Colloquia and Seminars
Colloquia and Seminars (Previous Years)
Physics and Astronomy Colloquium - Fall - 2013
(4-5 pm, Science Bldg. 127)
Teaching the physics of sports: Experiences of a nuclear physicist
Prof. Mike Lisa
The Ohio State University
Dr. Mike Lisa is Professor of Physics at The Ohio State University. He earned a Ph.D. at Michigan State University, performing research on intermediate energy nuclear reactions at the National Superconducting Cyclotron Lab (NSCL) and other labs. Since then, he has focused on higher energy collisions, in experiments at the AGS and RHIC facilities at Brookhaven National Lab, and at the LHC at CERN. His areas of expertise are collective flow studies in ultrarelativistic heavy ion collisions, experimental exploration of the QCD Equation of State, and femtoscopic probes using two particle intensity interferometry. He is co-author of over 200 journal publications, a Fellow of the American Physical Society and leads a group of typically several graduate students and a postdoctoral fellow in the STAR/RHIC and ALICE/LHC collaborations. More information may be found at http://www.physics.ohio-state.edu/~lisa/
Ohio State University offers a one-semester course on the Physics of Sports, which satisfies a GEC science requirement of all students. Scholarship athletes, business and liberal arts majors make up the majority of the ~80 students enrolled in the class, though interested sports enthusiasts from more technical fields join as well. The class is far from the "Physics for Poets" type of course that some expected, leading to some initial math- and science-anxiety. It is gratifying to watch this anxiety being slowly replaced by a self-confidence that they can, indeed, handle and enjoy a "real" mathematical science course. While the underlying physics lies of course squarely in the realm of classical mechanics and familiar topics must be covered, the course is unique-- not simply a standard classical mechanics class with sports examples. I will share some specific lessons learned and insights gained while designing and implementing this course over the past five years. This talk will relate the personal experiences of one professor teaching his first outreach course. This presentation is not a Physics Education Research talk.
Numerical Simulations in Astronomy based on the particle hydrodynamics - PDF
Dr. Seung-Hoon Cha
Texas A&M University-Commerce
Dr. Seung-Hoon Cha received his bachelor's and Master's degrees in Seoul National University (Korea), and completed his PhD. in Astronomy in Cardiff University (Wales, UK) in 2002. He spent several years in Universite de Montreal and University Leicester as a postdoc before joining the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Texas A$M University-Commerce in June, 2013 as a postdoc working with Dr. Matt Wood. His scientific background is numerical modeling of star and planet formation. Although, his main research tool is a particle hydrodynamics code, such as SPH (Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics), he is an expert in the finite difference method and numerical gravity solvers as well. At Texas A&M-Commerce, he is working with Prof. Matt A. Wood on numerical simulations of cataclysmic variables. As a byproduct of this project, Prof. Wood and Dr. Cha plan to make a public code based on the GodunovSPH. Dr. Cha can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Astrophysical phenomena are governed by partial differential equations, and have a huge dynamic range of physical properties in general. Eventually, numerical approaches are essential to get a more precise information in astronomy. Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics (SPH) is a fully multi-dimensional lagrangian method, so has been used in various fields of astronomy widely. However, several tests performed during last several years showed that SPH had a difficulty to handle a (high) contrast of density. We suggest that a new particle hydrodynamics scheme, GodunovSPH (GSPH) to overcome the problem. GSPH can solve several notorious problems of SPH, such as the side effects of the artificial viscosity and the numerical surface tension. Not only the numerical test results, but a mathematical frame to understand numerical schemes should be given as well. Furthermore, we have a plan to implement a public code of GSPH. A detailed blue print should be given in this presentation.
Integration of functional oxides and semiconductors - PDF
Prof. Alex Demkov
The University of Texas at Austin
Dr. Alexander Demkov is professor of physics at the University of Texas at Austin. He earned his Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Arizona State University. Demkov joined the Physics Department at the University of Texas in 2005, after nine years as a principal staff scientist in Motorola’s R&D organization, where he worked on the physics of nano-scale materials and devices, and on conduction mechanisms in nano-systems. He has made significant contributions to the understanding of the physics of high dielectric constant materials, i.e., transitional metal oxides including perovskites, and their interfaces with semiconductors and metals. In his university research, Demkov has continued pursuing applied research on materials for advanced CMOS technology. Currently his primary research interest is focused on the physics of oxides, oxide heterostructures and oxide epitaxy. Current work includes electronic properties and crystal growth in epitaxial semiconductor/oxide systems and properties of biomaterials. Demkov is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and recipient of a National Science Foundation CAREER Award. In 2011 he received the IBM Faculty Award. He has published more than 130 research papers, and has been awarded seven U.S. patents. More information about Prof. Demkov and his research can be found at http://www.ph.utexas.edu/~aadg/
Over a decade ago, McKee and co-workers achieved a breakthrough in the direct epitaxial growth of single crystal perovskite SrTiO3 (STO) on Si(001) using 1/2 monolayer of Sr deposited on a clean Si(001) 2×1 surface as a template. The ensuing development of crystalline epitaxial oxides on semiconductors (COS) has opened a new avenue for complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) technology for materials other than Si, e.g. Ge and GaAs. It has also ushered in the even more tantalizing possibility of growing functional oxide nanostructures utilizing ferroelectricity, superconductivity, and magnetism, in monolithic integration with Si. Functional oxides offer new ways to store information and thus are well suited for applications in memory. Many oxide properties are sensitive to temperature, strain, electric and magnetic fields making them attractive materials for sensors. Monolithic integration with semiconductors will enable both the sensing and logic functionalities to be incorporated on a single chip. Other potential applications include optical interconnects, automotive radar, photonics, solid state lighting, microelectromechanical systems, and photocatalysis. In this talk I will give an overview of this relatively new area with equal measure of exciting possibilities and difficult challenges.
