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Physics Colloquium


Fall 2016 Colloquium Schedule

Date Speaker Title Host
August 22 Kate Jones
UT Physics
Direct reaction experimental studies with beams of radioactive tin ions  
August 29 Shina Tan
Georgia Institute of Technology
Quantum behavior of extremely cold atoms Lucas Platter
September 5 Labor Day Holiday No Colloquium NA
September 12 Paul Steinhardt
Princeton University
TBD Nadia Fomin
September 19 Brian Fields
University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign
When stars attack! Near-Earth supernova explosion threat and evidence Raph Hix
September 26 James Lattimer
Stony Brook University
TBD Andrew Steiner
October 3 Chang Cen
West Virginia University
TBD Jian Liu
October 10 Joseph Silk
TBD Jirina Stone
October 17 Jaan Mannik
UT Physics
October 24 Suzanne Lapi
Washington University, St. Louis
TBD Kate Jones
October 31 Kate Scholberg
Duke University
TBD Nadia Fomin
November 7 Peter Winter
Argonne National Laboratory
TBD Lucas Platter
November 14 Collin Broholm
Johns Hopkins University
TBD Haidong Zhou
November 21 Wei Guo
Florida State University
TBD Mike Fitzsimmons
November 28 Ruxandra Dima
University of Cincinnati
TBD Jaan Mannik


August 22

Direct reaction experimental studies with beams of radioactive tin ions

Kate Jones, University of Tennessee Department of Physics and Astronomy

Just as atoms have a well-dened structure of orbits, atomic nuclei have a shell structure in which nuclei with "magic numbers" of neutrons and protons are analogous to the noble gases in atomic physics. Knowledge of the properties of single-particle states outside nuclear shell closures and aware from the valley of stability is important for a fundamental understanding of nuclear structure and nucleosynthesis. Over the past decades, nuclear physicists have vastly improved their abilities to fabricate and characterize short-lived nuclei with large imbalances of neutrons and protons. These rare isotopes, where rare can be dened as both, "not native to the place where they are found", and "strikingly, excitingly, or mysteriously dierent or unusual" [1] are created in primary reactions, or decays, and may then be ltered, and in some cases reaccelerated, to produce a Rare Ion Beam (RIB). Direct reaction techniques, such as transfer and knockout reactions, are powerful tools to study the single-particle nature of nuclei. Some of the most interesting regions to study with direct reactions are close to the magic numbers where changes in shell structure can be tracked. The tin chain of isotopes is a unique example, with the largest number of stable isotopes of any element, it stretches from doubly-magic 100Sn, through double-magic 132Sn and beyond, into the region of the astrophysical r-process path. Examples of direct reaction experiments with both neutron-rich and neutron-decient tin beams will be presented.
[1] Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

August 29

Quantum behavior of extremely cold atoms

Shina Tan, Georgia Institute of Technology

To our knowledge, by far the coldest places in the universe are on Earth. When atomic vapors are cooled to something like a billionth of a degree above absolute zero, things get simplified since the de Broglie wave lengths of atoms are now enormous, and atoms behave like point particles. Using the technique of Feshbach resonance, people can still make them interact with each other strongly. I will discuss some weird quantum behavior of these strongly interacting atoms, as well as some exact theoretical results.

September 19

When stars attack! Near-Earth supernova explosion threat and evidence

Brian Fields, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The most massive stars are the celebrities of the cosmos: they are rare, but live extravagantly and die in spectacular and violent supernova explosions. These awesome events take a sinister shade when they occur close to home, because an explosion very nearby would pose a grave threat to Earthlings. We will discuss these cosmic insults to life, and ways to determine whether a supernova occurred nearby over the course of the Earth's existence. We will present evidence that one or more stars exploded near the Earth about 3 million years ago. Radioactive iron atoms have been found globally in deep-ocean material, and very recently reported in lunar samples as well. These are supernova debris, transported to the Earth as a "radioactive rain." With these data, for the first time we can use sea sediments and lunar cores as telescopes, probing the nuclear fires that power exploding stars and possibly even indicating the direction towards the event(s). Furthermore, an explosion so close was probably a "near-miss" that exposed the biosphere to intense and possibly harmful ionizing radiation.

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