Akron Phy sics Club

Archive 2013

January  Matthew Shawkey - Optics and evolution of plumage color in birds and other dinosaurs
February  Mesfin Tsige - Molecular Dynamics Simulation
March  Peter Hoekje - Flutes and Flute Physics from Prehistory to the Future

Peifang Tian - Imaging 3-D Spatiotemporal Hemodynamics

June  Jay Reynolds - DAWN: Mission to Asteroid Vesta
September  Brian Davis - Nonlinearities in Biomechanics
October  Fr. Thomas Acker SJ, PhD - Making Cider out of Wormy Apples
November Susan Shearer - Stark State Fuel Cell and Alternative Energy Programs



Akron Physics Club


Meeting Announcement: MONDAY, January 28, 2013 - TANGIER, 6:00 PM

Dr. Mathew Shawkey, University of Akron

will be speaking on:

Optics and evolution of plumage color in birds and other dinosaurs

Birds have a tremendous diversity of colors, many of which are produced not by pigment deposition but by light interference and scattering effects from nanometer-scaled, highly organized tissues within feathers. Some of the most famous examples include the brilliant blues and "eye spot" tails of peacocks and the flashy reds and greens of hummingbirds.  Our lab group explores how these colors are  produced, how they grow in the developing feather and how they change over evolutionary time. I will discuss these topics, as well as recent evidence for their presence very early in the evolution of birds from meat-eating dinosaurs in the same group as T. rex and Velociraptor.

The Speaker:
Dr. Shawkey grew up in Northern Virginia, received his undergraduate degree in Neurobiology at Wesleyan University, Master's in conservation biology at University of South Florida, then became fascinated with animal colors as a Ph.D. student at Auburn. He continued work as a post-doc at Berkeley, then joined the University of Akron faculty in the Biology/Integrated Bioscience Department.  

Minutes, January 28, 2013

  Chair von Meerwall called the meeting to order. Bill Dunn introduced Arnetta Stover and his son Steve Dunn.

  Dr. Dan Galehouse, Treasurer reported that we had 19 paid dinners, for a gain of $2, resulting in a balance of $351.45 in our treasury.

  Dr. Charles Lavan reviewed our upcoming meetings. After the February meeting, Dr. Peter Hoekje from Baldwin Wallace University will be speaking on the topic of Music, Flutes and Physics on March 25. On the 22nd of April, Dr. Peifang Tian of John Carroll University will speak on Imaging 3-D Spatiotemporal Hemodynamics, and at our 'May meeting' on June 3, Dr. Jay Reynolds will speak on the DAWN Mission to Asteroid VESTA.

  Erdman thanked those of the group who judged the Akron Science Fair last Saturday, and mentioned that he is working on a venue to recognize the recipients of the Charles W. Wilson Scholarship in Physics, with the university of Akron and Charlie's family. See last meeting's minutes, or contact Erdman if you are interested in donating to this Scholarship Fund.

  Chair von Meerwall announced that the Physics Department at the University of Akron is thinking of starting an Advancement Council. If anyone or any local company is interested in perhaps participating in this effort, contact Erdman at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; the input will be forwarded. This advisory council will consist of local organizations and STEM individuals who will advise the Department of Physics on how to conduct their operations better, interface with students and faculty, help determine how the Department can provide better service to the community, etc.

  The Chair introduced Dr. Matthew Shawkey: He is an Associate Professor at the University of Akron. His undergraduate degree was in Neurobiology at Wesleyan University, his Master's in conservation biology at University of South Florida, then he became fascinated with animal colors as a Ph.D. student at Auburn. He continued work as a post-doc at Berkeley, then joined the University of Akron faculty in the Biology/Integrated Biosciences Department in 2008.


  Color can affect human's moods and state of mind. In animals, it can help certain species blend into their background or stand out in an attempt to mate. These colors have been studied, but there is not a lot of work on the mechanisms that produce colors in non-human animals. The two primary mechanisms for color production are pigmentation, which typically involves reflections of wavelengths within the visible region, and structural colors, which are produced by constructive interference of light by materials having periodically varying refractive indices. Their work focuses on the latter, which has a much wider spectrum of "colors", from ultraviolet to near infrared wavelengths. Using a Mallard as an example, a plumage patch contains certain kinds of feathers, which are visible to the naked eye. The feathers contain barbs on the order of 1mm size, which in turn consist of barbules on the scale of hundreds of microns. Inside of these are keratin and nanostructures consisting of nanoscale stacks of melanosomes which have an associated pigment color. The melanosomes are developed in melanocytes.

  As light travels into a bird feather, it passes through air [Refractive Index 1.0], then through the keratin layer [Refractive Index 1.54] in the barbules, and then into the melanin layer [Refractive Index 2.0] formed by the melanosomes. At each interface, due to the difference in Refractive Index, some light is reflected and some proceeds to the next layer at a different angle of incidence [that is, it is "bent" or refracted], where a portion of it is again reflected and another portion again refracted. The reflections are again refracted as they return to the medium from which they came, causing constructive and destructive interference among the light waves, amplifying some colors, attenuating others. This is the same effect that makes oil sheens and soap bubbles appear in rainbow colors. The above is a description of a 1-dimensionsal structural colors, as in a bird of paradise. In a Peacock, and other animals, this happens in two dimensions, creating a checkerboard pattern of different materials in a plane. If the checkerboard varies with location in the 3rd dimension, a 3-D checkerboard pattern is created, as in the [local] bluebird colors.

  Using the 1-D nanostructure as a model, the impact of radius and spacing [wide spacing is called more open] can be determined. Tightly packed structures [less open] exhibit duller colors, open structures are brighter. Some melanosomes evolved into hollow structures. These can be close packed but also exhibit bright colors. Others evolved into flattened melanosomes that are rectangular in shape. Some are hollow, some solid. As the species evolved, it was found that they evolve toward more complexity [hollow, rectangular, solid, etc.]. There is no evolution back toward the simpler structures. So the more evolved species have a wider variety of colors. They also developed into a wider variety of anatomical structures and species, including dinosaurs.

