Colloquium Archives (before June 2017)

More recent colloquia are posted on the Physics & Astronomy Colloquia page.

Walter E. Lawrence III, Dartmouth College / University of Chicago

Topic: "Quantum Information and the Paradoxes of Physics"  (Video)

Abstract: The paradoxes of Einstein-Rosen-Podolsky (1935), Schrödinger's Cat (1935), and Maxwell's Demon (1867) illustrate how the science of quantum information is changing the way we think about quantum physics, information and the second law. With brief histories of these paradoxes, I will illustrate how all of them became intertwined with quantum information and related advances over the last three decades, and in particular how Schrödinger's Cat and Maxwell's Demon have taken new leases on life.

Jonathan Aurnou, UCLA

Topic: "Convective Turbulence in Geophysical and Astrophysical Fluid Systems"  (Video)

Abstract: Rotating bodies are found ubiquitously throughout the universe. Furthermore, bodies from the size of large asteroids up to galaxies are all known to be capable of generating their own magnetic fields, via turbulent fluid dynamo processes. In this colloquium, I will discuss our present understanding of rotating convective turbulence and rotating magnetoconvective turbulence, which provide the underlying framework by which we interpret dynamo processes occurring in geophysical and astrophysical settings. In particular, the coupled laboratory-numerical experiments that we have carried out over the past decade will be discussed. Finally, I will point out the severe lack of data for strongly turbulent conditions and present the preliminary design of the experiment we are fabricating to address this issue.

Jacob Bortnick, UCLA

Topic: "Current Challenges and Opportunities in Radiation Belt and Waves Research"  (Video)

Abstract: More than 50 years after the discovery of the radiation belts, many of the key physical processes that control the structure and dynamics these high energy electrons remain poorly understood, poorly quantified, or both. An emerging consensus holds that the dramatic variability that is observed in the outer belt is the result of a competition between acceleration and loss of particles, driven by several types of waves and magnetospheric structures, but the nature of the waves, their distribution, spectral structure, and precise action on the particles remains a topic of intense research. In this talk, I will review some of the events and discoveries that have led to our current understanding of radiation belt physics, outline some open problems and challenges, and describe how some of these might be addressed by the upcoming Radiation Belt Storm Probes mission.

Eric Chaisson, CFA, Harvard

Topic: "Cosmic Evolution and the Arrow of Time"  (Video)

Abstract: All things considered, Nature writ large is a mess. Yet, underlying unities pervade the long and storied, albeit meandering, path from big bang to humankind. Evolution is one of those unifiers, incorporating physical, biological, and cultural changes within a broad scenario of cosmic evolution. Complexity is another such unifier, delineating the growth of structure, function, and diversity within and among galaxies, stars, planets, life, and society.

Xinlin Li, University of Colorado

Topic: "The Best is yet to come: our CubeSat is to be Launched in August"  (Video)

Abstract: The Colorado Student Space Weather Experiment (CSSWE) is a 3-unit (10cmx10cmx30cm) CubeSat mission funded by the National Science Foundation, scheduled for launch into a low-Earth, polar orbit in August 2012 as a secondary payload under NASA’s Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) program. The science objectives of CSSWE are to investigate the relationship of the location, magnitude, and frequency of solar flares to the timing, duration, and energy spectrum of solar energetic particles (SEP) reaching Earth, and to determine the precipitation loss and the evolution of the energy spectrum of radiation belt electrons.