Physics and Astronomy Colloquium Series

Spring 2014


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!



April 3

Emily Maher

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

"Neutrinos and the MINERvA Experiment"

Abstract: Neutrinos are one of the most abundant, but least understood particles in the universe. Neutrinos are everywhere, but they rarely interact. The MINERvA experiment was designed to study these rare neutrino interactions in order to shed light on the neutrino itself. MINERvA also uses neutrinos to study the nucleus. In this talk, I will discuss why neutrinos are important to our understanding of the universe. I will also discuss what an experimental particle physicist actually does. Then I will explain the motivations, experimental design, and recent results of the MINERvA experiment.









April 8

(note the day, the time and room are still the same)

Greg Hallenbeck


Physics & Astronomy Visitor Candidate Talk

"The Mystery Hydrogen in Virgo's Dwarf Galaxies"

Abstract: Clusters of galaxies are efficient at transforming dwarf galaxies from being gas-rich and star-forming into gas-poor "dead" dwarf ellipticals. This occurs via well-understood mechanisms which remove gas from the galaxies, preventing future star formation. Using ALFALFA, a survey of neutral Hydrogen in the local universe, we have identified a small sample of dwarf elliptical galaxies which are "dead" yet have significant amounts of Hydrogen remaining. Where do such galaxies come from? Is it necessary to alter the standard gas-removal evolutionary model? Or do they represent a rare, alternate evolutionary process?



April 10



April 15

(note the day, the time and room are still the same)


Mady Behravan

Yeshiva University

Physics & Astronomy Visitor Candidate Talk

"Temperature Dependent Electrical Conductivity of Heteroepitaxial Diamond "

Abstract: Temperature dependent electrical conductivity of heteroepitaxial diamond grown by chemical vapor deposition has been investigated. Owing to its extremely low conductivity at room temperature, measurements of current-voltage characteristics were made above 300 0C. The results can be explained by a thermally activated conductivity with single activation energy. Similar type of behavior has been reported previously for Natural Type IIa diamond, suggesting the presence of electronic states at comparable concentrations in materials of completely different origin.


April 17

An-Chang Shi

McMaster University

"Soft Matter: Where Physics Meets Chemistry and Biology"

Abstract: Soft matter refers to materials that are condensed yet also compliant. Typical soft materials include polymers, colloids, liquid crystals, and biological materials. The softness is one of the reasons why these materials are extremely attractive for many applications in modern technology. Another intriguing property of soft materials is their ability to self-assemble into complex organized structures. Traditionally, soft matter is a research area populated by chemists and biologists, emphasizing the synthesis and characterization of these materials. Since middle 70’s, many physicists turned their attentions to this important area of research, bringing with them the insights from physics. The infusion of physics ideas into soft matter research has led to many progresses. At the same time, many new physical concepts and ideas emerge from soft matter research. My lecture starts with a brief survey of soft condensed matter and its physical properties, and ends with some of our recent studies in this fascinating research area.

April 22

(note the day, the time and room are still the same)

Brock Russell

Physics & Astronomy Visitor Candidate Talk

"Supernovae, Stellar Winds, and X-rays"

Abstract: Supernovae are extremely powerful explosions that spread important stellar matter throughout the Universe. In this talk, we will discuss stellar evolution of massive stars from formation to supernova. I will describe in detail the physics of core-collapse supernovae and discuss what happens when the shock from the supernova plows into the gas surrounding the star. The X-rays resulting from this can tell us a great deal about the star itself. I will also describe thermonuclear supernovae (Type Ia), which result from a different set of circumstances. While Type Ia supernovae are considered standard candles and are thus important for determining distance in the Universe, there is still a lot we don’t know about them. We’ll talk about how we can use what we’ve learned about core-collapse supernovae to discover more about the progenitors of Type Ia supernovae, and I’ll discuss some results related to this.

April 24




May 1



May 8


No Colloquium due to Steinmetz

May 15

Enrique Galvez

Colgate University

"Photon, a quantum enigma"

Abstract: Superposition is one of the most intriguing aspects of quantum mechanics, the most successful physical theory ever invented. Light has been the vehicle for many demonstrations of the mysteries of quantum mechanics, especially superposition. Yet that leaves photons a mystery in themselves: being here and there, or this and that. Experiments with light offer new ways to think about quantum mechanics but also new ways to think about photons, even if we end up more confused than when we started.


May 22



Mike Mastroianni '08 - Cancelled; rescheduled to Fall 2014



May 28

**Note the day and time change**


Jason Young

Pennsylvania State University

Physics & Astronomy Visitor Candidate Talk

"Investigating the Life Story of Low Surface Brightness Galaxies"

Abstract: This elusive class of galaxy comprises up to half of the galaxy population with masses spanning that of the Milky Way, making them cosmologically significant baryon repositories. They have unusually high gas fractions, up to 95%, yet for reasons not fully understood, low surface brightness galaxies have extremely low star-formation rates and extremely sparse stellar populations.

I will present my group's approach to this mystery, in which we use the spectral-energy distributions of low surface brightness galaxies, from the infrared to the ultra-violet, to determine where, when, and how these faint galaxies form the few stars that they do have.  By looking at galaxies which are barely able to form stars, we hope to better understand why galaxies like our Milky Way were able to produce their rich stellar populations.

N300 at 12:50pm - 1:55pm



May 29

N304 12:45pm

Michael Ray

Physics & Astronomy Visitor Candidate Talk

June 5

End of the Year Department Picnic

Schedule for Fall 2014

 Back to Physics and Astronomy Department Homepage

Last Updated: May 19, 2014