Department Colloquia

Exploring planets far, far away... without hyperdrive: The latest results of the Kepler exoplanet census

Speaker: 
Jaymie Matthews
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2013-02-14 16:00 - 17:00
Location: 
Hennings 201
Local Contact: 
Ingrid Stairs, Robert Raussendorf
Intended Audience: 
Undergraduate
What are the structures and atmospheric compositions of exoplanets (planets beyond the Solar System)? Do they have strong magnetic fields and if so, how do those fields interact with their parent stars? What are the properties of those stars and their flare and spot activities?

Deconstructing the electron: Quantum physics in one dimension

Speaker: 
Thierry Giamarchi, University of Geneva, Switzerland
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2013-01-10 16:00 - 17:00
Location: 
Hennings 201
Local Contact: 
Marcel Franz, Ian Affleck
Intended Audience: 
Undergraduate
The effect of interactions on quantum particles is a long standing question, with important consequences for most realistic systems. In one dimension interactions lead to a radically new type of physics, very different from the one we know for higher dimensional systems.

Protein folding, misfolding, and aggregation observed directly using single-molecule force spectroscopy

Speaker: 
Michael Woodside, National Institute for Nanotechnology, NRC, Edmonton
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2012-11-15 16:00 - 17:00
Location: 
Hennings 201
Local Contact: 
Steve Plotkin
Intended Audience: 
Undergraduate
Most proteins reliably fold into specific "native" three-dimensional structures which are required to perform their function properly. When the folding process goes awry, however, non-native structures can result that lead to disease, with examples ranging from Alzheimer's to scurvy. My lab is studying the mechanisms driving such misfolding in two disease-related proteins, PrP (prion disease) and alpha-synuclein (Parkinson's).

The Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS)

Speaker: 
Martin White, Berkeley
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2012-10-25 16:00 - 17:00
Location: 
Hennings 201
Local Contact: 
Scott Oser
Intended Audience: 
Undergraduate

The SDSS-III's Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS) is a 6-year effort to map the spatial distribution of luminous galaxies and quasars and probe the inter-galactic medium. The goals of the survey are to constrain the characteristic scale imprinted by baryon acoustic oscillations in the early universe, the growth of structure through redshift space distortions, the matter power spectrum and the evolution of massive galaxies and quasars. I will give a brief update on the status of the survey and some of our early results.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging in the Earth's Magnetic Field

Speaker: 
Carl Michal, UBC
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2013-01-31 16:00 - 17:00
Location: 
Hennings 201
Local Contact: 
Robert Raussendorf
Intended Audience: 
Undergraduate
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a powerful clinical technique used extensively for medical diagnosis. It is also a flagship application of undergraduate physics. Magnetic resonance and imaging are standard experiments in upper level undergraduate physics labs, but are not generally used in introductory courses due to the cost and perceived complexity. Over the past couple of years, we have developed a low-cost instrument and series of lab activities aimed at first year university students who intend to pursue studies outside of physics.

The exotic life of Majorana states in quantum wires and beyond

Speaker: 
Gil Refael, Caltech
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2013-03-28 16:00 - 17:00
Location: 
Hennings 201
Local Contact: 
Marcel Franz
Intended Audience: 
Undergraduate
Majorana states have been tantalizing us for many years due to their mysterious and unusual properties. Originally, Etore Majorana proposed them as a particle that is its own anti-particle. More recently it was realized by Kitaev that due to their non-Abelian exchange statistics, they could form the foundation for topologically protected quantum computers. In my talk I will describe some of the unique properties of Majorana states, how to utilize them, and how to realize them in the most simple way.

Measuring accelerating expansion of the Universe with CHIME

Speaker: 
Mark Halpern
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2012-11-29 16:00 - 17:00
Location: 
Hennings 201
Local Contact: 
Robert Raussendorf
Intended Audience: 
Undergraduate
Acoustic processes in the plasma which pervades the early Universe govern the shape of the anisotropy of the cosmic background which has been measured by WMAP and other probes. Once the Universe became transparent, these acoustic signals stopped propagating. The density variations associated with them have remained fixed in co-moving (expanding) coordinates.

Disappearance of Reactor Neutrinos: Daya Bay and Beyond

Speaker: 
Karsten Heeger (University of Wisconsin)
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2012-11-08 16:00 - 17:00
Location: 
Hennings 201
Local Contact: 
Scott Oser
Intended Audience: 
Undergraduate
Experiments with reactor antineutrinos have played an important role throughout the history of neutrino physics. Recently the Daya Bay experiment observed the disappearance of electron antineutrinos over kilometer-scale baselines and measured the last unknown neutrino mixing angle theta13. Experiments with reactor neutrinos at short baselines enable precision studies of neutrino properties, probe non-standard physics, and offer opportunities for reactor monitoring. I will describe the recent results of the Daya Bay experiment and discuss prospects for future reactor experiments.

Superposition, entanglement, and raising Schrödinger’s cat

Speaker: 
Dave Wineland, NIST Boulder
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2012-11-22 16:00 - 17:00
Location: 
Hennings 201
Local Contact: 
Louis Deslauriers, Robert Raussendorf
Intended Audience: 
Undergraduate
Already in 1935 Erwin Schrödinger knew that, when extended to the realm of our everyday experience, quantum theory permits rather bizarre situations. To illustrate his point, he introduced his well-known cat that can simultaneously be both dead and alive, a superposition of both possibilities. These days we can create situations that have the same attributes of this unfortunate cat, although so far only on the micro- and meso-scopic scale.

Towards a quantitative understanding of high-temperature superconductivity

Speaker: 
Bernhard Keimer (Max-Plank Institute, Stuttgart, Germany)
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2012-03-29 16:00 - 17:00
Location: 
Hennings 201
Local Contact: 
George Sawatzky
Intended Audience: 
Undergraduate
Starting from a tutorial introduction to conventional and unconventional superconductivity, this talk will provide an overview of current research efforts to understand the mechanism of high-temperature superconductivity in copper oxide and iron pnictide compounds. Our group contributes to this effort by accurately mapping out spin fluctuation spectra in these materials through a combination of neutron, x-ray, and Raman scattering methods.
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