Colloquium

Junior and senior physics majors attend our biweekly colloquium series, held on Tuesday afternoons at 4:30 pm in Shanahan B460. The talks are open to all students and to the public, and are frequently attended by scientists from the other Claremont Colleges, Cal Poly Pomona, and others. The series features speakers from a broad range of institutions and fields of physics.
HMC Physics Colloquium shot
Feb. 6, 2007 Elizabeth D. Freeland, Chicago Art Institute
Pushing the Limits of the Standard Model With Lattice QCD
The Standard Model of particle physics has been extraordinarily successful. Nevertheless, there are many observations which motivate particle physicists to look for and understand physics "beyond the standard model." My talk focuses on a major theoretical challenge in this task - the non-perturbative calculation of quantum chromodynamics (QCD) quantities. Starting with a description of the Standard Model, I will explain ...
Jan. 23, 2007 Tom Banks, University of California at Santa Cruz
String Theory and Holography: An Approach to the Quantum Theory of Gravity
String theory provides us with a number of examples of well defined quantum theories of gravitation in asymptotically flat and asymptotically Anti de Sitter (maximally symmetric space with negative cosmological constant) space-times. For low space-time curvature, these theories have an exact symmetry between bosonic and fermionic particles (supersymmetry) which is not shared by the real world. The problem of relating ...
Dec. 5, 2006 Bridget Smith-Konter, University of California at San Diego
Stress Evolution of the San Andreas Fault System
The absence of a major earthquake over the past 300 years along the southern San Andreas fault has prompted a large-scale effort toward understanding the nature of present-day loading and stress accumulation at the plate boundary. The growing archive of GPS data in California is beginning to provide a detailed synoptic picture of the accumulation of stress and strain along ...
Nov. 21, 2006 Ken Cooper, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Artificial Atoms on a Chip: The Road to Quantum Computation?
A quantum computer, if ever constructed, will be able to crack problems that would take a modern computer longer than the age of the universe to solve. While classical computers store information as bits - 1’s and 0’s - quantum computers rely on "qubits," which are quantum two-state systems capable of existing as a 1 and 0 simultaneously. One promising ...
Nov. 7, 2006 David McComas, Southwest Research Institute
The Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX): Discovering The Interaction Between Our Solar System and the Galaxy
The Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) mission (www.ibex.swri.edu) will launch in mid-2008 and provide the first global views of the interstellar interactions and boundaries at the edge of our heliosphere (the region dominated by the Sun’s influence). IBEX makes these exploratory observations using two ultra-high sensitivity single pixel energetic neutral atom (ENA) cameras that image ENAs from 10 eV - ...
Oct. 24, 2006 Karen Shell, Oregon State University
Diagnosing Climate Feedbacks in Atmospheric General Circulation Models
Many different feedbacks influence how the earth’s temperature, precipitation, and winds respond to changes in the energy budget of the planet (caused, for example, by increases in carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases). Because there is only one realization of the actual climate, computational climate models are useful tools for studying different scenarios and climate configurations in a very controlled ...
Oct. 3, 2006 Adam Bernstein, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Applied Antineutrino Physics: Reactor Monitoring with Cubic Meter Scale Antineutrino Detectors
Reactor antineutrino detection has matured to the point where it is feasible to stably monitor plutonium content and reactor power using a high statistics (hundreds or thousands of counts per day) antineutrino detector at a standoff of a few tens of meters. Our Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory/Sandia National Laboratories collaboration has deployed a detector to demonstrate this capability at a ...
Sept. 19, 2006 Bill Jones, Caltech
Imaging the Primordial Plasma: Recent Observations of the Temperature and Polarization Anisotropies of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB)
We discuss recent observations of the temperature and polarization anisotropies of the CMB, and the implications for our understanding of the cosmology, which (it appears), describes our Universe. We discuss in detail the results from the recent flight of Boomerang, and outline what we expect to learn from observations in the near future.
Sept. 12, 2006 Various students, Harvey Mudd College
Student Presentations of Off-Campus Research during the Summer of 2006
Greg Sandstrom and Steve Von der Porten,
Umachines - Pasadena, CA
Dr. Tom Tsao
Constructing a phase-shift interferometer to test MEMS deformable mirrors

Sam Skillman
Los Alamos National Laboratory
Brian O’Shea, T-06 Group, Theoretical Astrophysics
Computer simulations of star/galaxy formation

David Coats
U. of Minnesota REU Program
Dr. Jian Ping Wang
MEMS array of ferromagnetic islands for magnetic ...
Sept. 5, 2006 Chandrashekhar Joshi, University of California at Los Angeles
Laser- and Beam-Driven Plasma Accelerators
Scientists have been trying to use the tremendous electric fields in relativistic plasma waves to accelerate charged particles, and are now making substantial progress. If they succeed, future high energy accelerators will use plasma waves rather than microwave cavities as accelerating structures. Some accelerators, such as those used for radiation therapy will fit on a tabletop.

Research on using plasma ...

April 18, 2006 Arvind Rajaraman, University of California at Irvine
Dark Matter
I will review the evidence that most of the matter in the universe is dark; i.e. it does not absorb or radiate light. I will argue that dark matter is a new type of matter, qualitatively different from normal matter. In a few years, we will be able to identify the properties of this hitherto mysterious substance.
April 4, 2006 Physics Faculty, Harvey Mudd College
Recent Physics News, as Reported by Faculty Members of the Department of Physics
  • "The Arrival of the Cassini Spacecraft at Saturn and the Successful Landing of the Huygens Probe on the Moon Titan" -- Greg Lyzenga
  • "The Demonstration of Pyrofusion" -- Tom Donnelly
  • "Superfluidity in an Ultracold Gas of Fermions" --Vatche Sahakian
  • "The Brightest Burst of Light Ever Recorded From Outside the Solar System" -- Ann Esin
March 21, 2006 Re’em Sari, Caltech
The Formation of the Solar System
How do planets form and how long does it take? Why are their orbits circular and coplanar? What set the number of planets in our solar system? We address these fundamental questions providing a coherent story on the formation of our solar system.
March 7, 2006 John Clarke, University of California at Berkeley
The Ubiquitous SQUID: From Cosmology to Medicine
Many materials become superconducting at sufficiently low temperatures. In the superconducting state, electrons of opposite momentum and spin form Cooper pairs. These pairs constitute a single, macroscopic quantum state that is described by a quantum mechanical wave function with well defined amplitude and phase. This quantum state is responsible for the zero-electrical resistance of superconductors and for such properties as ...
Feb. 21, 2006 Michael Wood-Vasey (’98), Harvard University
The Accelerating Universe and You: The Past, Present, and Future of Exploring the Universe With Supernovae
The field of cosmology has been revolutionized in the last decade by the discovery that the expansion of the Universe is accelerating. This remarkable conclusion was first derived by using Type Ia supernovae as standardizable cosmological candles. Since this initial work, a number of complementary cosmological measurements have led to our current "concordance" cosmological model that states that 70% of ...