Past Department Colloquia

Thu, 2017-11-02 16:00 - 17:00
Brett Gladman (UBC)

Planetary formation functions much the way that 2-year olds eat; that is, most of it goes where it's supposed to, but a non-negligible fraction is dispersed in the vicinity, sometimes leaving at high speed.  In this colloquium I will cover (at a non-expert level) a series of topics related to the processes that occur in planetary systems as they form and evolve.  The size scales from dust to giant planets will be covered, including topics of: meteorite delivery; giant impacts that strip mantles off planets, exposing their bare cores; building the Oort cloud and

Thu, 2017-10-26 16:00 - 17:00
Levon Pogosian (SFU)

While cosmic acceleration is well-established, the nature of Dark Energy causing it remains unknown. A flat universe dominated by a cosmological constant (Lambda) and cold dark matter (CDM) has been cosmologists’ working model of choice for nearly two decades. However, the value of Lambda poses a serious theoretical challenge, exposing a gap in our understanding of the vacuum energy and the way it gravitates. Intriguingly, there appear to be tensions between different datasets within the LCDM framework that would be relieved if Dark Energy was non-constant.

Thu, 2017-10-19 16:00 - 17:00
Martin Barlow (UBC Mathematics)

A random walk on a graph G has anomalous diffusion if the mean square deviation after n steps is sublinear in n. Systems that have, or are expected to have, anomalous diffusion include some regular exact fractals, and random graphs at their critical point. I will discuss these, and in particular what we know about diffusion on critical percolation, the uniform spanning tree, and random planar triangulations.

Thu, 2017-10-12 16:00 - 17:00
David Spergel (Princeton/CCA)

In 2025, NASA (hopefully with CSA as a partner) plans to launch WFIRST, the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope.  WFIRST is a 2.4-meter telescope with more than a 100 times the field of view of the Hubble Space Telescope.  WFIRST will fly with a wide field camera and a coronagraph.   The wide field camera is poised to make significant contributions to our understanding of dark energy and to carry out a diverse program of astrophysics.  The coronagraph should be able to obtain contrast ratios 1000x better than those previously achieved from space and characteriz

Thu, 2017-10-05 16:00 - 17:00
Ben Radford (skeptic)

Many people believe things for which there is little evidence and no definitive proof, from astrology to psychics (and polls show that over half of the public believe in ghosts). Yet the issue is not one of belief but evidence: either ghosts, Sasquatch, and psychic powers exist or they do not; if they exist, there should be scientific proof. How good is the scientific evidence for these claims? How does a science-based investigator approach these mysteries and separate fact from fiction?

Thu, 2017-09-28 16:00 - 17:00
Guy Wormser (LAL, Orsay)

The Standard Model of particle physics, one of the most remarkable theoretical construction of the XX century, has a very precise prediction power for all man-made experiments using accelerators. Although it is almost certain, for reasons that will be explained in this talk, that the SM is not the final theory, it resists up to now to all attempts to discover any deviation from its predictions that could show  the path towards a more complete theory.

Thu, 2017-09-21 16:00 - 17:00
Dan Schwartz (Stanford)

To be successful, active learning depends on good tasks.  "Inventing" tasks ask students to find and explain patterns in well-structured data.  These tasks create a time for telling, so that students learn more from lectures and readings, and they are more likely to use what they learn. The current talk provides evidence on the benefits of inventing tasks, why they work, and how to make and use them.  Of course, it also shows some limitations of what instructors are typically doing instead.  

Sun, 2017-09-17 19:00 - 20:30
PhD Comics
Jorge Cham and Daniel Whiteson

Jorge Cham, the creator of “Piled Higher and Deeper”, and his collaborator physicist Daniel Whiteson, will discuss “PhD Comics” and their new book “We Have No Idea, A Guide to the Unknown Universe”.  Come see this entertaining event, which will include live illustrations!

Thu, 2017-09-14 16:00 - 17:00
Stephanie Simmons (SFU)

Silicon transistors, the essential building block of most modern electronic devices, cannot shrink much further without being rendered inoperable by quantum mechanics. This classical-quantum threshold in fact presents a tremendous opportunity: if we harness quantum mechanics, rather than attempt to avoid it, we could build a quantum computer. Quantum computers will open up a world of opportunities — they could accomplish certain computational tasks exponentially faster, which would otherwise be forever impractical. During this lecture, Dr.

Thu, 2017-09-07 16:00 - 17:00
Josh Folk (UBC)

The success of graphene research over the past decade has demonstrated the power of transistor-type measurements in 2D materials to investigate novel electronic states of matter.  In graphene, table-top electrical measurements routinely probe collections of interacting relativistic particles, under easily tuneable conditions such as density, temperature, and magnetic field.  Over the past ten years, the palette of elements and compounds available to construct 2D materials has been expanded well beyond carbon, and the range of condensed matter phenomena available

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