Category Archives: News

Raymond Shaw Reviews Physical Hydrodynamics

Raymond Shaw reviewed Physical Hydrodynamics by Etienne Guyon, Jean-Pierre Hulin, Luc Petit, Catalin D. Mitescu.

I wish I could take every one of my physics students for a walk through the halls and rooms at the annual meeting of the APS Division of Fluid Dynamics. Maybe the best time would be right after their first advanced course in classical mechanics. I would exclaim, “Look, you’ve only just begun, there is so much more!” The meeting is a veritable carnival of physicists…

Read more at the American Journal of Physics.

Teresa Wilson on Fata Morgana

Teresa A. Wilson
Teresa A. Wilson

National Geographic quoted Michigan Tech graduate student Teresa Wilson (Physics) in an article about a special kind of atmospheric mirage known as a Fata Morgana.

From Tech Today.

China’s Floating City and The Science of Mirages

They’re common in polar regions, says Teresa Wilson, a graduate student in physics at Michigan Technological University in Houghton, in an email. “But [they] can happen anywhere.” People have even seen fata morgana in the Strait of Messina between Italy and Sicily.

Read more at National Geographic, by Jane J. Lee.

Michigan Tech Team Helps Clarify the Impacts of Black Carbon in Nature Communications Study

Black CarbonDust specks are touted for their insignificance. But black carbon particles have global impact. Michigan Technological University researchers collaborated with a team from the Los Alamos National Laboratory and several other universities to shed light on the complex way black carbon and solar radiation interact to increase warming in the atmosphere. The research came out this week in Nature Communications.

Michigan Tech’s team focused on the microscopy work, which is also important for other research done in the lab and in the field, from thecloud chamber on campus to atmospheric monitoring on Pico Mountain in the Azores. Understanding the impacts of atmospheric particles will help refine climate change models, weather predictions and provide better information for making policies on black carbon and other short-lived pollutants.

Black Carbon

Black carbon is basically soot. The particles—similar in size to corn starch dust—make their way into the air from cooking fires, automobiles, industrial plants, wildfires and other kinds of burning. And rarely is black carbon just black carbon; the soot is often mixed with other atmospheric particles. Claudio Mazzoleni, an associate professor of physics at Michigan Tech, and his collaborators have to separate out the black carbon from everything else by heating up the particles.

Read more at Michigan Tech News, by Allison Mills.

New HOLODEC Study in Science on Using Holography to Better Understand Clouds

HOLODEC StudyOctober 1, 2015—
Watching the clouds go by, swirls of white puff up and melt away. The changes mirror mixing within the clouds as drier air mingles with water-saturated air. New research led by Michigan Technological University with support from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz University, analyzes this mixing with holographic imaging and an airborne laboratory.

This new way of seeing clouds—and the unusual mixing behavior observed in them—is the focus of the team’s study, published in Science this week. Sharp boundaries form as dry air completely evaporates some water drops and leaves others unscathed. The findings will influence models that help predict weather and climate change.

Raymond Shaw, a professor of physics at Michigan Tech, looks at the smallest part of clouds: droplets. To understand groups of droplets, Shaw and the NCAR team flew airplanes through fluffy, cottonball cumulus clouds in Wyoming and Colorado. Aboard the plane, the team took detailed 3-D images with an instrument called the Holographic Detector for Clouds (HOLODEC—yes, like Star Trek’s “holodeck”). These particular clouds were only made up of liquid water, and the size of those drops is a key part of cloud formation and mixing.

Read more and watch the video at Michigan Tech News, by Allison Mills.

What’s At The Edge Of A Cloud?

Scientists have just made a breakthrough in understanding how clouds interact with the surrounding air by studying some of the most boring clouds you can imagine in unprecedented detail.

“If you ask a child to draw a cloud they would draw a white puffy cloud floating in the air all by itself — and that’s the kind of cloud we were looking at,” says Raymond Shaw, an atmospheric scientist at Michigan Technological University.

Read more and listen to the “All Things Considered” podcast at NPR News, Minnesota Public Radio, by Nell Greenfieldboyce.

Lunar Eclipse Viewing at Michigan Tech

Moonbeam: Event draws crowd to Tech’s telescope

HOUGHTON – At Michigan Technological University, people lined up Sunday night to view an astronomical event that, for most of them, was occurring for the first time in their lives.

“A lot of people think that when the moon is eclipsed, it disappears during totality, but it doesn’t,” said Amanda Shaw, a masters student at Tech and teacher of Tech’s astronomy class, who organized the viewing.

“This is a rather unique event, but otherwise people don’t necessarily get a chance to see things like a full moon with any detail,” said Tech physics student Scott Rutterbush. “Instead, it gives them a little bit of perspective. It gives them a chance to say, ‘in order to see up close on the moon, we have to go this big.’”

Read more at the Mining Gazette, by Garrett Neese (subscription required).

Jacek Borysow Interviewed on Department Improvements

Jacek Borysow Department Improvements
Jacek Borysow

Local students will soon see big improvements in the physics department

Elizabeth and Richard Henes see great potential in Michigan Tech’s physics department. Five years ago, a Tech professor impressed them by using a mouse trap to demonstrate quantum mechanics.

“There are only certain states, like energy [or] velocity which are allowed for the molecule. A mouse trap has only 2 states. One when the spring is loose and one when it is, how do you call it, set. Mr. Henes said thank you for the lecture and handed us a check for seven hundred thousand dollars,” said Jacek Borysow, a Physics Professor at the University.

Read more and watch the video at ABC 10 UP, by Amanda L’Esperence.

Nemiroff Interviewed on APOD by MUSEUM Magazine

Museum magazine published a special feature on NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day and interviewed Professor Robert Nemiroff (Physics), who co-developed and co-writes and edits the popular astronomy feature.

From Tech Today.

A special report on NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day archive—an image-driven attempt to catalogue (some) of the universe’s ephemera.

Existence is a loaded thing. Those of us who do not engage with the physical environment or, spiritually speaking, ritualistic practice, might wonder only briefly and in passing about that which we do not understand—the deep sea, impending apocalypse, where we come from—before shaking our heads and continuing onward.

MONICA USZEROWICZ As someone exploring the beginnings of the universe, what prompted your interest in the cosmos?

ROBERT NEMIROFF Like many scientists, in particular astronomers, I wanted to be a scientist from a very early age. I remember in second grade that I could say the names of the planets—then including Pluto—faster than anyone in the class. And that included—and I hope you are sitting down for this—the teacher. So obviously, I was pre-qualified to become an astronomer.

Read more at MUSEUM, by Monica Uszerowicz.