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Oct. 22, 2011
Volume: II
Number: 41
National Society of Black Physicists    African Physical Society    South African Institute of Physics   African Astronomical Society   
Update on superluminal neutrinos    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
New data from OPERA's sister experiment ICARUS have failed to yield any evidence for superluminal neutrinos. More precisely, ICARUS has shown that neutrinos traveling from CERN to Gran Sasso do not emit electron–positron pairs. Emission of such pairs is expected if the neutrinos travel faster than the speed of light, according to a preprint published recently by Andrew Cohen and Sheldon Glashow. More

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South Africa to create national astronomy agency
Business Day    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
In a widely anticipated move, South Africa's S&T minister, Naledi Pandor, has announced the intention to create a national independent agency to manage the country's entire portfolio of astronomy programs. South Africa is the home of the Southern Africa Large Telescope, the largest single optical telescope in the southern hemisphere, and hosts a number of other optical telescopes at the site in Sutherland. In making a strong bid to host the Square Kilometer Array, South Africa has completed the construction of the SKA precursor, KAT-7, and has committed to building the larger SKA precursor, MeerKAT, which itself will be one of the world's most powerful telescopes. The 50-year-old Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory continues to produce important results, including being a key part of the African VLBI Network. Additional programs are being contemplated in IR astronomy to complete a multiwavelength capability on the continent, as well as in gravitational wave astronomy. And in addition to the investment in facilities, South Africa has invested in people through the establishment of the National Astrophysics and Space Sciences Program, the SKA Bursary Program and the South Africa Research Chairs Initiative. South Africa also hosts the International Astronomical Union's Office of Astronomy for Development .

Reiterating a point made in her speech at the National Society of Black Physicists' conference in September, Pandor also said that South Africa will support the Namibian bid to host the Cherenkov Telescope Array instead of entering its own bid. The Namibian site, which already hosts the HESS observatory, already enjoys close contacts with the gamma-ray astrophysics community in South Africa, and meets the technical specifications for the CTA just as well as, if not better than, the sites that could have been offered in South Africa.

Caribbean science, technology and innovation organization to hold its first S&T workshop
Caribbean Diaspora for Science Technology & Innovation    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The Caribbean Diaspora for Science, Technology & Innovation will hold its first workshop/conference in Barbados on Nov. 18-20. CADSTI was established in 2008 to support science and engineering research in the Caribbean region and to facilitate the region's economic and social development. CADSTI last year established the Caribbean Science Foundation as an independent semi-autonomous Caribbean agency whose mission is to organize resources to promote science education, research, innovation and entrepreneurship. The November conference offers the opportunity to present posters showcasing some of the S&T research in the region, and CADSTI is compiling a database of Caribbean science, technology and business professionals. More

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Faster-than-light neutrino puzzle claimed solved by special relativity
Technology Review    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Ronald van Elburg at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands has suggested that one effect that the OPERA team seems to have overlooked: the relativistic motion of the GPS clocks. Although the speed of light does not depend on the the frame of reference, the time of flight does. In this case, there are two frames of reference: the experiment on the ground and the clocks in orbit. If these are moving relative to each other, then this needs to be factored in. More

American Physical Society responds to Texas closures
APS    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The president of the American Physical Society has sent a letter to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board that urges the THECB to carefully consider the repercussions that will ensue from terminating the ability to offer BA or BS degrees at a number of low-enrollment physics programs in Texas. Chief amongst the repercussions are the loss of departments that can effectively educate high school physics teachers, and the impact on Hispanic and African-American students as the affected universities disproportionally serve these communities, with doubled or tripled rates of graduation by underrepresented groups from the programs slated for closure compared to Texas public institutions as a whole. More

This state-of-the-art classroom makes physics fun
Orlando Sentinel    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The new "studio" classroom at Bishop Moore Catholic High in Orlando, Fla., is not only a showcase for state-of-the-art technology, but also for the belief that students learn best if teachers ask questions, present problems, prod them to think and then get out of the way and let them work. Bishop Moore's new classroom is modeled on a concept begun more than a decade ago in the physics department at North Carolina State University. It has since spread to more than 100 colleges and universities, from Clemson to Florida State to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. More

Masters of the Universe:
National Society of Black Physicists

Image of forming planet captured
The Associated Press via The Boston Globe    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Adam Kraus, of the University of Hawaii's Institute for Astronomy, has captured the first direct image of a planet being born. The planet is being formed out of dust and gas circling a 2-million-year-old star about 450 light years from Earth. Based on scientific models of how planets form, it is estimated to have started taking shape about 50,000 to 100,000 years ago. More

Dark matter mystery deepens
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
A recent study has found that in two nearby galaxies the dark matter is distributed uniformly over a relatively large region, several hundred light-years across. This contradicts the prediction that the density of dark matter should increase sharply toward the centers of these galaxies. The new measurements imply that either normal matter affects dark matter more than expected, or dark matter isn't "cold," i.e., slow-moving. More

Comet storm in nearby solar system could mean Earth-like worlds
Jet Propulsion Laboratory    Share    Share on
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Icy comets could be bombarding an alien solar system in a storm resembling the one that is thought to have brought water and other life-forming ingredients to Earth several billion years ago. NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has spotted a band of dust around a nearby bright star in the northern sky called Eta Corvi that strongly matches the contents of an obliterated giant comet. This dust is located close enough to Eta Corvi that Earth-like worlds could exist, suggesting a collision took place between a planet and one or more comets. More

