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Physics News Archive



Nobel Prize in Physics, 2014
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for 2014 to Isamu Akasaki (Meijo University, Nagoya, Japan), Hiroshi Amano (Nagoya University, Japan), and Shuji Nakamura (University of California, Santa Barbara, CA, USA) “for the invention of efficient blue light-emitting diodes which has enabled bright and energy-saving white light sources"

This year's Nobel Laureates are rewarded for having invented a new energy-efficient and environment-friendly light source – the blue light-emitting diode (LED). In the spirit of Alfred Nobel the Prize rewards an invention of greatest benefit to mankind; using blue LEDs, white light can be created in a new way. With the advent of LED lamps we now have more long-lasting and more efficient alternatives to older light sources.
CCNY Researchers Receive $5 Million in Federal Grants
More than $5 million in federal research grants has been awarded to four City College of New York researchers in the interdisciplinary CUNY Institute for Macromolecular Assemblies. The funding is from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF), and Department of Defense (DoD). The recipients, all principal investigators for their respective projects, are
  • Professor Ranajeet Ghose, chemistry; $1,024,780 from the NSF for his five-year project, "Conformational Dynamics and Regulatory Interactions in a Bacteriophage RNA Polymerase Complex."
  • Assistant Professor Reza Khayat, chemistry; $1,373,000 over four years from the NIH SCORE program for the project, "Mechanism of Cellular Recognition and Entry by a Circovirus."
  • Distinguished Professor of Chemistry Ruth Stark, who directs the CUNY Institute for Macromolecular Assemblies (MMA). She has been awarded $1,142,552 over five years by the NSF for her project "Constructing Plant Cuticle Barriers: From Molecular Architecture to Mechanical Integrity."
  • Associate Professor Ronald Koder, physics; four grants totaling $1,655,381 from the NIH, NSF and DoD. Of that, $1,165,493 is a four-year NIH R01 award for his project "Structural and Thermodynamic Features which Govern Enzymatic Nitric Oxide Detoxification." Professor Koder's other awards are two multiple principal investigator NSF grants (each over three years) of $300,000 and $169,888 for the projects, "Collaborative Research: Creating a Conductive Connection between Redox Enzymes" and "Mechanism and Design of Elastomeric Proteins," respectively.  In addition, Professor Koder received a $20,000 subcontract from Phoebus Optoelectronics tied to a one-year Small Business Innovation Research award from the DoD for the research project, "Innovative Concept for Detection and Identification of Biological Toxins."

Nowhere to Hide: Better Non-invasive Detection of Prostate Cancer Using Improved Imaging
Advanced methods for earlier and improved detection of prostate cancer will help physicians provide better prostate cancer management and protect patients with low risk disease from unnecessary treatment.  Says Dr. Wang, "The key feature of our rectal scanning imager is the use of near infrared (NIR) radiation to image the prostate through the rectum. This imaging approach will greatly improve and supplement current (detection) methods of PSA and DRE because the scanning imaging unit and inverse image reconstruction technique can be used to map the internal structure of the prostate, distinguishing cancerous from normal areas." 

The key investigators in the CUNY research group include Distinguished Professor Robert Alfano (Director of the Institute for Ultrafast Spectroscopy and Lasers), Dr. Wubao Wang, and Dr. Yang Pu. The research achievement was made in collaboration with Dr. James Eastham at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Prof. Samuel Achilefu at Washington University School of Medicine, and Prof. Min Xu at Fairfield University.


Policies of the Future Should Not Be Tied to Science of the Past | Commentary

By Michael S. Lubell, Sept. 15, 2014

Fighting the last war over again is a bad strategy for future military planning. Using science of the past in crafting technology policies for the future is just as foolish. Yet that’s what’s happening in the debate over refilling the Highway Trust Fund’s depleted financial tank. More...(Published in Roll Call)



October is Physics Majors Month

As The City College celebrates Majors Month, the Physics Department celebrates Physics Majors.  Beginning Tuesday, October 7, students and faculty will give brief explanations of their work and experiences as physicists.  All students are welcome to attend these special sessions and learn about opportunities in careers in Physics.  The schedule is evolving. If you would like more information or to volunteer to give a presentation, please contact Prof. Vinod Menon.  For the latest news, please click here.


