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About December 2012

This page contains all entries posted to Physics Announcements in December 2012. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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December 2012 Archives

December 5, 2012

Seminar: Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012 at 3:30 pm

"Spectral Imaging of Cultural Heritage Texts"
Dr. William Christens-Barry
Equipoise Imaging, LLC,

Techniques of spectral imaging that were originally developed for remote sensing and biological imaging have more recently been applied in studies of ancient textual materials of cultural and historical interest. Palimpsests, texts in which the original content has been intentionally erased or removed so that the writing substrate could be reused, are of particularly intense interest to scholars and the public. While manuscript leaves share much in common with traditional subjects of spectral imaging and subsequent processing, they exhibit many unique and problematic features that confound collaborative imaging projects. Extensive damage further limits the legibility of text, while constraints imposed by the location and setting often complicate efforts to capture and analyze images.

A self-organized group of scientists and scholars, including the speaker, have tapped and modified spectral imaging techniques to investigate numerous manuscripts and textual materials of interest, including: the Archimedes Palimpsest containing important methods written by Archimedes; the innovative Waldseemuller Map, which first established the name "America"; the Dead Sea Scrolls, whose condition and content is currently under study in Jerusalem; the very large collection of ancient palimpsests in the library of St. Catherine's Monastery of the Sinai; textual and cartographic treasures held at the Library of Congress, including drafts of the Declaration of Independence and the Gettysburg Address; David Livingstone's journals from East Africa; and numerous others.

The speaker will describe techniques used for image capture and analysis of palimpsests and other faint or damaged texts, and will discuss findings and current directions.

Location: Physics Bldg., Room 401

December 6, 2012

PhD Proposal - Erin Balsamo

Date: Thursday, December 6, 2012
Time: 10:00am
Location: PHYS 401

Developing and Characterizing X-ray Concentrators for Astronomical Observations and X-ray Polarization

Advancements in technology have caused a dramatic increase in the number of cosmic X-ray sources discovered and over the past half century. Dramatic increases in the sensitivity, and in the spatial, spectral, and temporal resolution of these instruments have led to numerous advances in our understanding of the physical conditions in almost every class of astronomical object. Several classes of such objects (such as neutron stars and supernova remnants) contain strong magnetic fields leading to a substantial fraction of the X-ray emission suspected of being polarized. Studies of polarized X-rays will therefore open up a new dimension in discovery space and help further constraint our models for these sources.

Unfortunately to date there have been minimal studies on X-ray polarization due to the lack of dedicated X-ray polarimeters on big missions. I am working with the X-ray advanced Concepts Testbed (XACT) sounding rocket project which will be launched next year to observe the Crab Nebula. The goal is to test the new technologies specifically designed to advance this field, specifically high throughout X-ray concentrators and a time projected gas chamber polarimeter. The Neutron star Interior Composition ExploreR (NICER) shares some of the same technology, yet for other scientific goals. I am working to develop a method to characterize and calibrate the technology with the instrument development teams. I will give a brief overview of the projects, explain the work I have completed so far, and describe the work planned for the remainder of my thesis.