Meeting Information

Laboratory Simulation and Planetary Dynamos

August 27, 2014
Energy Research Facility (Building 223 at University of Maryland)
College Park, MD

Dan Lathrop

Date: Wednesday August 27, 2014

Speaker: Professor Daniel Lathrop, Physics and Geology, University of Maryland

Tour Topic: Laboratory Simulation and Planetary Dynamos

Special Time and Location: 1:00 PM, in the Lobby of the Energy Research Facility (Building 223 at the University of Maryland). Detailed directions can be found at

Map of the Campus is located at campus.pdf. You will probably have to enlarge the map several times to see the details that are of interest here. The locations of interest are near the bottom of the map. The Energy Research Facility is near F6 on the map. As far as parking is concerned, there is a handy and convenient pay-to-park lot just across the street from the Energy Research Facility.

Abstract: During the current solar maximum, we have seen a host of X-class flares and coronal mass ejections from the Sun. The fact that we saw little danger from them on Earth is due in part to our planetary magnetic field, which shields us from the Sun’s charged particle radiation. That field has weakened throughout recorded history. The origin and dynamics of the magnetic fields of the Earth, Sun, gas giants, and nearly every massive astrophysical object raise numerous questions not resolved by existing theoretical, computational and experimental work.

By using liquid sodium models of the Earth’s core, we hope to better understand what determines the Earth’s magnetic field strength, pattern and dynamics by probing the effects of turbulence, Lorentz forces and rotation on core dynamics in the lab, the experiments shown seek a comparable force balance among rotation, magnetic fields and advection. It is possible using these experiments to match important parameters thought to occur in the Earth’s outer core.

Biography: Daniel Lathrop received a B.A. in physics from the University of California at Berkeley in 1987, and a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Texas at Austin in 1991. He then served at Yale University as a postdoctoral fellow, research affiliate, and lecturer. Next, he became an Assistant Professor at Emory University. He joined the University of Maryland in 1997, the year he received a Presidential Early Career Award from the National Science Foundation. Daniel Lathrop is now Professor of Physics and Professor of Geology, and a Fellow of the American Physical Society. His research in the Nonlinear Dynamics group at UMD focuses on turbulent fluid flows, geomagnetism, and experiments on superfluid helium. Dr. Lathrop served as Associate Dean for Research for the College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences from 2012 to 2014 as well as Director of the Institute for Research in Electronics and Applied Physics from 2006 to 2012. He received the Stanley Corrsin Award in 2012 from the American Physical Society for his work in quantum fluids.