Ra Inta, Ph.D
Phone: (806) 834-7912
Office: 122 Experimental Sciences Building (ESB)
Ph.D. Physics, University of New South Wales, Australia (2007)
B.Sc.(Hons) Physics, University of Canterbury, New Zealand (1999)
I'm also interested in advanced signal processing methods, particularly those related to sparse methods.
I like playing with computers and have constructed novel computing systems.
Prof. Benjamin Owen and I recently looked for continuous gravitational waves from nine young supernova remnants in LIGO's Sixth Science Run (S6). Here's a graphic representing their relative positions in the Galaxy, and the gravitational wave upper limits we established for each:
Dist.: 8.5 kpc, Age: 100 yr
Dist.: 2 kpc, Age: 4,400 yr
- DA 530 / G93.3+6.9
Dist.: 1.7 kpc, Age: 5,000 yr
- Cas A / G111.7-2.1
Dist.: 3.3 kpc, Age: 300 yr
- IC 443 / G189.1+3.0
Dist.: 1.5 kpc, Age: 3,000 yr
- Vela Jr. I (wide) / G266.2-1.2
Dist.: 200 pc, Age: 690 yr
- Vela Jr. II (deep) / G266.2-1.2
Dist.: 750 pc, Age: 4,300 yr
- MSH 11-62 / G291.0-0.1
Dist.: 3.5 kpc, Age: 1,200 yr
Dist.: 0.9 kpc, Age: 1,600 yr
Dist.: 4.5 kpc, Age: 600 yr
Galactic positions of the supernova remnants we searched, all of which are very close to the galactic plane. The yellow dot represents the Solar System. Two possible locations for Vela Jr. were used. Hover your mouse over the labels to see the figure for each respective search; click on each plot to see a larger version. (Image modified with permission from NASA/JPL-Caltech/ESO/R. Hurt.)
Enough people, at first blush, have trouble tracking my career trajectory, so I made a graphical representation to help:
It's all about waves...
My Honours' project involved modelling how charge accumulates in a quantum device known as a resonant tunnel diode. This was performed at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, under the supervision of Prof. Mike Reid and Prof. Simon Brown.
The title of my PhD project was "The Acoustics of the Steel-String Guitar" (PDF download---yes, it was as fun as it sounds). This was done at the Music Acoustics Laboratory, the University of New South Wales (UNSW), under the supervision of Prof. Joe Wolfe, Prof. John R. Smith and Gerard Gilet. During this project, I learned how to make guitars. I then applied this to making three steel-string (folk) guitars to be as similar as possible---except for the wood species on the sound-board (top). I measured the vibratory properties of the important components that went into the three instruments, and measured the vibratory and acoustic behaviour of the instruments at various stages of construction. I also did some work on the violin, trying to determine whether there is anything behind the anecdotes that they 'improve' with ageing and/or playing.
I then applied the techniques I'd developed to characterise vibrations in wood to manipulate the behaviour of termites using their vibratory communication systems, with Prof. Joseph Lai and Dr Theo Evans and the CSIRO Termite Group. This was a joint project between UNSW at the Australian Defence Force Academy and CSIRO, so I would often get asked "what do termites have to do with the Defence Force?". It turns out that these supposedly dumb insects are surprisingly sophisticated engineers, able to determine material properties of their food using vibrations, as well as using them for complex social communication. This work led to a patent to stop termites eating wood, by using their own vibratory signals! Yes, it sounds weird, but it works.
(Hover over an article to see an editorial summary of each)
Effect of Vibratory Soldier Alarm Signals on the Foraging Behavior of Subterranean
Termites (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae).
Inta, R., Evans, T.A. and Lai, J.C.S. J. Economic Entomology102(1), pp.121-126 (2009)
Selected Research Presentations (Primary Author)
Selected Invited/Guest Presentations
Gravitational waves: a New Era in Astrophysics
Physics and Astronomy Colloquium, University of Canterbury (Christchurch) and University of Victoria (Wellington), New Zealand (2016) (Warning: 10MB download!)
Plenty of studies show that scientists---especially physicists---could do a much better job at interacting with, and communicating their research to, the public. I'm quite concerned about this, and do my best to reach out to the wider community. This is a hard problem!