Welcome to David Clarke's home page.

 

Contact:   

Professor, Department of Astronomy and Physics

Institute for Computational Astrophysics

Saint Mary's University

Halifax, Nova Scotia  B3H 3C3

(902) 420-5830, e-mail

 

I am always on the look-out for an ambitious new graduate student.

 

      • Check out my Research slide below for my research interests.

      • Here are a few ideas for thesis topics and the whereabouts of my former students.

      • Interested? You can apply to our graduate programme here.

 

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Teaching

Teaching resources


Teaching philosophy

 

I believe one gets what one works for, and those who work hard in my class will learn a lot. Read more about what you can expect from me as a professor here.

 

How to get an A in physics

 

Download an 8.5" × 11" or a 3' × 4' version of my poster.

 

Course web pages

 

Below are listed most of the courses I have taught at SMU since 1993; only those I am currently teaching are "live". Selected resources from "dormant" courses (e.g., my primers for PHYS 3210) are available from my "document bar".

 

ASTR 5700

Magnetohydrodynamics

PHYS 2301

Analytical Mechanics

PHYS 1100

University Physics I

PHYS 3200

Mathematical Methods in Physics I

PHYS 1101

University Physics II

PHYS 3210

Computational Methods in Physics

PHYS 2200*

Introduction to Mathematical Physics

PHYS 3500

Quantum Mechanics I

PHYS 2300

Vibrations, Waves, and Optics

PHYS 4380

Fluid Dynamics

 

*Course no longer part of the curriculum.

 

Official department curriculum

 

In 2007, the department curriculum was revised and fully documented. Expectations and outcomes for each course were defined, described, and placed on the web for faculty and student reference. I encourage students to review the course curriculum of each course they take, and to hold their professors accountable to its content.

 

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Research

Research interests


I am the developer and curator of the widely used magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) computer code, ZEUS-3D. With it, I and my students perform multi-dimensional simulations of fluid phenomena such as astrophysical jets.

 

You can read more about my research interests here, consider graduate student projects here, and see a partial list of my publications here.

 

Research-related web sites


ZEUS-3D website for gallery, description, user/installation guides, and downloading the code (version 3.5).

AZEuS (AMR+ZEUS-3D) website for gallery and description. The code is not yet ready for distribution.

EDITOR is my source-code manager for ZEUS-3D and AZEuS. Version 2.2 and user manual available for download.

 

Past and present students and PDFs: Where are they now?

 

I am pleased to say that every student who finished their degree with me moved on successfully to the next logical stage of their academic career.


Early in my career, I dabbled in radio astronomy using the VLA to observe radio galaxies such as 3C 219 (above left; image courtesy Alan Bridle, NRAO). You might imagine my surprise when, about ten years later, I happened upon our data immortalised in tile on the Hayden Planetarium floor (insert; image courtesy of Jodi)!

U/G advising/Service

Undergraduate advising and academic service


I am currently the department's undergraduate advisor and Science Atlantic representative.

 

Science Atlantic webpage

AUPAC 2013 website

AUPAC 2014 website

 

Undergraduate research mini-symposia

 

Links to the programmes (PDF files) for the department's annual summer student mini-symposium, which I've organised since 2009.

2009 2010 2011 2012 2013

 

Graduate Record Examinations (GRE).

 

Senior undergraduates considering applying to graduate schools in the US must determine whether taking the GRE is necessary. Some non-US schools may also require the exam as part of the application.

 

All about the GREs

GRE website

Prometric website

 

The exam is administered locally by Prometric Testing Centre; 6440 Quinpool Rd.; 422-8378 whom you should contact to schedule the time of your test. Exams should be taken at least four weeks before application deadline to US schools, and 6-8 weeks before deadlines to non-US schools.

 

As of September, 2013, the fee for the general exam is US$185, and for the subject (physics) exam, US$150, which includes delivery of your results to four institutions. Additional institutions are US$25 each. Obviously, check with the targeted school if the GREs are even required before scheduling, studying, taking, and paying for them!

 

University Committees

 

Science Curriculum Cmte., department rep.

A&P Curriculum Cmte., chair

Science Space Cmte., department rep.