  A commonality of micron-sized structures was observed in various species of birds up to 60 million years old, and squid ink. This led to comparison of melanosomes, and ultimately to predicted colors of early bird species, based on similarities of melanosomes. In the Archaeopteryx, melanosomes were analyzed as being primarily black and white colors. It was also found that certain melanosomes were associated with stronger structures in the wings. This led to a more complete picture of bird evolution.

  We thanked the speaker, and he answered a few questions, including how chameleons change their color: Physiologically, the spacing of chameleon melanosomes can be changed, giving them an ability to adapt color to their surroundings. Squids can do this very rapidly. He also mentioned that in order to be able to examine feathers on dinosaurs, the feathers had to be covered in dirt very soon after death. If they are, melanosomes can be can be examined millennia later.

Bob Erdman, Secretary


Akron Physics Club


Meeting Announcement: MONDAY, February 25, 2013 - TANGIER, 6:00 PM

Dr. Mesfin Tsige, University of Akron

will be speaking on:

Molecular Dynamics Simulation

With the ever-increasing presence of nanoscale materials in current industrial products, there is a tremendous need for a greater understanding of the properties of matter at the nanometer scale. It is well known that matter behaves in complex ways and exhibits exotic properties at nanometer length scales.  However, understanding the behavior of matter at such length scales using experimental methods has in general been very difficult. Computer simulations have proven very useful in predicting properties of novel materials yet to be synthesized as well as predicting difficult to measure or poorly understood properties of existing materials. The most commonly used computational technique for investigating structural and dynamical properties of nanoscale materials is molecular dynamics simulations. I will discuss the physics embedded in this computational tool and its use for simulating soft materials behavior at the atomic scale.

The Speaker:
Mesfin Tsige is an Associate Professor at the Department of Polymer Science at the University of Akron. He obtained B.S. and M.S. degrees in Physics from Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia. He received the Ph.D. degree in condensed matter physics from Case Western Reserve University in 2001. He then went to Sandia National Laboratories and after four years as post-doctoral researcher he joined the faculty in the department of Physics at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale (Salukis), achieving the rank of Associate Professor before moving to the University of Akron (Zips) in 2010.

Minutes, February 25, 2013

  Dr. Dan Galehouse, Treasurer reported that there were 13 meals paid in at $20 each ($260) and 15 meals paid out at $18 each ($270). The new treasury balance is $351.45 + $260 - $270 = $341.45. A count of the money in the polypropylene box agrees.

  In the absence of Dr. Charles Lavan, Program Chair, Bob Erdman reviewed our upcoming meetings which Dr. Lavan has arranged (after the March meeting,): At our April 22 meeting, Dr. Peifang Tian from John Carroll University will be speaking on Imaging 3-D Spatiotemporal Hemodynamics in Vivo Using 2-photon Laser Scanning. Our 'May meeting' will be on June 3: Dr. Jay Reynolds of Cleveland State University will speak on the DAWN Mission to Asteroid VESTA.

  Secretary Erdman announced that the District 5 Science Fair will be held March 16 at the Student Center of the University of Akron. Judges are still needed. Contact Erdman at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

  Chair von Meerwall announced that the Physics Department at the University of Akron is thinking of starting an Advisory or Advancement Council. They are interested in ideas for forming better connections with Industry. If you have suggestions or wish to participate email Ernst von Meerwall..

  Dr. Mesfin Tsige was introduced by Chair von Meerwall: He is an Associate Professor at the Department of Polymer Science at the University of Akron. He obtained B.S. and M.S. degrees in Physics from Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia. He received the Ph.D. degree in condensed matter physics from Case Western Reserve University in 2001. He then went to Sandia National Laboratories and after four years as post-doctoral researcher he joined the faculty in the department of Physics at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale (The Salukis), achieving the rank of Associate Professor before moving to the University of Akron (The Zips) in 2010.


  Dr. Tsige's work focuses on simulation of interfaces between materials at the molecular and atomic level. When interfaces between complex molecules such as polymers, peptides, proteins, liquid crystals, etc. and a substrate such as quartz are examined, the problems get very complex, and many factors are involved. In these situations, experimental measurements are very challenging and simulations are quite valuable. The simulations are important to understanding the detailed mechanisms of adhesion, wetting, lubrication, interfaces between various phases of a substance, and dynamics and thermodynamics of interfaces between layers of materials, such as in modern solar cell construction.

  If quantum mechanical analysis is attempted for these large molecules, it is required to simulate motion and forces on individual electrons. It is unfeasibly expensive to simulate more than about 100 atoms using this level of detail. But the problems typically involve Avagadro's number of atoms, and we do not now know how to solve the many-body problem at the quantum mechanical level. In Atomistic Molecular Dynamics, the problem is simplified to look at individual atoms, which can be examined using classical mechanics, wherein forces are determined by F=ma rather than the Schroedinger Equation. For determining macroscopic properties such as viscosity, phase behavior, elastic modulus, etc., the Bead-Spring Model is used, which examines individual monomers and preserves connectivity, but does not analyze individual atoms. Dr. Tsige then gave some examples of the use of these simulations:

1) Wetting and hydrophobic studies: This is one of the earliest interface investigations: Water droplets on a leaf were examined over 400 years ago. Dr. Tsige's group experimented with water droplets on polystyrene, as the oxidation of the polystyrene is varied. If the contact angle (the angle from the surface inside the water droplet to the edge of the water droplet where it interfaces with the surface) is over 90 degrees, it is considered to be hydrophobic; that is, the water is not wetting the surface, and the droplet on the surface is somewhat spherical. If contact angle is below 90 degrees, wetting occurs and the surface is considered hydrophilic [from the Greek, meaning water friendly]. The simulation also shows the impact of water on the surface structure of the polystyrene. The simulation illustrated was done for 250,000 molecules on 72 parallel computers, using LAMPS software. As the surface is oxidized by applying a plasma, it becomes more hydrophilic and wetting is increased. Experimental quantitative measurements of contact angle and wetting are unrepeatable, but a least-squares fit shows that the average data is a linear relationship. Simulations using the above technique are more repeatable and clearly confirm that the relationship between contact angle and degree of oxidation is linear.

