A leading Queen’s University Belfast astronomer is featuring in the BBC’s Horizon programme this weekend, in an episode devoted to a very special comet currently in the sky above Northern Ireland.
In Comet of the Century: A Horizon Special on BBC 2 at 9.15pm tomorrow night (Saturday 23rd November), Professor Alan Fitzsimmons will be explaining why comet ISON is so important to science, and how it might appear to sky watchers in early December.
Professor Fitzsimmons, said: “Comet ISON was discovered last year, and astronomers quickly realised that it was a one-of-a-kind comet. It has never been around the Sun before, but on November 28th it will pass just over a million km above its surface. The intense heat may reveal aspects about comets we have never before discovered.”
Five maths students from Queen's (Laura Boyle, Sophia Halliday, Emmet Ó Garmaile, Brendan Reid and Eszter Surgenor) took part in Maths in the City at Belfast Victoria Square in Saturday 19 October, the grande finale of MathsWeek Ireland 2013. Shoppers were entertained by maths magic, card tricks, mazes and music performed by international maths magicians, buskers and clowns led by a team of experts from MathsWeek Ireland. The students had a great time helping the public to complete the puzzles and mazes and explaining the properties of tetrahedra using balloon modelling!
Over 170,000 people took part in MathsWeek Ireland (12-20 October), the annual festival which encourages everyone to take a fresh look at maths. Throughout the week primary and secondary school pupils, along with the general public, took part in activities designed to stimulate their interest and build their confidence in maths.
Dr Dan Dundas, from the School of Maths and Physics, said, "It's great to see mathematics being showcased away from the classroom and in such a fun and accessible way. Hopefully these activities, together with the enthusiasm shown by our students, will inspire the next generation of mathematicians, scientists and engineers".
Astronomers at Queen’s University have shed new light on the rarest and brightest exploding stars ever discovered in the universe.
The research is published on Thursday (17 October) in Nature Magazine – one of the world’s most prestigious science publications. It proposes that the most luminous supernovae – exploding stars – are powered by small and incredibly dense neutron stars, with gigantic magnetic fields that spin hundreds of times a second.
The von Engel & Franlkin Prize is awarded biennially by the International Scientific Committee of the International Conference on the Physics of Ionised Gases to an individual for work in the field of physics and technology of plasmas and ionized gases, recognising either long standing and important contributions to the field, or an outstanding achievement giving a new impulse to the field.
Researchers in the School of Mathematics and Physics have been awarded a grant to investigate the mysteries of quantum thermodynamics.
The Quantum Technology Group at Queen’s (QTeQ) has received a £350k grant from the John Templeton Foundation to investigate the reformulation of quantum mechanics at medium-to-large scales. The Foundation is a philanthropic organisation that funds interdisciplinary scientific research on "Big Questions".
The Principal Investigator is Dr Mauro Paternostro, Reader at the Centre for Theoretical Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics (CTAMOP) and EPSRC Fellow with Dr Gabriele De Chiara and Dr Alessandro Ferraro, both Lecturers in Quantum Information at CTAMOP, co-investigators of the grant.
Two young researchers from Queen’s have showcased their work at the Houses of Parliament as part of SET for Britain 2013.
Dr Gianluca Sarri, 29, a newly appointed lecturer in the School of Mathematics and Physics and Roberto Caporali, an industrial research student in the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, were chosen from hundreds of applicants to appear in Parliament.
SET for Britain is a poster competition in the House of Commons which is judged by professional and academic experts. The annual competition gives MPs an opportunity to speak to a wide range of the country’s best young researchers.
Dr Sarri’s research about the recent progress on ultra-intensity lasers technology and applications was entered into the Physics section of the competition.
Speaking about the experience, Dr Sarri said: “SET for Britain is a unique opportunity to make my own research known to a wider audience, and to engage with politicians regarding the fundamental issue of scientific research and development in the UK. It is also a great chance to get a wider perspective on cutting edge research by sharing thoughts with other brilliant scientists and engineers from the whole country.”
Roberto’s research was featured in the Engineering section of the competition. Roberto, a PhD student in the Centre for the Theory and Application of Catalysis, is working with Johnson and Matthey, a world leading chemical company, to develop a new type of diesel oxidation catalyst.
