Tag Archive for physics

Aerodynamics of Insect Flight Topic of Bertman Lecture

Jane Wang, associate professor of theoretical and applied mechanics at Cornell University, was the keynote speaker at the annual Memorial Bertman Lecture April 30 in Exley Science Center. The event was sponsored and organized by the Department of Physics.

Jane Wang, associate professor of theoretical and applied mechanics at Cornell University, was the keynote speaker at the annual Memorial Bertman Lecture April 30 in Exley Science Center. The event was sponsored and organized by the Department of Physics.

Wang spoke on the aerodynamics and optimization of "Falling Paper and Insect Flight." She focused on dragonfly flight and her current effort in understanding the dynamics and control of insects in free flight.

Wang spoke on the aerodynamics and optimization of "Falling Paper and Insect Flight." She focused on dragonfly flight and her current effort in understanding the dynamics and control of insects in free flight.

To understand the works of nature, Wang examines an insect from its outer scale, where insect wings are immersed in fluids. To stay aloft, an insect wing must solve the problem of unsteady aerodynamics. She questions, "What kind of flow and forces does a flapping wing generate? How are flows and forces similar and different from those around and on an airfoil? Exactly when does the classical aerodynamic theory become inapplicable?"

Wang's presentation examined an insect from its outer scale, where insect wings are immersed in fluids. To stay aloft, an insect wing must solve the problem of unsteady aerodynamics. During her presentation she asked the audience to consider: "What kind of flow and forces does a flapping wing generate? How are flows and forces similar and different from those around and on an airfoil? Exactly when does the classical aerodynamic theory become inapplicable?"

the story of a liberal arts physics major in the medical bubble." (Photos by Alexandra Portis '09)

The Bertman Lecture concluded the Department of Physics's 2009 Colloquium Series. On April 16, Sam Slishman '93 of the Endorphin Power Company, spoke on "Physics and medicine, the good and the bad: the story of a liberal arts physics major in the medical bubble." (Photos by Alexandra Portis '09)

Mishara-Blomberger ’11, West ’11 Receive Goldwater Scholarships

From the day Carl T. West ’11 arrived on Wesleyan’s campus, he wanted to study the fundamentals of quantum mechanics.

Although reluctant at first, Tsampikos Kottos, assistant professor of physics, welcomed the eager frosh to his “Complex Quantum Dynamics and Mesoscopic Phenomena” research group.

“To be honest, Carl was a kind of an experiment, for me,” Kottos says. “I usually take sophomores and above at my group, but Carl was so confident on what he wanted, so I decided to involve a freshman in our research. It was a good and decision.”

Carl T. West '11

Carl T. West '11

In the past two years, West wrote an article that was accepted to an international physics journal, presented research to the American Physical Society, and worked out a system dealing with quantum chaos studies with results Kottos had not seen before. And in April, West, along with Jonas Mishara-Blomberger ’11, received a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship for the 2009-10 academic year.

The Goldwater Scholarship Award, established by Congress in 1986, is the most prestigious national undergraduate scholarship in mathematics, physics and engineering. Of the 1,097 applicants nominated by faculty members, only 278 students were selected to receive the scholarship.

West, a mathematics, physics and philosophy triple major, and Mishara-Blomberger, a mathematics and physics double major, will each receive a $7,500 scholarship to help cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board for their junior and senior year. They will join Kottos at the Max-Planck Institute in Göttingen, Germany this summer.

“It is very exciting for me to receive the Goldwater Fellowship because it is both a great honor and also gives me encouragement to continue pursuing my goals to do research in physics and mathematics,” Mishara-Blomberger says.

Jonas Mishara-Blomberger '11

Jonas Mishara-Blomberger '11

Mishara-Blomberger applied for the Goldwater scholarship while working with Assistant Professor of Physics Greg Voth’s research group on dynamic phenomena of granular gasses. By vibrating a glass chamber filled with 3mm-wide glass spheres, the Voth lab achieved a system of macroscopic particles that have similar properties to a gas.

“Whereas in a gas, you usually cannot acquire data of individual molecules, in our quasi-2-dimensional granular gas we can measure the trajectories of every particle. This direct measurement allows us to calculate variables like pressure, stresses, and viscosity of our system at any given height and time,” Mishara-Blomberger explains.

He will join Kottos’ group this summer to study current relaxation for systems with phase transition (for example how light intensity decays out of a leaking cavity filled with random scatterers).

“It is one of the research lines very close to the same family of problems that Carl and former students have worked on in the past,” Kottos explains. “I am optimistic that Jonas will also come up with a new strong result.”

West will begin a new project, studying how an initial excitation, evolves in time for two systems which are very similar to one-another. This study aims to quantify the sensitivity of dynamics of a complex mesoscopic system to small perturbations. These perturbations are associated with fabrication errors of the mesoscopic device, changes in the environmental temperature etc.

“Here the systems are too big to describe using exact Quantum mechanics, but too small for Newtonian mechanics to work well either. So, these systems allows us to probe fundamental types of questions regarding the agreement of classical and quantum descriptions of chaos,” West explains. “In fact, we are even able to examine the dynamics, that is, how the system changes in time, which is an exceptionally difficult problem.”

In 2008, Goldwater Scholarships went to Noah Biro ’09 a molecular biology and biochemistry and sociology double major, and Alison Ringel ’09, a molecular biology and biochemistry and physics double major.

“This continues the great 2008 success of our Wesleyan undergraduates in the annual competition,” says Reinhold Blumel, the Charlotte Augusta Ayers Professor of Physics, chair of the Physics Department. “Both Jonas and Carl are doing great work in physics, and this, no doubt, attests to Wesleyan’s strength in the sciences and mathematics.”

