2008 News

  • “From Big Bang to Big Bounce” by Anil Ananthaswamy Cover story of the December 13, 2008 issue of New Scientist on Loop Quantum Cosmology. PDF
  • Abhay Ashtekar, Victor Taveras and Madhavan Varadarajan published an Editor’s Choice PRL entitled “Information is Not Lost in the Evaporation of Black Holes.” Their results were described in several dozen semi-popular news outlets including Nature News, Nature Research Highlight, Science Now, PhysOrg, Science Daily, New Scientist, Fox News, MSNBC, U.S. News and World Report and the Today Show. U.S. News & World Report article
  • Jim Hartle, a member of our external advisory committee, won the Einstein Prize of the American Physical Society given binannually to recognize accomplishments in gravitational physics.  The prize recognizes Dr. Hartle’s “broad range of fundamental contributions to relativistic stars, quantum fields in curved spacetime, and especially quantum cosmology”
  • Kosmos: A clip from the broadcast on German TV durig the year-long celebration of the 150th birth anniversary of Max Planck features Penn State research on quantum cosmology.  2008 was officially declared “The Max Planck Year” by the German government. View clip
  • The Center for Fundamental Theory will hold a three-day focused workshop on Loop Quantum Cosmology from October 23 to 25, 2008 (both days inclusive). The main themes of the workshop will be: (i) Resolution of the Big Bang singularity in simple cosmological models and lessons they have for cosmology and non-perturbative quantum gravity; (ii) Cosmological Perturbations in classical theory in connection variables and their quantum ramifications; and (iii) Phenomenological implications of Loop Quantum Cosmology particularly implications for observational missions.The workshop will have a few review types of talks and ample time for shorter presentations and discussions. The overall goal is to move this focused area forward in a decisive fashion in a few carefully chosen directions.
  • Loop Quantum Gravity is featured in the climax of the episode Deal Breaker of the sitcom The Big Bang Theory aired by CBS on September 29, 2008. Moral: If you don’t subscribe to Loop Quantum Gravity, your personal happiness may be doomed!
  • Current ideas about the early history of the universe are described in the Scientific American cover story “Big Bang or Big Bounce? New Theory on the Universe’s Birth” by Martin Bojowald. According to recent developments in quantum gravity, which implement an atomic structure of space-time and not just matter, the universe did not start with the big bang but existed earlier. Properties at those ancient times are being analyzed at IGC using models in the framework of loop quantum cosmology. (Article)
  • Heart of Crab Pulsar Probed (Article)
    by LIGO Collaboration
    One of LIGO’s first landmark results
  • The Center for Particle Astrophysics will hold a workshop on TeV Unidentified Sources on June 4-5, 2008.  The workshop will be aimed at leading to teams of people working on: (i) Theory/modeling framework and firm predictions regarding the multiwavelength and multimessenger properties of a variety of potential TeV unidentified source classes; and (ii) Follow-up observations and strategies with a variety of instruments (existing and near-term) to discriminate between different source class possibilities. A substantial amount of time will be devoted to discussion.
  • New information about the heart of one of the most famous objects in the sky — the Pulsar in the Crab Nebula — has been revealed by an international team of scientists searching for gravitational waves. The team’s achievement is also the first direct look into the interior of a neutron star. The research team studied the Crab Pulsar — a rapidly spinning star — with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO). The analysis of the signals reveals that that no more than 4 percent of the energy loss of the pulsar is causd by the emission of gravitational waves. This long-awaited analysis is one of LIGO’s first landmark results, bringing the search for gravitational waves into the outskirts of the realm of theoretical predictions made several years ago by Ben Owen, associate professor of physics at Penn State. Owen is the co-author of the paper describing the discovery, which will be submitted to Astrophysical Journal Letters by the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, a 600-member group in which Penn State plays a key role.  Read more
  • Abhay Ashtekar, Victor Taveras and Madhavan Varadarajan published an Editor’s Choice PRL entitled “Information is not lost in the evaporation of black holes.”  Their results were described in several dozen semi-popular news outlets including Nature News, Nature Research Highlight, Science Now, PhysOrg, Science Daily, New Scientist, Fox News, MSNBC, U. S. News and World Report and the Today Show. U.S. News and World Report article
  • Radu Roiban is one of only three Outstanding Young Investigators selected by the Department of Energy in theoretical physics this year.  The purpose of these prestigious awards is to support the development of individual research programs in outstanding scientists early in their careers.
  • The Center for Fundamental Theory will hold two workshops in May. The Topical Workshop on Cosmology: Interplay between Theory and Observation will be held May 1-3, 2008 and the Topical Workshop on Black Holes in Fundamental Physics, May 8-10, 2008. Each of them will be devoted to carefully selected forefront issues in the field to foster a dialog between leading approaches to these problems. Because ample time will be set aside for discussions, these focused sessions have the potential to bring about genuine advances through interchange of ideas across sub-disciplines.
  • The Center for Gravitational Wave Physics will hold a Science Exhibition and Reception on Friday, April 28, 2008 from 3:30-5:30 p.m. in the Life Sciences/Chemistry Building overpass. The Exhibition will highlight the scientific achievements of the Center’s students and post doctoral scholars. Center members will be on hand with poster exhibits of their work; refreshments will be served.
  • Dr. Pablo Laguna is one of four international members elected to the Mexican Academy of Sciences in 2007. The Academia Mexicana de Ciencias is the Mexican equivalent of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. The Academia Mexicana de Ciencias, founded in 1959, is an organization of the most distinguished scientists working in diverse institutions in Mexico, as well as Corresponding Members in other countries who are prominent in their disciplines and who have contributed in various ways to the development of research in Mexico.  A ceremony to celebrate the occasion is planned for March 2008 at Dr. Laguna’s alma mater, the Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana – Iztapalapa in Mexico City.
  • Research on rogue black holes conducted by Dr. Kelly-Holley-Bockelmann, Dr. Deirdre Shoemaker and Nicolas Yunes was featured at the January 2008 American Astronomical
    Society Meeting. This research was also the subject of special coverage by National Geographic, Science, MSNBC and news services in Europe and Asia. Galaxy May Hold Hundreds of Rogue Black Holes
  • Stephon Alexander and Martin Bojowald were named recipients of the Faculty Early Career Development award by the National Science Foundation. each of them will receive a five-year, $400,000 grant from the NSF. This CAREER program recognizes and supports the early career-development activities of scholars who are likely to become the academic leaders of the 21st century. Recipients are chosen on the basis of creative career development plans that integrate research and education within the context of their university’s mission.
  • Paul Sommers was elected Fellow of the APS for his significant contributions to experimental cosmic ray physics, for his major part in designing and building the Pierre Auger Cosmic Ray Observatory, and his leadership role in using it to obtain novel and important insights into the nature and properties of the highest energy cosmic rays.
  • Abhay Ashtekar was elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The Certificate and Rosette acknowledging this honor was presented during the annual AAAS meeting in Boston.
  • Nicolas Yunes, a graduate student in the Department of Physics, received the Penn State Alumni Association Dissertation Award. The awards “is considered to be among the most prestigious available to Penn State graduate students and recognizes outstanding achievement in scholarship and professional accomplishment.”

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