Past Department Colloquia

Thu, 2018-04-12 16:00 - 17:00
Eleanor Sayre (Kansas State)

Learning physics means learning lots of technical content, including mathematical tools, lab skills, and physics concepts.  It also requires learning cultural content, from expectations about how we structure equations to beliefs about the nature of research. Focusing on upper-division physics students, this talk integrates research across several projects to build a robust picture of what it means to become a physicist.

Thu, 2018-04-05 16:00 - 17:00
Veronika Hubeny (UC Davis)

Black holes have been instrumental in paving the way toward a quantum theory of gravity.  Their elegant mathematical formulation has revealed that black holes behave as thermodynamic objects, which subsequently motivated the holographic principle.  Its concrete realization, the gauge/gravity duality, offers a framework for elucidating the fundamental nature of spacetime, once we understand the map between the two sides of the duality sufficiently well.  Research over the last decade has offered tantalizing hints that quantum entanglement plays a foundational rol

Thu, 2018-03-29 16:00 - 17:00
Caitlin Casey (U Texas)
Thu, 2018-03-22 16:00 - 17:00
Christian Boutan (PNNL)

The Axion is a well-motivated hypothetical elementary particle. Its existence is a consequence of a particularly elegant solution to the so-called "strong CP problem" of quantum chromodynamics (QCD). Not only would the discovery of the axion solve deep issues in QCD, an axion with a mass of μeV - meV could account for most or all of the missing mass in our galaxy and finally reveal the composition of dark matter.

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

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