Physics Seminar: Cosmic Strings and Gravitational Waves

Cosmic Strings and Gravitational Waves

Ken Olum
Research Professor, Dept. of Physics and Astronomy, Tufts University

Our universe may be filled with a network of cosmic strings: thin (10-29m), long (light-years), dense (1016 kg/m) objects dating from the earliest moments of the universe. If they exist, they will provide a window into fundamental physics at otherwise unreachable scales. The best hope to detect them is to look for gravitational waves emitted by string loops as they oscillate at relativistic speeds. I will discuss how we calculate the gravitational wave signals to be expected, and the prospects for observing them and distinguishing them from other gravitational wave sources.

Friday, May 3, 2019
12:30 – 1:20 p.m.
McCardell Bicentennial Hall Room 219

Physics Seminar: Debunking Fractals in the Drip Paintings of Jackson Pollock

Debunking Fractals in the Drip Paintings of Jackson Pollock

Katherine Brown
Assistant Professor of Physics, Hamilton College

In the late 1990s, a group of physicists analyzed some of the most famous drip paintings by the celebrated Abstract Expressionist painter Jackson Pollock. Assuming Pollock underwent a particular type of chaotic motion, they found that every layer of every painting they analyzed possessed the same fractal characteristics. From this they conjectured that Pollock was able to create a unique fractal ‘signature’ in his work, and that fractal analysis could therefore be used as an authentication tool in paintings of disputed origin. It turns out that this hypothesis of ‘Fractal Expressionism’ is flawed in several important ways. I will present an account of the techniques used in fractal analysis and the pitfalls which ensue from applying them to Pollock’s drip paintings. I will also discuss several new findings from the realm of fractal mathematics which were motivated by this work.

Thursday, April 18, 2019
12:30 PM
MBH 220

Physics Seminar: Using Neutrinos to Detect Clandestine Nuclear Activity

Using Neutrinos to Detect Clandestine Nuclear Activity

Ferenc Dalnoki-Veress
Scientist in Residence
James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies
Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey

Ferenc Dalnoki-Veress is a nuclear physicist specializing in neutrinos. He was part of the Sudbury Neutrino Laboratory team that was cited in the 2015 Nobel Prize for Physics and in the 2016 Breakthrough Prize in Physics. He recently joined the AIT-Watchman project, a US-UK collaboration to deploy a neutrino detector in the UK’s deepest mine for remote monitoring of nuclear reactors around the world—the first time a policy institute has joined a particle physics project. Ferenc will discuss recent work he’s done with colleagues at MIT and Lawrence Livermore National Lab on the sensitivity of seismically cued antineutrino detectors for nuclear explosions. At the Middlebury Institute Ferenc also teaches courses in Missiles and Missile Defense, Science & Technology for Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies, and Nuclear Treaty Verification. Prior to joining the Middlebury Institute, he worked at the Princeton Program on Science and Global Security, the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Germany, and the Laboratori Nazionali del Gan Sasso in Italy.


Tuesday, April 16th 2019
12:30 – 1:20 p.m.
McCardell Bicentennial Hall Room 104


Dr. Dalnoki-Veress will be available at Tea Time to discuss opportunities for physicists in arms control and graduate work at the Middlebury Institute

Physics Seminar: Optics in Space and Time

Optics in Space and Time:
Lasers, Cloaks, and the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics

James van Howe, Associate Professor
Department of Physics and Astronomy, Augustana College

Space-time duality in optics refers to the analogy between how different light rays travel in space (diffraction) and how different wavelengths travel in time (dispersion). Essentially one can transfer the mathematical machinery and intuition of spatial optics such as lenses, prisms, gratings, and cloaking (yes, like Klingons and Harry Potter!) to develop temporal counterparts: time-lenses, time-prisms, temporal-gratings, and time-cloaks. This talk will show how the analogy between diffraction and dispersion can be useful for designing photonic devices for telecommunications, biomedical imaging, and other applications. In addition, the recent Nobel Prize on chirped-pulse amplification relies on these effects.


