Department Colloquia

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.

Cosmological results from the Planck Satellite

Speaker: 
Douglas Scott, UBC
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2013-10-17 16:00 - 17:00
Location: 
Hennings 201
Local Contact: 
Douglas Scott
Intended Audience: 
Undergraduate
The Planck satellite, designed to comprehensively map the microwave sky in 9 frequency bands, was launched in 2009 and returned the first major cosmology results earlier this year. I will describe the experiment, indicate what we have learned about the Universe so far, and discuss what might come from results from the full Planck mission.

Topological insulators and topological superconductors

Speaker: 
Shoucheng Zhang, Stanford
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2013-10-10 16:00
Location: 
Hennings 201
Local Contact: 
Fei Zhou
Intended Audience: 
Undergraduate
Recently, a new class of topological states has been theoretically predicted and experimentally observed. The topological insulators have an insulating gap in the bulk, but have topologically protected edge or surface states due to the time reversal symmetry. Similarly, topological superconductors or superfluids have novel edge or surface states consisting of Majorana fermions.

The Black Hole Information Paradox, Alive and Kicking

Speaker: 
Joe Polchinski, UCSB
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2013-10-03 16:00 - 17:00
Location: 
Hennings 201
Local Contact: 
Gordon Semenoff
Intended Audience: 
Undergraduate
Thought experiments have played an important role in figuring out the laws of physics. For the unification of quantum mechanics and gravity, where the phenomena take place in extreme regimes, they are even more crucial. Hawking’s 1976 paper “Breakdown of Predictability in Gravitational Collapse” presented one of the great thought experiments in the history of physics, arguing that black holes destroy information in a way that requires a modification of the laws of quantum mechanics.
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