• Research

In a paper published today in Physical Review Letters, a team of researchers led by Illinois Physics Professor Nicolás Yunes present two conclusions. First, using NICER’s observation datamand universal relations among various properties of neutron stars, the authors infer the moment of inertia; the tidal Love number; the quadrupole moment; and the surface eccentricity of neutron star PSR J0030+045. Next, they use their inferences to propose and implement a novel test of GR.

  • Outreach

Illinois Physics Professor Smitha Vishveshwara has been elected to the Executive Committee of the American Physical Society (APS) Division of Condensed Matter Physics (DCMP). By special election, Vishveshwara fills the seat of Richard L. Greene of University of Maryland, who stepped down from the position of chair-elect.

The DCMP chair line typically represents a four-year commitment of service, and each newly elected member generally starts as vice chair for the first year, then serves as chair-elect, chair, and past chair. Vishveshwara will serve as chair-elect starting immediately, and will take over as chair in March 2022.

A new textbook from Cambridge University Press entitled Numerical Relativity: Starting from Scratch, coauthored by Bowdoin College Physics Professor Thomas W. Baumgarte and Illinois Physics and Astronomy Professor Stuart L. Shapiro, explicates this esoteric subfield of physics for today’s students and scientists. The textbook makes heavy use of analogies from Newtonian gravity, scalar fields, and electromagnetic fields. In this way, it introduces key concepts of numerical relativity in a context familiar to readers without prior expertise in general relativity. Readers can explore the concepts presented by working through textbook exercises, and can see them first-hand by experimenting with the accompanying Python sample codes.

  • Accolades

Three University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign professors have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, one of the highest professional honors a scientist can receive.

Physics professor Nadya Mason and chemistry professors Ralph Nuzzo and Wilfred van der Donk are among 120 newly elected U.S. members – 59 of whom are women, the most elected in a single year – and 30 international members in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.

  • Events
  • Outreach

Now, Vishveshwara and her colleagues at ICASU and Illinois Physics are putting on a virtual arts and sciences festival entitled The Illuminated Universe, featuring the work of scientists and artists. The multidisciplinary event taking place April 23 through 25, is free and open to the public, but space is limited and registration is required.

The presentations will span multiple themes, starting with “Cosmic Flights” on Friday night at 6:00 P.M. The second session’s theme, “When Art and Science Collide,” kicks off Saturday at 11 A.M. Then Saturday afternoon, the theme “Quantum Enchantment” will start at 2:00 P.M. The festival’s final theme, “Art of Life” starts Sunday at 12 P.M. (all times are in Central Daylight Time CDT). Each session will run about one-and-a-half to two hours long.

  • Research
  • COVID-19

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) have developed a new mathematical model for predicting how epidemics such as COVID-19 spread. This model not only accounts for individuals’ varying biological susceptibility to infection but also their levels of social activity, which naturally change over time. Using their model, the team showed that a temporary state of collective immunity—which they termed “transient collective immunity”—emerged during the early, fast-paced stages of the epidemic. However, subsequent “waves,” or surges in the number of cases, are predicted to appear because of changing social behaviors due to pandemic fatigue or variations in imposed mitigations. Their results appeared online on April 8, 2021 in advance of publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

  • Education

Connections with other physics teachers are a big part of Marianna’s story. A lover of physics from her high school days and a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Department of Physics, she got little nudges and encouragements from former teachers early in her career. Relationships with those mentors and colleagues led her to engage first with local organizations for physics teachers then with the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT). Her work still incorporates some of the ideas she picked up during professional meetings, conferences, and workshops. These were and are a big influence on how each piece of her teaching strategy is intentionally constructed.

The long-awaited first results from the Muon g-2 experiment at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory show fundamental particles called muons behaving in a way that is not predicted by scientists’ best theory, the standard model of particle physics. This landmark result, made with unprecedented precision, confirms a discrepancy that has been gnawing at researchers for decades.

Physicists at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign played a major role in producing the new result, which confirms the result from two decades ago: muons behave in a way that is not predicted by scientists’ best theory, the standard model of particle physics.

  • Research

Using a novel integrative computational technique, scientists from Northwestern and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) were able to classify disease conditions at the molecular level using epigenomic data sets, according to a recent study published in Cell Reports.

The new approach, collaboratively developed by the authors from Northwestern and UIUC, is called DeCET (Decomposition and Classification of Epigenomic Tensors); it analyzes complex, heterogeneous data to identify epigenomic differences between tissue types, disease subtypes, and changes in cell type, or cellular differentiation, explained Debabrata Chakravarti, PhD, vice chair for translational research and the Anna Lapham Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and lead author of the study.

  • In the Media

Next year will make 30 in C-U for MARTIN GRUEBELE, who arrived here an assistant professor four years out of grad school at Cal-Berkeley and is now a Nakanishi Prize-winning, Gruebele Group-heading James R. Eiszner Endowed Chair in Chemistry at Illinois.

“After 29 years in town, home is here. The place I lived second longest in — a mere eight years, but it seemed like 29 years as a child — is Vienna, Austria,” he says. “The outside of Chem Annex or the atrium of Lincoln Hall is probably about as Viennese as you get around here — there’s not a lot of red brick in Vienna.”

The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) collaboration, who produced the first ever image of a black hole, has revealed today a new view of the massive object at the center of the M87 galaxy: how it looks in polarized light. This is the first time astronomers have been able to measure polarization, a signature of magnetic fields, this close to the edge of a black hole. The observations are key to explaining how the M87 galaxy, located 55 million light-years away, is able to launch energetic jets from its core.

  • Research

Now a group of physicists in the U.S., Japan, and Taiwan have shed new light on the asymmetry in the makeup of the proton sea. The scientists are members of a decade-long experiment called the SeaQuest Collaboration, conducted at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) near Chicago, including University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Physics Professors Naomi Makins and Jen-Chieh Peng and their postdoctoral researchers and graduate students, who participated in all phases of the experiment since its inception.