Past Department Colloquia

Thu, 2013-03-14 16:00 - 17:00
Helen Quinn, Stanford
Published in 2012 by the National Research Council, the Framework lays out a vision of what is important for all students to learn in school science. It builds on previous NRC work that attempts to bring research on learning into decisions on science teaching. It is the guiding document of an effort to develop a set of "Next Generation Science Standards" that are likely to be adopted by multiple states in the US.
Thu, 2013-03-07 16:00 - 17:00
Allan H. MacDonald, University of Texas
The conduction and valence bands of bilayer graphene cross at the material’s honeycomb lattice Brillouin-zone corners. The band wavefunctions are conveniently described in a Bloch spin language in which the polar angle characterizes layer polarization and the azimuthal angle is equal to the momentum-dependent interlayer phase difference. The valence band pseudospin of bilayer graphene has a momentum space texture with vorticity equal to two.
Thu, 2013-02-28 16:00 - 17:00
Natalie Batalha, San Jose State University
Twenty years ago, we knew of no planets orbiting other Sun-like stars, yet today, the roll call is nearly 1,000 strong. Statistical studies of exoplanet populations are possible, and words like "habitable zone" are heard around the dinner table. Theorists are scrambling to explain not only the observed physical characteristics but also the orbital and dynamical properties of planetary systems. The taxonomy is diverse but still reflects the observational biases that dominate the detection surveys. We've yet to find another planet that looks anything like home.
Thu, 2013-02-14 16:00 - 17:00
Jaymie Matthews
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?
Thu, 2013-02-07 16:00 - 17:00
Gary Hinshaw
The cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation is the remnant heat left over from the Big Bang. This fossil relic provides us with a unique probe of conditions in the early universe, long before any discrete cosmic structure had formed. I will describe what we have learned from painstaking measurements of the CMB, focusing on the final results from NASA's WMAP mission, alone and in conjunction with complementary cosmological observations.
Thu, 2013-01-31 16:00 - 17:00
Carl Michal, UBC
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.
Thu, 2013-01-24 16:00 - 17:00
Paul Steinhardt, Princeton
Thu, 2013-01-17 16:00 - 17:00
Giorgio Gratta, Stanford
With the definitive evidence for neutrino oscillations collected in the last decade, we now believe that neutrino masses are non-zero. Oscillation measurements, however, only measure mass differences and give us little information about the absolute values of neutrino masses. The hypothetical phenomenon of neutrino-less double-beta decay can probe the neutrino mass scale with exquisite sensitivity.
Thu, 2013-01-10 16:00 - 17:00
Thierry Giamarchi, University of Geneva, Switzerland
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.
Thu, 2012-11-29 16:00 - 17:00
Mark Halpern
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.
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