Waves & Packets
Dec. 10, 2011

Astronomers find fastest rotating star ever
Red Orbit
The European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope has picked up the fastest rotating star found so far. This massive (25 times the mass of the sun) bright young star (100 times brighter than the sun) lies in our neighboring galaxy, the Large Magellanic Cloud, about 160,000 light years from Earth. It is rotating at more than 2 million kilometers per hour — more than 300 hundred times faster than the sun, nearly reaching a point where it should break apart. Because of its high rotation speed and unusual translational motion astronomers think that it may have had a violent past and has been ejected from a double star system by its exploding companion. The observations and analysis have been reported in Astrophysical Journal Letters. More

Superconducting 'islands' may enable tunable 2-D superconductivity
University of Illinois
Arrays of physically separated superconducting islands lithographically placed on normal metal films offer tunable realizations of two-dimensional superconductivity. These systems can then be used to elucidate open questions regarding the nature of 2-D superconductors and competing states. The Mason group at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has made such arrays, and their study reported in Nature Physics is the first of an inhomogeneous superconducting system that systematically approaches a zero-temperature metallic state.More

Vertical cavity surface-emitting lasers generate high-speed optical arbitrary waveforms
Laser Focus World
Arbitrarily complex waveforms of ultrashort laser pulses are used in a number of contexts ranging from chemistry to telecommunications. Although such waveforms are typically produced using Fourier transform pulse-shaping techniques in which 1) the spectral components of a comb source are independently modulated and 2) the phase and amplitude components are updated at the repetition rate of the source, these conditions are difficult to satisfy at the same time using existing techniques. But as reported in Optics Letters, Peter Delfyett's group at the University of Central Florida has demonstrated line-by-line pulse shaping at update rates of up to half the repetition rate of the comb source using vertical cavity surface-emitting lasers as modulators.More

More evidence found for quantum physics in photosynthesis
Ars Technia
Physicists have found the strongest evidence yet of quantum effects fueling photosynthesis. In an experimental result published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, University of Chicago biophysicists firmly established a connection between coherence—spatial long-range concerted interactions—and energy flow. Quantum coherence improves the quantum efficiency of excitonic energy and affects the chemical dynamics. More

The beauty and brains behind frequency hopping: How the Hollywood star, Hedy Lamarr, advanced wireless technology
NPR Science Friday
VideoBrief In a new book, Pulitzer Prize winning writer Richard Rhodes tells the behind-the-scenes story of movie star — and inventor — Hedy Lamarr, "the most beautiful woman in the world." Lamarr invented "frequency hopping," a concept that's still used in today's wireless technology.  Listen   MoreMore

What does a proton look like?
Ask the common person and they will say it looks like a small sphere. A more learned person may say that protons are much too small to scatter light, and since light is necessary for us to see things, protons do not "look" like anything. But after an analysis of proton-proton collisions, and their own numerical studies, Martin Block and Francis Halzen have reported in Physical Review Letters that upon approaching the speed of light a proton should contract into a 2-dimensional black disk. More

Astronomers find monster black holes, biggest yet
ABC News
A team led by astronomers at the University of California, Berkeley, discovered the two gigantic black holes in clusters of elliptical galaxies more than 300 million light years away. That's relatively close on the galactic scale. In a report in Nature, the scientists suggest these black holes may be the leftovers of quasars that crammed the early universe. They are similar in mass to young quasars, they said, and have been well hidden until now.More

Nominations wanted: Top physics and astronomy stories of 2011
Reader poll: As this calendar year approaches its end, the editors of Waves and Packets are compiling a list of top breakthroughs in physics and astronomy for 2011. What breakthroughs in physics or astronomy get your vote as the most important of the year?More

High angular momentum scattering seen for the 1st time in ultracold, long-lived atomic Bose-Einstein condensates
Scientists at the Joint Quantum Institute have for the first time engineered and detected the presence of high angular momentum collisions between atoms at temperatures close to absolute zero. Previous experiments with ultracold atoms featured essentially head-on collisions. The JQI experiment, by contrast, is able to create more complicated collisions between atoms using only lasers. This innovation may facilitate the creation of exotic quantum states that can be exploited for practical applications like quantum computing.More

Latest Fermi studies find no trace of dark matter
Physics World
Two independent analyses of data from the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope have found no trace of low-mass dark matter — the mysterious substance thought to make up much of the universe. The two results, both published in Physical Review Letters, appear to go against recent direct evidence for low-mass dark matter in the form of so-called weakly interacting massive particles, which has been compiled in three different labs. If such WIMPs do exist, the supposition is that gamma rays should be produced when they collide and annihilate one another. But now two independent analyses of the Fermi data have found — for at least two major types of annihilation — no gamma rays for light WIMPs. More

String-theory calculations describe 'birth of the universe'
Physics World
Researchers in Japan have developed what may be the first string-theory model with a natural mechanism for explaining why our universe would seem to exist in three spatial dimensions if it actually has six more. According to their model, only three of the nine dimensions started to grow at the beginning of the universe, accounting both for the universe's continuing expansion and for its apparently three-dimensional nature. More

