Past Department Colloquia

Thu, 2018-03-15 16:00 - 17:00
Frans Pretorius (Princeton)

LIGO has ushered in the era of gravitational wave astronomy, having observed several signals consistent with binary black hole mergers, and one attributable to a binary neutron star collision. The latter event also produced significant electromagnetic radiation, and was observed across the spectrum by a host of telescopes and satellites. In this talk I will discuss what these events can teach us about the fundamental nature of dynamical, strong-field gravity.

Thu, 2018-03-08 16:00 - 17:00

The Three Minute Thesis (3MT) is an academic competition that assists current graduate students with fostering effective presentation and communication skills. Participants have just three minutes to explain the breadth and significance of their research project to a non-specialist audience. Last year, over 30 universities across Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and the South Pacific participated in this fun, highly informative and very entertaining event. UBC is one of the first Universities in North America to host a 3MT competition. 

Thu, 2018-03-01 16:00 - 17:00
Jo Lister

The physics of nuclear fusion as an energy source was laid down in the nuclear
binding energy formula and was demonstrated in the early 1950s with a test
explosion. Experiments were already underway in many countries in the 1940s to
produce "controlled" fusion in the laboratory. The Zeta experiment at the end of the
1950s drew a blank and interest in unlimited energy dissipated, although the
laboratory research continued. In the late 1960s, the Russians made a breakthrough

Thu, 2018-02-22 16:00 - 17:00
No Colloqium
Reading break
Thu, 2018-02-15 16:00 - 17:00
Mark Halpern and Gary Hinshaw (UBC)

The 2018 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics was awarded to the WMAP Science
Team for their observations of CMB anisotropy.  These data formed the basis for the
now-standard cosmological model of a flat universe dominated by dark matter and dark
energy which has been expanding for 13.8 billion years.  We will put these
observations in the context of pre- and post-WMAP observations and discuss the
challenges facing cosmology today.  The talk will conclude with remarks about the

Thu, 2018-02-08 16:00 - 17:00
Hong Liu (MIT)

Hydrodynamics has a long and glorious history, describing phenomena ranging from
flows of water, patterns of weather, to star and galaxy formations. During the last
decade, it has also played  important and often surprising  roles in characterizing
various types of exotic quantum matter. In particular, it helped formulating a new
class of quantum matter: quantum liquids without quasiparticles.  I will briefly
review these stories and explain physical reasons

Thu, 2018-02-01 16:00 - 17:00
Ted Bunn (U. Richmond)

Students are often not exposed to the main ideas of general relativity until relatively late in their education, due to the mathematical complexity of the theory. In particular, the Einstein field equation is generally presented in a way that obscures its geometrical meaning under a thicket of indices. I will show an index-free geometrical approach to the equation that is suitable for students unfamiliar with tensor calculus.

Thu, 2018-01-25 16:00 - 17:00
Anna Celler (UBC & VGH)
Thu, 2018-01-18 16:00 - 17:00
Joanne O'Meara (Guelph)

Over the past decade we have made many changes to our undergraduate physics offerings at Guelph, for majors and non-majors alike. Our goal throughout has been to implement best practices from the Physics Education Research community, in such a way that we are mindful of resource implications.

Thu, 2018-01-11 16:00 - 17:00
Anatoli Polkovnikov (Boston U.)

Phase transitions are usually defined through emergence of singularities of free
energy of the system with changing some external parameter like temperature.
Familiar examples include liquid-gas transitions, or transitions between
paramagnetic and ferromagnetic phases. Quantum phase transitions are very similar
except that they occur at zero temperature and are driven by quantum fluctuations.
In this talk I will introduce a concept of dynamical quantum phase transitions,

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Fax 604.822.5324

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