2002 News Archive
2002 Department News
December 9, 2002
McMaster’s Catherine Kallin, professor of physics and astronomy, is one of 33 cutting-edge researchers featured in inno’va’tion and inno’v@-tion: Essays by Leading Canadian Researchers, a collection of essays that tell the stories of researchers in Canada.
The project is presented in two formats, a Web site with interactive essays and a book with 25 essays. Kallin’s essay, High Temperature Superconductivity, is featured in the book. Kallin, who served on a number of international scientific boards, recently returned from Santa Barbara where she co-organized a five-month workshop on high temperature superconductivity.
November 28, 2002
McMaster researcher James Wadsley is part of a team who have demonstrated that giant gaseous planets like Jupiter could have formed in hundreds, not millions of years, as previously thought.
October 28, 2002
Research by assistant physics & astronomy professor Alison Sills is included in a story in the November issue of the science magazine, Scientific American. The story, called When Stars Collide, notes that Sills and colleague Piet Hut of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J. have argued that stellar dynamics and stellar evolution regulate each other by means of subtle feedback loops. Sills was recently awarded a prestigious 2002 Polanyi Prize for Physics for her research into stars. (McMaster Daily News, October 28, 2002)
October 18, 2002
Alison Sills, assistant professsor of physics and astronomy, is one of four McMaster recipients of the 2002 John Charles Polanyi prizes. The Polanyi prizes are awarded to promising young researchers in Ontario and were established to recognize Dr. Polanyi of the University of Toronto who was the co-recipient of the 1986 Nobel Prize in chemistry.
October 1, 2002
Contributions from McMasters’s Fellows of the Royal Society of Canada were honoured at a recognition dinner at Hamilton’s LIUNA Station. Election to the Fellowship of the Royal Society of Canada is the highest academic honour for scientists and scholars in Canada. Fellows from the Physics and Astronomy department and the year they were elected are Bertram Brockhouse (1962), Jules P. Carbotte (1974), W. Ross Datars (1979), John A. Davies (1971), Martin Johns (1958), John Kuehner (1977), Melvin Preston (1961), Donald Sprung (1980), and Thomas Timusk (1995).
September 5, 2002
We are very sad to report the passing of professor emeritus W. Brian Clarke, B.A. (Dublin), Ph.D. (McMaster), on Tuesday September 3, 2002, while visiting family in California.
July 25, 2002
Exceptional undergraduate students from McMaster and beyond are taking part in a summer school being held by the Brockhouse Institute for Materials Research (BIMR).
July 8, 2002
Alison Sills, assistant professor in the physics and astronomy department, is one of ten McMaster researchers to receive at total of .8 million from the New Opportunities Fund distributed by the Canada Foundation for Innovation. Her award of 4,422 will allow her to acquire a rare hybrid teraflop supercomputer to be used to study the dynamics and evolution of groups of stars called globular clusters.
June 26, 2002
McMaster University has been awarded three new Canada Research Chairs including one to Paul Higgs. Higgs, from the University of Manchester in the UK, is a recent tenured addition to the Department of Physics & Astronomy and will hold the title Canada Research Chair in Biophysics.
June 6, 2002
SHARCNET( Shared Hierarchical Academic Research Computing Network), a high performance computer network system, was celebrated on Thursday, May 30, 2002 by representatives from the private sector, the government and McMaster University. Astrophysicist Hugh Couchman, McMaster’s director in the project, uses the collection of computers to simulate the growth of cosmic structure, while physicist Eric Sorensen, the first recipient of a SHARCNET research chair, employs the system to study condensed matter physics.
June 6, 2002
McMaster researcher James Wadsley is working with astrophysicists at the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics (CITA) in Toronto to discover more about the nature and origins of the universe. The CITA researchers analyzed data from Caltech’s Cosmic Background Imager (CBI) experiment that measures the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) light originating from an era just after the theoretical big bang. On large patches of the sky, the CMB light is smooth, however on small scales, there are ripples. Some of the ripples are primordial and accurately indicate conditions in the universe 13 billion years ago. The CBI experiment exhibited additional features due to foreground objects expected to be large clusters of galaxies known to contain hot gas – which have altered the light.
Wadsley has created a simulation that contains many clusters of galaxies and the associated hot gas in a huge volume of the universe 1.3 billion light years across. From it, the scientists can predict the foreground effects and remove them or use the foregrounds to work out how to locate distant clusters of galaxies and estimate their properties. “This is the original light from just after the big bang. It is almost unchanged, more than 13 billion years old and contains a wealth of information about a simpler time very early in the age of the universe”, said Wadsley, a research associate in the Department of Physics & Astronomy. His work is featured on the Discovery Channel the week of June 3.
May 14, 2002
Ralph Pudritz of McMaster University and Melinda Weil of the City College of San Francisco have had their findings from new computer simulations of the formation of star clusters reported on the Scientific American News in Brief webpage. The announcement of their work (“From Darkness to Light – Forming the Oldest Stars in the Cosmos“) was made at the annual meeting of the Canadian Astronomical Society (CASCA).
January 7, 2002
Have you ever wondered why we have no sensation of movement here on our rotating, orbiting earth? The CBC radio show Quirks and Quarks put that question to Alison Sills, assistant professor of physics & astronomy , for their “Superstring Bowl Edition” that answered some of the various questions submitted by the show’s listeners over the past year. Sills answered the question, “Why do we have no sensation of movement here on earth, despite the fact the earth is rotating, orbiting and gravity is pulling on us?” by explaining that we have no sensation of movement because we’re moving at a constant speed. She offers the example of putting a ball on the floor of a moving car: the ball does not move until the car’s motion is slowed or stopped. Sills’ complete explanation can be heard by connecting to the Quirks and Quarks Web site and listening to the sound files from the Dec. 29 broadcast.