John E. Black

Brock Logo
Brock University, Physics Department
(905) 688-5550 ext. 3413

Professor Emeritus, PhD (Saskatchewan), MSc (Queen's), BEng (McGill)
Adjunct Professor
, Department of Biology
Office: MC B405
Phone: (905) 688-5550 ext. 3413


Current Research

At night, during the spring and fall, millions of small birds migrate over southern Ontario. The migration of these birds is visible on large weather radars located at major airports in Canada and the United States.

If you would like to watch the bird migration, check out the Buffalo Weather Radar. On clear nights, when there is a wind from the south in the spring (or from the north in the fall), you will see a large circular area develop on the weather radar about 1 hour after sunset, if the birds are moving.

I am presently involved in determining how the data from the weather radar can be converted to numbers of birds migrating. I use a marine radar located on the roof of Brock University. From the marine radar signals, I can calculate the number of birds that are present over Brock at any moment of time. These numbers are then related to the intensity of birds seen on the weather radar where it passes over Brock.

On April 29, 2000, I gave a talk at the AFO/Wilson/GCBO Symposium on Weather Radar Ornithology in Galveston, TX. Click here for the rough draft entitled, Application of Weather Radar to Monitoring Numbers of Birds in Migration. Or, you can click powerpoint for a powerpoint version. Most recently I presented an invited paper for the Radar Symposium at the August meeting of the American Ornithological Union Champagne, Illinois, August 2003 entitled "The response of nocturnally migrating birds to Lake Erie and Lake Ontario".

For more of the Proceedings of the Combined Meeting of the Wilson Ornithological Society and the Association of Field Ornithologists, hosted by the Houston Audubon Society and the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory at Galveston, Texas, click here.

For an introduction to various aspects of my research, please consult the following tutorials:

Here are a couple of bird calls; click on the following to hear:

While in Thailand in February of 2001, I prepared a document about Using Acoustic Microphones to Monitor Bird Populations at a Site in North-East Thailand. Click here for a working paper on the topic.

Previous Research

Studies of the forces and movements of atoms on metal surfaces. The techniques employed are molecular dynamics and lattice dynamics. It is now possible for experimental physicists to study the behaviour of a small patch of metal atoms on a metal surface. My research involves the simulation, on the computer, of these tiny metal patches. The simulations are carried out by solving Newton's equations of motion for a few hundred atoms.

The accompanying figure shows four palladium atoms on a copper surface. The data from the simulations helps in the interpretation of the experimental results. This interpretation is of great importance in the fabrication of miniature electronic devices.

Other Interests

Recent Publications