University Copyright Cmte., faculty rep. (2011-)

Academic Appeals Board, faculty rep. (2006-)

University Budget Cmte., faculty rep. (2002-05)

Sexual Harassment Cmte., faculty rep. (1997-2000)

Graduate Awards Cmte., department rep. (1997-98)

Academic Standing Cmte., faculty rep. (1995-98)

Academic Computer User's Cmte., faculty rep. (1993-94)

 

National Committees/Panels

 

ACEnet SMU Local user's group, chair (2008-09)

ACEnet Research Directorate, founding member

CASCA Theory and Computation Cmte. (1998-2004)

     (2002-06)

CFI RDF Selection Cmte. (1998-2000)

CITA Council (1998-2000)

NRAO review panel (1993-95)

 

Document bar

Document bar


Links to the PDFs of primers and manuals I have written or contributed to are given below. For documents authored solely by me, permission is granted to use and distribute freely for non-profit and academic purposes only, provided the original authorship and affiliation are retained. Those wanting any of the LATEX files should contact me directly.


      Did someone say bar?

A primer on Tensor Calculus

Something I prepared for my own edification.

FORTRAN77 primer

A quick start-up guide for first-time programmers in FORTRAN.

Unix primer

Exceedingly basic introduction to unix for first-time users.

DBX primer

Beginner's guide to debugging with Sun's DBX.

LATEX primer

An augmented version of David Wilkins' excellent primer.

 

dzeus34 user manual

User manual for ZEUS-3D, version 3.4.

dzeus35 user manual

User manual for ZEUS-3D, version 3.5.

dzeus36 user manual

User manual for ZEUS-3D, version 3.6.

edit21 user manual

User manual for EDITOR, version 2.1.

edit22 user manual

User manual for EDITOR, version 2.2.

 

First year lab manual

Answer guide


 

Lab manual and answer guide for a two-semester first year calculus-based physics course (e.g., HRW), no longer in use at SMU for reasons too tedious to explain. If anyone else can use them, I can provide the LATEX files and figures.

Software bar

Software bar


Coming at some point, a table of possibly useful coding snippets...


Personal

DC's personal page


Despite my background in algorithm development and supercomputer simulations, I remain a bit of a ludite. I'm not a blogger, I don't do Facebook, and I most certainly don't tweet. I don't even own a cell phone! This web-page, such as it is, represents my first and likely only foray into "social media".

 

Background

 

Born in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island to Sheila (née Davison; Charlottetown) and Alan Clarke (Halifax) in 1958, I was raised in Ontario and did my B.Sc. at Queen's University at Kingston (Honours Physics, 1981). My M.Sc. (Thesis: "Two-Dimensional Collapse of a Rotating Interstellar Cloud", 1984) was also from Queen's under Dick Henriksen. My Ph.D. (Dissertation: "A Search for the Effects of Active Magnetic Fields in Extragalactic Radio Sources", 1988) was from the University of New Mexico under Jack Burns and Mike Norman (LANL, NCSA).

 

I was a post-doctoral fellow at the NCSA (U. Illinois) from 1988–1992 under Mike Norman, and a post-doctoral research associate at the Harvard-Smithsonian CfA from 1992–1993 under Ramesh Narayan.

 

In 1993, I was appointed an assistant professor at Saint Mary's University, promoted to associate professor in 1995, gained tenure in 1996, and promoted again to full professor in 2003. During my 2000–2001 sabbatical leave, I was appointed astronome invité at l'observatoire de Grenoble. You can view my CV here.

 

Family

 

I went to the U.S. in 1984 single, came home in 1993 with a family. My wife now of 26 years, Jodi Asbell-Clarke, hails from North Haven, CT and is currently a senior science curriculum developer at a non-profit in Cambridge MA. My son, Dane, born in Albuquerque NM in 1989, received his BIT from Carleton/Algonquin in 2011 and is a graphic artist (check out his webpage!) while my daughter, Alison, born in Urbana IL in 1992, is an undergraduate in political science at the University of Guelph.

 

I have one brother (Peter) who works and lives in the Toronto area. My mother lives in Halifax and my father and his wife, Adaline O'Gorman, live in Victoria.

 

 

 

 

Whimsy

 

I offer here a few snippets of "pre-historic" comedy, all from well before most of our students were born! They're timeless, they're clean, and they're fun; enjoy!

 

My favourite comic of all time, Dennis Wolfberg died in 1994 at the age of 48. If you have 27 minutes and can tolerate a few split sides, indulge yourself with these three You-Tube links.

Part 1: "His name was Marvin; I certainly learned that much! And his first name was More. More Marvin, more Marvin!"

Part 2: "If we had a daughter, my wife wanted to name her Sue, which is a lovely name but for Jews is generally a verb!"

Part 3: "...which is somewhat akin to telling someone in the path of a tidal wave: you might experience moisture!"

