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2010 News

December 6, 2010
UTA News Center
UT Arlington planetarium to premier NASA funded show

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contact: Traci Peterson, (817) 272-9208, tpeterso@uta.edu

ARLINGTON - The Planetarium at The University of Texas at Arlington is using NASA funding to explore the mysteries of Earth’s closest and most important star in “Magnificent Sun,” an original feature film set to premier Thursday.
The 45-minute planetarium show is the third in a series developed by Manfred Cuntz, a UT Arlington associate professor of physics, and the planetarium staff over the past three years. Funding for “Magnificent Sun” came from a $30,000 public outreach supplemental grant from NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Physics program. Cuntz’s research, conducted with solar physicist David Hathaway of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., focuses on the structure of the solar surface, particularly convective patterns.
“As a researcher, I feel it’s not just appropriate to develop and use theoretical work to better understand our sun, but also to offer something to the general public to share information and excitement about solar physics,” Cuntz said. “The planetarium is a nice venue for doing that because it attracts the general public and potential students to UT Arlington.”
The show features solar surface research and lessons on the interaction between the Sun and the Earth. It also provides tidbits on the history of solar physics – all coordinated with stunning animated illustrations.
Cuntz authored the script with Peter Williams, a former doctoral student of Cuntz’s who now works at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, and Marc Rouleau, the previous director of the UT Arlington planetarium.
Levent Gurdemir, the planetarium’s current director, said developing original planetarium shows allows UT Arlington to highlight the valuable research under way at the University.
“The sun is the star we know best, but it still has many mysteries,” Gurdemir said. “If we understand the sun, we can better understand other stars.”
Planetarium staff, led by program coordinator Amy Barraclough, spent about a year working countless hours on the new show. Other contributors to the “Magnificent Sun” included animation specialist Ron Proctor, Dome3D LLC and Northern Kentucky University, which provided animations of Chaco Canyon, New Mexico.
Dome3D developed the popular SpacePark360 planetarium show that features numerous roller coaster simulations.
With a 60-foot diameter dome and state of the art Digistar 4 DLP Projection system, the planetarium at UT Arlington is one of the largest and most sophisticated in the state of Texas.
The first show developed at UT Arlington through NASA funding, “Cosmic CSI: Looking for Life in the Universe,” was finished in 2007 and the second, which focused on NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), opened in 2009. All three shows will be available for distribution to other planetariums across the U.S. in 2011.
Thursday’s premier begins at 6 p.m. It is free and open to the public, but space is limited. This is the only chance to see “Magnificent Sun” this year. It will appear on the planetarium’s regular schedule in Spring 2011.
The UTA Planetarium also is showing three new entertainment shows in December, Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon,” “The Wall” and “Wish You Were Here,” and two holiday shows, Season of Light and Holiday Music Magic. For more information on those shows, visit www.uta.edu/planetarium/.
The University of Texas at Arlington is a comprehensive undergraduate and graduate research institution of 33,000 students in the heart of North Texas. Visit www.uta.edu to learn more.

 


September 29, 2010
UTA News Center
UT Arlington astronomers take a fresh look at previously suggested planet

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contact: Traci Peterson, (817) 272-9208, tpeterso@uta.edu

