Colloquium: Exploring the Violent Universe: A Data-Driven Approach to X-ray Astronomy

Colloquium on Thursday, 2 April, at 15:45 in the Lehman Hall of the SEH by

Daniela Huppenkothen

New York University

Despite its static appearance to our eyes, the night sky is incredibly dynamic. This is true especially at short wavelengths—in X-rays and Gamma-rays—where we see some of the universe’s most extreme phenomena: accreting black holes, ultra-dense neutron stars and stellar explosions. Many of these phenomena vary on time scales of  milliseconds to years, allowing us to probe physical processes by studying how these sources change with time. By its very nature, research in this field is observationally driven, since it is often the unexpected, serendipitous observations that allow advances in our understanding of the underpinning source physics. At the same time, we have built up vast data archives with past and current telescopes that allow for large-scale sample studies and have developed new approaches to large data sets that help us deepen our understanding, if we can mine these archives efficiently.
In this talk, I will introduce Data Science as an emerging field, and use examples from X-ray astronomy to show how a data driven approach to astrophysical research questions can enhance our understanding and guide theoretical developments.


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2015 Berman Memorial Lecture: Prof. Otto Zhou

The Department of Physics is pleased to announce the

2015 Barry Berman Memorial Lecture

Thursday, March 19th, 2015 3:45 pm in the Lehman Auditorium of the Science and Engineering Hall

Otto Zhou, Ph. D, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The Story of Carbon Nanotube X-Ray

From Scientific Curiosity to Patient Imaging

X-ray radiation is widely used in many aspects of our lives, including medicine, security, and industrial inspection. The way x-ray is generated, however, has not changed significantly since it was discovered over one hundred years ago. Utilizing the unique properties of the carbon nanotubes, we developed a novel spatially- distributed field emission x-ray source array technology. After 10 years of intensive R&D efforts, the technology has been successfully translated from a scientific curiosity to commercial production. Its applications in medical imaging, radiation therapy, and homeland security are being actively investigated, including 3D imaging systems for early detection of breast cancer and lung cancer. Some say technologies are even being evaluated in patient trials. In his talk, Dr. Zhou will describe the working mechanism and properties of the carbon nanotube x-ray source technology and introduce some of its applications in imagining and therapy.

About the Speaker:

Otto Zhou is the David Godschalk Distinguished Professor of Physics and the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His translational research laboratory develops and clinically validates systems for medical imaging and radiotherapy utilizing the carbon nanotube field emission x-ray array technology pioneered by his team. His current research focuses on digital tomosynthesis for early detection of breast cancer and lung cancer, microbeam radiation therapy for treatment of brain tumor. He has published about 200 technical papers and holds around 50 issued/pending U.S. patents, and is a co-founder of Xintek and XinRay Systems. He received his PhD degree in Materials Sciences from the University of Pennsylvania, trained at the Bell Laboratories and worked at NEC before joining UNC. He is an elected fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering.

About the Lecture Series:

In 2011, The Barry Berman Memorial Lecture Series was created through a generous gift by one of his close collaborators and colleagues, Professor Cedric Yu, a faculty member at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Department of Radiation Oncology. Professors Berman and Yu formally worked together under a NIH-funded project on radiation cancer therapy. The goal of the lecture series is to inspire young people to study medical physics, by inviting nationally and internationally prominent scientists to speak on the application of physics principles to medicine.

Each gift, no matter how large or small, makes a positive impact on our educational mission and furthers our standing as a dynamic and growing physics department in one of the world’s outstanding universities.  If you would like to contribute to this fund or another department initiative, you may make a gift to the Department securely online at, specifying “Department of Physics” under “Others” or in the “Comments/Instructions” section.

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π-Day of the Century: 3.141592653… = 3/14/15 9:26:53

This is a Public Service Announcement: Have Some Pi!

Your choice if you celebrate pm or am.

Of course, it only works when you write dates the American way, not like the Rest of the World.

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Colloquium CANCELLED: Constraints on our Universe as a Numerical Simulation

Colloquium on Thursday, 5 March, at 15:45 in the Lehman Hall of the SEH by

Dr. Martin Savage
University of Washington

Cancelled due to projected Snow Event

(Curse you, simulation creator!)

Bostrom has argued that unless we are living in a simulation,our descendants will almost certainly never run an ancestor simulation.While we are at the very earliest stages of performing simulations of simple systems with the fundamental laws of nature, the constraint of finite computational resources in a simulation of the universe would manifest itself as deviations of basic observables from naive expectations. Guided by how present day simulations of the strong and electromagnetic interactions,performed with lattice gauge theories, we discuss observables, such as the distribution of the highest energy cosmic rays and the magnetic moment of the muon, that could reveal an underlying discretization of space-time – consistent with a numerical simulation.matrix

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Nuclear Seminar

Next Nuclear Seminar on Tuesday, Feb 24 at 3:30 pm in Corcoran 209:

Prof. John Annand (U. of Glasgow)

Experiments in Hall-A of JLab using the Super BigBite Spectrometer

Jefferson Lab is currently returning online after an upgrade to the CEBAF electron accelerator from 6 to 12 GeV. In Hall-A the major focus will be on the Super BigBite (SBS) programme of experiments, which is the subject of this talk. Initially these concentrate on proton and neutron elastic form factors, from which a flavor decomposition of u,d quark spatial distributions can be made. This offers the possibility of direct observation of di-quark configurations in the nucleon. The SBS/Hall-A detector system is very flexible and extension of the system for new proposals such as pion structure function measurement is discussed.

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