March 14 is called the Pi Day because when the date is written as 3/14/16, it gives an approximate value of the most famous number of mathematics, π, in 2016 not to be repeated in a hundred years.
On Pi Day, three of NOVA Honors students from Dr. Walerian Majewski’s PHY 298 course, Vincent Cordrey, Angel Gutarra-Leon and Nathan Gaul, presented a research talk at the American Physical Society (APS) March meeting. This week-long meeting is the world’s most important and the largest physics conference, bringing together 10,000 physicists and students. Attendees arrived in Baltimore to present 8,000 talks and 1,200 posters of exciting scientific programs, covering all physics sub-disciplines to share groundbreaking research from industry, universities, and major labs all over the world. For undergraduates at the meeting, there were special events called Future of Physics Days, which allowed students to meet their peers, share their research and build a network among fellow physicists.
The talk of NOVA’s Honors students compared results from their two research projects on the physics of magnetic levitation using high-field electrodynamic wheels. The abstract is also available online as well as the video of the full levitation experiment.
There were 70 oral presentations by undergraduates, with NOVA being the only two-year college represented at this meeting. In addition to NOVA students, there were students from universities of Maryland, Iowa, Michigan, Florida, Alabama, Yukatan, as well as American, Washington, and Washington and Lee universities. Judges evaluated the presentations and provided written feedback for students. NOVA received very positive feedback overall.
On March 17, the same group and Cioli Barazandeh, another Majewski’s student, presented two posters with details of their most recent results on inductional levitation and propulsion. The setting was the huge Convention Hall with almost 400 other posters around. Go online to view the abstract and poster.
A wide variety of people spoke to NOVA students about their posters, among them Chinese and Japanese physicists, with whom NOVA students even swapped business cards. Some were students from universities in places as far away as England and Japan. Other attendees were impressed by NOVA students’ work. One professor from Millersville University, in particular, was astounded that students had accomplished the research at a two-year college. He requested information about the students’ experiments for his undergraduates working on similar research projects.
Abstracts and posters will remain as online publications in the Bulletin of the APS, enriching students’ professional resumes. All of the research presented at APS was co-authored by NOVA students and Majewski.
The next quest for the Majewski’s class this semester is upgrading their apparatuses, using two recent grants from the Virginia Academy of Sciences and from the American Institute of Physics, and reporting the new results at the Virginia Academy of Science meeting in May.