Message to the Physics Community, Friday, November 26, 2021

Dear Physics Community,

I hope you all had a restful Thanksgiving Day yesterday.

Just after we sent last week’s message, we learned form Ike Chuang that Gabe Mintzer, ‘200, had been critically injured in a hit and run accident and had been unconscious for more than two weeks.  Just yesterday, we heard form Karna Morey that Gabe had regained consciousness, which is very good news.  His family is here in Boston to help Gabe with his recovery and they had his friends have set up a Give in Kind site here for anyone who wants to help.  The Department wishes Gabe a speedy recovery.

Here’s the best thing about the present moment I’ve seen.

Peter

Announcements 

  • on Thursday, December 2 at 4:00 pm in 10-250, just prior to the start of next week’s Colloquium talk, we will hold a short ceremony to recognize a number of our graduate students for awards they were named to at the end of spring 2021.   We will be recognizing five students for achievements in teaching or research, and seven students for meritorious service to the Physics Department.We hope that many of you will choose to be present in 10-250 for this brief ceremony preceding the talk by Ana Maria Rey of JILA/NIST, which is being sponsored by our Graduate Womxn in Physics group, with Sarah Geller serving as individual host.
  • Grateful for  new GOAT: Scott Hughes
  • Air Force Office of Scientific Research Talk 12/6 2-3 pm Harvard, details here
  • Nonproliferation and National Security student opportunities at Brookhaven National Lab here
  • Funding opportunity from the Open Research Association here

Weekly Message to the Physics Community, Monday, Nov. 8,. 2021

Dear Physics Community,

Our budget request went to the Dean’s office last week.  In response to our solicitation, we received about 30 thoughtful suggestions from all over the Department.  We consolidated many of them into items in our request, and we will meet with the School of Science this week to discuss our request.  We may be asked to make revisions and then resubmit our budget that will go to the Provost.  We will hear Provost’s decisions in February or March for the budget year that starts July 1, 2022.

I will produce a list of all the suggestions we received and let the community know which ones went forward in the next two weeks (I have a trip coming up next week).  Having the list will be helpful as other funding opportunities arise.  Thank you to our students, postdocs, staff, and faculty for their participation.

In the meantime, much is going on, the days are getting shorter, and the holidays approach…

Peter

Physics

  • MIT News: Simulating Galaxies from Mark Vogelsberger here
  • MicroBOONE results from Janet Conrad and Or Hen summary paper here, four other supporting papers referenced in the summary
  • Mysterious waves from the center of the galaxy
  • New measurement of the neutron lifetime

Physics Community Weekly Message, November 1, 2021

Dear Physics Community,

We are now at the peak of Fall with beautiful days – when it is not raining.  Deer Island’s waste water analysis continues to provide interesting results: in the post-vaccine/delta variant epoch, from late summer until now, the mRNA rate have varied by a factor of two with a period of about 40 days (five full cycles in about two months).  Deer island samples the Northern and Southern areas separately and the South runs about a week ahead of the North.  This could be catchment transit times.  Something interesting to ponder…

Peter

Above the Fold

  • Phil and Erik’s Accelerated AI Algorithms for Data-Driven Discovery (A3D3) Institute

Announcements

Physics

  • Quantum Kelvin-Helmhotz instabilities from Martin and Richard F. here
  • Quanta article on neutrino anomalies with Janet here

Weekly Message, October 26, 2021

Dear Physics Community,

Welcome to a rainy Tuesday.  Thank you for all the budget ideas.  Matt and I will ask PVC for their view next.

Peter

Above the Fold

Physics

  • If you want to make gold, its better to collide two neutron stars than a neutron star and a black hole, from Salvo and Hsin-Yu here
  • Interesting article on ultra-precise clocks and quantum gravity here

Message to the Physics Community, October 21, 2021

Dear Physics Community,

From the announcements below, you can see that a great deal is going on.  In addition to the APS awards and Fellowships mentioned in the last post, the TEAM-UP Task Force led by Ed Bertschinger received an Excellence in Physics Education Award.  This is a tribute to Ed’s leadership.

In the last few days, we sent out a request to all the groups in our community to suggest things for our budget this year.  Our budget is due a week from today, so we ask for responses by Monday from Christina (candujar@mit.edu) and the PVC (physics-values@mit.edu). For details, the letter template is here.

As across much of MIT, the Department has experienced staff turnover over the past few weeks.  We currently have several openings across both the Headquarters and Academic Programs offices.  We are working hard to fill these positions, but during this transition, I ask that we all show patience with the current staff, many of whom are taking on extra duties and responsibilities to cover tasks outside their regular duties.

The weekend looks like a beautiful Fall weekend – please make sure to get outside.

Peter

Above the Fold

  • This week, we learned of the passing of Norma Bertozzi, the wife of our colleague Bill. Their daughter Andrea sent a nice obituary here. We send our love and condolences.
  • The MIT Department of Physics is collecting images to be used for our annual Physics Holiday Card potentially. Typically we reach out to faculty for images of their latest research, and this year we are opening up this call for images to our entire community. The requirements are that the image is related to your work in the department, has a title, and can be made to a 3:2 ratio. Please make your submissions by Monday, November 1st here.

