In this edition of the Friday Physics Newsletter we look ahead to the last two exciting speaker series talks, take a peek at the most recent Society of Physics Students event, sneak preview our course offerings for the whole of AY2021-2022, and highlight our Hamilton Scholar summer research students!
CHAIR’S WEEKLY MESSAGE
“Bringing the Frontiers to SMU”
April 7 was a pretty exciting day. The Fermilab Muon g-2 Experiment released its first results, a small drop in the bucket of all the data they expect to analyze by the end of their program. The results spoke for themselves, widening the gap with the (then) understanding of the Standard Model. Is it “new physics,” as we like to say in the field? In other words, is this behavior an aspect of nature that not described by existing laws or models of nature?
On April 26, this particular frontier comes to SMU. We are excited to host Prof. Breese Quinn (see the announcement below), member of the Fermilab Muon g-2 Experiment, to speak on precisely this observation and its implications. This observation, along with
- the fact that neutrinos have a very tiny and (mostly?) non-zero mass;
- anomalies in the behavior of bottom quark decays to single- and multi-lepton final states;
- the seeming accelerated expansion of the cosmos;
- and the existence of non-luminous gravitating matter
add up to a rich portfolio of weaknesses in our understanding of the universe. Do these sign posts point the way toward one explanation, or many? Are all of them evidence of something unknown about nature, or just indicators of some weakness in our understanding of General Relativity and the Standard Model of Particle Physics? Answering these questions will inevitably change and update our understanding of the cosmos.
Human knowledge of the universe is an unfinished symphony. Its melody is beautiful, its refrains haunting and inviting, its notes both sweet and melancholy. But it stands incomplete, and demonstrably so. It ends before we know the conclusion … and this is what drives scientists.
No one at SMU works on the Fermilab Muon g-2 Experiment, which is why the Department Speaker Series is so essential to both undergraduate and graduate student education: it brings new frontiers of the field to us when we do not engage in them, or when we cannot go them ourselves (as in a pandemic). Seminars and colloquia are invaluable tools in science, a means to bring the world to the doorstep of this very place where world changers are forged. I am excited for this penultimate event of our speaker series, and for the stage it sets for the final event of semester on May 3.
In this edition, we look ahead to these speaker series talks, take a peek at the most recent Society of Physics Students event, sneak preview our course offerings for the whole of AY2021-2022, and highlight our Hamilton Scholar summer research students!
Stephen Jacob Sekula
Chair, Department of Physics
The Spring Colloquium (May 3) will feature Prof. Pierre Ramond (UFL), Distinguished Professor and 2020 Dirac Medal and Prize Recipient
We are very excited to remind the community that the final event of the Spring 2021 Department Speaker Series will feature Distinguished Professor of Physics Pierre Ramond (University of Florida), who will present a Colloquium entitled “The Unfinished Standard Model.” Most recently, Prof. Ramond was a co-recipient of the 2020 Dirac Medal and Prize for his role in the initiation of Superstring Theory. We will announce more details in the coming weeks, but meanwhile please save the date!
The final event of each major term is intended to be an intellectually rich event for both the department and the SMU Physics Community. We welcome all members of our university and department communities to join us for these events.
Department Speaker Series Event on April 26 features Prof. Breese Quinn (University of Mississippi) speaking on the latest results from the Fermilab Muon g-2 Experiment
The Department Speaker Series is thrilled to welcome (virtually) Prof. Breese Quinn (The University of Mississippi), collaborator on the Fermilab Muon g-2 Experiment, to speak about the results released April 7 from this newest phase of a high-precision experiment. Prof. Quinn will walk us through this >20-year program, spanning two national laboratories. The goal has been to make increasingly precise measurements of key magnetic behavior of the muon, one heavy and unstable cousin of the electron. The most recent results suggest a strong disagreement with the predictions of the Standard Model, opening the possibility of a new road sign pointing us to a more complete theory of nature … or at least a far deeper understanding of the nuances of the Standard Model itself. Join us for this spectacular opportunity to have such a fresh and exciting observation brought right to our doorstep as we reach the penultimate event of the Department Speaker Series for this academic year.
Miss a Colloquium or Seminar? Don’t Panic … They’re Recorded!
