Satellite systems and space development programs: a talk by Prof. Motoi Wada of Doshisha University


The Department of Physics of Ateneo de Manila University cordially invites you to

Art of Science and Engineering III: A Talk on Satellite Systems and Space Development Programs

by Prof. Motoi Wada (Applied Physics Laborary, Doshisha University)

  • Date: 16 January 2017
  • Time: 1:00-3:00 p.m.
  • Venue: SOM 211 (John Gokongwei School of Management)

Abstract: The previous talk covered a story of gravitational wave detection. It is a science supported by an advanced technology. We go out to interstellar space this time. There, sophisticated control systems determine trajectories of explorer satellites solving Newtonian mechanics problems that you learn in your classroom. Mathematical formulations visualize images of photon signals in invisible wavelength range from dark deep space. This talk will cover status of space development programs at both USA and Japan


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Ateneo Physics faculty Clint Dominic Bennett attends two ionospheric research workshops in ICTP, Italy



by Quirino Sugon Jr

Ateneo Physics faculty Clint Dominic G. Bennett  attended two workshops at the Abdus Salaam International Center for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), Italy. The first was the Workshop on the use of Ionospheric GNSS Satellite Derived Total Electron Content Data for Navigation, Ionospheric and Space Weather Research last 20-24 June 2016. The second workshop was the International Beacon Satellite Symposium 2016 last 27 June to 1 July, 2016.

GNSS is the Global Navigation Satellite System, a term which encompasses the Global Positioning System (GPS) of US and the GLONASS of Russia. GNSS satellites send positioning information to receivers on Earth via radio waves which pass through the ionosphere, where their propagation directions are bent or reflected in the same way as light beams pass from air to water. Comparing the satellite positions from the transmitted and received values provides information on the density of electrons in the ionosphere, positions of ground-based receivers, and the effects of solar activity on the ionosphere.

The Beacon Satellite Symposium 2016, on the other hand, was organized by Beacon Satellite Group of the International Union of Radio Science (URSI) Commission G. The symposium provides an opportunity for international ionospheric scientists to meet and collaborate on the study of ionospheric effects on radio propagation for science, engineering, and research applications.

Below is an interview with Mr. Clint Bennett by the Ateneo Physics News:

1. Where did you go to in Italy?

I went to the Abdus Salam International Center for Theoretical Physics to the attend the Workshop on use of Ionospheric GNSS Satellite Derived Total Electron Content Data for Navigation, Ionospheric and Space Weather Research last 20 – 24 June, 2016 and the International Beacon Satellite Symposium 2016 last 27 June to 1 July, 2016. The workshop focused on training the participants in using existing TEC calibration software and explaining the results in terms of Space weather events as indicated by indices such as Kp and Dst. The symposium on the other hand was actually a conference with plenary and parallel sessions. It was organized by the Beacon Satellite Studies Group of URSI Commission G, an interdisciplinary group, servicing science, research, application and engineering aspects of statellite signals observed from the ground and in space. There were around 200 participants in the symposium.

2. Who invited you to go to the conference?

I was invited by Dr. Endawoke Yizengaw from the Boston College Institute for Scientific Research. He is one of the Principal Investigators of the AMBER (African Meridian B-field Education and Research) project. The Manila Observatory is hosting two of the magnetometers for this project and Dr. Yizengaw has been here in Manila Observatory. My transportation and accommodation were shouldered by the conference organizers and sponsors: ICTP, ICG, Boston College and EGU.3. Did you present something?

A lot of us were invited as students and were not required to make a presentation. This is their way of encouraging Space weather research in third world countries. We were instead required to do exercises on TEC calibration and make a group report.

4. What are the talks that you found interesting? How are they related to your work at Manila Observatory and the Department of Physics? 

There were a lot of interesting talks. One of them was about the direct forcing of the thermosphere and ionosphere by small-scale gravity waves originating from the lower atmosphere. In the upper atmosphere gravity waves directly affect the thermospheric circulation by energy and momentum deposition and an interesting result is that gravity waves cool the upper atmosphere at a rate of -150 K per day.

Another one was about the detection of tsunami driven events in the ionosphere via occultation. They reported the ionospheric response to the great Tohoku earthquake and tsunami which occurred together with a minor magnetic storm. It was nice to learn that tsunamis can drive gravity waves to the ionosphere.

5. What are the interesting places and landmarks you visited? 

The Beacon Satellite Symposium included an excursion to Aquileia. It is listed by UNESCO as a world heritage site. It is an ancient Roman city in Friuli Venezia Giulia. It was one of the worlds largest cities during the Roman times and is now a major archaeological site with so much still to be excavated.

