Department of Physics & Astronomy

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Distinguished Lectures

Michael Brown, California Institute of Technology

TBA

Date:

January 25, 2018

Time:

4:00PM

Location:

Hawking Auditorium


Andrew Strominger, Harvard University

TBA

Date:

November 2, 2017

Time:

4:00PM

Location:

Hawking Auditorium


Katherine Freese, University of Michigan

The Dark Matter in the Universe

Date:

April 13, 2017

Time:

4:00PM

Abstract:

“What is the Universe made of?” This question is the longest outstanding problem in all of modern physics, and it is one of the most important research topics in cosmology and particle physics today. The bulk of the mass in the Universe consists of a new kind of dark matter particle, and the hunt for its discovery in on. I'll start by discussing the evidence for the existence of dark matter in galaxies, and then show how it fits into a big picture of the Universe containing 5% atoms, 25% dark matter, and 70% dark energy. Leading candidates for the dark matter are Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPs), axions, and sterile neutrinos. I will focus on WIMPs, a generic class of particles that are electrically neutral and do not participate in strong interactions, yet have weak-scale interactions with ordinary matter. There are three approaches to experimental searches for WIMPS: at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva; in underground laboratory experiments; and with astrophysical searches for dark matter annihilation products. Currently there are claimed detections in multiple experiments --- but they cannot possibly all be right. The results are puzzling and the hints of detection will be tested soon. At the end of the talk I'll turn to dark energy and its effect on the fate of the Universe.

Location:

Hawking Auditorium

Hosted By:

Melanie Becker


Rebecca Richards-Kortum, Rice

BIO-PHOTONICS: Improving Healthcare in Low-Resource Settings

Date:

November 10, 2016

Time:

4:00PM

Abstract:

Nearly 90% of the world's children live in developing countries; half live on less than $2/day. The health challenges these children face are enormous, yet the vast majority of healthcare R&D is directed toward solving health challenges of the developed world. This talk will describe efforts to engineer appropriate high-performance, low-cost science & technology platforms and to develop models for sustainable dissemination of these technologies. For example, we are working to develop Nursery of the Future for district hospitals in the developing world, which includes a comprehensive set of low-cost, highly effective technologies to help newborns survive and thrive. We estimate that a neonatal nursery of the future for a district hospital serving 300,000 people in developing countries could be outfitted for less than $5,000. This is less than the cost of one western style ventilator.

Location:

Hawking Auditorium

Hosted By:

Marlan Scully


Nima Arkani-Hamed, IAS Princeton

Physics and Mathematics for the End of Spacetime

Date:

September 22, 2016

Time:

7:00PM

Abstract:

Space-time and Quantum Mechanics are the pillars of our modern understanding of fundamental physics. But there are storm clouds on the horizon, indicating that these principles are approximate, and must be replaced with something deeper. The union of quantum mechanics and gravity strongly suggests that "space-time is doomed", and there are related indications of fundamental limitations to quantum mechanics in both the early and late universe. In this talk I will review these paradoxes and describe indications for a new picture where space-time and quantum mechanics will be seen to emerge hand-in-hand from more primitive principles, making contact with new areas of mathematics. I will give a concrete example of how these ideas work in the context of particle collision experiments, of the sort performed at the Large Hadron Collider.

Location:

Hawking Auditorium

Hosted By:

Katrin Becker


Roy Glauber, Harvard University

Some Recollections of Los Alamos - and the Nuclear Era

Date:

April 6, 2016

Time:

4:00PM

Abstract:

Roy Glauber was just 18 years old when he was selected to leave his studies at Harvard to join the work of the Los Alamos Laboratory on the Manhattan Project. He journeyed from Santa Fe Station in Lamy, New Mexico to Los Alamos in a car with John von Neumann. Glauber worked in the theoretical division under Hans Bethe, and talks about Edward Teller, Richard Feynman, Stanislaus Ulam, and other luminaries. Glauber went on to become a leader in physics, winning the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2005 for his work on quantum optics. He also discusses his early interest in astronomy and physics, cultivated by clubs and teachers.

Location:

Hawking Auditorium


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