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nuggetThursday, Dec 4 2003

Penn State Technological Strength Ranking Soars

Penn State's technological strength, measured by the number of patents issued and the number of times they were cited, soared over the last five years boosted by the highest percent increase in patents among all universities, according to data analyzed by CHI Research and reported in MIT Technology Review magazine. The increase in patents coupled with their relevance sent Penn State's technological strength ranking up from 31st to 14th in the nation. Penn State is the highest ranked school in Pennsylvania. The only other Pennsylvania schools in the top 25 are The University of Pennsylvania, ranked 18th, and Carnegie Mellon, 20th. More...
nuggetMonday, Dec 1 2003

Annenberg Marshall Scholarship

Penn State senior Lee Bassett was selected as the first student to receive the Annenberg Marshall Scholarship to study in the United Kingdom. The Annenberg scholarship is new this year, in recognition of Mrs. Leonore Annenberg, wife of the late ambassador Walter H. Annenberg, for her support commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Marshall Scholarship. Bassett placed first out of more than 150 applications. A Quakertown native, Bassett is a physics major in the Schreyer Honors College at Penn State, with minors in astronomy, astrophysics and mathematics. After completing the certificate of advanced studies in mathematics at Cambridge University, Bassett intends to pursue a research degree in quantum information processing in the Center for Quantum Computation at Cambridge. He is a Braddock Scholar at Penn State and a recipient of the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship for Excellence. The Marshall Scholarships began in 1953 as a gesture of thanks from the British government for U.S. assistance in rebuilding Europe after World War II. More...
nuggetSunday, Nov 30 2003

Erwin Mueller

Erwin Mueller was a member of the Penn State Department of Physics from 1952 to 1977. His first major achievement was the invention of the field emission microscope in 1936. This enabled him to image the surface of submicroscopic metal tips with a resolution of about 20 Å. For the first time, diffusion and rearrangement of surface layers could be seen vividly. The direct observations made possible with this instrument were important, as the understanding of various atomic processes on solid surfaces grew. In 1951 he invented the field ion microscope, capable of giving a resolution of 2.5 Å. This provided the first sharp, clear view of crystals on an atomic scale, showing the individual atoms and their arrangement on the surface. For this achievement he became famous as the first person to "see" atoms. His work was recognized by the National Medal of Science in 1977. More...
nuggetSunday, Nov 30 2003

Russel Young

Russell D. Young obtained a PhD from the Penn State Department of Physics in 1959 under the mentorship of Erwin Mueller, the inventor of the field-ion microscope. During his graduate work, Young developed the first methods to measure the high-resolution total energy distribution of electrons during field emission. He also contributed to the development of low temperature field ion microscopy. Building on his graduate work, from 1965 to 1971, while working at the National Bureau of Standards, Young invented the Topografiner, a field-emission scanning probe instrument which was the direct predecessor of the scanning tunnelling microscope. More...
nuggetMonday, Nov 24 2003

Quantum Gravity Featured in Bild der Wissenschaft

A recent article in Bild der Wissenschaft (a German popular science magazine, along the lines of Scientific American in the U.S.) features a semi-popular summary of research on Quantum Geometry and its application to Loop Quantum Gravity, carried out by Abhay Ashtekar and his group at Penn State. Specifically it describes how quantum geometry has led to solutions to some of the fundamental problems on the nature of big-bang and black holes in quantum gravity. Interwoven in the article is a portrait of Ashtekar as a scientist. Since the article is in German, here also is a link to semi-popular discussion of quantum geometry in English. More... (Image: Bild der Wissenschaft)
nuggetSunday, Nov 23 2003

Pleiades Cluster

Penn State is home to three of the 200 fastest computers in the world. One of those - the Pleiades Cluster - is owned by the Physics Departments Gravity Group and is dedicated to the analysis of data from the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), whose goal is the detection of gravitational waves and their use as a new tool of astronomical discovery. Pleiades is just one part of the International Virtual Data Grid Laboratory, an international computational laboratory of unprecedented scale and scope, comprised of heterogeneous computing and storage resources in the U.S. and world-wide, linked by high-speed networks and operated as a single system for the purposes of interdisciplinary experimentation in Grid-enabled, data-intensive scientific computing. More...
Monday, Nov 17 2003

Subscribe to Information Channels on the Website

The physics website now contains "channels" of information in various fields. By subscribing to one or more channels, you can keep up to date on new publications, seminars and colloquia in the department. Members of the department can sign up for channels from the internal logged-in portion of the website. Other website users can sign up from the public site from the public customization section, even if they do not have accounts.
Saturday, Nov 8 2003

Website Upgrades

In addition to numerous enhancements to personal pages, research area topics, lists of research group personnel, course listings, staff pages and committee listings, this website also now offers QuickLinks, a means to add links to regularly-visited pages to the top of every page for convenient browsing. Click on Customize to enable QuickLinks in your browser.
nuggetFriday, Oct 10 2003

Faculty search

The Department of Physics at The Pennsylvania State University invites applications for several faculty appointments effective the Fall semester of 2004. Applicants should have a Ph.D. and an outstanding research record. Rank will be commensurate with qualifications and experience.

Our recruitment efforts will be focused in AMO physics, biological physics, particle theory, and theoretical particle astrophysics. However, exceptional candidates in any of the department's current areas of research will be considered. In addition to the areas mentioned above, these are condensed matter physics, gravitational physics, experimental particle physics and astrophysics.