2) Another example is filtering of a water-organic mix using carbon nanotubes. Experimentally, it was found that carbon nanotubes was an order of magnitude more effective than sand at filtering water containing organic material. It was unclear why this was so. Using simulation looking at the molecular and atomic levels, it was determined that the reason for this is that when a mixture of water and organics is applied to the carbon nanotubes, they become super-hydrophobic, repelling water but not organics to the outside of the nanotubes.

3) Simulation studies are also valuable in determining the effects of various solvents in spin coating. The structure is disordered in the solvent but the final structure is ordered after evaporation of the solvent. The specifics of the ordering relate to the affinity of the solvent for various kinds of materials used and water. This process is used in the manufacture of solar cells.

4) Another area in which simulation is valuable is in examining the elastic and mechanical properties as well as failure mechanisms in thermosetting plastics. Simulations can determine the impact of 2- and 3-dimensional cross-linking on the mechanical properties and failure mechanisms.

5) Water diffuses into PDMS [polydimethylsiloxane] plastic at a widely variable rate, but it is not possible to experimentally determine a repeatable coefficient of diffusion. Using simulations it was determined that as the amount of water in PDMS increases, the water molecules cluster together, since PDMS is hydrophobic. Clusters have a much slower diffusion rate than a single molecule, so the simulation provides insight into the variability of the diffusion coefficient, which is a very complex process.

  We thanked Dr. Tsige for his presentation. He addressed a few questions:

*The distribution of the electrons on large molecules is much less important than connectivity influences, thus the Atomistic Molecular Dynamics Simulation is a good approximation.

*How do they assure that the simulations produce results that agree with the real world data? Mainly through discussion and comparison of data with the experimental groups involved.

*The resin stretches out into filaments in the cross linked material; the diameter of these is similar to the crazing diameter, perhaps up to 10 atomic diameters.

Bob Erdman, Secretary


Akron Physics Club


Meeting Announcement: MONDAY, March 25, 2013 - TANGIER, 6:00 PM

Dr. Peter Hoekje, Baldwin Wallace University

will be speaking on:

Flutes and Flute Physics from Prehistory to the Future

Musical instruments have been part of human culture for over 10,000 years, since before the dawn of civilization. These instruments range from the simplest flutes and drums to highly engineered and varied instruments, and their uses have included not just music, but also civic and religious functions.

This talk looks at the history of civilization through flutes and other wind instruments. Along the way are some surprises in the ways that physics has been harnessed to suit the functions of the instruments!

The Speaker:
Peter Hoekje combines his passions for physics and for music through study of the physics of music and musical instruments. He received a B.S. and Ph.D. in physics from Case Western Reserve University, where he studied with Arthur Benade. Following a post-doctoral position at the University Hospitals Airway Disease Center, he spent two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Kingdom of Tonga. Since 1998 he has been on the physics faculty at Baldwin Wallace University and continues to play music in a variety of venues.

Minutes, March 25, 2013

Report on the March 25 Business Meeting:

  Chair von Meerwall called the meeting to order: John Edgerton brought his wife, Susan Gallagher. Lloyd Goettler, President of ACESS, introduced Gary Pinter, a Musician, and Bob Osterhout, President-Elect of ACESS. John G. Sommer introduced his wife Nancy, his son John D., and John D's daughter Haley. Speaker Peter Hoekje introduced his wife Carol.

  Dr. Dan Galehouse, Treasurer reported that we had x paid dinners, for a loss of $6, resulting in a balance of $335.45 in our treasury. [Dan will send me updated info.]

  Dr. Charles Lavan reviewed our upcoming meetings. On the 22nd of April, Dr. Peifang Tian of John Carroll University will speak on Imaging 3-D Spatiotemporal Hemodynamics, and at our 'May meeting' on June 3, Dr. Jay Reynolds will speak on the DAWN Mission to Asteroid VESTA.

  Chair von Meerwall mentioned that the Physics Department at the University of Akron is thinking of forming an Advancement Council. If anyone or any local company is interested in perhaps participating in this effort, contact Erdman at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; the input will be forwarded. This advisory council will consist of local organizations and STEM individuals who will advise the Department of Physics on how to conduct their operations better, interface with students and faculty, help determine how the Department can provide better service to the community, etc.

  Lloyd Goettler gave the ACESS report and thanked those from the Physics Club who judged various recent Science Fairs. ACESS has been in existence for over 50 years, and would be happy to consider any assistance that the Physics Club would like, in their role as an umbrella organization of many local technical organization and educational organizations. Our meetings are listed on the ACESS website. ACESS appreciates the advance planning of the Physics Club meetings, for which we thanked Dr. Lavan.

  The Chair introduced Dr. Peter Hoekje: He received a B.S. and Ph.D. in physics from Case Western Reserve University, where he studied with Arthur Benade. Following a post-doctoral position at the University Hospitals Airway Disease Center, he spent two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Kingdom of Tonga. Since 1998 he has been on the physics faculty at Baldwin-Wallace University and continues to play music in a variety of venues. He combines his love for music with his love for physics and history in this presentation.


  The earliest flutes found were from 35.000 - 40,000 years ago, in the Aurignacian culture. This was just after the Neanderthal period. Some whistles were found from roughly 90,000 years ago. Some were split, adjusted, and glued back together. He showed some from China in the Neolithic era, about 9,000 years ago, which were used for ritual government ceremonies. These had a small additional hole for tuning. Pre-Columbian and Mayan flutes and whistles were found in quantities of tens of thousands near the Mayan pyramids. These were possibly toys or animal calls, and many had complicated sound chambers. Animals were imitated for example by producing two very close tones that "warble" against each other. Some noise-makers produced a "spitting" sound like a hissing cat, such as a jaguar. This indicates a high degree of engineering in these instruments. The Mayans also engineered their pyramids so the steps reflected a rapid sequence of reflections from a single hand clap, make a noise like the Quetzal Bird, which was revered as a god by the Mayan culture. This same sound can also be made on a very small noise maker, by rolling your finger down a small row of holes.

  In Tonga, which is just east of the International Date Line, so the sun rises there first, the belief was that air from the mouth was polluted by man's words, but air from the nose was not. Thus nose flutes, the fangufangu, were used to wake the king with non-polluted air. Today music form this instrument is used as a sign-on call for the local radio station. Eastern Polynesian [the area near Hawaii] nose flutes are open-ended, the western Polynesian [near Tonga and New Zealand] nose flutes are closed-ended.

