2001 News Archive
2001 Department News
December 12, 2001
Physicists Hugh Couchman and Erik Sorensen and their research with a supercomputing network are featured in a special report in the Dec. 12 edition of the Hamilton Spectator. Couchman heads the University’s high-performance computing involvement in SHARCNET or Shared Hierarchical Academic Research Computer Network. The initiative links clusters of high-performance computers at McMaster with the University of Western Ontario, the University of Guelph, the University of Windsor, Wilfrid Laurier University, Fanshawe College and Sheridan College. Sorensen, who specializes in computational physics, is the first SHARCNET research chair. (Hamilton Spectator, Dec. 12)
November 29, 2001
Industry Minister Brian Tobin was on campus to announce the appointment of McMaster’s two newest chairholders as part of a national announcement of the newest recipients at Canadian universities.
McMaster’s newest Canada Research Chairs both hail from the Faculty of Science: John Brennan, an associate professor of bioanalytical chemistry and Cecile Fradin, an associate professor of physics & astronomy and biochemistry.
Both recipients received Tier 2 awards which means they are researchers whose peers acknowledge them as having the potential to be world leaders in their field. The appointments are for a five-year period and can be renewed once.
November 16, 2001
JJ Kavelaars and fellow astronomers from France and the U.S. recently discovered yet another binary object in the Kuiper Belt region of the outer solar system. Using the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT), the astronomers uncovered the binary, which is made up of two small comet-like bodies. Unlike the Pluto/Charon binary, this pair of Kuiper Belt objects are orbiting around each other slowly, at about the speed of a brisk walk. “What’s curious about this discovery is that we’ve only found four binary Kuiper Belt objects and three of these were found inside this past year. Did we just miss them before? Our next step is to determine their mass, density and composition, then continue to monitor them to establish their orbits,” said Kavelaars. The discovery was officially announced in the International Astronomical Union Circular on Nov. 9.
October 29, 2001
Christine Wilson, a professor and associate chair of physics & astronomy, is the keynote speaker Tuesday (Oct. 30) at the Ottawa breakfast series known as “Bacon and Eggheads.” Wilson is the first McMaster researcher to be featured at the breakfasts that are held on Parliament Hill. The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and the Partnership Group for Science and Engineering designed the breakfasts to bridge the gap between policy makers and science and engineering experts. Wilson’s address focuses on millimetre-wave radio astronomy and its ability to let scientists probe space to aid our understanding of the origins of planets, stars and galaxies. She will explain her own work tracking a spectacular collision between two spiral galaxies that has triggered the formation of massive clusters of stars. Wilson is the Canadian project scientist for the Atacama Large Millimetre Array.
October 12, 2001
Tom Timusk, professor emeritus in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, has been awarded the 2002 Frank Isakson Prize for Optical Effects in Solids by the American Physical Society for “Spectroscopy in strongly correlated electron systems leading to elucidation of many-body physics.”
August 10, 2001
Hugh Couchman, professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, has been profiled in the August 10, 2001 edition of ComputerWorld. The article emphasizes Dr. Couchman’s modelling of the large scale structure of the universe using the recently acquired AlphaServer supercomputer. For more information please visit http://coho.physics.mcmaster.ca/SHARC-Net.
July 13, 2001
Astronomer JJ Kavelaars hopes to break a tradition in cosmic naming circles. Kavelaars, a research associate in the Department of Physics & Astronomy, wants to start a tradition using Inuit names of spirits and legends for new Saturn moon discoveries. In the past, moons have been named after Shakespearean characters or Greco-Roman gods. Kavelaars came across Inuit names such as Ijiraq and Qallupilluit in children’s books written by Canadian Inuit author Michael Arvaarluk Kusugak and suggested the idea after he and a group of astronomers found 12 Saturn moons. The International Astronomical Union will make a final decision on the moon names at its general meeting next year. The discovery of the new Saturn moons was initially announced last year and detailed descriptions are published in the current issue of the science journal Nature. (Hamilton Spectator, July 12)
July 12, 2001
Three McMaster researchers have been awarded grants totalling more than 8,000 from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) for facilities required for their research.
The recipients are Samir Chidiac, an associate professor in the Department of Civil Engineering, Bernardo Trigatti, an assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry, and Kari Dalnoki-Veress, an assistant professor in the Department of Physics & Astronomy, who received 4,929 for facilities related to his research on a project titled Mechanical properties and morphology of thin polymer films.
July 3, 2001
Dean of Science Peter Sutherland has been named acting provost and vice-president academic. The appointment was approved last month by Board and the Senate Committee on Appointments and was effective July 1. His appointment could be for a few months or up to one year depending on how soon a new provost is in place. “Peter brings a wide range of experience to the position and his understanding of the University’s success and current priorities will be important to McMaster’s ongoing operations,” said University President Peter George. Sutherland has informed the Board and Senate that he would not be a candidate for the position. A search is currently under way for a new provost to take up the post. John Drake, director of the School of Geography & Geology, is acting dean of science.
May 1, 2001
Canadian scientists like Bruce Gaulin , the Brockhouse Chair in the Physics of Materials, are concerned about a decision by Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. to back off on supporting a new 0 million research reactor. Gaulin and others believe the new reactor is essential to carry out research in materials science which in turn contributes to advances in drug development, telecommunications, fuel cells and molecular biology. Gaulin, a professor in the Department of Physics & Astronomy who heads the Canadian Institute for Neutron Scattering, told the Toronto Star any delay “is potentially a big blow.” The federal government is poised to issue a decision whether to go ahead with a proposed Canadian Neutron Facility. (Toronto Star, May 1)
January 26, 2001
Christine Wilson, associate professor in physics & astronomy, was interviewed by Peter Mansbridge for his TV show, One on One, which aired on CBC Newsworld earlier this week. Wilson discussed the involvement by Canadian astronomers in a new international project to build a series of telescopes more powerful than any seen before. Wilson, one of the Canadians most involved, talked about how astronomy is evolving and what it all means for Canadian scientists like herself.