Spring Meeting of the Illinois Section of the AAPT
April 1-2, 2011 - Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, Illinois

Last update:  March 25, 2011

This file is updated within a day or two after anyone submits a Call for Contributed Presentations.

Active Learning

Morten Lundsgaard,
Active Learning, Either day
Comments: PowerPoint will be used, Would it be possible to darken the room?

Observing Exoplanets - in the Classroom.
Morten Lundsgaard, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61801. An active learning lesson on gravity and planetarian motion is presented. The context of the lesson is the search of extrasolar planets and the origin of life, and central to the lesson is a lab-activity in which students are measuring the light curve of a "star" while an "exoplanet" is eclipsing it. At the presentation, the activity will be demonstrated and ideas of data manipulation discussed. The additional use of raw data from the Kepler and the CoRoT missions will be addressed as well.

  Don Reid,
Active Learning, Saturday morning

Terminal Velocity. Don Reid, Lincolnwood HS, Raymond, IL 62560. We all talk about terminal velocity and then proceed with most of our problem solving neglecting air resistance - ie - free fall. This activity will allow participants to determine if terminal velocity is reached for an air bubble in a tube of oil. You will need a calculator.

Teaching Methods

Ken Mellendorf,
Teaching Methods, Either day
Equipment needs: PowerPoint projection

Thinking Above Doing. Ken Mellendorf, Illinois Central College, East Peoria, IL 61635. Today's culture emphasizes getting a good result independent of any related thoughts or decisions. As a result, many students see thought and decision-making as superfluous. Some don't even know that it exists. Do what other people do because it is the only way. Although the grading can be more rigorous during the first weeks, students who learn the joys of thought and the confidence of decision-making will do better as the semester progresses.

  Noella D'Cruz,
Teaching Methods, Either day
Equipment needs: computer and projector

An ASTR 101 Writing Assignment Inspired by the "Visions of the Universe" Exhibit. Noella D'Cruz, Joliet Junior College, Joliet, IL 60431. The "Visions of the Universe" exhibit was created by the American Library Association, Space Telescope Science Institute and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory to celebrate the International Year of Astronomy. The exhibit consists of 12 posters. We arranged to display smaller versions of these posters at Joliet Junior College. To encourage ASTR 101 and Life in the Universe students to expand their interest in astronomy via these posters, in Spring 2010 we designed a short essay assignment that counted as one homework. The assignment involved exploring a poster topic further via the internet, critiquing the webpage chose as the primary reference, and to recommend whether or not their chosen webpage would be a suitable resource for non-science majors. We will provide details of the assignment, and report on which exhibit topics were most popular, which websites students referred to and which they recommended for introductory astronomy courses.

James Rabchuk,
Teaching Methods, Either day
Equipment needs: PowerPoint
Comments: Friday (or, the same day as the IAI meeting)

The Need for a Course in Scientific Reasoning. James Rabchuk, Western Illinois University, Macomb, IL 61455. I will present an outline for an honors course that I have developed and will deliver next fall at WIU, called "Seeing the Invisible." It will be a one hour seminar course for non-science and science honors students focusing on the process of scientific reasoning about unseen phenomena. The idea for this course grew out of my involvement in our teacher education program at WIU, and the apparent need of our future teachers to understand how science is done. I wonder if the need isn't just as acute among the regular majors.

  Amit Joshi,
Teaching Methods, Either day
Equipment needs: PowerPoint

Undergraduate Laboratory Physics Experiments Revisited. Amit Joshi, Department of Physics, Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, IL 61920. A majority of students are doing experiments in the undergraduate physics laboratories from the point of view of how experiments are performed. The important aspects for experiments, e.g., to understand their physical basis and why those experiments are to be done that way only, are found to be missing. The class is keen to know the techniques described in lab manuals to perform the lab successfully and do not think beyond that about those experiments. Perhaps the instructions provided for labs are not motivating them enough to think about such issues? When related questions and other details are asked about these labs then a large number of students do not have answers. The origin of these issues and the possible ways to overcome them will be presented in this talk.

