William A. Coles
Prof Emeritus, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Radio science/engineering, particularly the propagation of radio waves through turbulent media, with applications to solar wind physics and to radio astronomy in general. Professor Coles is a radio scientist who studies astrophysical plasmas like the solar wind and the interstellar media by measuring the way in which these turbulent plasmas scatter radio waves. The radio waves typically come from a distant cosmic radio source, are scattered by the intervening turbulent plasma, and are measured using a radio telescope. A radio telescope is simply a very large antenna with a very sensitive and very broad-band receiver. The focus of his work has been the solar wind, a stream of hot plasma leaving the Sun and flowing radially outwards, in particular a study of the origin of the solar wind which is very near the Sun where direct measurements with space craft cannot be made. He also works on the interstellar plasma, which is also turbulent but not typically flowing rapidly, and pulsars, which are particularly degenerate stars that emit pulses of radio waves with great regularity.
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