ARLINGTON - Work by a team of University of Texas at Arlington astronomers could significantly broaden astrophysicists' search for planets in other solar systems by changing the way they think about the orbiting bodies.
If correct, the findings could increase the opportunities for the discovery of new planets in candidate systems.
The paper by Manfred Cuntz, UT Arlington associate professor of physics, and Jason Eberle, a doctoral candidate from UT Arlington, is being published Oct. 1 in the American Astronomical Society's Astrophysical Journal Letters. "On the reality of the suggested planet in the ν Octantis System" is already available online. In the paper, the two scientists explore the possible existence of a proposed planet in a binary star system 69 light years, or 400 trillion miles, from Earth.
Based on six years of data, observers have suggested a planet may exist in the ν Octantis system, a star system visible only from the southern half of the globe, particularly from Antarctica. The observing technique is based on radial velocity variations or RV readings of the orbiting planet's effect on its host star - a slight wobble created by the planet's pull. Surprisingly, the planet of the system seemed to be outside of the commonly accepted zone where such an orbit could exist without disruption from the gravitational force of the second star in the binary system, Cuntz said.
Eberle and Cuntz examined the data by performing detailed time-dependent simulations of orbital stability.  They concluded there is a significant chance that the planet is indeed able to exist but in a retrograde orbit. A retrograde orbit means the planet is orbiting the primary star in a different direction compared to the orbit of the secondary star. This would allow for a wider area of orbital stability, the study says.
Such an orbit is previously unheard of for a planet in an extrasolar planetary system, but this type of orbit occurs for some moons of planets in our Solar System. If confirmed, the existence of such a planet would significantly enhance the search for planets in multiple stellar systems, including the search for those that could potentially support life, according to Cuntz.
"If our theoretical studies turn out to be applicable to the ν Octantis system, they will provide evidence for the first case of a planet in a retrograde orbit in a stellar binary system," said Cuntz. Previously, retrograde planetary orbits have been detected for planets around single stars in regard to the stellar rotational axis.
The research team's findings are likely to gain attention, according to another expert in the field.
"The results of Eberle and Cuntz are important for the big hot topic of astronomy, namely extrasolar planets, and especially interesting for the dynamics of planets in double stars," said Rudolf Dvorak, a professor at the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Vienna. "Note that in the solar neighborhood more than 60 percent of the stars are not single."
Cuntz and Eberle's study says there is still a slim chance that the suggested planet is in a prograde orbit, traveling in the same direction as the primary star's partner star. This is highly unlikely, as it would require detailed assumptions concerning the orbital parameters of the planet.
The existence of a planet in ν Octantis was first suggested by a research team led by David Ramm of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand.

 


September 23, 2010
UTA News Center
UT Arlington professors awarded $1.3 million to develop nanomaterials for homeland security

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contact: Traci Peterson, (817) 272-9208, tpeterso@uta.edu

ARLINGTON - The National Science Foundation and U.S. Department of Homeland Security have awarded more than $1.3 million to a team of UT Arlington researchers who will spend the next five years exploring ways to develop various nanoparticles for radiation detection.
Their research could lead to a new type of radiation detector that would help reduce the threat of nuclear materials being brought into the country illegally and used in terrorism.
Physics Assistant Professor Wei Chen, the principal investigator, and Professor Andrew Brandt, the co-principal investigator, will lead the research efforts. The nanocomposites designed for radiation detection are polymer thin films embedded with luminescence nanoparticles.  These nanocomposites will glow with light when they encounter radiation sources, such as gamma rays. 
 "The broader impact of this proposal is potentially enormous," Chen said. "Development of more effective uranium detections devices could be of immeasurable benefit to society if it were to help deter or prevent a nuclear incident."
Luminescent detection devices - called scintillators - currently used in baggage handling and shipping situations are expensive and difficult to build, Chen said. The new method would be relatively inexpensive, easier to build and provide quicker, more accurate results. 
"The unique aspect of this proposal is that the nanoparticles are formed into hybrid ‘crystals' that combine the high stopping power and excellent energy resolution of crystals with the potentially high quantum efficiency and short decay lifetimes associated with nanoparticles," Brandt said. 
Once tested and demonstrated, the new detectors could cost about $25 for a crystal that is about one centimeter wide and 10 centimeters long.
"The low price would make these nanoparticles competitive with other detector options, especially when combined with the prospects of higher sensitivity for radiation detection," Chen said.
Other UT Arlington researchers involved in the new grant are Alex Weiss, professor and chair of the physics department; Lynn Peterson, professor and associate dean of the College of Engineering; Ratan Kumar, senior lecturer in mechanical and aerospace engineering; and Rasool Kenarangui, senior lecturer in electrical engineering.  Also involved in the project are senior scientists Alan G. Joly and Brian Milbrath from the U.S. Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
The grant builds on a 2007 NSF/Homeland Security $355,798 grant obtained by Chen and Brandt in 2007.
The National Science Foundation is providing $253,000 in first-year funding for the new project. The remaining four years will be supported through Homeland Security.
In addition to their research, the team will be including an educational outreach component. Lectures, seminars and an annual symposium are planned to spark student interest in research and promote the idea that nanotechnology, high-energy physics and nuclear engineering can work in concert to further homeland security.
Collaborations between multiple disciplines are on the rise at UT Arlington, an institution of nearly 33,000 students with a rapidly escalating research profile. For more about UT Arlington, visit www.uta.edu.

