News

2021

‘Portable oasis’ extracts water from dry desert air

November 18, 2021

An arid scene with cracking desert floor

An ultraporous humidity sponge could provide 300 gallons of fresh water a day. UChicago computational chemist Prof. Laura Gagliardi is using molecular simulations and precise experimental measurements to figure out how this material might capture even more water even more easily.


Asst. Prof. Edwin Kite comments on Martian ‘lake’ at Gale Crater

November 18, 2021

Curiosity Mars rover.

Planetary scientist Asst. Prof. Edwin Kite comments on the NASA Curiosity Mars rover landing site, Gale Crater, and the question of whether it was once a massive and long-lasting lake or only a series of smaller, transient puddles.


Black holes have tantrums, and scientists have finally captured the resulting gamma rays

November 17, 2021

An artist’s conception of a supermassive black hole at the center of a galaxy that is spewing out jets (shown in orange) as well as via ultra-fast outflows of ionized gas (shown in gray/blue).

A group of scientists announced they had detected the gamma rays from a phenomenon known as an ultra-fast outflow—a powerful wind launched from very near a supermassive black hole—for the first time. Scientists believe these outflows play an important role in regulating the growth of the black hole itself and its host galaxy.


PSD Spotlight: Aleksandra Ninova-Parris

November 17, 2021

Aleksandra Ninova-Parris

PSD’s November spotlight is Aleksandra “Aleks” Ninova-Parris, Director of Diversity and Inclusion for the Physical Sciences Division since November 2021. Read about her interests, experiences, and thoughts on diverstiy and inclusion.
 


Are you prepared for the quantum revolution?

November 17, 2021

Gold quantum IBM computing device

In this introduction to why quantum computing will transform the digital world as we know it, the Chicagoland region is featured for leading the charge with the Chicago Quantum Exchange—which “draws on the expertise and vision of world-class universities, exceptional government laboratories and visionary industry leaders to advance research and development of quantum technologies.”


Massive, colliding black holes may expand along with the universe

November 17, 2021

An illustration showing a merger between two black holes.

A team of scientists that includes Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics Hubble Fellow Michael Zevin may have solved the mystery of how most massive black holes are formed. The team proposes that black holes with masses that were previously unexplainable could be growing hand-in-hand with the accelerating expansion of the Universe. The phenomenon could be an example of what the team calls "cosmological coupling."


Shaoxiong ‘Dennis’ Zheng, SM’21, devoted scholar and friend, 1997-2021

November 16, 2021

Shaoxiong ‘Dennis’ Zheng, SM’21, 1997-2021

The University remembers the recent PSD graduate, Shaoxiong ‘Dennis’ Zheng, SM’21, devoted scholar and friend, 1997-2021, who was killed on November 9. The University will hold a memorial service on Thursday, November 18 at 3:00 pm CT at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel.


Meet physics student, Carlos Sierra

November 15, 2021

Carlos Sierra

Carlos Sierra was born in Santa Ana, California, and grew up in the nearby city of Anaheim. Before coming to the University of Chicago, he attended Fullerton College, a community college in Southern California, and transferred to UC Berkeley, where he received his bachelor’s degree in physics. Afterwards, he started a doctoral program in applied physics at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. After three years he moved with the McMahon group to UChicago, where he will complete his doctoral research in the Department of Physics. He is currently in his fifth year and conducting research in experimental cosmology. He develops and tests instruments for the Simons Observatory, a series of telescopes that will soon be making precise measurements of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) from high atop the Atacama Desert in Chile.
 


Future VR haptics may use chemicals on the skin to make you feel

November 12, 2021

A woman is shown using a robotic haptic feedback device on her arm and a virtual reality headset

Researchers from the Human Computer Integration Lab have developed an entirely new approach called chemical haptics, which directly triggers receptors in human skin in different ways.


A new theory for systems that defy Newton’s third law

November 12, 2021

A lego vehicle with a motor

Quanta Magazine coverage of UChicago condensed matter physicists Prof. Vincenzo Vitelli, postdoc Ryo Hanai, and Prof. Peter Littlewood, who study the mathematical objects called exceptional points that have been found to control phase transitions in nonreciprocal systems.


A famous dark matter signal is probably coming from something else

November 12, 2021

Illustration of crystal detectors in the COSINE-100 experiment.

A new result is stirring the debate around WIMPs, or Weakly Interacting Massive Particles. Astrophysicist Dan Hooper comments on the search for WIMPs underground, suggesting the COSINE-100 experiment “is the nail in the coffin” of dark matter interpretations from the DAMA/LIBRA, which claimed to have spotted the elusive dark matter particle in 2017.


Prof. Eugene Parker accepts prestigious Crafoord Prize in Astronomy

November 11, 2021

Eugene Parker

University of Chicago Professor Emeritus Eugene Parker accepted the Crafoord Prize in Astronomy on Nov. 9 at a small reception at his home. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the prestigious prize in 2020 for Parker's "pioneering and fundamental studies of the solar wind and magnetic fields from stellar to galactic scales."


Asst. Prof. Sarah King awarded Air Force Office of Scientific Research Award

November 11, 2021

Sarah King

Neubauer Family Assistant Professor Sarah King, Dept. of Chemistry, is among 36 researchers receiving Air Force Office of Scientific Research Awards. A three-year grant of $450,000 will support her project, “Enhancing MXene catalysis on the nanoscale.”


Data scientists aim to detect internet censorship in real time

November 10, 2021

An illustration of a person in front of a computer with traffic signs floating above the desk, to demonstrate Internet censorship

A new multi-institutional study led by University of Chicago Prof. Nick Feamster will build new AI and data science tools to monitor and detect internet censorship, develop new statistical techniques to identify censorship with greater levels of confidence, and ultimately create a “weather map” for certain types of nation-state interference and control of online information.


Astrophysicists unveil glut of gravitational-wave detections

November 9, 2021

black holes merge

Professor Daniel Holz, Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, comments on the latest bounty of 35 events reported via gravitational wave detections, including patterns in black hole mergers.