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Applied Physics / Physics Colloquium

Applied Physics/Physics Colloquium: Laser-driven Shock Waves: From Cosmic-ray Physics to Medical Applications

Topic: 
Laser-driven Shock Waves: From Cosmic-ray Physics to Medical Applications
Abstract / Description: 

Shock waves are ubiquitous in astrophysical environments and are tightly connected with magnetic-field amplification and particle acceleration. The fast progress in high-power laser technology is bringing the study of high Mach number shocks into the realm of laboratory plasmas, where in situ measurements can be made helping us understand the fundamental kinetic processes behind shocks. I will discuss the recent progress in laser-driven shock experiments at state-of-the-art facilities like NIF and Omega and the important role that ab initio massively parallel simulations are playing in the design of these experiments and in our understanding of the plasma microphysics involved in particle acceleration and radiation emission. Finally, I will show that by controlling the laser and plasma conditions it is possible to explore different particle acceleration mechanisms, from Fermi-like processes, which are relevant in astrophysics, to the generation of high-quality ion beams for radiotherapy.


 

Held Tuesdays at 4:15 pm, in the William R. Hewlett Teaching Center, room 200 (see map). Refreshments in the lobby of Varian Physics at 4:00 pm.


Autumn 2014/15, Committee: A. Linde (Chair), L. Hollberg, B. Macintosh & Young Lee

Date and Time: 
Tuesday, February 24, 2015 - 4:15pm to 5:15pm
Venue: 
Hewlett 200

Applied Physics/Physics Colloquium: Strong Photon-Photon Interactions

Topic: 
Strong Photon-Photon Interactions
Abstract / Description: 

Photons are boring: they all move at one speed and do not interact with one another. I will present an unusual optical medium that is nonlinear at the quantum scale: In this medium, photons travel slowly, acquire mass, and exhibit strong mutual attraction, so strong that two photons can even form a two-body bound state. The medium can also be made to transmit one, but absorb two photons. This and other progress in the field enables novel quantum optical devices, such as a strongly interacting quantum gas of photons, an optical transistor gated by just one photon, or a device that can detect and count optical photons without destroying them.


 

Held Tuesdays at 4:15 pm, in the William R. Hewlett Teaching Center, room 200 (see map). Refreshments in the lobby of Varian Physics at 4:00 pm.

Autumn 2014/15, Committee: A. Linde (Chair), L. Hollberg, B. Macintosh & Young Lee

Date and Time: 
Tuesday, February 17, 2015 - 4:15pm to 5:15pm
Venue: 
Hewlett 200

Applied Physics/Physics Colloquium: Causal Entropic Forces

Topic: 
Causal Entropic Forces
Abstract / Description: 

Recent advances in fields ranging from cosmology to computer science have hinted at a possible deep connection between intelligence and entropy maximization, but no formal physical relationship between them has yet been established. In this talk, we present recent advances toward such a relationship in the form of a causal generalization of entropic forces that we find can cause a variety of rich cognitive adaptive behaviors -- including the passing of multiple animal intelligence tests, human game playing, and profitable financial trading -- to spontaneously emerge in simple physical and digital systems. Our results suggest a potentially general thermodynamic model of adaptive behavior as a nonequilibrium process in open systems.


 

Held Tuesdays at 4:15 pm, in the William R. Hewlett Teaching Center, room 200 (see map). Refreshments in the lobby of Varian Physics at 4:00 pm.

Autumn 2014/15, Committee: A. Linde (Chair), L. Hollberg, B. Macintosh & Young Lee

Date and Time: 
Tuesday, February 10, 2015 - 4:15pm to 5:15pm
Venue: 
Hewlett 200

Applied Physics/Physics Colloquium: Atmospheres of Extrasolar Planets in the Super-Earth Era

Topic: 
Atmospheres of Extrasolar Planets in the Super-Earth Era
Abstract / Description: 

Ongoing surveys of nearby stars have revealed an amazing diversity of planetary systems, many of which have characteristics that differ substantially from those of the solar system planets. Perhaps one of the biggest surprises to come out of these surveys was the discovery that "super-Earths" (planets between 1-10 times the mass of the Earth) are in fact the most common type of extrasolar planet. Despite the name we actually know very little about the compositions of these mysterious planets, and it has been suggested that this mass range may include both "water worlds" and "mini-Neptunes" with thick hydrogen envelopes in addition to more Earth-like terrestrial planets. In my talk I will explore current constraints on the compositions of planets with masses ranging from that of Neptune down into the super-Earth regime, and discuss the corresponding implications for our understanding of planet formation and evolution.

Date and Time: 
Tuesday, January 20, 2015 - 4:00pm to 5:15pm
Venue: 
Hewlett 200

Applied Physics/Physics Colloquium: When Exactly Do Quantum Computers Provide a Speedup?

Topic: 
When Exactly Do Quantum Computers Provide a Speedup?
Abstract / Description: 

Twenty years after the discovery of Shor's factoring algorithm, I'll survey what we now understand about the structure of problems that admit quantum speedups. I'll start with the basics, discussing the hidden subgroup, amplitude amplification, adiabatic, and linear systems paradigms for quantum algorithms. Then I'll move on to some general results, obtained by Andris Ambainis and myself over the last few years, about quantum speedups in the black-box model. These results include the impossibility of a superpolynomial quantum speedup for any problem with permutation symmetry, and the largest possible separation between classical and quantum query complexities for any problem.


 

Held Tuesdays at 4:15 pm, in the William R. Hewlett Teaching Center, room 200 (see map). Refreshments in the lobby of Varian Physics at 4:00 pm.

Autumn 2014/15, Committee: A. Linde (Chair), L. Hollberg, B. Macintosh & Young Lee

Date and Time: 
Tuesday, January 27, 2015 - 4:15pm to 5:15pm
Venue: 
Hewlett 201

Applied Physics/Physics Colloquium: Violin Science

Topic: 
Violin Science, Can Stradivari’s Sound be Measured?
Abstract / Description: 

A longstanding goal of violin research has been to establish objectively measurable parameters for violin quality. Doing so would presumably substantiate one of the violin world's most passionately held beliefs: Violins made by Stradivari and his contemporaries in 18th Century Italy sound better than any made elsewhere or since. Over the past five years, a team of researchers led by Claudia Fritz and Joseph Curtin have shown that under double-blind conditions neither professional violinists nor experienced listeners can tell Old Italian violins from new ones at better than chance levels. Moreover, both players and listeners tend to prefer new instruments. Violin-maker, researcher, and 2005 MacArthur Fellow Joseph Curtin will discuss recent developments in violin science and his own interest in measuring violin sound. He will also preview the team's upcoming paper: "Objective parameters for violin quality."


 

Held Tuesdays at 4:15 pm, in the William R. Hewlett Teaching Center, room 200 (see map). Refreshments in the lobby of Varian Physics at 4:00 pm.

Autumn 2014/15, Committee: A. Linde (Chair), L. Hollberg, B. Macintosh & Young Lee

Date and Time: 
Tuesday, February 3, 2015 - 4:15pm to 5:15pm
Venue: 
Hewlett 200

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