 


August 20, 2010
UTA News Center
UT Arlington professor honored for scientific achievement and work with underrepresented minority students

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contact: Traci Peterson, (817) 272-9208, tpeterso@uta.edu

ARLINGTON - The Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science will award UT Arlington physics professor Ramon Lopez its 2010 Distinguished Scientist Award, the group announced this week. He was one of five honorees from across the country recognized for their "exemplary scientific achievement, teaching, and mentorship of underrepresented minority students."
Lopez leads a research group in the College of Science that focuses on both space physics and science education. He has long worked to draw more students into science and technology fields, with a particular connection to Hispanic American youth.
"That community is underrepresented in science for a whole host of reasons," Lopez said. "If the United States as a  country is going to maintain a strong technology-based society we are going to have to, in the future, draw from groups that have not traditionally gone on to science careers."
Among his many activities, Lopez is co-principal investigator for Arlington Undergraduate Research-based Achievement for STEM or AURAS. That program, which is funded by nearly $2 million from the National Science Foundation, has teamed faculty from the Colleges of Engineering and Science to address retention rates for first- and second-year students. Lopez is also the co-director of UTeach Arlington, a new program aimed at increasing the number of science and math teachers UT Arlington graduates.
Lopez is a fellow of the American Physical Society and served as director of education and outreach for that organization from 1994-1999. He also chaired the APS forum on education in 2005. He is the author or coauthor of more than 120 publications, including the book "Storms from the Sun."
The University of Texas at Arlington is a comprehensive undergraduate and graduate research institution in the heart of North Texas. Lopez joined UT Arlington in 2007 and is representative of the dynamic faculty working to educate a projected 30,000 or more students this year.

 


August 9, 2010
Physics Department
Fourth ATLAS Physics Workshop of the Americas
Meeting held at UT Arlington August 9th - 11th. This is the next meeting in the series formerly known as the North American Physics Workshops held in Tucson, Toronto, Boston, SLAC, Vancouver and NYU and is jointly organized by Canada, Latin America, and U.S.A.
Meeting information is available here.


July 8, 2010
UTA Communications
Professor's calculations land slugger in Rangers' record book
Physics Professor Andrew Brandt recently helped Texas Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton come away with the longest home run in the 17-year history of the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. "The Rangers contacted the UTA Physics Department asking us to look into the discrepancy between the 468 feet estimated by the Rangers and the 485 feet measured by Hit Tracker," Dr. Brandt says. Brandt consulted with representatives at Hit Tracker, an independent website, and Professor Alan Nathan, a physics colleague at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
"After Alan and I discussed the home run, he was able to get the initial velocity from SportsVision Inc. using cameras that are typically used to measure the incoming pitch location" Brandt says. "This additional constraint allowed further optimization of the trajectory and gave a distance closer to 495 feet." The team decided to use whatever Brandt said as the official estimate. "After further discussions and taking in account all the uncertainties, I decided to average the distances and obtained 490 feet." On Saturday, Brandt announced the distance at the ballpark in front of reporters and an appreciative Hamilton.
UTA Communications

May 12, 2010
UTA News Release
Professor of Physics Awarded International Research Prize

Dr. Zdzislaw Musielak, a professor at the Physics Department, has received a Research Award from the prestigious Alexander von Humboldt Foundation of Germany. Professor Musielak will conduct his research at the Kiepenheuer Institute in Freiburg, Germany, for 3 months this summer, collaborating with researchers there and others at the University of Freiburg and the University of Heidelberg. This research prize rewards Musielak for outstanding achievements in the field of astrophysics and resulted from the nominations by three German research institutions. Dr. Musielak is the recipient of the prestigious Humboldt Prize received in 1997, and for successful accomplishments, he also received an additional Humboldt Follow-up Research Award in 2005.
The Humboldt Prize is an award given by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation to internationally renowned scientists and scholars. Nominations must be submitted by established academics in Germany.


May 10, 2010
Fort Worth Business Press
UTA professor developing nanomedicine for cancer

March 31, 2010
UTA News Center
Physics professor sheds new lights on prostate cancer treatment

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contact: Sue Stevens, Senior Media Relations Officer, (817) 272-2761, sstevens@uta.edu

