The APS portion of the meeting includes particle physics, astrophysics, nuclear physics, plasma physics and other physics disciplines that impact society. The AAPT portion of the meeting will showcase the latest trends in national and international physics education (should physics in high school be taught before biology?) as well as talks about the physics of hobbies -- such as running, crossword puzzles and high-altitude ballooning..
Journalists are invited to attend the meeting free of charge. Registration information can be found at the end of this release.MEETING HIGHLIGHTS
(Session P12, http://meetings.aps.org/Meeting/APR10/SessionIndex2/?SessionEventID=124742)2) PHYSICS AND SECRECY
In Washington D.C., the first ASPERA coordinator Stavros Katsanevas of IN2P3, the Nuclear and Particle Physics National Institute of the Centre National de la recherche scientifique (CNRS) in France, will describe the new roadmap, which settles on advancing seven large "infrastructure" projects identified as priorities for particle astrophysics -- from a large array of telescopes to detect high-energy gamma-rays to the building of a new neutrino detector at the bottom of the Mediterranean sea. Says Katsanevas, these projects would range from 50-million Euros for the smallest to about a billion Euros for the largest, and one of the big goals of the community for the next decade will be to find funding for these projects. More information of the EU roadmap can be found at http://www.aspera-eu.org. (Talk B3.1, http://meetings.aps.org/Meeting/APR10/Event/114795).
Lukasz Stawarz (KIPAC/SLAC, Stanford University) will present the current scientific understanding of the processes that take place in the giant lobes and lead to these high-energy emissions. In order to produce the observed X-ray and gamma-ray emissions, he says, particles within the lobes must be accelerated to extremely high, ultrarelativistic speeds. He will discuss the most recent observations from the Chandra X-ray Observatory, the Pierre Auger Observatory, and the Fermi Gamma-Ray Telescope, including evidence that the lobes of nearby radio galaxies -- in particular the Centaurus A radio galaxy -- are the sources of the highest energy cosmic rays ever detected on Earth. (Talk H3.3, http://meetings.aps.org/Meeting/APR10/Event/115161).6) LASERFEST: CASCADE LASERS
Stuart Licht, a chemist at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., uses solar-generated electrical currents to split apart molecules of carbon dioxide. The process, called Solar Thermal Electrochemical Photo (STEP), produces oxygen and carbon monoxide, a gas needed to make commercial methanol.
Using electrical currents to split molecules apart isn't a new idea. Hydrogen fuel, for example, can be made by running a current through water to split it into hydrogen and oxygen. But Licht improves this process, called electrolysis, by adding heat from the sun. When sunshine strikes a solar panel, only a fraction of it generates electricity. The rest radiates away as waste heat. STEP harnesses this thermal energy to heat up a reaction, improving its efficiency by lowering the amount of electrical energy needed to split bonds.
The technique boosts the efficiency of hydrogen production from 18 to 30 percent; the energy R&D company Lynntech is applying this process to generate hydrogen for fuel cells. In the laboratory, Licht has converted concentrated carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide at 50 percent efficiency. (Talk G10.1, http://meetings.aps.org/Meeting/APR10/Event/115102).9) NEW JAPANESE EXPERIMENTS IN ASTROPHYSICS
A forthcoming Japanese experiment called XMASS will look for such interactions within a vat filled with a ton of liquid Xenon placed inside a 200,000-gallon water tank buried deep in the Kamioka mine in Japan. It promises to be 100-times more sensitive than other experiments searching for dark matter, says Hitoshi Murayama, the director of the Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe at the University of Tokyo. In Washington, D.C., Murayama will present a talk on the status of XMASS, which is expected to be online early in 2010. He will also discuss other future projects in Japanese astroparticle physics, including a proposed 900-million pixel camera for the Subaru telescope in Mauna Kea, HI and a project aimed at building a 3D map of the dark matter in the visible universe. (Talk B3.3, http://meetings.aps.org/Meeting/APR10/Event/114797).10) BALLOON LISTENS TO SOUTH POLE RADIO
Ultrahigh energy neutrinos are thought to be created when cosmic rays in distant galaxies collide with the cosmic microwave background. These cosmic rays cannot travel very far, but neutrinos can -- offering astrophysicists a way to indirectly study cosmic rays that are very far away, created long ago.