6. What are some key insights that you learned after the conference? 

The Beacon satellite symposium is evidence of growing interest in the study of Sun-Earth interaction. It has attracted a wide variety of international researchers from over 40 countries, a lot of them from non-academic institutions, to study the earth’s ionosphere and thermosphere and I think the Philippines can be part of this. It would be a big step forward if I could encourage students to be involved in this field of research.

7. Do you have any parting message to our physics students?

There are so many ways for students to get involved in the study of Space Weather. The international community makes an effort to direct funding towards problems that face the world as a whole, such as space weather effects and monitoring of natural hazards. These creates the availability of financial support for students from third world countries.


Excavations in the ancient Roman city Aquileia in Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy

Art of Science and Engineering II: A talk on gravitational wave detection and nuclear fusion by Prof. Motoi Wada of Doshisha University

ateneophysicsnews_motoi_wada_20160708 (2)

The Department of Physics of Ateneo de Manila University cordially invites you to a talk entitled, Art of Science and Engineering II, by Prof. Motoi Wada of the Applied Physics Laboratory of Doshisha University. The talk will be held on July 14, 2016, Thursday, 10:00 a.m., at the 5th floor of the Rizal Library. Light snacks will be served.

This talk is Prof. Motoi Wada’s second talk at Ateneo de Manila University upon the invitation of Dr. Christian Mahinay, Head of the Vacuum Coating Laboratory of the Department of Physics. Prof. Wada’s previous talk was entitled, Art of Science and Technology, which was held last November 27, 2015, 1:30-2:30 p.m. at the Social Science Lecture Rooms 3 and 4He talked then about  Japan’s research in the fields particle accelerator physics and semiconductor industry–all with references to art and history.

Now, in Art of Science and Engineering II, Prof. Motoi Wada shall dazzle us once again with his breathtaking slides and videos as he talks on the latest updates on the LIGO experiment for gravitational wave detection and the engineering precision required to make such detection possible in Astronomy. Prof. Wada shall also talk about the cosmic recycling process–about how some stars die a violent death as supernovas, and how the dust and fragments from the nebulous smoke pull themselves together again through the force of gravity, forcing hydrogen atoms to combine to form Helium, resulting in nuclear fusion reaction that gives birth to new stars. But on Earth, the Hydrogen atoms that we generate do not have enough cumulative mass to form a star through nuclear fusion. So the only way perhaps is to force the fusion of Hydrogen by some other means aside from gravity, as Dr. Otto Octavius (Dr. Octopus) tried to do through the magnetic fields from his tentacles, before he plunged into the depths of the sea, holding the newborn star that could have destroyed the human race.

Is man-made nuclear fusion already possible with today’s technology?  How far are we before we can ditch fossil fuel, such as coal and crude oil, in favor of clean energies like nuclear fusion? Let’s ask Pro. Motoi Wada when we attend his talk on ARt of Science and Technology II this July 14, 2016. See you there!


Prayer for the repose of the soul of the father of Dr. Gemma Narisma of the Ateneo Physics Department



The Department of Physics of the School of Science and Engineering would like to express its condolences to the family of Andres Narisma, who succumbed to prolonged illness and joined our Creator this Wednesday morning, 1 June 2016.

Mr. Narisma is the father of Dr. Gemma Teresa T. Narisma, faculty member of the Department of Physics.

We will be grateful to the Ateneo community for your prayers for repose of Mr. Narisma’s soul and for the comfort of his remaining family.


“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in our every affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God.”  (2 Corinthians 1: 3-4)

Update: 3 June 2016

We have received word from the Department of Physics that Mr. Andres Narisma, the late father of Dr. Gemma Narisma, was cremated on 1 June 2016, the day he passed away.

The Narisma family will be observing a nine-day wake/vigil at their residence at 21 Jetta St., Village East, Cainta. Those who are interested
in paying their respects and sympathizing with the family may visit between 2:00 PM and 10:00 PM until the ninth day on June 9, with novena prayers and/or masses to be held every evening at 8:00 PM.

Genie Lorenzo’s talk during the Ateneo Physics Department’s 50th Anniversary

Genie Lorenzo

Genie Lorenzo (BS Physics 1998 and BS Electronics Engineering 2010) giving a talk during the 50th Anniversary of the Department of Physics last October 10, 2015 at Faber Hall . Photo by Johannes Añonuevo.

by Quirino Sugon Jr

During the 50th Anniversary celebration of the Department of Physics last October 10, 2015, one of the alumni who shared her memories of the department is Genevieve Rose H. Lorenzo. She finished her BS Physics in 1998 and her MS in Electronics Engineering in 2010–both from Ateneo de Manila University. Since 2002, Genie has worked as a research staff in the Urban Air Quality Dynamics/Instrumentation Technology program of Manila Observatory.

