Department Colloquia

What we talk about when we talk about curved spacetime

Speaker: 
Ted Bunn (U. Richmond)
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2018-02-01 16:00 - 17:00
Location: 
Hennings 201
Local Contact: 
Douglas Scott
Intended Audience: 
Undergraduate

Students are often not exposed to the main ideas of general relativity until relatively late in their education, due to the mathematical complexity of the theory. In particular, the Einstein field equation is generally presented in a way that obscures its geometrical meaning under a thicket of indices. I will show an index-free geometrical approach to the equation that is suitable for students unfamiliar with tensor calculus.

Experiments in Teaching Physics

Speaker: 
Joanne O'Meara (Guelph)
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2018-01-18 16:00 - 17:00
Location: 
Hennings 201
Intended Audience: 
Undergraduate

Over the past decade we have made many changes to our undergraduate physics offerings at Guelph, for majors and non-majors alike. Our goal throughout has been to implement best practices from the Physics Education Research community, in such a way that we are mindful of resource implications.

The MoEDAL Experiment at the LHC - a New Light on the High Energy Discovery Frontier

Speaker: 
James Pinfold (U Alberta)
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2017-11-23 16:00 - 17:00
Location: 
Hennings 201
Local Contact: 
Gordon Semenoff
Intended Audience: 
Undergraduate

MoEDAL is a pioneering experiment designed to search for anomalously ionizing messengers of new physics, such as magnetic monopoles or massive (pseudo-)stable charged particles, which are predicted to exist in a plethora of models beyond the Standard Model. MoEDAL started data taking in 2015 at the LHC at a centre-of-mass energy of 13 TeV.

3-Minute Thesis Competition, Physics & Astronomy Heat

Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2018-03-08 16:00 - 17:00
Location: 
Hennings 201
Local Contact: 
Janis McKenna
Intended Audience: 
Undergraduate

The Three Minute Thesis (3MT) is an academic competition that assists current graduate students with fostering effective presentation and communication skills. Participants have just three minutes to explain the breadth and significance of their research project to a non-specialist audience. Last year, over 30 universities across Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and the South Pacific participated in this fun, highly informative and very entertaining event. UBC is one of the first Universities in North America to host a 3MT competition. 

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.  

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