Physics

News & Events

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Targeting Mitochondria for the Treatment of Neurodegenerative Disease

Sara Lagalwar, Skidmore College


Time: 12:00 pm
Location: Reem-Kayden Center Laszlo Z. Bito '60 Auditorium
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Thursday, March 30, 2017

From the Ham Sandwich to the Pizza Pie:
An Introduction to Topological Combinatorics

Steve Simon, Mathematics Program

Given any 3 shapes in R3 (e.g., a piece of ham, a hunk of cheese, and a slice of bread), does there exist a single plane that simultaneously cuts each shape into two pieces of equal volume? Can any shape in R2 be dissected into four pieces of equal area by some pair of perpendicular lines? By exploiting hidden geometric symmetries, we will show how equipartition problems such as these can be solved using powerful techniques from the seemingly unrelated eld known as algebraic topology. For instance, the positive answer to the rst problem above { the so-called Ham Sandwich" Theorem { ultimately reduces to a very deep result of Borsuk and Ulam: for any continuous map from a sphere to a plane, there must exist a pair of antipodal points on the sphere whose images coincide. While fairly advanced mathematics is not too far away, this talk requires only a familiarity with the intermediate value theorem to be understood. All are welcome to attend!
Time: 4:45 pm
Location: Hegeman 308
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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Protein Folding: Seeing is Deceiving

 

Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth. -Sherlock HolmesGeorge RoseJenkins Dept. of BiophysicsJohns Hopkins University 

We challenge the time-honored conviction that proteins realize their native folds via specific favorable interactions, proposing instead that an imprint of the fold is selected primarily by elimination of unfavorable interactions.  Two types of energetically disfavored interactions are considered here: steric clashes and polar groups lacking hydrogen-bond partners. Both types are largely excluded from the thermodynamic population, winnowing that population progressively as the protein becomes compact.  Compaction is accompanied by the entropically favored release of solvent shells around apolar groups.  Remarkably, both solvent shell release and excluding interactions are somewhat non-specific, yet together they promote highly specific chain organization.  For example, exhaustive conformational enumeration of a test hexapeptide reduces 1.5x1012 conceivable conformations to the experimentally-determined dominant population in aqueous solution – this despite deliberate neglect of attractive interactions.
 
Time: 7:00 pm
Location: Reem-Kayden Center Laszlo Z. Bito '60 Auditorium
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Thursday, April 6, 2017

Canaries in the Saltmarsh:
Tidal Marsh Conservation in the Face of Sea Level Rise

Chris ElphickUniversity of Connecticut


Time: 12:00 pm
Location: Reem-Kayden Center Laszlo Z. Bito '60 Auditorium
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Thursday, April 6, 2017

Healing, Service, Research, Activism:
An Introduction to the Health Professions

Helen Epstein, Professor of Human Rights and Global Public Health


Time: 5:00 pm
Location: RKC 115
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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Psychosocial Adversity the Epigenetic Origins of Health Disparities

Allison Appleton, SUNY Albany 


Time: 12:00 pm
Location: Reem-Kayden Center Laszlo Z. Bito '60 Auditorium
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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Early Life Adversity and the Risk of Depression in Young Adulthood

Melissa Tracy, SUNY Albany


Time: 4:45 pm
Location: RKC 111
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Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Ecology of West Nile Virus in the United States

 

Sarah Bowden, Cary Institute for Ecosystem Studies 


Time: 12:00 pm
Location: Reem-Kayden Center Laszlo Z. Bito '60 Auditorium
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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Molecular mechanisms of SLUG-induced Chemotherapeutic Resistance in Triple-negative Breast Cancer (TNBC)

 

Charvann BaileyVassar College


Time: 12:00 pm
Location: Reem-Kayden Center Laszlo Z. Bito '60 Auditorium
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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Is Empathy Necessary for Morality?

Dr. Jean Decety | University of Chicago

Empathy, the ability to perceive and be sensitive to the emotional states of others, motivates prosocial and caregiving behaviors, plays a role in inhibiting aggression, and facilitates cooperation between members of a similar social group. This is probably why empathy is often and wrongly confused with morality. Morality refers to prescriptive norms regarding how people should treat one another, including concepts of justice, fairness, and rights. Drawing on empirical research and theory from evolutionary biology, psychology and social neuroscience, I will argue that our sensitivity to others’ needs has been selected in the context of parental care and group living. One corollary of this evolutionary model is that empathy produces social preferences that can conflict with morality. This claim is supported by a wealth of empirical findings in neuroscience and behavioral economics documenting a complex and equivocal relation between empathy, morality and justice. Empathy alone is powerless in the face of rationalization and denial. It is reason that provides the push to widen the circle of empathy from the family and the tribe to humanity as a whole.