  Dr. Hoekje reviewed the various types of excitations for flutes and recorders, including edge-blown, transverse [as in the European Flute], Notch, as in the Aurignacian Flute], fipple [recorders], the various nose flutes and variations of these. These all cause airflow to alternate between different paths, creating a sound at the alternation frequency. Coupled to the excitation mechanism is a resonator tuned to the frequency of the excitation mechanism or a multiple. This could be a tube with holes to change the effective length of the tube, as in the case of flutes and recorders, a cavity with holes as in the ocarina, or an elongated cavity as in the nose flute.

  Both the size of the resonant cavity and the diameter of the holes in the cavity affect tuning. Flutes evolved from a simple cylinder, to a cylindrical head joint and a tapered main body in the baroque flute, to a tapered head joint and a cylindrical main body in the modern Boehm Flute. This provides more accurate relationships between the first, second and third resonances, and is easier to build. In the Shakuhachi Flute, a notched flute, the relationship between resonances is controlled putting layers of clay in the inside of the tube. The effects of wall material, design process for and various methods for tuning and modifying flutes were also discussed.

  We thanked the speaker, and he answered a few questions, including what happens if you squeeze a plastic bottle partially filled with water: This is a rather complex problem which many have studied, and work is continuing. Another question related to the cross section of the Mayan instruments: Some are single resonators, some are two coupled resonating chambers; they were probably originated prior to the Mayan period, and there was no written music for these found. Another question related to circular vs. elliptical organ pipes, which are elliptical; circular would be too stiff. We discussed flute-like effects when the wind interacts with buildings and other structures such as tubular luggage carrriers. The octave key was added to flutes and recorders and flutes in roughly the year 1500.

Bob Erdman, Secretary


Akron Physics Club


Meeting Announcement: MONDAY, April 22, 2013 - TANGIER, 6:00 PM

Dr. Peifang Tian, John Carroll University

will be speaking on:

Imaging 3-D Spatiotemporal Hemodynamics

Watching the brain in action; developing and applying in vivo optical imaging technology in neurosciences..

Minutes, April 22, 2013

Report on the April 22 Business Meeting:

  Dr. Dan Galehouse, Treasurer reported that there were 13 paid meals at $20 for $260. There
was one student plus the speaker making 15 meals at $18 cost, for $270 paid out. This brings the treasury-in-a-box from $335.45 to $325.45. The count of cash on hand agrees.

  Bob Erdman, Secretary and ACESS Representative reported that at the ACESS Advisors meeting, our Chair, Dr. Ernst von Meerwall gave an excellent report of our activities based on a slide prepared by Dr. Dan Galehouse the previous year. It was noted that our organization seems to be more successful than many at attracting attendees to meetings. Perhaps this is because we are admittedly in the entertainment business for those interested in technical subjects related to physics.

  Dr. Charles Lavan reviewed our upcoming meeting, our 'May meeting' on June 3, Dr. Jay Reynolds will speak on the DAWN Mission to Asteroid VESTA. Dr. Lavan received a round of applause for lining up 8 speakers for next year already. It was noted that in ACESS, we are known for being way ahead of the game in planning speakers compared to many organizations.

  Chair von Meerwall mentioned that the usual number of nominations was received: None. Nominations are still open. If you are interested please contact Dr. von Meerwall or the Secretary. If no nominations are received well in advance of our next meeting June 3, the present officers will be proposed to continue in their present assignments. He asked that regular attendees not be bashful about helping out if you can by nominating themselves.

  The Chair introduced Dr. Peifang Tian: She is an Electrical Engineer by initial training, receiving her initial training from Tsinghua University in China. In 1995 she moved to the United States to study at Princeton University where she conducted research on ultrafast laser spectroscopy and device physics, particularly optoelectronic devices. She received her Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Princeton University in 2003. After her doctoral work she joined the staff of the Applied Optics Laboratory of the General Electric Global Research Center in Niskayuna, NY where she worked on developing optical imaging technologies for biomedical applications. In 2005 she moved back to academia as an Assistant Project Scientist in the Department of Neurosciences at the University of California, San Diego, where she started working on brain imaging using optical methods. Dr. Tian joined the faculty of John Carroll University in August 2009 as an assistant professor in the physics department. She is interested in advancing optical imaging methods in biomedical applications.


  Her work studies how light can be used to observe actions in the brain. The work involves the physics of light propagation and scattering in the brain, the development of instrumentation for functional brain imaging, and neuroscience combined with biophysics in order to apply the instruments to the problem of functional brain imaging at University of California at San Diego.

  An early example of functional activity was an experiment in 1894, wherein a patient was spoken to about his wife. He could not speak, but blood to the brain increased immediately and the volume of the patient's feet decreased at the same time. Direct measurements of neural activity include cell membrane potential and ion concentration. Indirect measurements include blood flow activity and metabolism or glucose consumption. Neural activity occurs in a time frame of milliseconds. Blood flow and metabolism occur in time frames of hundreds of milliseconds. Functional MRI and PET have spatial resolution on the order of millimeters, which is inadequate to observe individual neurons or capillary blood flow. Optical methods are portable, low cost, can be integrated with MRI and other methods, and can be used for repetitive tests since energy is low and no ionization is required. Wide field of view is also important to see various sites simultaneously.

  In the cortex, specific areas correspond to activity related to specific parts of the body. In rodents, eyesight is not very good, and there is a large area of the cortex is devoted to sensory feeling in the whiskers. In studying the human brain, infra-red wavelengths can be used to non-invasively study functional activity within a few mm of the skull cap. In mice, the cortex in only about 1mm, and is near the skull, so this same technique works well. An issue in optical measurements is scattering, which deflects light rays and diminishes the amount of light coming from a stimulus. Another less problematic issue is absorption of certain frequencies, reducing the intensity of transmitted light. Red and near-infra-red wavelengths have the least absorption, thus are most often used. There are trade-offs among different methods of observing light in the brain. If resolution is important, then it is important to measure only non-scattered photons, which can be done effectively near the surface of the brain. Using techniques such as 2-photon laser scanning microscopy with fluorescence response, measurements can be made with 1 to a few micron resolution to about 1 mm depth. If diffusive optical imaging techniques are used, penetration depths of a few cm can be obtained, but resolution degrades to a few mm.

