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Department of Physics and Astronomy

The Department of Physics and Astronomy has a rich and long history dating back to the latter part of the 19th century. Our faculty and students are exploring nature at all length scales, from the subatomic (quarks and gluons) to the macroscopic (black holes and dark energy), and everything in between (atomic and biological systems).

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Superconductivity at room temperature remains elusive a century after a Nobel went to the scientist who demonstrated it below -450 degrees Fahrenheit

THE CONVERSATION — On April 8, 1911, Dutch physicist Heike Kamerlingh Onnes scribbled in pencil an almost unintelligible note into a kitchen notebook: “near enough null.” The note referred to the electrical resistance he’d measured during a landmark experiment that would later be credited as the discovery of superconductivity. Since this discovery, scientists have attempted to demonstrate superconductivity at room temperature. Dr. David Nolte, of Purdue Physics and Astronomy, details this superconductive quest in an article he penned for The Conversation.

Enhanced Geothermal, Offshore Wind Energy Gain Earthshot™ Support at PNNL

PNNL LABS — To support DOE’s Energy Earthshots™, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) will lead two separate Energy Earthshot Research Centers (EERCs). The Center for Understanding Subsurface Signals and Permeability (CUSSP) will advance enhanced geothermal systems with the goal of making them a widely accessible and reliable source of renewable energy. Dr. Laura Pyrak-Nolte, of Purdue University Physics and Astronomy, will serve as the Deputy Director of and perform research for the EERC Center for CUSSP.

Understanding the gravity of the situation: ALPHA scientists prove that antimatter falls at the same rate as matter

The science of falling goes well beyond the bowling ball and feather experiments. Einstein’s theory of relativity is still being studied, applied and proven a multitude of ways today. For instance, the Antihydrogen Laser Physics Apparatus (ALPHA) project based at CERN recently published in Nature about the science of antimatter with the goal of discovering if gravity affects matter and antimatter in the same way. Spoiler alert: it does! Scientists with the ALPHA program, including Prof. Francis Robicheaux of Purdue Physics and Astronomy, published their discovery today in Nature.

Sederberg leads Purdue Science students in opportunities for learning and service in Colombia

While other students were visiting beaches or popular night spots, several Purdue College of Science students spent their spring break accompanied by Dr. David Sederberg for a service project in Medellín, Colombia where they engaged 35 students from three different schools in lessons in astronomy, astrophysics, and related topics in AstroCamp 2023.

Dr. David D. Nolte publishes new book with Oxford University Press

Dr. David D. Nolte’s latest book, Interference: The History of Optical Interferometry and the Scientists Who Tamed Light, was recently published by Oxford University Press.

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Department of Physics and Astronomy, 525 Northwestern Avenue, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2036 • Phone: (765) 494-3000 • Fax: (765) 494-0706

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