- When: Thursday, Oct. 27
- When: 4pm
- Where: Olson 120
- Who: Prof. Kieran Holland
- Title: “Big physics and big computers”
For this week’s talk, we have a real treat: our own Prof. Kieran Holland, an expert at making supercomputers solve his knarly quantum field theory equations so he can better understand the Higgs particle. Come here this exciting talk on his research. (AND: cookies before the talk!)
Here’s the abstract:
The goal of particle physics is to understand the interactions of fundamental objects at the smallest distances we can experimentally probe, and to ultimately answer the question, could the universe have been different. The newest experiment is the Large Hadron Collider near Geneva, where the Higgs boson was discovered in 2012. My research is on using computer simulations to test if a particular model explains why the Higgs boson exists, as well as predicting new particles which the experiment should discover if the model is right. My talk will be at a general undergraduate level.
- When: Thursday, Oct. 15
- When: 3pm
- Where: Olson 120
- Who: Brian Farr (’17) and Robert Ashby (’18)
- Title: “Playing with photons on the tabletop / Hearing the shape of a drum”
Two of our students (sophomore Robert Ashby and junior Brian Farr) are beginning their research projects. Come learn about what they have been doing and their ambitious plans with their projects.
In a previous blog post we congratulated our alum, David Pace (B.S. Physics 2002) for receiving the prestigious Landau-Spitzer Award given by the American Physical Society (APS) for his contributions to understanding the physics of plasmas and fusion.
Now Dr. Pace’s article, written with Drs. William W. Heidbrink and Michael A, Van Zeeland titled Keeping fusion plasmas hot is the feature story appearing on the October 2015 cover of Physics Today, the monthly professional journal of the APS. Pacific students and others on campus can access the article by clicking the title link above. Access is free through our library’s subscription when accessing the article from a computer on campus.
David is the first author of the article, which is about understanding the very complex interactions of plasma particles with the strong electromagnetic fields and waves inside the toroidal (bagel-shaped) fusion reactor, called a Tokamak. In the fusion reactions of deuterium and tritium, high energy alpha particles are produced which heat the plasma and help to maintain thermonuclear temperatures required for a self-sustained reactor. However, as the plasma heats, energetic ions can leak from the “magnetic bottle“, which can lower the reaction yield, ablate material from the tokamak walls polluting the plasma, and even damage the reactor vessel.
The article in Physics Today reviews David’s and his collaborator’s work on understanding these complex wave-particle dynamics that will help researchers better control this energy loss mechanism in reactors such as the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) currently under construction in the south of France. In fact, if you visit ITER’s website, David’s article is featured as one of the rotating header images/links for the international project.
Wow! Cover of Physics Today AND the top of the ITER webpage!
Congratulations Dr. David Pace from all of us here at UoP!
I expect it won’t be long before David’s picture is on the “cover of the Rolling Stone”.
(for my students, that’s a reference to a 70’s song by Dr. Hook, from when I was your age).
Tuesday, Oct. 6, is the monthly Physics Social, where Physics and Engineering-Physics majors and minors get together with faculty and eat homemade treats, talk about news and issues, and hope to win the raffle prize.
On Tuesday’s agenda:
- Time for the New Physics Department T-Shirt Design Contest !!!
Learn the details and get your Picasso on.
The winner will receive a cool prize, the admiration of your besties, and divine mathematical inspiration while taking the GRE.
Ok. Well, the first two for sure.
- Notebooks are here.
Last time we took orders for gorgeous Moleskin notebooks so you can keep all your project plans, back-of-the-envelope calculations, geek poetry, and time machine designs in one place. Get used to carrying it with you and writing notes to your future self.
Learn about the upcoming weekly talks for majors. Recent talks have included talks on 3D Printing and Arduinos by Chris Vincent (Physics 2014) and on Getting a job with the UN Office of Space Affairs (Therese Jones).
- Drone Video of F=ma
If enough people show up, we will walk to the DUC lawn and make our drone video of the human F=ma
See you at 3:00pm Tuesday Oct. 6, in Olson 105.
- When: Tuesday September 29
- When: 4pm
- Where: Olson 120
- Who: Chris Vincent (UOP ’15)
- Title: Experimental Engineering
Chris will tell us about the engineering and research projects he was involved in over the summer.
Over the summer of 2015, Chris Vincent developed and honed skills in programming, prototyping, and the integration of experimental apparatuses. He worked on building an intensity controller for an alignment laser, a digital scale to measure the amount of N2 in a dewar, a scrolling LED sign to signify that the pump laser was in use, and a system to measure atmospheric data at various altitudes. To accomplish these tasks, he developed skills in programming for Arduino, including communications with external parts, such as potentiometers, load sensors, and LED matrices. Also, he honed 3D modeling and printing skills to create housings for the apparatuses. The ability to build and integrate experimental gear can be the factor to make or brake the completion of the experiment.
David completed his B.S. degree in Physics at the University of the Pacific in 2002. His desire to study nuclear fusion developed following his participation in a summer Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) in 2001 at the National Spherical Torus Experiment, run by the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, where a mega-Ampere current run inspired his excitement for tokamak research.
He went on to earn a Ph.D. in experimental plasma physics at UCLA, working at the Large Plasma Device Laboratory there. With teams at the DIII-D National Fusion Facility through the University of California, Irvine, and at the Alcator C-Mod National Tokamak Facility, Dr. Pace helped commission fast ion loss detector diagnostic systems, leading to new studies of loss mechanisms through wave-particle interactions. He is a U.S. member of the International Tokamak Physics Activity Energetic Particles Topical Group, and leader of the United States Burning Plasma Organization Energetic Particles Group. He is presently a staff scientist with General Atomics and continues to engage in energetic ion research topics anticipated to influence the operation of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER).
The Landua-Spitzer Award specifically recognizes
“an individual or group of researchers not exceeding three, for outstanding theoretical, experimental or technical contribution(s) in plasma physics, and for advancing the collaboration and unity between the European Union (EU) and the United States of America (USA) by joint research, or research that advances knowledge which benefits the EU and USA communities in a unique way.”
The Award consists of a $4000 honorarium and a certificate citing the contribution made by the recipient. The citation for Dr. Pace reads:
“For greater understanding of energetic particle transport in tokamaks through collaborative research”
To learn more check out the links in the text above, especially
- the ITER project site to learn more about the international project to build a nuclear fusion reactor, and
- this article, “A Star in a Bottle” in The New Yorker magazine