Otterbein Physics Blog

News And Psuedo-Random Blurts from the Otterbein University Physics Department

Alumni News

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Keegan Orr ’18 has received the 2020 Walter Lempert Award of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), for best student paper. Keegan earned a BS in Engineering Physics from Otterbein, and is currently pursuing a PhD in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Ohio State. He is the recipient of an NDSEG graduate fellowship.

While at Otterbein, Keegan worked in the atomic physics lab of Prof. Aaron Reinhard, developing a novel method of stabilizing tunable lasers. This work resulted in a published paper and Keegan graduating with Distinction. His laser expertise translated directly to his graduate research work; the award-winning paper is focused on the development of a new laser technique for precision electric field measurements in plasmas known as Electric Field Induced Second Harmonic (EFISH) generation.

While at Otterbein (and before), Keegan was also a nationally-ranked yo-yo artist :-).

Written by David Robertson

January 7th, 2021 at 10:39 am

Posted in Uncategorized

James Randi (1928-2020)

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James Randi

I somehow missed the news of the passing of James Randi on October 29, 2020, at age 92. Randi had something of a formative influence on me when I was in high school and college. He was a professional magician who turned to debunking pseudoscience of all kinds — ESP, faith healing, psychics, etc. Along with Carl Sagan, Isaac Asimov, and Martin Gardner (a long-time columnist at Scientific American who wrote a column on recreational mathematics) he founded the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry in 1976. For many years he offered $1M to anyone who could demonstrate a supernatural ability under actual scientific controls. No one ever succeeded in claiming the prize.

I saw him speak once, though I can’t for the life of me remember where…

His main message: “Don’t be too sure of yourself. No matter how smart or well educated you are, you can be deceived.”

Written by David Robertson

December 4th, 2020 at 11:20 pm

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Oddly Satisfying

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Every once in a while you come across these lovely animations from Andreas Wannerstedt on the internet. I realized this on is particularly nice, though: both the pendulum and the cylinder have the same angular velocity; it nicely ties together the ideas by asking ‘what is the period of this device’?

One In Rotation from Andreas Wannerstedt on Vimeo.

Written by Nathaniel Tagg

October 19th, 2020 at 8:40 am

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Nobel Prize in Physics 2020

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The Nobel Prize in Physics for 2020 has been awarded for black hole physics. Sir Roger Penrose shared half the prize “for the discovery that black hole formation is a robust prediction of the general theory of relativity”, and the other half was awarded jointly to Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez “for the discovery of a supermassive compact object at the centre of our galaxy.”

Professor Ghez (of UCLA) was the Science Lecture Series speaker at Otterbein in 2011!

Written by David Robertson

October 6th, 2020 at 10:06 pm

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Smith Lecture at Ohio State

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Written by David Robertson

October 6th, 2020 at 3:54 pm

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Stupid physics memes

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Image

Written by Nathaniel Tagg

September 28th, 2020 at 9:25 am

Posted in Fun Stuff

Intro lab shiny new

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big empty room

Robertson and I completed our first refit of the intro labs. They look pretty good! Students are socially distanced in their new positions, and are all conveniently facing away from the instructor. The tables resisted moving, having been locked in place by a decade of floor-waxing, but the physicists ultimately prevailed.
Onward to a new semester!

Written by Nathaniel Tagg

August 21st, 2020 at 4:16 pm

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Standard Model Gloriously Confirmed Yet Again

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This beautiful plot shows the relation between the fundamental particle masses and the coupling to the Higgs field for heavy fermions (t, b, tau) and gauge bosons (W, Z). The prediction of the Standard Model Higgs boson is the blue dashed line. Marvel at the precision – apart from the muon, which is not well covered by this dataset, the error bars are tiny! The upcoming Run 3 of the Large Hadron Collider should significantly expand these data for the second family: the charm quark and muon, radically shrinking the uncertainty on the latter. Run 3 is currently scheduled to begin in early 2021, so stay tuned!

Written by David Robertson

August 4th, 2020 at 6:03 pm

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CUWiP @ Pittsburgh 2020

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I’m just the slightest bit late posting this, but Otterbein physics students Olivia Smith ’22 and Heather Tanner ’20 attended the Conference on Undergraduate Women in Undergraduate Physics (CUWiP) back on January 17-19, 2020. (It seems like forever ago!) This conference was hosted jointly by Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pittsburgh, Duquesne University, and Washington and Jefferson College.

For readers of a certain vintage, an Otterbein connection: Mike Pettersen, who was a physics faculty member at Otterbein starting in 1993, moved to “Wash and Jeff” in 2002.

Written by David Robertson

August 4th, 2020 at 5:24 pm

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Starting to blast for DUNE

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On June 23, construction workers carried out the first underground blasting at Sanford Lab for the Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility, which will provide the space, infrastructure, and particle beam for DUNE. This prep work paves the way for removing more than 800,000 tons of rock to make space for the gigantic DUNE detectors a mile underground. Researchers are also testing materialsthat will be used in producing the most powerful neutrino beam in the world.
Neat.

https://lbnf-dune.fnal.gov/

Far site caverns

Written by Nathaniel Tagg

June 24th, 2020 at 6:25 pm

Posted in Uncategorized