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This profile was last updated on 6/17/15  and contains information from public web pages and contributions from the ZoomInfo community.

Pierre V. Sokolsky

Wrong Pierre V. Sokolsky?

Professor of Physics and Astronom...

Phone: (801) ***-****  HQ Phone
Email: p***@***.edu
University of Utah
201 Presidents Circle Room 201
Salt Lake City , Utah 84112
United States

Company Description: The University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, is an institution for higher education and research accredited with Northwest Association of Schools and...   more

Employment History

  • Distinguished Professor of Physics and Astronomy
    University of Utah
  • Professor and Chair of Physics
    University of Utah
  • Dean , College of Science
    Physics and Astronomy
  • Dean
    University of Utah College of Science

Board Memberships and Affiliations


  • PhD degree
    University of Illinois
  • BA degree
    University of Chicago
  • MS
92 Total References
Web References
"The question has been staring us ..., 17 June 2015 [cached]
"The question has been staring us in the face for 40 years," says Pierre Sokolsky, a University of Utah distinguished professor of physics and astronomy and principal investigator on the Telescope Array's current National Science Foundation grant.
"We know these particles exist, we know that they are coming from outside our galaxy and we really don't have a clue as to how nature pumps that much energy into them," Sokolsky adds.
Sokolsky outlined these details of the Telescope Array expansion, which team members refer to as "TAx4" for the near-quadrupling of the area covered "Japan, which paid for about two-thirds of the existing $25 million observatory, will spend another 450 million yen (currently $3.6 million) to expand the existing array of table-like scintillation detectors that measure "air shower" particles produced when incoming cosmic rays hit nitrogen and other gases in the atmosphere.
Japan's funding is approved and a decision on the University of Utah's grant request is expected early in 2016, Sokolsky says.
He says the researchers also must gain approval to expand onto more public lands owned by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and Utah's School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration. The existing observatory sits mostly on land owned by those two agencies and on some private land.
Expansion will delve into cosmic ray hotspot Discovery of the hotspot was the impetus for the planned expansion, Sokolsky says. The discovery was announced by an international team of 125 scientists - including 32 from the University of Utah - in July 2014 when their findings were accepted for publication in Astrophysical Journal Letters.
The hotspot's existence "is at the statistical level where it could go either way," Sokolsky says, adding that without the expansion, "we won't know if it's real unless you want to stick around for 40 years."
"We see this intriguing clustering of the highest-energy cosmic rays coming from one area of the sky," he explains.
Sokolsky says the visitors included about 20 researchers from Japan and several more from Russia and Belgium.
Cosmic Ray Observatory Planned, 18 April 2007 [cached]
American universities hope to raise another $5 million to $6 million in U.S. government grants by mid-2005 to enhance the observatory's capabilities, says Pierre Sokolsky, professor and chair of physics at the University of Utah.
"Something out there is producing subatomic particles with energies that a lead brick has when you drop it on your toe," Sokolsky says.
But research at the High-Resolution Fly's will end in a few years because "we have learned as much as we can with that configuration," says Sokolsky, who calls the Telescope Array "a natural next step."
Operation of the High-Resolution Fly's Eye has become difficult - especially for foreign students and faculty - due to its presence on a military base. For two years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, the University of Utah had to hire people with security clearances to enter Dugway and operate the observatory.
Meanwhile, a Japanese cosmic ray observatory named AGASA - which uses scintillation detectors like those proposed for the Telescope Array - has operated for 10 years but will be dismantled next year. Clouds, humidity and air pollution make more sensitive fluorescence-detector observatories there impractical, Sokolsky says.
Sokolsky says that will allow them to study cosmic rays with a wide range of energies - from high to ultrahigh - to gain a better understanding of their source.
Science Dean Named Distinguished Professor, 18 April 2007 [cached]
Pierre V. Sokolsky, dean of the College of Science, was named a University of Utah Distinguished Professor of Physics and Astronomy, effective July 1, 2011.
"The rank of Distinguished Professor is reserved for selected individuals whose achievements exemplify the highest goals of scholarship as demonstrated my recognition accorded to them from peers with national and international stature, and whose record includes evidence of a high dedication to teaching as demonstrated by recognition accorded to them by students and/or colleagues," according to University Policy and Procedures 6-300.
