Past Department Colloquia

Thu, 2012-03-01 16:00 - 17:00
Paul Wiggins (University of Washington)
Almost all biological systems exhibit precise spatial and temporal control of protein, mRNA, and DNA localization, demonstrating that cells measure distance and detect proximity with a molecular-scale tool kit. Although these phenomena have traditionally been studied in the context of the detailed expression patterning in development, recent exciting results reveal that intricate spatial organization is the rule rather than the exception in the bacterial cell.
Thu, 2012-02-16 16:00 - 17:00
Scott Ransom (National Radio Astronomy Observatory (USA))
Over the past several years, astrophysical observations of neutron stars using X-rays and radio wavelengths have made significant progress towards determining the Equation of State of neutron star matter. The discovery of several interesting new pulsars as well as improved instrumentation has finally allowed us to start measuring the masses of millisecond pulsars.
Thu, 2012-02-09 16:00 - 17:00
Shana Kelley
The analysis of panels of molecular biomarkers offers valuable diagnostic and prognostic information for clinical decision making. Robust, practical platforms that detect low levels of biomolecules (< 1000 copies) are urgently needed to advance medical care by diagnosing and predicting the progression of cancer and other disease states. Electrochemical methods providing low cost and direct biomarker read-out have attracted a great deal of attention for this application, but have, to date, failed to provide clinically-relevant sensitivity.
Thu, 2012-02-02 16:00 - 17:00
Mark Raizen (University of Texas, Austin)
In 1871, James Clerk Maxwell proposed a thought experiment, and in 1907, Albert Einstein made a prediction. Both men concluded that the experimental realizations would be impossible. In this talk I will describe our recent work that relates to this history, and show how it has enabled new methods for controlling matter with light.
Thu, 2012-01-26 16:00 - 17:00
Joseph Thywissen (University of Toronto)
Ultracold atoms are ideal systems in which to study many-body quantum dynamics: these neutral gases are held in completely conservative potentials and isolated from dissipative interaction with the environment. In this talk, I present our observations of population dynamics of a Bose-Einstein condensate in a double-well potential. Oscillatory dynamics span three octaves, as we tune the healing length from 0.3d to 2d, where d is the separation between the wells.
Thu, 2012-01-19 16:00 - 17:00
Alexandre Blais (Universite de Sherbrooke)
Coupling of superconducting qubits to quantized microwave fields stored in electrical circuits has opened new possibilities for quantum optics and quantum information processing in solid-state devices. With the steady improvements of the coherence time of superconducting qubits and with the large qubit-field coupling that can be achieved, these on-chip realizations of cavity QED, also known as circuit QED, can reach new parameter regimes currently unexplored in atomic based quantum optics.
Thu, 2012-01-12 16:00 - 17:00
Steve Giddings (UC Santa Barbara)
Reconciling quantum mechanics with gravity is perhaps the most conceptually profound unsolved problem from twentieth century physics. Gedanken experiments have a long tradition in unravelling difficult problems. One such experiment exposing a central issue in quantum gravity is that of scattering particles at energies above the Planck scale. Such collisions might even be realized at LHC, in certain theories of nature. In a classical description of this scattering, black holes form; Hawking showed quantum effects then cause their evaporation.
Thu, 2011-12-01 16:00 - 17:00
Nadya Mason (University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign)
Superconductors are materials that can have zero electrical resistance. They are thus of great interest for applications such as power transmission and energy storage. While the fundamental physics of standard superconductors has now been understood for over 50 years, questions remain about what happens when superconductors are coupled to other materials. For example, it was known that superconducting carriers could be transmitted through a normal metal, but the spectroscopy of the individual modes had not been measured.
Thu, 2011-11-17 16:00
Charles Kane (Penn State)
A topological insulator is a material that is an insulator on its interior,but has special conducting states on its surface. These surface states are unlike any other known two dimensional conductor. They are characterized by a unique Dirac type dispersion relation and are protected by a topological property of the material's underlying electronic band structure. Topological insulators have attracted considerable interest as a fundamentally new electronic phase with applications from spintronics to quantum computing.
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