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Newsletter 2009

Newsletter 2009

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Published by rickeym
Henderson State University Physics Department 2009 Newsletter.
Henderson State University Physics Department 2009 Newsletter.

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Published by: rickeym on Jun 05, 2009
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01/11/2012

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Physics Department Newsletter Greetings from the Chair 
First of all, we wish to honor the memory of ProfessorCharles Leming, who passed away in August 2008 at theage of 64. Charlie was a close friend and mentor to manyof us and a widely respected physicist. Charlie providedtremendous leadership as a member of the departmentfrom 1970 - 2007, and as Department Chair from 1998 -2007. We will all miss his knowledge of physics, his keensense of humor and his devotion to scholarship andservice.The purpose of the newsletter is to bring you up to dateregarding the activities in the department and to initiate aconversation between the faculty, alumni and friends of thedepartment. We are experiencing an exciting time here atHenderson and we look forward to the many opportunitiesthat lie ahead of us. Of course, we always like to hear from you and we willprovide contact information below for you to get in touchif you desire to do so. Also, if you know someone whomight enjoy receiving this newsletter but is not, please letus know.Our goal is to distribute a newsletter twice a year. A lothappens here at HSU and we want to do a better job of keeping you informed. We hope you enjoy this update andlook forward to hearing from you with questions orcomments. Please contact me at (870) 230- 5170 or toemail me at mcdanir@hsu.edu , if you would like tobecome more involved. Thanks!Rick McDanielProfessor and Chair of Physics
 
Volume 1 Spring 2009
Inside this issue
Department News2Faculty Research 3Student Spotlight4Student Events5Alumni News6Crossword 7
 
New Faculty 
Dr. Shannon Clardy joined our department as anassistant professor in the fall of 2008. Her area of expertise is astronomy. Also, Shannon is anacomplished Oboist. She is a frequent performerduring campus and area concerts.After earning her B.S. from Southern MethodistUniversity, Dr. Clardy earned her Ph.D. at theUniversity of Arkansas at Little Rock. The area of focusfor her disertation was the classification of high-massstars.Dr. Clardy has been appointed the faculty advisor tothe Society of Physics Students (SPS). With herleadership and guidance, the SPS members are busyplanning new activities and events.Dr. Clardy, her husband Michael, and her son Calvin(3 years) are settling in and have truely found a homehere at Henderson State University.
Department News
Sigma Pi Sigma Inductions
Henderson State University is proud to hold a charterand maintain a chapter of Sigma Pi Sigma, the nationalphysics honor society. Physics students who meet highacademic standards are invited to join the chapter,usually in their junior or senior year.Students from the 2008 - 2009 school year whomaintain the high scholarship required of Sigma PiSigma and are invited to join include: JohnathanArmstrong, Larry Bagley, Kayli Birdsong, Chris Brown,Micah Cassiday, Cole Deaton, Nick Jackson, WreshaParajuli, and Jesse Youngblood.If you are a current student or former student and areinterested in becoming a member of Sigma Pi Sigma,please contact Dr. Shannon Clardy. An annual formalinduction ceremony is held every Spring semester.
Proposed Physics Tracks
A Physics Department internal review of theundergraduate curriculum will begin in the Fall of 2008.The goal is to allow students to choose a concentrationwithin the major that most closely aligns with theirfuture plans. The changes are further designed toprovide students with increased knowledge of physicsalong with the technical, scientific, and academicskills required to achieve success in later academicprograms or in technical fields in the workforce. Weare currently looking at adding the following tracks:Classical Physics, Engineering Physics and Teaching.The classical physics track is primarily intended forthose students who are planning to continue ingraduate school in physics or astronomy.The engineering physics track will be designed forstudents who are planning to continue to graduateschool as an engineer or work as an applied physicistin industry.The teaching track is intended primarily for thosestudents who plan a career in physics education.As the proposals are refined they will go first to thedepartment for review, and if found desirable by thefaculty, on to the Ellis College Curriculum Committee.
Planetarium Upgrade
Beginning November 2009, the Reynolds Planetariumwill have been in operation for ten-years. Since itsopening , the Reynolds Planetarium has had 76,351visitors.During the Summer of 2009, the Reynolds Planetariumwill add a digital projector which combines a highresolution, high brightness DLP projector with a fisheyelens and a specialized computer control unit. This willimmerse the viewer in digital images that cover andmove over the full dome.According to Dr. Mollere, "Any MPEg file may be shownon the full dome and new digital shows dealing withastronomy, archeology, history, biology, etc areplanned". Shows using the Zeiss projector with its clearskies and numerous stars will be updated with the latestdiscoveries. The Zeiss projector will continue tohighlight "what's up" in the night sky. This will provideus with a depth of shows and the best of both worlds.According to Dr. Mollere, "the Reynolds Planetariumwill present new digital shows this fall and is planningon a grand re-opening of the planetarium to celebrate".
2
 
