Department Colloquia

Bio-macromolecules and their complexes – An inspiration for statistical physics

Speaker: 
Leo Golubovic, University of West Virginia
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2014-10-09 16:00
Location: 
Hennings 201
Intended Audience: 
Undergraduate
Biological macromolecules are inherently capable of forming physically interesting self- assembled structures with biologically significant functionalities. We overview the efforts to theoretically understand and possibly control some of these fascinating structures and phenomena. Prominent recent examples for this are novel partially ordered liquid crystalline phases, such as the sliding phases of DNA-cationic lipid complexes used for gene therapy applications in the battles against cancer.

From black holes to badly behaved metals

Speaker: 
Sean Hartnoll, Stanford University
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2014-10-02 16:00 - 17:00
Location: 
Hennings 201
Local Contact: 
Moshe Rozali
Intended Audience: 
Undergraduate
Ripples propagating on the event horizons of black holes precisely mimic the flow of heat and charge through a strongly correlated medium. This remarkable fact builds upon insights from the 70s showing that black holes possess thermodynamics properties. I will describe how this connection, known as holographic duality, has recently lead to new ways of thinking about thermal and electronic transport in unconventional metals.

Characterizing the Distribution of Planetary Architectures with Kepler

Speaker: 
Eric Ford, Penn State U, Center for Exoplanets & Habitable World
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2014-09-25 16:00 - 17:00
Location: 
Hennings 201
Local Contact: 
Ingrid Stairs and Aaron Boley
Intended Audience: 
Undergraduate
For centuries, planet formation theories were fine tuned to explain the details of solar system. The diversity of planetary systems uncovered by Doppler surveys challenged previous theories and led to insights into planet formation, orbital migration and the excitation of orbital eccentricities and inclinations. NASA's Kepler mission has identified 450 systems with multiple transiting planet candidates, including nearly 1200 planet candidates and many potentially rocky planets.

Unifying theory for tuned-critical quake statistics: from nanopillars to earthquakes

Speaker: 
Karin Dahmen, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2014-09-18 16:00 - 17:00
Location: 
Hennings 201
Local Contact: 
Joerg Rottler
Intended Audience: 
Undergraduate
The deformation of many solid and granular materials is not continuous, but discrete, with intermittent slips similar to earthquakes. Here, we suggest that the statistical distributions of the slips, such as the slip-size distributions, reflect tuned criticality, with approximately the same regular (power-law) functions, and the same tunable exponential cutoffs, for systems spanning 13 decades in length, from tens of nanometers to hundreds of kilometers; for compressed nano-crystals, amorphous materials, sheared granular materials, and earthquakes.

Antiferromagnetism in the Hubbard Model with Ultracold Atoms

Speaker: 
Randall Hulet, Rice University Texas, USA
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2014-09-11 16:00 - 17:00
Location: 
Hennings 201
Local Contact: 
Ian Affleck
Intended Audience: 
Undergraduate
Ultracold atoms on optical lattices form a versatile platform for studying many-body physics. We have realized the Hubbard model, a “standard model” of strongly-correlated matter. The Hubbard model consists of a cubic lattice with on-site interactions and kinetic energy arising from tunneling to nearest neighbors. Notably, it may contain the essential ingredients of high-temperature superconductivity. While the Hamiltonian has only two terms it cannot be numerically solved for arbitrary density of spin-½ fermions due to exponential growth in the basis size.

Spinning Atoms with Light: a new twist on atom optics

Speaker: 
Bill Phillips, NIST Gaithersburg
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2014-04-03 16:00 - 17:00
Location: 
Hennings 201
Local Contact: 
Robert Raussendorf, David Jones
Intended Audience: 
Undergraduate
Physicists have used light and its polarization to elucidate the internal state of atoms since the 19th century. Early in the 20th century, the momentum of light was used to manipulate the center-of-mass motion of atoms. The latter part of the 20th century brought optical pumping, coherent laser excitation, and laser cooling and trapping as tools to affect both the internal and external states of atoms.

A Millisecond Pulsar in a Stellar Triple System

Speaker: 
Ingrid Stairs, UBC
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2014-03-20 16:00 - 17:00
Location: 
Hennings 201
Local Contact: 
Robert Raussendorf
Intended Audience: 
Undergraduate
Radio pulsars with millisecond rotation rates are "spun-up" by accretion of matter and angular momentum from an evolving companion star. Not surprisingly, most such millisecond pulsars are found in binary systems, typically with white-dwarf companions. Pulsars with more companions are extremely rare, and the examples known to date have involved one or more planetary-mass objects. Recently, my collaborators and I have discovered a millisecond pulsar with two stellar-mass companions. Both companions appear to be white dwarfs, pointing to a unusual evolutionary history for this system.

Production, Trapping and Spectroscopy of Antihydrogen – the ALPHA Experiment at CERN

Speaker: 
Walter Hardy, UBC
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2014-02-27 16:00 - 17:00
Location: 
Hennings 201
Local Contact: 
Doug Bonn, Robert Raussendorf
Intended Audience: 
Undergraduate
This talk will be partly an update on the status of the ALPHA experiment at CERN, a collaboration of about 40 scientists, more than 1/3 from Canada, and partly a look back at how and why a condensed matter experimenter like myself got involved with antihydrogen research. ALPHA stands for Antihydrogen Laser Physics Apparatus: the goal is to compare the properties of H to H-bar with the highest possible precision, looking for any differences that might shed light on why the universe is made of matter and not antimatter.

Pursuing gravitational waves with Advanced LIGO

Speaker: 
Michael Landry (LIGO observatory), for the LIGO Scientific Collaboration
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2014-02-06 16:00 - 17:00
Location: 
Hennings 201
Local Contact: 
Bill Unruh, Robert Raussendorf
Intended Audience: 
Undergraduate
The Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (or LIGO for short) will detect gravitational waves with second-generation interferometers. At the two observatory sites (Hanford WA and Livingston LA), we have been installing Advanced LIGO detectors since Oct 2010, and are nearing completion.

Gamma-ray Astronomy at the Highest Energies

Speaker: 
David Hanna, McGill University
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2014-01-30 16:00 - 17:00
Location: 
Hennings 201
Local Contact: 
Mark Halpern
Intended Audience: 
Undergraduate
Gamma-ray astronomy at energies above 100 GeV is a young science where particle physics mixes with astrophysics. In addition to studying high-energy objects such as supernova remnants and active galactic nuclei, researchers look for evidence of dark-matter particle annihilation and violation of Lorentz invariance. Detection of gamma rays from distant sources makes use of Cherenkov light generated by relativistic electrons and positrons in air showers caused by the impact of these gamma rays on the upper atmosphere.
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