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College of Arts and Sciences Physics and Astronomy

The physics of fall

A pumpkin exploding as it collides with the earthWith murmurs and pointing, the crowd watches as a face and then hands—holding a large object—appear in the twelfth-story window of WSU’s Webster Physical Sciences Building.

On the ground, Butch T. Cougar begins a countdown: five, four, three, two… At one, the hands release a 10-pound, half-frozen pumpkin that rockets to the courtyard, exploding in a confetti-bomb of cheers, screams, and a thousand gooey fragments. So begins that nerdy-fun Dad’s Weekend tradition—the Pumpkin Drop. » More …

WSU startup receives NSF research grant

Klar logo imageA startup company launched by WSU physicist Matthew McCluskey received a $740,000 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase-II grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to continue the research and development of a new affordable and easy-to-use microscope.

Klar Scientific designs and manufactures an innovative spectroscopic confocal optical profile (COP) microscope, which collects » More …

Scholarships for faculty-mentored research

College of Arts and SciencesSeven students and six faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences are among this year’s 27 recipients of two selective scholarships offered by the WSU Office of Undergraduate Research for students pursuing mentored research, scholarly activity or creative projects at WSU.

“Our ability to support students in their research is made possible thanks to generous donors who envision the contributions these students will make in the future to Washington, the United States, and » More …

Physics research heads to International Space Station

Rocket on lauchpad in the distance, seen against setting sunWSU physicists have a new laboratory in outer space. On May 20, the Cold Atom Laboratory (CAL), a remotely operated research platform, blasted off for the International Space Station (ISS) where it will be used by researchers to probe quantum phenomena that would be impossible to observe on Earth.

Professor Peter Engels and graduate student Maren Mossman will use CAL remotely » More …

North America’s first electron microscope

Composite image of the restored microscope and the researchers' notebookEarly in the 20th century, a five-foot-tall golden microscope on the Washington State University campus was the most powerful imaging device on the continent. Despite its scientific significance, it has been largely lost from the pages of history.

“Europe’s first electron microscope earned its inventors a Nobel prize and is on display at the Deutsches Museum, the world’s largest museum of science and technology, while nobody really knows about our instrument.” said Michael Knoblauch, biology professor and director of WSU’s Franceschi Microscopy and Imaging Center. “Something of this significance should be in the Smithsonian.” » More …

17 CAS students honored with SURCA awards

Group of SURCA student award winnersFrom the health benefits of the Lucky Iron Fish to advances in detecting hydrogen polysufides to the cultural impact of a Brazilian composer’s work, 17 CAS students received top honors at the 2018 Showcase of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (SURCA) competition in April. Hosted by the Office of Undergraduate Research, SURCA features faculty-mentored research, scholarship, and creative activities by undergraduates from all majors, grades, and campuses.

“Each presentation evidences the new knowledge brought to one’s field and also reflects the personal and professional growth » More …

CAS leads top 20 WSU research stories of 2017

From rising inequality and declining Monarch butterfly populations to a particle with negative mass, news coverage about the College of Arts and Sciences research reached millions of people last year.

News outlets carrying the stories ran the gamut of the nation’s most popular media, including CNN, The Washington Post and National Public Radio, as well as specialty science publications like Science and all the region’s major news vehicles. » More …

Dr. Universe: What experiments can you recommend?

Dr. UniverseYou can try all kinds of fun experiments at home. It really all depends on what you are curious about. Lately, I’ve seen some really great sunsets and started wondering what gives them their colors.

I decided to ask my friend Tom Johnson, who leads fun physics demonstrations for kids visiting Washington State University. I asked him if he had any simple ideas for an experiment I could try out in my lab, or even the kitchen. One idea he had was to create a sunset in a cup. » More …

Discovery for modifying diamonds could change computing

Marc WeberPULLMAN, Wash. – A group of WSU researchers has discovered a way to modify diamonds that opens up important applications in the field of quantum computing and in radiation detection.

Kelvin Lynn, professor of physics and of mechanical and materials engineering, and his team were using very thin strips of diamond inside a particle accelerator when they made an intriguing scientific discovery — by accident. » More …

Crimson Spirit Award – Tom Busch

Tom Busch standing in front of the Brelsford WSU Visitor Center.Recipient of the WSU Crimson Spirit Award for October 2017 is Tom Busch, a fiscal analyst in the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

Nominators praised him for noteworthy extra efforts and consistently exceeding expectations, and commended his in-depth knowledge of policies and procedures. Busch is the “go-to” person for help and advice for grant proposal submission, grant reconciliation, and » More …

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