This message contains images. If you don't see images, click here to view.
Click here to advertise in this news brief.

  Mobile version   RSS   Subscribe   Unsubscribe   Archive   Media Kit Dec. 15, 2012
Volume: III
Number: 45

National Society of Black Physicists    African Physical Society   South African Institute of Physics   African Astronomical Society  


Galactic methanol spectra constrains changes in electron-proton mass ratio
Ars Technica    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The constancy of physical constants, like the electron-proton mass ratio, is a reasonable assumption, but it isn't a necessary feature of the Universe. Indeed some physicists have postulated the existence of slowly varying parameters instead of constants. If this is true molecular spectra of the same molecule in two distant galaxies might be different. A team of astrophysicists has measured the rotational spectra of methanol that absorbed light some 7 billion years ago. The difference between this spectra and that taken presently in the lab was incredibly small: less than one part in 107. Methanol's torsional spectrum depends directly on the relationship between the proton and electron mass. Thus the researchers suggest that their work at least sets a limit on a possible cosmological variation of the proton-to-electron mass ratio. The work is reported in Science. More

Flexible graphene transistor sets new records
Physics World    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
NSBP member, Dr. Deji Akinwande, and his research team at the University of Texas at Austin have made state-of-the-art flexible graphene field-effect transistors with record current densities and the highest power and conversion gain ever. The transistors also show near-symmetric electron and hole transport, are the most mechanically robust flexible graphene devices fabricated to date, and can be immersed in a liquid without any ill effects. To make the devices the team used microlithography atop a plastic substrate. The plastic substrate can easily be patterned with metallic gates to make complex transistors. The graphene itself was made by chemical vapor deposition and was passivated with silicon nitride. Potential applications include flexible smartphones, displays, fabric and even smart walls. But they could also be basic science tools to help understand heat transport as well as the dependencies of spatial and mechanical features on Dirac cones in graphene. A conference paper describing this work is available, and a full paper will appear in Applied Physics Letters. More

Astrobiology researchers show how wide binary stars form
University of Hawaii    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Researchers in the US and Finland have used computer simulations to come up with a mechanism that accounts for the formation of wide binaries. In their model most stars are initially formed in small compact multiple systems with two, three or even more stars at the center of a cloud core. When more than two stars are together in a small space, they gravitationally pull on each other in a chaotic dance, where the lightest body is often kicked out to the outskirts of the core for long periods of time before falling back into the fray. What then happens simultaneously, depending on the amount and energy of the gas, is that small bodies are ejected to wide orbits, while the core continues to accrete gas to make bigger stars. The larger bodies may eventually merge, and the smaller ones may be ejected to such wide orbits that they never return. So a 3-star system, which is actually a close binary and a single star in a wide orbit, eventually may become a 2-star system due to the merger of the close pair. The work is reported in Nature. More

Increase your options for graduate or REU program admissions
NSBP    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The NSBP GradApps and REUApps services are open to all students and allows them to upload all the elements of an admissions application, including academic and work history, transcripts, letters of recommendation and a personal statement. Graduate and REU programs can subscribe to these databases to increase the programs' applicant pool, while at the same time allowing students can put their credentials in front of more programs than to which they would otherwise apply. More

Hubble sees new galaxies, the youngest yet
Hubblesite    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have uncovered a previously unseen population of seven primitive galaxies that formed more than 13 billion years ago, when the universe was less than 3 percent of its present age. These are the deepest images to date from Hubble in terms of red-shift. The observations show that as the look-back time increases, i.e., going further and further back in time, the number of galaxies decline. They also support the idea that galaxies assembled continuously over time and also may have provided enough radiation to reheat, or reionize, the universe a few hundred million years after the big bang. The paper describing the observations will appear in Astrophysical Journal Letters. More

X-rays could provide early warning of supernovae
University of Leicester    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
A team of astronomers led by the University of Leicester has uncovered new evidence that suggests that X-ray detectors in space could be the first to witness new supernovae that signal the death of massive stars. Astronomers have measured an excess of X-ray radiation in the first few minutes of collapsing massive stars, which may be the signature of the supernova shock wave first escaping from the star. Nearly a decade ago astronomers confirmed the connection between supernovae and gamma-ray bursts. Only the most energetic supernovae go hand-in-hand with gamma-ray bursts, but for this sub-class it may be possible to identify X-ray emission signatures of the supernova in its infancy. If the supernova could be detected earlier, by using the X-ray early warning system, astronomers could monitor the event as it happens and pinpoint the drivers behind one of the most violent events in our Universe. These observations are reported in a duo of papers in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. More

