Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Gas Chromatography of Hydrogen Isotopes

Over the last couple years, Patrick Hansen has made steady progress on the gas chromatography system used to separate H2, HD and D2 in Dr. Whisnant's lab. Building on the work of Laurence Lewis, Travis Kelley and Ryan Burke, Patrick has now put the system in a state where it can be reliably used to assay gas from the distillery before it is sent to JLab for use in polarized target production.

He has reviewed the literature and found that no one else has obtained results as good or had been so quantitative about the interpretation of the results. Thus, at the moment, he is busy writing his results up for publication.

Paper in progress. Stay Tuned.

JMU HD Distillery

The HD distillery, housed in the basement of the HHS building, has been struggling for the past year as attempts have been made to get it working after a long hiatus. The majors problems appear to be ones related to too much heat in the wrong places.

Dr. Whisnant's collaborators at JLab are working on a redesign on the distillation column now. The new piece should be in-hand in late July and the process of starting up will resume.

In the mean time, Brittany Rash, has made good progress on a major computer (hardware and software) upgrade for the facility. The previous system used two very old computers (one dating from 2001!) to monitor and control pressure transducers, boil-up power and the vacuum pump. All this is now moving to a new computer with dual monitors (Dr. Whisnant is known for his love of a two monitor system!). Brittany has one program up and going and is working on the second one. With improved software (and stability!) and some additional hardware to clean up the computer-instrument interface, the revived distillery shouild purr like a kitten in August.

Stay tuned.

Road Trip!

Starting on the 6th of July, Dr. Whisnant will be taking James Hauver and William Henderson to Duke University for two weeks to do some photon scattering. The reaction of interest is photon induced neutron emission. The targets under consideration include Sn, Ta and Cd. There will also be data taken on U and Pu as well later on in July.

Most of these targets have been studied before with this reaction. The new thing is that we will do it with polarized gamma-rays. The plan is to help establish a database of reaction data that can be used to look  fro fissile (and non fissile) materials in shipping containers.

So, bright and early on July 6, the adventure begins!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

JMU-Physics at ORNL

Early results on "Infrared energy harvesting using surface phonon-polaritons in thin atomic layer deposited oxide films" were presented by Giovanna Scarel on June 8 2010 at the Center for Nanophase Materials Science - Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge (TN).

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A little chemistry, just for fun

Students are busy this summer...

Preparing for a night out under the stars doing some observing.

Learning their around the machine shop with Dr. Peterson

Interpreting the FTIR output in Dr. Scarel's lab

Or thinking (and trying to look busy) in Dr. Whisnant's lab.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

What can you do with a Physics Degree?

Although many people think that a physics degree is only something you get if you want to do research or teach, there are a myriad of possibilities. Among these are medical and law school. The American Institute of Physics has a statistical center that collects information about what physics graduates do. Recently posted is the average MCAT and LSAT scores for 2009 sorted by major. Using data provided by the Association of American Medical Colleges and the Law School Admissions Council, the AIP have posted two tables that give the full results.

The short version is that Biomedical engineering and Physics are at the top of the list on the MCAT. Scores are given in three areas. Physics is best in Physics sciences (duh!) and tied in verbal reasoning. Only in biological sciences do the engineers pull ahead.  For those of you who still think it is OK to major in Biology to go to med school, note that Biology is next to last in the list. The only major worse if Premed!

On the LSAT, Physics is the clear leader. Once again, Pre-law and criminal justice are at the bottom of the list. Even Political Science, where most applicants major is well down on the list.

The clear moral of this story is that if you want to be a lawyer of a doctor, Physics is the best place to start. Of course, if you want to be researcher, teacher, engineer, business person, or anything else, choose Physics.