Richard H. PriceProfessor of Physics
B. Eng. Phys., 1965, Cornell University
Ph.D., 1971, California Institute of Technology
Postdoctoral, 1971, California Institute of Technology
Professor of Physics, U of Utah 1971-2004
Office : SETB 1.354 Phone : (956)882-6648
Email : Richard.Price@utb.edu
Link to University Physics I page
Link to Curriculum vitae
In 2004, after 33 years as a professor of physics at the University of Utah, I joined the other young people at the Department of Physics & Astronomy, and the Center for Gravitational Wave Astronomy at the University of Texas at Brownsville.
My primary field of research interest is relativistic gravitation (i.e., Einstein's general relativity) and its application to astrophysics. In the past, I was particularly interested in black hole processes, and how they generate gravitational waves. This interest started with my thesis work, in which I used black hole perturbation theory to show how perturbations die off in time through "quasinormal oscillations" followed by "tails."
Since coming to UTB I have been working on quite a few projects. One that had been a main focus is the "Periodic Standing Wave" approximation, in which a black hole binary is approximated as having a nondecreasing orbit. This turns out completely to change the nature of the mathematical problem to be solved. A solution, using a method with limited accuracy, was found with graduate student Napoleón Hernández (now in financial research at JP Morgan). An approach capable of very high accuracy is being developed with Stephen Lau (U. New Mexico Department of Mathematics and Statistics). This approach will explore an innovative use of spectral methods.
Somewhat echoing my early work are two projects dealing with fields around black holes. One is a study of the mathematics of the radiative tails around rotating black holes. This will be carried out with others, including my long-time collaborator Jorge Pullin at LSU. Another project, also with Jorge Pullin, concerns "phantom scalar fields." These fields are taken semi-seriously as filling the universe and explaining the acceleration of the cosmic expansion, but they violate rules that well-behaved fields should obey, and therefore will behave strangely around black holes. We will try to determine just how strange this behavior is by using computational studies of the nonlinear dynamics of the field.
With my new colleagues Fredrick Jenet and Teviet Creighton, I have started work on the relativistic aspects of pulsars. An important context for this work is the possibility that pulsar timing can be used to detect very long wavelength gravitational waves. One paper directly related to this has been published, along with Peking University graduate student Kejia Lee (see the Scientific American News Scan article about this). Further work on this is underway. Rather different relativistic aspects of pulsars have also been studied. With Nanjing University graduate student Yan Wang, while he was a student at UTB, we have started on a program of analyzing the bending of a pulsar beam by a black hole. The underlying important question is whether an observerving program can be designed to find pulses that have passed close to the supermassive black hole at the center of our Galaxy. Work on this continues with UTB graduate students Kevin Stovall and Sourabh Nampalliwar.
Recently I find myself working with more of the applied mathematical aspects of relativity and astrophysics. An example of this is an analysis of gauge effects in particle perturbation theory, with Yasushi Mino of Caltech. Another example is a mathematical analysis of a method of solving for the structure of binary or rotating neutron stars. Though this iterative method has been used for more than 40 years, the basis for its inconsistent convergence properties had not been understood. This work was done with John Friedman of UW-Milwaukee and UWM graduate student Charalampos Markakis, now a postdoc at Germany's Einstein Institute.
Another project, this one with E.T. Newman (U. Pitt), is partly applied mathematics, and partly an elegant recasting of a recent technique. In the last few years cosmologists have been using spin-wieghted spherical harmonics to look at angular correlations of Stokes parameters (measures of radio polarization) from different directions in the sky. We argue that this is because the natural way to analyze radio waves is with the Newman-Penrose descriptions of the fields. With this approach, the correlations of polarizations and calculations of Doppler shifts are both easier to understand conceptually, and easier to compute.
Very recently I have been working with Gaurav Khanna of U. Massachusetts at Dartmouth and Scott Hughes of MIT on understanding the strong "antikicks" in binary black hole inspiral and merger. In the late, plunge and merger stage of binary black hole inspiral, the momentum ejected in gravitational radiation almost cancels the earlier momentum (the "kick") generated. We found (and published) a simple and clear explanation which is the start of a deeper investigation of the systematics of binary black hole inspiral.
Even more recently, I have been working with the Caltech group, especially graduate student David Nichols, and with John Belcher of MIT, to use the DLIC computer visualization techniques developed by John Belcher for the new Caltech techniques for picturing gravitational fields.
I am also interested in applying the methods of physics and of applied mathematics to a much broader set of problems. I have co-authored a paper on functional MRI neurological mapping and am now consulting on a problem in electric breakdown in wire coatings. My interest in interdisciplinary work also (partially) explains why I was an Adjunct Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Utah, and worked with the Center for Engineering Design and Sarcos Corporation on micromechanical devices. While I was collaborating, we developed a unique micromotor, the "wobble motor," and secured three patents on MEMS devices.
I have also been interested in innovations in teaching physics and introduced collaborative learning techniques in the introductory calculus-based courses PHYCS 2220 at the University of Utah. My interest in innovations in teaching and in applying physics to a broad set of projects came together in the Physics of Modern Technology (PMT) program at the University of Utah. Most notably, this program gave rise to PHYSCS 4910, a very successful course in technical communication, scientific judgment, and much more. To some extent that course was the inspiration for the paragraph writing workshops at UTB.
In my spare time I was on the editorial board of the all electronic physics journal New Journal of Physics, was a Divisional Associate Editor of Physical Review Letters for gravitation, and a member of the editorial advisory board of American Journal of Physics. At present I am on the editorial board of Papers in Physics. In 2002-2003 I was Chair of The Topical Group in Gravitation, an American Physical Society group specific to my field. I was subsequently chair of the Topical Group activities for the 2005 World Year of Physics. The speakers program that we ran has morphed into the Las Cumbres speakers program, funded by a private donor. I am a fellow of the American Physical Society.
