The University of Utah
Department of Physics & Astronomy at the University of Utah

Don't Miss The Lunar Eclipse!

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

The South Physics Observatory will be opening tonight at 10:00 PM for anyone wanting to watch the Lunar Eclipse.

Visit the South Physics Observatory website for more details, directions, and some really neat astronomy photos.

Location: Roof of the South Physics Observatory at the University of Utah
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Partial eclipse begins 11:58pm
Total eclipse begins 1:06am
Greatest eclipse is 1:45am
Total eclipse ends 2:24am
Partial eclipse ends 3:33am


March 26, 2014: "Science as a Way of Knowing" by Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson

From the Tanner Humanities Center website.

"Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson
Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium & a Research Associate in the Dept of Astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History.

Location: Kingsbury Hall at the University of Utah - Sold Out
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The lecture will be broadcast live on March 26, 2014 at 7 PM to multiple University of Utah venues:
Marriott Library's Gould Auditorium (295 S 1500 E)
Social and Behavioral Science Lecture Hall (392 S 1530 E)
Social Work Auditorium (395 S 1500 E, Rm 134)

In his lecture, Dr. Tyson makes the case for science as a way to understand human values, and how the scientific process is critical for comprehending the world and universe. It is the most rigorous means to discover elusive answers to questions large and small.

Neil deGrasse Tyson is the Director of the Hayden Planetarium and a member of the Department of Astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Dr. Tyson's research interests are primarily related to the structure of the Milky Way Galaxy, and the formation of stars, supernovas, and dwarf galaxies. He directs the scientific research efforts of the Hayden Planetarium and guides its educational outreach, working closely with the Museum's Department of Education. In addition, Dr. Tyson serves as a visiting research scientist in the Department of Astrophysics at Princeton University.

In 2001, Tyson was appointed by President Bush to serve on a 12-member commission that studied the Future of the US Aerospace Industry. The final report was published in 2002 and contained recommendations (for Congress and for the major agencies of the government) that would promote a thriving future of transportation, space exploration, and national security. In 2004, Tyson was once again appointed by President Bush to serve on a 9-member commission on the Implementation of the United States Space Exploration Policy, dubbed the "Moon, Mars, and Beyond" commission. This group navigated a path by which the new space vision can become a successful part of the American agenda. And in 2006, the head of NASA appointed Tyson to serve on its prestigious Advisory Council, which will help guide NASA through its perennial need to fit its ambitious vision into its restricted budget.

In addition to dozens of professional publications, Dr. Tyson has written, and continues to write for the public. He is a monthly essayist for Natural History magazine under the title "Universe." And among Tyson's eight books is his memoir The Sky is Not the Limit: Adventures of an Urban Astrophysicist; and Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution, co-written with Donald Goldsmith. Origins is the companion book to the PBS-NOVA 4-part mini-series Origins, in which Tyson serves as on-camera host. Tyson hosts the PBS-NOVA's spinoff program NOVA ScienceNow, which is an accessible look at the frontier of all the science that shapes the understanding of our place in the universe. Currently, Tyson is working on a reboot of the landmark television series COSMOS, to air on the Fox network in spring 2014.

The Tanner Lecture on Human Values is a distinguished series that instigates educational and scientific discussions relating to human values. The Lectures are held annually at Harvard University, Yale University, Princeton University, University of Michigan, Stanford University, University of California Berkeley, University of Utah, University of Oxford, and the University of Cambridge.

Complete 2014 Tanner Lecture on Human Values Information"


NASA Traveling Exhibit & Special Night Vision Event

From the Clark Planetarium's website.

NASA Traveling Exhibit

Credit: NASA

Don’t miss the NASA Exploration Systems Directorate/Space Launch System (ESD/SLS) exhibit when it is on display at the Clark Planetarium. In partnership with ATK and NASA, the SLS exhibit will be open to the public February 26 – March 2, 2014.

Guests will be able to explore launch system and flight hardware with an interactive touch screen presentation, take an up-close look at a scale model of NASA’s next rocket, the Space Launch System and multi-purpose crew vehicle, the Orion space capsule. Visitors can also have their picture taken as an astronaut.

According to NASA: “The SLS will be NASA’s first exploration-class vehicle since the Saturn V took American astronauts to the moon over 40 years ago. With its superior lift capability, the SLS will expand our reach in the solar system, allowing astronauts aboard the Orion spacecraft to explore multiple, deep-space destinations including near-Earth asteroids, Lagrange points, the moon and ultimately Mars.

Remember, exhibits are always free so be sure to get in and see this before it’s gone.

Free admission. All are invited to attend. Learn More
Wednesday, February 26 - Sunday, March 2, 2014
Location: Hansen Dome Theatre, Clark Planetarium, 110 South 400 West in Salt Lake City
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Special Night Vision Event

Join Clark Planetarium for a special Night Vision event on Wednesday, February 26, 2014, for an up close look at NASA and the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket.

Clark Planetarium is pleased to welcome Alex Priskos, NASA's SLS Boosters Manager, and NASA Astronaut Dominic "Tony" Antonelli for this special event.

Their joint presentation will include discussion of NASA's next rocket, the SLS, and will pair nicely with the special NASA Exploration Systems Directorate/Space Launch System (ESD/SLS) exhibit that will be on display at Clark Planetarium from February 26 - March 2, 2014.

The presentation will begin at 7 p.m. in the Hansen Dome Theatre. Tickets to the event are $2. Members get in free. Seating is limited.

$2 admission (Tickets available here). All are invited to attend.
Date: Wednesday, February 26, 2014 7:00 p.m. MST
Location:Hansen Dome Theatre, Clark Planetarium, 110 South 400 West in Salt Lake City
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Spotlight Lecture: Dr. George Lowe

Dr. George Lowe
Legendary alpine climber and highly skilled scientist.

