Physics and Astronomy - Colloquium Schedule

Colloquia are presented on Thursdays at 3:45 pm in Room 245 of the Physics Building, unless otherwise noted.

Refreshments are served at 3:30 pm.


2017-2018 Schedule


Thursday, September 7, 2017

     Speaker: Victor Yakovenko, University of Maryland

      Title: Economic inequality from a statistical physics point of view

      Abstract: By analogy with the probability distribution of energy in statistical physics, the probability distribution of money among the agents in a closed economic system is expected to follow the exponential Boltzmann-Gibbs law, as a consequence of entropy maximization.  Analysis of empirical data shows that income distributions in the USA, European Union, and other countries exhibit a well-defined two-class structure.  The majority of the population (about 97%) belongs to the lower class characterized by the exponential ("thermal") distribution.  The upper class (about 3% of the population) is characterized by the Pareto power-law ("superthermal") distribution, and its share of the total income expands and contracts dramatically during booms and busts in financial markets.  Such a two-class distribution can be obtained analytically for a combination of additive and multiplicative stochastic processes.  Globally, data analysis of energy consumption (and CO2 emission) per capita around the world in the last 30 years shows decreasing inequality and convergence toward the exponential probability distribution, in agreement with the maximal entropy principle.  All papers are available at http://physics.umd.edu/~yakovenk/econophysics/.


Thursday, September 14, 2017 (Note special location)

     Speaker: Kip Thorne

     Location:  Spencer M. Partrich Auditorium, Wayne State University Law School

      Title: Geometrodynamics: Exploring the nonlinear dynamics of curved spacetime via computer simulations and gravitational wave observations

      Abstract:  A half century ago, John Wheeler challenged his students and colleagues to explore Geometrodynamics:  the nonlinear dynamics of curved spacetime. How does the curvature of spacetime behave when roiled in a storm, like a storm at sea with crashing waves. Dr. Thorne and collaborators tried to explore this, and the failed. Success eluded us until two new tools became available: computer simulations, and gravitational wave observations. Dr. Thorne will describe what these have begun to teach us, and he will offer a vision for the future of Geometrodynamics.

About the speaker: Kip Thorne is the Richard P. Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics, Emeritus, at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California. He is a theoretical physicist specializing in the astrophysical effects of Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, especially black holes and gravitational waves. He was one of the founding members of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) in 1984. The goal of LIGO is to observe gravitational waves from extreme astrophysical events. Gravitational waves were first predicted by Albert Einstein one-hundred years ago this year. While there is good indirect evidence for gravitational waves based on the behavior of binary pulsars, the first direct measurement of a gravitational wave was announced by the LIGO team on February 11, 2016. Two independent laser interferometers in Livingston, Louisiana and Hanford, Washington observed a gravitational wave on September 14, 2015. Analysis of the signal indicates the wave was produced by the collision of two black holes more than one-billion light years away. Professor Thorne is an accomplished author of books for scientists and the general public, and he was the scientific consultant and Executive Producer of the film Interstellar.

A video of this colloquium may be found HERE (YouTube)


Thursday, September 21, 2017

     Speaker: Boris Yacobson, Rice University

      Title: Predictive modeling of low-dimensional materials, nanotubes, graphene, and beyond

      Abstract: 

Comprehensive tools of materials modeling are derived from the principles of physics and chemistry, empowered by high performance computing. Together, this allows one to make verifiable predictions of novel physical structures with specific, often useful or even extraordinary, properties. Nanotubes offer one such lesson [1], where atomic makeup and defects dynamics lead to the understanding of their strength and failure physics on one hand, while also reveal the origins of chiral symmetry in nano-carbon synthesis [2]. A second, very recent, example is the prediction of pure mono-elemental 2D boron, its particular structures to form on Ag(111), which culminated in recent experimental confirmations. We may also mention, if time permits, its physical properties like new 2D-superconductor [3], now-detected Dirac cone dispersion, still-sought 2D-plasmonics, and catalysis.

[1] M. Davenport, Chemical & Engineering News, 93, 10 (2015) || B.I. Yakobson and R.E. Smalley, American Scientist, 85, 324-337 (1997).

[2] F. Ding et al. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., 106, 2506 (2009) || V. Artyukhov et al. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 109, 15136 (2012) || V. Artyukhov et al. Phys. Rev. Lett. 114, 115502 (2015) || V. Artyukhov - E. Penev, et al. Nature Comm. 5, 489 (2014).

[3] Z. Zhang et al. Nature Chem. 8, 525 (2016) || Z. Zhang et al. Angewandte Chemie Int. Ed. 54, 13022 (2015) || E. Penev - A. Kutana et al. Nano Lett. 16, 2522 (2016) || Z. Zhang et al. Nano Lett. 6, 6622 (2016) || A. Brotchie, Nature Reviews, doi:10.1038/natrevmats.2016.83 (2016) || S. Shirodkar, Y. Huang et al. (unpublished) || Y. Liu et al. Nature Energy 2, 17127 (2017).


