Cluster 4: Waves: The Physics of Sound and the Astrophysics of Light

Cluster 4: Waves: The Physics of Sound and the Astrophysics of Light



Puragra (Raja) Guhathakurta, PhD, Astronomy, UCSC

Waves are prevalent in nature so understanding the physics of waves is important. It enables a description of many different types of physical phenomena. For example, the standing waves made by a plucked guitar string have striking similarities to electromagnetic waves that carry important information about the physics of objects in space: planets, stars, galaxies, dark matter, and dark energy. We will explore the physics of wave phenomena and learn about the implications that such physics has on astrophysics. By operating telescopes and engaging in hands-on experiments, students will learn about mechanical waves which are responsible for electromagnetic waves that tell us about eclipsing binary stars, star clusters, and star formation and dark matter in galaxies. 

John Davenport, PhD student, Physics, UCSC

Microscopic objects interact in a way that is governed by the eerie rules of quantum mechanics. These rules blur the line between particle and wave, yielding exotic, counterintuitive phenomena. Graphene, a single-atom-thick sheet of carbon atoms, has recently emerged as a “wonder material” due to its exotic quantum properties. This course will use graphene to introduce students to quantum waves. To explore graphene, students will isolate and characterize graphene, travel to state-of-the-art research facilities, and hear guest lectures from quantum materials experts. Through interactive lectures, students will acquire fundamental mathematical skills for addressing quantum wave concepts. The course will culminate in a miniproject where students will research and present one of many emerging graphene technologies such as medicine, electronics, quantum computing and many more…

Transferable Skills: Tools for Success

It may or may not surprise you that being a university researcher requires a whole host of skills outside of the specific scientific knowledge required of your chosen discipline or specialty. It requires communication skills such as the ability to present your work in writing and orally. It requires competencies in the realm of information technology including the ability to find and judge (the validity of) information and use a variety of hardware and software tools (e.g. spreadsheets, databases, statistics software, other data manipulation tools). It requires all of those skills to effectively conduct research such as data collection, analysis and interpretation, critical thinking and problem solving as well as the ability to conduct laboratory and/or field work. And, of course, a baseline competency in English, science, mathematics and computers is critical. 

The governing mission of the UCSC COSMOS Transferable Skills course is to promote students’ future academic (and professional) success through the exploration and development of transferable skills: i.e. those competencies that students develop while in school which facilitate academic achievement, the eventual transition into the work-force and which are applicable in many other life situations.