June 8, 2022 —
Cole Coughlin and Garrett Kozyniak, Class of 2022, UM Faculty of Science Graduates, have proven a degree in physics, whether theoretical or experimental can be very rewarding.
Coughlin (BSc./22 (Hons.), is off to pursue a master’s program at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, and Kozyniak (BSc./22 (Hons), will pursue a master’s program at UM, developing a non-invasive blood glucose monitoring device for diabetics, with Dr. Can Ming Hu.
Cole Coughlin, Class of 2022
BSc.(Hons.), Computer Science and Physics
What got you interested in Physics?
I would say science communicators like Carl Sagan, and Richard Feynman showed me that physics could lead us to answers to some of the biggest questions we can ask about the universe like did it have a beginning, and what is everything made of? My parents and teachers helped encourage my passion for science and math, and once I learned that being a scientist was a career that I could pursue, computer science and physics became an obvious choice as they were and remain my biggest interests.
Why are you interested in this subject?
I have always been interested in what makes the world tick and was admittedly the kid who would almost never be satisfied with any answer given to me and would keep asking ‘why?’ – until we got so far from the original question we would forget what it was all together. I remember being thrilled at how confusing quantum mechanics is and how the universe seems to behave in such a way that we never could have guessed if we hadn’t been forced to come up with the theory in order to describe what we see. Being a physicist allows me to wonder and learn about the smallest things we know of, and the size of the universe at the same time along with everything in-between. My interest in computer science stems from my love of technology and how it can be used to solve problems that we could not otherwise. Programming has turned out to be an invaluable tool for my studies in physics on top of being one of my favourite creative outlets.
What was the toughest challenge you had to overcome during your degree?
During the first few years of my degree, I had learned that I worked best in social settings that pressured me to focus on studying and my assignments, like the noisy part of the engineering library, or working with friends. When the pandemic moved us online, I had to learn how to rely on myself to motivate me to work and study, which was a challenge, to say the least. I have slowly gotten better at it and I am sure that being able to motivate myself to work when I need to will prove to be a useful skill in the future.
What will you remember the most about your experience at UM?
The Organization of Physics Undergraduate Students is the physics student group at the UM, and through joining and volunteering with the organization I have met some of the most incredible friends anyone could ask for. The friends I met encouraged me to run for vice president, and then president of the organization, which was an experience I am incredibly thankful for. Beyond providing free tutoring for undergraduates and exam cram sessions, OPUS gave me the chance to build a great group of friends to bounce ideas off of and support each other when we needed it most. I can’t wait to see where the friends I made will go and we will no doubt stay in touch far into the future, reminiscing about the good old days cramming for exams and struggling with our theses, and somehow having a great time along the way.
This September, I will be participating in the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, Scholars International Masters Program along with 25 other students from around 20 different countries, in Waterloo, Ontario. This masters program lasts 10 months and promises a fast passed education on all of the wildest concepts in physics, from quantum field theory to cosmology. I am beyond thrilled to be selected for the program and am looking forward to the challenge. After that, I will be looking to start my PhD, in the hopes of becoming a professor of physics one day and conducting my own research, as well as be able to teach and share my excitement about physics.
Advice for future students?
My advice for future students would be to try your best to get involved in the community that you are in. OPUS was there to help me through my degree with support from friends and being able to contribute as an executive of the organization was a rewarding experience. University is difficult, and in my experience much harder alone. So if you can, getting out of your comfort zone and trying to get involved with student groups was scary for me at first, but one of the better decisions I have made.
BSc.(Hons.), Physics and Astronomy
What got you interested in your Physics and Astronomy?
What got me interested in choosing physics as my major is the versatile knowledge gained that is applicable to other fields, such as biology, chemistry, and engineering to name a few. At the same time building essential skills in mathematics, coding, and critical thinking. All in all, a major in physics is very rewarding.
Why are you interested in this subject?
I have always enjoyed building things, especially electronics. Being able to theoretically predict outcomes of a device or contraption that you built, I find to be really powerful and interesting.
What was the toughest challenge you had to overcome during your degree?
Determining which branch of study I was truly passionate about in order to pursue further education. I was always interested in the mysteries and expansiveness of space, which is why I chose a distinction in astrophysics. However, it wasn’t until I took a class that was more hands-on that I found experimental physics to be more satisfying.
What will you remember most about your time at UM?
Since I am returning for graduate studies, what I remember most, so far, is how helpful and carrying my professors are, and their genuine interest in the success of their students. My supervisor is Dr. Can-Ming Hu, and I joined his spintronics lab in the department of physics and astronomy. For my honours thesis project, I used the theory developed by Group Hu to design an enhanced sensor using microwaves that can non-invasively detect blood glucous levels, and hopefully in the future, can be used as a convenient alternative for blood glucose monitoring for diabetics.
The primary reason I decided on this project was that I wanted to make a useful device based on the amazing research found in Dr. Can-Ming Hu’s lab. Eventually, I picked an enhanced sensing application that hadn’t been realized yet using the work done by Group Hu.
I am a planned Master’s student starting in the fall 2022 semester with the Hu research group that I joined during my Honours thesis where I aim to further my thesis work and participate in future research projects. I believe I can learn a lot more from Dr Hu, and his group.
Advice for future students?
Try your best and never give up then you will never disappoint yourself.
5 planets align in night sky for first time in years – CTV News
A rare, five-planet alignment will peak on June 24, allowing a spectacular viewing of Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn as they line up in planetary order.
The event began at the beginning of June and has continued to get brighter and easier to see as the month has progressed, according to Diana Hannikainen, observing editor of Sky & Telescope.
A waning crescent moon will be joining the party between Venus and Mars on Friday, adding another celestial object to the lineup. The moon will represent the Earth’s relative position in the alignment, meaning this is where our planet will appear in the planetary order.
This rare phenomenon has not occurred since December 2004, and this year, the distance between Mercury and Saturn will be smaller, according to Sky & Telescope.
HOW TO VIEW THE ALIGNMENT
Stargazers will need to have a clear view of the eastern horizon to spot the incredible phenomenon, Hannikainen said. Humans can view the planetary show with the naked eye, but binoculars are recommended for an optimal viewing experience, she added.
The best time to view the five planets is in the one hour before sunrise, she said. The night before you plan to view the alignment, check when the sun will rise in your area.
Some stargazers are especially excited for the celestial event, including Hannikainen. She flew from her home west of Boston to a beachside town along the Atlantic Ocean to secure an optimal view of the alignment.
“I’ll be out there with my binoculars, looking towards the east and southeast and crossing all my fingers and toes that it is going to be clear,” Hannikainen said.
You don’t have to travel to catch a glimpse of the action because it will be visible to people around the globe.
Stargazers in the Northern Hemisphere can see the planets from the eastern to southeastern horizon while those in the Southern Hemisphere should look along the eastern to northeastern horizon. The only requirement is a clear sky in the direction of the alignment.
By the next day, the moon will have continued its orbit around the Earth, moving it out of alignment with the planets, she said.
If you miss the five-planet alignment in sequential order, the next one will happen in 2040, according to Sky & Telescope.
There will be seven more full moons in 2022, according to The Old Farmers’ Almanac:
- June 14: Strawberry moon
- July 13: Buck moon
- Aug. 11: Sturgeon moon
- Sept. 10: Harvest moon
- Oct. 9: Hunter’s moon
- Nov. 8: Beaver moon
- Dec. 7: Cold moon
These are the popularized names associated with the monthly full moons, but the significance of each one may vary across Native American tribes.
LUNAR AND SOLAR ECLIPSES
There will be one more total lunar eclipse and a partial solar eclipse in 2022, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac.
Partial solar eclipses occur when the moon passes in front of the sun but only blocks some of its light. Be sure to wear proper eclipse glasses to safely view solar eclipses, as the sun’s light can be damaging to the eye.
A partial solar eclipse on Oct. 25 will be visible to those in Greenland, Iceland, Europe, northeastern Africa, the Middle East, western Asia, India and western China. Neither of the partial solar eclipses will be visible from North America.
A total lunar eclipse will also be on display for those in Asia, Australia, the Pacific, South America and North America on Nov. 8 between 3:01 a.m. ET and 8:58 a.m. ET — but the moon will be setting for those in eastern regions of North America.
Check out the remaining 11 showers that will peak in 2022:
- Southern delta Aquariids: July 29-30
- Alpha Capricornids: July 30-31
- Perseids: Aug. 11-12
- Orionids: Oct. 20-21
- Southern Taurids: Nov. 4-5
- Northern Taurids: Nov. 11-12
- Leonids: Nov. 17-18
- Geminids: Dec. 13-14
- Ursids: Dec. 21-22
If you live in an urban area, you may want to drive to a place that isn’t littered with city lights to get the best view.
Find an open area with a wide view of the sky. Make sure you have a chair or blanket so you can look straight up. And give your eyes about 20 to 30 minutes — without looking at your phone or other electronics — to adjust to the darkness so the meteors will be easier to spot.
June 25: The Quirks & Quarks listener question show – CBC.ca
We end our season with our ever-popular, always riveting Quirks & Quarks Listener Question Show.
Evelyn Campbell in Vancouver, British Columbia asks: If you were out in space and died, would your body decompose?
For the answer we reached out to Daryl Haggard, an astronomer in the Department of Physics at McGill University and the McGill Space Institute. She explained there aren’t any microbes in space that would act to decompose your body, although it would persist in a ‘freeze-dried’ state.
Bernie Buzik from Wainwright, Alberta asks: Why are there concentrations of metals in some areas and not others around the world? Basically — why is there not a concentration of gold in my backyard?
For the answer we turned to Peter Hollings, an NOHFC Industrial Research Chair in Mineral Exploration in the Department of Geology at Lakehead University. He says that where minerals get deposited depends on complex geological processes, and which metals collect in which places has to do with the physical and chemical conditions particular to those substances, which result in concentrations of different metals in different parts of the world.
Bob Ennenberg from Vancouver, B.C. asks: Why can’t the immune system get rid of the herpes viruses like it can with other viruses?
According to Jennifer Corcoran, a virologist at the University of Calgary, herpes viruses have a unique ability to hide from the immune system, whether it’s the chickenpox virus that can later manifest as shingles or one of the herpes simplex viruses that cause recurring mouth or genital sores. Until some kind of stress triggers their reactivation, the viruses essentially remain invisible by not making viral proteins that would otherwise alert the immune system to their presence.
Bill Yates from Lethbridge, Alta. asks: If space is at absolute zero, and the Earth has been racing through it for millions of years, how does the centre of the Earth maintain its heat to remain molten?
There are two reasons why the Earth’s core remains molten under these conditions according to Jesse Rogerson, an astronomer and astrophysicist from York University in Toronto. One is that heat does not escape the planet because the geological plates that cover the surface act as a giant insulating blanket. And the other reason is that the decay or radioactive elements within the Earth provides a constant source of heat.
Sheena Sharp in Toronto, Ontario asks: Why is poop brown in most animals, but white in birds?
For the answer we asked Emma Allen-Vercoe, a professor and Canada Research Chair in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Guelph. She says it comes down to how birds get rid of waste. They only have one waste oriface, called a cloaca, and their equivalent of pee is a white pasty substance. They mostly excrete their poop and pee at the same time, all mixed up in one gross mess.
Doug McDougall, an expat Canadian living in Newcastle, California asks: I watched [the documentary] “The Octopus Teacher” a while ago and I was just really curious: what possible evolutionary advantage can there be to having this animal only laying one batch of eggs before they self-destruct?
To find out why octopus mothers die soon after laying her eggs, we went to Stefan Linquist, an associate professor of philosophy at the University of Guelph who specializes in ecology and genomics and has an interest in octopuses. He said female octopuses stop hunting and eating in order to protecting their eggs from predators and give them best chance of surviving into adulthood, maximizing the chance that her lineage will survive.
James Schoening from Vancouver, B.C. asks: Animations for the new James Webb Space Telescope show that it’s orbiting an empty point in space called the Lagrange 2 Point. How can it do this if there is no actual mass there to gravitationally attract it?
To help explain this far out question, we went to Nathalie Ouellette, an astrophysicist at the University of Montreal and the outreach scientist for the James Webb Space Telescope in Canada. She said to imagine spacetime in the solar system as a big rubber sheet with a big dip in the middle for the Sun and another for Earth that follows its groove all the way around the Sun. The Lagrange points are like flat areas on that rubber sheet where an object like the telescope can stay, like a parking spot in space.
Bill Bean from Kitchener, Ont. asks: The lack of memory of our first years of life is explained, by some, as infantile amnesia. Yet many things learned in this period, like how to speak and how to walk, are not forgotten. Why are some toddler events wiped clean from memory?
We spoke with Myra Fernandes, a professor in cognitive neuroscience at the University of Waterloo. She says the main theory is that the hippocampus, which is where memories are stored, just isn’t developed enough to consolidate memories at that age. Also, at that age the brain is primed to learn through repetition, like how we learn to walk and talk, rather than preserving unique details from a single event.
Elva Kellington from Salt Spring Island, B.C. asks: Is there any similarity in the spinning water around a drain when the plug is pulled, a hurricane and the rotating stars around the black hole in our Milky Way galaxy?
For this mind twister, we spoke with Hari Kunduri, a mathematician at Memorial University of Newfoundland who’s moving to McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. He said the angular momentum of each of these systems remains constant, so just as spinning figure skaters speed up when they pull in their arms, the material spinning around the central axis in these systems also speeds up the closer it gets to the point it’s spinning around.
Anna-Marie Weiler in Ottawa, Ont. asks: Humans have a coccyx, also known as a vestigial tail. Did we once have a tail, and if so, when did we lose it?
Caroline Parins-Fukuchi from the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Toronto explains that the coccyx is part of our tail bone, which is really a tail, just a short one. We need to go back at least 20 million years to find a common ancestor of all apes, including us, with traditional long tail.
(Online and podcast only)
Jane Sly from Ottawa, Ont. asks: How much protection from concussions can we get from helmets?
For the answer, we went to Blaine Hoshizaki, the director of the University of Ottawa’s Neurotrauma Impact Science Laboratory. He says traditional rigid foam cycling helmets were only designed to break apart upon impact to prevent catastrophic brain injuries, not concussions, unlike today’s hockey and football helmets that tend to have softer interior materials with some degree of concussion protection.
NASA determines Space Launch System testing complete – Yahoo Canada Finance
The testing campaign for NASA’s super big, super expensive Space Launch System is now complete, the agency declared on Friday. All that’s left now for the rocket is launch the Artemis I demonstration mission to the moon, the first in a long line of planned missions to eventually return humans to the lunar surface by the middle of the decade. The launch could occur as soon as late August, NASA officials said.
The agency will roll the 322-foot-tall rocket and Orion spacecraft back to the Vehicle Assembly Building, an assembly hangar at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, on July 1 or 2, where both will be prepared for launch. From there, the agency will have roughly six to eight weeks of work before what should be the final roll-out, John Blevins, chief engineer of the Space Launch System Program, said Friday. Once SLS is back on the launch pad, officials would spend around 10-14 days preparing for liftoff, Cliff Lanham, senior vehicle operations manager for exploration ground systems, added.
NASA declared the “wet dress rehearsal” (WDR), as the slew of tests is called, complete despite a hydrogen leak issue that caused launch controllers to halt the countdown at T-29 seconds (officials aimed to count down to T-9.34 seconds, right before engine ignition).
The leak was detected in the hydrogen bleed line during the propellant loading process, when hundreds of thousands of gallons of cryogenic liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen were being loaded into the tanks. But despite the leak issues, the agency was able to load both rocket stages’ tanks with propellant, then drain them — major testing pieces that the agency had yet to put into place.
SLS testing checklist. Image Credits: NASA (opens in a new window)
While officials did not give an exact launch date, Tom Whitmeyer, deputy associate administrator for common exploration systems development, said things are looking good for an end of August timeframe.
“We feel getting through the wet dress was a major milestone for us,” he said. “It gives us some confidence that we’re still on a good path.”
The inaugural launch of SLS this year would be 12 years in the making. It was originally envisioned by Congress and NASA as a replacement to the Space Shuttle. It is now designated as the launch system that will eventually return humans to the moon — no small honor, all things considered.
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