Featurette

Hunt begins for elusive neutrino particle at one of the world’s largest, most powerful detectors

NOvA, SMU, Thomas Coan, Fermilab, neutrinosWhen scientists pour 3.0 million gallons of mineral oil into what are essentially 350,000 giant plastic tubes, the possibility of a leak can’t be overlooked, says SMU physicist Thomas E. Coan.

The oil and tubes are part of the integral structure of the world’s newest experiment to understand neutrinos — invisible fundamental particles so abundant they constantly bombard us and pass through us at a rate of more than 100,000 billion particles a second. Continue reading

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Key to speed? Elite sprinters are unlike other athletes — deliver forceful punch to ground

Usain Bolt, elite sprinters, Weyand, punch, SMUThe world’s fastest sprinters have unique gait features that account for their ability to achieve fast speeds, according to two new studies from Southern Methodist University, Dallas.

The new findings indicate that the secret to elite sprinting speeds lies in the distinct limb dynamics sprinters use to elevate ground forces upon foot-ground impact. Continue reading

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Eclipsing binary stars discovered by high school students at SMU summer research program

binary stars, SMU, Quarknet, students, discovery, physicsTwo Dallas high school students discovered five stars as members of an SMU summer physics research program that enabled them to analyze data gleaned from a high-powered telescope in the New Mexico desert.

All five stars are eclipsing contact binary stars — pairs of stars that orbit each other so closely that their outer atmospheres touch. As they eclipse, they dim and then brighten. Continue reading

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Hunt for dark matter takes physicists deep below earth’s surface, where WIMPS can’t hide

Dark matter makes up much of the universe, and surrounds us all like an invisible, clumpy soup. Physicists have hunted dark matter particles for decades, but they continue to elude observation.

Now construction of a major international experiment aimed at discovering dark matter could be constructed and operational by 2018, according to the SMU scientist on the experiment known as SuperCDMS SNOLAB. Continue reading

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Scientists issue call to action for archaeological sites threatened by rising seas, urban development

Western%20Site%20Margin%20400x300.jpgShould global warming cause sea levels to rise as predicted in coming decades, thousands of archaeological sites in coastal areas around the world will be lost to erosion.

With no hope of saving all these sites, an SMU archaeologist and others call for scientists to assess the sites most at risk.

Photo: A site at Anacapa Island, southern California, is in danger of eroding into the ocean. (Credit: Reeder)
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