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. 2, 2021 Alex Klotz, California State University, Long Beach
Materials Physics with Kinetoplast DNA

The biological world is the source of many materials with exotic or desirable properties. Among these, DNA molecules have served as a model system to study the physics of polymers on the single-molecule level. A kinetoplast is an exotic form of DNA, found in certain tropical parasites, that consists of thousands of circular molecules topologically linked together like a sheet …

Jan. 26, 2021 Casey Handmer, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Electrodynamic magnetic levitation

“Can we all have maglev trains? Why? Why not?”

Dr. Casey Handmer from JPL will be presenting along with a Q&A session. Casey has a background in computational general relativity and gravitational waves. However, his interests are wide ranging.

Nov. 17, 2020 Bonnie Buratti, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Pluto: Everything Strange and Wonderful we Learned from New Horizons.
Oct. 27, 2020 Saad Bhamla, Georgia Tech Research Institute
Fast, Furious and Frugal: Soft matter principles in ultrafast organismal biophysics and low-cost science tools.

In this talk, I will share two stories. The first documents our journey into the world of extreme single cells that exhibit ultrafast contractions. Using the lens of soft matter physics, we will discover how these extraordinary cells leverage these rapid contractions to transmit signals over long distances in a phenomena we term ‘hydrodynamic communication’. The second explores development of …

March 31, 2020 Christina Knapp, Caltech
Quantum Computing with a Topological Phase of Matter

A central tenet of condensed matter physics is that the collective behavior of a system can be drastically different from that of its constituent parts.  Topological phases of matter provide an especially dramatic example of this idea: the phase of matter cannot be identified within a local region, but is rather encoded in global properties of the system.  As such, …

Feb. 18, 2020 Jocelyn Read, California State University, Fullerton
Learning about Neutron-rich Matter with Gravitational Waves

Astronomical observations of neutron stars inform our understanding of matter at the highest densities. Already, we have used gravitational-wave data from GW170817—the first signal from a neutron-star system—to constrain the equation of state of dense matter in neutron stars. More recently, the new heavy neutron-star merger GW190425 has indicated that the gravitational-wave population may include systems not previously observed as …

Dec. 10, 2019 Vivien Zapf (’97), Los Alamos National Laboratory
The National High Magnetic Field Lab and Magnetism influencing Ferroelectricity

TBA

Oct. 8, 2019 Sarah Marzen, WM Keck Science Center
How can we predict efficiently?

Organisms have to predict the future to best choose actions.  How do they do it, especially given the resource constraints that govern their ability to process information?  We evaluate the ability of machine learners, bio-inspired neural networks, neurons, and humans to predict and memorize, with surprising preliminary findings.

April 30, 2019 Vedika Khemani, Harvard University
Quantum Matter Out of Equilibrium

Statistical mechanics is one of the foundational pillars of modern physics. At its core is the idea of thermal equilibrium, which allows for a simple description of a many-particle system in terms of a few macroscopic, equilibrium properties like temperature or pressure. Although many of the fundamentals of quantum statistical mechanics were formulated almost a century ago, recent developments have …

April 23, 2019 Alex Frañó, University of California at San Diego
The “quantumness” of quantum materials explored by resonant x-ray scattering

We are in exciting times for synchrotron science and condensed matter physics. Modern x-ray experiments offer a powerful tool to address fundamental questions about materials. In this colloquium, I will illustrate some intriguing cases involving materials in which electronic correlations yield intertwined, ordered patterns of the spin, charge and orbital character of the wave functions. I will discuss x-ray scattering …

April 9, 2019 Jun Allard, University of California at Irvine
Force-sensitivity and cooperativity arising from polymer properties of formins and other intrinsically disordered molecules.

Many proteins fold into a specific shape, or structure, and the details of the shape allow the protein to carry out a job in a cell. This has lead to a dogma in molecular biology that structure determines function. However, many proteins lack a single dominant structure, but instead have "intrinsically disordered regions". These appear often in cell signaling and …

April 2, 2019 Yangyang Cheng, Cornell University
The Biggest Baddest Machines for the Deepest Darkest Secrets

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC), located at the Swiss-French border, is the largest and most complex machinery on earth. It smashes proton and heavy ion beams at nearly the speed of light, seeking answers to some of the most fundamental questions about the structure and interactions of our universe. The CMS detector, one of the main experiments at the LHC, …

March 5, 2019 Aaron Streets, University of California at Berkeley
Imaging and sequencing individual cells

Quantitative cellular imaging with coherent Raman microscopy reveals morphological characteristics and chemical composition at the single-cell level.  Meanwhile recent advances in high-throughput sequencing have enabled whole-transcriptome profiling of gene expression in single cells. Both measurements can uncover heterogeneity in cellular populations that would otherwise be obscured in ensemble measurement. Furthermore both imaging and gene expression profiling can be used to …

Feb. 19, 2019 Seyda Ipek, University of California at Irvine
Why Are We Here? Matter-Antimatter Asymmetry Of The Universe

Everything around us, cookies, rocks, stars, galaxies, etc. is made up of “matter” and not “antimatter”. We know that if antimatter comes close to matter, they annihilate each other leaving only energy behind. That we are here means there is no antimatter to annihilate with us. But what happened to the antimatter in the Universe? Where did it go? How …

Feb. 5, 2019 Simona Murgia, University of California at Irvine
The Brighter Side of Dark Matter

Evidence for dark matter is overwhelming. From experimental data,  we can infer that dark matter constitutes most of the matter in the Universe and that it interacts very weakly, and at least gravitationally, with ordinary matter. However we do not know what it is. It is plausible that dark matter is made of a new kind of particle (or particles) …