On Friday 7 December over 100 A-level Mathematics students from schools throughout Northern Ireland took part in the fourth annual Schools Mathematics competition organised by Queen’s University Belfast. Teams representing nearly 30 schools battled their way through several rounds of tough questions set by mathematicians from the School of Mathematics and Physics. The final scores were extremely close, with St Patrick’s Academy, Dungannon winning first place just ahead of Belfast High School in second and Methodist College Belfast in third. Queen’s University donated prizes for first, second and third place teams and there was an additional prize for the winning team, sponsored by Newry software company First Derivatives Plc.
The prizes were presented by Employment and Learning Minister, Dr Stephen Farry. Congratulating the students on their achievements, the minister said: “It is refreshing to be here today to witness so many young people enjoying the challenges set by the mathematicians at Queen’s University. The pupils have shown tremendous ability during the various rounds of the competition.
"Maths and STEM subjects have a fundamental role to play in many sectors of the economy. My Department works closely with employers in engineering, manufacturing, financial services and ICT, to name but a few, who repeatedly tell us how central mathematics is to their business. Sectors such as these will be key to the future growth of the Northern Ireland economy. They have the potential to provide quality career opportunities and so it is vital that our young people equip themselves with the right skills now, to be able to take advantage of these opportunities in the future.”
The organiser of the competition, Dr Daniel Dundas from the School of Mathematics and Physics, said, “The ability of students taking part in the competition every year always impresses us. This is a real credit to the students and their schools but it means it’s more of a challenge to set the questions!”
Elizabeth O’Hanlon from First Derivatives said, “It is incredible to see so many enthusiastic and passionate students embracing the QUB mathematics challenge. First Derivatives Plc are very proud to support this fantastic competition as it is students like these which we consider to be the driving force behind the growth of Northern Ireland’s Financial services.”
This award recognize scholars under the age of 45 who have made outstanding contributions in the field of astronomy or astrophysics.
The National Central University (NCU) and Delta Electronics Foundation are pleased to establish the NCU-Delta Young Astronomer Lectureship Award to recognize scholars under the age of 45 who have made outstanding contributions in the field of astronomy or astrophysics. The award is made through an academic visit to Taiwan to foster interactions with the local astronomer community and to stimulate young minds by public lectures.
The prize, bestowed by Dr. Bruce Cheng, President of Delta Electronics, carries a round-trip airfare to Taiwan, an honorarium, and a commemorative plaque. Each awardee is expected to spend at least two weeks in Taiwan, giving a colloquium at NCU and a public lecture in a high school designated by the Delta Foundation. Candidates are suggested by the Nomination Committee without regard to sex, race, or nationality, and the finalists are chosen by the Review Committee. Subject to sponsorship funding, it is expected that 2-3 candidates will be awarded annually.
The autumn 2012 recepient of this award is Professor Stephen Smartt, Astrophysics Research Centre.
David Sandford of the QteQ (quantum technology group) in the School of Mathematics and Physics at Queen's has won a Business Leader of Tomorrow award from the Technology and Strategy Board.
An astrophysicist at Queen’s University Belfast has been reading the pattern of sunspots and solar cycles, writes Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor, Irish Times.
We could be in for some improved winter weather over the coming years, according to Dr Ryan Milligan. He’s a 36-year-old Queen’s University astrophysicist who was formerly based at Nasa – and who, in his spare time, does road haulage work, just to keep his hand in.
Cathy Hill, a PhD student working with Seagate Technology planning her next set of experiments to develop advanced magnetic shielding for magnetic recording heads. The materials are created by layering different materials each only a few billionths of a metre thick. Cathy's work is now being evaluated in Seagate.
A conclave hosted by Queen’s and Seagate Technology has been described as a major milestone for ANSIN, the £7.5 million international research hub.
Two years on from the establishment of ANSIN at Queen’s, the University and Seagate jointly hosted Seagate Technology’s European Data Storage Technology Conclave for the first time. The research meeting brought together over 100 participants, including the research team at ANSIN, senior management and staff from Seagate Technology, academics from leading UK, European, Japanese and US laboratories and key vendors supporting Seagate Technology in their R&D and manufacturing operation at Springtown.
