News

Physics and Astronomy Professor Douglas Durian on Optimizing Crop Irrigation

Improving crop yields in marginal, sandy soils is critical to feeding the world’s growing population. But when water is added to dry soils—either from rainfall or irrigation sources—it tends to flow in channels, as opposed to spreading out evenly, an effect that prevents water from reaching all plant roots. Douglas Durian at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, and his colleagues have now modeled sandy soils in the laboratory, identifying several strategies that can suppress the formation of water channels and ensure that water is more uniformly distributed to crops.

Congratulations to Professor Alison Sweeney for receiving the 2014 Packard Fellowship in Science and Engineering

The David and Lucile Packard Foundation announced Wednesday that Alison Sweeney, an assistant professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Pennsylvania, will receive a 2014 Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering.

A Message from Penn President Amy Gutman on Packard Fellowship Win

Giant Clams Harness the Sun

Evolution in extreme environments has produced life forms with amazing abilities and traits. Beneath the waves, many creatures sport iridescent structures that rival what materials scientists can make in the laboratory.

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"The Key to Success in Physics is the Ability to Keep Coming Back"

With exotic science equipment in tow, University of Pennsylvania Physics Professor Larry Gladney gave Philadelphia high school students an eye-popping demonstration of the interactions among sound, light, and energy, but the key message was: "Don't give up."

"The only thing that succeeds is persistence," said Gladney, who conducted experiments before 120 students Wednesday at the High School for the Creative and Performing Arts as part of program sponsored by HistoryMakers, a Chicago-based entity that aims to record, preserve, and share the life stories of African Americans.

Penn Team Studies Nanocrystals by Passing Them Through Tiny Pores

The research was led by Marija Drndić, professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy in Penn’s School of Arts & Sciences; Jennifer Lukes, associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering...

Penn Research Helps Uncover Mechanism Behind Solid-Solid Phase Transitions

Arjun Yodh showed how one form of a solid can transition to another by becoming a liquid first.

Two solids made of the same elements but with different geometric arrangements of the atoms, or crystal phases, can produce materials with different properties. Coal and diamond offer a spectacular example of this effect.

Giant Clams Inspire Penn Duo’s Alternative Energy Research

Natural selection in an extreme environment has gradually sculpted the giant clam into an exceedingly efficient farmer; it turns the fierce sunlight in its equatorial ocean home into algae, and those single-celled plants into food.

Physics and Biology of Coral Reproduction

Asst. Prof. Alison Sweeney is featured on WHYY's "The Pulse" talking about how corals use the color of the sky at twilight to coordinate once-a-year reproduction down to a 10 minute window.

Penn Astronomers Will Use Newly Funded Telescope in Hunt for Dark Energy

After more than a decade of development and planning, the National Science Foundation has approved federal construction of the LSST. The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, of which the University of Pennsylvania is a member, will manage the $473 million construction project.  

The LSST will be constructed atop Cerro Pachón, a mountain in Chile’s Atacama Desert, one of the highest, driest locations in the world. It will see first light in 2019 and begin full science operations in 2022.

Penn Physics/Medicine Receives $2.8 Million Grant for Stroke Research

The National Institutes of Health have awarded University of Pennsylvania researchers a five-year, $2.8 million grant to further research on techniques for monitoring blood flow in the brain following strokes.