Satellite detects strange thunderstorm gamma rays
Mother Nature Network    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has recently been upgraded to better detect brief yet highly powerful bursts of gamma rays that get produced during thunderstorms. With the upgraded Gamma-ray Burst Monitor scientists hope they will be able to detect 850 terrestrial gamma-ray flashes (TGFs) each year, still a fraction of the 1,100 TGFs estimated to occur each day. Initial post-upgrade observations are reported in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics. TGFs are thought to be generated by strong electrical fields at the top of thunderstorms. Certain conditions cause the fields to become strong enough that they send a rush of electrons upward, which then interact with air molecules and give off the gamma rays. This has been correlated with observations by the World Wide Lightning Location Network, and could also be the source of the radio emissions from lightning. Lighting has also been linked to anti-matter and free neutron production. More

A pulsar's inner secrets
American Physical Society    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Pulsars are the universe's ultimate physics laboratories. Understanding them presents many questions for condensed matter physicists interested in magnetism and matter at extreme conditions, as well as nuclear physicists, planetary scientists in addition to astrophysicists. Young pulsars sometimes exhibit glitches in their spin rate. The current explanation for the glitches is that the neutron star’s crust contains a neutron superfluid, and when vortices in the superfluid break free from the nuclear lattice and transfer angular momentum to the crust, the pulsar is seen to rotate faster. But a new paper in Physical Review Letters researchers show by that combining the most recent glitch data and a model of the superfluid that takes into account relativistic effects, the amount of superfluid in the crust cannot explain the changes in angular momentum required to account for the glitches. The implication is that the additional contributions to the moment of inertia must be coming from somewhere, most likely the superfluid in the core. More

Follow us on Twitter
@Africanphysics, @Blackphysicists, @SAIPhysics and @AfricaAstronomy

"I have to say, @BlackPhysicists put[s] out some of the most fascinating science in the Twitterverse!!," @LSlayden

State-of-physics report to strengthen African development
SciDev.Net    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
African physicists are to receive regular reports mapping their accomplishments as well as the challenges they face in education and research, with the aim of addressing them and better harnessing the subject to achieve practical development goals. Professor Paul Woafo, vice-president of the African Physical Society (AfPS) will lead the report's development. The report will address the paucity of physics teachers for learners, as well as meager funds for research and development. But it will also endeavor to map the landscape in terms of basic science and applied research. Some, like Woafo, believe the aggregate portfolio should bend more to applied research in order to elicit greater funding from governments. In advance of the report the African Physical Society and its sister-society the African Astronomical Society will be launching in early 2013 a platform to highlight the research publications of their members as well as shared social networking tools for their members. More

Synchrotrons and diplomacy
BBC Science    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
After years of doubts about the project's feasibility, construction on the Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East (SESAME) is now at an advanced stage and most of the next round of finance is secured. The first science could start as early as 2015. SESAME is a "third-generation" synchrotron light source. It is located in Allan, Jordan and will be the Middle East's first major international research center. The next stage of construction is being funded with $5m each from Israel, Iran, Jordan and Turkey plus another $5m from the EU for CERN to provide the magnet system. Pakistan has agreed to provide $5m in kind. Common citizens are taken aback to see that governments of Cyprus and Turkey, Israel, Pakistan and Iran, along with Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority have backed the project. But projects with such multi-national team members are very common. SESAME is already a triumph of science diplomacy. When the first beamlines are opened in 2015 the users will surely produce scientific triumphs. More

Can physics save football?
Big Think    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
NSBP member, Dr. Ainissa Ramirez, discusses science, invention and the need for safer football helmets. More

Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering
Designed as a unique and much-needed resource for educators, managers and policymakers, the Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering publishes original, peer-reviewed papers that report innovative ideas and programs for classroom teachers, scientific studies and formulation of concepts related to the education, recruitment and retention of underrepresented groups in science and engineering.