After Wesleyan, West hopes to pursue a Ph.D in physics and become a research professor; whereas Mishara-Blomberger is planning to attend graduate school for either mathematics or theoretical physics.

“I feel very strongly that my getting this award reflects the strength of Wesleyan’s Physics Department and the amazing commitment we have to undergraduate research,” West says. “What I have been able to do in the past four semesters is totally impossible at most major universities, but here at Wes it is not only doable but encouraged.”

In addition to sharing the Goldwater Scholarship, Mishara-Blomberger and West also received the Johnston Prize in 2008. The prize is awarded to those first-year students or sophomores whose performance in their first two semesters of physics shows exceptional promise.

In April 2009, they  each received the Karl Van Dyke Prize, awarded each year to one or more students either majoring in physical science or having a predominant interest in physical science and technology, and who show outstanding achievement in academic work and a promise of productivity in a professional career. They were nominated by faculty in the Physics Department.

Population Growth Topic of Stewart’s Earth Week Rant

Brian Stewart, associate professor of physics, led the second annual Earth Week Rant April 23 in Exley Science Center. The event was open to the entire Wesleyan community.

Brian Stewart, associate professor of physics, led this second annual "Earth Week Rant" April 23 in Exley Science Center. The event was open to the Wesleyan and broader communities.

Stewart focused his rant on the connection between resource depletion, pollution including global warming, and population growth. HHere, Stewart explains the Canadian and U.S. natural gas resources and reserves.

Stewart focused his "rant" on the connection between resource depletion, pollution including global warming, and population growth. Here, Stewart discusses the Canadian and U.S. natural gas resources and reserves.

Stewart hopes his rants lead the Wesleyan community into building a sustainable future. (Photos by Olivia Bartlett)

Stewart decided to establish his annual tradition in recognition of the urgent need for discussion of these critical issues. He regards the nearly full house of attendees from the Wesleyan and broader communities as evidence of the popular appetite for information on resource, pollution and population issues.(Photos by Olivia Bartlett)

Energy, Medicine, Nanotechnology Topics at Physics Colloquium Series

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Fred Schlachter, a physicist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, speaks on "Over a barrel: A worldwide energy crisis" during the Department of Physics's Colloquium Series Feb. 26 in Exley Science Center. (Photo by Alexandra Portis '09)

An emerging worldwide energy crisis demands a new approach for a sustainable energy future.

“How we adapt will determine our future on this planet,” said physicist Fred Schlachter, during the Department of Physics’ Colloquium Series Feb. 26 in Exley Science Center.

Schlachter, a guest speaker from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Advanced Light Source Division, is the co-author of Energy Future: Think Efficiency, a report that examines how America can look within to achieve energy security and reduce global warming. At Wesleyan, he gave a presentation titled “Over a barrel: A world wide energy crisis.”

The topic of energy is a key theme ongoing in the Physics Department’s Spring 2009 Colloquium Series. Other guest speakers, including three Wesleyan alumni,

Alden, Imai, Starr Awarded Tenure

The Wesleyan University Board of Trustees affirmed the promotion with tenure, effective July 1, 2009, of the following members of the faculty:

Jane Alden.

Jane Alden.

Jane Alden, associate professor of music, was appointed assistant professor of music at Wesleyan in 2001. Prior, she was an acting assistant professor at Stanford University, and an instructor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Alden was awarded a Wesleyan Center for the Humanities Fellowship and was a visiting research associate at Harvard University. She has been the recipient of a Mellon Center Mini-Grant, a Wesleyan University seed grant, and Wesleyan University Snowdon funding for a symposium.

Her research and teaching interest include manuscript production and music books in the 15th century; historiography of chanson in the late 19th and 20th centuries; The “New York School” of American experimental

Kottos Honorary Distinguished Guest at Physics Symposium

Tsampikos Kottos

Tsampikos Kottos

Tsampikos Kottos, assistant professor of physics, was invited to the 7th Christmas Symposium of Physicists Dec. 11-13. The event will be held at the University of Maribor’s Center for Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics in Maribor, Slovenia.

Kottos will be one of the main speakers and an honorary distinguished guest. The scientific meeting involves several distinguished guests from abroad, covering all research disciplines in physics.

Physics Group Hosts Mesoscopic Systems Symposium Oct. 26

Wesleyan's Complex Quantum Dynamics and Mesoscopic Phenomena Group is hosting the annual New England Mesoscopic Systems Symposium Oct. 26. Group members include front, from left, James Aisenberg, Rangga Budoyo, Gim Seng Ng, Mei Zheng, Katrina Smith-Mannschott and Carl West, and back, from left, Joshua Bodyfelt and Tsampikos Kottos.

Wesleyan's Complex Quantum Dynamics and Mesoscopic Phenomena Group is hosting the annual New England Mesoscopic Systems Symposium Oct. 26. Group members include front, from left, James Aisenberg '09, Rangga Budoyo (now at the University of Maryland), Gim Seng Ng '08 (now at Harvard University), Mei Zheng '10, graduate student Katrina Smith-Mannschott and Carl West '11, and back, from left, graduate student Joshua Bodyfelt and Tsampikos Kottos, assistant professor of physics.

Physicists, predominately from New England and Europe, will convene Oct. 26 at Wesleyan to discuss topics related to mesoscopic systems. The one-day event, coordinated by the Physics Department’s Complex Quantum Dynamics and Mesoscopic Phenomena Group, will be the first-ever New England Mesoscopic Systems Symposium.

The mesoscopic scale lies between microscopic and macroscopic, which is visible to the human eye.