Narendra Jaggi,
Teaching Methods, Friday afternoon
Equipment needs: PowerPoint presentation

Visualizing the Process of Minimization of 'Functionals'.
Narendra K. Jaggi, Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, IL 61702. Stated crudely, but memorably, functionals are mathematical objects that eat an entire function (over its domain) and poop a real number. Many areas of physics require us to minimize functionals of various kinds as the function "moves" "continuously" in Hilbert Space. Because this subject is usually NOT included in the undergraduate mathematics curriculum in the U.S., it is presented, in context, when we teach Lagrangian dynamics or the path-integral approach to quantum mechanics. Often, students find this topic to be non-intuitive and hazy. I will share a Mathematica-assisted, simple and direct method of conceptualizing and visualizing this abstract concept. I will also demonstrate explicitly that the textbook techniques for such minimization (Euler Lagrange Differential Equations) do indeed work as advertised. During the current semester, the technique is being used for the first time, in our sophomore level course in Mathematical Methods of Physics.





Tom Carter,
Research, Saturday morning
Equipment needs: PPT projector

Effect of a web-based textbook on student learning at a community college. Tom Carter, College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn, IL 60137. I will look at the effect of a web-based version of the standard textbook by Tipler on my introductory physics class at a community college. The text is available for $10 direct from the publisher. I will compare data on normalized gain, standardized final exam results, retention and student opinion. This may be the last in this series presentations I've given on the effect of different textbooks I've tried at the College of Dupage.

  Aaron Zvonek,
Research, Saturday morning
Equipment needs: PowerPoint, Projector

Smoke and Mirrors: Looking into the Components of Calculus Based Physics. Aaron Zvonek, Michael Fortner, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL 60115. I will be comparing data from six semesters of calculus based physics. This will include an analysis between different aspects of the course: including homework, quizzes, labs, and exams, and look into any correlations between them. I will also break down the analysis for several categories of majors in order to see if there are any common problem areas specific to each major.

Pengqian Wang,
Research, Friday afternoon
Equipment needs: PowerPoint

Resonance Enhanced Two-Photon Ionization Spectroscopy of Biomolecules. Pengqian Wang, Western Illinois University, Macomb, IL 61455. Laser spectroscopy based on resonance enhanced multiphoton ionization of molecules using tunable intense lasers is a powerful method in exploring the structure of molecules at atomic level. We are presently conducting research on the mass-selective resonance enhanced two-photon ionization laser spectroscopy of biomolecules and their hydrated clusters. In this talk I will present our experimental setup, as well as our initial results of laser-induced two-photon ionization of styrene molecule. The experimental setup includes a tunable ultraviolet laser by frequency-doubling a dye laser, a pulsed molecular beam, a high vacuum chamber, a mass spectrometer, a microchannel plate detector, and a fast digitizer. We resolved a number of spectral lines of styrene molecule near its original electronic and vibrational transition at 288 nm. Attempts have been made to assign all spectral lines to their corresponding vibrational modes. This project is supported by the WIU-URC grant.


Student Research Symposium

Alexander Meadows,
Student Research Symposium, Saturday morning
Equipment needs: Computer-projector system for a PowerPoint presentation

Computer Simulations of the Thermal Conductivity of Nanofluids. Alexander Meadows, Jie Zou, Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, IL 61920. Nanofluids are composite materials that consist of a base fluid and nanometer-sized suspended solid particles. Experimental studies have shown that nanofluids can have significantly higher thermal conductivity than the base fluid. This property has made nanofluids attractive for thermal management applications. In this project, we carry out computer simulations of the thermal conductivity of nanofluids. We focus on a model nanofluid based on liquid argon loaded with copper nanoparticles. We apply molecular dynamics simulation to obtain the positions and velocities of the argon and copper atoms. After the system has reached equilibrium, we compute the thermal conductivity based on the Green-Kubo theory. We investigate the dependence of thermal conductivity on temperature and on the number of nanoparticles. We report some of the results that we have obtained in this project.

