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Washington State University
College of Arts and Sciences Archives

New faculty spotlight: Vivienne Baldassare

Vivienne Baldasare.After finishing up an Einstein Postdoctoral Fellowship at Yale University, Vivienne Baldassare’s career options were as vast as the galaxies she studies. The supportive environment in WSU’s Department of Physics and Astronomy won her over, and she joined the faculty as an assistant professor in August.

“I wanted to be somewhere I could make a difference. The faculty here wanted to hear my perspective, and were enthusiastic about my ideas. I got an incredible vibe from my whole visit here and was really charmed by » More …

Onward to a new era

Over the next decade or so, enormous breakthroughs in quantum theory and engineering are expected to deliver products that will boggle the mind. The revolution includes the work of visionary researchers at WSU like theoretical physicist Michael Forbes.

Forbes, whose voice carries traces of his Canadian roots, studies the extreme properties of neutron stars. When prodded, he good-naturedly admits his student days at MIT were much like » More …

Cold atoms and quantum computing

Peter Engels.Experts in quantum computing, sensing, and simulation with cold atoms gathered on the WSU Pullman campus in February for a Northwest Quantum Nexus (NQN) workshop and to discuss the state of quantum physics research in the region. The workshop, held prior to the current meeting restrictions, focused particularly on the role of atomic systems in the future of quantum technology and included participants from across » More …

Origins of Leap Year

Playing leap frog.With 2020 being a Leap Year—a once-every-four-years manifestation created to deal with our imprecise notion of a year being 365 days—WSU experts looked back on the development of the modern calendar.

Ancient civilizations depended on the cosmos above to guide their decisions, said Michael Allen, a senior instructor in physics and astronomy.

“We know from things like Stonehenge that ancient peoples were aware of the motion in the sky and » More …

Dr. Universe: Where does the universe end?

Dr. UniverseWhen you look up at the night sky, it can feel like the universe is a big blanket of stars above you. But unlike a blanket, the universe doesn’t have corners and edges. Far beyond what humans can see, the universe keeps going. As far as humans know, it never stops. To learn more, I went straight to my friend Michael Allen. He is a senior instructor of physics and astronomy at WSU.

The universe is bigger than the biggest thing you’ve ever seen. It’s bigger than » More …

Solar energy really gets rolling

Solar panel manufactured on a flexible roll.WSU physicist Brian Collins explores the nano structures of polymers—large molecules with many repeating units. Most of us know polymers from everyday life as plastics. Because they’re flexible, polymers can be used to make all sorts of electronic devices, such as phones—or solar panels.

Primarily made of carbon, one of the first big success stories for polymers in electronics was » More …

Dr. Universe: What are shooting stars made of?

Dr. UniverseIf you are anything like me, you probably like watching for shooting stars in the night sky. A shooting star, or a meteor, is usually a small rock that falls into Earth’s atmosphere.

When I went to visit my friend Michael Allen, a senior instructor of astronomy and physics at WSU, he told me a lot of shooting stars are no bigger than a pencil eraser.

“The earth is going to pass a random pebble once in a while and that will make a streak in the sky,” he said. » More …