Department Colloquia

Ultrafast AMO Physics with strong laser fields: High Harmonic Generation and X-ray Free Electron Lasers

Speaker: 
Phil Bucksbaum
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2013-09-26 16:00 - 17:00
Location: 
Hennings 201
Local Contact: 
Louis Deslauriers
Intended Audience: 
Undergraduate
The natural time scale for internal motion in atoms and small molecules is dictated by their Angstrom sizes and Rydberg binding energies to be femtoseconds or shorter. The binding fields for the outermost electrons are tens of volts per Angstrom. I will describe recent experiments designed to measure the interaction of atoms and molecules with laser fields on these scales of time and field strength.

The Dark Energy Crisis in the Longer Term

Speaker: 
Chris Stubbs, Harvard
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2013-09-19 16:00 - 17:00
Location: 
Hennings 201
Intended Audience: 
Undergraduate
The discovery of the accelerating expansion of the Universe, driven by "Dark Energy", is an indication that our understanding of fundamental physics is incomplete. In particular, the Dark Energy mystery lies at the intersection of gravity and quantum mechanics where we have trouble knitting together a consistent theoretical picture. In some ways our current situation is similar to the circumstances before the advent of quantum mechanics, with experimental results that don't fit into our existing theoretical framework.

Neutrinoless Double Beta Decays

Speaker: 
Alan W.P. Poon, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2013-09-12 16:00 - 17:00
Location: 
Hennings 201
Local Contact: 
Chris Waltham
Intended Audience: 
Undergraduate
The discovery of the neutrino mass has led to the fundamental question of whether neutrinos are their own antiparticles. This Majorana nature of the neutrinos can be discerned if neutrinoless double beta decay is observed. The experimental challenges to observing Majorana neutrinos --- from the acquisition of suitable decaying isotopes to the detection of the rare decay signal (if exists at all) --- are formidable. These challenges are being conquered through the refinement of existing techniques and by new experimental innovations.

Novel macroscopic quantum states in dipolar gases

Speaker: 
Gora Shlyapnikov, Universiteit van Amsterdam
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2013-05-30 16:00 - 17:00
Location: 
Hennings 201
Local Contact: 
Kirk Madison
Intended Audience: 
Undergraduate
I will give a brief overview of recent studies of dipolar quantum gases - gases of atoms with a large magnetic moment or gases of polar molecules aligned by an applied electric field. In these gases particles interact with each other via long-range anisotropic dipolar forces which drastically change the nature of quantum degenerate regimes. I will demonstrate possibilities for obtaining a topological superfluid p+ip phase for fermionic polar molecules in 2 dimensions.

The Quest for the Higgs Boson

Speaker: 
Matt Strassler
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2013-04-18 16:00 - 17:00
Location: 
Hennings 201
Local Contact: 
Moshe Rozali
Intended Audience: 
Undergraduate
The recent discovery at the Large Hadron Collider of a new particle, most likely a Higgs boson, marks a turning point in our investigation of elementary particles. I will give an overview of the discovery itself, and describe how, assuming it really is a Higgs boson, it impacts the deep questions that we face in trying to make sense of the confusing world that we inhabit. In particular, I will describe the next phase of the Large Hadron Collider program, and consider the long-term implications of what we might learn during that period.

Final Results from WMAP

Speaker: 
Gary Hinshaw
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2013-02-07 16:00 - 17:00
Location: 
Hennings 201
Local Contact: 
Robert Raussendorf
Intended Audience: 
Undergraduate
The cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation is the remnant heat left over from the Big Bang. This fossil relic provides us with a unique probe of conditions in the early universe, long before any discrete cosmic structure had formed. I will describe what we have learned from painstaking measurements of the CMB, focusing on the final results from NASA's WMAP mission, alone and in conjunction with complementary cosmological observations.

The Complexity, Simplicity, and Unity of Living Systems from Cells to Cities; A Physicist's Search for Unifying Theories of Biological and Social Structure and Dynamics

Speaker: 
Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2013-03-21 16:00 - 17:00
Location: 
Hennings 201
Local Contact: 
Robert Raussendorf
Intended Audience: 
Undergraduate
Despite its extraordinary complexity and diversity, many of Life's most fundamental and complex phenomena, whether cells or cities, scale with size in a surprisingly simple and universal fashion. For example, metabolic rate scales approximately as the 3/4-power of mass over 27 orders of magnitude from complex molecules to multicellular organisms. Time-scales (such as lifespans and growth-rates) and sizes (such as genome lengths and RNA densities) scale with exponents which are typically simple multiples of 1/4.

A Framework for k-12 Science Education, its role in the US and its messages for a broader audience

Speaker: 
Helen Quinn, Stanford
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2013-03-14 16:00 - 17:00
Location: 
Hennings 201
Local Contact: 
Jim Carolan
Intended Audience: 
Undergraduate
Published in 2012 by the National Research Council, the Framework lays out a vision of what is important for all students to learn in school science. It builds on previous NRC work that attempts to bring research on learning into decisions on science teaching. It is the guiding document of an effort to develop a set of "Next Generation Science Standards" that are likely to be adopted by multiple states in the US.

Topological States in Graphene-Based Two-Dimensional Electron Systems

Speaker: 
Allan H. MacDonald, University of Texas
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2013-03-07 16:00 - 17:00
Location: 
Hennings 201
Local Contact: 
Marcel Franz
Intended Audience: 
Undergraduate
The conduction and valence bands of bilayer graphene cross at the material’s honeycomb lattice Brillouin-zone corners. The band wavefunctions are conveniently described in a Bloch spin language in which the polar angle characterizes layer polarization and the azimuthal angle is equal to the momentum-dependent interlayer phase difference. The valence band pseudospin of bilayer graphene has a momentum space texture with vorticity equal to two.

Kepler: NASA's Exo-earth Census

Speaker: 
Natalie Batalha, San Jose State University
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2013-02-28 16:00 - 17:00
Location: 
Hennings 201
Local Contact: 
Ingrid Stairs
Intended Audience: 
Undergraduate
Twenty years ago, we knew of no planets orbiting other Sun-like stars, yet today, the roll call is nearly 1,000 strong. Statistical studies of exoplanet populations are possible, and words like "habitable zone" are heard around the dinner table. Theorists are scrambling to explain not only the observed physical characteristics but also the orbital and dynamical properties of planetary systems. The taxonomy is diverse but still reflects the observational biases that dominate the detection surveys. We've yet to find another planet that looks anything like home.
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