make LCD screens possible). Amorphous silicon can be easily deposited over a large area , which combined with its strong light absorption, make it an excellent candidate for cost effective solar cells. Unfortunately, due to the Staebler-Wronski effect, the efficiency of the cells degrade in the presence of light. “Amorphous silicon is a solar cell which works well in the dark." More »

Mac Cameron

Nikola Tesla Patent Producers

Mac Cameron, a junior in the School of Physics and Astronomy, is the founder of the student group, the Nikola Tesla Patent Producers (NTP^2). Cameron started the group in the fall of 2010 after being fascinated with Nikola Tesla’s unproduced patents, some of which are ground-breaking even today. Inspired by the idea that these old unproduced inventions could have an impact on the world today, he decided to gather up the smartest people he knew to produce some of the patents. More »

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 »


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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