Past Department Colloquia

Thu, 2015-09-17 16:00 - 17:00
Prof. Sarah Demers, Yale
The ATLAS detector at CERN's Large Hadron Collider had a
successful Run 1 with proton-proton collisions at center-of-mass energy 7
TeV in 2011 and then 8 TeV in 2012.  In addition to the discovery of the
Higgs Boson, hundreds of analyses have been performed on this data to test
theories predicting physics beyond our current Standard Model.  This summer
we began taking data at center-of-mass energy 13 TeV, which we will
continue for the upcoming few years.
Thu, 2015-03-19 15:30 - 16:30
Pascal Audet, University of Ottawa
Recent discoveries of slow slip events that recur at intervals of <6 to >24 months (also called episodic tremor and slip, or ETS) on the subduction zone thrust fault have elucidated a down-dip transition in slip behavior from frictionally-controlled slip to continuous plastic creep. In this presentation I review seismic evidence for the role of fluids on the seismogenic behaviour of slow earthquakes.
Thu, 2015-03-12 15:30 - 16:30
Bianca Dittrich, Perimeter Institute
Modern physics rests on two basic frameworks, quantum theory and general relativity. Quantum gravity aims to unify these two frameworks into one consistent theory. One can expect that such a formulation delivers in particular an understanding of space time as a quantum object. I will give an introduction to some basic concepts in quantum gravity research and possible models of quantum space time.
Thu, 2015-02-26 15:30 - 16:30
Doug Arion, Carthage College
Studying physics (or any other subject…) because you love it is great. There are many and diverse career paths available to those who study physics, and we ‘sell’ physics to prospective students based on this. Unfortunately, there are skills, knowledge, and attitudes that physics education, by itself, doesn’t typically provide to prepare students for the real world that they will enter – no matter what that career path may be.
Thu, 2015-02-12 15:30 - 16:30
Jonathan Bagger, TRIUMF
Since 1971, theoretical physicists have been mesmerized by supersymmetry. There is no doubt that it is a beautiful concept that has proven to be a powerful mathematical tool. But with the LHC about to restart at full energy, it is time to ask where supersymmetry stands today. Is it realized in nature? What are its prospects for discovery at the LHC? And if it is not found, what does it mean for physics?
Thu, 2015-02-05 15:30 - 16:30
Clifford Will, University of Florida
A century after Einstein’s formulation of general relativity, a remarkably diverse set of precision experiments has established it as the ``standard model’’ for gravitational physics. Yet it might not be the final word. We review the array of measurements that have verified general relativity in the laboratory, in the solar system and in binary pulsars. We then describe some of the opportunities and challenges involved in testing Einstein’s great theory in strong-field regimes, in gravitational waves, and in cosmology.
Thu, 2015-01-29 15:30 - 16:30
Shamit Kachru, Stanford University
The problem of understanding quantum critical metals -- theories of gapless scalars interacting with a Fermi surface -- is arguably at the heart of intriguing physics seen in many materials, including the heavy fermions and the cuprates. Nevertheless, it remains poorly understood. In this colloquium, I will describe in simple language a quantum field theory approach to this class of problems.
Thu, 2015-01-22 15:30 - 16:30
Marcel Franz, UBC
In 1937 Italian physicist Ettore Majorana predicted the existence of strange fermionic particles that are their own antiparticles. It is possible that neutrinos realize such Majorana fermions but 75 years after the historical prediction the evidence remains inconclusive. In this talk I will describe recent efforts to engineer and observe Majorana fermions in solid state systems which appear to be very close to fruition.
Thu, 2015-01-15 15:30 - 16:30
Misao Sasaki, University of Kyoto, Japan
The scenario of open inflation once popular in the 1990's was abandoned when the WMAP team announced in 2003 that our Universe is almost flat. However, as the precision of observational data has increased, the possibility to test the present curvature parameter of Omega_K~0.01-0.001 has become not unrealistic. I argue that open inflation can explain some of recent cosmological data better than others, and it may be a new window to the physics of the Universe at or even before inflation.
Thu, 2014-11-27 16:00 - 17:00
Peter Palffy-Muhoray, Kent State University
Liquid crystals, discovered some 125 years ago, are orientationally ordered soft materials. Although they have received considerable attention - much of it due to their potential for applications in display devices - they continue to astonish, puzzle and delight. In this talk, I will describe some unusual phenomena in liquid crystalline systems which originate in orientational order. I will discuss ideas about the underlying physics, and indicate intriguing problems that remain unsolved.
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