Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Building mental muscles through theoretical physics

Date:
December 7, 2010
Source:
Indiana University School of Medicine
Summary:
A student from a suburban Indianapolis high school has co-authored a theoretical physics study. He studied the properties of quantum particles that hop from site to site on a chain in which one site can absorb them and another can emit them, technically known as a PT-symmetric chain. He uses a simplified analogy of a canal to explain the research.

A grant from the D. J. Angus-Scientech Educational Foundation has made it possible for a student from a suburban Indianapolis high school to co-author, along with his mentor and two other scientists, a theoretical physics study in a top tier peer-reviewed scientific journal, a paper which has been selected for rapid communication due to its importance to the field.

"It is extremely rare for a high school student to be a co-author on a physics paper. Statistics on this aren't available, but it is likely less than 1 paper in 1,000, that's one tenth of one percent of physics research papers, has a high school co-author. It is unusual even for upper class undergraduates to publish in physics. This is usually the province of graduate students and faculty," said Andrew Gavrin, Ph.D., chairman of the Department of Physics at the School of Science at Indiana University -- Purdue University Indianapolis.

Published in Physical Review A, "Robust and Fragile PT-symmetric Phases in a Tight-binding Chain," was authored by Guerin Catholic High School senior Mark Babbey, along with IUPUI graduate student Derek Scott, Avadh Saxena, Ph.D. of Los Alamos National Laboratory and IUPUI assistant professor of physics Yogesh Joglekar, Ph.D., who led the study and mentored Babbey.

"Although theoretical physics research has traditionally been beyond the capability of beginning physics students and usually not tackled until the graduate level, the advent of new mathematical computing software with good user interfaces has enabled bright high-school and undergraduate students to carry out original research," said Joglekar, who was the recipient of a 2009 Indiana University Trustee's Teaching Award.

Joglekar studied the properties of quantum particles that hop from site to site on a chain in which one site can absorb them and another can emit them, technically known as a PT-symmetric chain. He uses a simplified analogy of a canal to explain the research.

A canal without tributaries has a constant flow of water. If a canal has one tributary carrying water in and one distributary carrying water out of it, the water flow in the canal will depend upon the distance between them and their sizes. With Babbey's assistance on the mathematical facets of the problem, Joglekar looked for the critical values of the tributary size and distance, below which the new system (a canal with a tributary and distributary) functions as the old one (just a canal).

With only a high-school level mathematical background, Babbey developed a MATLAB code under Joglekar's mentorship. Together they came up with a wide "U" shaped phase-diagram that, in the canal analogy, showed the relation between the constant-flow region and the distance between the tributary and the distributary. This diagram spurred further interest in and enabled theoretical analysis of the PT-symmetric chain problem.

"We constructed a new model with properties that had not been previously explored. Although we didn't do this with a practical application in mind, a possible application might include novel optical or electrical devices," said Joglekar. "Going back to the canal analogy, and to oversimplify, we were not just calculating water flow, we were also calculating a variety of flow characteristics such as the water velocities at the inlet and outlet."

"Although I only had one year of high-school physics and had to learn a lot of math on the fly over the summer to do the work, it was an amazing experience and I couldn't have asked for a better opportunity. Working in a real lab, on a real project that had never been attempted before sparked my interest. This wasn't a textbook lab exercise that every other physics student had done before; this was research. Both graduate student Derek Scott, who helped me understand the math and checked my work, and Dr. Joglekar, who patiently explained to me the concepts and the importance of what we were doing, were great mentors," said Babbey, whose high school is located in Noblesville, Ind.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Indiana University School of Medicine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Indiana University School of Medicine. "Building mental muscles through theoretical physics." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 December 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101207121435.htm>.
Indiana University School of Medicine. (2010, December 7). Building mental muscles through theoretical physics. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101207121435.htm
Indiana University School of Medicine. "Building mental muscles through theoretical physics." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101207121435.htm (accessed October 23, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Chameleon Camouflage to Give Tanks Cloaking Capabilities

Chameleon Camouflage to Give Tanks Cloaking Capabilities

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) — Inspired by the way a chameleon changes its colour to disguise itself; scientists in Poland want to replace traditional camouflage paint with thousands of electrochromic plates that will continuously change colour to blend with its surroundings. The first PL-01 concept tank prototype will be tested within a few years, with scientists predicting that a similar technology could even be woven into the fabric of a soldiers' clothing making them virtually invisible to the naked eye. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jet Sales Lift Boeing Profit 18 Pct.

Jet Sales Lift Boeing Profit 18 Pct.

Reuters - Business Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) — Strong jet demand has pushed Boeing to raise its profit forecast for the third time, but analysts were disappointed by its small cash flow. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Internet of Things Aims to Smarten Your Life

Internet of Things Aims to Smarten Your Life

AP (Oct. 22, 2014) — As more and more Bluetooth-enabled devices are reaching consumers, developers are busy connecting them together as part of the Internet of Things. (Oct. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
What Is Magic Leap, And Why Is It Worth $500M?

What Is Magic Leap, And Why Is It Worth $500M?

Newsy (Oct. 22, 2014) — Magic Leap isn't publicizing much more than a description of its product, but it’s been enough for Google and others to invest more than $500M. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins