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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  • 2011
  • 2010
  • 2009
  • 2008

    • 2015

      Exploring Coherent Interaction of Light with Matter for Applications in Quantum Communication and Sensing

      December 17
      Hegeman 107

      An Informational Approach to Identical Particles in Quantum Theory

      December 11
      Hegeman 107

      A remarkable feature of quantum theory is that identical particles must be treated as indistinguishable if the theory is to give valid predictions. In the quantum formalism, indistinguishability is expressed via the symmetrization postulate, which restricts a system of identical particles to the set of symmetric states (`bosons') or the set of antisymmetric states (`fermions’).

      However, the precise connection between particle indistinguishability and the symmetrization postulate has not been clearly established. For example, a widely influential topological approach to identical particles implies that their behavior depends on the dimensionality of space, and that they generically exhibit so-called anyonic behavior in two dimensions.  

      In this talk, we show that the symmetrization postulate can be derived on the basis of a simple novel postulate. The key to the derivation is a strictly informational treatment of indistinguishability which prohibits the labeling of particles that cannot be experimentally distinguished from one another. The derivation implies that the symmetrization postulate admits no natural variants. In particular, the possibility that identical particles generically exhibit anyonic behaviour is excluded.

      ​Journal Reference: "Informational Approach to Identical Particles in Quantum Theory", New J. Phys. 17 (2015) 013043

      Senior Project Poster Session

      December 10
      Reem-Kayden Center

      Pre-Health Professions 101: 
      How to Prepare

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

      Professor Frank Scalzo will introduce the pathways leading to post-baccalaureate degrees in the health professions including, traditional medicine, allopathic medicine, osteopathic medicine, veterinary medicine, dentistry, optometry, etc. etc. The discussion will be tailored to the interests of the audience. If you are interested in a health profession, you should attend this discussion.  
       
      For more information, please contact Professor Frank Scalzo at scalzo@bard.edu.

      How Undergraduate Research Experiences Impact Students’ Participation in Physics

      November 20
      Hegeman 107

      Physics Education Research (PER) is a rich field which studies how students learn physics as well as how to support better teaching and learning. In my work, I develop innovative learning spaces that integrate authentic physics practices, student collaboration, and an inclusive community. Within these spaces, I qualitatively study identity, how students recognize themselves and are recognized by others as able to participate in physics.  In this talk, I will first present a brief overview of the field of Physics Education Research. I will then present research on an undergraduate freshman seminar that I have co-developed in which students worked with faculty and graduate student research mentors on research projects.  In videotaped classroom data and interviews, students described ways in which their research experiences were different from their expectations. Students tie an improved sense of competence in research to a better understanding of who does physics and how physics research works.  This work sheds light on mechanisms by which research experiences may positively impact students’ identity development in physics.
       

      Sound Cluster meeting

      November 19
      Arendt Center

      Monthly meeting of faculty interested in the practice or critical analysis of sound, sound technologies, soundscapes, listening.

      Hidden Momentum

      November 13
      Hegeman 107

      Electromagnetic fields carry energy, momentum, and even angular momentum. The momentum density is ∊0 (E x B), and it accounts (among other things) for the pressure of light. But even static fields can harbor momentum, and this would appear to contradict a general theorem: if the center of energy of a closed system is at rest, then its total momentum must be zero. Evidently in such cases there lurks some other  momentum, not electromagnetic in nature, which cancels the field momentum. But finding  this “hidden momentum” can be surprisingly subtle. I’ll discuss a particularly nice example.


      Engineering the Quantum World

      November 2
      RKC 102

      Understanding of microscopic phenomena has progressed significantly since the dawn of quantum theory. Many scientists are engineering tools to design a quantum world that is more suitable to their interests, rather than work with what nature provides them. Engineering the quantum states of light and atoms allows scientists to probe issues of fundamental physics and develop useful technology. I will discuss my experience working in this field, often called quantum information science. I will cover the preparation and measurement of atomic states, as well as using a non-linear process called four-wave mixing to prepare interesting states of light and atoms.

      Optofluidics: The Marriage of Microfluidics with Integrated Optics

      October 30
      Hegaman 107

      In recent years, the integration of microfluidic and micro-optical elements onto monolithic platforms has led to the term “optofluidics”. In particular, the use of integrated waveguides for sensing in microfluidic devices miniaturizes light delivery and detection while reducing the need for bulky instrumentation, the complication of alignment errors and sensitivity to mechanical vibrations.  In addition, the exploitation of the optical properties of fluids has the potential to revolutionize sensing and telecommunications by enabling reconfigurable light sources, light delivery, controls and switches.  This talk will present the design, fabrication and characterization of two optofluidic devices. The first is a three-dimensional Mach-Zehnder interferometer providing label-free, spatially-resolved sensing in a microfluidic channel.  The second is a parallel-geometry reconfigurable optofluidic switch.  Low-cost fabrication methods, such as embedding of fiber inside a polymer, as well as the more advanced technique of femtosecond laser micromachining (FLM) will be discussed.  Finally, the direction of future research will be summarized.

      Cosmic Strings

      October 23
      Hegeman 107

      Cosmic strings are a common (though not universal) prediction of grand unified theories, and may also arise from inflation in superstring theory.  If they exist, they will provide a window into fundamental physics at otherwise unreachable scales. Cosmic strings form a "network" of infinite strings and loops of all sizes.  To understand the possibility for observable signals, we determine the properties of this network by extrapolating from Large-scale numerical simulations and analyzing the emission of gravitational waves (which are both the most important signal and the most important energy-loss mechanism).

      The First Trillionth Second of the Universe

      October 19
      Hegeman 107

      For philosophical reasons, some scientists like Einstein preferred to picture a universe that's limitless in space and time. That view faded as evidence mounted for a titanic start—a Big Bang. Now, as we plumb the earliest picoseconds of that event, we are starting to realize—it may hint at a much, much bigger cosmic realm. 

      Capturing Neutrinos in the Act of Metamorphosis

      October 16
      Hegeman 107

      First hypothesized by Pauli in 1930, the elusive neutrino only interacts with matter via the Weak Force, making them exceedingly difficult to detect.  Eventually, very clever experiments indicated that there are actually three distinct types of neutrinos, that they might have small masses, and that they might change from one type into another in mid-flight.  The 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics recognizes Takaaki Kajita and Arthur B. McDonald for their measurements of these neutrino oscillations at the Super-Kamiokande neutrino detector near Tokyo and the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory in Ontario.  These results solve some mysteries – primarily the “solar neutrino problem” – but open new questions about the need to modify the Standard Model of particles and interactions.  In this talk, I will trace the theoretical and experimental history of the neutrino, with a focus on the detector designs at Super-K and SNO that allowed the oscillations to be measured, and speculate on the consequences of these results.

      Senior Prospectus Talks

      October 9
      Hegeman 107

      Max Schluter
      "Microphone Fidelity due to Material Properties"

      Jeremy Bannister
      "Searching for Knotted Solutions of Maxwell's Equations:  
Is There a Figure Eight Field?"

      Ryan O'Connell
      "Chaos in Electrical Circuits"

      Dan Gagne
      "Clocks on a Plane"


      Senior Prospectus Talks

      October 2
      Hegeman 107

      DJ Shoemaker
      “Sensation and Perception”

      Maya Weingrod Sandor
      “The Poleward Shift of Mid-latitude Storms”

      Henry Clark Travaglini
      “Hybrid Graphene: Finishing the Fight”


      The Physics Program Presents: Supermoon Eclipse Viewing

      September 27
      Ferrari Field

      Join with others to watch the last full lunar eclipse visible from Annandale until January, 2019, and the last eclipse of a near-to-earth supermoon until 2033. Learn about the physics of eclipses and the solar system, and see the craters of the moon magnified up to 400 times through a telescope as they dwell in the shadow of the Earth.

      Weather Permitting.



      Bard Summer Research Institute Poster Session

      September 24
      Reem-Kayden Center

      Summer Research Presentations

      September 18
      Hegeman 107

      Towards a semiclassical approximation of the Bell states
      
Quantum Gravity on the Mediterranean
      Centre de Physique Theorique, Marseille
      Liam Schramm
      To date, very little work has been done on semiclassical approximations of entanglement. We apply the WKB approximation to the Bell states and interpret the result.

      Study on the interaction between DNA and anticancer drugs by atomic force microscopy
      Jain Lab
      Bard College
      Tamaki Chiba
      Since the discovery of the anticancer activity of cisplatin, some platinum compounds have been clinically used as treatments for cancer. Cisplatin coordinates to DNA mainly through the N7 atoms of guanine or adenine because they do not form hydrogen bonds with any other DNA bases.  It is generally believed that when cisplatin interacts with DNA, it not only inhibits replication and transcription mechanism of DNA, but also leads to apoptosis.
          The structures of the DNA-cisplatin adducts have been studied by NMR and X-ray diffraction. However these methods focus on the average behavior of the investigated objects, but not at single molecular level. AH-197 is a potential chemotherapeutic agent modeled after cisplatin. There are a few studies that suggest AH-197 is a more efficient anticancer drug than cisplatin, however there are still many unknown aspects about high resolution structures of AH-197-DNA adducts. Atomic force microscopy(AFM) is a very useful technique to study biomolecules at the single molecule level. In this study, the interactions of tetrahymena DNA and metal compounds (cisplatin and AH-197) at different incubation time were investigated by AFM.

