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Dordt College News

Dordt student speaks at physics conference

March 24, 2005

Viss and Sikkema

Barry Viss, a senior physics major at Dordt College, was a presenter at a conference of the American Physical Society in Los Angeles, Calif., on March 21. He was assisted in three semesters of research and the presentation of his findings by his advisor, Dr. Arnold Sikkema, professor of physics at Dordt College.

Viss was one of only 10 students awarded a travel grant from the Society of Physics Students. He also received funding from the Division of Computational Physics. There were about 6,500 physicists attending the March Meeting, and Viss spoke in a session dedicated to undergraduate research.

Vissís research was based on observations made during thunderstorms. He observed that after a lightning strike it sounded like there were a few seconds when rainfall intensified.

While radar would be the conventional way to test his observation, Viss wanted to research rainfall in a more direct way. He designed and constructed an apparatus utilizing a digital video camera and a strobe light to monitor and photograph a small region of rainfall near the ground. After examining individual frames and extracting information, he began developing an image processing algorithm to derive additional data from every frame of the video clips.

Vissís research apparatus has proven useful in additional ways. With it, the specific diameter and velocity of every drop passing through the region can be determined, as well as the standard measurement of rain flux.

Barry Viss is the son of Carl and Barb Viss from Ripon, Calif.

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