One of Genie’s tasks at Manila Observatory is maintenance of MO’s 42 Automated Weather Stations: 28 in Metro Manila, 8 in Rizal,  1 in Cavite, and 5 in Mindanao. An Automated Weather Station automatically measures rainfall rate, accumulated rainfall, temperature, wind direction, and air pressure–something similar to Fr. Angelo’s Secchi, SJ’s Universal Meteorograph in 1867 which Manila Observatory acquired during its foundation at the time of Fr. Federico Faura, SJ.  The only difference is that the data are not anymore recorded by pen on paper but electronically and transmitted to Manila Observatory via the Internet. Genie writes scripts in Python or PHP to format the data from the automated weather stations to serve as input for forecasting typhoon tracks and rain volume and also for modeling climate change risks. Many of the weather reports published by the observatory were co-authored by Genie.

Genie’s other task at Manila Observatory is maintenance of air samplers used for air quality research. These machines suck in air and let them pass through a filter. The filter is then weighed and chemically analyzed in MO’s UAQ/ITD lab to determine whether the soot comes from cars, industrial exhausts, etc. The difference in the blackness of the filters can be considerable, e.g. comparing the air in EDSA with that of Antipolo. Genie also joins in the Manila Observatory’s annual air quality monitoring during New Year’s Eve. An example of this is the Urban Air Quality Report of 2014.

Below is a copy of the speech of Ms. Genie Lorenzo during the 50th Anniversary celebration of the Department of Physics.


by Genie Lorenzo

In 1986 Halley’s Comet was in the sky, and somehow my papa and I were able to watch that together.  That was maybe my first stark memory of being amazed by the night sky.  Then in high school I was intrigued by the metric system, how a camera worked, and an experiment in physics class with candles and lenses and inverted images, and my high school Physics teacher, Ms. Alcid, was so clear and coherent with her lessons that I, perhaps without knowing any better, bravely ticked the BS Physics CE program in my college entrance application to the Ateneo.  My neighbor Thryza kept on convincing me to go to the Ateneo, where she too was enrolled, and so when I found out that my good friend from high school, Anne, was going to Ateneo to enroll in the undergraduate double degree Physics and Computer Engineering program, I decided to come to Ateneo and enroll in that program too in 1994.  (Eventually I finished only the BS Physics program, and pursued the MS Electronics Engineering degree later.)

A. Demonstrations

I remember it must have been the first day of our freshman Physics 31 class or lab, and our teacher, Dr. Simpas (he must have been in his early thirties then) had me stand on a measured particular spot in the room,  while he swung a metal ball tied to a string toward me in order to demonstrate the pendulum.   There was also a spring demonstration shown to us during our tour in Faura Hall in freshman year, among other things there like the “resonance” demonstration.  For me the spring set-up in Faura merely looked like a slinky that one found in toy stores on display, and like many of the concepts taught in class, I think they call people like me a slow learner, it took me a while to appreciate why that spring, waves, and sine waves were so important and fundamental in our everyday lives and the universe.  Most of the demonstration set-ups then, they say, were made by Mr. Tecson, so our block was both very excited and a bit worried to have Mr. Tecson as our first EM teacher as we heard about his unique, effective and yet frightening style of teaching and giving oral exams for each class meeting.  We began some classes with Mr. Tecson, but then he got sick, and so he couldn’t be our teacher, and then some semesters after he was again supposedly going to be our teacher, but then he passed on.  Then there was Mr. Montuno, and the Millikan Oil Drop experiment in the Advanced Physics lab, and oral exams about the Twin Paradox.  And so for my 18th birthday by blockmates gave me a white puppy, whom we named Tipler, after the author of the Modern Physics book that guided us through countless overnight review and problem set solving sessions.