  Jonathan Jones,
Student Research Symposium, Either day
Equipment needs: Computer and projector for powerpoint presentation

Qubit Implementation with Josephson Junctions. Jonathan Jones and Amitabh Joshi, Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, IL 61920. In this research work, our main focus is towards the utilization of superconducting devices to implement quantum logic gates. These devices are constructed by placing a very thin insulating barrier between two superconductors. These Josephson junctions are used as a quantum mechanical equivalent to the bits used in an ordinary computer, commonly referred to as qubits (quantum bits). Several qubits together form a quantum logic gate, and likewise several quantum logic gates together form a quantum processor, the main component of a quantum computer. Here, we used circuit QED techniques to implement quantum phase gates and CNOT gates employing Josephson junction devices. We devised two systems, one consisting of two qubits and the other consisting of three qubits, each interacting with a single photon inside a closed cavity, to realize these quantum logic gates.

Corey Dowd,
Student Research Symposium, Friday afternoon
Equipment needs: Computer, Projector and PowerPoint

Nonlinearity induced Control and Memory Effect in Nanomechanical Oscillators. Corey Dowd and Amitabh Joshi, Department of Physics, Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, IL 61920. The nanomechanical oscillator (NMO) is dynamically equivalent to a nonlinear oscillator with significant fourth order (quartic) nonlinearity in the elastic potential energy. The objective is to determine if, and under what conditions, the nonlinearity permits the observation of the bistable behavior and self induced transparency in classical treatment of coherently driven NMO having quartic nonlinearity in the elastic potential energy. The NMO has been described by a model of three ordinary springs attached to a single mass exhibiting nonlinear oscillations. Also, the electrical analogue of the NMO in terms of simplified Young-Silva oscillator with a fewer circuit elements is used to simulate quartic potential behavior. This circuit will eventually be used to experimentally demonstrate the nonlinear behavior of nanomechancal oscillators.

  Jeff Carlson,
Student Research Symposium, Friday afternoon
Equipment needs: projector
Comments: Friday afternoon

Creating a Parametric Oscillator Prototype. Jeff Carlson and James Rabchuk, Western Illinois University, Macomb, IL 61455. I will discuss the challenges associated with improving upon the design of a parametric oscillator that is analogous to a one dimensional ponderomotive ion trap. As the end goal of this project is to refine the device for use in a laboratory classroom setting, further development is geared towards ease of use and reliable data capture. In particular, discussion will focus upon the capacitive sensor apparatus that is being developed to give accurate position data for the moving "ion" in the trap.

Yuan Sang,
Student Research Symposium, Friday afternoon
Equipment needs: PowerPoint

Non-holomonic constraints and constraint forces. Yuan Sang, Western Illinois University, Macomb, IL 61455. Non-holonomic constraint systems are the ones that have the constraint equations as functions of velocity and may also be time dependent. There is still a debate going on the research community about appropriate generalized methods to mathematically handle non-holonomic constraints within the Lagrangian approach to classical mechanics. In this presentation, we investigate methods to solve systems subject to the linear non-holonomic constraints (functions linearly dependent on velocity) by discussing certain problems such as a rotational system, for example cart wheel, and a particle sliding on a rough incline. We are going to explore application of Lagrange's undetermined multipliers technique to check whether it can consistently deal with the linear non-holonomic constraints and we would like to further investigate if they can be used to solve some non-linear non-holonomic problems.

  Joseph Wiseman,
Student Research Symposium, Saturday morning
Equipment needs: PowerPoint, computer and computer projector

Physics of Harmonicas. Joseph Wiseman, Christopher Banaszak and Gordon Ramsey, Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, IL 60626. Our group studied the physical properties of the harmonica. We correlated the reed, the comb and the enclosure with the fundamental frequency and the timbre of four different harmonicas. We also found correlations with these acoustical elements and the geometric properties of length, area, and volume. The area of the reed has the primary affect on the fundamental frequency heard. The comb length affects the fundamental frequency and the timbre of the harmonica. The enclosure shape primarily affects the timbre and intensity of the sound. To further study the property of the reeds, we took high-speed video measurements. The video determined the nature of the reed vibration, including the frequency and whipping effect from higher pressures in blowing. Our geometrical, acoustical and optical techniques revealed interesting properties of the harmonica.

