Physics@MIT Journal

Issue: Fall 2010

Message from the Department Head 4

New Faculty 6

Faculty Notes 8

News & Events in Physics 12

In Remembrance 27

Student Honors & Awards 31

Student Profile 38

Alumni/ae Notes 63

Giving to the Department of Physics 68

Donors 72

The 10th Anniversary of the Pappalardo Fellowships in Physics
12 The 2009-2010 academic year wrapped up the phenomenally successful first decade of the Pappalardo Fellowships in Physics, the Department's premier postdoctoral fellowship program. Created as a vehicle to both recruit outstanding young physicists to the Department and nurture their growing careers with independently-funded research support and faculty mentoring, the program continues to be entirely sustained through the generosity of its founder and benefactor, A. Neil Pappalardo (EE'64).
MIT at the Large Hadron Collider: Illuminating the High-Energy Frontier
40 Over the last few decades, teams of physicists and engineers all over the globe have worked on the components for one of the most complex machines ever built: the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the CERN laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland. Collaborations of thousands of scientists have assembled the giant particle detectors used to examine collisions of protons and nuclei at energies never before achieved in a laboratory. After initial tests proved successful in late 2009, the LHC physics program was launched in March 2010. Now the race is on to fulfill the LHC's paradoxical mission: to complete the Standard Model of particle physics by detecting its last missing piece, the Higgs boson, and to discover the building blocks of a more complete theory of nature to finally replace the Standard Model.
The MIT Physical Science-Oncology Center: Tackling Cancer Biology with Fundamental Physics
52 As physics makes increasingly important contributions to biology and medicine, physicists who once analyzed fluctuations in electrical circuits are turning to the exploration of fluctuations in gene expression in living cells - a complex system ideally suited to the physicist's toolkit. Alexander van Oudenaarden, MIT Professor of Physics and Biology, is directing a new Physical Science-Oncology Center at MIT, where interdisciplinary teams of physicists and biologists apply physics and its principles to problems in cancer biology.
"So, what did you measure?" Henry W. Kendall and Physics Junior Lab
58 All students traverse uncertain territory as they push back the limits of their experience, but some routes through this landscape are notably more demanding than others. "Junior Lab" is the advanced laboratory sequence for third-year physics majors at MIT. The Lab's teachers show young physicists how to develop their skills in new directions by testing them against the reality of nature rather than the contrived problems of textbooks. By the semester's end, Junior Lab students learn that nature can reveal exhilarating truths to those who explore it carefully and honestly. The Lab itself is an accumulation of apparatus, ideas and educational traditions collected from generations of instructors. Among these legacies is a spirit of bold exploration, something the Lab shares with one of its most famous teachers: the quietly extraordinary Henry W. Kendall (1926-1999).