Physics and Astronomy Colloquium Series
Fall 2013


Talks are scheduled for Thursdays at 12:40 PM in Room N304 of the Science and Engineering Building, unless otherwise indicated. Pizza and beverages are served at 12:20PM.

All are welcome!



September 12

No Colloquium



September 19

Summer Student Poster Day

The department hallways will be decorated by posters by Union College physics majors who participated in summer research this year. The authors will stand by their posters to discuss their work and answer our questions while we all enjoy lunch during our first official colloquium of the new academic year.


September 26

Richie Bonventre '08

University of Pennsylvania

"Nonstandard models, solar neutrinos, and large theta 13"

Abstract: Solar neutrino experiments have yet to see directly the transition region between matter-enhanced and vacuum oscillations. The transition region is particularly sensitive to models of non-standard neutrino interactions and propagation. We have examined several such non-standard models, which predict a lower-energy transition region and a flatter survival probability for the 8B solar neutrinos than the standard large-mixing angle (LMA) model and checked whether there was any significant improvement in the fit to data, including the new measurements of large theta 13. I will give an overview of the history of past neutrino oscillation measurements and the current experiments and discuss the evidence for various models.

October 3


October 10

Christian Shultz '08

Old Dominion University

"Hadronic Physics and lattice QCD"

Abstract: I will briefly present a historical overview of the Strong Interaction beginning with Rutherford Scattering and ending with Quantum Chromodynamics, the dynamical theory of quarks and gluons. I will discuss the observed spectrum of hadrons and illustrate the patterns that led to the Quark Model as well as deficiencies in the baryon sector that motivated the modern theory of QCD. An overview of the technical difficulties associated with hadronic scale QCD will be examined at a level appropriate for a layperson. Lattice methods will be introduced as a remedy and the anatomy of a calculation discussed in a non-technical manner.

October 17

Michael Ward

"Crystallization in Nanospaces: Regulating Polymorphism and Other Curiosities"

Abstract: Classical crystal growth models posit that crystallization outcomes are determined by nuclei that resemble mature crystal phases, but at a critical size where the volume free energy of nuclei begins to offset the unfavorable surface free energy arising from the interface with the growth medium. Crystallization under nanoscale confinement offers an opportunity to examine nucleation and phase transformations at length scales corresponding to the critical size, at which kinetics and thermodynamics of nucleation and growth intersect and dramatic departures from bulk phases appear. Confinement of crystal growth in nano porous glass, block copolymer and anodized aluminum oxide matrices provides a snapshot of the earliest stages of crystal growth, with insights into nucleation, size-dependent polymorphism, and thermotropic behavior of nanoscale crystals. Collectively, these investigations can increase the understanding of crystallization at deterministic length scales while suggesting strategies for controlling crystallization outcomes.

Note: This is a joint seminar with the Dept. of Chemistry and this seminar will be held in Olin 115.

October 24

Greg Hallenbeck

Cornell University

October 31

Joint Society of Physics Students and Chemistry Club Event

Details to follow and the event will be held in Olin 115




Graziano Vernizzi

Siena College




Javier Perez-Moreno

Skidmore College

"Why do I see quantum interference when I look at the bio-optical window"


November 25

Dieter Hoffmann

Max Planck Institute for History of Science

"Fritz Reiche"

Abstract: Fritz Reiche is one of the almost forgotten physicists of the twentieth century, although he was one of the pioneers of quantum physics. It is also not commonly known that, after his emigration, he taught at Union College from 1944 to 1946 as a lecturer and participated there in military research. The stations of his life and work were Berlin, where he was born in 1883 and completed his Ph.D. in 1913 with Max Planck, and New York City, where he lived as a refugee from Nazi Germany from 1941 onwards and died in 1969. This talk will cover the most important parts of his life as a scholar, which will reflect the history of the twentieth century and honor his significance as a researcher.

Biographical Data: Dieter Hoffmann is a Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science and adjunct Professor at the Humboldt University in Berlin. He graduated from Humboldt University in Physics (1972) and earned his PhD (1976) and habilitation (1989) there in the history of science. From 1976 to 1990 he was a Research Fellow in the history of science at the Academy of Sciences of the German Democratic Republic and subsequently at the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (National Bureau of Standards) and, as a Humboldt Fellow, at the universities of Stuttgart, Cambridge, and Harvard. He is a member of the International Academy for the History of Sciences (2005) and since 2010 of the German National Academy of Sciences, Leopoldina. His research is focused on the history of science and physics in the 19th and 20th century, in particular on biographies and institutional histories. He is currently writing a book length biography of Max Planck.

English Book Publications (Selection)):

- Einstein’s Berlin. The John’s Hopkins University Press Baltimore 2013

- The German Physical Society in the Third Reich. Physicists between Autonomy and Accomodation. Edited by Dieter Hoffmann und Mark Walker. Cambridge University Press 2011.

- One Hundred Years at the Intersection of Chemistry and Physics. The Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society 1911-2011. Walter de Gruyter Verlag Berlin 2011.

- Max Planck: Annalen Papers. Edited by Dieter Hoffmann. Verlag Wiley-VCH. Weinheim 2008.

Note the tentative date - this is during finals week and is subject to a change in date/time. More information will be posted as the date gets closer.


Schedule for Winter 2014

Schedule for Spring 2014

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Last Updated: September 17, 2013