 
Time: 4:45 pm
Location: RKC 111
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Thursday, May 4, 2017

Collective Dynamics of Microbes in Natural Sediment

Alexander PetroffRockefeller University


Time: 12:00 pm
Location: Reem-Kayden Center Laszlo Z. Bito '60 Auditorium
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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Fragments, Fungi, and Feedbacks:
Can Fungal Pathogens Help Maintain Prairie Plant Diversity in Fragmented Landscapes?

Michelle HershSarah Lawrence College 


Time: 12:00 pm
Location: Reem-Kayden Center Laszlo Z. Bito '60 Auditorium
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Friday, May 19, 2017

Marco Spodek senior recital


Time: 8:00 pm
Location: Blum Hall
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Monday, March 12, 2018

Getting in to Medical School…And What I Learned on the Way!

Matthew Lampeter, class of 2017


Time: 4:30 pm
Location: RKC 111
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Past Events

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    • 2010

      Science on the Edge-The 2010 Nobel Prizes

      November 9
      Reem-Kayden Center Laszlo Z. Bito '60 Auditorium

      Chemistry
      Making the Connections – The 2010 Nobel Prize in Chemistry Palladium Catalyzed Carbon-Carbon Coupling   The formation of carbon-carbon bonds has been a challenge that, for many years, only nature has been able to accomplish effectively. With the ability to assemble carbon-containing molecules into more complex structures, a multitude of new materials and biologically active compounds can be prepared.   This year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry has been awarded to Richard F. Heck, Ei-ichi Negishi and Akira Suzuki for their development of and contributions toward the field of transition-metal promoted reactions to create new carbon-carbon bonds.Lecture  by Emily McLaughlin
      Chemistry Program Physics
      “for groundbreaking experiments regarding the
      two-dimensional material graphene”
      Awarded to Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov  
      Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov were awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize in physics for “producing, identifying and characterizing graphene”, a sheet of carbon atoms arranged in hexagons. Since Geim and Novoselov revealed their absurdly simple method for making graphene in 2004, thousands of papers about this material have been published. Graphene’s two-dimensionality gives rise to unusual properties of fundamental and practical interest, including its electrical conductivity, strength and flexibility. In this talk, we’ll take a look at how graphene was made and characterized and some of its significant properties.Lecture by Simeen Sattar
      Physics Program 


      Fair Duels

      November 9
      RKC 111

      A lecture by
      Sinan Gunturk
      Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York UniversityA fair duel is a mathematical abstraction that seeks infinite binary sequences which are highly balanced in a certain universal sense. This talk will present the origin of this problem, how some classical sequences fare as attempts to solve it, and the current best solution that is inspired by a signal processing algorithm.

      Mathematics Senior Project Prospectus Talks

      October 28
      RKC 111

      Ben Selfridge
      4:45

      Lexi Carver
      5:00

      Nathan Smith
      5:15

      Zhexiu Tu
      5:30

      Diana Khaburzaniya
      5:45

      Mathematics Senior Project Prospectus Talks

      October 26
      RKC 111

      Lionel Barrow
      4:45

      Alexandros Fragkopoulus
      5:00

      Jules Moreau
      5:15

      Greg Backus
      5:30

      Madeleine Schatzberg
      5:45

      Mirror Symmetry Through Polytopes

      October 21
      RKC 111

      A lecture by
      Ursula Whitcher
      Harvey Mudd College
      The mathematical field of mirror symmetry was inspired by an observation made by string theorists: different candidates for the shape of the extra dimensions of the universe yield the same observable physics.  We will describe pairs of "mirror" universes using geometric figures such as polygons, polyhedra, and their higher-dimensional analogues, polytopes.

      Science on the Edge - Paradigm Lost: Is Relatedness Really Essential to Animal Cooperation?

      October 19
      Reem-Kayden Center Laszlo Z. Bito '60 Auditorium

      A lecture by
      Philip Johns
      Biology ProgramOne of the most elegant ideas in evolution is the notion that organisms cooperate with relatives because relatives share genes. Mutations that lead to relatives cooperating can spread through populations even if the altruistic individuals do not themselves leave offspring. This process is called kin selection. It is difficult to overstate how influential this idea has been over the last half century.  But in the last 15 years modern genetics revealed that some of the most impressive examples of animal cooperation -- eusocial insects with sterile working castes -- involve animals that are not necessarily closely related. In fact, in some groups, cooperating animals may be unrelated.  In August, Martin Nowak, Corina Tarnita, and Edward Wilson published a model explaining how relatedness, per se, is not necessary for the evolution of eusociality.  This paper is enormously controversial.  Fifty prominent scientists have reportedly signed a letter protesting its publication in Nature.  In this talk, we discuss the elements of the model and why it is so controversial.  


