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nuggetSunday, Dec 21 2008

The Quantum Bounce

Abhay Ashtekar, Martin Bojowald, and their colleagues are featured in a cover story in the December 13 issue of the New Scientist on the Quantum Bounce replacing the Big Bang. More...
nuggetTuesday, Dec 2 2008

Qi Li elected Fellow of American Physical Society

Professor Qi Li has been elected a Fellow of American Physical Society and will be honored at the annual March Meeting in Pittsburgh, March 16-20, 2009. The citation is "for her seminal contributions to the development and understanding of high Tc superconducting superlattices, novel magentoresistance in strained ferromagnetic oxides, and superconductivity in magnesium diboride thin films".
nuggetTuesday, Nov 11 2008

Network Scaling Paper is 5th most cited paper in Physics

An article in Science Watch highlights a paper by Professor Reka Albert and collaborator A. L. Barbasi entitled "Emergence of scaling in random networks" (Barabási AL, Albert R, Science 286[5439]: 509-12, 15 October 1999), which ranks at #5 among Highly Cited Papers in the field of Physics between January 1, 1998 and August 31, 2008.
nuggetMonday, Nov 10 2008

Faculty Search

The Department of Physics at The Pennsylvania State University (University Park campus) invites applications for faculty appointments effective the Fall semester of 2009. Applicants should have a Ph.D. and an outstanding research record. Rank will be commensurate with qualifications and experience.

We seek to recruit in the areas of AMO physics, cosmology and gravitation, and condensed matter theory. However, exceptional candidates in any of the department's current areas of research will be considered. These areas are AMO physics, biological physics, condensed matter physics, gravitational physics, particle physics and particle astrophysics.

Candidates at the junior level should submit a pdf file containing a letter of application, a curriculum vitae and a brief description of research plans, and arrange for four letters of recommendation to be submitted to: www.phys.psu.edu/apply.

Nominations and applications for senior positions should be submitted to the address above together with a list of at least six references.

Applications completed by December 1, 2008 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.

nuggetSaturday, Nov 8 2008

Three Postdoctoral Opportunities: QCD, High Energy, Gravity

1. Further information on a postdoctoral opportunity in Fundamental Gravitational Theory is available at this link

2. Applications are invited for a postdoctoral position in elementary particle theory at the Department of Physics of The Pennsylvania State University, to begin in September 2009. This position is primarily for QCD-related work. There is also a separate position in string theory and related areas, for which applications are also being solicited. The elementary-particle theory at Penn State group consists of: John Collins, Murat Gunaydin, Irina Mocioiu, Radu Roiban, Anna Stasto and Mark Strikman. There are experimental groups active in astroparticle physics (Auger and Icecube collaborations), and at RHIC. There is also a important program in gravitational physics. Applicants should send a curriculum vitae, a statement of research interests, and a list of publications to: John Collins, Physics Department, Penn State University, 104 Davey Lab. #208, University Park, PA 16802, U.S.A.Phone: +1 814 863-0783. E-mail: collins@phys.psu.edu. (Materials sent electronically should be in either plain text, postscript or pdf formats.) Applicants should also arrange for three letters of reference to be sent to the same address (including hard copies please). Applications received by December 22, 2008 will be assured of consideration. However, applications will be considered until the position is filled. Penn State is committed to affirmative action, equal opportunity and the diversity of its workforce.

3. Applications are also invited for postdoctoral position in Theoretical High Energy Physics at the Department of Physics of The Pennsylvania State University, to begin in September 2009. This position is primarily for string theory-related work. The elementary-particle theory at Penn State group consists of: John Collins, Murat Gunaydin, Irina Mocioiu, Radu Roiban, Anna Statso and Mark Strikman. There are experimental groups active in astroparticle physics (Auger and Icecube collaborations), and at RHIC. There is also a important program in gravitational physics. Applicants should send a curriculum vitae, a statement of research interests, and a list of publications to:

Radu Roiban
Physics Department
The Pennsylvania State University
104 Davey Lab. #110
University Park, PA 16802, U.S.A.
Phone: +1 814 863-5811
E-mail: radu@phys.psu.edu