You can catch up on the Spring 2021 (and Fall 2020!) Physics Speaker Series by checking out your favorite subjects from archives! Explore supermassive black holes, the new Electron-Ion Collider planned for construction in the U.S., new ideas about dark matter or other novel particles or forces, or the basic research needs for future scientific instrumentation in HEP … all from your personal devices! Enjoy our archive of the Physics Speaker Series Talks below.
Network Outage in Fondren Science Building on April 24
Necessary network switch and connection maintenance was delayed by the recent power interruptions to our building. This Saturday, that work will happen, causing networking outages in the building. The conclusion of the effort by OIT should result in greater stability in the networks in the building, but will definitely interrupt all work on Saturday. Please plan accordingly.
Plan Ahead: Physics Classes for AY2021-2022
A lot of students have been asking about classes offered by the Physics Department in both Fall and Spring of the next academic year. This year, we have organized the class offerings for the whole coming academic year. Note that final instructor decisions for spring 2022 will only be made in fall of this year. The spring 2022 information is still technically preliminary, as we are not required (nor requested) to submit this until the fall term. However, students should be able to use this information to plan ahead for the next academic year. We note that the Fall 2021 schedule was published earlier this semester in the February 26 edition of this newsletter.
|Course Number||Course Title||Instructor|
|PHYS 1010||Honors Introductory Physics||Sekula|
|PHYS 1105||Mechanics Laboratory||Ye, Guarino|
|PHYS 1106||Electricity and Magnetism Laboratory||Ye, Guarino|
|PHYS 1301||Ideas of Modern Physics||Dalley|
|PHYS 1303||Introductory Mechanics||Balakishiyeva, Dalley|
|PHYS 1304||Introductory Electricity and Magnetism||Balakishiyeva, Vega|
|PHYS 1307||General Physics I||Balakishiyeva|
|PHYS 1308||General Physics II||Deiana|
|PHYS 3305||Introduction to Modern Physics||Kehoe|
|PHYS 3340||Computational Physics||Olness, Sekula|
|PHYS 3344||Classical Mechanics||Coan|
|PHYS 3374||Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics||Scalise|
|PHYS 4372/6372||Galactic Structure, Dynamics and Evolution||Smith|
|PHYS 5382||Introduction to Quantum Mechanics||Cooley|
|PHYS 6160||Introductory Physics Instruction: A Practicum||Sekula, Olness|
|PHYS 6335||Quantum Mechanics I||Scalise|
|PHYS 6351||Statistical Mechanics||Nadolsky|
|PHYS 6380/4380||Introduction to Particle Physics: From Quarks to Cosmos||Stroynowski|
|PHYS 7314||Quantum Field Theory I||Vega|
|Course Number||Course Title||Instructor|
|PHYS 1010||Honors Introductory Physics||Sekula|
|PHYS 1105||Mechanics Laboratory||Guarino|
|PHYS 1106||Electricity and Magnetism Laboratory||Guarino|
|PHYS 1303||Introductory Mechanics||Balakishiyeva, Sekula|
|PHYS 1304||Introductory Electricity and Magnetism||Balakishiyeva, Nadolsky|
|PHYS 1307||General Physics I||Dalley|
|PHYS 1308||General Physics II||Balakishiyeva|
|PHYS 1311||Elements of Astronomy||Smith|
|PHYS 3305||Introduction to Modern Physics||Cooley|
|PHYS 4311||Laboratory Physics||TBD|
|PHYS 4321/7305||Methods of Theoretical Physics||Scalise|
|PHYS 4368/6368||Foundations of Modern Cosmology||Meyers|
|PHYS 4392||Introduction to Electromagnetic Theory||Dalley|
|PHYS 4371/6371||Stellar Structure and Evolution||Kehoe|
|PHYS 5383||Advanced Quantum Mechanics||Coan|
|PHYS 6321||Classical Mechanics||Scalise|
|PHYS 6336||Quantum Mechanics II||Vega|
|PHYS 7315||Quantum Field Theory II||Vega|
|PHYS 7363||Experimental Particle Detection and Detectors I||TBD|
If you have something to share please feel free to send it along. Stories of your activities in research, the classroom, and beyond are very welcome!
Staff In-Office Schedule for Week of April 26
The in-office staff schedule for the week of April 26 is nominally as follows:
- Monday: Michele
- Tuesday: Michele
- Wednesday: Lacey
- Thursday: Lacey
- Friday: Lacey
Lacey will be out-of-the-office and on vacation from April 21-April 27, so please plan accordingly. You can reach staff during regular business hours using Microsoft Teams, email, or phone.