Other of my physics related activities have included a Hollywood movie. (This was a biography of Einstein. I played myself and have been told that I did a credible job.) During the past decade I have enjoyed a brief musical career, though it was not enjoyed by most others. I was a songwriter and should-have-been silent partner in the physics singing group Bernie and the Gravitones.
- Problem Book in Relativity and Gravitation, (with Alan Lightman, William Press and Saul Teukolsky), (Princeton University Press, 1975).
- Black Holes: The Membrane Paradigm, (with K.S. Thorne and D.A. Macdonald), (Yale University Press, 1986).
- The Future of Spacetime (with T. Ferris, S. Hawking, A. Lightman, I. Novikov and K. S. Thorne), (W.W.Norton, 2002).
Some Recent Research Articles on General Relativity and AstrophysicsI have 110 publications in archival (refereed) journals. Some of the most recent are:
- Christopher Beetle, Benjamin Bromley, Napoleón Hernández and Richard H. Price, ``The periodic standing-wave approximation: post-Minkowski computations," Phys. Rev. D 76, 084016 (2007).
- Stephen R. Lau and Richard H. Price ``Multidomain Spectral Method for the Helically Reduced Wave Equation," Journal of Computational Physics, 227 pp.1126-1161 (2007).
- K. J. Lee, F. A. Jenet and R. H. Price, ``Pulsar timing as a probe of non-Einsteinian polarizations of gravitational waves," Astrophys. J., 685, 1304-1319 (2008).
- Reinaldo J. Gleiser, Richard H. Price, and Jorge Pullin, "Late time tails in the Kerr spacetime," Class. Quant. Grav., 25, pp. 072001 (2008); (This paper has been chosen by the Editorial Board of Classical and Quantum Gravity for inclusion in the 2008 `Research Highlights.')
- Yasushi Mino and Richard H. Price, ``Two-timescale adiabatic expansion of a scalar field model," Phys. Rev. D, 77, 064001 (2008).
- Yan Wang, Fredrick A. Jenet, Teviet Creighton and Richard H. Price, ``Strong field effects on pulsar arrival times: circular orbits and equatorial beams," Astrophys. Journal 697, 237-246 (2009);
- Richard H. Price, John L. Friedman, and Charalampos Markakis,``Iteration stability for simple Newtonian systems," J. Math. Phys. 50, 073505 (2009)
- Napoleón Hernández and Richard H. Price, ``The periodic standing-wave approximation: computation in full general relativity," Phys. Rev. D 79 064008 (2009).
- Teviet Creighton, Fredrick Jenet, and Richard H. Price, ``Pulsar Timing and Space Time Curvature," Astrophys. J., 693, 1113-1117 (2009)
- Yan Wang, Teviet Creighton, Richard H.Price and Fredrick A. Jenet, ``Strong field effects on pulsar arrival times: general orientations,'' Astrophys. J., 705, 1252-1259 (2009).
- Kejia Lee, Fredrick A. Jenet, Richard H. Price, Norbert Wex, and Michael Kramer, ``Detecting massive gravitons using pulsar timing arrays," Astrophysical Journal 722 1589-1597 (2010).
- Ezra T. Newman and Richard H. Price, ``NP Stokes fields for radio astronomy,'' Phys. Rev. D 82 083516 (2010)
- Kevin Stovall, Teviet Creighton, Richard H. Price, and Fredrick A. Jenet, ``Observability of pulsar beam bending by the Sgr A* black hole" submitted to Astrophysical Journal
- Richard H. Price, Gaurav Khanna, and Scott Hughes, ``Systematics of black hole binary inspiral kicks and the slowness approximation," to appear in Phys. Rev. D}
Some Recent Articles on Physics Pedagogy
- L. M. Burko and R. H. Price, ``Ballistic trajectory: parabola, ellipse, or what?" American Journal of Physics, 73, pp.517-520 (2005).
- Richard H. Price,``Projectiles, pendula and special relativity" American Journal of Physics, 73, pp.433-438 (2005).
- Richard H. Price, ``The physical basis of black hole astrophysics," chapter in 100 Years of Relativity, Space-Time Structure: Einstein and Beyond, ed. Abhay Ashtekhar, World Scientific, November 2005.
- Teviet Creighton and Richard H. Price ``Black Holes" Invited article in Scholarpedia, a spin-off of Wikipedia with invited, refereed articles; January, 2008.
- Richard H. Price and Yan Wang, ``The transverse traceless gauge and quadrupole sources," American Journal of Physics, 76, pp. 930-933 (2008).
- Ezra T. Newman and Richard H. Price, "The Lorentz transformation: simplification through complexification," American Journal of Physics., 78 pp.14-19 (2010).
Some Other Publications of Interest for Various Reasons
- ``Gravitation,'' in Encarta the Microsoft CD-ROM encyclopedia.
- ``The Membrane Paradigm for Black Holes,'' (with K.S. Thorne) Scientific American, 256, 69 (1988).
- ``Detecting Proton Magnetization via 13 C-Coupled Relaxation Studies" (with R. Brown and D. Grant) J. Magn. Reson. A110, p. 38 (1994).
- ``The Wobble Motor: Design, Fabrication and Testing of an Eccentric-Motion Electrostatic Microactuator," (with Jacobsen, S.C.; Wood, J.E.; Rytting, T.R.; Rafaelof, M)., Published in Sensors and Actuators, 20 Nos. 1 & 2, pp. 1-16 (1989).