News and Events

Stars are forming in Lynds Dark Nebula (LDN) 1251. About 1,000 light-years away and drifting above the plane of our Milky Way galaxy, the dusty molecular cloud is part of a complex of dark nebulae mapped toward the Cepheus flare region. Across the spectrum, astronomical explorations of the obscuring interstellar clouds reveal energetic shocks and outflows associated with newborn stars, including the telltale reddish glow from scattered Herbig-Haro objects hiding in the image. Distant background galaxies also lurk on the scene, almost buried behind the dusty expanse. This alluring view spans over two full moons on the sky, or 17 light-years at the estimated distance of LDN 1251.
Check current conditions and historical weather data at the ESC.
The BYU Department of Physics and Astronomy invites applications for two faculty positions to begin August 2022. The application deadline is October 15, 2021.
Dr. Turley influences the future of physics education during his time as program officer for education division of the National Science Foundation
A new and improved planetarium experience
Ways Students have Adapted to the Pandemic
Dr. Boizelle brings radio astronomy to the department
Dr. Della Corte's computational biophysics is the heart of the new Consortium of Molecular Design
Dr. Scott Sommerfeldt awarded the Silver Medal of the Acoustical Society of America for work in active noise control
Dr. Hart's sabbatical propels work on new techniques for constructing interatomic potentials
Sandberg group studying ultrafast optics to find new materials

Selected Publications

BYU Authors: Dennis Della Corte, published in Proceedings of the 2021 Future of Information and Communication Conference (FICC), pp 1-15, (2021).

The pharmaceutical industry is on the brink of entering into the digital age, yet still suffers from fundamental misconceptions and outdated IT systems that inhibit its progress. Four key criteria are identified that have enabled labs to reach the post-modern stage, which are insights generation through advanced analytics, automatic communication through machine to machine interfaces, removal of boundaries for an open lab, and novel means of ensuring trust through automatic submissions. Further progress in these four areas will enable the pharmaceutical laboratory to enter the digital age. Unfortunately, historical roadblocks in the form of an application-centric mindset have so far stifled progress. However, initiatives that supported other industries on their path into the digital age are introduced and evidences for the benefits of the digital age are provided. These span from advanced analytics, data-centric architecture, metadata supported communication, knowledge assisted submissions, to digital maturity models. It is concluded that executives and lab staff within Pharma needs a transition to a data-centric world view to reap all the benefits of the digital age for faster, better, and cheaper drug development.

BYU Authors: Wendy M. Billings, Connor J. Morris, and Dennis Della Corte, published in Sci. Rep.

The prediction of amino acid contacts from protein sequence is an important problem, as protein contacts are a vital step towards the prediction of folded protein structures. We propose that a powerful concept from deep learning, called ensembling, can increase the accuracy of protein contact predictions by combining the outputs of different neural network models. We show that ensembling the predictions made by different groups at the recent Critical Assessment of Protein Structure Prediction (CASP13) outperforms all individual groups. Further, we show that contacts derived from the distance predictions of three additional deep neural networks—AlphaFold, trRosetta, and ProSPr—can be substantially improved by ensembling all three networks. We also show that ensembling these recent deep neural networks with the best CASP13 group creates a superior contact prediction tool. Finally, we demonstrate that two ensembled networks can successfully differentiate between the folds of two highly homologous sequences. In order to build further on these findings, we propose the creation of a better protein contact benchmark set and additional open-source contact prediction methods.

BYU Authors: Aaron B. Vaughn, Kevin M. Leete, and Kent L. Gee, published in J. Acoust. Soc. Am.

Skewness values for the pressure time derivative are greater at ground-based measurements near a tactical aircraft than they are at nearby off-ground locations. A possible explanation for this phenomenon is the occurrence of nonlinear, irregular shock reflections at the ground. Propagation angle, source location, and corresponding angle of incidence relative to the ground are estimated using a two-point cross correlation of windowed shock events. Nonlinear reflections are likely to occur based on the combination of angles of incidence and measured shock strengths and cause a pressure increase at the shock that is greater than twice the free-field pressure. The associated pressure increase at the shocks appears to enhance shock-related metrics at the ground compared to off-ground locations.