Lectures and Lecturers

     Saturday  10:00 am - 12:00 noon

 Phillips, William 
William D. Phillips
Time, Einstein and the coolest stuff in the universe  

 At the beginning of the 20th century Einstein changed the way we think about Time.  

Now, at the beginning of the 21st century, the measurement of Time is being revolutionized by the ability to cool a gas of atoms to temperatures billions of times lower than anything else in the universe.   Atomic clocks, the best timekeepers ever made, are one of the scientific and technological wonders of modern life.  Such super-accurate clocks are essential to industry, commerce, and science; they are the heart of the Global Positioning System (GPS), which guides cars, airplanes, and hikers to their destinations.  

Today, the best primary atomic clocks use ultracold atoms, achieve accuracies better than a second in 300 million years, and are getting better all the time.  Super-cold atoms, with temperatures that can be below a billionth of a degree above absolute zero, use, and allow tests of, some of Einstein's strangest predictions. 

This will be a lively, multimedia presentation, including experimental demonstrations and down-to-earth explanations about some of today's most exciting science.

More information about the speaker can be found here

Bedaque, Paulo
Paulo  Bedaque 

Quantum mechanics  

Quantum Mechanics is the truest and weirdest thing you’ll ever know

 Underlying the reality we see on daily life there is another one much more mysterious. 

It is ruled by laws that are hard to believe or even imagine.

 I will show what those laws are and how they explain the existence of atoms, the structure of the Universe and everything in between.

More information about the speaker can be found here

 Shawhan, Peter
Peter Shawhan

 Relativity and the discovery of gravitational waves

Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity revolutionized our understanding of space and time.  The theory predicted several new phenomena which were surprising at first, but have in fact beenverified over the years.  

Gravitational waves, predicted by the theory
 and indirectly inferred from measurements of binary pulsar systems, were finally observed directly by the Advanced LIGO detectors in September 2015.  

In this lecture, I will tell the story of how we 
discovered these waves and what we have learned from them about black holes in the universe. 

More information about the speaker can be found here


 Goodman, Jordan
Jordan Goodman
 Particle astrophysics

Trying to understand the origin of the most energetic particles in the Universe has lead us to build incredible experiments in place like the South Pole, the high Mountains of Mexico and even in depth mines. 

This talk will describe these experiments and what we have found.

More information about the speaker can be found here

Sarah Eno

Detectors and accelerators 

Physicists claim that the amazingly diverse universe that we see is in reality composed of only a very small number fundamental particles and only four fundamental forces.

 But how do we know this is true?  

I will talk about two of the most important tools we have for studying fundamental forces and matter: accelerators and detectors.  I will look at their history from the early experiments of J.J. Thomson and Ernest Rutherford to the recent discovery of the Higgs Boson at the Large Hadron Collider.  I will discuss why we need such incredibly large machines to study matter at very small distance scales, and explain in detail what they are made of and how they work.

More information about the speaker can be found here
Monroe, Christopher
Chris Monroe  

The physics of music

Rolling ripples of water on the surface of a pond, the brilliant colors of a deep rainbow, and Beethoven's symphonies all come to us in the form of waves. 

While we can all appreciate the beauty of these experiences without caring about the underlying physics, they become even more beautiful when we dive into their simple physical and mathematical description. 

This lecture will explore the generation of sound, what makes sound into music, and how we perceive complex sound waves. 

More information about the speaker can be found here
Hall, Carter 
Carter Hall 

Neutrino physics

Neutrinos, often called 'nature's ghosts', are among the most difficult 

fundamental particles to detect and study. 

This seminar will describe how scientists in the 1920s and 30s became convinced of 

the existence of these ghosts, how they were first detected, and how they continue

 to impact our understanding of the universe today.

More information about the speaker can be found here
 Yakovenko, Victor
Victor Yakovenko

Statistical mechanics of money


The probability distribution of money among the agents in a closed economic system can be derived similarly to the probability distribution of energy among molecules in a gas, by treating economic transactions as collisions between molecules.

Analysis of empirical data shows that income distributions in the USA, European Union, and other countries exhibit a well-defined two-class structure.  The majority of the population (about 97%) belongs to the lower class characterized by the exponential ("thermal") distribution, as in a gas.  The upper class (about 3% of the population) is characterized by a power-law ("superthermal") distribution, and its share of the total income expands and contracts dramatically during booms and busts in financial markets. 


All papers are available at http://physics.umd.edu/~yakovenk/econophysics/.  For a recent coverage in Science magazine, see http://www.sciencemag.org/content/344/6186/828

More information about the speaker can be found here
 Cohen, Thomas
Tom Cohen

What does a nuclear physicist actually do? 

This talk will focus on some of the big issues driving modern research in nuclear physics.

 Illustrative examples will be taken from nuclear astrophysics, the physics of nuclear matter under extremes of temperature, the structure of nuclei and the use of nuclear physics as a laboratory to probe fundamental symmetries.  

The talk will emphasize what nuclear physicists--both experimentalists and theorists--actually do.

More information about the speaker can be found  here

Dorland, William
Bill Dorland

Nuclear Forensics: Where physics and policy meet 

 In this talk, I will focus on questions surrounding the threat of a nuclear detonation by an unidentified attacker.
How can a country best protect itself against nuclear terrorism?
What are the technical limits of attribution after the fact?
Deterrence has long been the central pillar of nuclear defense. How would deterrence work against non-state actors?
What does deterrence theory say about foes who have no capacity to deliver a nuclear warhead by conventional means?

Recently, I worked on these questions with a panel of technical experts. I will present some of our more interesting findings, together with a non-classified (because I do not have security clearances!) survey of the technical issues that underlie each of these questions.

 If you plan to attend, here is a homework problem, to be thought about about talked about with your friends before you arrive. After the fall of the Soviet Union, there were suddenly many potentially poorly guarded nuclear weapons in  the world. Perhaps some are unaccounted for even today. Let us stipulate that missing Soviet weapons presently comprise the greatest nuclear threat to Western democracies. If you were the American President, what would you do to protect New York from this particular threat?

More information about the speaker can be found here


   Shabnam Jabeen

Theory of everything

So far, in these lectures,  you have heard about many topics including Quantum Mechanics, Relativity,  Cosmology and experimental techniques. in this lecture I will try to combine all these concepts and  look at the bigger picture.

A final Theory? 

Will it answer questions such as

 where are my socks? 

Or what is coming on the test? 

Or Does s/he like me? 

Sorry, no.  It is not a crystal ball!  It is (ideally) a theory that will combine all known forces and particles, explain all phenomenon we observe in nature, and will predict many more that we may not have even thought about. 

It is a theory we still have to discover!

In this lecture, first I will talk about an (almost) theory of everything (visible), that is, the standard model of particle physics.  I will then  briefly discuss the possibilities for theories that go beyond the standard model and try to explain our universe, from the smallest to the largest.

More information about the speaker can be found here