Quantum entanglement allows diamonds to communicate
Inside Science News Service
Researchers working at the University of Oxford have managed to get one small diamond to communicate with another small diamond utilizing "quantum entanglement," a concept originally conceived by Einstein. Entanglement has been proven before, but what makes the Oxford experiment reported in Science unique is that the concept was demonstrated with substantial solid objects at room temperature. Previous entanglements of matter involved submicroscopic particles, often at cold temperatures.More

SETI search resumes at Allen Telescope Array
Space Daily
The Allen Telescope Array is once again searching planetary systems for signals that would be evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence. The ATA had been placed in hibernation mode in April 2011 due to budgetary shortfalls. But a spirited fundraising campaign and interest by the U.S. Air Force has allowed the observatory to resume operations. Among its first targets for a search for extraterrestrial life are some of the exoplanet candidates recently discovered by NASA's Kepler space telescope. Some of these planets may harbor life forms or processes that are emitting radio signals. More

Africa shoots beyond stars in radio telescope bid
South Africa's science and technology minister, Naledi Pandor, who was a keynote speaker at the recent National Society of Black Physicists conference and witnessed an MOU between NSBP and the South African Institute of Physics, sat down with AllAfrica.com to discuss Africa's accomplishments in radioastronomy via the MeerKAT and its designs to host the Square Kilometer Array. More

South Africa, Australia both offer advantages for hosting SKA
Creamer Media's Engineering News
With the announcement of the selected site for the Square Kilometer Array project just three months away, eight African countries led by South Africa and Australia/New Zealand are in a tight race to win the honor of hosting this international project, with each country offering unique advantages. The SKA Site Advisory Committee, a panel of independent experts, will make a recommendation on the preferred site in spring 2012.

Both countries have already established smaller projects that will serve as a precursor to hosting the SKA. The South African MeerKAT, which just passed a major design milestone, is designed to be the most sensitive wavelength telescope in the southern hemisphere and will be well suited to deep-targeted observations or where the radio emission is faint. The Australia precursor, ASKAP, is primarily intended to be a wide field-of-view survey instrument, which uses new technology called focal plane arrays to obtain the large field of view, but with less sensitivity than the MeerKAT and a more restricted frequency range.More

IAU's Office of Astronomy for Development opens global stakeholder meeting
International Astronomical Union
Earlier this year the International Astronomical Union created the Office of Astronomy Development to lead the implementation of its strategic plan, Astronomy for the Developing World, an ambitious blueprint for expanding astronomy development programs over the next decade. During Dec. 12-14 the office will convene in Cape Town, South Africa, a workshop for global stakeholders. The purpose of the workshop is to brainstorm ways to realize the vision of the IAU strategic plan, and how can astronomy be used as a tool for development. Everyone can follow (and participate via text chat) in all the discussions live using ustream. Period updates from the workshop will also be on the NSBP blog Vector and AfAS website.More

National Society of Black Physicists jobs board postings
Accelerator Physics Faculty
Jr. Faculty Search – Elementary Particle Theory
REU Participant
Undergraduate Researcher
Summer REU Intern
Assistant Professor
University of Cincinnati Experimental High Energy Physics Tenure Track Assistant Professor Position
Faculty Position in Observational or Theoretical Astrophysics
Univeristy of Cincinnati Experimental High Energy Physics Tenure Track Assistant Professor Position
Bucknell University - Assistant/Associate/Full Professor of Physics & Astronomy
Stockton College — Tenure-track Assistant/Associate Professor of Physics
Baccalaureate Fellows Program
NanoJapan: International Research Experience for Undergraduates
Tenure-Track Professor and Research Director, Physics Department
Lehigh University REU Program in Physics
Renewable Energy REU at the Colorado School of Mines
Faculty Position
Research Experiences for Undergraduates
Research Scientist in Computational Physics
Graduate Program in Astronomy, University of Michigan

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. MoreMore

Latest research from Physics in Medicine and Biology
Comparative study of temperature measurements in ex vivo swine muscle and a tissue-mimicking material during high intensity focused ultrasound exposures

Experimental validation of acoustic radiation force induced shear wave interference patterns

Functional forms for photon spectra of clinical linacs

Investigations of a flat-panel detector for quality assurance measurements in ion beam therapy

Automatic registration between 3-D intra-operative ultrasound and pre-operative CT images of the liver based on robust edge matchingMore

Latest research from Astroparticle Physics
Astroparticle Physics
Performance of the MAGIC stereo system obtained with Crab Nebula data

The observation of extensive air showers from an Earth-orbiting satellite

Systematics in the interpretation of aggregated neutrino flux limits and flavor ratios from gamma-ray bursts

Propagation of galactic cosmic rays

Spin-dependent limits from the DRIFT-IId directional dark matter detectorMore