physics & astronomy

Ultra High Energy Cosmic Rays: Recent results from the Pierre Auger Observatory



Dr. Fred Sarazin Colorado School of Mines The cosmic ray spectrum spans many orders of magnitude in energy. At the very end of the spectrum (E>10^18 eV) lie the Ultra High Energy cosmic rays (UHECRs). Their origin remains largely unknown and their study is made difficult in part by the very low flux impinging on Earth's atmosphere. The Pierre Auger Observatory, located in the Mendoza province of Argentina, is an array of detectors spread over 3000 km^2 specifically designed to study the properties of the extensive air showers induced by the UHECRs in the atmosphere. The Observatory is fully operational since 2008 and is operated by a collaboration of more than 500 scientists and engineers from 19 countries. In this colloquium, a selection of recent results obtained by the Observatory and the plan for the upcoming upgrade will be presented.



On The Road Again

UK faculty extend the classroom beyond the Commonwealth

Top Eigenvalue of a Random Matrix: A tale of tails

Dr. Satya Majumdar 

CNRS Paris

The statistical properties of the largest eigenvalue of a random matrix are of interest in diverse fields such as in the stability of large ecosystems, in disordered systems, in statistical data analysis and even in string theory. In this talk I'll discuss some recent developments in the theory of extremely rare fluctuations (large deviations) of the largest eigenvalue using a Coulomb gas method. Such rare fluctuations have also been measured in recent experiments in coupled laser systems. I'll also discuss recent applications of this Coulomb gas method in three different problems: entanglement in a bipartite system, conductance fluctuation through a mesoscopic cavity and the vicious random walkers problem. 


Your textbook is still wrong about the Milky Way galaxy



Dr. Heidi Newberg Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Fifteen years ago, we modeled the distribution of stars in the Milky Way using three components: an exponential disk, a power law spheroid, and a bulge. Then, we discovered the distribution of stars in the spheroid was lumpy due to the accretion and tidal disruption of dwarf galaxies that ventured too close the the Galactic center. We now wonder whether the Milky Way has a classical bulge at all; likely the bulge-like feature we see is instead due to the Galactic bar. And most recently, we are discovering large scale departures from the standard exponential disk. New discoveries point to variations in the expected bulk velocities of stars in the Galactic disk, and oscillations in the spatial densities of disk stars. Some believe these observations point to a wave response to the passing of dwarf galaxies (or dark matter lumps) through the Milky Way's disk. These waves may also explain the observed rings of stars, 15-25 kpc from the Galactic center, which is farther out than we originally believed the disk to extend.



Explaining the Global Warming Theory



Dr. Joseph P. Straley University of Kentucky Explaining the implications of science to contemporary public issues is an important part of our job. As an example I will give an introduction to the global warming issue.



Upward Curve: UK's Physics and Astronomy Faculty

UK Physicist Sumit Das discusses the unprecedented 70 percent acceptance rate of the department’s top-choice graduate students this spring — 16 of the 22 students accepted will enroll in the fall.

Rotation Fascination: Keh-Fei Liu

After being awarded a highly-competitive grant to perform Advanced Scientific Computer Research, UK physics professor Keh-Fei Liu and his collaborators hope to resolve what has been dubbed the Proton Spin Crisis.

Traveling Light: Gary Ferland

Research at the University of Kentucky expands well beyond campus, and thanks to Physics & Astronomy professor Gary Ferland we have to measure the distance in light years instead of miles.

50th Anniversary of UK's Particle Accelerator

Celebrating its 50th anniversary on UK’s campus, the Accelerator Lab is the giant cylinder in front of the Chem/Phys Building. Mysterious to many visitors to campus, and affectionately but incorrectly referred to as the “Atom Smasher” by others, it houses a 7-million-volt small particle accelerator used by the Physics Department for various experiments, such as studying the form and shapes of stable nuclei.

Marcus T. McEllistrem, the man that helped bring the accelerator to campus reflects back on some of its history.



Making Waves in the Milky Way with Susan Gardner

From childhood, Susan Gardner has had an interest in how the world works, developing a sense of curiosity that would later fuel her work and inspire her research.  Recently, Gardner, a professor in the Department of Physics & Astronomy, played an important role in a study that was responsible for the discovery of a wave in the Milky Way Galaxy. In this podcast, we spoke to Susan Gardner about this discovery, its relation to her research, and the importance of curiosity.

This podcast was produced by Casey Hibbard.

Creative Commons License
Making Waves in the Milky Way with Susan Gardner by UK College of A&S is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


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