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 26, 2005 Mark Vagins, University of California at Irvine
Close Encounters of the Absurd Kind — A Scientist Looks at UFO’s
Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird? It’s a plane? It’s... a weather balloon? What’s the real deal with America’s ongoing UFO obsession, anyway? What does a professional astrophysicist with an interest in the offbeat think about the whole paranormal scene? Come on an exploration of the claims and issues involved, both from a scientific perspective and through the …
April 19, 2005 Jerry Gollub, Haverford College
Chaotic Dynamics of Mixing in Fluids
The process by which an impurity is dispersed in a stirred fluid is important for many areas of science and engineering. It can occur as a consequence of turbulence (e.g. in stirring coffee), but mixing also occurs even in some laminar flows that cause nearby fluid elements to separate exponentially in time. This process is sometimes called "chaotic mixing". Until …
April 12, 2005 Wilson Ho, University of California at Irvine
Visualization of Quantum Phenomena
The unique capabilities of the scanning tunneling microscope (STM) enable new opportunities for the control and investigation of matter and its transformation at the atomic and molecular scales. Some of the problems that are routinely used in the introduction to quantum mechanics, such as the particle tunneling, Brownian motion of molecules, and particle in a one-dimensional box, can be realized …
March 29, 2005 Stanley Klein, University of California at Berkeley
New Methods for Imaging Brain Activity in Space and Time

When one looks at tiny flashing light, electrical currents are induced in the brain’s cortex and blood flow is altered. The altered blood flow can be measured using functional MRI, giving spatial information of the brain activity, but valuable information about the temporal dynamics is lost due to the sluggish nature of the blood flow. Our focus is on making …

March 8, 2005 Theresa Lynn, Caltech
Dances With Atoms and Photons: Steps Toward Quantum Information Technology
The Schrödinger-cat strangeness of quantum states threatens classical information technology but at the same time offers the potential for great advances in computing and communications. A principal challenge in designing actual quantum logic devices is the need to control quantum states and simultaneously protect delicate properties like quantum phase and entanglement. How can we protect information encoded in a quantum …
Feb. 22, 2005 David Hafemeister, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
National Academy Study on the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty
After the 51-48 defeat of the CTBT in the Senate, General John Schalikashvili (Former Chair, Joint Chiefs of Staff) commissioned the National Academy of Sciences to examine the following technical issues, which will be summarized*:
  • US Capacity to maintain safety/reliability and design/evaluation of its nuclear stockpile without testing
  • International/US capability to monitor a nuclear test ban, …
Feb. 8, 2005 Scott Fraser (’76), Caltech
Was Leonardo Right? New Insights into the Mechanics of Cardiovascular Development
Jan. 25, 2005 Kate Hutton, Caltech Seismological Laboratory
The Largest Quake in 40 Years
Dec. 7, 2004 Jonathan L. Feng, University of California at Irvine
Black Holes and Extra Dimensions
Of the four known forces -- gravity, electromagnetism, and the weak and strong forces -- gravity is by far the weakest. The weakness of gravity may not be an intrinsic property, however, but may result from the dilution of gravity in extra spatial dimensions. Diverse experiments, ranging from tabletop probes of Newtonian gravity to km-scale cosmic ray detectors, are now …
Nov. 23, 2004 Kenneth N. Barish, University of California at Riverside
Heating up the Vacuum: a New Spin on QCD at RHIC
Why are the proton’s constituents confined? Where does its mass come from? What makes up its spin? The theory of the strong force, QCD, has proven strikingly successful (e.g. this year’s Nobel Prize), however, so far it cannot be used to understand these fundamental questions. We have begun an experimental program at Brookhaven National Laboratory utilizing the Relativistic Heavy Ion …
Nov. 2, 2004 Eric Fullerton (’84), San Jose Research Center of Hitachi Global Storage Technologies
Bits of the Future: Magnetic Recording Beyond the Superparamagnetic Limit
Storage densities of magnetic recording systems are currently doubling every year in both laboratory demonstrations and hard disk drive products. Increasing the storage density has mainly been achieved by scaling the head and media parameters to smaller dimensions. However, as many of the critical dimensions approach the nanometer scale, a variety of physical phenomena are predicted to limit the capacity …
Oct. 12, 2004 Carlton M. Caves, University of New Mexico
Quantum Computation: Why, What, and How
The traditional view of quantum mechanics as restricting what can be done classically has been turned upside down by quantum information science, which explores how coherent quantum-mechanical information processing can be used to accomplish tasks that would be impossible in a classical world. Implementing quantum information processing protocols promises to be one of the enduring scientific and technological challenges of …
Sept. 21, 2004 Gregory Lyzenga, Harvey Mudd College
Earthquake Prediction: Physics or Phantasy?
Sept. 7, 2004 12 Senior and Junior Physics Majors, Harvey Mudd College
What I Did on My Summer Vacation: Off-campus summer research experiences
Reports from Los Alamos, UCLA, SLAC, Caltech, Chicago, Oregon, Syracuse, Maine and Harvard Smithsonian CFA
April 20, 2004 Shamit Kachru, Stanford University
Cosmology on the String Theory Landscape