An Innovative Era: Physics Research at Wagner College
"The whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking" Albert Einstein. Here at Wagner tucked away on campus is the Megerle Science building. Home to four distinct disciplines: physics, chemistry, microbiology and biology. Albert Einstein is right. The youngest Wagner scientists are constantly working to refine everyday thinking. Join me on this journey of a 4 part blog that explores the world of science research here at Wagner College. In this first blog we will explores physics here at Wagner.
Research In Physics:
Dr. Gregory Falabella, Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy investigates Aerodynamics. Specifically, aircraft icing and the effects on lift. Joined with him are two students, Leobardo Dominguez '15 and Adam O'Brien '18. According to the research team, ice accumulation on air crafts has been devastating to planes performance; posing a major threat to flight safety. Each year, ice accumulation accounts for over 30 deaths and 96 million dollars in damage. Ice can form on air crafts in many different weather conditions. In order to research and understand the effects, Dr. Falabella and his team use The Floktek 1440 wind tunnel to simulate various conditions. The Flotek 1440 powerful fans draw air through the wind tunnel. In order to minimize turbulence, the air is pushed through a honeycomb material. Contraction cones accelerate the air and send it to the test section. This piece of equipment allows the team to analyze surface pressure distribution on a NACA-2415 wing section and changes in the coefficient of lift at various angles. In order to simulate ice formation, styrofoam is used. This research confirms hypotheses that ice accumulation results in aerodynamic losses. They have found that the smallest ice secretions can pose detrimental effects on aerodynamics. This research and findings allow the team to research new ways to deice planes. Future research will be conducted to create new systems that prevent planes from icing. Leobardo Dominguez says this research made him want to expand his research more. He plans to move onto a PhD program in aerodynamic engineering. Adam O'Brien who is a pilot himself, says "I love understanding the world around me. Like what makes an apple fall from a tree." According to Dr. Falabella, more students should become interested in physics. "Physics gives you a hard skill that is marketable." Graduates have went onto PhD programs, business schools and top medical schools. Nobody should feel afraid of physics. After all, we are solving real world problems around us.
Aside from Aerodynamics, physics at Wagner is very diverse. Dr. Otto Raths, Professor of Physics and Astronomy investigates the Brachistochrone problem by using conventional calculus. Many students have conducted astronomy research. Wagner is home to 1 of 3 planetariums in New York. The other two are Columbia University and The Museum of Natural History. Carrie Holt' 14 researched with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Her researched focused on astrophysics and blackholes. As Dr. Falabella claimed, Physics is a marketable skill and applies to many different fields and branches of the natural world.
Brandon M. Hart