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. 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.

  2. Apr. 7, 2020Unprecedented glimpse inside quasar unveils black hole at its heart
    Timeline of the core of quasar 3C 279 moving over the course of a week

    A distant quasar – a pulsating firestorm burning brighter than a trillion suns, half the universe away from Earth – harbours a supermassive black hole. And we can now see it with unprecedented clarity, thanks to a team of researchers from the global Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) collaboration.

    The EHT team conducted the highest-resolution measurements yet of a quasar called 3C 279, using the same interconnected global array of telescopes they utilized to capture the now-iconic image of a black hole, published in April 2019.

  3. Mar. 9, 2020New software combines quantum and classical machine learning

    Five University of Waterloo students, including Antonio Martinez - a PhD candidate in Waterloo’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, have teamed up with Google to develop software to accelerate machine learning using quantum science.

    The collaborative effort resulted in the creation of an open-source hybrid quantum-classical machine learning software platform, called TensorFlow Quantum. 

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