The Far Right's Assault on Science Won't Help Economy | Commentary

By Michael S. Lubell, June 24, 2014
It wasn't too many years ago that the Environmental Protection Agency came under fire for promulgating regulations that critics claimed had insufficient scientific validity. The pendulum now seems to have swung the other way, if a policy provision in the "Department of Energy Research and Development Act of 2014" is any indicator.  More...(Published in Roll Call.)

Dissertation Year Fellowship Awarded to Aline Hubard

The City University of New York Graduate Center has awarded 86 level III doctoral candidates dissertation fellowships for the 2014-2015 academic year – over $1,656,000 in stipends.  Ms. Aline Hubard, Ph.D. student in Physics mentored by Prof. Mark Shattuck, received the $22,000 fellowship for "Avalanches in Granular Materials." 


"America Can't Afford to Ignore Science | Commentary"

Roll Call, By Michael S. Lubell, May 12, 2014.  "Americans love science, but if its practice and outcomes challenge their deeply held beliefs in any significant way, their love can easily turn to rejection. That dichotomy is nothing new, but today it's a problem not only for science but also for our nation's 21st century economy, which depends so heavily on research and development for its growth."  Read the full story here.


Scientists Are Becoming a Rarer Congressional Breed, and That's Not a Good Thing | Commentary

Mar 25, 2014, 5:54 PM – Roll Call by Michael S. Lubell
Unless a new scientist emerges victorious in the 2014 November elections, the nerd factor on Capitol Hill will have taken a nose dive in the last six years.
Read the full story here.

The Mark W. Zemansky Lecture, April 9, 2014

Steven E. Koonin delivered the Mark W. Zemansky Lecture, "The Promise of Urban Science" on Wednesday, April 9, 2014.  Dr. Koonin is the Director of NYU's Center for Urban Science and Progress, and previously served as the U.S. Department of Energy's second Senate-confirmed Under Secretary for Science from May 19, 2009 through November 18, 2011. As Under Secretary for Science, Dr. Koonin functioned as the Department's chief scientific officer, coordinating and overseeing research across the DOE.

The Herman Z. Cummins Lecture, April 10, 2014

Albert Libchaber delivered the Herman Z. Cummins Lecture on Thursday, April 10, 2014. Dr. Libchaber is the Detlev W. Bronk Professor, Laboratory of Experimental Condensed Matter Physics, Rockefeller University, New York, NY.  "From bacteria to artificial cells.  The problem of self reproduction" reflects the focus of Dr. Libchaber's research since the 1990s, primarily in biology, from the viewpoints of physics and nonlinear dynamics.

City College Physics at the American Physical Society March Meeting, 2014

Professors and students present research at the APS March Meeting, Monday-Friday, March 3-7, 2014 in Denver Colorado.  Abstracts are included in the Bulletin of the American Physical Society, Volume 59, Number 1.  For City College participants, click here.

Michio Kaku on The Daily Show

Michio Kaku, Semat Professor of Physics, theoretical physicist and author of "The Future of the Mind" discusses cutting-edge advances in brain research and technology.  Tuesday February 25, 2014 (08:09) 


Physics Masters Student Wins Full Tuition Scholarship                       

Jonathan Preston, MS student in Physics, has won a Science Division graduate scholarship that pays his tuition for 2013-2014.  CUNY awarded CCNY's Science Division $32,000 in graduate tuition scholarships for the academic year.  The scholarships were awarded, based on academic achievement and need, to the following six science graduate students:  Gilbert Hernandez, Biology; Michael Ichikawa, Mathematics; Brian Lamb, Earth and Atmospheric Science; Jonathan Preston, Physics; Chanel Richardson, Biology; Bethany Riggins, Biology


No Kidding: Science Offers a Bipartisan Path

ByMichael S. Lubell, Jan. 24, 2014, 3:36 p.m.

