2011-12 Catalog

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Offering Description

Undergraduate Research in Scientific Inquiry with E. Zita

Fall 2011, Winter 2012 and Spring 2012 quarters

EJ Zita physics, mathematics, astrophysics
Fields of Study
astronomy and physics
Preparatory for studies or careers in
astronomy, physics, climate studies.

Rigorous quantitative and qualitative research is an important component of academic learning in Scientific Inquiry. This independent learning opportunity allows advanced students to delve into real-world research with faculty who are currently engaged in specific projects. Students typically begin by working in apprenticeship with faculty or laboratory staff and gradually take on more independent projects within the context of the specific research program as they gain experience. Students can develop vital skills in research design, data acquisition and interpretation, written and oral communication, collaboration, and critical thinking that are valuable for students pursuing a graduate degree or entering the job market.

E. J. Zita (physics) studies the Sun and other magnetized plasmas. Do solar changes affect Earth over decades (e.g. Solar Max) to millennia (e.g. climate changes)? Why does the Sun shine a bit more brightly when it is more magnetically active, even though sunspots are dark? Why does the Sun's magnetic field flip every 11 years? Why is the temperature of the Sun’s outer atmosphere millions of degrees higher than that of its surface? We investigate such solar mysteries by analyzing data from solar observatories, and with theory and computer modeling. Students can study solar physics and plasma physics, use simple optical and radio telescopes to observe the Sun from Olympia, and analyze new solar data from telescopes on satellites. Strong research students may be invited to join our summer research team in Olympia and/or Palo Alto, Calif.

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