Friday, April 5, 2019
12:30 PM
MBH 104

Physics Seminar: Physical resources for quantum information processing

Physical resources for
quantum information processing

Ty Volkoff
Korea Research Fellow
Konkuk University

What characteristics of a physical system make it useful for encoding or processing quantum information? What are the theoretical limits on quantum information processing and how can engineers get close to them? Some answers to these questions will be discussed, taking examples from superconductivity, photonics, and ultracold atoms, while focusing on the structures of the elusive quantum states that make large scale quantum information processing possible in principle. We will take a look at the state-of-the art, digest some of the hype, and consider possible career paths into a burgeoning field extending over engineering, mathematical science, and physics

Wednesday, March 13, 2019
12:30 – 1:20 p.m.
McCardell Bicentennial Hall 220

Observatory Stargazing – Autumn 2018 Open House Nights

Observatory Stargazing – Autumn 2018 Open House Nights

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Mittelman Observatory and Middlebury Physics will again host stargazing open house nights this autumn. These Observatory events are scheduled for Friday evenings, September 14 and September 21, from 8:30 PM until 10:00 PM, weather permitting.

Observatory open house nights are free and open to the public. However, these events will take place only if the sky is expected to be mostly clear. Please check the Observatory web site at http://go.middlebury.edu/observatory/ or call the Observatory at 443-2266 after 6:30 PM on the evening of the event for weather status.

Observatory Stargazing – Summer 2018 Open House Nights

Observatory Stargazing – Summer 2018 Open House Nights

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Mittelman Observatory and Middlebury Physics will again host stargazing open house nights this summer. These Observatory events are scheduled for Wednesday evenings, June 27, July 18, July 25, August 1, and August 8, from 9:00 PM until 10:30 PM, weather permitting.

Observatory open house nights are free and open to the public. However, these events will take place only if the sky is expected to be mostly clear. Please check the Observatory web site at http://go.middlebury.edu/observatory/ or call the Observatory at 443-2266 after 7 PM on the evening of the event for weather status.

Observatory Stargazing – Spring 2018 Open House Nights

Observatory Stargazing – Spring 2018 Open House Nights

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Mittelman Observatory and Middlebury Physics will again host stargazing open house nights this spring. These Observatory events are scheduled for Friday evenings, April 27 and May 4, from 9:00 PM until 10:30 PM, weather permitting.

Observatory open house nights are free and open to the public. However, these events will take place only if the sky is expected to be mostly clear. Please check the Observatory web site at http://go.middlebury.edu/observatory/ or call the Observatory at 443-2266 after 6 PM on the evening of the event for weather status.

Physics Seminar: Astronomy at the Top of the World


Astronomy at the Top of the World:
ALMA, the Largest and Highest Radio Astrophysical Observatory. Its Development and Scientific Results.

Dr. Eduardo Hardy, Ph.D.

National Radio Astronomy Observatory

The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) is an observatory located in the Chilean Altiplane at an altitude of some 15,000 feet. It is probably the largest, technically most sophisticated, and costliest astronomical facility built so far on the terrestrial surface. It consists of 64 radio-telescopes working together over a surface of some 10 miles to observe the microwave emission coming from astronomical objects. This spectral range allows detailed physical observations of a variety of sources and phenomena, including the properties of nearby asteroids, the formation of planets in our galaxy, the characteristics of black-hole horizons at the center of the Milky Way, the properties of the first galaxies far away at the edge of the observable universe, and many others.

ALMA is an outstanding example of an international collaboration created to make possible the construction of an observational facility too costly and too complex to be built by a single country. It has managed to put together the efforts of scientists and engineers of 22 countries to design and build an observatory under heroic geographical conditions.