Full staff in-office calendar for April:
If you have something to share please feel free to send it along. Stories of students in research, the classroom, internships or fellowships, awards, etc. are very welcome!
“The Sweet Structure of the Proton” is a success!
On Wednesday, the Society of Physics Students (SPS) setup shop in front of Fondren Science Building and provided the fixings for people to make their own proton or neutron cookies. The idea was to educate about the basic structure of these common particles (the foundations of every atom in the universe) and emphasize the role of even more fundamental particles, quarks and gluons. Special lettered and colored M&M candies were available to stand in for the quarks, each color representing one of the three “strong charges” that bind quarks together. Colorless icing was used to indicate how the overall structure of the complex proton or neutron nevertheless results in a net color-charge-free state.
(photos by Jared Burleson)
People dropped by the table during the day, from SMU students to passers-by grabbing hopping on bikes commuting across campus. SPS members rotated in shifts throughout the day, handing out small flyers explaining the symbolism of the cookies and the connections to fundamental physics.
This was a delicious educational opportunity, and we are grateful to the SPS for organizing it and to the SMU community for stopping by for a sweet treat and a little particle physics!
SMU Students Win Summer Hamilton Scholar Awards to Support Research
We congratulate the students who have, so far, been awarded summer-time Hamilton Research Scholar awards for the upcoming summer research months! The department is grateful to the Hamilton Family and the Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute for this incredible program.
Below, find out a little bit about the projects each student will be pursuing this summer.
Stephanie will work with Prof. Stephen Sekula to study the effect of dedicated particle identification systems proposed for use on Electron-Ion Collider Experiments. In particular, she will study the impact of these systems on the identification of charm quark particle jets, which can teach us about the interior structure of protons or other nuclear structures.
The Electron-Ion Collider is a planned new particle collider. The U.S. Department of Energy has selected Brookhaven National Laboratory as the site of the future collider, and particle detector experiments are now in the proposal stage. Researchers at SMU have been instrumental in making the physics case for this new machine, which will provide the capability to conduct 3-D tomographic mapping of the interior structure of the proton, as well as a wealth of information about nuclei. The use of particle jets to study fundamental physics questions is cross-cutting to both the Large Hadron Collider and the EIC programs, and SMU is a perfect intersection of these programs thanks to local expertise in nuclear structure, jets and heavy quarks.
Andrea will work with Prof. Krista Smith to study how the supermassive black holes that live in the centers of all galaxies affect their hosts. When such black holes are actively accreting, they produce vast amounts of energy, either as radiative outflows from their accretion disks or as powerful relativistic jets.
This energy can have a profound effect on the star formation and evolution of the galaxy at large, a necessary component of the development of the current universe called “feedback.” Andrea will be analyzing radio images of the outflows and jets taken by the Very Large Array (VLA) and comparing them to images of the ionized and molecular gas taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, the VLT, and ALMA. By comparing the power and morphology of the radio structures to the velocities and abundances of the gas, Andrea’s project will provide insight into the detailed interaction between the black hole-generated outflows and the interstellar medium, and the mechanisms by which feedback may prevent galactic gas from collapsing to form stars.
John Ridge will be working with Prof. Robert Kehoe to study nine δ Scuti pulsators discovered with the ROTSE-I telescope’s data sample. A general fitting approach will provide the primary oscillation mode and period and be the basis of tests of systematic variations in measurement when measured open-CCD.
Using data from the GAIA satellite, the Period-Luminosity relation for these stars will be tested. John will then perform Fourier analyses to reveal further oscillation modes. Armed with this work, he will use polytropic models, or more advanced modeling codes such as MESA if there is time, to comment on the internal structure of these objects. This work supports Kehoe’s program in cosmic distance measurement by examining sources of systematic bias to Instability Strip results.
If you are an alum of the doctoral, masters, majors or minor programs in Physics at SMU, or have worked in our program as a post-doctoral researcher, and wish to share news with the community, please send your story to the Physics Department and we’ll work with you to get it included in a future edition.
THE BACK PAGE
Figuring Physics for April, 2021
We end with The Physics Teacher’s April “Figuring Physics” question. Test your comfort level and knowledge of physics!