Sokolsky is a world-renowned expert in ultrahigh-energy particle physics, including gamma rays, cosmic rays, and neutrinos. He is a member of the American Physical Society and the International Society of Optical Engineering. In 1999, he was awarded the University of Utah Distinguished Research Award and, in 2002, was named a Guggenheim Foundation Fellow. He has written several textbooks and book chapters and has published more than 200 papers, including 58 research articles in peer-reviewed journals.
He earned the Utah Governor's Medal for Science and Technology in 2006 for his distinguished service to the State of Utah in science and technology. Research projects initiated by Sokolsky have generated more than $14 million in funding support to the State of Utah and created jobs in optics and in the construction of buildings and roads.
In 2004, Sokolsky spearheaded the U's $17 million Telescope Array project to be located just west of Delta, Utah, to study ultrahigh-energy cosmic rays in collaboration with scientists form the University of New Mexico, the University of Montana, the University of Tokyo Institute for Cosmic Ray Research and several other Japanese universities. The research site, which includes 560 particle detectors and three fluorescence detectors, covers nearly 400 square miles and will be complete in September 2007. "This new experiment will increase the sensitivity to the highest-energy cosmic rays by tenfold," says Sokolsky.
Sokolsky also launched a long-term strategy to develop a comprehensive astronomy research program at the U, and to offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in astronomy.
"It has been the goal of ..., 20 Mar 2008 [cached]
"It has been the goal of much of ultrahigh-energy cosmic ray physics for the past 40 years to find this cutoff or disprove it," says physics Professor Pierre Sokolsky, dean of the University of Utah College of Science and leader of the study by a collaboration of 60 scientists from seven research institutions.
Last November, the Auger observatory collaboration - to which Sokolsky also belongs - published a study suggesting that the highest-energy cosmic rays come from active galactic nuclei or AGNs, or the hearts of extremely active galaxies believed to harbor supermassive black holes.
"We still don't know where they're coming from, but they're coming from far away," Sokolsky says.
"Quite apart from arcane physics, we are talking about understanding the origin of the most energetic particles produced by the most energetic acceleration process in the universe," Sokolsky says."It's a question of how much energy the universe can pack into these extraordinarily tiny particles known as cosmic rays. ...
He adds: "Looking at energy processes at the very edge of what's possible in the universe is going to tell us how well we understand nature."
Sokolsky and University of Utah physicist George Cassiday won the prestigious 2008 Panofsky Prize for developing the method.
Sokolsky says there is debate over whether the "ankle" represents cosmic rays that run out of "oomph" after being spewed by exploding stars in our galaxy, or the loss of energy predicted to occur when ultrahigh-energy cosmic rays from outside our galaxy collide with the big bang's afterglow, generating electrons and antimatter positrons.
The Telescope Array and Auger observatories will keep looking for the source of rare ultrahigh-energy cosmic rays that evade the big bang afterglow and reach Earth.
"The most reasonable assumption is they are coming from a class of active galactic nuclei called blazars," Sokolsky says.
Such a galaxy center is suspected to harbor a supermassive black hole with the mass of a billion or so suns.As matter is sucked into the black hole, nearby matter is spewed outward in the form of a beam-like jet.When such a jet is pointed at Earth, the galaxy is known as a blazar.
"It's like looking down the barrel of a gun," Sokolsky says."Those guys are the most likely candidates for the source of ultrahigh-energy cosmic rays."
The new study's 60 co-authors include Sokolsky, Jui and 31 other University of Utah faculty members, postdoctoral fellows and students: Rasha Abbasi, Tareq Abu-Zayyad, Monica Allen, Greg Archbold, Konstantin Belov, John Belz, S. Adam Blake, Olga Brusova, Gary W. Burt, Chris Cannon, Zhen Cao, Weiran Deng, Yulia Fedorova, Richard C. Gray, William Hanlon, Petra Huntemeyer, Benjamin Jones, Kiyoung Kim, the late Eugene Loh, Melissa Maestas, Kai Martens, John N. Matthews, Steffanie Moore, Kevin Reil, Robertson Riehle, Douglas Rodriguez, Jeremy D. Smith, R. Wayne Springer, Benjamin Stokes, Stanton Thomas, Jason Thomas and Lawrence Wiencke.
Pierre Sokolsky Awarded ... [cached]
Pierre Sokolsky Awarded Governor's Medal
The Japanese government has promised $12 million toward construction, while American universities hope to raise another $5 million to $6 million in U.S. government grants, said Pierre Sokolsky, a physics professor at the University of Utah and principal investigator for the project.
The University of New Mexico and the University of Montana are also part of the project.Scientists hope the Telescope Array will help explain the mystery behind what is hurling high-energy cosmic rays, or subatomic particles, through space.There are a number of theories for what force is behind these rays, including energy that got caught in cracks in space-time during the Big Bang, or previously unseen matter from far away, Sokolsky said.
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