Dr. Rick McDaniel, Nicholas Jackson and JohnathanArmstrong have been awarded a $7,657 grant from theArkansas Space Grant Consortium to research and builda VLF (very low frequency) radio receiver and antenna.Dr. Rick McDaniel, chairman of the physics department,said the $7,657 will provide a $2,000 stipend for eachstudent, fund a trip to NASA’s Goddard Space FlightCenter in Washington, D.C., and pay for parts to buildthe receiver and antenna.According to Professor McDaniel, "The source of mostnatural radio signals is lightning. When a lightning boltstrikes, a massive amount of charge is moved and thisacts in much the same way as moving charge in a radiotransmitting antenna. The lightning signal, when receivedand amplified, sounds like a dry, crackling sound similarto the popping of a campfire."These sounds are called “sferics,” which can be detectedby the VLF receiver from as far away as 2-3,000kilometers. When the sferic signal travels a long distanceit undergoes dispersion. The modified sounds are called“tweeks” and “whistlers.”McDaniel said studying whistlers may lead to animproved understanding of the nature and properties of the magnetosphere, and NASA has a continuing interestin studying the properties of the magnetosphere, whichis the area of space around the Earth that is controlled bythe Earth's magnetic field.In addition to written reports, the research team willpresent their results at undergraduate research and spacegrant meetings.
Faculty Research
Students and Researcher InvestigateBinary Stars
Dr. Shannon Clardy, Kayli Birdsong and Beau Harrisonhave been awarded a $6,700 grant from the ArkansasSpace Grant Consortium use the NFO Webscope toinvestigate the optical variations that occur in binarystar systems and to develop outreach activities aimedto strengthen secondary science education.The NFO Webscope is a fully automated, robotictelescope facility located outside of Silver City, NewMexico. (http://webscope.nfo.edu). The Webscopeallows astronomers to enter data via the Internet aboutan object they want to view. The telescope then makesthe observations at the specified times, records themand notifies the researcher by e-mail when the job iscompleted.The purpose of the NF Webscope project is to provideastronomy resources and activities to 5th gradethrough 12th grade teachers and their classes, as wellas to provide undergraduates with a research-gradeastronomy facility. The Arkansas school districtscurrently involved in the project include FayettevillePublic Schools, the Ouachita River School District,and the Magnet Cove School District.In addition to written reports, the research team willpresent their results at undergraduate research andspace grant meetings.
Research Team Studying Natural VLF SignalsFaculty Member Receives Sabbatical 
Dr. Mollere will be on sabatical for the Fall 2008 andSpring 2009 semesters. He will be spending a portion of his sabatical in Durham, England as a visitor at Saint John's College and will use the facilities of theDepartment of Mathematical Physics. This department isinternational known for its expertise in particle physicsand cosmology. Dr. Mollere's research concentrates onwhat the current measured values of particle masses anddark energy in the universe indicate about the conditionsduring the Big Bang and how this constrains string andmembrane theories which describe the forces of naturein a single form.
3
Faculty Member Develops Magnetic Model of Little Missouri Hot Spring 
This summer Basil Miller will complete his doctoralstudies at the University of Arkansas at LIttle Rock.As part of his dissertation, Professor Miller hasdeveloped a new magnetic model for the regionalarea of the Little Missouri Hot Spring.The area was surveyed using a Bison proton precision magnetometer and the survey developed anew detailed model of the resulting magneticanomalies.According to Professor Miller, the new model of thehot fluid flow in the region will be used to determinethe depth, size, and temperature of the heat source.

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