Public Lecture Included Live Feed of Early Stages of Supernova

Dr. Peter Nugent from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and his team discovered a new Type-Ia supernova appearing in the Pinwheel Galaxy (M101). Discovering a supernova is not uncommon, however; what made Dr. Nugent's discovery extraordinary is that he discovered it unprecedentedly early; roughly 10 hours into its weeks-long light curve. This gave astronomers an opportunity to make extremely precise measurements, and to collect data on the entire light curve. Such measurements will illuminate the nature of these amazing events, and could contribute to our understanding of dark energy.

On September 13, the Physics Department hosted Dr. Nugent as he gave a public lecture about the exciting astronomical event. The lecture included a live feed of the supernova from the University of Maryland's Observatory. Additionally,  following the lecture, they provided a viewing opportunity on the roof of Regents Drive Garage.


John C. Mather Named a College Park Professor in the Department of Physics

Dr. John C. Mather has been named a College Park Professor in the Department of Physics.

Dr. Mather was among the first to make precision measurements of the cosmic microwave background radiation, a consequence of the universe’s expansion after the Big Bang. Precision measurements by Mather and colleagues verified the Big Bang model, established the field of precision cosmology, and helped tie together the once-disparate fields of elementary particle physics (the study of the early universe in the first fraction of a second) and cosmology (the study of the evolution of the universe in the last few billion years). He received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2006.

Dr. Mather is a Senior Astrophysicist in the Observational Cosmology Laboratory in NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and Senior Project Scientist on the James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled to launch in 2018.

Jeff McKinney Selected as Board of Regents Staff Award Recipient

Jeff McKinney, Director of Computing Facilities, was selected to receive the 2011 Board of Regents Staff Award, for administrative transformation, improved effectiveness and efficiency in administrative transformation. This prestigious award is the highest honor the Board bestows to publicly recognize distinguished performance and achievements.

McKinney was one of three UMCP staff members to be selected this year. He has provided IT expertise and leadership to not only the Physics Department, but three other campus units: the Institute for Systems Research and the departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Math.

A formal award presentation is being planned for the fall.

Ed Ott to Hold Paul So Endowed Professorship

Paul So, who received his doctorate in Physics at UMD in 1995, is an associate professor at George Mason University and an accomplished artist. In March, he established the Yuen Sang and Yu Yuen Kit So Endowed Professorship in non-linear dynamics, honoring his parents and his Ph.D. advisor, Distinguished University Professor Ed Ott. Ott will hold the professorship, and upon his retirement, his name will be added to the endowment to recognize his excellence and mentorship in non-linear dynamics.

To read more, please see page 12 of the July 2011 CMNS Odyssey: