Experts in the News

To request a media interview, please reach out to School of Physics experts using our faculty directory, or contact Jess Hunt-Ralston, College of Sciences communications director. A list of faculty experts and research areas across the College of Sciences at Georgia Tech is also available to journalists upon request.

J. Robert Oppenheimer, now the protagonist of a much-anticipated film, is today most known for his scientific leadership of the U.S. Manhattan Project, the World War II–era crash program to build the first-ever atomic bombs. But just a few years earlier, Oppenheimer had found himself pondering very different “weapons” of mass destruction: black holes — although it would be decades before that name arose. “It was influential; it was visionary,” says Feryal Özel, professor and chair of the School of Physics, of Oppenheimer’s work on black holes and neutron stars, the superdense corpses of expired massive stars. “He has a lasting impact.” Özel is a founding member of the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration, which released the first-ever image of a black hole in 2019 — 80 years after Oppenheimer co-authored a paper theorizing that such objects could exist.

Scientific American 2023-07-21T00:00:00-04:00

The heart’s electrical system keeps all its muscle cells beating in sync. A hard whack to the chest at the wrong moment, however, can set up unruly waves of abnormal electrical excitation that are potentially deadly. The resulting kind of arrhythmia may be what caused the football player Damar Hamlin of the Buffalo Bills to collapse on the field after he took a powerful hit during a 2023 National Football League game. In this Quanta podcast, Flavio Fenton, a professor in the School of Physics who studies the electrical dynamics of the heart, tells host Steve Strogatz about a new method under development for treating arrhythmias by stimulating the heart with mild, precisely timed shocks — or possibly even with light.

Quanta Magazine 2023-07-12T00:00:00-04:00

Human beings for millennia have gazed with awe at the vast torrent of stars — bright and dim — shining in Earth's night sky that comprise the Milky Way. Our home galaxy, however, is now being observed for the first time in a brand new way. Scientists said on Thursday they have produced an image of the Milky Way not based on electromagnetic radiation - light - but on ghostly subatomic particles called neutrinos. They detected high-energy neutrinos in pristine ice deep below Antarctica's surface, then traced their source back to locations in the Milky Way - the first time these particles have been observed arising from our galaxy. "This observation is ground-breaking. It established the galaxy as a neutrino source. Every future work will refer to this observation," said Ignacio Taboada, professor in the School of Physics and spokesperson for the IceCube research collaboration in Antarctica that produced the image. (The story was also covered in NPR, Popular MechanicsSmithsonian Magazine, Yahoo! News UKYahoo! News CanadaThe Jerusalem PostKPBSInteractions.org, APS (American Physical Society), Vice, El Pais, VOA Learning Englishbdnews24, SciTechDaily, PetaPixel, and Sinc.)

Reuters 2023-06-29T00:00:00-04:00

Georgia Tech researchers have been selected by NASA to lead a $7.5 million center that will study the lunar environment and the generation and properties of volatiles and dust. The Center for Lunar Environment and Volatile Exploration Research (CLEVER) will be led by Thomas Orlando, professor in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry with an adjunct appointment in the School of Physics. CLEVER is the successor to Orlando’s pioneering REVEALS (Radiation Effects on Volatiles and Exploration of Asteroids and Lunar Surfaces) center, and both are part of NASA’s Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI) program. 

India Education Diary 2023-06-26T00:00:00-04:00

Researchers at Seton Hill University, Pennsylvania State University, and the Georgia Institute of Technology looked to the mudskipper, the amphibious fish that spends more than half of its adult life on land to study the evolution of blinking. The study, published in an April edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that blinking may be one of the overlooked and yet important traits that allowed for the successful transition to life on land. Simon Sponberg, Dunn Family Associate Professor in the School of Physics and the School of Biological Sciences, was one of the researchers for the study. (The study was also covered in the Los Angeles Times High School Insider.)

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 2023-06-10T00:00:00-04:00

In this story about the puzzling behavior that goes on inside black holes, Quanta Magazine uses the 2017 first-ever image of the black hole at the heart of the M87 galaxy captured by an Event Horizon Telescope research team. That team included EHT founding members Feryal Özel, professor and chair of the School of Physics, and Dimitrios Psaltis, a professor in the School. The story also includes the recent machine learning-enhanced version of the image. 

Quanta Magazine 2023-06-06T00:00:00-04:00

After a three-year hiatus, scientists in the U.S. have just turned on detectors capable of measuring gravitational waves — tiny ripples in space itself that travel through the universe. Unlike light waves, gravitational waves are nearly unimpeded by the galaxies, stars, gas, and dust that fill the universe. This means that by measuring gravitational waves, astrophysicists can peek directly into the heart of some of these most spectacular phenomena in the universe. Since 2020, the Laser Interferometric Gravitational-Wave Observatory — commonly known as LIGO— has been sitting dormant while it underwent some exciting upgrades. These improvements will significantly boost the sensitivity of LIGO and should allow the facility to observe more-distant objects that produce smaller ripples in spacetime. Faculty and students in the School of Physics and Georgia Tech's Center for Relativistic Astrophysics were part of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration when the observatory made the first direct observation of gravitational waves. Laura Cadonati, professor in the School of Physics and associate dean for Research in the College of Sciences, served as LIGO deputy spokesperson and was on its data analysis team.

Inverse 2023-05-28T00:00:00-04:00

A team of mechanical engineering students and alumni at Georgia Tech began developing and testing ForageFeeder, a $400 machine partly inspired by deer feeders that can disperse gorillas’ their meals at random intervals and locations throughout the day. Much like modern humans, zoo animals frequently deal with obesity due to a lack of activity. Tools and techniques such as the ForageFeeder not only promote Zoo Atlanta gorillas’ movement, but better simulate their natural foraging world. David Hu, professor in the School of Biological Sciences, the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, and the School of Physics, was faculty advisor for this project. (Read more about the story here.) 

Popular Science 2023-05-26T00:00:00-04:00

A small but growing group of researchers is fascinated by an organ we often take for granted. We rarely think about how agile our own tongue needs to be to form words or avoid being bitten while helping us taste and swallow food. But that’s just the start of the tongue’s versatility across the animal kingdom. Without tongues, few if any terrestrial vertebrates could exist. The first of their ancestors to slither out of the water some 400 million years ago found a buffet stocked with new types of foods, but it took a tongue to sample them. The range of foods available to these pioneers broadened as tongues diversified into new, specialized forms — and ultimately took on functions beyond eating. This examination of how animal tongues shaped biological diversity includes research from David Hu, professor in the School of Biological Sciences and the School of Physics

Science 2023-05-25T00:00:00-04:00

NPR's Ari Shapiro talks with Regina Barber and Emily Kwong, hosts of the Short Wave podcast, about the top science stories of the week, including the mysteries of multicellular organisms as researched by William Ratcliff, associate professor and co-director of the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Quantitative Biosciences program in the School of Biological Sciences. Ratcliff and several colleagues, including research scientist Ozan Bozdag, used snowflake yeast to initiate the first long-term evolution experiment aimed at evolving new kinds of multicellular organisms from single-celled ancestors in the lab. Other College of Sciences researchers involved include Seyed Alireza Zamani Dahaj, computational biologist, Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Quantitative Biosciences, and the School of PhysicsThomas C. Day, Ph.D. candidate, School of Physics, and Peter Yunker, associate professor, School of Physics.  Anthony J. Burnetti, research scientist; Penelope Kahn, research technician; Dung T. Lac, research technician; Kai Tong, postdoctoral scholar; and Peter Conlin, postdoctoral scholar, are all from the School of Biological Sciences. (This segment was also run on Connecticut Public Radio and Georgia Public Broadcasting.) 

National Public Radio 2023-05-18T00:00:00-04:00

The Atlantic's Pulitzer Prize-winning staff writer Ed Yong writes about the unique snowflake yeast experiment conducted by Georgia Tech researchers that shows how multicellular organisms might have evolved from single-celled ancestors. The study, published recently in Nature, provided new insight into how "that change from micro to macro, from one cell to many, was one of the most pivotal evolutionary journeys in Earth’s history." William Ratcliff, associate professor in the School of Biological Sciences and co-director of the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Quantitative Biosciences program led the research team. Other researchers include Ozan Bozdag, research scientist, School of Biological Sciences; Seyed Alireza Zamani Dahaj, computational biologist, Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Quantitative Biosciences, and the School of PhysicsThomas C. Day, Ph.D. candidate, School of Physics, and Peter Yunker, associate professor, School of Physics.  Anthony J. Burnetti, research scientist; Penelope Kahn, research technician; Dung T. Lac, research technician; Kai Tong, postdoctoral scholar; and Peter Conlin, postdoctoral scholar, are all from the School of Biological Sciences. ((Atlantic subscription required; read more about the research here.)