Access now available to NSBP members at

Physics and the so-called Mayan prediction of the end of the universe
USA Today    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The popular media and internet has been abuzz with the idea that according to the Mayan calendar the world will end on Dec. 21. The notion is so intellectually bereft that it barely deserves comment by serious physicists. But on the other hand it does provide a grand teachable moment, a challenge that prominent astrophysicist, Jocelyn Bell-Burnell, has taken up with great skill. This whole buzz of the world ending is born from a misinterpretation of an inscription found at a now-pulverized Maya site in Mexico's Tabasco region. On Dec. 21, or thereabouts, the ancient Maya calendar will indeed roll over to start a new 394-year century, or baktun. But ancient Mayans did not see the world in terms of endings, but rather in terms of constant renewal. Archeology research reported in Science earlier this year uncovers markings in Mayan ruins that tracked Venus, Mars and dates corresponding to a time after the year 3500. So Mayans likely saw a world beyond the year 2012. More

365 Days of Astronomy Podcast
365 Days of Astronomy Podcast publishes daily podcasts, five to 10 minutes in duration. They are written, recorded and produced by people around the world. We are looking for individuals, schools, companies and clubs to provide five to 10 podcasts. You can do as few as one episode or up to 12 episodes (one per month, subject, of course, to our editorial discretion). Our goal is to encourage people to sign up for a particular day (or days) of the year. For more information, see the 365 Days of Astronomy website.

What are the top physics and astronomy stories of 2012?
Waves and Packets    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
With only two more weeks of science left in 2012, now seems to be a good time to ask Waves and Packets readers, “What are the most important stories in physics and astronomy?” Was it the Higgs, or all the cloaking devices? The death of superluminal neutrinos or supersolidity? The observation of Marjarana fermions, or the torsional entanglement of photons? Please take our poll where you can state your top physics or astronomer news story or discovery. Your topics and ratings will be subjected to a Borda voting algorithm to damp out the effects of some topics getting huge media coverage, but other discoveries that were nevertheless important to physicists and astronomers.

Take poll now.

National Society of Black Physicists jobs board postings
NSBP    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
NASA Postdoctoral Fellowships
American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) Minority Undergraduate Summer Experience Program (MUSE)
Faculty Position in Astrophysical Dynamics
Rayleigh Endowed Chair in Theoretical Condensed Matter Physics
Assistant Professor of Physics
REU summer program on complex materials
Assistant Professor of Physics-Tenure Track Bates College
REU Student
Tenure Track Experimentalist Specializing in the Physics of Organic Electronic Materials
Vacuum Equipment Group Leader
Assistant Professor, Department of Radiology at Stanford University
Condensed Matter Theory Faculty Positions
Two-Year Visiting Assistant Professor of Physics
Tenure-track Position Applied Physics - Cornell University
Faculty Position in Experimental Astrophysics and Cosmology
National Radio Astronomy Observatory Research Experience for Undergraduates
Renewable Energy REU at Colorado School of Mines
National Astrophysics and Space Science Programme

Latest research from Journal of Physics B: Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics
IOP Publishing    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
X-ray generation by electron photo-recombination in charged atomic clusters formed in intense femtosecond laser pulses

Anion production in high-velocity cluster–atom collisions; the electron capture process revisited

Laser pulse amplification and dispersion compensation in an effectively extended optical cavity containing Bose–Einstein condensates

Investigation of Ti III line broadening in a laser-induced plasma

Long-range interactions from the self-broadened profile of Zn (41 P1 –41 S0 ) and Cd (51 P1–51 S0 ) lines: correction of the interaction potential parameters


Subscribe to NSBP e-newsletters for daily updates on physics, astronomy, photonics, policy and more. Twitterphysics, Twitter Astronomy Observer, Photonics and Optics Daily, Cosmology and Quantum Gravity, Science Policy Monitor and Science Funding Report. Powered by

Latest research from Physics of Life Reviews
Elsevier    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Thermostatted kinetic equations as models for complex systems in physics and life sciences

Comparing proteins by their internal dynamics: Exploring structure–function relationships beyond static structural alignments

Consciousness, biology and quantum hypotheses

Physical methods for genetic plant transformation

Information flow dynamics in the brain

Formamide and the origin of life


NSBP Waves and Packets
Colby Horton, Vice President of Publishing, 469.420.2601
Download media kit

Caleb Gremmer, Content Editor, 469.420.2648   
Contribute news

This edition of the NSBP Waves and Packets was sent to ##Email##. To unsubscribe, click here. Did someone forward this edition to you? Subscribe here -- it's free!
Recent issues
Dec. 10, 2012
Dec. 8, 2012
Dec. 1, 2012
Nov. 17, 2012

7701 Las Colinas Ridge, Ste. 800, Irving, TX 75063