ESP Biography



JEFF OUELLETTE, Cornell Junior Physics Fanatic




Major: Physics/Mathematics

College/Employer: Cornell

Year of Graduation: 2017

Picture of Jeff Ouellette

Brief Biographical Sketch:

Hi! I'm Jeff, a junior studying physics here at Cornell. I've loved physics and astronomy for a long time, and I think black holes are just about the coolest thing ever. I've been a teaching assistant for a few physics courses during my time at Cornell, and I love telling people about how awesome our universe is. I also do research in the Cornell Astronomy department studying pulsars, an exotic type of dead star which are important for a few practical reasons. Besides academics, I'm also an avid ski racer, a somewhat decent guitar player, and possess a certain liking toward entertainment in video game form.



Past Classes

  (Look at the class archive for more.)


How to Build a Particle Detector 101 in Splash Spring 17
What are we made of? How can we build complex structures out of simple ones? Are the structures we know truly simple? These are some of the questions particle physicists ask everyday. In this course, we will try to understand how our continuous world is discretized into lego-like building blocks ("particles"), and how physicists can discuss properties of these particles, predict their behavior, and make detectors to observe them directly. We will also discuss how physics at small scales can have manifest effects on physics at the large scale, and how this gives insight into what the truly fundamental building blocks of nature are. The main focus of the course will be on detecting cosmic ray particles by building a "cloud chamber". These particles are the by products of high energy cosmic rays hitting the Earth's atmosphere creating cosmic ray "showers". The results can be detected using condensed isopropyl alcohol, and we will try to observe this effect and identify a few different particles.


New Frontiers in Astronomy - The Search for (More) Gravitational Waves in Splash Spring 2016
For generations, humans have been fascinated by the stars, and gazed further and further into the night sky. However, as we began to know more and more about the universe, we quickly began to lose our ability to see all of it. For example, how do you "see" a black hole - an inherently "invisible" object? Gravitational wave astronomy is a breakthrough method to understand our universe, by looking at the miniscule imprints of large objects on the fabric of spacetime. In this class, we will discuss diverse aspects of physics, from wave concepts to theories of gravity, as well as the ongoing (and recently successful!) race to find gravitational waves, and the many complications involved.


New Frontiers in Astronomy - The Search for Gravitational Waves in Splash Fall 2015
For generations, humans have been fascinated by the stars, and gazed further and further into the night sky. However, as we began to know more and more about the universe, we quickly began to lose our ability to see all of it. For example, how do you "see" a black hole - an inherently "invisible" object? Gravitational wave astronomy is a breakthrough method to understand our universe, by looking at the miniscule imprints of large objects on the fabric of spacetime. In this class, we will discuss diverse aspects of physics, from wave concepts to theories of gravity, as well as the current race to find gravitational waves, and the many complications involved.


Physics vs. Sci-Fi: Lasers as Weapons? in Splash Spring 2015
We've all seen laser guns in Star Wars, but how do they work? Are they practical weapons? In this class we will discuss the concepts in quantum mechanics that laser technology arises from, as well as the differences between laser weaponry in science fiction and in reality. Discussions will include elementary principles of energy, atomic structure, photon emission processes, electromagnetic waves and optics, gain, and applications of laser technology. One part of two independent courses on physics in modern weaponry.


Physics vs. Sci-Fi: Electromagnetism and Railguns in Splash Spring 2015
How does electricity work? What on Earth is a railgun? In this class, we will discuss fundamentals of the field(s) of electromagnetism, and how the applications of electricity are diverse. These will focus on a the seemingly sci-fi technology of "railguns", which arise from electromagnetic induction (Faraday's law). This is an exciting new weapons technology currently in development in the US Navy based on electric propulsion, rather than chemical propulsion commonly used in firearms. Topics we will discuss include force and energy, charge, electric current, electric/magnetic fields and field lines, Lorentz force, and Faraday's law of electromagnetic induction. This will culminate in discussing how railguns work. One course in two independent courses on the physics in modern weaponry.