Past Department Colloquia

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

Thu, 2017-04-06 19:00 - 20:30
Tim Blais

This isn't really part of the normal colloquium series, but a special end of term event in the evening of the last day of classes!  Tim Blais is an ex-graduate student in theoretical physics who has become a populariser of science.  His first "A Capella Science" video, "Rolling in the Higgs" has 800,000 Youtube hits and his most popular, "Bohemian Gravity", has about 3 million.  You can find 20 or so other videos by him on the A Capella Science Youtube Channel.  Bring family and friends to what will be a combination of science and entertainment!

Thu, 2017-03-30 16:00 - 17:00
Lars Bildsten (KITP, UCSB)

Long-term and sensitive space-based photometry from the Kepler and CoRoT satellites (as well as MOST) has allowed us to finally "hear" the stars. These remarkable data have yielded accurate measurements of masses, radii and distances for more than 30,000 stars across the Milky Way.  More profoundly, these observations are revealing the interior conditions of the star, clearly differentiating those that are undergoing helium burning in their cores to those that are only burning hydrogen in a shell.

Thu, 2017-03-23 16:00 - 17:00
Nai Phuan Ong (Princeton University)

To date, the anomaly has been observed most clearly in the two semimetals Na_3Bi and GdPtBi. I will discuss what Weyl Fermions are, and how they may be realized in real materials. The realization allows the chiral anomaly to be observed in a crystal. I will explain what the chiral anomaly is and remark on its historical context, starting with pion decay. Finally I will discuss several tests that buttress the conclusion.

*Supported by the Moore Foundation, ARO and NSF.






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