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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    • 2017

      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