Sunday, February 27, 2011
Although there is another week of visits, it seems that our big day was Saturday (2/26) when 10 prospective students and their parents attended.
If you are one of those who wants to come and have not yet scheduled your visit, time's a'wastin'! It is much to early to know if the record turnout will lead to any increase in the freshman class of 2011. However, it is clear that we will have another strong class with many excellent students.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Not only is the shuttle the most complicated machine every built, it has the most complicated lift-off of any rocket. As you can see in an earlier post, the main shuttle engines are not pointed straight down but rather at an angle to the thrust of the solid fuel rocket. This causes the entire shuttle to lift off at a bit of an angle.
Then there's the roll maneuver that starts just after clearing the tower. Then the jettison of the external tank and the release of the solid fuel rockets. Beautiful. Breath-taking. Awe inspiring.
Perhaps the future will bring us an even more amazing piece of technology. Don't hold your breath.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
This past Saturday, Feb 19, Profs. Chris Hughes, Scott Paulson and Costel Constantin presented the 5th lecture in our Saturday Morning Physics program. The title of their presentation was "Let's Get Small: Studies in Nanophysics". Approximately 50 students, teachers and parents learned about why nanoscience is so exciting! From hands on activities, like DNA origami which everyone loved, to having the 3 faculty members discuss their science, a great time was had by all. Slides and the video podcast of the event will be available on online at our facebook page and the department's SMP Outreach page.
Unfortunately, all good things must come to a close. This Saturday, Feb 26 at 9:30AM, Prof. Brian Utter will present the last talk entitled "Jamming, Avalanches, and Unpredictability: Nonlinear Dynamics and Complexity in Granular Flows". In the afternoon, we will have a special treat as Physics & Astronomy Chair, Prof. Steven Whisnant, will deliver the closing talk entitled "Outlook on College/Career Path in Physics". Please join us!
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Saturday Morning Physics Lecture 4: Exploring Fundamental Ideas About How Our World Works: Tools and Challenges
Incredibly, our inaugural Saturday Morning Physics @JMU program is quickly coming to a close! This past Saturday, we had our 4th lecture in our 6 part series. Prof. Kevin Giovanetti gave a great talk on "Exploring Fundamental Ideas About How Our World Works: Tools and Challenges" to a large room of ~50 high school students, their parents, and even a few teachers. :)
You can find a podcast of his talk (don't miss his exploding pop can demonstration!), presentation slides and photos of the event at our Physics & Astronomy SMP Outreach webpage.
This coming Saturday, our 2nd last lecture (!) of the series, will feature Prof. Chris Hughes who will talk to us about Let's Get Small: Studies in Nanophysics. Nanotechnology/Nanoscience is one of the really "hot" areas in Physics today so this promises to be a great talk! Please join us this Saturday (Miller Hall, Room 1101) at 9:30 for Prof. Hughes' talk to learn more about this exciting area of research!
Monday, February 14, 2011
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Between now and the first week of March we will host perhaps 40 prospective students and their parents. Not all will choose to attend JMU. Our job is try to convince that they should be here. The range of research options and opportunities for getting involved in the freshman year is central to our pitch. We are the place to be in Virginia.
The university is continuing the Madison Achievement Awards (MAS) and the Second Century Scholarships and the department continues the Presidential and Gordon Scholarships. Altogether we have about 14 scholarships total to award! Given the size of our typical freshman class, this means that nearly 1/2 of the freshman class will be on scholarship. This is an amazing ratio.
We're looking for the best and brightest for in-state and out-of-state (the MAS are targeted to out-of-state students). The number and quality of applicants in recent years have make a clear impact on our program. These scholarships are having a clear effect. This year we will continue on this path of growth and improvement.
In the histogram at the right is distribution of the number of graduates from undergraduate only physics departments in the US for the 2009-2009 school year. This data is the most recent was collected by the American Institute of Physics. The largest department graduated 30. In 2010, we graduated 21. This growth and the steady improvement in the quality of students (both due, in part, to the number and quality of scholarships we have to award) mean we are slowly but surely on track to be one of the very larges undergraduate physics departments in the country.
Saturday, February 05, 2011
Saturday Morning Physics Lecture 3: A Tale about Fundamental Ingredients of Our Universe and the Interactions Between Them
Wednesday, February 02, 2011
This past Saturday, Professor Harold Butner gave a fascinating talk entitled "Tracing the Invisible: Star Formation Behind Closed Curtains" as part of the inaugural Saturday Morning Physics program. Well over 50 participants and their parents attended the talk and the accompanying planetarium show "Black Holes: The Other Side of Infinity". The lecture was taped and will soon be available to be streamed online at: http://csma31.csm.jmu.edu/physics/Public/saturday.html
You can also find photos from the event and Prof. Butner's slides at the same location.
This upcoming Saturday, Feb. 5, Prof. Gabriel Niculescu will deliver lecture 3 entitled "Building Blocks for the Budding Scientist: A Tale about Fundamental Ingredients of our Universe and the Interactions Between Them". You can find more details about this lecture and the remaining SMP lectures at http://csma31.csm.jmu.edu/physics/Public/saturday.html as well as via our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/SMP.JMU