Past Department Colloquia

Thu, 2013-12-05 16:00 - 17:00
Andy Becker, University of Washington
Large area surveys such as LSST promise to monitor the variability of billions of stars through repeated imaging, with observations spread across many years and multiple passbands. To fully realize the potential of these data, models for lightcurve classification must be developed that allow inference in spite of data complexity and sparsity. These models must have the flexibility to capture both the prosaic and the novel, and allow users to distinguish one from the other; this capability does not yet exist in a general tool.
Thu, 2013-11-28 16:00 - 17:00
Paula Heron, University of Washington
Over the past few decades, systematic research has shown that many physics students express essentially the same (incorrect) ideas both before and after instruction. It is frequently assumed that these ideas can be identified by research and then addressed through “interactive” teaching approaches such as hands-on activities and small-group collaborative work. In many classrooms, incorrect ideas are elicited, their inadequacy is exposed, and students are guided in reconciling their prior knowledge with the formal concepts of the discipline.
Thu, 2013-11-21 16:00 - 17:00
Jenny Hoffman, Harvard
Once or twice per decade, the discovery of a new class of electronic materials takes the world by storm, generating thousands of scientific publications per year, and broad hopes for practical applications. In this category are the so-called “topological materials” – typically insulators hosting topologically protected metallic surface states whose strongly coupled spin and momentum degrees of freedom have prompted numerous proposals for nanoscale devices.
Thu, 2013-11-14 16:00 - 17:00
Paul Goldbart, Georgia Tech
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.
Thu, 2013-11-07 16:00 - 17:00
Dan Stamper-Kurn, Berkeley
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.
Thu, 2013-10-31 16:00 - 17:00
Neil Turok, Perimeter Institute
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.
Thu, 2013-10-24 16:00 - 17:00
Eugene Demler, Harvard
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.
Thu, 2013-10-17 16:00 - 17:00
Douglas Scott, UBC
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.
Thu, 2013-10-10 16:00
Shoucheng Zhang, Stanford
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.
Thu, 2013-10-03 16:00 - 17:00
Joe Polchinski, UCSB
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.
Website development by Checkmark Media. Designed by Armada.

a place of mind, The University of British Columbia

Faculty of Science
Department of Physics and Astronomy
6224 Agricultural Road
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1
Tel 604.822.3853
Fax 604.822.5324

Emergency Procedures | Accessibility | Contact UBC | © Copyright The University of British Columbia