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Charles Hyde-Wright, professor of physics at Old Dominion University and a researcher at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility in Newport News, has been elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society.

No more than one-half of one percent of the APS membership become Fellows each year. Nine of ODU's 25-member physics faculty are Fellows.
"We are very proud of Professor Hyde-Wright's achievements," said Richard Gregory, dean of the College of Sciences. "His election is more evidence of the important research being done by ODU physicists."

Hyde-Wright's work involves a new way of studying matter at its fundamental level. The fellowship citation notes his development of virtual compton scattering as a probe of the structure of the nucleon. Experiments he has coordinated at the Jefferson Lab atom smasher involve high-energy photon-on-proton collisions that reveal what he describes as "the wiggling internal structure" of the proton. Protons and neutrons-the building blocks of the atomic nucleus-are nucleons composed of three quarks each.

"Professor Hyde-Wright has been one of the leaders in the development of the virtual compton scattering experiments at Jefferson Lab," said Gail Dodge, chair of the physics department. "These experiments continue to get more and more attention in the scientific community."

Dodge noted that the promising field of study Hyde-Wright has initiated is one of the cornerstones of Jefferson Lab's present initiative to accomplish a $250-million energy upgrade. Deeply virtual compton scattering (DVCS) "has become one of the highest priority fields of inquiry in nuclear physics, thanks also to the theoretical work of ODU's Anatoly Radyushkin," Dodge said. Radyuskin, professor of physics and eminent scholar, is also an APS Fellow.

Hyde-Wright said it is his "unique privilege" to work with the mile-long Jefferson Lab accelerator, which was built at a cost of about $600 million and began operations a decade ago. The facility's international user community includes more than 1,500 scientists.

"I have particularly benefited from a close collaboration with the French scientific community working at Jefferson Lab," he said. "In our work on virtual compton scattering, we use one photon to excite the atomic nucleus, and then use the re-emitted photon to essentially take a picture of the nucleus."

The immediate goal of this project is to make the first ever three-dimensional images of the quark waves that comprise the proton. "Our larger goal," he added, "is to understand the origin of the mass of ordinary matter. Ninety-eight percent of the mass of ordinary matter comes from the quark-anti-quark and gluon waves in the atomic nucleus." He and many other scientists predict that the 21st century economy will be dominated by the atomic manipulation of matter, resulting in the creation of products that are tinier, stronger or otherwise more useful than anything available today.

Hyde-Wright is also known on the ODU campus as an accomplished clarinetist and a proponent of science outreach.

He is a faculty sponsor of the annual Halloween Pumpkin Drop, in which students build contraptions to "catch" pumpkins dropped from the top of the nine-story Batten Arts and Letters Building. He also volunteers his time to give physics demonstrations for schools and children's fairs. One of his demonstrations uses chocolate chips and a glass of soda to illustrate the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

Hyde-Wright joins Radyushkin and these other APS Fellows from the ODU physics department: Mark Havey, professor and eminent scholar; Rocco Schiavilla, professor; Jay Wallace Van Orden, professor and eminent scholar, Lepsha Vuskovic, professor; Lawrence Weinstein, professor; Colm Whelan, professor and eminent scholar; and Bernard Mecking, Jefferson Lab professor of physics.

This article was posted on: January 25, 2006

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