2020 Nobel Prize in Physics Highlights Black Holes, Mentors and Collaboration

When massive stars undergo gravitational collapse, they sometimes become black holes, with such extreme gravity they prevent even light from escaping. Three researchers investigating black holes — Sir Roger Penrose, Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez — received the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics on Oct. 6.

Superconductivity? Stress is the Answer For Once

Superconductivity, the phenomenon in which the electrical resistance of a material suddenly drops to zero when cooled below a certain temperature, has been a scientific curiosity ever since its discovery in the early 20th century.

Cornell Professors Weigh in on First-Ever Image of Black Hole

Prof. Paul Teukolsky, Hans A. Bethe Professor of physics and astrophysics, and Prof. Dong Lai, astronomy, expressed their enthusiasm about how this development can influence and advance the gravitational wave research being done at Cornell.

How Can Students Most Effectively Learn Physics?

Prof. Paula Heron, physics, University of Washington suggests that students make mistakes as a result of imperfect ideas and failure to override intuition rather than an actual lack of knowledge.

Student Spotlight on Kieran Loehr ’20: Researching Optimal Cooling Methods

While cryogenics is often depicted as a scientifically fictitious, Hollywood creation, Kieran Loehr ’20 and peer researchers in the lab of Prof. Robert Thorne, physics, are collaborating to make bio preservation an easy and affordable process. According to Loehr, freezing humans to be resuscitated in 100 years is not a foreseeable feat, but improving freezing techniques for commercial use, like sperm and egg cryopreservation and biomaterial storage for research purposes, is the lab’s primary goal. “Tissues, which are composed of membrane bound cells, are particularly delicate and the harsh process of freezing can cause them to rupture and incur damage,” Loehr said. This happens when the molecules of a slowly cooling liquid rearrange into rigid, crystalline structures and disrupt cell membranes. However, according to Loehr, “if the rate at which the freezing process takes place is increased to 600,000 kelvin/sec, biological damage can be avoided due to glass formation.” Glass is a term used to describe a frozen solid composed of molecules that are arranged as if in liquid state.

Cornell Lab Discovers New Regulatory Mechanism of Protein, Sheds Light on Importance of Cornell’s High Energy Synchrotron Source

Proteins are strikingly complex macromolecules, which control every aspect of molecular function in all living organisms, making them an interesting research target. The Ando Lab studies the structure of proteins, specifically enzymes, in order to understand their function, using structural techniques like x-ray diffraction and small-angle x-ray scattering. These techniques allow for the visualization of atomic and molecular structure of proteins. Small-angle x-ray scattering is a technique used to study the structure of proteins in solution. SAXS maintains an advantage over other techniques because it allows for the understanding of the movement of proteins; however a caveat to SAXS is its lower resolution, creating the need for combinatorial approaches to studying proteins such as combining SAXS with chromatography.