      Total Variational Method for Analysis of Hyperspectral Imagery
      Center for Photonics and Multiscale Nanomaterials
      UCLA Applied Math Department
      Victoria ChayesHyperspectral imagery is a burgeoning domain in the field of remote sensing; special sensors capture reflectance values for images at hundreds of different wavelengths per pixel. To analyze and classify this data, we pioneered a total variational method from image processing and adapted it for hyperspectral data. Initial results show extreme promise for increase in accuracy over existing methods.

      Can you go through the wall with the help of complex numbers?
      Quantum Gravity on the Mediterranean
      Centre de Physique Theorique, Marseille
      Zechen Zhang
      Quantum Mechanics has shown many exotic phenomenon that cannot be demonstrated by classical physics and tunneling is one of them. It allows you to go through a wall or bounce back from a well with a certain probability if you are at a quantum scale (usually very small). But, is classical mechanics really dead when it comes to tunneling processes? In this talk I will demonstrate some progress in demonstrating tunneling phenomenon with complex numbers in classical mechanics. Furthermore, with the Feynman Path Integral, I will show another perspective of this relationship between complex classical mechanics and tunneling phenomenon.   



      Summer Research Presentations

      September 11
      Hegeman 107

      Vanadium Dioxide Nanowire DevicesDong Yu GroupUniversity of California, DavisH. Clark Travaglini The recent development of nanowire devices as simple systems has reignited research in many difficult materials, including Vanadium Dioxide. In this talk, we will discuss the  justification and fabrication of these novel devices, as well as new measurement techniques that have pushed us into new regimes within condensed matter physics at large.

      Quantum Hall Effect in Hybrid GrapheneBard Nano LabBard CollegeMax Meynig & Maya Weingrod SandorGraphene is a two-dimensional carbon allotrope where the classical Hall effect exhibits a quantization of available electronic states in the material, leading to ballistic, zero resistance, conduction. This phenomenon is known as the quantum Hall effect (QHE) and requires strong magnetic fields and very low temperatures for its observation. We constructed samples of graphene on boron nitrite and observed their Quantum Hall effect at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory. 

      Post-Graduate Scholarships and Fellowships Information Session

      September 4
      Olin 102

      Interested in applying for a Fulbright Scholarship, a Watson fellowship, or another postgraduate scholarship or fellowship? This information session will cover application procedures, deadlines, and suggestions for crafting a successful application. Applications will be due later this month, so be sure to attend one of the  two information sessions!

      Post-Graduate Scholarships and Fellowships Information Session

      September 3
      RKC 103

      Interested in applying for a Fulbright Grant, a Watson Fellowship, or another postgraduate scholarship or fellowship? This information session will cover application procedures, deadlines, and suggestions for crafting a successful application. Applications will be due later this month, so be sure to attend one of these two sessions!

      Contemporary Physics in Black and White

      July 1 - September 13
      Reem-Kayden Center

      Senior Project Poster Session

      May 12
      Reem-Kayden Center

      Join the graduating seniors in the Science, Mathematics and Computing Division in presenting and celebrating their senior project work

      Galaxy Transformation in the Virgo Cluster

      May 8
      Hegeman 107

      Galaxies are large, self-gravitating collections of dark matter, gas, dust, and billions of stars. They are largely "islands," spending much of their time in relative isolation. When galaxies do interact with one another, they can be spectacularly transformed. In our galactic neighborhood, galaxies are fairly sparse and transformations are typically modest. However, in some special parts of the universe, galaxies are clustered much more closely. It is in these cluster environments where we can observe the evolution of galaxies most directly. The Virgo Cluster, being the nearest sizable cluster of galaxies to us, provides an ideal laboratory to study the effect of environment on galaxies. I will present results from several studies of galaxies in the Virgo cluster, showing both the immediate and long-term effect of environment on galaxy populations.

      Why Does Nature Like the Square Root of Negative One?

      April 24
      Hegeman 107

      Quantum mechanics is a probabilistic theory, but the way we compute probabilities in quantum mechanics is quite different from what one would expect from, say, rolling dice or tossing coins.  To get a quantum probability, we first compute a complex-valued probability amplitude and then square its magnitude.  I begin this talk by looking for a deeper explanation of the appearance of probability amplitudes, or “square roots of probability,” in the physical world.  It turns out that one can find a potential explanation—it is based on a principle of optimal information transfer—but the argument works only if the square roots are real rather than complex.  I then explore a particular theoretical model in which the probability amplitudes are taken to be real and the usual complex phase factor is replaced by a binary quantum variable.  One finds that the model leads to a one-parameter generalization of standard quantum theory.    

      Are Exotic Spacetimes Possible?

