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. 1, 2011 Sabrina Leslie, Harvard University
Convex Lens-Induced Confinement: Enabling New Biophysical Measurements Under Previously Inaccessible Conditions
A wide range of physiological processes rely on weak intermolecular interactions that occur at high concentration, or over long time periods. Probing such interactions presents a challenge to fluorescence microscopy, the work horse for resolving biological processes at the molecular scale. To address this challenge, I present a novel and practical fluorescence imaging technique, convex lens induced confinement (CLIC), which ...
Jan. 25, 2011 David Hanneke, University of Colorado at Boulder
Measuring the Electron Magnetic Moment
Measurements of the electron magnetic moment (the "g-value") probe the electron’s interaction with the fluctuating quantum vacuum. With a quantum electrodynamics calculation, they provide the most accurate determination of the fine structure constant. Comparisons with independent determinations of the fine structure constant are among the most precise tests of any physical theory. This talk will present an experiment that measures ...
Jan. 18, 2011 Sharon Gerbode, Harvard University
Squishy Physics: Probing Complex Materials and Visualizing Statistical Mechanics at the Particle Scale
In introductory physics courses, we learn about an idealized frictionless world of rigid bodies and smooth surfaces. Yet the physics of everyday life is complex: soft, sticky, squishy and often far from equilibrium. Exploring the fundamental principles that underlie this complexity, soft matter physics thrives at the intersection of physics with biology, chemistry and engineering, offering many new directions for ...
Nov. 30, 2010 Paul S. Nerenberg, University of California at Berkeley
Physics Meets Biology: Understanding Collagen Degradation With Computational Models
Collagen degradation is a physiological process necessary for regular tissue maintenance, but it is also a key player in the progression of several diseases, such as atherosclerosis, cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis. Despite its considerable medical and scientific importance, the molecular mechanism of collagen degradation has resisted explanation for more than three decades. In my talk, I will outline computational approaches, ...
Nov. 16, 2010 Antonio Aurilia, Cal Poly Pomona
Is There a Maximal Force In The Universe?
Modern physics brakes down the fundamental forces of nature into four components: gravity, electromagnetism, the weak nuclear force, and the strong nuclear force. Together, these four forces account for all the physical phenomena we observe in the universe. As remarkable as this is, many physicists today believe that the “four” interactions may be combined into just one fundamental interaction, including ...
Nov. 2, 2010 Kevin Moore (’99), Department of Radiation Oncology at Washington University School of Medicine
Physicists in Medicine - From Battling Griffiths Problems to Battling Cancer
While we’ve all heard the old joke that physics saves lives because its introductory courses keep sub-par students out of medical school, physicists have, both historically and presently, contributed immensely to the advancement of medicine. This talk will survey the myriad roles physicists play in the medical field, with a special focus on a medical physicist’s responsibilities in the treatment ...
Oct. 26, 2010 Wendy Panero (’97), Ohio State University
The New Mineralogy and Chemistry of the Earth’s Inner Core
Understanding the evolution of the Earth’s interior requires knowledge of the mineralogy, temperature, and viscosity of the Earth’s inner core. Recent seismic results showing significant yet heterogeneous seismic anisotropy for the inner core suggest that it is undergoing a dynamic process of unknown origin.

This talk presents new methods for measuring transport properties under the high-pressure, high-temperature conditions ...

Oct. 5, 2010 Vatche Sahakian, Harvey Mudd College
On Grave Matters About Gravity
A few months ago, Erik Verlinde, a string theorist from the Netherlands, conjectured a new principle in physics — one with potential to ruin the careers and lives of many physicists... In short, Verlinde proposes that gravity is really not a force! The claim is inspired from works in general relativity and string theory during the past decades, but can ...
Sept. 21, 2010 Nine HMC Physics Majors, Harvey Mudd College
Summer 2010 Off-Campus Research
Kali Allison, John Bremseth, Theo DuBose, John Grasel, Robert Hoyt, Cecily Keppel, Kyle Luh, Shaun Pacheco, and Susanna Todaro describe their summer research experiences.
Sept. 7, 2010 Peter Saeta, Harvey Mudd College
Physics and Engineering in the Village
Are you tired of having your work appreciated? Does it embarrass you when people celebrate your achievements by cheering, singing, and dancing? Yes? Well, then I don’t recommend working on a water and solar-power project in Africa. Engineering students Rob Best (’10), Isabel Bush, Evann Gonzales, Ozzie Gooen (all ’12) and I spent 6 weeks installing photovoltaic panels, a solar-powered ...
April 20, 2010 John Armstrong (’69), Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Doppler Tracking, Pulsar Timing and the Sensitivity of Low-Frequency Gravitational Wave Searches
Gravitational waves (GWs) are predicted across a spectrum ranging from ~kilohertz to femtohertz. Gravity wave detections and subsequent detailed waveform study will give information on astrophysical sources unavailable with any other method. The GW spectrum divides into Fourier bands, depending on detector technology. In the low-frequency (~millihertz) and very-low-frequency (~nanohertz) bands, detectors involve spacecraft Doppler tracking and pulsar timing, respectively. ...
April 6, 2010 Several HMC Professors, Harvey Mudd College
Recent Developments in Physics
  • The Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe — Ann Esin
  • Direct Evidence for Dark Matter — Ann Esin
  • Quantum Teleportation — Theresa Lynn
  • Negative Index of Refraction Materials — Peter Saeta
March 23, 2010 Thomas Helliwell, Harvey Mudd College
Dark Energy and Einstein’s Biggest Blunder
According to quantum field theory, vacuum is not nothing, but probably contains an enormous amount of energy. A primary effect of this energy should be on gravitation on a cosmological scale. In fact, in 1917 Einstein introduced something very similar into his gravitational field equations, the so-called “cosmological constant”, to overcome what he thought was a flaw in the equations. ...
March 2, 2010 Kai-Mei Fu, Hewlett Packard Labs
Optical Spintronics for Quantum Information Processing and Magnetic Sensing
The optical detection and control of solid-state spins has exciting applications in the fields of quantum information processing and magnetic sensing. In the first part of the talk I will show how optical pulses can be used to measure the three fundamental relaxation times of electrons bound to donors in GaAs: population relaxation \( T_1 \), inhomogeneous dephasing \( T_2^* ...
Feb. 16, 2010 Matthew Rakher, National Institute of Standards and Technology
Quantum Optics with Quantum Dots
The quantum mechanical nature of single atoms or molecules can be very difficult to measure in the laboratory. However, recent progress using atomic-like, solid-state systems has made such measurements more accessible. In particular, the semiconductor quantum dot (QD) has developed into a widely-used platform for conducting experiments at the intersection of quantum optics and condensed matter physics. Combined with nanofabrication ...