Materials sent electronically should be in either plain text, postscript or pdf formats. Applicants should also arrange for three letters of reference to be sent to the same address. Applications should be received by December 8, 2008 for full consideration. However, applications will be considered until the position is filled. Penn State is committed to affirmative action, equal opportunity and the diversity of its workforce.

nuggetFriday, Nov 7 2008

Blocking signals in blood cancer

Blocking the signals from a protein that activates cells in the immune system could help kill cells that cause a rare form of blood cancer, according to a model developed by Reka Albert, her graduate student Ranran Zhang and a team of oncologists from the Hershey Medical Center. An important strategy of the human immune system is to produce large numbers of a type of white blood cell, cytotoxic T-cell, that kills other infected cells. Once the pathogens are eliminated, most of these killer T-cells quickly die on their own, but in rare cases these cells fail to follow their scripted lifecycle. The researchers constructed an intricate computer model illustrating the signaling network involved in the activation of the T-cells and in their programmed death. The model predicts, and experiments have confirmed, that the protein NFκB -is crucial for the survival to T cells and its deactivation can reverse the disease. Ranran Zhang, Mithun Vinod Shah, Jun Yang, Susan B. Nyland, Xin Liu, Jong K. Yun, Réka Albert, and Thomas P. Loughran, Jr. Network Model of Survival Signaling in LGL Leukemia PNAS vol. 105 no. 42 16308-16313 (2008) More...
nuggetSaturday, Nov 1 2008

Royal Society of Arts and Sciences in Goteborg

Professor Jerry Mahan has been elected a Foreign Member of The Royal Society of Arts and Sciences in Goteborg.
nuggetSaturday, Nov 1 2008

Humboldt Foundation Research Award

Prof. Mark Strikman has recieved a renewed Humboldt Foundation Research Award "in recognition of his academic achievements and his contribution to cooperation with German specialist collegues". It will support his joint research with theorists and experimentalists in the Physics Department of Rurh Univeristy, Bochum (Germany) starting in summer 2009.
nuggetTuesday, Sep 30 2008

Taphophobes take note

Taphophobes should take note when deciding on their “final” resting place. A team of researchers at Penn State have been studying the force needed to start the motion of a plate when it is buried beneath a pile of grains. They found that this force increases as the size of the grains increases, as described in a paper published recently in Physical Review Letters. The essence of the result is that, if you are buried alive and you have to push open a coffin lid, it is better to be buried under fine-grained sand than under pebbles. So, if premature burial is a concern for you, start looking into nice, sandy cemeteries. More...
nuggetFriday, Sep 26 2008

Collins wins J. J. Sakurai Prize

Penn State Physics professor John Collins is a 2009 winner of the J. J. Sakurai Prize for Theoretical Physics, shared with Dave Soper (U Oregon) and Keith Ellis (Fermilab). The winners were cited for their work in perturbative Quantum Chromodynamics, including applications to problems pivotal to the interpretation of high energy particle collisions. Quantum Chromodynamics (QCD) is a theory of strong nuclear interactions among quarks -- fundamental constituents of matter. The prize honors J.J. Sakarai, a Japanese-American particle physicist who authored leading textbooks on quantum mechanics and the principles of elementary particles during a career at the University of Chicago and UCLA. The new winners bring the total number of honorees to 40, including three who later won the Nobel Prize. More...
nuggetThursday, Sep 18 2008

Follow the Bouncing Universe

Current ideas about the early history of the universe are described in the Scientific American cover story "Follow the Bouncing Universe" by Martin Bojowald. According to recent developments in quantum gravity, which implement an atomic structure of space-time and not just matter, the universe did not start with the big bang but existed earlier. Some of its properties at those ancient times are being analyzed at Penn State, based on models in the framework of loop quantum cosmology. More...
nuggetWednesday, Jun 25 2008

Focus on Materials Simulation

The most recent issue of the Materials Research Institute's Focus on Materials features the research of professors Sofo and Crespi, and highlights Penn State efforts in materials simulation. More...
nuggetWednesday, Jun 25 2008

Controlling seizures

Steve Schiff's recent work on characterizing and controlling spatiotemporal patterns in the cortex of the brain was featured in a recent article on 'Clues to Controlling Seizures' at Technology Review. More...
nuggetMonday, Jun 23 2008

Physics and Jazz...