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Using new technique, scientists uncover a delicate magnetic balance for superconductivity
ScienceDaily    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
A modified scanning tunneling microscope where researchers can pull or push electrons into a material has allowed a team at Cornell University's Laboratory for Atomic and Solid State Physics to visualize what happens when they change the electronic structure of a "heavy fermion" compound made of uranium, ruthenium and silicon. Using this technique they have found that while at higher-temperatures magnetism is detrimental to superconductivity, at low temperatures in heavy fermion materials, magnetic atoms are a necessity. More

Very Large Array wants your help with a new name
TG Daily    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is asking for help with coming up with a new name for the Very Large Array. The original VLA has been in use since the 1970s. But over the last 10 years, the NRAO has been working to replace 1970s electronics, upgrading the radio telescope's technical capabilities by 80 times, and says it wants a new name to reflect its new features. The competition runs until Dec. 1, and there's an online entry form here. More

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Spiral arms point to possible planets in a star's dusty disk
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
A new image of the disk of gas and dust around a sun-like star is the first to show spiral-arm-like structures. These features may provide clues to the presence of embedded but as-yet-unseen planets. A near-infrared image from the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan shows a pair of spiral features arcing along the outer disk. Theoretical models show that a single embedded planet may produce a spiral arm on each side of a disk. The structures around SAO 206462 do not form a matched pair, suggesting the presence of two unseen worlds, one for each arm. More

Can gamma-ray bursts destroy life on Earth?
LiveScience via    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The persistence of life on Earth may depend on massive explosions on the other side of the galaxy, according to a new theory that suggests gamma-ray bursts could have played a part in some of our planet's major extinction events. Gamma-ray bursts — thought to occur when two stars collide — can release tons of high-energy gamma-ray radiation into space. Researchers have found that such blasts could be contributing to the depletion of the Earth's ozone layer. Disruption of the ozone layer lets ultraviolet light filter down to the surface of the Earth, where it can change organisms by mutating their genes. Now, researchers are beginning to connect the timing of these gamma-ray bursts to extinctions on Earth that can be dated through the fossil record. More

Why there's no such thing as north and south
Scientific American    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The human mind often confuses familiarity with understanding. That is why many of us who studied science or engineering or mathematics in college find it hard to convince ourselves that electromagnetism — one of the four fundamental forces of nature — does not have a preferred handedness. (which in particular implies that one cannot use the laws of electromagnetism to explain our concept of left and right to far away aliens, or explain it to martians over the phone, as Richard Feynman put it). More

National Society of Black Physicists jobs board postings
NSBP    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Assistant Professor, Physics Teacher Education
Open Rank Faculty Position in Quantum Information Theory
Assistant, Associate or Full Professor Position in Condensed-Matter Experiment
Asstistant, Associate or Full Professor Position in Particle, Nuclear or Gravitational Theory
Tenure-Track Assistant Professor
Research Scientist in Computational Physics
Graduate Program in Astronomy, University of Michigan
Assistant Professor in Computational Astrophysics (tenure-track)
Assistant Professor
Tenure Track Faculty
Assistant/Associate Professor
IBM Research Internship for Undergraduate Women
Assistant Professor of Physics
Tenure-Track Faculty in Theoretical Condensed Matter Physics
Assistant Professor
Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy (Astrophysics)
Assistant Professor of Physics
Tenure Track Faculty position in Experimental Particle Physics
Assistant Professor in Astrophysics
Tenure Track Position - Biophysics or Nanoscience

Advice for graduate students
Inside Higher Education
Steven Stearns offers some insight and advice for graduate students. Know thyself and know thy advisor. More

More advice for graduate students
Inside Higher Education
So much comes down to good writing skills. Steven Stearns offers some tips on how to write well and write strategically. More

Overcoming the imposter syndrome
At one time or another nearly every graduate student and new faculty member wonders about his or her competence. This is a common fear often referred to as the impostor syndrome. The impostor syndrome runs rampant in academia — and women are especially prone to it. How do you get over the impostor syndrome? Easier said than done. More

Ready. Set. Go. Transitioning from college to graduate school
Compared to your undergraduate education, graduate school is faster paced. Professors expect a lot of work to be done, and there's a lot less hand-holding. More

Latest research from Journal of Statistical Mechanics: Theory and Experiment
IOP Journal    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article

Finite-size scaling analysis of the distributions of pseudo-critical temperatures in spin glasses

The inverse Ising problem for 1-dimensional chains with arbitrary finite-range couplings

Heat exchanges in coarsening systems

Asymptotics of the spectral gap for the interchange process on large hypercubes

The equilibrium winding angle of a polymer around a bar

Latest research from Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications
Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Evolution of cooperation in a heterogeneous population with influential individuals

An example illustrating the incompleteness of the Navier–Stokes–Fourier equations for thermally compressible fluids

A variational approach for the classical anisotropic Heisenberg model in a crystal field

Fractal analysis of powder X-ray diffraction patterns

Landing together: How flocks arrive at a coherent action in time and space in the presence of perturbations

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