Department of Physics and Astronomy News

Five with UT Physics Ties are Breakthrough Award Laureates

Physics breakthrough award

When UT’s physicists got involved in neutrino physics by joining the KamLAND (Kamioka Liquid Scintillator Anti-Neutrino Detector) experiment in 1997, they weren’t looking for financial gain. Yet with the experiment’s recent selection for the Breakthrough Awards Fundamental Physics prize, their efforts will, quite literally, pay off.

UT-ORNL Study: Calcium-48’s ‘Neutron Skin’ Thinner Than Previously Thought


An international team led by joint UT-Oak Ridge National Laboratory faculty used America’s most powerful supercomputer, Titan, to calculate the neutron distribution and related observables of calcium-48, an isotope with an atomic nucleus consisting of twenty protons and twenty-eight neutrons. Computing the nucleus revealed that the difference between the radii of neutron and proton distributions—called the “neutron skin”—is considerably smaller than previously thought.

Local Media Outlets Cover Physics Students’ Pumpkin Drop Event

The Society of Physics Students dropped pumpkins frozen with liquid nitrogen from a height of 80 feet Friday near the Humanities and Social Sciences building as part of some Halloween fun. The event focused on science engagement and literacy. Several local media outlets covered the story.

UT-ORNL Study: Nano-trapped Molecules Potentially Key to Advanced Storage Devices


Single atoms or molecules imprisoned by laser light in a doughnut-shaped metal cage could unlock the key to advanced storage devices, computers and high-resolution instruments, according to a recent UT-ORNL study. In a paper published in Physical Review A, a team composed of Ali Passian of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Marouane Salhi and George

Read more They’re Full of Stars! Students Find Densest Galaxies in the Universe recently featured graduate student Michael Sandoval in this story. He and a colleague found what appear to be the densest galaxies ever seen–cosmic realms where the night sky would appear ablaze with stars from the surface of a planet. The duo discovered ultracompact dwarf galaxies while looking through archives of astronomy observations by several different observatories. They conducted the

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Big South Fork hosting program to celebrate ‘blue moon’

Paul Lewis, director of UT’s planetarium and space science outreach, will lead an exploration of the blue moon–the second full moon in a calendar month–later this week. Lewis, along with rangers from the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area will celebrate this occurrence during an 8:00 p.m. program July 31 at the Bandy Creek Visitor Center.

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Teachers test egg drop, model rockets at UT aerospace workshop

Knoxville News Sentinel

The News Sentinel recently featured UT’s summer aerospace workshop that aims to help teachers in kindergarten through 12th grade bring STEM education into the classroom through hands-on activities such as egg drops, and building model planes and rockets. The paper also interviewed Paul Lewis, director of UT’s planetarium and space science outreach who teaches astronomy and model rocket

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