Sunday, January 23, 2011

The First Saturday Morning Physics

On Saturday morning, we had our first installment of of the Saturday Morning Physics. Adriana Banu described nuclear physics for a full crowd of folks.

Many students were accompanied by their parents and many of the parents joined them in the lecture. We are excited to have some many people interested in seeing what we are up to in our research.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

How Often Do Giant Black Holes Become Hyperactive?

If you've ever wondered how often the biggest black holes have been active over the last few billion years, here are some answers.

Last December (yes, we're a bit late with these news, but they are still hot...) the (NASA) press released a story on "How Often Do Giant Black Holes Become Hyperactive?" (

Here you can read about how supermassive black holes grow and about possible implications for how the giant black hole at the center of the Milky Way will behave in the future. The conclusions are based on the first direct determination of the fraction of field galaxies in the local Universe that contain active supermassive black holes, which is important to know because this is directly related to how often these giant black holes flare up, since that's when they go through a major growth spurt.

Anca Constantin, one of the lively JMU's astropysicists, is a co-author on the paper presenting the science being this story. So, no wonder you are hearing about these fantastic results from this blog.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Making Stuff NOVA Show Premiers Tonight on PBS

Tonight at the PBS NOVA will kicking off the Making Stuff series with the first episode: Stronger!
David Pogue takes viewers on a journey into the world of materials science. Dr. Costel Constantin of JMU was part of Material Research Society's NOVA committee which helped with scientific ideas throughout the production of the show.
Enjoy it!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Programming the “specialist-of-all-trades” in the PHYS 372 class

Jack-of-all-trades would simply not work. With a single microcontroller, one can control sophisticated machines that perform highly specialized jobs. With hard work and passion, last semester students from PHYS 372 class programmed PIC 16F877 microcontrollers by using EasyPic6 development boards. This movie shows some of our students' projects.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Biomaterials research at JMU-Physics

The Biotechnology Journal has just accepted a new paper from the NCSU-JMU collaboration working on engineering the properties of biomaterials using atomic layer depsition. The new paper is entitled "Atomic layer deposition of titania on cellulose acetate for enhanced hemostasis". The contribution from JMU comes from Dr. Scarel and her group. Dr. Scarel has performed infrared spectroscopy analysis of the samples before and after the ALD treatment.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Spring Semester is Upon Us

On Monday Morning, bright and early, spring semester 2011 begins. We'll soon have snow days to make up (forecast for Tuesday, perhaps) and exams to prepare.

Another fun time of teaching and learning physics.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

What happens when there are no classes

Some may wonder what happens on a university campus when the students aren't around. Here's the answer  to this big question. CONSTRUCTION!

Standing in Kim's office and looking out the window, this is what we see. The new Biology building is moving right along. The contractor has taken the opportunity with no students to do some underground plumbing and currently have the several trenches dug in "our front lawn". In the photo is the largest of the holes.

We're told this will all be covered by Monday morning so the buses can park and the students can get to class.

For those still visiting campus, you'll notice that the steel on the building itself has all gone up since final exams.