The Atlantic 2023-05-12T00:00:00-04:00

A research team from Georgia Tech is one of five chosen by NASA to collaborate on lunar science and lunar sample analysis research to support future exploration of the Moon as part of the agency’s Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI). SSERVI will support each of the new teams for five years at about $1.5 million per year, jointly funded by NASA’s Science Mission Directorate and Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate. The Center for Lunar Environment and Volatile Exploration Research (CLEVER) is led by Thomas Orlando, professor in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry with an adjunct appointment in the School of Physics, The team will characterize the lunar environment and volatile inventories required for near-term sustained human exploration of the Moon. Orlando is principal investigator for another lunar-related research team, Radiation Effects on Volatiles and Exploration of Asteroids and Lunar Surfaces (REVEALS), which is also a part of SSERVI. (Read more about this story here. This story was also covered at Newswise and SpaceRef.com)

NASA 2023-05-11T00:00:00-04:00

Events

Mar 09

The 2024 Atlanta Science Festival

Returning March 9–23, 2024, the Atlanta Science Festival is an annual public celebration of local science and technology.

Mar 09

2024 Science and Engineering Day at Georgia Tech | Atlanta Science Festival Kickoff

Campus and the Atlanta community are invited to the official kickoff event for the 2024 Atlanta Science Festival!

Mar 11

School of Physics Colloquium

School of Physics Colloquium

Mar 12

College of Sciences Student and Alumni Leadership Dinner

Join us for a memorable evening of growth and camaraderie as College of Sciences students connect with esteemed alumni.

Mar 13

School of Physics Seminar - Professor Ariel Sommer

Quantum gases of fermionic atoms provide a simple model of strongly correlated fermions, such as electrons in superconductors and neutrons in neutron stars.

Mar 13

Non-equilibrium interfaces for ultracold Fermi gases

Quantum gases of fermionic atoms provide a simple model of strongly correlated fermions, such as electrons in superconductors and neutrons in neutron stars.

Mar 14

GT Observatory Public Night: March 2024

A monthly occurrence of the GT Observatory's Public Night open to all who are interested in viewing celestial objects through our many telescopes here on campus.

Experts in the News

Brandon Pries is a graduate student in the School of Physics who researches computational astrophysics with Professor John Wise, using machine learning to study the formation and evolution of supermassive black holes in the early universe. Pries has also done extensive research with the NSF IceCube Collaboration. Pries recently shared a deep dive on neutrinos with astrobites, a daily literature journal (an "astro-ph reader's digest") supported by the AAS.

astrobites 2024-02-08T00:00:00-05:00

This story about three alumni from Ohio Northern University's School of Science, Technology, and Mathematics who are making a mark in the world of physics and mathematics include Matthew Golden, who is now a postdoctoral researcher in the School of Physics. Golden's research in the Extreme Astrophysics lab focuses on the interface of machine learning and physics.

Ohio Northern University 2024-01-22T00:00:00-05:00

Silicon has long reigned as the material of choice for the microchips that power everything in the digital age, from AI to military drones. Silicon chips have been bumping against the limits of miniaturization for years, dividing chip makers on whether Moore’s law, the longstanding assumption that transistors will steadily get smaller and computers more powerful, is already dead. But the global semiconductor industry is still under just as much pressure to produce ever more powerful chips, and keep up the pace of technological progress. This month, researchers at Georgia Tech, led by Walter de Heer, Regents' Professor in the School of Physics, created the world’s first functional graphene-based semiconductor, marking what de Heer dubbed a “Wright brothers moment” for the next-generation materials that could make up the electronic devices of the future.  (This research was also covered at Physics WorldTech Briefs, TechSpot, Freethink, McGill Daily, and Fudzilla.)

Politico 2024-01-16T00:00:00-05:00