Thursday, September 28, 2017

     Speaker: Michael Murray, University of Kansas

      Title: There and Back Again: A Journey from classical physics to quantum mechanics and back to classical fields.

      Abstract: When the nucleus was discovered it appeared to be a massive classical charged sphere at the heart of atom. Later protons and neutrons were discovered inside the nucleus. Later still it was found that  protons and neutrons are themselves made up of quarks held together by gluons. Such objects are described by quantum field theories. As the energy of our colliders has increased we have found more and more gluons inside the nucleus. At some point we expect the gluons to fuse together into a glass like state called the Color Glass Condensate. This new state of quantum matter may actually behave like a classical field.


Thursday, October 5, 2017

     Speaker: Chris Adami (Michigan State University)

      Title: What quantum optics can tell us about black holes

      Abstract: Black holes are astrophysical objects whose reality is beyond doubt. However, many aspects of them remain mysterious because observations are difficult and experiments are impossible. Research in the last two decades has revealed a remarkable analogy between the mathematics of quantum black holes and certain quantum optical systems, which makes it possible to study "black hole analogues" in the lab, and to better understand some of the seemingly paradoxical features of black holes. I review recent breakthroughs in black hole physics that were inspired by the quantum optics analogy, and that have removed some of the paradoxes surrounding black holes. 


Thursday, October 12, 2017

     Speaker: Pushpa Bhat (FNAL)

      Title: TBD

      Abstract: 


Thursday, October 19, 2017

     Speaker: Zhi-Feng Huang, Wayne State University

      Title: TBD

      Abstract: 


Thursday, October 26, 2017

     Speaker: Christopher Kelly, Wayne State University

      Title: Nanoscale membrane curvature revealed by polarized localization microscopy

      Abstract: Many essential biological processes depend on the interaction of lipids, proteins, and carbohydrates at length scales that are unresolvable by conventional optical microscopes. We have combined super-resolution microscopy methods to create polarized localization microscopy (PLM). With PLM, we have measured membrane curvature as small as 20 nm radii, measured curvature-induced molecular sorting, and a local change in the local membrane viscosity. Further, we have discovered that cholera toxin subunit B self-assembles to form nanoscale membrane buds in quasi-one component bilayers to facilitate its immobilization and internalization into cells. We will discuss the physics of PLM and the mechanisms by which cholera toxin bends membranes.


Thursday, November 2, 2017

     No Colloquium (Fall Get-Together)


Thursday, November 9, 2017

     Speaker: Ken Ritchie (Purdue University)

      Title: TBD

      Abstract: 


Thursday, November 16, 2017

     No Colloquium -- UG Research Day


Thursday, November 23, 2017

     No Colloquium -- Thanksgiving


Thursday, November 30, 2017

     Speaker: Jenny Thomas, University College London

      Title: TBD

      Abstract: 


Thursday, December 7, 2017

     Speaker: Oleg Lavrentovich, Kent State University

      Title: TBD

      Abstract: 


WINTER BREAK


Thursday, January 18, 2018

     Speaker: TBD

      Title: TBD

      Abstract: 


Thursday, January 25, 2018

     Speaker: ChunNing (Jeanie) Liu, Ohio State University

      Title: TBD

      Abstract: 


Thursday, February 1, 2018

     Speaker: Reserved

      Title: TBD

      Abstract: 


Thursday, February 8, 2018

     Speaker: Reserved

      Title: TBD

      Abstract: 


Thursday, February 15, 2018

     Speaker: Reserved

      Title: TBD

      Abstract: 


Thursday, February 22, 2018

     Speaker: Reserved

      Title: TBD

      Abstract: 


Thursday, March 1, 2018

     Speaker: TBD

      Title: TBD

      Abstract: 


Thursday, March 8, 2018

     Speaker: TBD

      Title: TBD

      Abstract: 


Thursday, March 15, 2018

     No Colloquium - Spring break


Thursday, March 22, 2018

     Speaker: Declan Keane, Kent State University

      Title: TBD

      Abstract: 


Thursday, March 29, 2018

     Speaker: Berry Jonker, Naval Research Laboratory

      Title: TBD

      Abstract: 


Thursday, April 5, 2018

     Speaker: TBD

      Title: TBD

      Abstract: 


Thursday, April 12, 2018

     No Colloquium -- Graduate Research Day


Thursday, April 19, 2018 (Vaden Miles Lecture)

     Speaker: J. Michael Kosterlitz, Brown University (2016 Nobel Prize in Physics)

      Title: TBD

      Abstract: 


WSU colloquia from years past may be found here.