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Washington State University
College of Arts and Sciences Physics and Astronomy

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 …

Meet the new faculty of fall 2020

College of Arts and Sciences - Washington State University.Meet the college’s newest faculty, whose disciplinary expertise—from origin of life and supermassive black holes to political psychology, ancient economics, and interdisciplinary art—enriches and expands the arts and sciences at WSU. » 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 …

Former Cougar Crew members share life lessons

1973 WSU Cougar Crew on a dock.Out here, among the rolling hills of the Palouse, generations of rowers have pulled hard. They’ve learned life lessons on the Snake River, where conditions can change instantaneously and team work is essential. They’ve forged lifelong friendships. They’ve made memories.

As the Cougar Crew prepares to celebrate the team’s 50th anniversay, a few former WSU oarsmen, including three CAS alumni, shared their stories with » More …

Dr. Universe: Why does the moon have phases?

Dr. UniverseWhen astronomers looked at the night sky long ago, they also wondered about questions just like this one. You know, I was also curious about why the moon looks so different at different times of the month.

I visited with my friend Jose Vazquez, an astronomer at WSU Vancouver, to learn more about it. He said that the way the moon looks to us has to do with two other objects in » More …

Physics and Astronomy celebrates centennial with year of public events

collage of imagesFrom critical early developments in television technology to recent detection of cosmic phenomena in faraway galaxies, WSU physicists have been at the forefront of scientific education, innovation, and discovery for 100 years. This fall, the Department of Physics and Astronomy (P&A) will launch a yearlong series of free, public events to celebrate its long history of achievement and strong foundation for future success. » More …