Physics

News & Events

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: Campus Center, Weis Cinema
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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Seating Arrangements, Domino Tilings, and Graph Factorials

Amir Barghi, Mathematics Program

At a dinner party, each guest is assigned a seat along a long table, which seats 12 people. However, when all guests arrive, they decide to change things a little up by swapping seats. In order to minimize the amount of chaos, they have to follow the following three rules: a guest can keep their seat; two guests sitting next to each other or across the table can swap seats; three or more guests can swap seats in a cyclic
fashion, provided that each person is moving one seat to the left or to the right or across the table. Assuming that all guests have showed up, how many possible seating rearrangements are there? Now consider the graph on the left. We want to place dominoes along some of the edges of this graph so that each vertex is covered by exactly one domino. We call any such placement of dominoes a domino tiling. How many domino tilings of this graph exits?

In this talk, we will explore the connection between these two problems by defining what the factorial of a graph is.

Prerequisites: A familiarity with graphs and counting arguments is a plus, but not
required.
Time: 4:45 pm
Location: Hegeman 308
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Friday, April 28, 2017

Next-generation Atomic Clocks:
Harnessing Quantum Matter to Study Gravity and Search for Dark Matter

Edward MartiJoint Institute for Laboratory AstrophysicsUniversity of Colorado 

The accuracy of atomic clocks has improved a thousandfold over the last 15 years. The latest generation of atomic clocks, called "optical lattice clocks", can detect changes in general relativity's gravitational redshift over a few centimers. These clocks use extremely stable lasers to count the "ticks" of an optical-frequency transition in atoms cooled to the nanokelvin regime, reaching 18 digits of accuracy in a few hours. In this talk, I will discuss how we achieve this accuracy through exquisite control of the quantum mechanical state of these ultracold atoms, and how we are using these clocks to search for dark matter and test relativity.
Time: 12:00 pm
Location: Hegeman 107
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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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Monday, May 8, 2017

American Studies Open House

An open event for all students with an interest in American Studies

Come meet the faculty and students of the American Studies program! Enjoy some free food, hear about upcoming fall courses, and celebrate seniors who have just turned in their projects. 
Time: 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
Location: Hopson Cottage
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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 12, 2017

Galactic Exploration with Invisible Light

Daniel Marlow, Princeton University

Radio astronomy has greatly enhanced the range of observable astronomical phenomena.  Although a wide range of wavelengths are used in radio astronomy, one of the most important is 21 cm, which corresponds to the hyperfine transition in atomic hydrogen.   Although the 21 cm signal from a small collection of hydrogen atoms is exceedingly weak, and the density of hydrogen in the Milky Way is very low, the Galaxy is a big place and contains enough hydrogen to produce a signal that can be detected with a modest terrestrial apparatus.    In this talk, I will present results obtained at 21 cm with a recently refurbished cold-war-era 60-foot dish antenna.   Data from the dish will be used to measure the Sun's velocity with respect to the average velocity of nearby stars and to infer the existence of dark matter.    Time permitting, pulsar signals will be presented and schematic plans for a kit capable of detecting indirect evidence for dark matter for costing less than $1000 will be presented.
Time: 12:00 pm
Location: Hegeman 107
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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Senior Project Poster Session

Join Science, Mathematics & Computer graduating seniors in presenting their senior projects.
Time: 6:30 pm
Location: Reem-Kayden Center
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Friday, May 19, 2017

Marco Spodek senior recital


Time: 8:00 pm
Location: Blum Hall
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Past Events

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    • 2017

      ​The Higgs Boson:  What, How, and Why We Care​

      April 7
      Hegeman 107

      In the summer of 2012, two teams of scientists working on the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland announced that they had discovered the long-awaited Higgs Boson.  What is this particle?  Why do physicists think is it so important?  How was it predicted?  How was it discovered?  What are the implications to our understanding of matter, energy, and the universe?  These and other questions will be addressed as we investigate the fundamental particles and forces that underlie all physical phenomena, culminating in the Higgs discovery and consideration of what might be beyond.

      Visualizing Quantum Gravity:
      A pictorial introduction to causal dynamical triangulations

      March 10
      Hegeman 107

      Quantum gravity is the much sought-after synthesis of quantum mechanics and general relativity, the two pillars of contemporary physics. I will deliver an accessible introduction to the promising approach to quantum gravity called causal dynamical triangulations. Founding my presentation on the quantum mechanics of a particle, I will build an intuitive conception of the quantum mechanics of spacetime. I will survey the key results deriving from causal dynamical triangulations and broach the key question facing causal dynamical triangulations.

       

      Big Planets from Small Telescopes:
      What We’re Learning About Exoplanets and How Small Observatories Are Making It Possible

      March 3
      Hegeman 107

      Since the discovery of the first extrasolar planet a little more than 20 years ago, the list of known planets orbiting other stars has grown to more than 3,000—but we are still in the early stages of understanding the diversity of other planetary systems.  A key part of this understanding has come from studies of planets that eclipse (or “transit”) their host stars as seen from Earth.   I will explain how studies of these planets allow us to determine their radii, masses, mean densities, atmospheric composition, and the angle at which they orbit relative to the parent star’s equator, all without being able to image the planets directly.  Small telescopes (with primary mirror diameters of 0.3–1 meter) play an important role in the larger “ecosystem” of telescopes that discover and characterize these planets, and such telescopes have been instrumental in the recent discoveries of planets around very bright stars that are much hotter than the Sun, and in the just-announced discovery of seven Earth-radius planets around the ultra-cool dwarf star Trappist-1.

      Hunting the Brightest Galaxies in the Universe

      February 24
      Hegeman 107

      I’ll give an overview of observing at the 50-m Large Millimeter Telescope and will focus on the latest results on distant, dusty, massive starburst galaxies in the early universe.  Studying distant galaxies lets us peer billions of years back in time, well over halfway back to the Big Bang, to learn how galaxies form and evolve.  New infra-red and millimeter-wave images and spectra from the Planck and Herschel satellites and from the LMT have helped identify the most luminous galaxies yet known, thousands of times brighter than our own Milky Way, and churning gas into new stars at a furious rate.  Many are also strongly gravitationally lensed, their images warped and amplified by intervening massive galaxies, which lets us see more detail on fainter galaxies than usual.  Hubble Space Telescope’s sharp vision further enhances our view and can finally reveal what triggers such spectacular starburst activity. 

      Are You Interested in Pursuing a Career as a Health Professional?

      February 16
      Campus Center Lobby

      Join Zammy Diaz, IHN Communications Center, to learn why the one-year MS Program in Nutrition Science may be a great gap or glide year for you.

      Flying Boys, Defibrillated Chickens, and Death By Lightning: 
      A Brief History of Electricity and Magnetism

      February 3
      Hegeman 102

      The development of almost all modern technology relies on a firm understanding of the concepts of electricity and magnetism, and these concepts are at the heart of fundamental explanations of most physical phenomena. The historical evolution of these concepts traces back thousands of years and took a number of surprising, unorthodox, and occasionally tragic turns before the rules governing electricity and magnetism were codified. In this talk, intended for a general audience, I'll review some of the key experiments and insights of past centuries that led to our present theories.

      Physics Program Social and Lunch to Follow