Sunday, June 19, 2011

New Possibilities on the Horizon

On Friday Giovanna Scarel and Steve Whisnant attended a meeting in Newport News at Jefferson Lab to learn about current facilities and new ideas for light sources. JLab currently has a free-electron laser (FEL) that can produce light in the wavelength range from microns to about about 300 nm. In addition to this facility, there is a plan developing to build a new, so-called, Next Generation Light Source (NGLS) that can provide light (not coherent in this case) up into the soft x-ray region. This facility will provide unprecedented brightness and luminosity.

What is really interesting about this idea is that it would put a world-class light source a short drive from JMU. This will make it possible to expand the horizons of our faculty and students to explore the world in new ways. We are at the beginning of the process. Much work to do to make this happen.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

And now for a change of reference frame...

This video of a camera attached to a hula-hoop gives a nice perspective of how the world looks from a different reference frame. Think of this as the person in the middle representing the sun and the spot on the hula-hoop representing the earth. From the perspective of the person in the middle, the motion is fairly simple and easy to understand. From the perspective of the camera, life is quite different.

Of course, with multiple planets all moving at different speeds around the sun, the motion of the solar system appears to be much more complicated from the earth. We see planets that appear to move sometimes faster, sometimes slower, and sometimes even in reverse. Add to this the motion of the moons around the planets and the solar system is an apparently complicated place indeed.

However, if you put the camera in the right place it all gets easy to understand.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

The passing of Maurice Goldhaber...

From the LA Times...

Maurice Goldhaber, one of the pioneers of modern physics whose experiments helped create the current understanding of how the world works, died May 11 at his home on Long Island, N.Y., after a short illness. He had celebrated his 100th birthday less than a month earlier.

Goldhaber was "one of the world's most distinguished nuclear and particle physicists," the U.S. government said in 1998 when it presented him the prestigious Enrico Fermi Award. His innovative and thought-provoking experiments provided much of the foundation for the standard model of physics that now paints our view of the universe, and his leadership and vision as head of the Brookhaven National Laboratory during the 1960s led to three Nobel Prizes in Physics for the Long Island institution.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Endeavour is Home

Endeavour safely home while Atlantis is being moved to the launch pad. One step closer to the end.