2023 Arthur L. Kelly Faculty Prize for Exceptional Service in the Physical Sciences Division

May 26, 2023

Portraits of Michael J. Franklin and Dan Nicolae

The recipients of the 2023 Arthur L. Kelly Faculty Prize for Exceptional Service in the Physical Sciences Division are Michael J. Franklin, Liew Family Chair of Computer Science, Senior Advisor to the Provost on Computation and Data Science and Faculty Co-Director of the Data Science Institute, and Dan Nicolae, Professor in the Departments of Statistics and Human Genetics, and the Section of Genetic Medicine, and Faculty Co-Director of the Data Science Institute. 

Astronomers have spotted a once-in-a-decade supernova—and you can, too

May 25, 2023

Shown in the picture is M101, also known as the Pinwheel Galaxy. This is located about 21 million light-years away from Earth and is the home of a new supernova, the closest of the past five years.

The death throes of a massive star in the galaxy M101, located just 21 million light-years away from Earth, are entrancing professional and amateur astronomers alike

The Day Tomorrow Began: The first nuclear reaction

May 25, 2023

In 1942, Enrico Fermi and a group of scientists gathered beneath the football stands at the University of Chicago to feverishly work on a secret experiment—to achieve the first controlled, self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction—that would that would change the world forever.

University of Chicago joins global partnerships to advance quantum computing

May 22, 2023

quantum machinery

$100 million from IBM to help develop quantum-centric supercomputer; $50 million from Google to support quantum research and workforce development.

Answering big questions at the South Pole

May 17, 2023

South Pole Telescope winterovers Allen Foster and Geoffrey Chen during the middle of the South Pole winter.

MyChoice extern and computer science graduate student, Kevin Bryson, writes about Prof. Bradford Benson's work to develop detectors and massive telescopes that enable the study of the origins of the universe.

Study finds fascinating link between photosynthesis, supercooling of atoms

May 16, 2023

Screenshot of CBS video where you can see Chicago's skyline

University of Chicago professor David A. Mazziotti, and grad students LeeAnn M. Sager-Smith and Anna O. Schouten, explained how they discovered the link and what it could mean for the future of how we power our homes and cities.

Damage delays restart of Italy’s giant gravitational wave detector

May 16, 2023

Virgo wave detector spreads its 3-kilometer arms near Pisa, Italy.

Physicists will resume their hunt for astrophysical monsters: black holes and neutron stars going bump in the dark and emitting ripples in space called gravitational waves. But one of the three detectors that have spotted such waves—Virgo, near Pisa, Italy—has run into technical problems that will delay its restart, 3 years after all the facilities shut down for maintenance and upgrades. 

Smart glove enhances your sense of touch in virtual reality

May 13, 2023

Person with virtual reality device and a smart glove

Stimulating nerves on the back of your hand makes it feel like you are grasping things in VR without needing to have your palms covered in material.

Balloon launches to search for particles coming from outer space

May 12, 2023

EUSO-SPB2 is powered by solar panels, visible here during final assembly in New Zealand.

Update: NASA's super pressure baloon mission terminated due to anomaly - May 14

On May 12, NASA launched an experiment built by a PSD-led international team to send a scientific balloon to 110,000 feet above the Earth. The project, termed Extreme Universe Space Observatory on a Super Pressure Balloon or EUSO-SPB2, is searching for messengers from outer space: tiny, highly energetic particles that hit the Earth on their way from elsewhere in the universe.

Photo by NASA/Bill Rodman

Researchers get first up-close look at mysterious planet’s atmosphere

May 11, 2023

This artist’s concept depicts GJ 1214b, a mini-Neptune, with what is likely a steamy, hazy atmosphere.

A team led by scientists from UChicago and the University of Maryland used the Webb telescope to observe GJ 1214b’s atmosphere by measuring the heat it emits while orbiting its host star. The exoplanet is too hot to be habitable, but likely contains water vapor.

Mirror-image supernova yields surprising estimate of cosmic growth

May 11, 2023

This Hubble Space Telescope image shows the positions of the time-delayed apparitions of the Refsdal supernova behind a gigantic gravitational lens, the galaxy cluster MACS J1149+2223. The uppermost circle shows the position of the supernova’s first app

A new way to gauge the universe’s expansion rate has delivered a confusing result that may conflict with previous related measurements.

Tension grows in the debate over the expansion of the universe

May 11, 2023

a microphone, but the grill is a planet.

New observations and sharper tools are fueling the debate over a long-sought measurement of how fast the universe is expanding.

Two PSD Faculty Members elected to Royal Society

May 10, 2023

Wendy Freedman and Matthew Stephens headshots

Profs. Wendy Freedman and Matthew Stephens have been elected to the Royal Society, a fellowship of many of the world’s most eminent scientists and the oldest scientific academy in continuous existence. This year, 59 scientists from around the world were elected Fellows or Foreign Members of the Society for their outstanding contributions to science.

NSF awards $52M to upgrade Simons Observatory in Chile to explore origins of universe

May 9, 2023

Assoc. Prof. Jeff McMahon in the lab with the Simons Observatory Small Aperture Telescope.

The National Science Foundation has awarded $52.66 million to upgrade the Simons Observatory, a set of telescopes high in the Chilean desert that looks for traces of light from the earliest epochs of the universe.  Improvements include upgraded receiver, solar panels to power the observatory and data processing pipeline

Mechanical backpack boosts the sensation of jumping in virtual reality

May 8, 2023

virtual reality image with person wearing a backpack superimposed

New Scientist features a mechanical backpack developed by Prof. Pedro Lopes and his colleagues. JumpMod can enhance the sensation of virtual reality by sliding a weight up and down.