ARLINGTON - A University of Texas at Arlington physics professor contends that photodynamic therapy, which has been used successfully in treating skin cancers, may be an effective treatment for prostate cancer.
Wei Chen, an assistant physics professor, is researching a new photodynamic therapy system that uses light generated by long-lasting afterglow nanoparticles. The research is funded by a $324,529 grant from the Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs. In 2009, Chen received a $472,000 grant from the same program to do similar research on breast cancer.
"Dr. Chen is at the forefront of developing new targeted therapies to treat cancer," said Ronald Elsenbaumer, UT Arlington's vice president for research and federal relations. "And, it is exciting to see our faculty discover innovative ways to improve lives."
The nanoparticles are joined with photosensitizers that can produce a toxin called singlet oxygen. The combined nanopartical and photosensitizers are coated with targeting molecules which can recognize cancer cells. When the combination is targeted to the tumor cells, the light from the nanoparticles activates the photosensitizers to produce a toxin, which destroys tumor cells. No external light is required for treatment. That means the therapy can be used to treat deep tumors, such as prostate cancer, because the light source is attached to the photosensitizers and they are delivered together to the tumor cells.
Chen said the first step is to develop optimal control of particle characteristics such as afterglow efficiency and longevity. The nanoparticles will be rigorously characterized and tested for photodynamic activation to include efficacy and toxicity in cultures of cells produced in petri dishes, as well as in live animal studies. The ultimate goal is to make this new technology available to help patients to fight cancers.
The grant is for the work at UT Arlington, but Chen and his research group are collaborating with a number of international scientists. They include Dr. Xiankai Sun, Dr. Timothy Solberg, Dr. Jinming Gao and Dr. Jer-Tsong Hsieh from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Dr. Petras Juzenas from Norwegian Radium Hospital, Oslo, Norway, and Dr. Syed F. Ali from the Food and Drug Administration's National Center for Toxicological Research and Dr. Alan Joly from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
Chen's research is representative of the biomedical research programs that are propelling UT Arlington on its mission of becoming a nationally recognized research institution.
Chen received his doctorate from Peking University in China in 1992 and joined the faculty at UT Arlington in 2006. He recently edited a three-volume set book on drug delivery through nanomaterials and nanodevices that was published in February by American Scientific Publisher.


March 4, 2010
Physics Department
Physics Professor published an important edited book in Nanotechnology

A three volume set book ‘Doped Nanomaterials and Nanodevices’ edited by Dr. Wei Chen, an assistant professor in Nano-Bio Physics, was published by American Scientific Publisher (www.aspbs.com) in February, 2010.
Doped Nanomaterials and Nanodevices
The book summarizes research activities into the fundamental properties and applications of doped nanomaterials. Much attention has been focused on nanomaterials in order to take advantage of their unique properties resulting from quantum size confinement and surface effects. Quantum size confinement affects the energy structure and physical properties of doped nanomaterials and nanodevices. Luminescence phenomena are being investigated extensively in doped nanoparticles, with the hope of finding applications in optical storage, radiation detection, infrared detection, and dosimetry. Near-infrared and upconversion luminescence nanoparticles are particularly promising for biological imaging because auto-fluorescence can be overcome and higher imaging resolutions can be obtained. Doped insulator nanomaterials including carbon nanotubes represent a new type of high-efficiency luminescent material. As a new kind of biological labeling agent, insulator nanoparticles are less toxic than semiconductor nanoparticles and are promising for cancer detection, diagnosis, and treatment. Doped nanomaterials are expected to make significant contributions to nanotechnology for practical applications in the fields of electronics, photonics, optics, homeland security, and medical sciences. The book contains state-of-the-art review chapters focused on different aspects of doped nanomaterials and their based nanodevices.
The book has 32 chapter and is divided into three volumes. Volume 1: Luminescence and Applications Volume 2: Photonics and Nanodevices Volume 3: Quantum Dots, Nanowires, Nanotubes, and Applications. This is a very important and comprehensive book for readers who are interested in nanoscience and nanotechnology.


February 4, 2010
UTA News Center
Physicists awarded grants to study magnetosphere, collider

Yue Deng and Amir Farbin, assistant professors of physics in the College of Science, have received early career grants from the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy, respectively.
Dr. Deng's five-year, $462,000 grant is for her study of energy output from the magnetosphere—space around the earth controlled by the earth's magnetic field—and its impact on the earth's upper atmosphere.
"It is vital to understand the variability within this critical region of our atmosphere so that scientists can predict its effects on satellite tracking and power grids," she says.
Dr. Farbin's award is one of only three granted to university researchers working with the Large Hadron Collider near Geneva, Switzerland. "One of the biggest mysteries about the universe is that, for decades, conclusive evidence has shown that the familiar matter constitutes just a tiny fraction of all energy/mass in existence," he says.
A total of 69 scientists in the United States received the five-year grants, which provide at least $150,000 each year in research support.

Read more about Deng's and Farbin's awards and research.