  Using 2-dmensional optical imaging, the 3-dimensional cortex can be observed by looking at "barrels" consisting of the 6 layers of the cortex in a given 2-dimsional area on the surface of the cortex. This involves "squeezing" light both temporally and spatially. By doing this, fluorescence naturally only occurs at one layer; the energy at other levels is too low to cause fluorescence. Parameters can be adjusted to observe activity in 3 dimensions, selecting different layers of the barrels. Using this technique, studies can be done on dilation of blood vessels over time, in response to a stimulus. Also this effect can be used to investigate variations in dilation of vessels at various depths and conditions.

  We thanked the speaker and she answered some questions. Many were involved the energy of light pulses: After many hours of being bombarded with light pulses, there can be evidence of more scattering, indicating the possibility of damage due to the incident light. The work often involves 10-hour days of data taking for many consecutive days. The femtosecond pulses occur at an 18MHz rate, thus duty cycle is very low. In response to another question, Dr. Tian mentioned that she uses a solid state sapphire laser for this work.

  We again thanked her with one more round of applause.

  Submitted by Bob Erdman, Secretary, May 24, 2013.


Akron Physics Club


Meeting Announcement: MONDAY, June 3, 2013 - TANGIER, 6:00 PM

Dr. Jay Reynolds, Cleveland State University

will be speaking on:

DAWN: Mission to Asteroid Vesta

Minutes, June 3, 2013

NOTES ON: Akron Physics Club Meeting, June 3, 2013

  Drew Bower, a student working with Rus Hamm told a mathematical joke. The audience groaned.

  Dan Galehouse, Treasurer reported via email that there were 19 paying members for 19 x $20 = $380 in and 21 meals for 21 x $18 = $378 out. The net gain was $2 plus a $100 donation from Dave Sours. Thanks Dave. The treasury rose from $325.45 to $427.45; the cash count agrees.

  Chair von Meerwall mentioned that no new officer nominations were received: A motion was made, seconded and passed that the existing officers continue in their present positions. None declined, so the officers will remain the same for the next club year. A planning meeting will be arranged this summer, after which announcements of our meetings beginning September 2013 will be made.

  Jack Gieck sent word that he appreciated the card we sent him after his fall. He is not very mobile now but he has graduated from a walker to a cane, and hopes to attend our meetings in the fall.

  The Chair introduced Dr. Jay Reynolds: He is a Research Astronomer at Cleveland State University, is a Member of the NASA Speakers Bureau, and is acclaimed as the area's most Visible Scientist. He was and is a contributor to NASA, presently on the DAWN project. He gives over 30 talks per year, and is frequently on radio and television.

Notes on Dr. Reynolds talk

  The speaker opened with video pictures of the Feb. 15 meteor seen in Russia. This was an unexpected event, and not related to the expected asteroid which passed near the earth that same date. It created moving shadows from a series of light poles, which permitted calculation of the angle of approach etc. When it hit the ground there were strong concussions which damaged buildings due to concussion, not fragments. It was 55 feet in diameter, 22 million pounds, as determined by analysis of the acoustics of the blast from the explosion which was 12-15 miles above the earth. The explosion was the equivalent of 472 kilotons of TNT vs. the first atomic bomb which was 16 kilotons. This was a rare event; the last such event was in 1908, also in Russia.

  There are many asteroids in space. Recently, we are more aware of them, and more earth - crossing orbits have been reported. If we have enough advance notice, meaning 50 years or so, some action may be taken to avoid an asteroid collision with earth. We are getting better at predicting these; in 2011 a 10-foot asteroid was accurately predicted to hit earth, and it was observed. In the last decade a lot of progress has been made in predicting large asteroid collisions. But we still have difficulty detecting asteroids with a diameter of 100 feet or less.

  Comets tend to have long elliptical orbits, but asteroids have circular orbits. Comets are more dangerous than asteroids, since the path of larger asteroids can be detected and collision with earth can be predicted far in advance. Comets are primarily gaseous, and as they pass through a distance from the sun corresponding to the orbit of Jupiter they begin to outgas due to the heat of the sun, and become visible, often for the first time.

  Some larger asteroids have a planet-like structure with a center core and an outside crust. The surface of some asteroids has a strong structure, with little dust on the surface; others have a thick coating of regolith [dust as on the moon]. Some asteroids have moons, which were just recently detected. When asteroids collide with space material, many fragments [meteoroids] are ejected from the collision. Some of these come into the earth's atmosphere, where we see them as meteors, which can be very small, on the order of mm, and travel at about 20-40 miles per second, lighting up brightly as they burn in the earth's atmosphere. If a meteor survives plunging through the earth's atmosphere and strikes the earth, the remaining material is called a meteorite.

  By analyzing the composition of meteorites, their origin can be determined if the composition matches data recorded from previous meteorites or from the moon. Ceres is the largest asteroid, roughly the size of Texas. Vesta is the second largest asteroid by mass, about the size of Ohio. In the history of Vesta, there was a significant collision that created a large impact crater near the South Pole, and sent many meteoroids into space. About one of every 20 meteorites found on earth is from Vesta.

  Chris Russell is the Principal Investigator for the DAWN mission. His concept was to send a spacecraft first to Vesta, since we have many samples of it, then to Ceres, being the largest asteroid, and then perhaps to a third asteroid. The spacecraft for the Dawn mission was launched in September 2007. It left Vesta in August 2012 and is expected to arrive at Ceres in February 2015, go into orbit and stay about 1 year. Three ion propulsion engines are enabled sequentially; as one gets too corroded, another is turned on. They use ionized xenon for propulsion. Ion propulsion is relatively inexpensive but does not get an object to its destination rapidly; thrust is low, but over long periods speed keeps steadily increasing. Only 1000 pounds of fuel was needed for the entire DAWN mission. Solar panels are on board, with 10kw capability near the earth. There were originally 4 reaction wheels that act as gyroscopes, stabilizing the spacecraft. Only two remain operational, which may prevent travel to a third asteroid.
Instruments on the mission include neutron and gamma detectors to measure surface composition, and an optical camera. Cost of the project is only $8.3 million.