Neutrinos barely interact with matter -- they can pass through entire planets. But on occasion, when one touches an atom in a bit of ice, it should create radio waves that shoot through and out of the ice. The ANITA balloon watched more than a million cubic kilometers of Antarctic ice for these telltale radio waves, transforming the frozen continent into a gigantic neutrino detector.
On its first flight, the balloon did not detect any ultrahigh energy neutrinos -- but it did detect radio waves produced by ultrahigh energy cosmic rays. "These ultrahigh energy cosmic rays demonstrated our capacity to see events of this sort, to see neutrinos," says Stephen Hoover of the University of California, Los Angeles.
The data to be presented from the second flight has the potential to include the first detection of cosmic ultrahigh energy neutrinos or, if not, to set an upper limit on how many of them are passing through the Earth. (Talk H13.1, http://meetings.aps.org/Meeting/APR10/Event/115237), (Talk H13.3, http://meetings.aps.org/Meeting/APR10/Event/115239)11) GETTING A LOOK AT THE GALACTIC BLACK HOLE
Lucas Guillemot of the Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie will present a summary of pulsar observations in gamma rays with the Fermi Large Area Telescope (LAT) during its first year and a half of operation. Before Fermi was launched, fewer than ten gamma ray pulsars were known. "The great efforts of the Fermi LAT team supported by observations made at radio and X-ray telescopes led to the detection of 55 pulsars in gamma rays since June 2008, and this number will continue to increase," says Guillemot. In addition to those 55, the LAT is now detecting many unidentified sources that might point to yet unknown pulsars.
Scientists like Guillemot hope the data will help define some of the physical characteristics of these pulsars, such as how and where around the star the gamma rays are produced. The data is already showing that when pulsars emit gamma rays, they seem to do so in fan-like beams that sweep large sky fractions, suggesting that they are produced at high altitude in their magnetospheres. This differs from radio beam shapes emitted by pulsars, which tend to be cone-like and centered on the magnetic axis of the neutron star. (Talk, A3.1, http://meetings.aps.org/Meeting/APR10/Event/114691)13) NEW MAP OF UNIVERSE GLOW?
The first full-sky map from WMAP in 2003 firmed up the universe's age and rate of expansion and confirmed the existence of dark matter and dark energy. A second map in 2005 revealed a polarization to the CMB that pushed back the date of the formation of the first stars. A third map is 2007 firmed up the standard model and was used to constrain the properties of neutrinos.
"The standard cosmological model is in very good shape," says Lyman Page of Princeton University. "We're entering another era of analyzing the cosmic microwave background and looking for something that is peculiar."
"With the standard model as a foundation, we are also searching for gravitational radiation left over from the Big Bang and quantifying the role of neutrinos in the universe," Page adds. (Talk Y3.2, http://meetings.aps.org/Meeting/APR10/Event/115888)14) TORNADO TRACKS
- The Kavli Foundation Joint Plenary Session (topics not yet announced), which will take place Saturday, Feb. 13 at 4:00 p.m. (Session E1, http://meetings.aps.org/Meeting/APR10/SessionIndex2/?SessionEventID=125006).
- Plenary Session II includes Norman Augustine (retired CEO of Martin Lockheed), who chaired an important recent study of space flight; Naomi Nakins (Univ. Illinois), who will talk about the nature of nucleon spin; and Judith Lean (Naval Research Lab.), who will discuss natural and anthropogenic influences on surface temperature. (Session N1, http://meetings.aps.org/Meeting/APR10/SessionIndex2/?SessionEventID=125012)
- Plenary Session III features John Carlstrom (Kavli Institute of Cosmological Physics), who will speak on the subject of the cosmic microwave background; William Borucki (NASA Ames Research Center), who will discuss the Kepler Mission's study of exoplanets; and Rob Roser (Fermilab), who will detail the search for the Higgs boson. (Session V1, http://meetings.aps.org/Meeting/APR10/SessionIndex2/?SessionEventID=125014)MORE INFORMATION FOR JOURNALISTS
James Riordon | Newswise Science News
Further reports about: > AAPT > APS > Antarctic Predators > Big Bang > Earth's magnetic field > Higgs boson > Higgs particle > Large Hadron Collider > Microwave Remote Sensing Laboratory > Nobel Prize > X-ray microscopy > Xenon > carbon dioxide > cosmic ray > dark matter > galactic center > gamma rays > neutron star > radio telescope > radio waves
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