 In December, just before House members left this town for their hometown holiday fetes, Speaker John A. Boehner lost his cool. He vented his exasperation with outside conservative agitators who were opposing the Ryan-Murray budget deal even before there was a deal. Noting they were the same fomenters of the October government shutdown who had later admitted they had no hope of winning, Boehner punctuated his disdain with a vituperative bellow: “Are you kidding me?!”

"Top ten breakthroughs of 2013"

CCNY Professor Cory Dean's measurement of the long predicted Hofstadter Butterfly spectrum has been identified by Physics World Magazine as one of the "top ten breakthroughs of 2013" . Working in collaboration with physicists at Columbia University, University of Central Florida, and Tohoku University in Japan, Professor Dean's work provided the first complete demonstration that electrons moving under both a magnetic field and spatially periodic electric field develop a fractal energy spectrum.  First predicted by Douglas Hofstadter in 1976, the butterfly-shaped spectral pattern has been studied theoretically studied for nearly 40 years, but had escaped experimental detection.  Professor Dean was the lead author on this work, which appeared in the magazine Nature last year, "Hofstadter's butterfly and the fractal quantum Hall effect in moiré superlattices." 

Professor Michio Kaku Probes the Mind in Latest Book

Dr. Michio Kaku, Henry Semat Professor of Physics at The City College of New York, is already receiving rave reviews for his latest book, "The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance, and Empower the Mind."  In "The Future of the Mind" Prof. Kaku explores the feasibility of telepathy, telekinesis, photographing a dream, uploading memories.

New for Spring 2014: Special Topic Course

Distinguished Professor Daniel Greenberger will offer Physics 31100, "History and Philosophy of Physics" during the Spring 2014 Semester. Topics include controversies over The Copernican Theory, The Energy Concept, The Rise of the Field Concept, The Age of the Earth, Blackbody radiation and photons, Relativity, The Big-Bang Theory, Wave-Particle Duality, Interpretations of Quantum Theory, and The field Concept in Quantum Theory.

Congratulations to 2013 American Physical Society  Fellows

Jeffrey Morris ″ Levich Institute, Professor of Chemical Engineering, CUNY-CCNY
Citation: For outstanding research in the flow of multi-phase mixtures, including the development of nonequilibrium microstructure in Stokes flow, constitutive modeling and bulk flow analysis, measurement of the particle pressure, and elucidating the influence of particle-scale inertia on rheology and flow.
Nominated by: Division of Fluid Dynamics

V. Parameswaran Nair,  Physics Department, Distinguished Professor, CUNY-CCNY
Citation: For his contributions to theoretical high energy physics, including: the symmetries of gluon amplitudes, gauge theories in three space-time dimensions (especially involving Chern-Simons theories and anyons), non-commutative quantum mechanics, and the Quantum Hall effect in higher dimensions.
Nominated by: Division of Particles and FieldsAny active American Physical Society member is eligible for nomination and election to Fellowship. The criterion for election is exceptional contributions to the physics enterprise; e.g., outstanding physics research, important applications of physics, leadership in or service to physics, or significant contributions to physics education. Fellowship is a distinct honor signifying recognition by one's professional peers.

Cornell University Capital Equipment Donation

Jiufeng Tu received a capital equipment donation worth $1M from Prof. Albert J. Sievers, Cornell University.   Equipment includes: Raman spectrometer, Lamellar spectrometer and accessories (He3), Laser Nd:Yag, Laser Nd:Yag, UV Wavelength, Generator harmonic, Pulse kit, Retro kit, Cryostat system with controller Detector far IR and Laser injection.  Associate Professor Tu conducts optical spectroscopy studies of energy related materials. experimental condensed matter physics, optical spectroscopy, optical studies of correlated systems and nanosystems, infrared and Raman studies of superconductors and nanosystems physics.