  Once the mission got to Vesta, it initially went into a polar orbit, then a high-altitude mapping orbit, and finally a low-altitude mapping orbit. Pictures were taken from 250 miles to 3200 miles above the surface of Vesta. Equatorial lines, bright crater rays, and dark areas were observed, which are probably carbon. This information was the basis of 3-dimensional topographical maps of Vesta. The equatorial lines were formed as result of waves from the impact of the collision in the South Pole region of Vesta. Relatively new craters have sharp edges. Softer smoother edges on older craters occur because the regolith "slumps" down the sides. Gravitational pull of Vesta is only 2.2% of that on earth.

  In response to questions, Dr. Reynolds mentioned that ice was found on Vesta and many places in the solar system, but surface water has not been observed except on earth. Mars is not a good place to look for life, but Europa might be. His opinion is that there may be microbial life in the solar system. The question was asked as to why there are circles, not ellipses at impacts, since not all impacts were perpendicular to the surface. It has been experimentally shown that at high impact velocity, a circular hole is made regardless of incident angle. It is not known if Vesta has a magnetic field. Vesta does a complete rotation every 5.4 hours. All the data indicates that Vesta has no moons, in spite of the South Pole impact mentioned earlier which released a lot of material.

  We thanked the speaker with a round of applause.

  Submitted by Bob Erdman, Secretary, 6/12/13


Akron Physics Club


Meeting Announcement: MONDAY, September 28, 2013 - TANGIER, 6:00 PM

Dr. Brian Davis

will be speaking on:

Nonlinearities in Biomechanics

Minutes, September 28, 2013

  He talked about the stress-strain curve of a stent, which is placed in an artery to keep it open, made out of nitinol, a material that is 50% nickel, 50% titanium, which is non-linear and exhibits hysteresis. Once in place, it exerts only a small force [the chronic outward force] on the blood vessel, represented by the lower curve of a hysteretic stress-strain loop. If an attempt is made to bend or crush the artery, the stent strongly resists this, with a lot higher force, represented by the upper curve of the hysteretic loop. This prevents the stent from collapsing.

  His team at Cleveland Clinic developed a device based on a designed non-linearity that would non-destructively hold a mitral heart valve open during surgery. This was accomplished by designing a "weak spot" in the device [thus a non-linearity] at which wings would bend outward and hold the valve open. The device is undergoing testing.

  In the area of orthopedic devices, his team set up an experiment wherein subjects were asked to squeeze a load cell using a defined percentage of the maximum force which they could apply. It was found that the standard deviation around the mean for older subjects was greater than for younger. It was also found that as more strength was applied, the variation was larger.

  Bone loss greatly increases in microgravity, as in space. In this case, there is a non-linear pressure gradient pushing marrow with a non-linear viscosity through a bone with non-linear permeability. This led to experiments and theory development showing things like if you exercise with a 700-newton force [roughly the body weight, walking] for 42 minutes this has the same stimulus effect as one-half the force [as in bicycle riding] for 420 minutes. The data fits a non-linear curve, but the physics is not yet understood. With more experimentation and better understanding of the physics, this may prove useful in predicting bone loss in space.

  There is a non-linear relationship between thermal conductivity and young's modulus. This is important in developing heat-conducting "sleeves" for amputee stumps, so that sweating is minimized and heat is conducted away.

  A non-linear stress-strain relationship in bones could indicate the presence of micro-cracks in the bone. By using two frequencies, the sum and difference and twice each frequency are present, indicating the amount of non-linearity.

  Ulcers develop in the feet of diabetic patients. These are caused by forces. There are non-linear relationships between the normal [vertical] forces on the feet and longitudinal forces [shear]. There are also twisting moments and dependencies on the angle at which the foot strikes the ground. This is a very complex multi-dimensional problem full of non-linear relationships. There is a lot to learn, but it is clear that as the foot is pushed down, the skin spreads out, creating a shear force, and that the forces are not symmetrical: In walking, upward forces are not equal to downward; forces to the right are not equal to forces to the left. The challenge is relating the forces to the formation of diabetic foot ulcers.

  When walking, as the heel strikes the ground, it needs to be stiff. But when raised, it needs to move easily. A way to address this is by using a magneto-rheological or electro-rheological fluid, which is stiff when a field is applied, flexible when it is not. There may be utility in designing a system which allows fluids to flow or be rigid in response to magnetic or electric field.

  He reviewed some of the philosophies of the BEST Medicine project fair created by Brian. The next one will be March 22, 2014. Students and Judges are needed.

We thanked the speaker with applause.

Bob Erdman, Secretary


Akron Physics Club


Meeting Announcement: MONDAY, October 28, 2013 - TANGIER, 6:00 PM

Fr. Thomas Acker SJ, PhD, Pastor, St. Joseph, Randolph, Former President of Sixma Xi  

will be speaking on:

Making Cider out of Wormy Apples

Organizations that flounder need a turn-around strategy to revitalize. Some organizations should pass to the grave with thanks for their service in the past. Others can reconstitute but only if they find a purpose that fits an opportunity or need and engage a creative leader. The current struggle of the Sigma Xi founded in 1886 at Cornell University is an example in point.

The talk will include discussion of how to keep technical organizations vital to the technical people they serve, and how to effectively communicate with their constituents. Dr. Acker will include real-life experiences working with a variety of technical organizations to solve interesting and challenging problems.

The Speaker:
Dr. Tom Acker, S.J., Ph.D. worked for 40 years primarily with organizations or regions that required turn-around or revitalization. While employed in these settings he has raised over 250 million dollars from federal and private sources. Human environments of need and struggle are his disposition and strength. His most recent post was leading Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society, and a prestigious scientific society encompassing physics, mathematics, biology and chemistry. This organization publishes American Scientist, among other activities.

Minutes, October 28, 2013

  Chair von Meerwall introduced visitors: From ACESS, the Akron Council of Engineering and Scientific Societies, of which we are a member, Tom Babyack, Rick Buchanan, Eric Halverson, Bob Osterhaut, David Perry, and Robert Voss. Dan Galehouse and I are APC representatives to this organization. Also Jim and Carolyn Hogan were introduced by Charles Lavan.