January 28, 2010
UTA News Center
Physicist collaborates on radiation detection for homeland security

Wei Chen, assistant professor of physics, is a collaborator with Agilitron Inc. researchers on a $750,000 grant from the Department of Defense Threat Reduction Agency for research on bulk composite materials for detection of gamma radiation.
A subcontract of $200,264 was awarded to the University's nano-bio physics group for the design and synthesis of scintillation nanoparticles for radiation detection.
The detection principle is based on the luminescence of the nanoparticles and quantum dots when they interact with radiation rays such as gamma-rays. These nanocomposite materials are more sensitive, more stable and even cheaper than traditional scintillation crystals for radiation detection.
The research relates to homeland security and the need to detect nuclear weapons and radiological dispersal devices, known as dirty bombs.
http://www.uta.edu/ucomm/mediarelations/press/2010/01/Physics-gets-grant.php


January 25, 2010
Physics Department
News Item

An article appeared in this week's issue of the ATLAS e-news about the distributed analysis user support in which Research Assistant Professor Nurcan Ozturk has a leading role. With the restart of the Large Hadron Collider's (LHC) operations on November 20th, 2009 at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Switzerland, an exciting era has started for ATLAS which is one of the four detectors at the LHC.
In this era, user support has become a challenging task. With many new people starting on analysis, the user support task is to ensure that each and everyone is able to analyze the collision data distributed among hundreds of computing sites worldwide. The Distributed Analysis Support Team is a team of experts forming the front line for all help requests on distributed data analysis. Postdoctoral Researcher Alden Stradling is also a member of this team.
Read more about the article here.

 

 

2009 News

December 10, 2009
News Release
Planetarium offers preview of 2010 NASA mission

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media contact: Sue Stevens, Senior Media Relations Officer, 817-272-2761, sstevens@uta.edu

ARLINGTON - The public is invited to make the Planetarium at UT Arlington part of their holiday celebrations. In addition to two holiday shows, "Season of Light" and "Holiday Music Magic," star gazers can get an advance look at NASA's new Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), which will begin operations in 2010. The original planetarium show will run at 1:30 p.m. Sundays and 5:30 p.m. Tuesdays in the planetarium, 700 Planetarium Place.
The production was funded by a NASA grant and produced by The University of Texas at Arlington planetarium staff led by Levent Gurdemir. It showcases the mission with its new infrared 2.5 meter (100 inch) telescope housed in a refurbished Boeing 747SP aircraft. SOFIA will climb to altitudes up to 45,000 feet. Attaining high altitudes will enable it to leave behind 99 percent of the water vapor that restricts the capabilities of ground-based observatories over most of the infrared spectral range.
"The show contains breathtaking features about the observational potential of SOFIA, encompassing objects in the solar system, extra-solar planets, star formation regions and newborn galaxies of the early universe," said Manfred Cuntz, associate professor of physics. Cuntz was principal investigator on the grant provided by the Universities Space Research Association, among other entities, that allowed producing the show.
Tickets are $5 for adults, $4 for age 65 and older and children under 18 or non-UT Arlington college students. Groups of 10 or more with reservations are $3 a person. During the holiday season, the planetarium will give a $1 discount on each ticket with the donation of a can of food for a needy family. The planetarium will be closed Dec. 24, 25 and 31, as well as Jan. 1. Visit www.uta.edu/planetarium for more information


November 23, 2009
News Release
UT Arlington assists in world's ‘most complex experiment’

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media contact: Timothy R. Brown, (817) 272-9208, trbrown@uta.edu

