Physics and Astronomy Colloquium Series
Fall 2012


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!



6 September

No Colloquium

13 September

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.

20 September

Evan Halstead

Union College

"Implementing Whiteboards in the Classroom"

Physics Education Research has shown that Interactive Engagement teaching methods yield higher gains in conceptual understanding than more traditional methods of teaching. In this talk, I will discuss how to introduce Interactive Engagement techniques into the classroom using portable whiteboards. I will focus on the many advantages of using whiteboards, including how they foster intra-group and inter-group communication as well as how they allow students to display physical models using multiple representations. Physics will be the vehicle that I use to demonstrate these techniques, but the ideas are easily generalizable to other disciplines. Be prepared to participate!

27 September

No colloquium

4 October

Maggie Tongue

Union College

Maggie Tongue, Director of Postgraduate Fellowships and the Union College Scholars Program, will be discussing “Scholarship and Fellowship Opportunities for Science-Minded Students.” She will cover undergraduate, post-baccalaureate (“gap year”) and graduate options for students in all class years and majors. Since several opportunities have changed in recent years, faculty are also highly encouraged to attend.

11 October

Andy Dorsett
Wolfram Research, Inc

"Mathematica in Education and Research"

"If you haven't seen Mathematica lately, you will be surprised to see how suitable Mathematica is for projects and course examples in any STEM, business and economics, or liberal arts field. This talk will provide an illustration of the capabilities in Mathematica 8 that are directly applicable for use in teaching and research on campus. No prior knowledge of Mathematica is required, yet current users will also benefit.

Topics include:

* Free-form linguistic input

* 2D and 3D visualization

* Dynamic interactivity & On-demand scientific data

* Example-driven course materials * Symbolic interface construction

* Digital Image Processing, Parallelization, and Control Systems functionality

* Features of new products: Wolfram|Alpha Pro and Wolfram SystemModeler

All attendees will receive an electronic copy of the examples, which can be adapted to individual projects.

18 October

William Moore, MD

Stony Brook University Hospital

"Advanced Imaging in Lung Cancer"

Cancer is the 2nd leading cause of death in the US and lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer realated deaths in both men and women. In this talk I will give an overview of the field of lung cancer imaging and treatments with applications to cryofreezing of certain lung cancers. In addition, I will discuss theranostics, or the combination of a diagnostic tool with a therapy, using gold and iron in the diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer as well as discuss how computers have aided in the diagnoses.

25 October

Pot Luck Luncheon

1 November

Tom Mazur

The University of Texas at Austin

"General methods of controlling atomic motion for both basic research and applications"

We have developed general methods of trapping and cooling atoms and molecules that we are presently applying to atomic hydrogen and its isotopes. These methods exploit supersonic expansion from a small nozzle opening to create cold, but fast samples of a gas of interest. We use a series of pulsed electromagnets -- deemed the "atomic coilgun" -- to then slow the sample and ultimately load it into a magnetic trap where we can further cool using techniques that we also pioneered. Our interest in hydrogen stems from its role -- as the simplest atom -- in testing fundamental physics. We are particularly interested in trapping and cooling atomic tritium. While spectroscopy of hydrogen and deuterium has yielded some of the most impressive precision measurements to date, tritium remains poorly studied. Furthermore, trapped samples of cold tritium present the possibility of studying beta decay in detail. Time permitting, I will present new exciting research toward a general and scalable approach to isotope enrichment that sprouted from the techniques outlined above. This approach combines optical pumping with a creative array of permanent magnets to efficiently collect a targeted isotope while depleting others. We have built an apparatus for demonstrating these methods using lithium. Already we have achieved promising results indicating high purity enrichment of 7Li in a scalable manner. Long-term goals of this work include producing isotopes for energy, medical, and basic research applications.

8 November

Tom Carroll

Ursinus College

"Becoming Masters and Possessors of the Quantum World"

Over the past few decades quantum mechanical gedanken experiments have become physical experiments and limited forms of quantum computing have become reality. There is broad interest in studying physical systems with applications in fundamental quantum mechanics and quantum information processing. Our research focuses on ultra-cold Rydberg atoms, which are a promising candidate for such applications. These highly excited atoms can exchange energy in a potentially controllable way. I'll describe our most recent experiments and supercomputer simulations studying the time evolution of the energy exchange among groups of Rydberg atoms—experiments in which we observe coherent oscillations in the final state population of atoms.

Schedule for Winter 2013

Schedule for Spring 2013

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Last Updated: August 27, 2012