Past Department Colloquia

Thu, 2014-11-20 16:00 - 17:00
Witold Nazarewicz, Michigan State University/ORNL
Understanding nuclei is a quantum many-body problem of incredible richness and diversity and studies of nuclei address some of the great challenges that are common throughout modern science. Nuclear structure research strives to build a unified and comprehensive microscopic framework in which bulk nuclear properties, nuclear excitations, and nuclear reactions can all be described.
Thu, 2014-11-13 16:00 - 17:00
Doug Bonn, UBC
For the past 6 years, the PHYS 107/109/ScienceOne labs have served as a testing ground for new approaches to teaching in laboratories. Over time this has evolved into a focus on teaching students widely-applicable data handling skills: especially, understanding uncertainty, statistical tools, and graphical techniques. In the past year we have also targeted students' critical thinking, with a relatively simple framework that asks students to make quantitative comparisons, reflect on those comparisons, and then act on them.
Thu, 2014-11-06 16:00 - 17:00
Florian Beutler, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
I will present results from the SDSS-III BOSS-DR11 analysis. In this talk I will focus on the analysis of the power spectrum multipoles, which allows to constrain the expansion of the Universe through Baryon Acoustic Oscillations as well as to measure the growth of structure through redshift-space distortions. Such a measurement can be used to test General Relativity. Our measurements are in some tension with the expectation of GR+LCDM and I will suggest ways in which this tension can be alleviated.
Thu, 2014-10-30 16:00 - 17:00
Sabrina Leslie, McGill
A wide range of life-preserving processes, such as DNA transcription and repair, rely on weak intermolecular interactions and slow dynamics which occur at high concentrations, over long time periods, and often under confinement. Visualizing dynamic processes can present a challenge to fluorescence microscopy, the work horse for resolving biological processes at the molecular scale. To address this challenge, we present new in vitro diagnostics which use tunable and transverse nanoscale confinement to bring biomolecules into crisp view under previously inaccessible conditions.
Thu, 2014-10-23 16:00 - 17:00
Douglas NC Lin, University of California, Santa Cruz
Planetary astrophysics is the most rapidly advancing field in the astronomical community today. A census suggests that planets are common and their mass- period distribution is a function of the mass and metallicity of their host stars. The diverse and intriguing kinematic properties of multiple planetary systems are likely to be the direct consequence of both the boundary condition of their natal disks and the long-term evolution of nonlinear dynamical systems.
Thu, 2014-10-16 16:00 - 17:00
Edward Redish, University of Maryland
A two-term class in physics has been a staple of the education of life scientists for many years. At many large universities life-science students have become a dominant element in this course, their numbers surpassing the number of engineers taking physics. In addition, the biology and medical school communities have begun calling for a more sophisticated and biologically oriented curriculum, one stressing the building of generalized scientific competencies and taking a more interdisciplinary perspective.
Thu, 2014-10-09 16:00
Leo Golubovic, University of West Virginia
Biological macromolecules are inherently capable of forming physically interesting self- assembled structures with biologically significant functionalities. We overview the efforts to theoretically understand and possibly control some of these fascinating structures and phenomena. Prominent recent examples for this are novel partially ordered liquid crystalline phases, such as the sliding phases of DNA-cationic lipid complexes used for gene therapy applications in the battles against cancer.
Thu, 2014-10-02 16:00 - 17:00
Sean Hartnoll, Stanford University
Ripples propagating on the event horizons of black holes precisely mimic the flow of heat and charge through a strongly correlated medium. This remarkable fact builds upon insights from the 70s showing that black holes possess thermodynamics properties. I will describe how this connection, known as holographic duality, has recently lead to new ways of thinking about thermal and electronic transport in unconventional metals.
Thu, 2014-09-25 16:00 - 17:00
Eric Ford, Penn State U, Center for Exoplanets & Habitable World
For centuries, planet formation theories were fine tuned to explain the details of solar system. The diversity of planetary systems uncovered by Doppler surveys challenged previous theories and led to insights into planet formation, orbital migration and the excitation of orbital eccentricities and inclinations. NASA's Kepler mission has identified 450 systems with multiple transiting planet candidates, including nearly 1200 planet candidates and many potentially rocky planets.
Thu, 2014-09-18 16:00 - 17:00
Karin Dahmen, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The deformation of many solid and granular materials is not continuous, but discrete, with intermittent slips similar to earthquakes. Here, we suggest that the statistical distributions of the slips, such as the slip-size distributions, reflect tuned criticality, with approximately the same regular (power-law) functions, and the same tunable exponential cutoffs, for systems spanning 13 decades in length, from tens of nanometers to hundreds of kilometers; for compressed nano-crystals, amorphous materials, sheared granular materials, and earthquakes.
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