School of Physics Public Lecture Series

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Now showing 1 - 10 of 47
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    Professor Debate on the Topic - Do We Live In a Simulation?
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2019-11-12) Cvitanović, Predrag ; Holder, Mary ; Klein, Hans ; Rocklin, D. Zeb ; Turk, Gregory ; Vempala, Santosh S.
    Do we live in a simulation? The School of Physics and the Society of Physics Students will host a public debate between faculty from the College of Science and the College of Computing to answer this question. This event is free and open to the all. There will be time at the conclusion of the debate for audience members to direct questions towards the faculty panel.
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    Cosmology and Exoplanets: Unpacking the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physics
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2019-10-22) Li, Gongjie ; Wise, John H.
    Cosmology studies the universe at the largest scales, applying the laws of physics over billions of light years and all the way back to the universe's infancy. In dozens of groundbreaking publications, Jim Peebles laid the foundations for theoretical cosmology, painting a picture of how matter evolves from the moments after the Big Bang into a cosmic web of dark matter and galaxies. His work set the stage for current research that routinely uses supercomputer simulations to study the astrophysics of galaxies. Closer to home, people have speculated the existence of planets outside of our own solar system for centuries. However, there was no way of knowing whether they exist and how common they are. In 1995, the first discovery of an extrasolar planet, or exoplanet, orbiting a Sun-like star was made by Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz, who detected the signatures of the planet 51 Pegasi b as it pulls its host star. This discovery marked a breakthrough in astrophysics and led to various fields of interests, including the formation and habitability of exoplanets.
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    Cube-Shaped Poo and Georgia Tech's Second Ig Nobel Prize
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2019-10-08) Hu, David L.
    How does a wombat produce cube-shaped feces? How long does it take an elephant to urinate? Answering these two questions have landed David Hu two Ig Nobel Prizes, awards given at Harvard University for research that makes people laugh, and then think. Hu will talk about his lab's latest adventures catching elephant pee in trash cans, inflating wombat intestines with clown balloons, and dressing up as a gigantic piece of cubed poo at this year's Ig Nobel Ceremony.
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    Quantum Computing and the Entanglement Frontier
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2019-04-15) Preskill, John
    The quantum laws governing atoms and other tiny objects seem to defy common sense, and information encoded in quantum systems has weird properties that baffle our feeble human minds. John Preskill will explain why he loves quantum entanglement, the elusive feature making quantum information fundamentally different from information in the macroscopic world. By exploiting quantum entanglement, quantum computers should be able to solve otherwise intractable problems, with far-reaching applications to cryptology, materials, and fundamental physical science. Preskill is less weird than a quantum computer, and easier to understand.
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    Planet Nine From Outer Space
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2019-04-09) Batygin, Konstantin
    At the outskirts of the solar system, beyond the orbit of Neptune, lies an expansive field of icy debris known as the Kuiper belt. The orbits of the individual asteroid-like bodies within the Kuiper belt trace out highly elongated elliptical paths, and require hundreds to thousands of years to complete a single revolution around the Sun. Although the majority of the Kuiper belt’s dynamical structure can be understood within the framework of the known eight-planet solar system, bodies with orbital periods longer than about 4,000 years exhibit a peculiar orbital alignment that eludes explanation. What sculpts this alignment and how is it preserved? In this talk, I will argue that the observed clustering of Kuiper belt orbits can be maintained by a distant, eccentric, Neptune-like planet, whose orbit lies in approximately the same plane as those of the distant Kuiper belt objects, but is anti-aligned with respect to those of the small bodies. In addition to accounting for the observed grouping of orbits, the existence of such a planet naturally explains other, seemingly unrelated dynamical features of the solar system.
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    How a Failed Astrophysics Major Became a Successful Science Writer
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2019-03-12) Lemonick, Michael
    I knew from the time I was a very young child that I wanted to be an astronomer. The dream lasted until I got to college, where I learned to my dismay that I actually had no passion for doing what an astronomer does; what I really wanted is to know what an astronomer knows. This is the story of how it all worked out.
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    The Science of Origami
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2019-02-25) Rocklin, D. Zeb
    What kinds of shapes can you make by folding a sheet of paper? How strong can you make them, or how flexible? Although we've been folding paper for centuries, we're still discovering fascinating new answers to these questions. Origami-inspired structures can improve the energy-efficiency of massive buildings, deliver drugs deep within the body, power spacecraft and even stop bullets. As we learn to manipulate sheets as thin as a single atom, humanity approaches the ultimate origami challenge--folding structures as rich and varied as those nature achieves through folding proteins. We will discuss how all of these structures are achieved by mastering the geometrical structure hidden within every sheet of paper.
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    Forecasting Turbulence
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2018-11-26) Schatz, Michael F.
    Fluid turbulence is one of the greatest unsolved problems of classical physics (and the subject of a million dollar mathematical (Millenium) challenge). Centuries of research--including Leonardo da Vinci’s observations of “la turbolenza” and the best efforts of numerous physicists (Heisenberg, Kelvin, Rayleigh, Sommerfeld, ...)--have failed to yield a tractable predictive theory. However, recent theoretical and computational advances have successfully linked recurring transient patterns (coherent structures) within turbulence to unstable solutions of the equations governing fluid flow (the Navier-Stokes equations). The solutions describing coherent structures provide a geometrical structure that guides the evolution of turbulence. We describe laboratory experiments where the geometry of key coherent structures is identified and harnessed to construct a roadmap to forecast the behavior of weakly turbulent flows.
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    Celebration of 2018 Physics Nobel Prize: Lighting the way with microscopic tractor beams and sculpted laser pulse
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2018-10-23) Curtis, Jennifer ; Raman, Chandra ; Trebino, Rick
    The 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics recognizes two breakthrough inventions in laser physics. The first, optical tweezers, allows scientist and engineers to use lasers like the tractor beams of Star Trek to manipulate everything from molecules to living cells. Optical tweezers have provided researchers with fingers in the microscopic world that can pull apart DNA, probe the mechanics of life, detect disease and study fundamental interactions in biology, physics, chemistry and engineering. The second breakthrough, chirped pulse amplification, enabled the construction of lasers of incredible power and precision. With the super-high power lasers came cutting-edge applications as diverse as attosecond time-resolved dynamics of atoms and molecules and laser eye surgery. In this public talk, Georgia Tech Professor Rick Trebino will give an overview of optical physics. Professors Jennifer Curtis and Chandra Raman will present a brief history of these discoveries and discuss their impacts on science and society, with an audience Q&A session afterwards.
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    Non-Euclidean Virtual Reality
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2018-10-15) Matsumoto, Elisabetta A.
    The 2016 confirmation of Einstein's prediction of gravitational waves has put the spotlight back on the importance of curvature for the physics of the universe. While the ability of mass to curve our space has fueled the imagination of many, it is by far not the only instance of warped spaces being important for physics: The materials science of the very small scale -the science of nanostructures and nanoengineering- is one of them. In fact, often these 'small' spaces are very strongly curved, far from what mathematicians call 'Euclidean'; for example two parallel lines may no longer only meet at infinity. Bizarre and exotic spaces with very unusual properties. Until recently, many of these complex spaces defied most people's imagination, but Virtual Reality technology has now been developed to help us immerse in them. Prof Sabetta Matsumoto will take us on a tour -enabled by the latest in Virtual Reality technology- into the innate beauty and mystery of some spaces, such as the cross between a Euclidean straight line and Poincare's hyperbolic plane made popular by Escher's artwork. Real-world applications or technological uses of these mathematical insights may seem to be light-years off, but don't worry, the real world will catch up with the imagination faster than we think.