      Mathematics Senior Project Prospectus Talks

      October 19
      RKC 111

      Julia Bennett
      4:45

      Jackie Stone
      5:00

      Travis McGrath
      5:15

      Adam Chodoff
      5:30

      Anastassia Etropolski
      5:45

      Specialization Theorems in Number Theory

      October 7
      RKC 111

      A lecture by
      John Cullinan
      Mathematics Program
      Given a polynomial in two variables F(x,t), if we substitute a constant for t then we are left with a one-variable polynomial. This is called a specialization of F(x,t). What algebraic or number-theoretic information about F(x,t) can be deduced from its specializations? Using simple examples as motivation, we'll discuss irreducibility and Galois properties of polynomials. These examples will allow us to state some of the deepest conjectures in number theory. Some exposure to abstract algebra will be helpful, but is not necessary.

      Catalan Numbers Everywhere

      September 30
      RKC 111

      A lecture by
      Sam Hsiao
      Mathematics Program

      The Catalan numbers, a famous sequence beginning with 1, 1, 2, 5, 14, 42, . . .
      (can you guess the pattern?), appear as the solution to a dizzying array of counting problems. I will discuss a few of the many different interpretations and uses of the Catalan numbers, including their connections to ballot counts and the drunkard's walk. While this talk will be elementary, familiarity with Taylor series will be helpful.

      Bard Summer Research Institute Poster Session

      September 23
      RKC lobby

      Science, Mathematics & Computing Division Ice Cream Social

      August 25
      RKC lobby

      Come to the Science, Mathematics & Computing Division
      ICE CREAM SOCIAL
      Stop by to ask questions about courses being offered or find out more about majoring in the programs.  Faculty members from each program will be there to answer questions.

      Senior Project Poster Session

      May 11
      Reem-Kayden Center

      Students presenting:Erik Badger
      Oni Banks
      Jacqueline Bow
      Alex Carlin
      Aleksandar Chakarov
      Cedric Cogell
      Joseph Corey
      Ivelina Darvenyashka
      Jyoti Dev
      Tessa Dowling
      Jacob Ezerski
      Sarah Farell
      Jonathan Fivelsdal
      Wui Ming Gan
      Jun Harada
      Xian He
      Sam Israel
      Nina Jankovic
      Liz Jimenez-Martinez
      Huaizhou Jin
      Emanuel Krantz
      Leah Ladner
      Shun-Yang Lee
      Hannah Liddy
      Jason Mastbaum
      Robert McNevin
      Alison Mutter
      David Polett
      Hannah Quay-de la Vallee
      Adrita Rahman
      Viriya Ratansangpunth
      Che Ruisi-Besares
      Dale Simmons
      Fang Song
      Petar Stojanov
      Corinna Troll
      Alexandru Vladoi
      Nicholas Wilton
      Yu Wu
      William Wylie
      Xinyuan Xu


      Climate in the Currents of History

      April 22
      Campus Center, Multipurpose Room

      A lecture by
      Mark A. Cane
      G. Unger Vetlesen Professor of Earth and Climate Sciences
      Professor of Applied Mathematics and Applied Physics
      Columbia University
      In this talk, we will take a tour of some of the impacts of climate variations on human history, beginning with the origins of agriculture in the Middle East. We will consider historical droughts in North America, especially the Dustbowl drought of the 1930s, and then examine the analogous but more severe droughts some seven centuries earlier and their possible role in the demise of the Anasazi. Ideas about the physical climate mechanisms responsible for these droughts will be presented. We will consider the modern and ongoing drought in the Sahel region of northern Africa, and its impact on Darfur, before taking up the projections of drought in the warming world ahead of us. Mark Cane is the G. Unger Vetlesen Professor of Earth and Climate Sciences in Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics at Columbia University, where he also holds joint appointment in the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) and serves as a member of the IRI's International Science and Technical Advisory Committee. With his colleague Dr. Stephen Zebiak, Mark devised the first numerical model able to simulate El Niño and the Southern Oscillation (ENSO), a pattern of interannual climate variability centered in the tropical Pacific but with global consequences. His current research is focused on the variations in the paleoclimate record, especially abrupt changes, and on the impact of climate variability on human activities, especially agriculture and health. 


