Friday, January 25, 2013

2013 Saturday Morning Physics

The schedule for Winter Term 2013 Saturday Morning Physics is now available. There are a series of 8 talks, held Saturday Mornings between February 2 and April 13. (There are no talks on February 22 and March 1). The February 2nd talk will be held in Hill Auditorium on the campus of University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. The other talks will be held in rooms 170 and 182 of the Dennison Building also on the campus of the University of Michigan.

For more information go to:

First Contact, Art Exhibit at Gallery Project

Opening Reception~ February 22 6-9 p.m.
Curated by Seder Burns

The search for extraterrestrial intelligence is in high gear. NASA’s Curiosity rover is routinely beaming back photos from Mars. It recently found evidence that suggests that there was once flowing water on the planet. Scientific instruments of all manner scan and explore the heavens for evidence of otherworldly life. It seems that First Contact with extraterrestrial life is inevitable. Will Curiosity be our first ambassador? 

Technological development has brought us to the precipice of first contact, but has humanity kept pace? Is our search for extraterrestrial life simply a search for answers to our own existence? A search for our creator? What makes us believe that we are prepared for a relationship with other worlds when we have difficulties on our own planet? What does humanity have to offer? Are we looking for salvation? Escape? Is it our innate curiosity or primal fear that motivates us? H.P. Lovecraft wrote that "The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear."

“Artists,” wrote Ezra Pound, “are the antennae of the race.” Media analyst Marshall McLuhan expanded on that idea when he wrote, “Art as radar acts as an ‘early alarm system,’ as it were, enabling us to discover social and psychic targets in lots of time to prepare to cope with them.” If art is an ‘early warning system,’ then what does art about First Contact foretell?

This art exhibition explores our desire for First Contact, our preparedness for it, the event itself, and its possible consequences. 

Selected contributors include artists from Taiwan, Russia, Canada, and throughout the US: 
Seder Burns, Ross Carlisle, Debra Davis, Lynda Davis, Dan Hernandez,Tanya Kavakoza, Kevin Margo, Simon Ray, Kris Rudolph, Sarit Somasa,Derek Stenning, Po-Wei Su, Mike Tarr, Barry Whittaker & others.

Gallery Project is located in the heart of Ann Arbor, Michigan.
215 South Fourth Avenue
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104
P (734) 997-7012

Gallery Hours
Thursday - Saturday: Noon to 9
Sunday: Noon to 9 
Closed: Monday-Wednesday

More info at:

10th Annual FAAC Astronomy Show & Swap Meet

Dear Fellow Amateur Astronomer,

You and fellow Club members are invited to attend the Tenth Annual FAAC (Ford Amateur Astronomy Club) Astronomy Show & Swap Meet. It will be held at the Holy Cross Lutheran Church, 30650 Six Mile Road in Livonia, Michigan on Saturday, March 16, 2013. Attached is a flyer describing the Swap Meet. This year in addition to the sale of new / used Astronomy Equipment and Astronomy Presentations throughout the day, we will be featuring a Planetarium on site for kids to get their first exposure to Astronomy.

Swap Meet Flyer

Monday, January 14, 2013

AA OSA Meetings....

From the AA OSA....

Sorry for not updating you earlier on the AA OSA meeting for tomorrow, Tuesday, 15 January 2013.

We are having our Winter Organizational Meeting (! starting at 7pm !) to discuss the preparations and support needed for our next two special events.

We need as many people involved as we can to make these special events a success.  Please be there!

AA OSA Industry Night / Job Fair is scheduled for Tuesday, 26 February 2013 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM at AA SPARK Central.  Michelle Stock (Chair of the Mi-Light, Michigan's Photonics Cluster) will give an overview of Optics & Photonics in Michigan and we hope to have many companies participate.

AA OSA Meeting / Talk by Dr. Stahl of NASA Marshall (National OSA Speaker) talking on "The James Webb Space Telescope: The First Light Machine" is scheduled for Tuesday, 12 March 2013 from 8:00 PM to 10:00 PM at EECS Rm# 1005.

Our February AA OSA Meeting / Talk has also been moved - from Tuesday to Wednesday, 13 February 2013 - Dr. Yang Li (Rigaku Innovative Technologies) will talk about "Thin-Film Silicon Solar Cells".  It will also be at EECS Rm# 1005.

Note that the starting time for the Winter Organizational Meeting has been moved up to 7pm as there will not be a dinner at Paesano's before hand.  Please join us and provide us with your input and help to make these special events a success!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Dark Matter, SUSY & DNA

In an earlier post I talked about the search for SUSY (supersymmetric) particles. SUSY particles might be an explanation for dark matter. Since each SUSY particle is paired with a normal particle (a Standard Model particle), they are often called SUSY partners. Most of the SUSY particles are predicted to be unstable, and so far there is no convincing experimental evidence that any of them exist. However theory predicts that the lightest of the SUSY particles will be stable. This LSP (lightest super-symmetric particle) might be the basis for dark matter.

In that post, I indicated that the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) might generate LSPs. Now, it seems very unlikely to do so over the short term. (There were results that suggested the existence of non-standard model particles, possibly SUSY particles, but those results didn't prove that the SUSY is correct or that LSPs exist. Other results seemed to disprove SUSY altogether, at least according to some).

However all is not lost. The LHC is undergoing enhancements. Once these enhancements are complete, the LHC will operate at higher energy; it is possible that operating at higher energy will create particles that could not be created at lower energy, possibly including the LSP.

There are other approaches. Current experiments, not associated with the LHC, are looking for dark matter particles (which are not necessarily LSPs). They include DAMA/LIBRA, CoGeNT and CREST-II. Results from some of these experiments have given hints of dark matter, but have failed to convince everyone.

In an arXiv paper published this past July, it was argued that a detector based on ssDNA (single stranded DNA) would have higher resolution than existing detectors, should make detection of dark matter particles easier, and may provide more convincing results. While DNA is more commonly associated with medical, genetic and biological applications, it can be and has been used in other fields such as physics.

So, we have several approaches, one or more of which might provide convincing evidence of dark matter particles in the future.

For more information see the following articles...

Andrzej Drukier, Katherine Freese, David Spergel, Charles Cantor, George Church, Takeshi Sano. arXiv:1206.6809 [astro-ph.IM] "New Dark Matter Detectors using DNA for Nanometer Tracking."  (Submitted on 28 Jun 2012).

R. Bernabei, et al. arXiv:1007.0595 [astro-ph.CO] "Particle Dark Matter in DAMA/LIBRA." (Submitted on 4 Jul 2011).

Henning Fleacher. CERN Document Server. "Recent SUSY Results from CMS."

Dan Hooper, Chris Kelso.  arXiv:1106.1066 [hep-ph] "Implications of CoGeNT's New Results for Dark Matter." (Submitted on 6 Jun 2011).

Leo Stodolsky, et al. "The CRESST-II Dark Matter Search." 2012 J. Phys.: Conf. Ser. 384 012013.