 

Many from my generation remember the Carol Burnett Show as a one-of-a-kind. In the few years SNL has been great, it has occasionally come close. A few of my favourite sketches include...

Harvey Korman trying not to laugh as Tim Conway fills himself with novacaine.

"Stroke!...Stroke!...I think I'm having a...Stroke!"

"Thank you, I saw it in the window, and I just couldn't resist it." (Part 1, Part 2)

 

And speaking of SNL, here are a few of my favourite characters: Dana Carvey's "Church lady", Martin Short's "Ed Grimley", and Kristen Wiig's "Kathie Lee Gifford".

Dana Carvey on Church Chat: "Well, isn't that special."

Martin Short's Ed Grimley: "Gimme a break, I must say."

Snippets of Kristen Wiig's Kathie Lee Gifford.

 

One of my Dad's all-time favourites was Victor Borge (1909-2000). His "phonetic punctuation" sketch is a classic.

"Phonetic Punctuation"

"Hands Off"

Victor Borge, the conductor

 

 

 

Quotable quotes

 

 

All the world's daft, save thee and me. And lately I've been wondering about thee.

 

My Nana's paraphrasing of Robert Owen's utterance in 1828 on severing business relations with his partner William Allen: All the world is queer save thee and me, and even thou art a little queer.

 

If, in the last few years, you haven't discarded a major opinion or acquired a new one, check your pulse. You may be dead.

 

American poet Gelett Burgess (1866-1951).

 

You don't really understand something until you can compute it.

 

Computational astrophysicist Michael L. Norman, on numerous occasions.

 

Numquam ponenda est pluralitas sine necessitate; Plurality must never be posited without necessity.

 

William of Ockham (1287-1347), though versions of "Occam's Razor" can be traced to Ptolomy (90-168 AD): We consider it a good principle to explain the phenomenon by the simplest hypothesis possible. Modern versions include: The simplest explanation is usually the best.

 

The most incomprehensible thing about the Universe is that it is comprehensible.

 

Albert Einstein, 1879-1955.

 

He must be a dull man who can examine the exquisite structure of a comb, so beautifully adapted to its end, without enthusiastic admiration.

 

Charles Darwin, 1809-1882 in his On the Origin of Species, when introducing the role of instinct in the construction of "humble-bee" hives.

 

Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.

 

Niels Bohr (1885-1962), often (but incorrectly) attributed to Yogi Berra.

 

Those who are not shocked when they first come across quantum theory cannot possibly have understood it.

 

Niels Bohr.

 

I cannot seriously believe in quantum theory because it cannot be reconciled with the idea that physics should represent a reality in time and space, free from spooky actions at a distance.

 

Albert Einstein, 1948, on his favourite critique of quantum mechanics where, so the theory requires, a measurement at location B can instantaneously have an influence at location A. On this he had stated the year before: My instinct for physics bristles at this, and in 1935 he wrote: No reasonable definition of reality could be expected to permit this. To Niels Bohr's quotation, Albert Einstein was certainly shocked.

 

I have stated previously that the arrow of time should follow the arrow of universal expansion, and if the universe should start to collapse, we'd all start getting younger. I was wrong.

 

Stephen Hawking in an address to the XIII Texas Symposium on Relativistic Astrophysics, Chicago, 1986.

 

I haven't an inkling, and it takes a thousand inklings to make a clue!

 

Origin unknown. While it appears in the 1997 novel Larry's Party by Carol Shields, it's been my dad's response to unanswerable questions since long before then.

 

Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.

 

model Kate Moss, 2009, who received a backlash from the anti-anorexia crusaders after saying it. Still, this is the best advice this non-anorexic (but always waging the battle of the bulge) has heard on how to resist eating a cake.

 

And I find it kinda funny, I find it kinda sad; the dreams in which I'm dying are the best I've ever had; I find it hard to tell you, 'cause I find it hard to take; when people run in circles, it's a very very mad world, mad world.

 

from Mad World by Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith, Tears for Fears (1982); covered in 2001 by Michael Andrews and Gary Jules for the soundtrack of Donnie Darko.

 

 

 

Up-loading dock

What's up-loading, dock?


Space to place documents temporarily for uploading.



 

Looking for my course web pages? Go to my Teaching slide. ZEUS-3D or AZEuS? Go to my Research slide. Primers and manuals? Go to my Document bar.

 

 

Last updated by DAC, March 31, 2013

Background: ZEUS-3D simulation showing the magnetic energy density in a super-Alfvénic turbulent medium.