Spring 2010 Physics Colloquium

Unless otherwise noted, lunch is served 15 minutes before each colloquium.  Colloquium schedules from other semesters can be found at the *Colloquium Archive*.

Tuesday, Feb. 2, 12:05pm
Dr. Ben Vollmayr-Lee - Bucknell University, Physics & Astronomy Department
Title: "Quantum Mechancis for Classical Particles" - For systems of many particles at temperatures well above absolute zero the effects quantum mechanics are usually negligible.  Therefore we are allowed to construct classical models to study the collective behavior of these many-particle systems. However, for a certain class of problems, namely reaction-diffusion systems, it proves useful to recast the classical dynamics in terms of a state vector and operator formalism.  This is surprising, since state vectors and operators are the mathematical foundation for quantum mechanics, so we have introduced quantum mechanics to solve a classical problem!  In this talk, he will step through the mapping from classical to quantum and then show what we have gained from the mapping. - Tome 115

Tuesday, Feb. 16, 12:05pm - THIS TALK HAS BEEN CANCELLED
Dr. Frank Winkler - Middlebury College
Title TBA -

Tuesday, March 2, 12:05pm
Charles Blue ('87) - Thirty Meter Telescope Project
Title: "The Thirty Meter Telescope" Astronomy's Next-generation Observatory

Abstract: The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) will be the world's most advanced and capable ground-based optical, near-infrared, and mid-infrared observatory.  It will integrate the latest innovations in precision control, segmented mirror design, and adaptive optics to correct for the blurring effects of Earth's atmosphere.  When construction is completed in 2018, the TMT will begin driving new discoveries with other next-generation observatories.

Tuesday, March 23, 12:05 pm  - Tome 115
Veronica Antocheviz Dexheimer - Department of Physics, Gettysburg College
Title: "Quark Stars"

Abstract: She will discuss the physics of pulsars, what we know about them and what are the open questions.  As the densest objects in the universe they provide essential information about particle physics at extreme conditions which are impossible to achieve using conventional particle accelerators.  At such high densities, particles such as neutrons and protons can be dissolved into their constituents, the quarks.  She will introduce a model which describes the interior of neutron stars and focus on the transition from nuclear to quark matter.

Tuesday, April 6, 12:05 pm  - LOCATION CHANGE: Rector's Stafford Lecture Rm - Stuart 1104
Michael E. Mickelson - Professor Emeritus, Physics & Astronomy, Denison University
Title: "Archaeoastronomy Method: Uncovering Ancient Sky Knowledge"

Abstract: The writer, John White, writes on the dust cover of Gerald Hawkins' Stonehenge Decoded: "On the Salisbury Plain in southern England stands an awesome arrangement of stones that has been the subject of countless studies, poems, and legends dating back beyond the days of King Arthur and his court.  What did this somber group of stones signify to its architects? Was it a city of the dead? A Druid alter of sacrifice? A temple to the sun? It took the 20th Century, an astronomer, and computer techniques to unravel the ancient mystery".

The assumption that ancient sky knowledge might be encoded in ancients' artifacts and architecture has advanced from the early work of Sir Norman Lockyer's attempted determination of the date of construction of Stonehenge based on the presumed solar alignment of the "heel stone" and certain other astronomical considerations.  Hawkins' study of Stonehenge and similar investigations were termed Astro-Archaeology.  Today, the field of Archaeoastronomy integrates astronomy, archaeology, ethnology, and culture.  Together, these studies help us to probe the sky knowledge of ancient peoples and perhaps the way it fits into the fabric of their culture.  This presentation describes the techniques used to investigate hypotheses that certain sites contain astronomical information and some results of work undertaken by a few hardy Denison students.

Monday, April 19, 4:30pm
Senior Research Talks!

Zachary Carson - "Quantum Optics: Hardy's Test of Local Realism"
Stemming from the Theory of Relativity, Locality is the notion that cause-effect relations are limited by the speed of light.  Realism is the highly intuitive notion that an object's attributes are well-defined even if we aren't looking.  These two notions, together known as Local Realism, have been tested in a variety of ways.  He will present results of an implementationof Hardy's Test of Local Realism, which the departments plan to incorporate into the Quantum Mechanics curriculum next fall.  The results of this test are to highlight the bizarre nature of the quantum mechanical world.

Eric Dornbush - "A Comparative Study: Using Aperture Photometry to Detect Evolutions of V723 Cas"
V723 Cas is a classical nova that may be a progenitor of a type 1a supernova.  These spectacular stellar explosions are useful tools in determining the distance to other galaxies.  Through the process of image correction and aperture photometry, one can analyze the light collected from V723 Cas.  By comparing observations with students previously working on the same project, he wishes to detect any evolution of V723 Cas and furthermore determine the possibility of a type 1a supernova.

Tuesday, April 20, 12:05pm
Senior Research Talks!

Kelly Maurer - "The Search for Exosolar Planetary Transits with the Britton Telescope"
In the last decade, over four hundred exosolar planets have been discovered.  Roughly 70 have been observed through photometric analysis in the last half decade.  This presentation will outline the procedure for taking images of a star with a transiting planet and the reduction and photometric processes done to the images.  Throughout the year, images were taken of several stars, both in Carlisle and in Arizona with the NURO program at the Lowell Observatory.  By comparing the data, we will see what factors come into play in observing transits and whether or not such observations can be made here in Carlisle with the Michael Britton Observatory.

Sam Wheeler - "Backwards- Wave Phenomena in a Nonlinear Electrical Lattice"
We have set up a nonlinear LC lattice to study properties of nonlinear waveforms as they propagate through it.  We study the experimental parameters for which we can achieve a soliton traveling through the lattice.  We also look at the unit cell of the lattice to determine why the lattice is nonlinear in the first  place and then see what the implications of this when the lattice of these cells is arranged in 1-D.

Thursday, April 22, 12:05pm
Senior Research Talks!

Dan Barnak - "Hall Thruster Performance and Anode Position"
In current Hall thruster literature, the position of the anode ring responsible for providing an electrical contact for the electrons in the acceleration channel is not very critical in the performance of the Hall thruster.  Using the movable anode feature of the Dickinson College Hall Thruster, we will be able to conclude whether these assertions are valid.  There will also be a brief discussion of other phenomena that were encountered while exploring a relatively unexplored area of plasma thruster physics.

Mara Anderson - "Rainbows in Space: The SBIG ST8 Spectrograph"
Her research began with a review of how a spectrograph works, as well as the operational software and what it allows us to accomplish.  Last semester concluded the process of preparing (focusing and aligning) the spectrograph.  This semester she dove into the actual mounting and initialization of the spectrograph, including taking sample data sets for comparative analysis.

Tuesday, April 26, 4:30pm
Dickinson Science Student Research Symposium (Rector Science  Complex Atrium)
This event will feature approximately sixty students research posters and light hors d'oeuvres.

Thursday, May 6, 12:05pm
New Major Induction Ceremony

Come and meet the newest members of the Department!
Stephanie Conant, Greg Lawrence, Ilia Papa, Miguel Rodriguez, Marc Koehler, M.D. Lifschitz, Trevor McCarthy, Joseph Stormes, Josh Margolis, John Nichols, Charles Alcorn, Travis Brown.