This talk describes the human epic of its construction and the plethora of scientific results it is generating.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018
12:30 – 1:15 p.m.
McCardell Bicentennial Hall 220

Physics Seminar: Jacob Epstein '16 returns to give talk on superconducting qubits

Physics alumnus Jacob Epstein '16 returned to Middlebury to discuss his research on "Superconducting Qubits: The Device Behind Recent Progress in Quantum Computing."  Jacob is currently an associate technical staff member at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.  His work on quantum computing in the Condensed Matter Section - Experimental and Computational Physics Group will be pitched for a general audience.

Friday, March 9, 2018
12:30 -- 1:20 PM
MBH 104

Physics Seminar: Graphs, Springs, and Linear Algebra

Graphs, Springs, and Linear Algebra

Aden Forrow `13

PhD Candidate, MIT Department of Mathematics

Springs are perhaps the most classical of physical models, starting from a single mass on a single spring and moving up to complex networks of linked springs. These networks, like many networks across physics, are most naturally studied with graph theory and linear algebra. Often, the spectrum of eigenvalues of the underlying graph Laplacian plays a key role in controlling network dynamics. Network theory has traditionally focused on analyzing the spectral properties of predefined graph ensembles. In this talk, I will introduce a complementary approach, providing a mathematically rigorous graph construction that exactly realizes any desired spectrum. In particular, creating band gaps in the spectrum allows for careful control of networked dynamical systems, as I will illustrate for a generic model of pattern formation. Finally, I will discuss possible physical implementations of similar results in the form of 3d printed spring networks.

Friday, November 10th 2017
2:45 – 4:00 p.m.
Warner Hall 203

Refreshments 2:45 – 3:00 p.m. will be provided.

This event supported by the Math and Physics Departments.

Physics Seminar - Why Physics?

After spending childhood in Europe, then growing up in Pennsylvania Dutch country, Brooklyn, NY, then Ardsley, NY in Westchester Country, Hal Tugal realized that no matter how much he liked art he was better suited for physics. He attended Union College in Schenectady, NY, then to the University of New Hampshire in physics, and finally a PhD in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics in the Mechanical Engineering Department. He spent over 30 years in industry applying physics to solving problems in the power, metal and glass containers, defense, aerospace and semiconductor industries. His brief talk will be on, "Why physics?"

Thursday, October 5th
12:30 – 1:20 p.m.
Bicentennial Hall 220
Pizza will be provided @ 12:25 pm


This event is supported by the Physics Dept. and Center for Careers and Internship

Observatory Stargazing – Autumn 2017 Open House Nights

Observatory Stargazing – Autumn 2017 Open House Nights

2017-autumn-stargazing.png

The Mittelman Observatory and Middlebury Physics will again host stargazing open house nights this autumn. These Observatory events are scheduled for Friday evenings, September 15, September 22, and October 6, from 8:00 PM until 9:30 PM, weather permitting.

Observatory open house nights are free and open to the public. However, these events will take place only if the sky is expected to be mostly clear. Please check the Observatory web site at http://go.middlebury.edu/observatory/ or call the Observatory at 443-2266 after 6 PM on the evening of the event for weather status.

Observatory Stargazing – Summer 2017 Open House Nights

Observatory Stargazing – Summer 2017 Open House Nights

2017-summer-stargazing.png

The Mittelman Observatory and Middlebury Physics will again host stargazing open house nights this summer. These Observatory events are scheduled for Wednesday evenings, July 5, July 19, July 26, and August 2 from 9:00 PM until 10:30 PM, weather permitting.

Observatory open house nights are free and open to the public. As these are minimal language events, they are also appropriate for Language Schools students. These events will take place only if the sky is expected to be mostly clear. Please check the Observatory web site at http://go.middlebury.edu/observatory/ or call the Observatory at 443-2266 after 7 PM on the evening of the event for weather status.