      April 20
      RKC 115

      Spacetimes with exotic phenomena such as wormholes, time machines and superluminal travel are possible in the context of Einstein’s general relativity. This possibility of their existence has puzzled physicists for a long time, since they violate causality and create paradoxes. The issue that their existence requires negative energy has been solved by quantum field theory which allows negative energies, as in the case of the Casimir effect. However in the context of quantum field theory there are also restrictions on how negative the energy can be. These restrictions, quantum inequalities and energy conditions, may be the key to rule out exotic spacetimes. Recently there has been progress in proving energy conditions in a variety of spacetimes but there are still some open possibilities.

      Characterizing Nearby, Young Moving Groups

      April 17
      Hegeman 107

      Nearby, young moving groups are ideal testbeds for studying stellar and planetary evolution. By definition, stars in a given moving group should not have significantly different ages or compositions, therefore one can see how the cluster evolves as a function of mass.  Currently, moving groups are largely characterized based on youth indicators (e.g. lithium absorption, X-ray emission) and space velocities. In this talk, I will discuss recent results which more fully characterize moving groups based on (1) Chemical homogeneity, (2) Origin, and (3) Isochronal Age. These traits have been tested on the well established AB Doradus moving group and show that these methods provide a detailed picture of the moving group as well as identify intruders. I will also discuss the future of this technique on low mass members using high resolution infrared spectroscopy.



      Music and the Making of Modern Science

      April 10
      Hegeman 107

      Music has prepared and influenced developments in natural philosophy beginning with the Pythagoreans, who grouped arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy as sister sciences. This "four-fold way" (quadrivium) was for millenia the basis of higher education and deeply shaped the "new science." I will discuss three seminal figures whose scientific work, in different ways, was significantly affected by music. Johannes Kepler used new astronomical observations to find the song of the Earth; Isaac Newton tried to impose the musical octave on the spectrum; Max Planck spent a formative year experimenting with harmoniums and choruses before turning to the problem of black body radiation.

      Distinguished Scientist Scholarship Applications Now Being Accepted

      March 12 - April 3
      Reem-Kayden Center

      Distinguished Scientist Scholar (DSS) AwardGuidelines and Application Instructions All current students concentrating in biology, chemistry, computer science, mathematics or physics are eligible to apply for a Distinguished Scientist Scholar (DSS) Award. These awards are given to exceptional students who have distinguished themselves academically in one of the above-mentioned disciplines in the division of Science, Mathematics and Computing. The exact amount of each award is determined by the Financial Aid office, on average $5000 for each academic year, and includes the opportunity to apply for a summer research stipend to participate in NSF or NIH sponsored summer research programs at other institutions, if the student is not already eligible for federal funding. Like other science students at Bard, DSS recipients are also eligible for BSRI funding for summer research at Bard. Please note that this is a very competitive process and only a few awards will be given out each year. ·             Eligibility: To apply for a DSS award (commencing in the fall), a student must meet the following eligibility criteria:o   Concentrating in one of the following programs: Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Mathematics or Physics.o   Not currently receiving a DSS scholarship or award.o   Cumulative GPA of 3.0 overall in the college.o   Cumulative GPA of 3.5 in courses in the SM&C Division. ·             Application Procedure:o   Write a letter of request to the DSS Committee. The letter should discuss your plan of study in biology, chemistry, computer science, mathematics, and/or physics.o   Write an essay about an experience in science or math that you found particularly interesting.o   Ask two Bard faculty members to write you letters of recommendation. At least one of these faculty members must be in the SM&C Division. They should submit their letters directly to Megan Karcher.o   Submit this information as attachments via e-mail to the SM&C Division secretary, Megan Karcher (karcher@bard.edu) ·             Selection Criteria:  Awards will be granted to students showing exceptional qualifications in their areas of study and based upon the following:o   College academic records.o   Letters of recommendations from the faculty.o   A strong interest in working in biology, chemistry, computer science, mathematics, or physics.o   Availability of funds. ·             Deadline: Applications must be submitted no later than Friday, April 3rd, 2015. The DSS Committee will meet shortly after that, and will make recommendations to the Director of Financial Aid, who will determine the final awards. You should receive word of whether you have been selected to receive a DSS award by early May.  Questions?  Contact Robert McGrail, Chair of the Division of Science, Math and Computing, mcgrail@bard.edu.


      Dark Matter: All your questions answered...with more questions!

      February 20
      Hegeman 107

      Over the last 50+ years, we have definitively learned that the motions of galaxies and clusters and the curvature of light on cosmological scales cannot be explained solely by the gravitational attraction of the baryonic matter in the universe. The leading theory to explain this discrepancy proposes a particle that does not interact through the strong or electromagnetic interaction: dark matter. However, no definitive experimental evidence for this particle has been found. This talk will give an introductory overview of the experimental searches for dark matter with an emphasis on WIMP (Weakly Interacting Massive Particle) models.