Candidates at the junior level should submit a letter of application, a curriculum vitae, a brief description of research plans, and arrange for four letters of recommendation to be sent to Jayanth Banavar, Box 262, Department of Physics, 104 Davey Laboratory, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802. Nominations and applications for senior positions should be sent to the address above together with a list of at least six references. Applications completed by December 15, 2003 will be assured of consideration. However, applications will be considered until the positions are filled. Job application assistance is available for dual career situations. Penn State is committed to affirmative action, equal opportunity, and the diversity of its workforce.

Friday, Oct 10 2003


The 2003 Departmental Newsletter has been released.
nuggetFriday, Oct 10 2003

Postdoctoral Opportunity in Biophysics

A postdoctoral position is available in the research group of Dr. Reka Albert at The Pennsylvania State University. The main research focus will be theoretical modeling of genetic regulatory and signal transduction networks and statistical analysis of large-scale protein interaction networks.

Candidates must have a PhD (Physics, Mathematics, or Biology) with an academic record of scientific excellence and a strong interest in interdisciplinary approaches. The final candidate must be able to be employed in the United States (citizenship or obtain a visa appropriate to the postdoctoral appointment). The successful applicant will be able to interact with scientist in the Department of Physics as well as the Huck Institute for Life Sciences and participate in interdisciplinary collaborations. The expectation is that the position will be for two years, subject to renewal upon mutual agreement.

To apply, please send a curriculum vitae including publications list, a brief statement of research interests and 3 letters of recommendation to Dr. Reka Albert, 104 Davey Laboratory, PMB 261, Penn State, University Park 16802.

Screening of applications will begin on December 15, and continue until the position is filled. Penn State is committed to affirmative action, equal opportunity, and the diversity of its workforce.

nuggetWednesday, May 28 2003

Penn State Materials Researchers Ranked Tops in Scientific Impact

Penn State recently was recognized as the most dominant university in the field of materials research internationally by, a subdivision of Institute for Scientific Information (ISI), an organization that monitors scientific citations worldwide and whose rankings are a respected indicator of quality across scientific disciplines. According to ISIHighlyCited.Com, Penn State alone accounts for nearly 5 percent of the researchers, the largest percentage to date of researchers in a given category based at a single institution. Penn State's 12 University faculty members in ISI's list of most cited researchers amount to twice as many representatives as the next institution. Materials research is an interdisciplinary field which spans several disciplines, including condensed matter physics, chemistry, and materials science. More...
nuggetMonday, May 19 2003

Gravity Research Foundation Award

Martin Bojowald, postdoctoral researcher in gravitational physics, has won the Gravity Research Foundation 2003 Essay competition for his work "Initial Conditions for a Universe." Previous winners of the award include Stephen Hawking (1971) and Roger Penrose (1975). More...
nuggetSaturday, Apr 12 2003


Professor Stephane Coutu has discovered the true meaning of the cosmic microwave background radiation. More...
nuggetSaturday, Apr 12 2003

Otto Hahn Medal

Hanno Sahlmann, a postdoctoral researcher working with Professor Ashtekar, has been awarded the Otto Hahn Medal for his outstanding work in quantum field theory in curved space-times and semi-classical issues in quantum gravity. Since 1978 the Max Planck Society has annually honoured young men and women for outstanding scientific achievement by awarding them the Otto Hahn Medal. More... (Image: Max Planck Society)
nuggetWednesday, Feb 26 2003


Particle astrophysicists use particle physics techniques to make new discoveries in astronomy and particle physics. We search for dark matter with balloon-born detectors, plant detectors on the Argentinian pampas over an area the size of Rhode Island, or bury detectors 2 km deep in the south polar icecap. The figure shows a candidate atmospheric neutrino-induced muon in the Antarctic Muon and Neutrino Detector Array (AMANDA) at the South Pole. The muon emits Cherenkov radiation as it travels through ice faster than light moves in ice. Photomultiplier tubes, indicated by the dots, detect these photons. This event moves upward through the ice, and hence must have been produced by a neutrino, which is the only known particle that can penetrate the earth. More...
nuggetMonday, Feb 17 2003


Due to heavy snow, the university is closed today. Seminars, classes and other events are cancelled. More...
nuggetThursday, Jan 30 2003

Rick Robinett wins 2003 Excellence in Advising Award

Rick Robinett, Professor of Physics, has been selected for the university-wide 2003 Excellence in Advising Award. The award is given by the Undergraduate Student Government Academic Assembly. The Student Assembly cites Rick's passion, dedication, philosophy and expertise as a shining example of what advising should be.
nuggetMonday, Jan 20 2003

Penn State grad named Professor of the Year

From the News Archive: 2000. Holy Cross Professor of Physics Robert H. Garvey, a 1974 Ph.D. graduate of the Penn State Physics department, was named U.S. Professor of the Year for 2000 by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). Created in 1981, the U.S. Professors of the Year Program is the only national awards program that recognizes college and university professors for their teaching. In the year 2000 nearly 500 faculty members were nominated by colleges and universities across the country. Professor Garvey was selected as the outstanding baccalaureate college professor. Each recipient recognized for his or her extraordinary commitment to teaching, dedication to students and innovative instructional methods. More...
nuggetWednesday, Jan 1 2003

National Academy

From the News Archive: May, 2000. Professor Moses Chan (right of center, light red shirt) was invited to join the National Academy of Sciences, an event which sparked an informal celebration in the departmental offices.
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