ARLINGTON - The world's largest scientific experiment, housed 100 meters underground in a man-made cavern near Geneva, Switzerland, is finally operational with an assist from UT Arlington physics professors and graduate students.
The protons collided Monday for the first time in the Large Hadron Collider at The European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, outside Geneva. The massive particle accelerator is designed to re-create conditions shortly after the universe was created in the Big Bang, giving scientists an opportunity to study how the universe evolved some 14 billion years ago.
The LHC uses around 1,200 superconducting magnets to bend proton beams in opposite directions around a 17-mile-long tunnel at close to the speed of light. After more than a year of repairs from electrical overheating damage, beams were circulating in the collider.
More than 1,700 scientists, engineers, students, and technicians from 97 universities in the United States and national laboratories helped design and build the LHC accelerator and its four massive particle detectors, known by their acronyms: ALICE, ATLAS, CMS and LHCb.
Portions of ATLAS, a giant microscope, were built at UT Arlington and shipped to Geneva. ATLAS is a gargantuan measuring device that helps record the results of hundreds of millions of proton collisions. ATLAS is the size of a football field and more than eight stories high. The parts of ATLAS built at UT Arlington were shipped in 135 half-ton boxes to Geneva.
"This is a once in a lifetime moment," UT Arlington physics professor Kaushik De said. "We have been working on getting to this point for 15 years." 
Beams were first tuned to produce collisions in the ATLAS detector, which recorded what scientists called its first "candidate for collisions" at 2:22 p.m. Monday in Switzerland. These collisions were at a much lower energy, but proved that the LHC is working well after the shutdown. Eventually, the collisions will occur at more than 14 times the energy achieved Monday.
De said collaborators in the control room at CERN immediately saw the first picture from ATLAS. Within a very short time, the pictures were shared all over the world and were seen at UT Arlington. 
"That was exciting. It has been over two years now that we have been waiting for the machine to become operational," he said "We finished assembling the final pieces of ATLAS three years ago and we have been waiting ever since." 
An estimated 8,500 scientists, engineers, technicians and their colleagues from 59 countries have worked on the LHC project. De said the LHC and the detectors cost about $10 billion.
In ATLAS, physicists in more than 30 counties and 100 laboratories participated in what De called "the most complex experiment ever attempted."
Next on the schedule is increasing the beam intensity and accelerating the beams. Officials hope to have enough information by Christmas to tune the LHC collision data at more than seven times the current bean energy by early next year.
More information about the U.S. participation in the LHC project and its experiments is available at http://www.uslhc.us. Photos and graphics of the Large Hadron Collider are available at:

http://multimedia-gallery.web.cern.ch/multimedia-gallery/PhotoGallery_Main.aspx and http://www.uslhc.us.


November 19, 2009
News Release
UT Arlington physicists explain the ‘Great Oxidation of Earth's Atmosphere’

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media contact: Sue Stevens, Senior Media Relations Officer, 817- 272-2761, sstevens@uta.edu

ARLINGTON - New research by University of Texas at Arlington physicists sheds light on "The Great Oxidation of Earth's Atmosphere" or how oxygen developed.
Understanding the development of oxygen is important for two reasons, according to Manfred Cuntz, associate professor of physics. First, understanding how the Earth's atmosphere attained its current oxygen level is crucial to understanding the origin and evolution of complex life forms. Second, knowing how oxygen developed in Earth's atmosphere will help scientists interpret the atmospheric chemistry signatures of other Earth-like planets and their potential for supporting alien life.
Cuntz, along with Physics Professor Zdzislaw Musielak and former graduate student Dipanjan Roy developed a theoretical model, published in the Nov. 20, 2009, issue of "The Astrophysical Journal Letters, " to explain the rise of oxygen that occurred about 2.4 billion years ago at a time when only very primitive life forms were able to exist.
Scientists think that the universe was created by the Big Bang almost 14 billion years ago, and its first gases were only hydrogen and helium. Early gases in Earth's atmosphere such as carbon dioxide and methane were supplied by volcanism. The level of life-supporting oxygen, created by photosynthesis, was less than one part in 100,000 of its present atmospheric level until about 2.4 billion years ago. It then jumped to about 1 percent of its present level, a 1,000-fold increase, and thereafter slowly rose to its current level.
There is a scientific debate over whether the increase occurred relatively smoothly or whether there were well-pronounced ups and downs, which scientists call "the yo-yo model." The results of the UT Arlington research clearly argue against the yo-yo model and favor a more steady increase of Earth's oxygen level.
Cuntz said the rise of the early Earth oxygen level involves a broad variety of aspects including atmospheric chemistry, geobiology and planetary science.  Tools of study range from the analysis of mathematical differential equations, the focus of the work at UT Arlington, to considering analyses of ancient rocks. Stones are embedded with small pockets of gas, Cuntz said. The age of the rock, along with the gases embedded in it, provides a picture of what the atmosphere was like at that time.
This research is an example of the groundbreaking research UT Arlington professors and graduate students are engaged in as the University is becoming a nationally-recognized Tier One institution.


November 10, 2009
Department News
Nano-Bio Physics group collaborates with Agiltron Inc. on Radiation Detection For homeland security
Dr. Wei Chen as a collaborator, along with Dr. King Wang (principal investigator and Vice President), Dr. Guiquan Pan and Dr. Jinsong Huang (key investigators) at Agiltron Inc. were awarded a Phase-II SBIR grant of $750,000 from DOD Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) for research on Bulk Composite Materials For Detection of Gamma Radiation. A subcontract of $200,264 is awarded to UTA Nano-Bio Physics group for the design and synthesis of scintillation nanoparticles for radiation detection.