Observatory Stargazing – Spring 2016 Open House Nights

Observatory Stargazing – Spring 2016 Open House Nights

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The Physics Department at Middlebury College will again host Open House nights at the College Observatory this spring. The observatory, located atop McCardell Bicentennial Hall, will be open to the public for viewing the heavens on Friday evenings, April 29 and May 6, from 9:00 PM until 10:30 PM, provided the skies are mostly clear.

All observatory public nights are free and open to the public, but will take place only if the sky is at least mostly clear. If the weather appears uncertain, visitors may call the observatory at 443-2266 or visit the observatory web site after 7:00 PM on the evening of the Open House for a status report. More information can also be found at go.middlebury.edu/observatory .

Latest Findings from the Mars Curiosity Mission

The Mars Curiosity rover is still going strong after 3.5 years on Mars and has recently reached exposures of sedimentary rocks that are yielding dramatic new insights into Martian history!  Please join us to welcome Chief Project Scientist John Grotzinger (Caltech/JPL) who will give an update on the latest findings and answer questions from the audience.

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Physics Seminar: Improving Student Understanding of Physics Through Research

Improving Student Understanding of Physics Through Research

Chandralekha Singh
Department of Physics and Astronomy,
University of Pittsburgh

Despite our best and most sincere efforts, there is an alarming disconnect between what we teach and what students learn. I will discuss my research in physics education that has implications for helping students learn more effectively. One study shows that the difficulty of a problem not only depends on its inherent complexity but also on the familiarity and intuition one has developed about it. Unresolved misconceptions are also shown to hinder learning. Based upon physics education research, I will discuss strategies that help a variety of students learn physics.

Thursday, April 28, 2016
12:30 – 1:20 p.m.
Bicentennial Hall 104

Circuit Quantum Electrodynamics: A Toolbox For Quantum Simulation and Quantum Information

Mattias Fitzpatrick '13
Candidate for Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering,
Princeton University

This talk will introduce the field of research known as circuit quantum electrodynamics (circuit QED), which uses superconducting circuit elements to study fundamental light-matter interactions. In addition, circuit QED systems have recently been used in the context of both quantum information and quantum simulation. After introducing the fundamentals of circuit QED, I will discuss recent progress in the field as well as the exciting new areas of research. This talk will be aimed at a general audience and will not require prior knowledge of the subject.

Monday, March 9, 2015
12:30 – 1:30 p.m.
Bicentennial Hall 104
Pizza will be provided @ 12:25 pm

Digging Deep in Physics Research: Searching for Properties of the Neutrino Particle at Stanford

Karl Twelker '07
Ph.D., Stanford University

After graduating from Middlebury physics in '07, I went on to the PhD program at Stanford, where I joined an experiment investigating the mass of the neutrino particle. This investigation took me from the lab at Stanford to deep underground for construction and operation of the experiment. I also designed and built a component of the next generation of the experiment. I'll introduce the physics we studied, as well as show snapshots of a major neutrino physics experiment and my contribution to the project.

Thursday, November 20, 2014
12:40 – 1:30 p.m.
Bicentennial Hall 104

Physics Seminar: Super-Resolution Microscopy: The Physics of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Chemistry - Explained!

Michael E. Durst
Assistant Professor of Physics, Middlebury College

This year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded for super-resolution optical microscopy, the ability to image objects near the molecular scale using light. This presentation will explain the physical concepts behind microscopy and how the classical resolution limit has been overcome by these new techniques. Examples of how this Nobel-prize-winning physics research can be applied to biological imaging will also be presented. No prior physics experience is necessary.

Why would a physicist be so excited about the Nobel Prize in Chemistry? Cutting edge research increasingly occurs at the intersection of many interdisciplinary fields, including biology, chemistry, and physics. Prof. Durst’s research in biomedical optics employs lasers to image deep within the body without making an incision. For more information (or to join his research team), please visit his website at go/durst.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014
12:30 PM
McCardell Bicentennial Hall 216
Lunch available at 12:25 PM.

Department of Physics

McCardell Bicentennial Hall
276 Bicentennial Way
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753