B. Manila Observatory

For senior year, I signed up for thesis work at the Manila Observatory, which for us then, maybe until now (?),  was a relatively unknown faraway location on campus.  I do not remember now if it was before or after the thesis but at some point after I had trekked over to that part of campus I was able to pay a visit to Fr.Dan in his brown room (the furniture was all brown, and ancient, and he had so many books that must have been classics on the bookshelf) and when I asked him what I could do there, he simply replied, “water vapor.”  “It is important to study water vapor especially here in the tropics,” was what he said. The topic assigned to me for my thesis was on clouds and optical depth, and Dr. Alarcon was my adviser and we communicated via email as she was sent to Rose-Hulman in the US then.  And I don’t think I did much… but Dr. Alarcon was gracious to me and, maybe because of her absence, she took it easy on me, but I remember being so amazed and engaged by the new things I was reading about on clouds and radiation in the journals.  And there was no google then, only the beginnings of alta vista search, so we had to manually look through all the journals, and even visit the PAGASA library in Quezon Avenue, and correspond with the authors of the journals via email and await the copy via snail mail— and to open an envelope with a journal from an author for me then was already a big thing.

C. Personal Care

Mr. Bennett was our teacher too and our friend, once after college I was recounting to him the story of how I  found myself somehow in the UP NIP laboratories looking for a research assistantship.  I told him how there seemed to be no other openings except in the Theory Department, and how I had knocked on their door and met some people, and asked them if I could work there, and after which they asked me which problem of those posted on the wall I knew something about, to which I honestly answered, none but I that I was willing to learn.  And then one of them at the Theory Lab, a tall guy, asked me if I knew the story of Alice in Wonderland?  Let me lift a line from the text of Lewis Carroll from which the tall guy drew his conversation piece, “One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. ‘Which road do I take?’ she asked. ‘Where do you want to go?’ was his response. ‘I don’t know,’ Alice answered. ‘Then,’ said the cat, ‘it doesn’t matter.”  That tall guy left me then, and they gave me an email address to contact, I think it was Perry Esguerra’s email address.   And Mr. Bennett has asked me, in our a few short but always memorable chance encounters, so where are you going?  And for that I am grateful.

Somehow I found myself back at the Manila Observatory in 2002, and have been in the institution doing a variety of things from air sampling, to weather monitoring to stargazing since then.  In 2012, because the Manila Observatory is interested in science that will help ease the suffering of our people, I was able to visit a town in Davao Oriental, devastated by the Typhoon Pablo.

There I was able to witness the human spirit that prevails and that is sustained in the worst of circumstances.  And there the WHY of our workings, and on a personal note– everything that I had been through and that led me to that point… became clear.


Genie Lorenzo of the Manila Observatory explains to the youth of St. Francis Xavier in Sigaboy, Davao Oriental how the Automated Weather Station functions. (Photo: John Frances C. Fuentes). Photo and caption credit: CBCP News.


D. Humility

What has being a Physics student- which I think I am for life, I am a Physics student for life–what has it taught me?

I am gratefully, joyfully, gracefully, blessedly humbled by all the learnings that being a Physics student has taught me.  And I think it is through this humility that I was led to wonder (through childhood experiences with nature and the Physics Demonstrations), meaning (through my personal search, and the Manila Observatory), and connectedness (through God’s graces, and Personal Care), even with my own inadequacies, doubts, and failures, so that I could be of some use and help to others.

My father often asks me, because he knows how much difficulty I have had with academics and all, what is it exactly that I do.   I try to describe it to him the air samplers, and the weather stations and the data we have and the maps we make at the Manila Observatory whenever there is an impending storm, but am not sure he understands exactly.  Little does he know how much an effect that one evening, we spent together under the night sky many years ago, had on me.

We are now with some of your MS Atmospheric Science Graduate students and BS Physics Undergraduate students working on the data of the weather stations which we have set up around Metro Manila.  It makes me excited because we have never actually studied our local weather as in depth as we are doing now, and I am also at the time same nervous because our work is also a responsibility and so we have to be thorough because there are many who will be affected by our findings.

E. Congratulations

Congratulations to the Physics Department on its 50 years. Thank you for of introducing us to the wonders and rhythms of everyday life in the classroom and in the laboratory, for leading me and others to our working institutions like the Manila Observatory, and for your personal care and concern for us students.  May you continue to mold students to become the best that they can be through their science in order that they can continue to be of service to others.

This 50th year celebration is also in tune with the global celebration of 100 years of the Einstein’s Theory of Relativity this year, and 150 years, also this year, of the Manila Observatory, from where the department traces its roots, and after whose first director, Padre Federico Faura, SJ, the building which houses the Physics department on Campus was named.

F. Prayer

What about that Cheshire Cat and the fork in the road, what do I say when he asks again, what do you want?  I respond in prayer:

Direct, we beseech Thee, O Lord, our actions by Thy holy inspirations and carry them on by Thy gracious assistance; that every word and work of ours may always begin from Thee, and by Thee be happily ended, through Christ our Lord. AMEN