Date: Monday, February 24, 2014, 3:00 p.m.

Location: 103 James Fletcher Building at the University of Utah
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Free admission. No tickets required.

Download event poster here (PDF)

Join Dr. George Lowe for a whirlwind tour of climbing and physics: fluid mechanics, forces on bodies and with motion, the quest to balance a professional career with recreation - and come away with a profound understanding of why physics matters.

With an abundance of first ascents under his belt, in a career spanning more than 50 years, Utah native George H. Lowe III is a legend in the climbing community. He is also a highly skilled scientist and engineer, working for such firms as Argo Systems & Electromagnetic Systems Laboratory. With a background in physics, he developed strong problem solving skills that translated well to climbing, and learned skills in climbing that he applied to his scientific work. By navigating these diverse routes, Dr. George Lowe has made it his mission to take on and overcome obstacles both outdoors and in the lab.

Dr. George Lowe enjoys rock climbing, alpine climbing and Himalayan climbing disciplines. His climbing accomplishments include a series of first ascents, such as Dorsal Fin, in Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah, first winter ascents of many routes such as the North and West Faces of the Grand Teton in Wyoming, the North Face of North Twin in the Canadian Rockies, and the Infinite Spur on Mount Foraker in the Canadian Rockies. His most famous first ascent was the still unrepeated east face of Mt. Everest in 1983, via the now-named “Lowe Buttress”. He, along with Jim Donini, climbed the Nose of El Capitan in Yosemite in about 32 hours in May 2013.

Free admission. All are invited to attend.

Date: Monday, February 24, 2014, 3:00 p.m. MST

Location: 103 James Fletcher Building at the University of Utah
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Dept Professors Featured in the Salt Lake Tribune article on the latest cosmology measurements from BOSS

Two department professors, Adam Bolton & Kyle Dawson, (pictured at left) are featured in the Salt Lake Tribune article on the latest cosmology measurements from SDSS-III's Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS). Part of the article is reprinted below. Read the full article at the Salt Lake Tribune here.


Researchers Get Most Accurate Measure of the Universe

Dark energy » The new understanding likely will shed light on the mysterious force that is expanding the universe.

By Sheena McFarland The Salt Lake Tribune First Published Jan 08 2014 06:18 pm MDT

"Astronomers have defined the scale of the universe to within 1 percent accuracy, allowing them to better understand the enigmatic nature of dark energy and its ability to accelerate the expansion of the cosmos.

The Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS) Collaboration is the largest program in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey-III, and researchers from the University of Utah contributed to its findings. The new measurement allows for a much more accurate picture of the universe and how it’s expanding."

Read the full article at the Salt Lake Tribune here.


Wagon-Wheel Pasta Shape for Better LED

UPDATE: Check out the interview with Fox 13 News here.

Sept. 29, 2013 – One problem in developing more efficient organic LED light bulbs and displays for TVs and phones is that much of the light is polarized in one direction and thus trapped within the light-emitting diode, or LED. University of Utah physicists believe they have solved the problem by creating a new organic molecule that is shaped like rotelle – wagon-wheel pasta – rather than spaghetti.

The rotelle-shaped molecule – known as a “pi-conjugated spoked-wheel macrocycle” – acts the opposite of polarizing sunglasses, which screen out glare reflected off water and other surfaces and allow only direct sunlight to enter the eyes.

The new study showed wagon-wheel molecules emit light randomly in all directions – a necessary feature for a more efficient OLED, or organic LED. Existing OLEDs now in some smart phones and TVs use spaghetti-shaped polymers – chains of repeating molecular units – that emit only polarized light.

“This work shows it is possible to scramble the polarization of light from OLEDs and thereby build displays where light doesn’t get trapped inside the OLED,” says University of Utah physicist John Lupton, lead author of a study of the spoked-wheel-shaped molecules published online Sunday, Sept. 29 in the journal Nature Chemistry.

“We made a molecule that is perfectly symmetrical, and that makes the light it generates perfectly random,” he adds. “It can generate light more efficiently because it is scrambling the polarization. That holds promise for future OLEDs that would use less electricity and thus increase battery life for phones, and for OLED light bulbs that are more efficient and cheaper to operate.”

Lupton emphasizes the study is basic science, and new OLEDs based on the rotelle-shaped molecules are “quite a way down the road.”

He says OLEDs now are used in smart phones, particularly the Samsung Galaxy series; in pricey new super-thin TVs being introduced by Sony, Samsung, LG and others; and in lighting.

“OLEDs in smart phones have caught on because they are somewhat more efficient than conventional liquid-crystal displays like those used in the iPhone,” he says. “That means longer battery life. Samsung has already demonstrated flexible, full-color OLED displays for future roll-up smart phones.” Lupton says smart phones could produce light more efficiently using molecules that don’t trap as much light.

The large rotelle-shaped molecules also can “catch” other molecules and thus would make effective biological sensors; they also have potential use in solar cells and switches, he adds.

The study was funded by the Volkswagen Foundation, the German Chemical Industry Fund, the David and Lucille Packard Foundation and the European Research Council.

Lupton is a research professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Utah and also on the faculty of the University of Regensburg, Germany. He conducted the study with Utah physics graduate student Alexander Thiessen; Sigurd Höger, Vikas Aggarwal, Alissa Idelson, Daniel Kalle and Stefan-S. Jester of the University of Bonn; and Dominik Würsch, Thomas Stangl, Florian Steiner and Jan Vogelsang of the University of Regensburg.

Read the whole press release here.


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