Four of Queen’s academic staff have been admitted as new Members of the Royal Irish Academy. Professors Liam Kennedy, Aaron Maule, John McGarvey and Stephen Smartt were among only 22 academics on the island of Ireland to achieve this highest academic distinction.
For 227 years, membership of the Royal Irish Academy has been keenly competed for, as it is the highest academic honour in Ireland and a public recognition of academic achievement.
Members of the Academy include: Seamus Heaney, Frances Ruane (ESRI), Mary Robinson, Patrick Cunningham (ESOF Dublin 2012), Maurice Manning (NUI Chancellor), Patrick Honohan (Central Bank), Mary Canning (HEA) and writer and cartographer Tim Robinson.
Astronomers from Queen’s University Belfast have gathered the most direct evidence yet of a supermassive black hole shredding a star that wandered too close. The Queen’s astronomers are part of the Pan-STARRS international team, whose discovery has been published in the journal Nature today (Wed, 2 May).
Dr Laura Mazzola was awarded a prestigious two-year Marie-Curie Intra-European fellowship from the European Union, starting from April 2011, to work in collaboration with Dr Mauro Paternostro on "quantum thermodynamics".
Recently the quantum information community has started investigating fundamental questions on the ultimate size and efficiency of thermal engines at the level of few atoms. Do quantum correlations, for example entanglement, play a fundamental role in the thermodynamics of quantum mesoscopic systems? Laura will tackle these and other exciting questions during her fellowship at QUB.
Laura joined QUB in 2011. She was awarded her PhD from the University of Turku in 2010, after working on open quantum systems with Dr Sabrina Maniscalco and Dr Jyrki Piilo.
For further information visit the QTeQ website.
A consortium of eleven industrial and academic partners has been established to develop modern computer simulation methods. The aim is to render new high strength steels and nickel alloys resistant to failure due to hydrogen damage. These alloys are intended for application in light weight motor car bodies, satellite-carrying rockets and modern powerplant equipment, especially off shore wind turbines. The remit of the consortium, funded with 5.3m euro through the EU‚Äôs 7th Framework Programme and partner contributions, is to address three industry led case studies.
One is the optimisation of the pulse-plating process used in the fabrication of the nickel combustion chambers of the Ariane 5 satellite launcher; another is preventing hydrogen embrittlement in advanced high strength steels designed for future automobile chassis components and the third is minimising rolling contact fatigue in next-generation wind turbine bearings.
The automotive industry is still missing current EU targets in carbon dioxide emissions by up to 35 gram per kilometre. While modern steels have been designed that can meet this requirement through reduction inweight, steel producers are aware of the increased risks of hydrogen embrittlement which can accompany steels with higher tensile strengths. A similar problem affects the bearings of offshore wind turbines and again there is an urgent need to come to terms with the issue and present some solutions to industry.
Until now, scientists undertaking the computer modelling of the underlying phenomena have concentrated on a particular "length-scale", somewhere between atomistic and component-level finite element simulations. "We now want to carry through computer simulations at all length scales from atoms to entire components," says the project coordinator Dr Nicholas Winzer of the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM. The influence of microstructure of alloys on their design lifetime can thereby be investigated and new materials developed. The automobile, aerospace and energy industries will directly benefit and in particular in the realm of renewable energy.
During heat treatment, mechanical working, sheet drawing and coating processes, fine cracks appear which render the metal unstable under load. The guilty party here is atomic hydrogen that moves rapidly within the metal crystal lattice collecting at dislocations and grain boundaries where it wreaks its havoc, resulting in so called "hydrogen embrittlement". As cracks grow under load to a critical size, so the component fails.
Using multiscale modelling, experts can take into account all the facets of the microstructure in a variety of materials. "With our modelling we can predict precisely how susceptible an alloy or a component is to hydrogen embrittlement under realistic conditions," says Dr Matous Mrovec the coordinator of the atomistic simulations. Atomic information such as diffusion barriers, activation energies and trapping sites can now be used directly to predict component lifetimes under particular service conditions. In association with the computer modelling, experimental studies to characterise the engineering materials will be made by the industrial partners.
At Queen's University, the Atomistic Simulation Centre (ASC) in the School of Mathematics and Physics is leading the effort to bridge the length scales between the atomistic and the continuum modelling. "With the advent of supercomputers, theoretical physics is now able to bring practical solutions directly to Industry," says Professor Anthony Paxton of the ASC.
