Welcome to Physics & Astronomy

To our talented Fall 2020 Physics & Astronomy class: Well Done. Welcome to Waterloo!  

Not knowing whether we will convene on campus or learn remotely, many of you are struggling with the decision to enrol this Fall or to defer to a later date. The decision may be driven for some by financial concerns.  For others the uncertainty that accompanies coop placement. And for all the prospect of learning remotely in your first term may be less appealing than the on-campus experience.  

One thing is certain. We will get through the pandemic. When it has passed, your future will be challenging but replete with opportunity. Getting the economy moving forward requires a talented, skilled, versatile, workforce. One that brings new ideas. A talent pool equipped with the tools to solve seemingly intractable problems. That talent will be needed sooner rather than later. A Waterloo Physics degree will position you well.  

While making your decision please know that our faculty and staff are working in overdrive to ensure that your Fall University of Waterloo physics experience will be the best it can be. Whether we convene in person, learn remotely, or blend the two, your physics education will be un-compromised. We are reimagining our labs, flipping our iClasses, and creating on-line tutorials. Our innovative Physics Learning Accelerator will be available to sharpen your skills remotely, in person, or both. When the pandemic passes, the vibrant Waterloo campus life will return. Should you decide to enrol this Fall or choose to defer, I look forward to meeting you.  Come to Waterloo!

Brian McNamara
University Research Chair
Chair, Physics & Astronomy

The Physics & Astronomy department encourages an inclusive, tolerant, respectful, and diverse, intellectual environment

  1. June 19, 2020New mechanism and drugs to boost immune system, potentially treat COVID-19 discovered
    imagination - an upheld hand stops the COVID-19 virus in its tracks.

    A new mechanism to greatly boost the immune defense system with a specific class of drugs may be the key to treating COVID-19 and other diseases or viruses, such as HIV and cancer.

  2. May 22, 2020Getting information from nothing - using voids to make cosmological measurements

    A group of astronomers led by Dr Sesh Nadathur at the University of Portsmouth, and including WCA Director Will Percival, have spent the last 3 years studying large structures in the distribution of galaxies in the Universe to provide the most precise tests of dark energy and cosmic expansion yet. The new method is based on a combination of the statistics of voids – large expanding bubbles of space containing very few galaxies – and the faint imprint of sound waves in the very early Universe, known as baryon acoustic oscillations (BAO), that can be seen in the distribution of galaxies.

  3. Apr. 8, 2020New refrigerator allows study of chemical reactions at quantum level
    A molecule with ice forming

    Researchers have discovered the first working refrigerator for cooling molecules to ultracold temperatures. These can be powerful candidates for running quantum computers and quantum simulators.

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