On February 4, 2012, Duke University President Richard Brodhead visited the Physics Department and in particular, explored the mysteries of granular materials. He began his visit by trying a simple granular experiment on his own, with a little help from Prof. Bob Behringer. Jie Ren, a Ph.D. student, showed President Brodhead how her experiment works. She and post-doc Joshua Dijksmanare studying the basic statistical physics of shear granular material. Along the way President Brodhead asked a number of questions that showed his quick grasp of the physics!
He then learned about Duke Physics’ ‘earthquake machine’, here demonstrated by Bob Behringer. This experiment probes the same kind of stick-slip that occurs in earthquake fault zones like the San Andreas, with the advantage that the experimenter can see exactly what is happening, and of course the energy released is not so dangerous.
At President Brodhead’s last stop, graduate student Abe Clark showed off his apparatus that is used to probe the way a meteor behaves when it strikes the earth. In this picture, from left to right: President Brodhead, holding a polarizer, Prof. Haiyan Gao, Chair Department of Physics, Hu Zheng, visiting scholar, and Ph.D. students Jie Ren, Somayeh Farhadi and Abe Clark. View more photos on Flickr by clicking here.
Photo Credit: Cristin Paul