Hsun Jen Chuang,
Student Research Symposium, Friday afternoon
Equipment needs: PowerPoint

A Wiley-McLaren Mass Spectrometer. Hsun Jen Chuang, Pengqian Wang, Western Illinois University, Macomb, IL 61455. Time-of-flight mass spectrometers are scientific instruments that separate different species of ions produced in a reaction according to their mass-to-charge ratios. They are also powerful in studying the initial momentum and kinetic energy distribution of the ion species. In this talk we present a home-made Wiley-McLaren time-of-flight mass spectrometer in our lab, which is known for its high mass resolution and easy operation. The mass spectrometer consists of two short acceleration regions of 10-20 mm, and one free drift tube of about 250 mm. The resolution of the mass spectrum is optimized by controlling the electric fields in the two acceleration regions of the mass spectrometer, so that the condition of space-focusing is achieved. The trajectory of the ions is simulated using the SIMION software. As an application of the mass spectrometer, we show our experiments of laser-induced multi-photon ionization of benzene molecules. This project is supported by the WIU-URC grant.

  Thomas Asafuah,
Student Research Symposium, Friday afternoon
Equipment needs: PowerPoint

An Ultraviolet Laser Source with Continuously Variable Energy. Thomas Asafuah, Pengqian Wang, Western Illinois University, Macomb, IL 61455. Laser intensity is a crucial factor in all nonlinear optical processes. We are now studying the multi-photon ionization of molecules using ultraviolet lasers. The amount of ionization depends strongly on the input laser intensity. In order to identify the physical processes occurring at different intensity ranges, a continuous and fine adjustment of the input laser intensity is required. In this talk we present our experiment of producing an ultraviolet laser at 266 nm with continuously variably energy by frequency-doubling a green laser at 532 nm. A half-wave plate is used to rotate the polarization direction of the input green laser. The frequency-doubling crystal only transfers the incident dye laser at a certain linear polarization direction into ultraviolet laser. The intensity of the output ultraviolet light is continuously adjustable from zero to maximum by rotating the half-wave plate in a range of 45 degree. This project is supported by the WIU-URC grant.

Liang Yuan,
Student Research Symposium, Friday afternoon
Equipment needs: PPT file

Detection of Thermal Formaldehyde Emission in the Massive Star Forming Region NGC 7538. Liang Yuan, Western Illinois University, Macomb, IL 61455. NGC7538 is an active massive star forming region in the Galaxy, and one of only a few regions known to harbor 6 cm formaldehyde (H2CO) masers. Using the 100 m Green Bank Telescope, we detected 2 cm H2CO emission toward this object. To investigate the nature of the 2 cm emission, we conducted observations of the 1 cm H2CO transition, and obtained a cross-scan map of the 2 cm line. We detected 1 cm emission and found that the 2 cm emission is extended (angular size greater than 30"), which implies brightness temperatures of ~0.2 K. Assuming optically thin emission and local thermodynamic equilibrium, both these detections are consistent with thermal emission of gas at ~30 K. We conclude that the 1 cm and 2 cm H2CO lines detected with the GBT are thermal, which implies molecular densities above ~105 cm-3.

  Aaron Schye,
Research, Friday afternoon
Equipment needs: Will use PowerPoint

Computational Modeling of Formaldehyde Masers in Space. Aaron Schye, Esteban Araya, Liang Yuan, Western Illinois University, Macomb, IL 61455. A greater understanding of astrophysical masers can give important information about the physical characteristics of the region in which they exist and the conditions under which they operate. I will present a computational model developed to explore the pumping mechanism of formaldehyde masers. Several sets of collision rates are available and the impact each set has on the model will be discussed. The model is able to predict thermalization of the molecular levels with the Cosmic Microwave Background at low densities, and with the kinetic temperature of the gas at high densities. The model also reproduces anomalous absorption of formaldehyde via collisional excitation. I will show that formaldehyde masers cannot be explained by collisional excitation with hydrogen molecules. I will also discuss how the model can be used to investigate the physical conditions responsible for the thermal emission of formaldehyde in NGC 7538.

