Department Colloquia

Macroscopic Length Scales, the Higgs Boson, and Cosmological Evolution of Fundamental Parameters

Speaker: 
David Kaplan (Johns Hopkins)
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2017-12-07 16:00 - 17:00
Location: 
Hennings 201
Local Contact: 
Douglas Scott
Intended Audience: 
Undergraduate

In this talk, I present the Higgs Boson's Compton wavelength (proportional to its inverse mass), as currently one of the few fundamental length-scales in physics, from which much of macroscopic physics is derived.  The Standard Model of particle physics predicts a direct relationship between the Higgs mass and the mass of all other fundamental particles, but it fails to predict the mass of the Higgs itself.  In fact, the Higgs mass is a conundrum in the Standard Model, as simple (and very reasonable) scaling arguments predict it to be sixteen orders of magnitude

The Accelerating Universe: Lambda, w, and beyond

Speaker: 
Levon Pogosian (SFU)
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2017-10-26 16:00 - 17:00
Location: 
Hennings 201
Local Contact: 
Douglas Scott
Intended Audience: 
Undergraduate

While cosmic acceleration is well-established, the nature of Dark Energy causing it remains unknown. A flat universe dominated by a cosmological constant (Lambda) and cold dark matter (CDM) has been cosmologists’ working model of choice for nearly two decades. However, the value of Lambda poses a serious theoretical challenge, exposing a gap in our understanding of the vacuum energy and the way it gravitates. Intriguingly, there appear to be tensions between different datasets within the LCDM framework that would be relieved if Dark Energy was non-constant.

PhD Comics

Speaker: 
Jorge Cham and Daniel Whiteson
Event Date and Time: 
Sun, 2017-09-17 19:00 - 20:30
Location: 
Hebb Theatre
Local Contact: 
Douglas Scott
Intended Audience: 
Public

Jorge Cham, the creator of “Piled Higher and Deeper”, and his collaborator physicist Daniel Whiteson, will discuss “PhD Comics” and their new book “We Have No Idea, A Guide to the Unknown Universe”.  Come see this entertaining event, which will include live illustrations!

Flotsam and Jetsam: meteorites, giant collisions, and discarded planets

Speaker: 
Brett Gladman (UBC)
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2017-11-02 16:00 - 17:00
Location: 
Hennings 201
Local Contact: 
Douglas Scott
Intended Audience: 
Undergraduate

Planetary formation functions much the way that 2-year olds eat; that is, most of it goes where it's supposed to, but a non-negligible fraction is dispersed in the vicinity, sometimes leaving at high speed.  In this colloquium I will cover (at a non-expert level) a series of topics related to the processes that occur in planetary systems as they form and evolve.  The size scales from dust to giant planets will be covered, including topics of: meteorite delivery; giant impacts that strip mantles off planets, exposing their bare cores; building the Oort cloud and

The International Race For A Quantum Computer

Speaker: 
Stephanie Simmons (SFU)
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2017-09-14 16:00 - 17:00
Location: 
Hennings 201
Local Contact: 
Douglas Scott
Intended Audience: 
Undergraduate

Silicon transistors, the essential building block of most modern electronic devices, cannot shrink much further without being rendered inoperable by quantum mechanics. This classical-quantum threshold in fact presents a tremendous opportunity: if we harness quantum mechanics, rather than attempt to avoid it, we could build a quantum computer. Quantum computers will open up a world of opportunities — they could accomplish certain computational tasks exponentially faster, which would otherwise be forever impractical. During this lecture, Dr.

A Painlessly Effective Version of Active Learning and Why It Works

Speaker: 
Dan Schwartz (Stanford)
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2017-09-21 16:00 - 17:00
Location: 
Hennings 201
Local Contact: 
Douglas Scott
Intended Audience: 
Undergraduate

To be successful, active learning depends on good tasks.  "Inventing" tasks ask students to find and explain patterns in well-structured data.  These tasks create a time for telling, so that students learn more from lectures and readings, and they are more likely to use what they learn. The current talk provides evidence on the benefits of inventing tasks, why they work, and how to make and use them.  Of course, it also shows some limitations of what instructors are typically doing instead.  

Weird Mysteries: Applying Science to the Paranormal

Speaker: 
Ben Radford (skeptic)
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2017-10-05 16:00 - 17:00
Location: 
Hennings 201
Local Contact: 
Douglas Scott
Intended Audience: 
Undergraduate

Many people believe things for which there is little evidence and no definitive proof, from astrology to psychics (and polls show that over half of the public believe in ghosts). Yet the issue is not one of belief but evidence: either ghosts, Sasquatch, and psychic powers exist or they do not; if they exist, there should be scientific proof. How good is the scientific evidence for these claims? How does a science-based investigator approach these mysteries and separate fact from fiction?

TBA

Speaker: 
Hong Liu (MIT)
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2018-02-08 16:00 - 17:00
Location: 
Henning 201

Dynamical Quantum Phase Transitions

Speaker: 
Anatoli Polkovnikov (Boston U.)
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2018-01-11 16:00 - 17:00
Location: 
Henning 201
Intended Audience: 
Undergraduate

Phase transitions are usually defined through emergence of singularities of free
energy of the system with changing some external parameter like temperature.
Familiar examples include liquid-gas transitions, or transitions between
paramagnetic and ferromagnetic phases. Quantum phase transitions are very similar
except that they occur at zero temperature and are driven by quantum fluctuations.
In this talk I will introduce a concept of dynamical quantum phase transitions,

Towards designing and probing ultra-quantum matter

Speaker: 
Victor Gurarie (U of Colorado)
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2017-11-09 16:00 - 17:00
Location: 
Henning 201
Local Contact: 
Fei Zhou
Intended Audience: 
Undergraduate

Ultra-quantum matter is the proposed umbrella term to describe states of matter made of quantum particles with long range quantum entanglement among them. These states of matter lie outside the standard Landau classification of phases of matter by broken symmetries, where solid is distinct from liquid because its crystalline lattice breaks translational invariance. Typically ultra-quantum matter does not break any symmetries despite forming distinct phases of matter.

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