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Professors present research

04/20/2010
By:

Sean Meenaghan

Staff Writer

I didn’t really understand this. Maybe you should ask Sean for some clarifications. I just think many Southern students will stop being interested when they stop understanding. -AC

Drawing on their extensive research in the field of arts and sciences, both Dr. James Dolan and Dr. Tilden Russell seized the audiences’ attention with breakthrough information in a recent presentation.

Dolan, who is a physics professor at Southern, teamed with Joe Martel, a 2008 Southern graduate, and Dr. Dwight Smith on a project to discover if bird feathers are photoluminescent.

Dolan said Martel had started this for his Capstone project in his physics 471 class.

“Normally teachers do research and students help,” Dolan said, “but this was totally backwards.”

Dolan said that photoluminescence is an umbrella term for the emission of light when a certain material is exposed to a different color than one of its own. For example, when a shorter wavelength color, like green, is projected on to a ruby, it produces a red color – not green.

For his experiment, Dolan said he used a deuterium lamp to emit ultraviolet light, which then is filtered through fused silica lenses before reaching the bird feather.

“It is child’s play to put a crystal in front of the light,” Dolan said. “For a feather it is much more difficult.”

After deflecting off of the bird feather, the light then travels through two more lenses, then into a monochromator.

A monochromator, according to Dolan, is an optical device that transmits a mechanically selectable narrow band of wavelengths of light from a wider range of wavelengths available at the input. (input means where the light came from? -ac)

After passing through the monochromator the light then goes to a PMT (what is a PMT? -ac).

Dolan said the PMT doesn’t get much attention since another man used the PMT to invent the first television.

The PMT needs 10,000 volts of electricity to use, and it turns the light into an electrical charge.

From there the electrical charge travels to a picoammeter (??), and finally ends at the Strip Chart Recorder,
which records the wavelengths coming from the monochromator.

The recorder showed an artifact or an unusual jump on the chart, which indicated that some light was actually sneaking through the filters.

“Dwight [Smith] was right,” Dolan said. “Raptor feathers emit photoluminescence.”
Dolan said the results are what they expected.

Russell, who is a music history professor at Southern, followed with his research into the translation of a 1200-page text that dates back more than 290 years.

The text was Gottfried Taubert’s “Rechtschaffener Tantzmeister” or “Complete Dancing Master” manual.
Russell said the original book was published in 1717 and was one of the largest dancing manuals of the time.

He was interested in the book because he wanted to learn about the minuet dance.

“The more I translated,” Russell said, “the more interesting the manual became.”

Russell said the book is split into three different parts. The first part included the theory behind the dancing.

The second part gave instructions for social dance and the third was an introduction to theatrical dance.

Taubert believed dance would rehabilitate the human race, Russell said, and it could make everyone better
and perfect humanity.

Russell, who has not finished translating the book yet, said it should be published later this year.

Nicholas Tenore, a freshman English major, said he was pleased at how the presentation was given.

“I liked how both presenters made the lecture easier to understand,” Tenore said. “By using the documents I could see what they were talking about.”

Tenore said he hopes more people will take advantage of future research presentations.

“Dr. Russell and Dr. Dolan probably spent months researching,” Tenore said, “but only a handful of people came out to see the work they did.”

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