Department Colloquia

Not of this Earth: the advent of neutrino astronomy

Speaker: 
Darren Grant, University of Alberta
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2014-03-13 16:00 - 17:00
Location: 
Hennings 201
Local Contact: 
Robert Raussendorf
Intended Audience: 
Undergraduate
Scientists have created the world's largest neutrino telescope, the IceCube Neutrino Observatory, in one of the planets most extreme environments at South Pole Station Antarctica. Instrumenting more than a Gigaton of ice, the observatory is designed to detect interactions of the highest energy neutrinos expected to be produced in the Universe's most violent astrophysical processes. With IceCube's recent announcement of the first detection of a diffuse flux of high-energy neutrinos (30 TeV to more than a PeV) of extraterrestrial origin a new window to study the Universe was opened.

Gas and Star Formation in Nearby Galaxies: New Results From the Herschel Space Observatory

Speaker: 
Christine Wilson, McMaster University
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2014-03-06 16:00 - 17:00
Location: 
Hennings 201
Local Contact: 
Ingrid Stairs
Intended Audience: 
Undergraduate
The availability of new instruments and telescopes is making it possible to study large, well-selected samples of nearby galaxies at millimeter and submillimeter wavelengths. These observations trace the cold, dense gas and dust which is the fuel for star formation. I will discuss new results from the Herschel Space Observatory from the Very Nearby Galaxies Survey, which aims to observe the closest example of each major class of galaxy with all the photometric and spectroscopic modes that Herschel has available.

Nanomechanical Response of Bacteria to Antimicrobials: A Pressing Issue

Speaker: 
John Dutcher, University of Guelph
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2014-01-16 16:00 - 17:00
Location: 
Hennings 201
Local Contact: 
Carl Michal
Intended Audience: 
Undergraduate
Bacteria are microorganisms that have evolved over 3.5 billion years and are responsible for a wide range of phenomena in the world around us, ranging from causing diseases to helping to digest food to shaping the surface and sub-surface of the Earth. Despite great advances in the control of bacterial infections that have been achieved through the use of natural and synthetic antimicrobials, overuse of these compounds has allowed many bacteria to adapt, and this has led to the emergence of antimicrobial-resistant “superbugs”.

Quantum Annealing and the D-Wave devices

Speaker: 
Matthias Troyer, ETH Zurich
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2014-01-09 16:00 - 17:00
Location: 
Hennings 201
Local Contact: 
Marcel Franz, Robert Raussendorf
Intended Audience: 
Undergraduate
Quantum annealing - a finite temperature version of the quantum adiabatic algorithm - combines the classical technology of slow thermal cooling with quantum mechanical tunneling, to try to bring a physical system faster towards its ground state. D-Wave systems has recently built and sold programmable devices that are designed to use this effect to find solutions to hard optimization problems. I will present results of experiments designed to shed light on crucial questions about these controversial devices: are these devices quantum or classical? Are they faster than classical devices?

Is “interactive” teaching sufficient to promote conceptual development in physics?

Speaker: 
Paula Heron, University of Washington
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2013-11-28 16:00 - 17:00
Location: 
Hennings 201
Local Contact: 
Louis Deslauriers, Jim Carolan
Intended Audience: 
Undergraduate
Over the past few decades, systematic research has shown that many physics students express essentially the same (incorrect) ideas both before and after instruction. It is frequently assumed that these ideas can be identified by research and then addressed through “interactive” teaching approaches such as hands-on activities and small-group collaborative work. In many classrooms, incorrect ideas are elicited, their inadequacy is exposed, and students are guided in reconciling their prior knowledge with the formal concepts of the discipline.

Topological Materials at the Nanoscale

Speaker: 
Jenny Hoffman, Harvard
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2013-11-21 16:00 - 17:00
Location: 
Hennings 201
Local Contact: 
Marcel Franz
Intended Audience: 
Undergraduate
Once or twice per decade, the discovery of a new class of electronic materials takes the world by storm, generating thousands of scientific publications per year, and broad hopes for practical applications. In this category are the so-called “topological materials” – typically insulators hosting topologically protected metallic surface states whose strongly coupled spin and momentum degrees of freedom have prompted numerous proposals for nanoscale devices.

The emergent collective phenomena of structure and elasticity in architecturally complex media

Speaker: 
Paul Goldbart, Georgia Tech
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2013-11-14 16:00 - 17:00
Location: 
Hennings 201
Local Contact: 
Robert Raussendorf
Intended Audience: 
Undergraduate
Abstract: Launched before the atomic hypothesis held sway, the conventional theory of elasticity is a spectacular intellectual achievement. A continuum-level theory, it furnishes scientists and engineers with a powerful, internally consistent toolkit for determining how architecturally simple (i.e., regular) solid media such as crystals respond macroscopically to imposed stresses, whilst encoding the underlying microscopic details of the atomic realm economically, via a handful of numerical parameters.

Magnetism in quantum gases

Speaker: 
Dan Stamper-Kurn, Berkeley
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2013-11-07 16:00 - 17:00
Location: 
Hennings 201
Local Contact: 
Louis Deslauriers and Robert Raussendorf
Intended Audience: 
Undergraduate
With quantum gases, one can explore magnetic ordering and dynamics in regimes inaccessible in solid-state systems. For example, in degenerate spinor Bose gases, magnetization of the atomic spin is established parasitically along with Bose-Einstein condensation, allowing minute spin-dependent energies to dictate the magnetic ordering of the gas. In addition, the extreme isolation of the atomic system allows for systems to created far out of equilibrium, allowing the dynamics of symmetry breaking to probed in real time.

On Quantum Tunnelling

Speaker: 
Neil Turok, Perimeter Institute
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2013-10-31 16:00 - 17:00
Location: 
Hennings 201
Local Contact: 
Moshe Rozali
Intended Audience: 
Undergraduate
One of the most basic but intriguing properties of quantum systems is their ability to `tunnel' between configurations which are classically disconnected. That is, processes which are classically not just slow, but impossible, become possible. In this talk I will outline a new, elementary approach to quantum tunneling which emphasizes that the dominant classical trajectory is usually complex, i.e., includes an imaginary part rather than being purely real.

Studying many-body states with quantum noise

Speaker: 
Eugene Demler, Harvard
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2013-10-24 16:00 - 17:00
Location: 
Hennings 201
Local Contact: 
Fei Zhou
Intended Audience: 
Undergraduate
The probabilistic character of measurement processes is one of the most fascinating aspects of quantum mechanics. In many-body systems quantum noise can reveal the non-local correlations and multiparticle entanglement in the underlying states. In this talk I will review recent theoretical and experimental progress in applications of the quantum noise analysis to the study of many body states of ultracold atoms.
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