  Treasurer Galehouse reported that we have 22 paid reservations, the speaker's meal was $18, for a net gain of $26, so our balance went from $441.45 to $467.45.

  Program Chair Lavan reported that next month Susan Shearer from Stark State will discuss Fuel Cells and other alternative energy sources [described above]. In January through June, the program is as previously announced.

  Bob Osterhaut gave the ACESS report: The annual awards banquet will be November 7, at which 60 high school students will be given awards. Andy Rich will present a discussion of advanced composites at a joint societies meeting in January, and IEEE will hold another joint meeting, probably in March or April on the decline of industrial support for scientific activities. Chair von Meerwall mentioned the mutual benefit from the relationship with ACESS. Go to acessinc.org for more info.

  Chair von Meerwall introduced Father Tom Acker, our speaker: Fr. Acker obtained a BA in Classical Languages from Loyola of Chicago in 1952, a Ph.D. in Biology from Stanford University in 1961, and he became an ordained Jesuit Priest in 1963. He was an Assistant Professor of Biology at John Carroll University in Cleveland, an Associate Professor at the University of Detroit, spent a few years as a Fulbright Professor at a University in Nepal and a Project Director with the US Peace Corps in Nepal. He was an Associate Professor of Biology at the University of San Francisco, Dean of Arts and Sciences at St. Josephs University in Philadelphia, and President of Wheeling Jesuit University for 18 years, Dean of Future Generations Graduate School, Chairman and CEO of the Higher Education Foundation for 3 years, CEO of Forward Southern West Virginia, and attempted to lead Sigma Xi, which he will describe in his talk.

  Fr. Acker taught one course in Physics, as part of his Jesuit order training. Most of his life was spent working with organizations in trouble and needing rejuvenation, as Dean or President of various institutions. He learned that good leadership is in high demand and short supply. One factor in this is concern about legal consequences of leadership actions. Another is the push to get consensus on a decision, which generally takes longer and leads to a somewhat anemic proposals. Leaders do not wait for consensus. There are 4 types of leaders:

A. Creators, who take quantum leaps, lead with a new idea several steps ahead of the status quo. Walt Disney and bill Gates are good examples.

B. Growers or Developers, who grow an organization at a faster rate than the market, but not generate a quantum leap. These people lead after the quantum leap is accomplished.

C. Maintainers, who keep an organization as it is, even though the world changes. If this type of leader is in place too long, the organization will suffer.

D. Holders on, who enjoy the salary and prestige of leadership position, but are no longer up to the challenge of keeping up with the competition and changes in the world. The organization will lose ground rapidly.

  Fr. Acker has been a member of Sigma Xi for over 50 years, and enjoyed their magazine, the American Scientist. He got involved and became President of the Greenbriar Chapter of Sigma Xi. This was a geographically spread out territory, making it difficult for members to attend meetings. He started a Chapter at the Greenbriar Osteopathic School, which grew. He was then asked to run for President of Sigma Xi. there were problems with the organization: Membership has declined to 50,000 from 100,000, they have deficit budget since 1996, now seven million dollars in debt. Sources of income are declining. The constitution has not been revised for decades and was very ponderous. The leadership is not skilled in turning an organization around. There is a new President every year, thus no long-range consistency, a formula for declining into oblivion. The President is now a Holder-on. The Board is very narrowly focused on their own area, without a wider view of issues. They are now in a mode of cutting services due to budget constraints.

  He was elected President. So he first attempted to change the succession process: Presidents should be involved for 3 years, as President-elect, President, then Past President. This is because organizations cannot be changed in one year. He presented plans, got no reaction, and ultimately resigned, being 84, at the beginning of a three-year cycle because no one was interested in change. In analyzing the issues with Sigma Xi, Fr. Acker notes that there was no longer a place for the organization, because the world changed and the organization did not change. Their niche was gone. A new direction was needed. Leadership did not know how to find or implement a new direction. The Board and President need to be changed. The structure limits change in direction and growth. A creative leader is needed and the leader needs the freedom to act to fix the issues. The new direction needs to be explainable in 2-3 points, not a long list. If there is no new blood, the organization will age, then decline. As it declines, there is insufficient manpower to accomplish the old mission in the old way.


  How do you attract younger people when they are very busy with too many activities? A definition of a niche that others are not filling is needed. Those interested will be attracted, and if it captivates people, they will make space for it. In a declining organization, it is important to remember that if you keep doing the same thing, the decline will continue, thus major change is needed. Example: In grade school, let people teach what they love, that is, go back to specialized teachers, not "home room". This is a major change. Money comes when you provide service. First provide the service. Then the money will come.

  Regarding Sigma Xi, the students are still there. Why the fall off? The students are very busy and see no value in interdisciplinary activities. Also, the rules are ponderous and very bureaucratic, requiring a lot of time of leaders. Get rid of the rules, let the Chapters do what they need to in order to grow their membership.

  Part of the issue is the increasing amount of foreign students compared to 50 years ago, thus a more diverse population. Part of this is the present school environment squelches interest in science.

  Is the shift to an aging population in all scientific groups a societal shift? Everyone is very limited on time. Students and younger people need to "prune and cut" activities. Make it valuable to a focused group, and they will make space for it. More services leads to new members. Minimize rules and regulations. [The new Pope leans this way.] Everyone has to create a good life for themselves and create a good life for others. But not necessarily at the same time. Early in life, focus on your education; later, focus on activities that create a good life for others.

  Other ideas for better schools? Its related to the leadership. If leadership is good, the school is good. Minimize turnover in school leaders. People need to be hungry for change, and will support a new direction if it provides hope. If things continue to go down, it will not change with the same leaders. Get people in jobs where that they like and are enthusiastic about, not just putting in time. Remember it takes 3-5 years to turn an organization around.

  The military does a good job of training leaders. Other professions do not do this as well. How to address this? Not everyone is a born leader. Assess the potential, then invest in those who will be good at it. If you are going to lead, you will get criticism. If you do not want criticism, don't attempt to lead.

