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
April 22, 2014 Omer Blaes, University of California at Santa Barbara
Dwarf to Super Novae: How Dead Stars Occasionally Light Up and Tell Us About the Universe

Billions of years in the future, our Sun will eventually run out of all of its fuel and will turn into an extraordinarily dense, Earth-sized star known as a white dwarf. Most white dwarfs, including our future Sun, slowly fade into oblivion, but if they can steal matter from another nearby star, they can rejuvenate themselves. Many such “new stars”, ...

April 8, 2014 Alan Guth and John Kovac, via edited video of a colloquium at Harvard from 25 March 2014, Harvey Mudd College
Peeking Under the Cosmic Veil

“For decades circumstantial evidence from observational cosmology has suggested that our universe may have started with a bang — an initial violent explosion and expansion of space known as inflation. As the universe expanded, it cooled down from an initial super hot and opaque primordial soup of mass and energy. At some point around 300,000 years after the initial bang, ...

March 25, 2014 Mark Johnson (’89), D-Wave
Observing Entanglement in a Quantum Annealing Processor

Quantum Annealing (QA) is an algorithm proposed as one of a potentially powerful set of methods to solve computationally hard problems. It is generally believed that a quantum algorithm must in some way harness entanglement to be able to provide any significant speed-up over classical algorithms. Unfortunately, the absence of microwave signals in the D-Wave processor, a system designed to ...

March 4, 2014 Scott Nguyen, Genie Oil & Gas
Unlocking Unconventional Resources

With the increasing world demand of energy and in particulartransportation fuel, new and alternative sources of energy must be found and developed. Unconventional resources in the form of shale oil could provide a substantial fraction of future energy demand. In this talk, we will discuss results from laboratory studies to understand the physics of and technology being developed to unlock ...

Feb. 25, 2014 Ernie Glover, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
An Atomic Scale View of Light-Matter Interactions

Light-matter interactions are central to a wide range of scientific and technological disciplines. Though optical interactions have been important to advancing our understanding of atoms, molecules, and materials, the microscopic details of how light manipulates matter are often poorly understood. A material's optical response is complex, determined by coupled manybody interactions that vary on an atomic length scale. While data ...

Feb. 18, 2014 Ania Bleszynski-Jayich, University of California at Santa Barbara
Quantum assisted sensing with diamond spins

Nitrogen-vacancy (NV) centers in diamond are atomic-scale spin systems with remarkable quantum properties that persist to room temperature. They are highly sensitive to a wide variety of fields (magnetic, electric, thermal) and are easy to initialize, read-out, and manipulate on the individual spin level; thus they make excellent nanoscale sensors. The NV’s sensitivity is a double-edged sword however; environmental fluctuating ...

Feb. 4, 2014 Alex Small, Cal Poly Pomona
Theoretical Limits to Superresolution Fluorescence Microscopy

Superresolution microscopy techniques enable fluorescence imaging of live cells with subwavelength resolution. These techniques generally fall into two categories, depending on whether fluorescent molecules are controlled deterministically or stochastically. In stochastic techniques, fluorescent molecules blink on and off, with only a small fraction of them emitting light at any given time. Consequently, the molecules form non-overlapping blurs in the image ...

Jan. 21, 2014 Leslie Rodgers, Caltech
Glimpsing the Compositions of Sub-Neptune-Size Exoplanets

Sub-Neptune and super-Earth sized planets are a new planet category. They account for 80% of the planet candidates discovered by Kepler, and 0% of the planets in the Solar System. What is the nature of these sub-Neptune-size planets, how did they form, and why are they so numerous? I will review some highlights from the complement of exotic sub-Neptune-size planets ...

Nov. 19, 2013 Dan Steck, University of Oregon
Continuous Measurement of the Position of a Single Cold Atom: Towards the Quantum-Classical Transition

Quantum mechanics is fundamentally a theory of measurement, and recently a paradigm in quantum optics has arisen for describing the continuous measurement of quantum systems. Interesting phenomena can happen in continuously observed systems, due to the interplay of the dynamical evolution and the measurement process. In particular, the evolution of a quantum system under a continuous measurement process is both ...

Nov. 5, 2013 John Gregoire, Caltech
Enabling Solar Fuels Technology With High Throughput Experimentation

The High Throughput Experimentation (HTE) project of the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP, performs accelerated discovery of new earth-abundant photoabsorbers and electrocatalysts. Through collaboration within the DOE solar fuels hub and with the broader research community, the new materials will be utilized in devices that efficiently convert solar energy, water and carbon dioxide into transportation fuels. JCAP-HTE ...

Oct. 8, 2013 Wes Campbell, University of California at Los Angeles
One Year Ago Tomorrow (and What Physics Students Should Know About It)

The 2013 Nobel Prize in physics is announced today, but for a series of practical reasons, today’s discussion will focus on the work that led to the prize that was awarded to David Wineland and Serge Haroche one year ago tomorrow. That story begins with the demonstration of laser cooling in 1978, which ushered in a new era for atomic ...

Sept. 24, 2013 Jodi Christiansen (’85), Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
What Every Physicist Should Know About Observational Cosmology

Over the past 20 years cosmology has been transformed from a largely theoretical pursuit to a high-precision science with ~1% uncertainties. The theoretical developments of the last century and the observations that led to the discovery of 95% of the “stuff” of our universe weave a fascinating tale that finally answers the fundamental question of how it all came to ...

Sept. 10, 2013 Twelve HMC Physics Majors, Harvey Mudd College
Physics Majors Describe Summer REU Experiences

Twelve HMC physics majors will give brief descriptions of their summer research projects and experiences carried out at various institutions across the country:

  • Alex An
  • Kevin Hale
  • Alex Kendrick
  • Jaron Kent-Dobias
  • Martin Loncaric
  • Peter Megson
  • David Spierings van der Wolk
  • Kaew Tinyanont
  • Andrew Turner
  • Michelle Vick
  • Andrew Yandow
  • Jordan Zesch
April 23, 2013 Sarah Nichols, WM Keck Science Center
Investigations in Ultrafast Laser Science
Many molecular processes take place in regions of space, time, and/or frequency that are difficult to access experimentally. For instance, visible light microscopy is often limited by sample scattering issues, as well as by the lack of natural fluorescence in many molecules of interest. Complex biological and chemical systems inherently have multiple resonances at a variety of frequencies, such that ...
April 9, 2013 Nathaniel Gabor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Atomically Thin Photodetectors: the Ideal Semi-Metal vs. the Insurmountable Insulator
Graphene, an atomically thin sheet of hexagonally oriented carbon, is a zero-band-gap conductor (semi-metal) that exhibits extraordinary electronic behavior and broadband optical absorption. Hexagonal boron nitride, which shares a similar structure to that of graphene, is a highly insulating electronic material that does not absorb any light in the visible spectrum. By combining graphene and boron nitride into ultrathin vertical ...