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News & Events

About May 2009

This page contains all entries posted to Physics Announcements in May 2009. They are listed from oldest to newest.

April 2009 is the previous archive.

June 2009 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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May 2009 Archives

May 1, 2009

MS Defense - Eric Hughes

Eric successfully defended his masters thesis on May 1, 2009.

Using Horizontal Transport Characteristics to Infer an Emission Height Timeseries of Volcanic SO2

Characterizing the emission height of sulfur dioxide (SO2) from volcanic eruptions yields information about the strength of volcanic activity, and is crucial for the assessment of possible climate impacts and for validation of satellite retrievals of SO2. Sensors such as the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on the polar-orbiting Aura satellite provides accurate maps of the spatial distribution of volcanic SO2, but provide limited information on its vertical distribution. The goal of the work presented here is to explore the possibility of using a trajectory model to reconstruct both the temporal activity and injection altitude of a volcanic source from OMI column measurements of SO2 observed far from the volcano. Statistical analyses based on the distance of closest approach to the volcano of back trajectories initialized at the measurements are compared to an optimal reconstruction based on forward trajectories. The inferred altitude of the SO2 cloud is compared to the altitude of derived sulfate aerosols detected in aerosol backscatter vertical profiles form the CALIOP instrument aboard CALIPSO. The trajectory modeling analyses also provides details about the horizontal transport that are not clearly apparent from satellite measurements alone; revealing an interesting transport mechanism occurring in the subtropical jet stream.

May 6, 2009

Seminar: Wednesday, May 6, 2009 at 3:30 p.m.

Joseph F. Mulligan Lecture
Lives and Discoveries of Lord Rayleigh and Gustav Mie
Gergely Dolgos

The talk will introduce Lord Rayleigh and Gustav Mie in order to help us understand their work and character. Their research on light scattering by small objects is crucial to the understanding of radiative processes in the atmosphere, which motivated the joint investigation of the two scientists. Rayleigh worked out the details of light scattering by gases, whereas Mie set the foundation for the study of light scattering by clouds and aerosols.

Rayleigh was a talented theorist, experimenter, leader and administrator. An English landowner in the Victorian era, he had a very stable and prosperous environment. He fully took advantage of his financial situation for the benefit of science and humanity. He was an average student in middle school and developed his math skills by hard work. He always strived for economy, obtaining accurate results with cheap and simple equipment, since he worked from his own money. He touched almost every area of classical physics. The discovery of argon earned him the Nobel Prize and a number of physical phenomena and mathematical methods are named after him. Atmospheric scientists use his truly innovative and accurate results regarding light scattering by gas molecules from 1871. The answer to the fundamental question: “Why is the sky blue?” lies in his work.

A reserved academic genius, Mie led a middle class life in Germany in peaceful and during turbulent times during the first half of the 20th century. Some of his significant contributions are in field theory, general relativity and X-ray diffraction. Mie’s 1908 paper on light scattering by spherical particles (of any size) is a complete work by itself. He applies first principles, documents the computational method and its implementation, reaches numerical results, and successfully compares them to experimental work. His energetic work and studies made him a foremost expert of his day on electricity and magnetism. His textbook on electrodynamics ran into several editions. His computational method for modeling light scattering and absorption by spherical particles is used in atmospheric remote sensing today and it is the foundation and benchmark of more advanced methods for modeling radiative effects of small airborne particles.

Today, Rayleigh and Mie are linked through the importance of their work to atmospheric physics but they were two different men from different circumstances.

Location: Physics Bldg., Room 401

May 8, 2009


2008-2009 Inductees into Sigma Pi Sigma

The following Physics students have been inducted into Sigma Pi Sigma, the National Physics Honor Society: John Carrico, Joseph Dulney III,Derek Fertig, Rory Holderness, Joseph Jancasz, and Shauna Marquess.

The UMBC chapter of Sigma Pi Sigma was established in 1980. It exists to honor outstanding scholarship in Physics; to encourage interest in Physics; to promote an attitude of service of its members towards their fellow students, colleagues and the public; and to provide a fellowship of persons who have excelled in Physics. Undergraduate candidates shall have attained at least a 3.25 grade point average on 4.0 system for Physics courses and at least a 3.0 grade point average for cumulative course grades in all courses. The inductees were recognized at the 4th Annual CNMS Student Recognition Day on May 8, 2009.


Departmental Student Awardees 2008-2009

The following students have earned the following departmental awards:
    Joseph Dulny III - Outstanding Graduating Senior in Physics
    Sheng Liu - Joseph F. Mulligan Memorial Lectureship
    Aaron B. Pearlman - Donald N. Langenberg Undergraduate Research Award.
The awardees were recognized at the 4th Annual CNMS Student Recognition Day on May 8, 2009.

May 20, 2009


2009 PhDs

Spring 2009 PhD and M.S. Graduates

Congratulations to (L to R) Drs. Jianning Zeng, Antonia Gambacorta, Timothy Bole and (not pictured) Mengsteab Weldegaber who graduated on May 20th, 2009. Their thesis topics ranged from the effects of electromigration on structures at the nanoscale, to feedback processes and boundary-layer phenomena in the atmosphere, to the study of emission on the scale of thousands of light-years in nearby galaxies.

Congratulations also to Eric Hughes, who was awarded an M.S. at the ceremony.