Announcements

  • Tenure-track assistant professor position at Princeton University here 
  • PLEASE REMIND: CALL FOR CONCEPT PAPERS: Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) Call for Concept Papers for Large-Scale Research Programs here
  • Faculty position at Caltech here
  • Quantum Ph.D. program at Chicago here

Physics

Message of the Week, Monday 18 October 2021

Dear Physics Community,

At the end of a totally bizarre week, some news of five from our community honored by APS awards.  They are:

  • Bob Jaffe -2022 Joseph A. Burton Forum Award
  • Peter Fritschel – 2022 Richard A. Isaacson Award in Gravitational-Wave Science
  • Sean Robinson -2022 Jonathan F. Reichert and Barbara Wolff-Reichert Award for Excellence in Advanced Laboratory Instruction
  • Nikta Fakhri – 2022 Early Career Award for Soft Matter Research
  • Gene Dresselhaus – 2022 Oliver E. Buckley Condensed Matter Physics Prize

Congratulations to Bob, Peter, Sean, and Nikta.  Gene passed away two weeks ago.  There full list of APS awards is here.

Also last week: MIT learned the endowment performed very well in the last year and that MIT would be giving 3% raises, in addition to the usual merit increases.  Complications for those paid by grants will be handled soon.  In addition to the raise, new funds from the endowment will allow MIT to address priority needs and some of these funds will be available to Departments for their priorities as set forth in their strategic plans.  These funds would come through the annual Departmental budgeting process.  We plan to include funds for the mentoring program, DEI or Community officer, and basic computing service, and funds for staff and faculty development.  We also want to hear from across the Physics Community of other good ideas for the budget, so please look for a follow up message about this in the next day or two, when we undersrtand the timeline and process better.

A good week last week!

Peter

 

Message to the Physics Community, Monday, March 15, 2021

Dear Physics Community,

A year has passed since the pandemic began, and I went back to look at the messages I sent back then.  They were hard to send then and are hard to read now.  In the last week, we reflected on all the things that have happened, good and bad, last year. With 530,000 lives lost to date in the US and 2.6 million worldwide, the pandemic has changed all of us forever.

Last week, our new president told of new plans for the vaccine in a prime time address (worth watching here).  Some of us have been vaccinated, we all know people who have been vaccinated, and the delivery rate is ramping up.

We will have to follow the CDC guidance about masks, distancing, and small gatherings for the coming months with all the hopeful news.  A recent issue of Science has an excellent article everyone should read.  Here is an important graphic from the paper about the vaccine, variants, and behavior.  This figure tells us why we have to keep up with CDC guidance: the vaccine will help slow the spread in the face of new variants only if we continue to wear masks, keep 6 feet apart, and do not congregate in closed areas.

For myself, I am decided to commit to living the COVID-19 life until June 1, vaccinated or not (currently not).

A year has passed since I started these Messages to the Physics Community. Things have evolved: Ryan Higgins started weekly events announcement, and Cathy Modica and the APO have been producing a robust student newsletter for several years.  In recent months, the urgent pandemic-related announcements, the original reason for my Community Messages, has slowed, now.mit.edu started, and the Institute decision making has become more anodyne.  Putting all this together, we’ve decided to put the community-wide messages and anything I have to say into Ryan’s message and keep student-oriented announcements in the APO weekly newsletter.  If you have an announcement, please send it to any of us, and we will make sure your announcement goes to the right place.

Most times, I’ve enjoyed writing these messages, although it does take time.  I’m viewing merging my messages with Ryan’s announcements as something good we have captured from the pandemic times. Thanks to everyone who contributed to these messages over the past year.

Peter

Announcements

  • MindHandHeart grants – everyone may apply
  • Graduate student transitional support letter
  • New DOE program in Accelerator Workforce Training

Physics

  • First neutrino interaction on the Glashow resonance, from Janet, news story here and article here

 

Weekly Message to the Physics Community, Friday, February 19, 2021

Dear Physics Community,

Several interesting things from today’s academic continuity meeting.  Have a good weekend.

Peter

Resources form TLL:

Report on Spring Move-in here with statistics

Weekly Message to the Physics Community, Friday January 29, 2021

Dear Physics Community,

Some goods news: MIT has become a vaccination site and will deliver vaccines to the whole MIT community (50,000 people) regardless of where they get their health care.  Details here, LRR letter here.

The Thursday lunch was about international engagements, prompted by our colleague Prof. Gang Chen’s awful situation.  Report here: covid-19 fundamental.

Peter

Above the Fold

Announcements

Physics

Weekly Message to the Physics Community, Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Dear Physics Community,

I am still reeling from last week and distracted/scared/discombobulated by Inauguration tomorrow, plus not feeling well.  Some good things may be happening: the SARS-Cov-2 mRNA in the waste water may be dropping, MIT vaccinations have started, and preparations are underway to welcome our students back for Spring. The shortest (Dec. 22)  and coldest (Jan. 17) days of the year are behind us. Finally, MIT has a couple of timely seminars: “Coping with Politically Charged Trauma”, here.

Peter

Above the Fold – MartinLuther King day

  • MLK Day Message from Jon Bagger, CEO of APS
  • Nominations for MLK Visiting Professor at MIT

Announcements

  • Dan David Doctoral and Post Doctoral scholarships
  • IDEAs Social Innovation Challenge announcement
  • Apply for a Graduate Student Instrumentation Award in High Energy Physics here
  • David Martin from the Industrial Liaison Program (ILP) gave our lunch talk Thursday, slides here.  Whether or not your research connects with industry or business, if you are interested in connecting, please contact David.

Physics