Jacob Brown,
Student Research Symposium, Friday afternoon
Equipment needs: powerpoint

Helmholtz Equation and Laguerre Gaussian Beams. Jacob Brown, Kishor Kapale, Western Illinois University, Macomb, IL 61455. The mathematical description of the laser beams is given in terms of a differential equation called the Helmholtz equation. It is a partial differential equation that relates the spatial variation of the electromagnetic fields in the transverse and longitudinal directions. Normally the equation is solved in terms of the standard Cartesian coordinates to obtain the transverse spatial profile of the laser beams in terms of the so called Hermite Gaussian functions. It turns out that the laser beams can carry orbital angular momentum and the orbital angular momentum of light cannot be easily understood in terms of the Hermite Gaussian modes, instead one needs cylindrically symmetric mode functions termed as Laguerre Gaussian (LG) functions. In this presentation we will discuss the character of the angular momentum of light and how it can be understood via the solution of the Helmholtz equations in the form of the LG functions.

  Jacob Weidner,
Student Research Symposium, Friday afternoon

Modeling the Statistical Character of Inversion Events Leading to Evolutionary Changes in a Species. Jacob Weidner, Kevin Wabick, Brian Clark, Illinois State University, Normal, IL 61761. Strands of DNA undergo two important processes during reproduction, recombination and inversion. These processes may enable a species to evolve into a new species by changing the locations of genes, reducing the likelihood of successful reproduction with the precursor species. In our simulation, individuals are modeled by a strand of DNA consisting of a set number of genes assigned to one of two traits. Each individual is limited to having only two genes at any one time assigned to the first trait, any other number results in the individual's death. We investigate how changes in a species' gene spacing can be caused by stochastic inversion events with recombination present. Specifically, we consider whether changes in gene spacing can be caused by a single well isolated inversion event, a constant rate of a small number of inversion events per generation, or a critical number of events within a given time interval.

Kevin Wabick,
Student Research Symposium, Friday afternoon

Organizational Attractors in DNA. Kevin Wabick, Jacob Weidner and Brian Clark, Illinois State University , Normal, IL 61761. The spatial organization of linked genes in an individual or population is not well understood, and the definition or classification of the form of linkage between genes can vary. In models, genes can be explicitly linked via some mathematical fitness equation or implicitly linked through the reproduction operations. In our simulation, individuals are modeled by a single strand of DNA consisting of a set number of genes assigned to one of two different traits. While, individuals are selected to reproduce according to their explicit fitness, as calculated with the two most fit genes assigned to one specific trait, the actual mechanisms of inversion and recombination play a critical role in determining genetic organization. We discuss the role of inversion and recombination on genetic organization in a system where each individual is constrained to a fixed total number of genes and the trait of interest is constrained to two genes.

  Benjamin Shields,
Student Research Symposium, Saturday morning
Equipment needs: projector for mac
Comments: the first of 4 ILP talks

Causality and Relativistic Localization in 1-d Hamiltonians. Benjamin T. Shields, Q. Su and R. Grobe, ILP Theory Unit and Department of Physics, Illinois State University, Normal, IL 61790-4560. We compare the relativistic time evolution of an initially localized quantum particle obtained from the relativistic Schrödinger, the Klein-Gordon and the Dirac equations. By computing the amount of the spatial probability density that evolves outside the light cone we quantify the amount of causality violation for the relativistic Schrödinger Hamiltonian. We comment on the relationship between quantum field theoretical transition amplitudes, commutators of the fields and their bilinear combinations outside the light cone as indicators of a possible causality violation.

Matt Morris,
Student Research Symposium, Saturday morning
Equipment needs: a projector for mac
Comments: the second of 4 ILP talks

Time Dilation in Relativistic Two-particle Interactions. Matt Morris, Q. Su and R. Grobe, ILP Theory Unit and Department of Physics, Illinois State University, Normal, IL 61790-4560. We study the orbits of two interacting particles described by a fully relativistic classical mechanical Hamiltonian. We use two sets of initial conditions. In the first set (dynamics 1) the system's center of mass is at rest. In the second set (dynamics 2) the center of mass evolves with velocity V. If dynamics 1 is observed from a reference frame moving with velocity -V, the principle of relativity requires that all observables must be identical to those of dynamics 2 seen from the lab frame. Our numerical simulations demonstrate that kinematic Lorentz space-time transformations fail to transform particle observables between the two frames. This is explained as a result of the inevitable interaction-dependence of the boost generator in the instant form of relativistic dynamics.