Professor Stephon Alexander shares his thoughts on Physics and Jazz at the website "big think". More...
nuggetSunday, May 25 2008

Japan Carbon Award

Peter Eklund has been awarded the Japan Carbon Award for Life-Time Achievement. This award is presented to a researcher for "one's lifelong great contributions in the field of carbon materials science and technology or service to the International Carbon Groups". Peter will be recognized in The 2008 International Conference on Carbon (Carbon2008, Carbon08) in Nagano for his seminal work on Synthesis and Optical Probes of Carbon Materials.
nuggetTuesday, May 20 2008

Jain elected to AAAS

Jainendra K. Jain, the Erwin W. Mueller Professor of Physic, has been named a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Professor Jain is a condensed-matter theorist who is interested in the physics of low-dimensional systems, especially those states in which electrons behave in cooperative ways leading to unexpected emergent behaviors. He is best known for predicting exotic particles, named composite fermions, to explain the surprising phenomenon known as the fractional quantum Hall effect, whose discoverers, Horst Stormer and Daniel Tsui, shared the 1998 Nobel prize in physics. More...
nuggetTuesday, May 20 2008

Information is not lost in the evaporation of black holes

Abhay Ashtekar, Victor Taveras, and Madhavan Varadarajan have published an Editor's Choice PRL entitled "Information is not lost in the evaporation of black holes", as featured in Nature News Research Highlight, PhysOrg, Science Daily, New Scientist, Fox News, MSNBC and the Today show. More... (Image: NASA)
nuggetTuesday, May 20 2008

Paul Axt Prize

John McManigle, graduating senior in Physics (with minors in Math and Biology) was awarded the Paul Axt Prize of the Schreyer Honors College at the SHC medals ceremony on Friday, May 16th. The citation for the Paul Axt Prize reads "The Paul Axt Prize recognizes a Schreyer Scholar who has seized the opportunities offered by the University and the Honors College to create an undergraduate education notable for both its breadth and depth." Mr. McManigle was already the recipient of a Goldwater Scholarship (2006) and an NIH Scholarship (2008) in his Penn State Career. He will pursue an M.D. - Ph.D. program at Duke University Medical School and Oxford University (UK) starting this summer. His honors adviser was Prof. Rick Robinett of the Physics Department. John did undergraduate research as part of "The Neurochip Project" with Prof. Anne Andrews of the Neuroscience Institute and the Veterinary Biomedical Science Department and Prof. Paul Weiss of the Physics and Chemistry Departments.
nuggetWednesday, May 7 2008

Academic Computing Fellowship

Garrett Evans has won a 2008-2009 Academic Computing Fellowship from the Penn State Graduate School. The award covers tuition and stipend, and also provides funds for travel and other support. Garrett has worked with both Dezhe Jin and John Collins on computational neuroscience topics and the Fellowship award described his proposal in this area as 'innovative'. Garrett's work involves understanding the complex dynamical and computational properties of systems of neurons and neural connections (synapses), components which are mostly well-understood in isolation. He employs both analytical and computer simulation methods.
nuggetTuesday, Apr 15 2008

WISE Recognition Award

Professor Milton Cole has been selected to receive the WISE Recognition Award, in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the recruitment, retention and mentoring of women in science.
nuggetTuesday, Apr 1 2008

Science Exhibition Reception

The Center for Gravitational Wave Physics invites you to attend a Science Exhibition Reception highlighting the scientific achievements of the Center's students, postdocs and technical staff. Center members will be on hand with poster exhibits of their work and refreshments will be available.
Center for Gravitational Wave Physics 2008 Poster Reception
April 25, 2008; 3: 30 p.m. to 5:0 p.m.
Third floor Chemistry/Life Sciences building
nuggetTuesday, Apr 1 2008

