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
March 5, 2013 David Weld, University of California at Santa Barbara
Cold Atom Quantum Simulation
Ultracold neutral atoms trapped in optical lattices represent a new frontier for the investigation of outstanding problems in many-body quantum mechanics. These systems promise to bring the precision and control of atomic physics to bear on important problems in condensed matter physics, from nonequilibrium spin dynamics to d-wave superconductivity. The ambit of this fast-growing field is expanding from measurement to …
Feb. 19, 2013 Jing Xu, University of California at Merced
Molecular Motor Biophysics: Hardware Instrumentation and Nonlinear Physics
Experimental biophysicists build instruments to study nature’s nano-machines. Molecular motors are nano-machines and are crucial for life: they transport materials in cells. Motor-based transport is inherently a many body problem, and exhibits complex behavior yet to be understood. An analytic model for multiple motor transport has been proposed, but has remained untested. In this talk, I will discuss the construction …
Feb. 5, 2013 Nima Dinyari, University of Oregon
Pursuing a Cavity QED System that Couples a Nitrogen Vacancy Center to a Whispering Gallery Mode Silica Microresonator
Cavity quantum electrodynamics (QED) provides a model system for studying the controlled, coherent coupling of optical and atomic quantum bits. Our research is focused on developing a cavity QED system that couples a nitrogen vacancy (NV) center in a diamond nanostructure to a whispering gallery microresonator. We have developed a composite system that allows for a diamond nanopillar to be …
Jan. 22, 2013 Itai Cohen, Cornell University
Flight of the Fruit Fly
There comes a time in each of our lives where we grab a thick section of the morning paper, roll it up and set off to do battle with one of nature’s most accomplished aviators — the fly. If however, instead of swatting we could magnify our view and experience the world in slow motion we would be privy to …
Dec. 4, 2012 Tom Donnelly, Harvey Mudd College
Using High-Power, Pulsed Lasers to Generate Hot, Dense Environments: A Fusion Testbed
When they where first invented in 1960, someone quipped that “Lasers are a solution waiting for a problem.” That challenge has been met so effectively that today lasers are ubiquitous in everyday life, to say nothing of their presence in laboratories. A series of scientific, engineering, and material-science breakthroughs have allowed lasers to become ever more powerful, and today laser …
Nov. 13, 2012 Briony Horgan, Arizona State University
Good Vibrations for Habitable Environments on Ancient Mars from Orbital Spectroscopy
Infrared spectroscopy from NASA satellites around Mars has revolutionized our understanding of what the surface of the planet looked like 4 billion years ago. In this talk, I will discuss the physics behind solid-state vibrational spectroscopy of minerals at these wavelengths, how we interpret signals from a planetary surface, and how we can use mineralogical data to infer climatic and …
Oct. 30, 2012 Slobodan Mitrovic, Caltech
Thermoelastic Phononic Metamaterials
An independent control over electrical and thermal properties is one of the central goals in the search for efficient thermoelectric materials for waste heat energy conversion. A good thermoelectric will have high electrical, but low thermal conductivity. Nature, however, does not seem to favor this dissociation, and the best synthesized thermoelectrics in use today remain at about the same efficiency …
Oct. 16, 2012 Keith Schwab, Caltech
Quantum Mechanics with Mechanical Structures
There appears to be no fundamental reason why macroscopic mechanical objects cannot demonstrate quantum phenomena such as energy quantization, superposition states, and entanglement. In fact, in recent years, researchers have been successful in demonstrating a few of these basic states in the laboratory including the quantum ground state of motion and the exchange of a single quantum with a superconducting …
Oct. 2, 2012 John S. Townsend, Harvey Mudd College
Why the Higgs Boson is Called “The God Particle”
I will discuss how spontaneous symmetry breaking in gauge theories via the Higgs mechanism generates the masses of the elementary particles.
Sept. 25, 2012 Philip Muirhead, Caltech
Small Stars with Small Planets and Big Consequences

With the success of NASA’s Kepler Spacecraft, extrasolar planet science has entered a new era. Prior to Kepler’s launch exoplanet science was primarily concerned with gas-giant exoplanets, since gas giants comprised the majority of discoveries, numbering in the hundreds. NASA’s Kepler Mission has since discovered thousands of exoplanets with many of them terrestrial-sized. Of particular interest are terrestrial exoplanets orbiting …

Sept. 11, 2012 Nate Bean, Chris Cotner, Jake Fish, Robert Kealhofer, Erik Littleton, Laura Maguire, Luke Mastalli-Kelly, Bradley Perfect, Carola Purser, and Michelle Vick, Harvey Mudd College
What I did for summer research
Several HMC physics majors discuss how they landed summer research positions and what they did.
April 17, 2012 Peter Goldreich, Caltech
Physics in Everyday Life
Examples will be drawn from human metabolism, sports, flight, and weather.
April 3, 2012 Maria Spiropulu, Caltech
Results from the Highest Energy Proton Collisions at the LHC
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the largest and most complex scientific undertaking ever attempted. Its results will determine the future directions of high-energy physics. The LHC produced 7 TeV proton-proton collisions in 2010 and 2011, and it is expected to produce 14 TeV proton-proton collisions in 2014. Currently it is ramping up for the upcoming run at 8 TeV …
March 27, 2012 Jeanie Lau, University of California at Riverside
One, Two, Three — Quantum Transport Suspended Graphene Devices
Graphene, a two-dimensional single atomic layer of carbon, has recently emerged as a promising candidate for electronic materials, as well as a new model system for condensed matter physics. In this talk I will present our work on mechanical, thermal, and electrical properties of suspended graphene devices, such as ripple texturing, negative thermal expansion, spontaneous symmetry breaking and gap formation …
March 6, 2012 John M. Martinis, University of California at Santa Barbara
Design of a Superconducting Quantum Computer
The computational power of a quantum computer arises from the superposition of quantum states, which gives a net parallel-processing size that exceeds the number of atoms in the universe for even a modest 300-qubit processor. To build such a computer, many groups around the world are exploring whether experimental systems can be controlled sufficiently well and with enough quantum coherence. …