  Benjamin Rogers,
Student Research Symposium, Saturday morning
Equipment needs: a projector for a mac
Comments: the third of 3 ILP talks

Reconstruction of Objects in Random Media Based on Their Shadow Patterns. Benjamin Rogers, Q. Su and R. Grobe, ILP Theory Unit and Department of Physics, Illinois State University, Normal, IL 61790-4560. My research work is part of a group of projects that tries to explore the possibility to reconstruct objects that are embedded in a highly scattering medium by traversing the system with a laser light beam and analyzing how the medium as well as the object modifies the light pattern at the exit surface. I have been focusing on a specific method that is based in the assumption that the total shadow configuration associated with several objects can be expressed as a simple superposition of the shadow associated with each object in the absence of the others.

Brandon Graybeal,
Student Research Symposium, Saturday morning
Equipment needs: a projector for mac
Comments: the fourth of 4 ILP talks

Effect of Random Noise on Bio-optical Imaging Scheme. Brandon Graybeal, Q. Su and R. Grobe, ILP Theory Unit and Department of Physics, Illinois State University, Normal, IL 61790-4560. We discuss a recently developed algorithm that tries to reconstruct the location of absorbers that are hidden inside a highly scattering material. It analyzes the transmitted laser light that has interacted with the system. I will discuss the details of this algorithm that is based on comparing the intensity profile of the light with the sum of the profiles associated with each hidden object. It turns out that this algorithm works remarkably well if the there is no noise in the signal. However if there were only tiny distortions to the original signal the algorithm fails to work. I will propose some future work with the goal to make this algorithm less sensitive to experimentally unavoidable random noise.

  Alyssa Miller,
Student Research Symposium, Saturday morning
Equipment needs: PowerPoint file

Blood Substitutes and Optical Tweezers. Alyssa Miller, Amitabh Joshi, Steven Daniels, James Bishop, Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, IL 61920. The blood supply is important for many medical applications. Invention of a workable blood substitute would greatly improve availability of this precious material. Perfluorocarbons are a promising material for this purpose. There are problems but a material called Oxycyte, manufactured by Oxygen Biotherapeutics, is a promising solution. Coagulation of the particles is still a problem and needs a solution. Optical tweezers can be implemented to measure the force between particles. Once the force is determined it may be possible to model the system and solve the problem. This presentation will focus on blood substitutes and the application of optical tweezers in understanding the system. The experimental apparatus and the plan for future work will be discussed.


Carl Wenning,
Other, Either day
Equipment needs: video projector

Professional Knowledge Standards for Physics Teacher Educators: Recommendations from the CeMaST Commission on NIPTE. Carl J. Wenning, Illinois State University, Normal, IL 61790-4560. The CeMaST Commission on NIPTE consists of a team of ten physics teacher educators, in-service high school physics teachers, and physics teaching resource agents from across the USA. This Commission gathered at Illinois State University January 8-10, 2010, using funding provided by the University's Center for Mathematics, Science, and Technology (CeMaST). In addition to developing plans for National Institutes for Physics Teacher Educators (NIPTE), the team undertook efforts to define what physics teacher educators should know and be able to do. The Commission's recommendations will be made public for the first time.

  Dave Sykes,
Other, Either day
Equipment needs: computer projection

The Office Hour: An invaluable resource for learning physics. Dave Sykes, Lincoln Land Community College, Springfield, IL 62794-9256. Most, if not all, students struggle with learning physics. Yet perhaps the most helpful resource available is not utilized by the majority of students - the office hour. In this talk a physics teacher's record of office hour use will be presented along with possible reasons for students not taking advantage of this valuable resource.

Andrew Morrison,
Other, Saturday morning
Equipment needs: Will want powerpoint and internet availability if possible.

What Physics Teaching Blogs Are You Reading?. Andrew Morrison, DePaul University, Chicago, IL 60614. Online social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter are extremely popular ways to stay connected with groups of people in your professional and personal life. There are a growing number of math and science educators who are actively engaging with other physics teachers around the world online. This presentation will highlight some of the active blogs related to physics teaching and student learning.