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Physics & Astronomy Department
Vanderbilt University
PMB 401807
2401 Vanderbilt Place
Nashville, TN 37240-1807

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physics-astronomy

Physics and Astronomy Colloquium, 2014-2015

Colloquia are held on Thursdays at 3PM in room 4327 (building 4) of the Stevenson Science Center unless otherwise noted. Click here for directions, or phone the department. A reception with the speaker is held at 2:30pm in Stevenson 6333.

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Fall 2014

Thursday, September 11---FORMAN LECTURE

Rhett Allain, Department of Chemistry & Physics, Southeastern Louisiana University

Real vs. Fake Videos: The Physics of Video Analysis   (show abstract)

We have all seen videos on television or online, and wonder "Is that real?" Most fake videos have either unrealistic physics or show an event with a very small probability of success. In this talk, I will share some of my favorite online videos along with the tools and physics used to analyze them.

Host: R. Scherrer

Thursday, September 18

Kate Scholberg, Department of Physics, Duke University

Neutrinos from the Sky and Through the Earth   (show abstract)

The progress in neutrino physics over the past fifteen years has been tremendous: we have learned that neutrinos have mass and change flavor. I will pick out one of the threads of the story-- the measurement of flavor oscillation in neutrinos produced by cosmic ray showers in the atmosphere, and further measurements by long-baseline beam experiments. In this talk, I will present the latest results from the Super-Kamiokande and T2K (Tokai to Kamioka) long baseline experiments, and will discuss how the next generation of high-intensity beam experiments will address some of the remaining puzzles.

Host: David Ernst

Thursday, September 25

Marcelo Gleiser, Department of Physics & Astronomy, Dartmouth College

Emergent Complexity in the Universe: An Information-Entropic Approach   (show abstract)

From atoms to stars, physically-bound systems result from the interplay between attractive and repulsive interactions. In this lecture, I will present a new measure of complexity called "Configurational Entropy". Inspired by Shannon's information entropy, I will show how the configurational entropy encodes information about the shape and the stability of various physical objects, and how it can be used as an efficient measure of emerging complexity during nonequilibrium phenomena. Applications will include solitons, compact astrophysical objects, spontaneous symmetry breaking, and inflationary cosmology.

Host: R. Scherrer

Thursday, October 2

David Snoke, Department of Physics & Astronomy, University of Pittsburgh

Superfluid photons: Bose-Einstein condensation of polaritons in microcavities    (show abstract)

In specially designed solid microcavities, the photon properties can be altered to have effective mass and repulsive interactions; these new states are called "polaritons". The polaritons act like atoms, and because they are bosons, they can undergo Bose-Einstein condensation. The experiments on polariton condensation have shown truly remarkable progress in recent years, with new results showing superfluidity and quantized vorticity in a ring geometry. I will review the state of the art in the field, including results from our lab in Pittsburgh which show quantized vorticity, and measurements of the phase diagram for the polariton condensation.

Host: R. Haglund

Thursday, October 9

Kirill Bolotin, Department of Physics & Astronomy, Vanderbilt University

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Host: R. Scherrer

Thursday, October 16---Fall Break

Thursday, October 23

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Thursday, October 30

William C. Keel, Department of Physics & Astronomy, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa

Citizen Science, Giant Ionized Clouds, and the History of Galactic Nuclei   (show abstract)

The signature discovery of the Galaxy Zoo citizen-science project has been Hanny's Voorwerp, a galaxy-sized gas cloud ionized by a quasar which has faded so rapidly that we no longer see it when observing the galaxy nucleus directly. Project participants have helped find a sample of 20 similar objects, giving our first look at the history of active galactic nuclei on timescales from 30,000-120,000 years. About 40% of these clouds require much more energy input thanthe nuclear source can provide, indicating that dramatic variability of active nuclei is common on these timescales. This is faster than simple models indicate for accretion disk changes; signs of gaseous outflow and triggered star formation may mean that the rate of accretion itself is changing less strongly than its byproducts, switching to kinetic rather than radiative-energy dominance. Current surveys show similar cases in both high- and low-power regimes; our snapshot of the population of accreting supermassive black holes will be incomplete without including these faded objects.

Host: K. Holley-Bockelman

Thursday, November 6---HOLLADAY LECTURE

Rene Lopez, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Optical Materials   (show abstract)

Host: R. Haglund

Thursday, November 13

Hong-Jun Gao, Institute of Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences

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Host: S. Pantelides

Thursday, November 20

Sharon Weiss, Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, Vanderbilt University

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Host: R. Scherrer

Thursday, Novmember 27---Thanksgiving

Thursday, December 4

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Spring 2015

Thursday, January 8

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Thursday, January 15

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Thursday, January 22

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Thursday, January 29

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Thursday, February 5

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Thursday, February 12

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Thursday, February 19

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Thursday, February 26

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Thursday, March 5---Spring Break

Thursday, March 12

Kartik Sheth, NRAO/NAASC

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Thursday, March 19

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Thursday, March 26---FORMAN LECTURE

Chad Orzel, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Union College

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Thursday, April 2

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Thursday, April 9

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Thursday, April 16

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Thursday, April 23

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