April 15, 2011
Wooster representatives at the 2011 American Physical Science Meeting in Dallas included (front row, from left): Alyse Marquinez, Lily Christman, and Hosanna Odhner, and (back row, from left): Lorenzo Dumancas, Andrew Blaikie, John Lindner, and Don Jacobs.
WOOSTER, Ohio — From the origin of matter to the volatility of complex systems, students, faculty, and alumni from The College of Wooster shared the results of their research at the annual American Physical Society (APS) Meeting in Dallas last month.
“Wooster's regular, strong showing at the largest annual physics meeting is impressive,” said John Lindner, professor of physics at Wooster. “Our students presented their research alongside professional physicists, gaining valuable experience and wonderful memories of our time in Dallas. It also provided an opportunity to reconnect with some of our recent graduates who were in attendance.”
Andrew Blaikie, a sophomore physics and math double major, presented a poster titled, “Simulating Electroweak Baryogenesis in the Standard Model.” The study, co-authored with recent Wooster graduate Mike Winters as well as Deva O’Neil of Bridgewater College, consisted of a computer simulation of the universe just a fraction of a second after the Big Bang. Using images and sound — a more revolutionary addition — the simulation attempted to elucidate the origin of our matter-dominated universe and why, despite the existence of an anti-particle for every elementary particle, there is so little anti-matter present.
Alyse Marquinez, a junior physics and political science double major, discussed “Scaling, Clustering, and Avalanches for Steel Beads in an External Magnetic Field.” The project, co-authored with Wooster senior Ingrid Thvedt and faculty members Susan Lehman and Don Jacobs, focused with bead piles that represent features present within other complex systems. Once bead piles are built to their steepest angles, adding more beads results in different sizes of avalanches, whose distribution is related to such volatile events as earthquakes or stock-market spirals. The applied magnetic field enabled the researchers to control the cohesiveness of the beads, thus changing the results.
Lorenzo Dumancas, a sophomore physics major, addressed “Specific Heat at the Micellization and Phase Transitions in a Triblock Copolymer-Water System.” The research, conducted with Professor Jacobs and junior David Simpson, analyzed a long molecule with “water-hating” ends and a “water-loving” center, which curls up in water to form geometrically diverse masses. By changing concentrations and temperature, the trio was able to characterize solutions of the molecules at different temperatures and concentrations.
Lilianna Christman, a sophomore physics major, talked about “Characterization of the Morphology and Rapid Expansion of Swellable Organically Modified Silica.” The project, which also included senior Amanda Logue and Professors Lehman (physics) and Paul Edmiston (chemistry), involved the use of a Scanning Probe Microscope to study Swellable Organically Modified Silica (SOMS), a material capable of absorbing organic contaminants that can then be extracted and reused. The study concluded that during its expansion, SOMS can exert up to 33 pounds of force per gram of material, and has added to the understanding of the material’s characterization.
In addition to the four projects presented by Wooster students, two others involving Wooster faculty, students, and alumni were presented by scientists from other institutions. The first was “Nonlinear Dynamics of an Electronic Model of One-Way Coupling in One and Two Dimensions,” which reported new models of one-way coupling, including the first such model in two dimensions, where waves propagate in different directions at different speeds. The project, which was presented by Aaron Doud of the University of Portland, was co-authored with fellow Portland physicists Barbara Breen (assistant professor of physics), Jamie Grimm, a senior, and Andrew and Stuart Tanasse, both juniors, along with John Lindner, professor of physics at Wooster, and Katsuo Maxted, a junior physics major at Wooster.
The other project, presented by sophomore Hosanna Odhner of Bryn Mawr College, was titled “Miscellization and Phase Transitions in a Triblock Copolymer-D20 System.” The research investigated phase transitions involving the same molecule that Dumancas studied, but dissolved in heavy water, which is enriched in the hydrogen isotope deuterium. Co-authors were recent Wooster graduates Alison Huff and Kelly Patton as well as Professor Jacobs. Also collaborating were Bryna Clover of the University of Maryland and Sandra Greer, a chemistry and chemical engineering professor from the University of Maryland and Mills College.
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