October 30, 2009
Department News
Physics Research Faculty announced as the Deputy Coordinator of U.S. ATLAS Distributed Analysis Operations
Research Assistant Professor Nurcan Ozturk has been announced as the Deputy Coordinator to coordinate U.S. ATLAS Distributed Analysis Operations. ATLAS (A Toroidal LHC Apparatus) is an experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland. The first proton beams are expected to circulate in the LHC in approximately mid-November this year after a magnet failure incident in September 2008. As ATLAS physicists quickly approach data taking it becomes a very important task to ensure that each physicists is able to analyze ATLAS data distributed among hundreds of computing sites worldwide. Ozturk has played an active role in distributed analysis operations and user analysis support starting in early 2008 for major activities like FDR (Final Dress Rehearsal), STEP09 (Scale Testing for the Experiment Program 09) and ongoing UAT (User Analysis Test). She has given several tutorials in Analysis Jamborees and organized training sessions to help distributed analysis users to actively participate in LHC physics analysis. She will continue to coordinate Distributed Analysis support shifts, user analysis stress tests, will help users of U.S. ATLAS facilities with analysis operations issues as well as will monitor and validate analysis sites.


October 13, 2009
UT Arlington News Center
Physics professor sheds new lights on breast cancer treatment
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contact: Sue Stevens, 817-272-3317, sstevens@uta.edu
ARLINGTON - A University of Texas at Arlington physics professor believes photodynamic therapy, which has been used successfully in treating skin cancers, may be an effective treatment for breast cancer. With the help of a $472,000 grant from the Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs, Wei Chen is researching a new photodynamic therapy activated by long-lasting afterglow nanoparticles. Chen, an assistant physics professor, proposes a new therapy system that uses light generated by afterglow nanoparticles. The nanoparticles are joined with photosensitizers that can produce a toxin called singlet oxygen. The combined nanopartical and photosensitizers are coated with targeting molecules that can recognize cancer cells. When the combination is targeted to the tumor cells, light from the nanoparticles activates the photosensitizers to produce the toxin, which destroys tumor cells. No external light is required for treatment. That means the therapy can be used to treat deep tumors, such as breast cancer, because the light source is attached to the photosensitizers and they are delivered together to the tumor cells. Chen said the first step is to develop optimal control of particle characteristics, such as afterglow efficiency and longevity. The nanoparticles will be rigorously characterized and tested for photodynamic activation to include efficacy and toxicity in cultures of cells produced in petri dishes as well as in live animal studies. The ultimate goal is to make this new technology available to help patients to fight cancers. Chen has formed a team with national and international researchers. Collaborators for the project are Dr. Xiankai Sun from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Dr. Alan G. Joly from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory; Dr. Petras Juzenas from Norwegian Radium Hospital, Oslo, Norway and Dr. Syed F. Ali from the Food and Drug Administration's National Center for Toxicological Research.


Septemeber 14, 2009
UT Arlington Mavwire
Physics professor to unravel the mysteries of matter
Physics Professor Kaushik De will lecture about "The Mysterious Matter" from noon-1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 16, in the Central Library sixth floor parlor. Physicists have a good model to describe the fundamental particles and forces in the universe. The Standard Model of particle physics has been measured and confirmed repeatedly during the past 50 years. Yet, some of the most fundamental questions have remained unanswered. What is mass? Why is most of the matter in the universe invisible? In his talk, Dr. De will explore how the ATLAS experiment will probe questions like these for the next decade. The presentation is free and open to all. A reception will follow the talk.