Bob Erdman, Secretary



Akron Physics Club


Meeting Announcement: MONDAY, November 25, 2013 - TANGIER, 6:00 PM

Susan Shearer, Director of Fuel Cell and Alternative Energy, Stark State University, BS in Mechanical Engineering, MBA Finance & Marketing

will be speaking on:

Stark State Fuel Cell and Alternative Energy Programs

To support the emerging Fuel Cell Industry in Ohio, Stark State College has constructed a $4.7 million Fuel Cell Prototyping Center. Completed in the fall of 2006, the Center is designed for use by emerging and fuel cell-related technology companies to assist them in pre-commercialization prototyping and demonstration stages of the development of fuel cell-based power generation systems. Susan will share information on the fuels cell and alternative energy education programs at Stark State College. Susan will also speak about distributed energy generation, alternative energy installations in the state and Fuel Cell / Hydrogen vehicle deployment in the USA. The Fuel Cell Prototyping Center charter tenant was SOFCO and Rolls-Royce Fuel Cell Systems in (US) Inc, 2006 which now known as LG Fuel Cell Systems, LG having acquired 51% ownership from Rolls-Royce Fuel Cell systems in 2012. The Fuel Cell Prototyping Center was created as part of the Wright Fuel Cell Group, comprised of academic, industry and other collaborators, forming a network to marshal resources to accelerate innovation and commercialization for the fuel cell industry across Ohio.

Stark State offers a Mechanical Engineering Technology associates degree with a fuel cell technology major and a one-year technical certificate. The program incorporates mechanical, electrical, and chemical technologies to provide education for the application of scientific and engineering principles focused on alternative energy sources and more specifically, fuel cell technology. Additionally, as of the fall 2013 semester, Stark State College now offers classes in Solar Photovoltaic and Solar thermal studies as a major within the Electrical Maintenance Technology Associates of Applied Science program.

The Speaker:
Ms Susan Shearer is the Director of Fuel Cell and Alternative Energy Technologies at Stark State College which she joined in December of 2010, following a 28yr career in engineering, product management, development & testing and change management in the bearing industry. Susan’s role is to support the development of curriculum and manage projects in the fuel cell and alternative energy fields in collaboration and with Stark State’s Industry partners. Susan serves as the Principal Investigator for the NSF Great Lakes Fuel Cell Education Partnership (www.fuelcelleducation.org) and is the Chair of the Education committee on the Ohio Fuel Cell Coalition [OFCC] board (http://www.fuelcellcorridor.com). Susan moved to Canton in 2004 to join The Timken Company as a Group Manager in Product Management and was responsible for Timken’s global change management organization from 2007-2010. Prior to joining The Timken Company Susan was the Director of SKF USA Inc.’s North American Technical Center in Plymouth Michigan. Susan received her BS majoring in Mechanical Engineering, from Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN and her MBA from Erasmus University’s Rotterdam School of Management in the Netherlands.

Minutes, November 25, 2013

  Her background was focused on project management. The program at Stark State is unusual in that they are in a lead role in an emerging technology, which is uncommon at a 2-year community college. Stark State got development grants from the Ohio Department of Development and funding from the Department of Energy for portable fuel cell systems, in partnership with Lockheed Martin. Portable fuel cell systems use 1/3 the amount of fuel as a classic combustion engine, reducing the need for fuel deliveries in dangerous battle zones and elsewhere. Fuel cells are also quieter, an advantage in battle conditions. The military versions of these systems can use any energy-containing fuel, thus can be fueled from locally available sources.

  Originally, SOFCo was a fuel cell operation of Babcock and Wilcox. Discussion started in 2003, and led to the construction of the Wright Center at Stark State in 2005, as an incubator for emerging companies in the alternative energy field. SOFCo and Rolls Royce were the first occupants of the Wright Center. These operations merged, under the name of Rolls Royce, which was later merged into the present LG Fuel Cell Systems. LG moved their facilities from Singapore to Stark State, including a small manufacturing and a 1 megawatt [1MW] prototype fuel cell generator, which is beginning to be commercially sold. This is in a 6500-square foot facility. They provide intern, co-op and permanent jobs for Stark State students. Ohio is the largest worldwide supplier of components for the fuel cell industry; many graduates of Stark State stay in this industry in Ohio. These partnerships also led to an unusually well-equipped student lab for fuel cell lab courses. The lab has all needed gases for various types of fuel cells. The lab has facilities to operate both high-temperature [800C for solid oxide cells] and low-temperature [PEM] cells, which were demonstrated during the presentation.

  Ohio generates a lot of pollution from the coal-fired power plants; since fuel cells produce a lot less pollution this is an interesting alternative. In Ohio, 9000 Gigawatts [9000GW] of power are generated from coal-fired plants. 2000GW are from gas-fired plants; other sources are far smaller. The state is interested in developing alternative clean energy sources to replace the coal-fired plants, improving pollution and the health of Ohio residents. This relates to the "25 by 25" initiative: by 2025 the plan is to have 12.5% of the energy from renewable source, and another 12.5% from advanced sources, including fuel cells. Conceptual work is being done on distributed systems, which can be detached from the existing power grid which is nearly obsolete. In Europe and Asia, distributed power systems are now in use for homes.

  They also provide training in solar cells and other renewable and alternative programs, offering associate degrees and certificates for industrial positions in these industries. They are part of a collaboration that is applying for an NSF grant as a Regional Center of Excellence.

  A fuel cell is similar to a battery, but it does not store energy [which is depleted as the cell is used]. Instead it is an electrochemical reaction which starts with hydrogen and oxygen and produces water and energy. The low-temperature PEM fuel cells are better for portable electronics but not as efficient for power generation and transportation, where the solid oxide fuel cells are used. One area where some fuel cells have been have already been deployed is in the fork-lift and similar vehicles. Fuel-cell powered buses have been deployed in major cities in Ohio, Michigan and Connecticut, among others. Research is being done on alternative materials for fuel cells such as methanol. Fuel cell kits are available, and there are races of fuel-cell-powered cars.

  During the presentation, a question was asked regarding how the 800C temperature was reached: A combination of heating during the refining, and the electrochemical reaction gives off heat. The refining process gives off no nitrogen or sulfur oxides, providing a very clean process. There was a discussion of various issues related to hydrogen-powered vehicles compared to LNG and traditional gas-powered vehicles. The secretary has electronic copies of various industry reports supplied by the speaker, which can be requested at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   

Bob Erdman, Secretary