      Yes-No Voting Systems

      April 20
      RKC 111

      A lecture by
      Bradley Forrest
      Stockton College

      We will explore Yes-No voting systems, systems where voters are choosing between only two options, for example when a bill or amendment is pitted against the status quo. Four specific real world Yes-No voting systems will be discussed: the UN Security Council, the European Economic Community (now the EU), the legislative branch of the U.S. Federal Government, and the procedure to amend the Canadian constitution. These voting systems highlight several interesting properties of Yes-No voting systems that we will investigate in detail.

      When Do You Hear an Airplane?

      March 4
      RKC 111

      A lecture by
      Matthew Deady
      Physics Program
      You hear an airplane passing overhead, you look for it and realize the sound is coming from a different place than where you see the plane. This is due to the fact that the speed of sound is much less than the speed of light. So, one could ask, when do you first hear a plane?

      Answering this question using simple calculus gives insights into wave propagation and reception, and a different way to understand the phenomenon of sonic booms. The physics and mathematics of sonic booms and related phenomena will be presented, including applications to the detection of particles in particle physics experiments.


      Y Chromosome Evolution: Why?

      March 2
      Reem-Kayden Center Laszlo Z. Bito '60 Auditorium

      A Science on the Edge lecture by
      Philip Johns
      Biology program
      The Y chromosome is the chromosome that determines the development of males in humans and most other mammals.  It is a small chromosome with very few genes. Evolutionary biologists have hypothesized the causes of its "degenerate" evolution.  One prediction of how Y chromosomes degenerate is that the genes on Y chromosomes should evolve slowly.  In a recent study titled, "Chimpanzee and human Y chromosomes are remarkably divergent in structure and gene content", Jennifer Hughes and her colleagues at MIT found that, contrary to expectations, genes on the Y chromosome have evolved incredibly quickly since humans and chimps diverged. We will discuss recent human evolution, how scientists have used the Y chromosome to make startling discoveries about humans in the past, and what the implications are that the Y chromosome is evolving as quickly as it is.

      The Role of the Large Hadron Collider in the Quest to Understand Matter

      February 25
      RKC 111

      A lecture by
      Jim Pivarski
      Texas A&M University
      The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is a 17-mile circumference circular accelerator, in which two beams of protons (which are “hadrons”) collide with each other at the highest energies ever achieved in a laboratory.  It has received more media attention than most physics projects -- why is this experiment important, and what is it for?  That question could be answered many different ways, but I will present it in the context of the central story of the quest to understand what matter is: from electromagnetism to quantum field theory, the Standard Model, the search for the Higgs boson, and super-symmetry (time permitting).  Equal weight will be given to theoretical motivations and experimental techniques.

      SESAME: An International Collaborative Science Project in the Middle East

      February 17
      Reem-Kayden Center Laszlo Z. Bito '60 Auditorium

      A lecture by
      Dr. Mukhles Sowwan
      Al Quds University

      In this talk I will speak about the international collaborative science project SESAME Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East. SESAME is being developed under the umbrella of UNESCO and is modeled closely on CERN. The first beam line will be operational in 2012. Several hundred scientists from the region and other parts of the world are expected to use this facility, which will cover disciplines ranging from archaeology to the medical sciences and nanotechnology. The members of SESAME are Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Palestinian Authority, Jordan, Pakistan, and Turkey. This makes SESAME a unique multidisciplinary center in this part of the world. In addition, I will talk about the Nanotechnology Research at Al-Quds University, and my views on science and politics, and international collaboration, in a volatile environment like the Middle East.

      CANCELED - The Women in our Lives: Lucy, Ardi and Human Evolution

      February 9
      Reem-Kayden Center Laszlo Z. Bito '60 Auditorium

      THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELED.
      A re-schedule date will be announced 
      A Science on the Edge lecture by

      William Maple
      Biology program
      Charles Darwin, Thomas Huxley and hundreds of biologists, paleontologists and anthropologists throughout the 19th and 20th centuries confronted the question of human origins without adequate fossil evidence. The similarity of apes and humans was clear but the links were missing. Even as more fossil, anatomical and biochemical evidence illuminated ape-human relationships, the mystery remained of accounting for the evolution of typical hominid bipedal locomotion from the knuckle-walking and arboreal locomotion of the African apes. The last 100 years of hominid fossil discoveries gradually pushed the age of our ancestry back to as much as 3+ million years (Australopithecus), but all were terrestrial bipeds. The discovery in the Ethiopian Afar Rift region of fragments (including a partial female skeleton) of a hominid now known as Ardipithecus ramidus clearly (at least to some) suggests a species that moved with both ape-like climbing and human-like bipedality. Recovery of other fossil vertebrates, invertebrates and plants in the same site clarified the ecological habitat as patchy forest.

      The elucidation of the place of Ardipithecus in hominid evolution was named breakthrough of the year by Science Magazine.