Implications for the fate of technological civilizations, including our own
Departmental Colloquium : Violent Events in Rocky Planetary Systems, Ben Zuckerman, Research Professor and EmeritusWhen: Thursday, March 5, 2015 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm Where: Physics Auditorium (Rm. 202)
Special : Search For Extraterrestrial Intelligence and Why It Will Fail, Ben Zuckerman, Research Professor and EmeritusWhen: Wednesday, March 4, 2015 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm Where: Physics Auditorium (Rm. 202)
In recent years astronomers have discovered that essentially all stars are orbited by planets, thus raising the hopes of many persons that life and even technological life is common in our Milky Way galaxy and will soon be found. Notwithstanding the existence of so many planets, we present reasons why technological life is a very rare phenomenon and thus will be very difficult to discover.
Departmental Colloquium : Computer Simulation Studies of Polymer Adsorption and Aggregation - From Flexible to Stiff, Prof. Wolfhard JankeWhen: Thursday, February 26, 2015 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm Where: Physics Auditorium (Rm. 202)
An overview is given on recent computer simulation studies of polymer adsorption and aggregation using generic coarse-grained models. The simulations are performed with Monte Carlo methods in generalized ensembles (multicanonical and parallel tempering) and analyzed from a canonical and microcanonical view. As examples polymer chains interacting with a flat patterned surface or being confined in a spherical cage will be discussed. Of particular interest is the scaling behavior of conformational transitions in dependence of the polymer's bending stiffness. Bending stiffness also plays a key role for semiflexible polymer aggregation. Our results show that this is the distinguishing parameter that controls whether amorphous aggregates or twisted bundle-like motifs are formed.
Departmental Colloquium : Research on Transfer and Implications for Learning and Problem Solving, Dr. Sanjay RebelloWhen: Thursday, January 22, 2015 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm Where: Physics Auditorium (Rm. 202)
Transfer of learning is often described as the overaching goal of education. I will provide a broad overview how the theoretical perspectives on transfer of learning have evolved over time and delve deeper one perspective of transfer that has served as an overaching framework for some of the projects in our reasearch group over the past few years. In particular I will discuss projects that utilize this perspective to facilitate problem solving. One of these projects focuses on facilitating transfer of mathematical integration to problem solving in a calculus-based physics course for future engineers. The other focuses on the use of visual cueing to facilitate learning and problem solving. I will discuss how these interdisciplinary efforts have advanced our knowledge of how students learn and solve problems in STEM disciplines.
Departmental Colloquium : Are the Parameters of the Standard Model fine-tuned for Carbon-based Life?, Prof. Dean LeeWhen: Thursday, December 4, 2014 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm Where: Physics Auditorium (Rm. 202)
I discuss some recent results obtained using ab initio lattice simulations of effective field theory to probe nuclear structure. I present recent lattice calculations of the Hoyle state of 12C and whether or not light quark masses must be fine-tuned for the viability of carbon-based life.