Fulbright Scholarship

Doug Cowen won a Fulbright Scholarship and a Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst (DAAD) Visiting Research Grant to work with researchers at Humboldt Universitat zu Berlin. Doug and his collaborators are implementing a neutrino-triggered optical observation system, tying together the IceCube Neutrino Observatory and the ROTSE robotic telescope network. The system will significantly improve our sensitivity to high-energy neutrino emission from astrophysical sources like supernovae and gamma-ray bursts.
nuggetFriday, Mar 28 2008

Faculty Scholar Award

Professor Nitin Samarth has been awarded the 2008 Penn State Faculty Scholar Medal in the Physical Sciences for his contributions to semiconductor spintronics, an emerging area of condensed matter physics that explores new paradigms for information technology. He has pioneered the development of a variety of spin-engineered semiconductor systems, ranging from the macro- to the nano- scale. These have lead to key discoveries in spintronics, including the observation of long spin coherence times and the spin Hall effect at room temperature. His work has been featured on the covers of Scientific American, Science and Nature. Samarth is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and received the George W. Atherton award for excellence in teaching at Penn State in 2007.
nuggetTuesday, Mar 4 2008

Eunseong Kim wins Lee Osheroff Richardson Prize

The 2008 Lee Osheroff Richardson North American Science Prize, from Oxford Instruments, has been awarded to Eunseong Kim for seminal contributions to the understanding of solid helium.
nuggetTuesday, Feb 5 2008

Departmental Newsletter

The latest edition of the departmental newsletter is now available.
nuggetSunday, Feb 3 2008

"Skinny" Pions Sail Through Nucleus

Like protons and neutrons, pions are built of smaller subatomic particles called quarks. Normally, pions traversing the nucleus feel the strong force of the protons and neutrons they encounter, causing a fraction of the pions to be reabsorbed by the nucleus. If the strong force is described in terms of the underlying quarks and gluons, however, such reabsorption is predicted to disappear. This vanishing act is a result of small-sized, point-like or "skinny" pions being produced in sufficiently energetic collisions between beams of particles and atomic nuclei. Under these circumstances, the escape probability of the pions increases towards unity, just as a pair of oppositely charged particles, when brought close together, can traverse undisturbed through a field of other charged particles. In an experiment at the Department of Energy's Jefferson Lab, a beam of electrons was used to knock pions out of various atomic nuclei ranging from deuterium to gold. The escape probability of the produced pions was found to increase with higher-energy collisions, i.e., the nucleus became increasingly transparent to the pions. This rate of increase, as well as the variation in transparency with different nuclear targets, was found to agree with the predictions of Strikman and collaborators, which assume the pions were produced in a small-size, ie. "skinny," configuration and remained so while traversing the nucleus. The Jefferson Lab pion experiment thus observed for the first time the turning-on of the color transparency phenomenon in the most basic quark-antiquark system.
nuggetThursday, Jan 31 2008

Alumni Association Dissertation Award

Nicolas Yunes, a graduate student in the Department of Physics, has received the Penn State Alumni Association Dissertation Award. The award "is considered to be among the most prestigious available to Penn State graduate students and recognizes outstanding achievement in scholarship and professional accomplishment." Nico, a student of Ben Owen, has collaborated with a number of faculty in the department during his tenure at Penn State. The title of his dissertation is "At the Interface: Gravitational Waves as Tools to Test Quantum Gravity and Probe the Astrophysical Universe." It is interesting to note that Nico is the third physics graduate student to win this award in the last three years. Tony Clark, a student of Moses Chan, won the award in 2006 and Elena Margine, a student of Vin Crespi, won in 2007.
nuggetSaturday, Jan 5 2008

Capturing Large Molecule Fish with Small Molecule Bait

The groups of Paul Weiss and Anne Andrews have designed a molecular capture surface that can catch large molecular "fish" with small molecular "bait." A single layer of molecules that resists biomolecule binding is first self-organized onto a gold substrate. This film has inherent defects: these form widely spaced holes into which the tethered "bait" molecules can insert themselves. When the resulting surface is exposed to different proteins, only those with high affinity for the bait bind to the surface. The small bait could be serotonin, a neurotransmitter important in depression and anxiety, and the large fish antibodies. In the future, this type of surface will be used to capture brain receptor proteins or synthetic sensors. The image shows a related structure, wherein stripes of serotonin have been patterned onto the substrate.
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