Recently Queen's University invested 200,000 pounds in the build of a new computer room which houses the ASC's half a million pound investment in supercomputer systems. The new facility has the benefit of state of the art negative pressure water cooling. Our supercomputers are being heavily used in our new researches into the simulation of dynamical processes taking place when hydrogen is introduced into steel.
Now the School of Mathematics and Physics is hosting the first annual meeting of the Consortium on 16-18 April and we are pleased to welcome our European Partners to Belfast.
ASTRIUM, an EADS company
voestalpine Stahl GmbH
Universidad de Salamanca
ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe
The National Physical Laboratory
Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Receiving her Queen’s Centenary Gold Medal from William Crawley and Professor Ellen Douglas-Cowie is first year mathematics student Michelle McGlone. Michelle was the best performing student in the Leaving Certificate and was also awarded a STEM Scholarship
A Queen’s University scientist has been chosen to lead an international €2.3million hunt to discover how the first chemical elements were created in the Universe.
Professor Stephen Smartt, Director of the Astrophysics Research Centre in the School of Maths and Physics will begin a five year research project in April to examine how chemical elements were created in the Universe and try to find the first ever supernovae, or exploding stars, in the Universe.
The grant, awarded by the European Research Council, is regarded as the most prestigious research grant in Europe for funding Science and Social Sciences.
A PhD student in the Astrophysics Research Centre in the School of Mathematics and Physics has been awarded a grant for her work which could improve the chances of detecting Earth-like planets in the future.
PhD student Heather Cegla has been awarded a prestigious Grant-in-Aid of Research from Sigma-Xi
Emeritus Professor Phil Burke, has been recently awarded the prestigious Will Allis prize from the American Physical Society "for pioneering and sustained theoretical development of R-Matrix computational methods for electron-atom and electron-molecule collisions important in modeling ionized gases and plasmas".
Prof Burke obtained his PhD in theoretical nuclear physics at University College London in 1956 and worked at the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory Berkeley and at the Atomic Energy Research Establishment Harwell before being appointed Professor of Mathematical Physics at Queen's University of Belfast in 1967, where he led research in theoretical atomic, molecular and optical physics.
As well as being a Fellow of the Royal Society and a Member of the Royal Irish Academy, he is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics, the American Physical Society, the Royal Astronomical Society and the European Physical Society.
See this link for more information.
Dr André Xuereb was awarded a prestigious three-year fellowship from the Royal commission for the Exhibition of 1851, starting from November 2011, to work in collaboration with Dr Mauro Paternostro on "nonlinear optomechanics". The young field of optomechanics studies the interactions between light and the motion of small objects such as nano and microfabricated mechanical structures. This work is intended to find new avenues to enforce and expose the quantum-mechanical nature of these systems and build up quantum-empowered sensors for position and motion that will beat the performance of the best of their classical counterparts.
André joined QUB after working as a post-doctoral researcher at Leibniz University in Hannover. He was awarded his PhD from the University of Southampton in 2011, after working with Dr Tim Freegarde.
See this link for more information.
From 2012 the School will be offering new BSc Degrees in Mathematics with Finance, and Physics with Financial Mathematics.
BSc/ MSci and PhD graduates in Mathematics and Physics are particularly valued for their modelling and problem-solving abilities, leadership qualities and technical skills (particularly software development). Globally, the big investment banks all have their quota of physicists and mathematicians, or 'rocket scientists' as they are affectionately known, and the City alone is recruiting at least 100 young PhDs every year. Increasingly, other institutions - high-street banks, financial regulatory bodies, consultancy firms, building societies and insurance companies - are also employing people with a rigorous training in mathematics and physics.
The financial services industry in Northern Ireland employs over 23,000 people. Large global employers such as Citi, NYSE Technologies, Allstate Corporation, Liberty Mutual, Fidessa, PWC, Mercer and Polaris and so on, have important technology groups well established here. There are huge opportunities for Northern Ireland to compete internationally and to harness its resource of top-class mathematical, analytical and computational skills.
The new courses have been designed with input from industry and NI companies such as First Derivatives and aquaQ to ensure that graduates will be highly employable in these areas.