Tea Party Excess Threatens High-Tech Success | Commentary

By Michael S. Lubell, Nov. 20, 2013, 4:52 p.m., Roll Call
The government shutdown and threatened financial default may seem so yesterday, given the Obamacare rollout mess. But the tea party's October call to conservative arms is having a persisting, pernicious effect, even though the media and Wall Street seem to have moved on.  What I have in mind, particularly, is the sequester's impact on science, the generator of America's future economic growth. 2013 CCNY Physics research publications citing sponsorship by U. S. Agencies

CCNY Physicists Patent Method to Change Skin-Color Perception

Professor Robert Alfano and colleagues devise approach for applying quantum and optical principles to cosmetic preparations.  How someone perceives color is determined by how the item they are looking at scatters and emits light. In August, three City College of New York physicists affiliated with the Institute for Ultrafast Spectroscopy and Lasers (IUSL) were awarded a patent for a method for changing perception of skin tone by applying quantum and optical principles to cosmetic preparations.

Bioophotonics: Advanced Vein Visualization

Developed at the City University of New York and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the Advanced Vein Visualization, AVV-1 provides a superior illumination and visualization of a patient's veins in both the arm and hand.  The AVV-1 has been designed to help a medical practitioner or nurse to accomplish the task of inserting a needle for an IV or blood draw in a more efficient, timely and safe manner. This will help minimize patient and practitioner stress, treatment delays, and infections from failed attempts. Vein illumination is particularly important when the patient is obese, very young, aged and/or has dark skin.  Researchers: Distinguished Professor Robert Alfano,  Dr Stravos DemosMichele Alfano-Berwanger

Making Electrical Contact Along 1D Edge of 2D Materials

October 31, 2013 Physics Professor Cory Dean conducting research as a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University and working with Professor of Electrical Engineering Ken Shepard and Professor of Mechanical Engineering James Hone, developed a new method using graphene as the two-dimensional model, resulting in the cleanest graphene produced to date. The new technique makes it possible for an atomically thin two-dimensional (2D) material to be electrically connected only along its one-dimensional (1D) edge. This contact geometry enables a new assembly technique for layered materials that prevents contamination at interfaces.  The discovery appears in the journal Science, November 1, 2013 issue. Physics Professor Cory Dean conducting research as a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University and working with Professor of Electrical Engineering Ken Shepard and Professor of Mechanical Engineering James Hone, developed a new method using graphene as the two-dimensional model, resulting in the cleanest graphene produced to date. The new technique makes it possible for an atomically thin two-dimensional (2D) material to be electrically connected only along its one-dimensional (1D) edge. This contact geometry enables a new assembly technique for layered materials that prevents contamination at interfaces.  The discovery appears in the journal Science, November 1, 2013 issue.

New CCNY Science Dean Helped Discover Particle that Led to Nobel Prize

Dr. Tony Liss, CCNY's new dean of science, helped discover the Higgs boson particle that earned two European physicists the 2013 Nobel Prize October 8.  Physicist and Higgs boson particle expert Tony Liss takes up his appointment October 15 as the City College of New York's first Martin and Michele Cohen Dean of Science with some Nobel Prize luster on his resume. This after the 2013 winners in physics were announced in Stockholm October 8.


CCNY Physics Teacher Preparation Program Cited for Excellence

One of only 11 institutions recognized in national task force report addressing shortage of qualified instructors.  Dr. Richard Steinberg, director of City College's physics education program, holds dual appoints in the School of Education and physics department. The program is one of only 11 nationwide recognized for excellence in physics teacher preparation in a report by the National Task Force on Teacher Education in Physics.  The City College of New York was one of only 11 colleges and universities nationwide cited for excellence in physics teacher preparation, according to a new national study. The report, produced by the National Task Force on Teacher Education in Physics (T-TEP), pointed out that physics has a greater shortage of teachers than any other science discipline.

