big bangCosmologists probe beyond the Big Bang

A long tradition of cosmology research in Cornell’s College of Arts and Sciences has given birth to a vigorous effort by a new generation of cosmologists to understand the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), the thermal radiation left over from the Big Bang.

“A large portion of all knowledge about the history of the universe as a whole is revealed when you fully understand the CMB,” says Michael Niemack, assistant professor of physics, whose work centers on CMB measurements.

Cosmology, the study of the nature and evolution of the universe, has progressed enormously during the past 30 years, says Jeevak Parpia, professor and chair of physics. “We are in an era of ‘precision’ cosmology.”

“This is a time of very rapid advances in the field,” agrees Liam McAllister, associate professor of physics and a specialist in string theory. “You don’t know on any given day what new discovery you’re going to see posted that night on arXiv.”

Find the full Cornell Chronicle article here.

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Higgs9-15aCornell theorists continue the search for supersymmetry

It was a breakthrough with profound implications for the world as we know it: the Higgs boson, the elementary particle that gives all other particles their mass, discovered at the Large Hadron Collider in 2012.

For many scientists, it’s only the beginning. When the LHC fires up again in 2015 at its highest-ever collision energy, theorists like Csaba Csaki, Cornell professor of physics, will be watching.

To read this story, visit the Cornell Chronicle article here.

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September 2014: Bethe Lecturer Explores Spacetime

On September 24, 2014 at 7:30 PM in Schwartz Auditorium, Rockefeller Hall, Juan Maldacena will present a public lecture titled, “Black Holes and the Structure of Spacetime.” A leading theorist in quantum gravity, Maldacena will explore the connection between black holes and quantum field theories. As part of the Hans Bethe Lecture series,  Maldacena will also present the physics colloquium on Monday, September 22, 2014 at 4:00 PM in Schwartz Auditorium.

To read more about the Hans Bethe Lecture series and Juan Maldacena’s career, visit the Cornell Chronicle article here.



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August 2014: Memorial Service for Dean Emeritus Geoffrey Chester Scheduled for 9/20

Geoffrey V. Chester, professor emeritus of physics and dean emeritus of Cornell’s College of Arts and Sciences, died June 27 at age 86 in Ithaca. A professor at Cornell since 1964, he was an authority on liquid helium. His research group was one of the first to carry out simulations of a wide range of condensed-matter systems. Much of his work focused on the liquid and solid phases of helium three and four. In addition he was interested in classical and quantum spin systems, order and disorder in solids, two-dimensional melting and problems in materials science. “Geoffrey Chester’s work pioneered the use of computational methods to elucidate the nature of the ground state of helium,” said Jeevak Parpia, professor and chair of physics. “He also was a willing member of many experimental Ph.D. students’ special committees (including mine) and was known and sought after for his deep insight.” A campus memorial service for Arts and Sciences Dean Emeritus Geoffrey Chester will be held Saturday, September 20 at 2 p.m. in Anabel Taylor Chapel.

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August 2014:  Grad Student aims to improve particle accelerators

Particle accelerators, like the Cornell Electron Storage Ring (CESR), are involved in fields ranging from cancer research to archaeology, art and chemistry. New interdisciplinary research on a part of the accelerator called the photocathode by physics graduate student Siddharth Karkare has the potential to dramatically improve accelerator performance. Karkare has been studying the materials used to make the photocathodes. To read more about his findings, see this Cornell Chronicle article.


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August 2014: Prof. Yuri Orlov Celebrates 90th Birthday

On August 13, 2014, Professor Yuri Orlov celebrated his 90th birthday. The Voice of America recognized him by streaming a documentary about his life on its Russian-language website, and the National Security Archive at George Washington University mounted a major web posting in his honor (view it here). The Moscow Helsinki Group, the human rights organization Orlov founded in 1976, also hosted a birthday celebration in Moscow.

Yuri Orlov is a human rights champion and one of the oldest active professors in America. For even more information about his incredible life and career, visit the Cornell Chronicle article here.Yuri Orlov body of article

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August 2014:  Proof:  Magnetism makes ‘Cooper pairs’

For decades, many physicists have taken for granted a theory that electrons in high-temperature superconductors are nudged into “Cooper pairs” that can carry an electric current without resistance by their interaction with the magnetic fields of nearby atoms. Sensitive measurements at Cornell have finally supplied the first experimental proof of the theory.

Find the full Cornell Chronicle article here.

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August 2014: For Stable Flight, Fruit Flies Sense Every Wing Beat

In order to stabilize their flight, fruit flies sense the orientation of their bodies every time they beat their wings – one beat about every 4 milliseconds.

Using computational analyses of free flight, Cornell physicists led by Z. Jane Wang, professor of physics and mechanical and aerospace engineering, made these predictions in a study co-authored by Song Chang, Ph.D. ’13. The study was published online in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences July 21.

“We started by asking at what time scales a model fruit fly needs to sense and act in order to maintain its balance in air,” Wang said. “This led to our conjecture about a fruit fly’s sensing rate, and also a prediction about the function of one of its muscles.”

Find the full Cornell Chronicle article here.

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