Of course, possessing a Physics or Mathematics degree from a Russell Group University such as Queen's is a valuable asset in its own right. So many of the individual courses taken by students at Queen's will involve studying general mathematics and physics, from vector fields, complex analysis and statistics to atomic and nuclear physics. This will ensure the maximum flexibility for our graduates in the job market.
Professor Ian Williams, Director of Education said "This is a fantastic new opportunity that we are pleased to offer students. The degrees have been created to be intellectually stimulating for students with an eye on the future, both scientifically and financially".
Dr Justyn R Maund has been awarded a Royal Society Research Fellowship for research in the Astrophysics Research Centre.
The prestigious fellowship provides five years of funding for Maund's project to examine how some stars end their lives in explosions called Supernovae. By studying the stars that will explode as Supernovae and the geometries of these explosions, his project aims to determine the nature of the underlying explosion mechanism of these events and identify the extreme physics involved. This project will use some of the most advanced astronomical facilities, including the European Southern Observatory Very Large Telescope and the Hubble Space Telescope.
Prior to coming to QUB, Dr Maund was a post-doctoral scholar at the Dark Cosmology Centre in Copenhagen, University of California Santa Cruz and the University of Texas Austin.
Queen’s astrophysicists have been among the first to congratulate two of their global partners on the award of this year’s Nobel Prize for Physics. Professor Brian Schmidt of the Australian National University and Professor Adam Reiss of Johns Hopkins University have been honoured for their discovery of the accelerating expansion of the universe.
Queen's University Belfast is proud to announce that three of its physics students have been rewarded for their programming skills in the computer language C by NYSE Technologies, who have a centre of excellence in Belfast. NYSE Technologies is a division of NYSE Euronext, a leading global operator of financial markets and provider of innovative trading technologies.
Two students, Rebecca Allen and David Kane, have been awarded scholarships and Matthew Mulhern was awarded a prize for his third year C physics project, which involved quantum mechanical calculations with the Shooting Method. These awards include opportunities for the students to work in the Research and Development Team at NYSE Technologies, led by Glenn McClements.
"Two common themes to programming in physics and financial trading software are speed and the need to handle large volumes of information efficiently" noted Tom Field, who taught these students C programming in Physics at Queen's. "We are delighted with the opportunity to work with NYSE Technologies".
The School of Mathematics and Physics has obtained a Bronze Department Athena SWAN award, one of ten UK science, engineering and technology departments to be recognised in the 2011 Athena SWAN Charter awards. The School's submission was coordinated by Dr Adele Mrshall, who chaired the self-assessment team.
Researchers from Queen’s and Vanderbilt University in Nashville are aiming for the stars with a number of new research collaborations.
Visits by Professors Stephen Smartt and Don Pollacco from Queen’s Astrophysics Research Centre and Professor Keivan Stassun from Vanderbilt to their partner institutions have initiated several research projects and led to the first joint science papers.
A Queen's PhD student with a 'quest for understanding and passion for physics' has won a national award for his research.
Dermot Green from the Centre for Theoretical Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics in the School of Mathematics and Physics was awarded the Rosse Medal by the Institute of Physics (IoP) in Ireland.
The medal, which is awarded to the winner of the postgraduate student poster competion, commemorates the 34d Earl of Rosse, Sir William Parsons, Irish astronomer and builder of 'Leviathan', the largest 19th century reflecting telescope, in Birr, Co Offaly.
Scientists at Queen’s University are playing a key role in a new, national centre of excellence to train the next generation of researchers in technology which could improve cancer therapy and strengthen homeland security.?
Above left and right: The TARANIS laser is a £2M facility capable of delivering two intense laser pulses to either of two separate experimental areas.
The Centre for Plasma Physics has won two grants from EPSRC in February 2011, worth a total of £2.1M.
The first of these is a platform grant led by Prof Ciaran Lewis with Profs Marco Borghesi, Dave Riley, Matt Zepf and Drs Brendan Dromey and Michael Geissler as co-investigators. The grant of £1.4M will underpin high intensity laser-plasma research on the TARANIS laser for 4 years.
The second grant, led by Prof Riley with the same group of colleagues as co-investigators is for £0.7M and is a responsive mode grant to support work on XUV interaction with warm dense matter.