The Lawrence Wills Lecture in Physics, October 23, 2013

Prof. Ivan K. Schuller presented the Lawrence Wills Lecture in Physics on October 23, 2013.  Prof. Schuller, a multiple award winning physicist and movie producer, will use movies and humor to illustrate difficult concepts and results in Nanoscience.  Professor Schuller is a pioneer in thin film nanostructures and superlattices.  He has been awarded several prestigious academic honors including the DOE D.O. Lawrence Award, APS Adler Award, and the MRS Medal. He a member of the Academies of Science (Chile, Spain, Belgium, Colombia), received a Doctorate Honoris Causa-Universidad Complutense, and is an EMMY award winner.

Prize in Laser Science Awarded to Professor Alfano

During the FiO 2013/LS XXIX conference in Orlando, Florida, October 6-10, the American Physical Society (APS) will present the 2013 Arthur L. Schawlow Prize in Laser Science to Distinguished Professor of Science and Engineering Robert Alfano. The prize recognizes outstanding contributions to basic research using lasers to advance knowledge of the fundamental physical properties of materials and their interaction with light. Dr. Alfano's plenary address is "Optical physics discoveries using ultrafast lasers".

Two Physics Majors to attend Frontiers in Optics/Laser Science Conference

Kamonasish Chakraborty and Zabir Hossain, undergraduate Physics Majors whose mentor is Distinguished Professor Robert Alfano, will attend the FiO 2013/LS XXIX conference in Orlando, Florida, October 6-10.  Their abstracts have been accepted and will be presented representing CCNY and the Physics Department.  The FiO/LS conference is sponsored by The Optical Society (OSA), Frontiers in Optics 2013, collocated with the American Physical Society Division of Laser Science's Annual Meeting, Laser Science XXIX. 

Dr. Tony Liss to be First Martin and Michele Cohen Dean of Science

Dr. Tony Liss has been named the first Martin and Michele Cohen Dean of Science and will join City College October 15. He currently is professor of physics at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he has been a faculty member since 1988. In addition, he is a Provost Fellow there working on faculty development and promotion and tenure issues.

Cutting Science Funding Starves Future Generations

Commentary by Michael S. Lubell, Professor of Physics, The City College of New York.  Published in CQ Roll Call September 11, 2013.
Almost 30 years ago, Paul Blustein introduced the slogan "starving the beast." It has since become the mantra of conservative policymakers who want to shrink the federal government by cutting taxes and curbing revenues.


CCNY STEM Majors Scoop Up Record Five Wins at National Conference

Tai-Denae Bradley, mathematics and physics major, is among five City College of New York science students who brought home a record five wins for research presentations at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) last semester in San Jose, California

Why Social Science Research Matters | Commentary

July 24, 2013  Michael Lubell.  Published in Roll Call

Physicist Daniel Greenberger Appointed CUNY Distinguished Professor

July 8, 2013 Dr. Daniel M. Greenberger, Mark W. Zemansky Professor of Physics at The City College of New York, has been appointed a CUNY Distinguished Professor. The CUNY Board of Trustees approved the appointment at its June 24 meeting.

Prize in Laser Science Awarded to Professor Alfano

June 6, 2013 The American Physical Society (APS) has awarded the 2013 Arthur L. Schawlow Prize in Laser Science to Distinguished Professor of Science and Engineering Robert Alfano. The prize recognizes outstanding contributions to basic research using lasers to advance knowledge of the fundamental physical properties of materials and their interaction with light.

70's-Era Physics Prediction Finally Confirmed

May 16, 2013  Assistant Professor of Physics Cory Dean and research teams from Columbia and three other institutions have definitively proven the existence of an effect known as Hofstadter's Butterfly.

Don't Let American Science Suffer From Federal Spending Cutbacks | Commentary

May 3, 2013 Michael Lubell.  Published in Roll Call

Team Creates MRI for the Nanoscale

February 13, 2013 Dr. Carlos Meriles, Professor of Physics at The City College of New York, and an international team of researchers at the University of Stuttgart and elsewhere have opened the door for nanoscale MRI.