July 1, 2009
UT Arlington Today
Rehearsal proves world's largest computing grid is ready
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contact: Sue Stevens, 817- 272-3317, sstevens@uta.edu
ARLINGTON - The world's largest computing grid, with a major center at The University of Texas at Arlington, has passed its most comprehensive tests to date in anticipation of the restart of the world's most powerful particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland. CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, is the world's leading laboratory for particle physics. The successful dress rehearsal proves that the Worldwide LHC Computing Grid (WLCG) is ready to analyze and manage real data from the massive machine. The University of Texas at Arlington is a vital partner in the development and operation of the WLCG, and Physics Professor Kaushik De is the U.S computing coordinator for the ATLAS experiment, one of four experiments at CERN.
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June 24, 2009
UT Arlington Today
Physicist granted two NSF grants
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contact: Sue Stevens, 817-272-3317, sstevens@uta.edu
ARLINGTON - University of Texas at Arlington Physics Professor Ramon Lopez has been awarded two grants totaling almost $1 million from the National Science Foundation.
Dr. Ramon Lopez The first grant, totaling $519,000, provides scholarships for community college students with demonstrated financial need who want to major in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The program begins immediately and expires May 31, 2014. Lopez will be assisted in the project by UT Arlington Professor Martin Pomerantz and Gary Smith, dean of science at Tarrant County Community College Northeast, as well as additional faculty from UT Arlington and the Tarrant County College District.
"Our partnership with TCCD will identify, nurture, and develop the kind of scientific talent that our country needs." Lopez said.
The second grant is valued at $402,976 and titled "Solar Wind Energy Transfer to Geospace during Periods with Large Transverse Interplanetary Magnetic Field." Lopez said the grant will support research to study a new mechanism by which energy from the solar wind can affect Earth's upper atmosphere, which in turn has an impact on things like spacecraft orbits. The award is effective July 1 and runs through June 30, 2013.


May 7, 2009
UT Arlington Communications
Planetarium gets NASA designation
The Planetarium at UT Arlington has been designated as a member of the NASA Museum Alliance, which entitles it to use a special NASA logo and send staff members to space launches. NASA's Museum Alliance is a nationwide network of informal educators at museums, science centers and planetariums that present NASA information to their local audiences. Begun in 2002 as the Mars Museum Visualization Alliance with advisers from a dozen museums, the network has grown to more than 300 people from 200 organizations, including a dozen or so international partners.


April 30, 2009
UT Arlington Communications
Physics Faculty members honored
Faculty honored for research and teaching at spring meeting UT Arlington presented awards for research and teaching Tuesday at the Spring Meeting of the Faculty and Associates in the Bluebonnet Ballroom of the E.H. Hereford University Center.
"You exemplify the progress and promise of UT Arlington," President James D. Spaniolo said as he addressed the group. "There are no limits to what you can achieve, just as there are no limits to our university's future." Awards for Outstanding Research Achievement or Creative Accomplishment went to Kaushik De, professor of physics, and Mary Vaccaro, associate professor of art. This award recognizes faculty members for particularly noteworthy research or creative accomplishment during the past three years.
Receiving the Distinguished Record of Research or Creative Activity awards were James Campbell Quick, professor of management, and Andrew White, professor of physics. This award recognizes a distinguished record of research and scholarship or creative activity over an extended period of time. Cheryl Anderson, associate professor of nursing, received the Chancellor's Council Award for Excellence in Teaching, an award sponsored by the UT System chancellor and given to a member of the faculty for outstanding teaching at the undergraduate level.
Joanna W. Johnson, senior lecturer in English, received the Provost's Award for Excellence in Teaching. The award honors non-tenure track instructors who have demonstrated a record of excellence in teaching, strong personal commitment to students, and the ability to motivate, challenge and inspire. For a full list of award recipients, click here.


April 9, 2009
UT Arlington Today
Accolades
UT Arlington physics and planetarium representatives spoke on various aspects of astronomy April 4 at Mountain View College in Dallas. Dr. Nilakshi Veerabathina, a physics lecturer; Aurelian Balan, an astronomy lab supervisor; and Amy Barraclough, program coordinator at The Planetarium, were invited to speak as part of the 100 Hours of Astronomy, an International Year of Astronomy event. The MVC presentations were well received by the audience, which included college students, school children, college professors and area residents.


February 13, 2009
UT Arlington Today
NASA images added to UT Arlington Planetarium
Mural-sized images of stars, solar systems, black holes and other aspects of space will be unveiled by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 17, at the UT Arlington Planetarium atrium, 700 Planetarium Place. The murals are part of the “Great Observatories” exhibit by NASA, in celebration of the International Year of Astronomy and the 400th anniversary of Galileo turning his telescope to the heavens. The images, which will be on permanent display, come from the Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra X-ray Observatory and Spitzer Space Telescope. Tyson is the director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in New York and host of the PBS educational television show “NOVA scienceNOW.” He will speak as part of the Maverick Speakers Series at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Texas Hall, 701 W. Nedderman Drive. His subject is “The Cosmic Perspective: How the astrophysicists view life, the universe and everything.” The event is free but tickets are required. They may be printed from the Maverick Speakers Series Web site. Read the news release to learn more about Tyson.

 

 

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