Department Colloquia

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.

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.
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