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Jeff Martin

e-dition - February 16, 2007

Reaching Out Through Research:
Jeff Martin

Jeff Martin, Associate Professor in Physics, will be speaking about Nuclear & Particle Physics- Exploring the Weak Force at the next Brown Bag Research Lecture. 

February 21, 2007
12:30 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Room 3C01 (3rd Floor Centennial Hall, Room 01)

The Brown Bag Lecture Series is sponsored by the Office of the Vice-President (Research & Graduate Studies).  The event is open to the general public and everyone is welcome to bring their lunch.

The Research
In Physics, the motion of matter is described with mathematical equations. So, the motion of an apple falling from a tree can be explained by an equation that takes into account the apple’s mass and the force of gravity. The movements of planets and the lift of airplanes can also be predicted by equations. Even the tiniest particles of matter—quarks, electrons, and neutrinos—have their own sets of equations that describe how they behave.

Assistant Professor Jeff Martin studies the equations that define these tiniest particles by doing Physics experiments. His research focuses on one of the forces that affects particle motion, the weak force. “The weak force is what causes the sun to shine,” says Martin. “It causes certain radioactive decays of nuclei as well.”

Los Alamos
Martin runs two research projects. In one project, which is based at the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center (LANCSE) in Los Alamos, New Mexico, he analyzes the weak force in the decay of neutrons.

“People have done this, but we’re trying to measure it more precisely than anyone has ever done before,” says Martin. “And that gives us more information about that particular process than anyone has ever had before.”

Through lab measurements, Martin will compare predictions based on the standard equations with what he actually measures in the lab. “You try to find out if there’s some kind of hole in the standard model—if there’s something missing.”

This is the process that led to the discovery of the top quark 10 years ago, a particle that was identified through experiments and equations on paper before it was ever observed in the laboratory.

Discovery Science
Martin’s second project at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility in Newport News, Virginia, measures the weak force as electrons scatter off protons.

“The kind of research I’m doing is discovery science. It’s to find out about things that humankind does not know anything about,” says Martin. Although Martin’s research is pure science, the knowledge and techniques that are developed by nuclear Physics research save people’s lives.

“Nuclear Physics techniques are used for cancer therapy, nuclear medicine, and in any technique that relies on radiation or relies on knowing the properties of nuclei, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI),” says Martin. “So there are practical applications.”

To learn more about his research on nuclear physics, contact University of Winnipeg faculty member Jeff Martin.

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