Anti-Steve: The Week in Review (2/20)

The infant checklist for the electrostatic shield prototype run (see below). Just one small part of this exciting week.
The infant checklist for the electrostatic shield prototype run (see below). Just one small part of this exciting week.

I thought it might be nice to use this blog to . . . you know . . . actually blog. “Blog” is derived from “Web Log,” a journal or log kept by a person but broadcast publicly on the web. So in this week’s inaugural “Anti-Steve” [1], here are some things that happened this week that I found interesting or notable in my own life.

  • I was informed by the Editor-in-Chief of the SMU Rotunda yearbook that I had been nominated as a finalist for the Rotunda Outstanding Professor Award, or ROPA. According to the letter from the Editor, “The award is given to a select number of professors who were nominated by their students/colleagues for their excellence both inside and outside the classroom.” There will be a final decision made by a panel of SMU students, but it was pretty incredible to be nominated by a student for this, it was fun to answer the questionnaire that the Editor sent to me, and I am excited to see how this plays out.
  • It was exam week, which meant that my load of new instruction was reduced and I could focus more on research than teaching for a whole 5 days. I actually managed to finally generate more charged Higgs production cross-section tables for 8TeV and 13TeV LHC running in the so-called “five-flavor scheme” in which one treats the bottom quark as massless and a constituent of the proton. I sent the numbers to my colleague on CMS who will prepare the final tables by combining these numbers with those calculated by a theory colleague using the four-flavor scheme (in which the bottom quark is treated as massive but it not considered to be part of the proton).
  • The control experiment that will be a baseline for our radon daughter contamination mitigation studies at  SMU in the LUMINA Laboratory.
    The control experiment that will be a baseline for our radon daughter contamination mitigation studies at SMU in the LUMINA Laboratory.

    On the research topic, I had a lot of fun in the real lab with student researchers, Matthew and Mayisha, prepping for a run of our prototype electrostatic shield. It’s part of a larger experiment under the direction of my spouse and colleague, Jodi Cooley, to mitigate radon daughter implantation on materials used in sensitive experiments, like neutrinoless double-beta decay or dark matter searches. We are aiming for first results for the LRT conference in Seattle, WA, in late March. Our major problem has been that the power supply we bought doesn’t deliver the needed voltage. The company, United Nuclear, has been awesome and is working quickly with us to swap the bad supply for a new one.

  • Further on the research topic, I had additional fun with my student, Nicole. She has been writing a Monte Carlo simulation of neutrino scattering to see if one can use information from ejected particles at low energy to track to neutrino flight direction. She’s going to present her final results at the SMU Research Fair next week. Assuming we’ve found all the possible issues and problems with the calculation, the results are intriguing and we might want to think about making them more broadly public.
  • My students in PHYS 1308 (Intro to Electricity and Magnetism) had their first exam on Thursday. Seems to have gone about as expected, in terms of how long it took the students to work the exam. Grading will proceed this weekend. Next week we start current and resistance. The lecture video for this was fun to edit together from old lectures of mine and is here:
  • I was invited to a “Professor Dinner”  by one of the SMU sororities. The dinner is next Wednesday night, which is perfect because Jodi teaches until 7:30pm anyway. I’ve been to one of these before, and it’s a nice opportunity to have a dialogue between two parts of the University that are not well-connected: the faculty and the Greek Life organizations. Three students in my class invited me, and it will be a lot of fun to talk with them outside the confines of the classroom environment.
  • Tomorrow is the Dallas Regional Science and Engineering Fair, which SMU sponsors along with a number of partners and for which the Physics Department is the lead organizer, with contributions from a lot of people. Jodi and I will be participating as judges tomorrow.

[1] The Feynman-Stueckelberg interpretation of the antimatter states that appear as half the solutions to the Dirac Equation (the fundamental equation of relativistic quantum mechanics) is that these antimatter solutions can be interpreted as matter solutions moving backward in time. Thus they have the same mass and spin, but opposite charge. An Anti-Steve is just a Steve moving backward in time. In this case, he’s reviewing the week that already happened.

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