Nuclear Forces at Short Distances and Superdense Nuclear Matter - PDF
Prof. Misak Sargsian
Florida International University
Dr. Misak Sargsian is a Professor of Physics at Florida International University, Miami. He received his Ph.D degree in 1993 from Yerevan Physics Institute, Armenia. From 1993-1997 he was a postdoctoral research associate at Tel Aviv University, Israel. From 1997 to 1998 he was an Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellow at the Technical University of Munich, Germany. In 1998 he moved to the United States as a Research Fellow at the University of Washington, Seattle, WA. In 1999 he joined the faculty of the Physics Department at Florida International University, Miami where he is currently a Professor of Physics. Dr. Sargsian's main research is in High Energy Nuclear theory with particular focus on short space-time properties of nuclei, the role of the QCD dynamics in the nuclaer short range interactions and their implication for high density nuclear matter such as Neutron stars. Dr. Sargsian is the principal investigator of a grant from the US Department of Energy's Office of Science for Theoretical Nuclear Physics. He was also co-PI of the US-Israeli Binational Scientific Foundation's grant (2003-2007). His research is carried out in collaboration with physicists from Tel Aviv University, Israel, Ghent University, Belgium and different US universities and national labs as Argonne National Laboratory and Jefferson Lab. He graduated two students with PhD degrees and four more are currently working with him in the High Energy Nuclear Theory group at FIU. In 2010 Dr. Sargsian was elected as an APS Fellow from the Division of Nuclear Physics cited for "his seminal contributions to high energy nuclear physics''. More information about Prof. Sargsian's research can be found at http://www2.fiu.edu/~sargsian/
One of the most fascinating stellar objects are the Neutron Stars which represent the last stage of the matter before it collapses to the black hole. I will discuss the history of the prediction and discovery of neutrons stars and how the progress of understanding the inner workings of the star is associated with the progress of understanding the nuclear forces at very short distances. I will report on recent developments in studies of nuclear forces at short distances, particularly on prediction of new properties of high momentum distribution of nucleons in nuclei. This predictions may have universal nature for any asymmetric two component Fermi systems and if they are correct they will require reevaluation of several key properties of the neutron stars.
The String Landscape and the Multiverse - PDF
Prof. Gerald Cleaver
Dr. Gerald Cleaver is Professor and Graduate Program Director of the Department of Physics at Baylor University. He is also head of the Early Universe Cosmology and Strings Division of Baylor’s Center for Astrophysics, Space Physics and Engineering Physics. Cleaver earned his Ph.D. in 1993 from the California Institute of Technology. He was a postdoc at The Ohio State University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Texas A&M, before joining the faculty of Baylor in 2001. At Texas A&M, he constructed the first string model to contain in its observable sector exactly the particle content of the Minimal Supersymmetric Standard Model. At Baylor he has supervised 9 Ph.D. and M.S. students for dissertation work in a wide range of topics in string phenomenology and string cosmology. He has published over 70 articles in refereed journals. Cleaver’s current research topics include the construction of phenomenologically realistic superstring models, string/M-theory cosmology, and systematic investigations of regions of the string landscape. Cleaver’s research group is conducting several long-term systematic studies of the global physical properties of the string landscape. Cleaver is also a member of the non-profit pro-space exploration organization, Icarus Interstellar, at which he is researching deep space propulsion and energy generation systems with NASA scientists, and is on the international advisory board for the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society. He is a co-author of First Principles and the Standard Model, published by Springer in 2011. Cleaver is a referee for 7 physics journals. More information about Prof. Cleaver and his research can be found at http://www.baylor.edu/physics/index.php?id=68540 and http://www.baylor.edu/casperdev/index.php?id=74346 <http://www.baylor.edu/casperdev/index.php?id=74346> .
Following discovery of the quantum consistency of string theory in 9+1 spacetime dimensions in 1984 by John H. Schwarz and Mike Green, the string theory community gradually realized that different consistent compactification of 6 of the 9 spatial dimensions offered at least 100 trillion unique effective 4-dimensional string models. Then over the course of developments in string theory between 1994 and 1996 (when string theory began its transformation into M-theory), the naivity if this estimate became obvious. It was found that each of the 100 trillion string models came with its own set of around 10500 variations! Thus was born the string landscape, the theoretical set of all possible string models, with each model corresponding to a possible universe with unique properties . Furthermore, string/M-theory predicts that universes do not exist alone. Instead, they likely exist together in numbers on par with that of models in the string landscape and thus form the string multiverse. Efforts at Baylor to better understand the properties of universes corresponding to string models in a particular region of the string landscape and the likelihood that our universe in particular might correspond to one of these is reviewed. Implications of resent results from the Planck CMB studies regarding the search for our universe within the string landscape will also be discussed .  B. Freivogel and L. Susskind, A Framework for the Landscape, Phys. Rev. D70 (2004) 126007.  D. Moore, et al., Systematic Investigations of the Free Fermionic Heterotic String Gauge Group Statistics: Layer 1 Results, Mod. Phys. Lett. A26 (2011) 2411; Gauge Models in D-Dimensions, Mod. Phys. Lett. A28 (2013) 1350055.
Prof. Kurtis Williams
Texas A&M University-Commerce
Dr. Kurtis Williams is one of the top two white dwarf researchers in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at A&M-Commerce. He obtained his B.S. in Astronomy & Astrophysics at Penn State University in 1996, then spent a year studying X-ray astronomy and biergartens in Munich before proceeding to graduate studies at the University of California Santa Cruz. His PhD thesis, completed in 2002, was mostly wrong in the end but good enough to get the degree. Dr. Williams then escaped by night to Tucson, Arizona, where he studied strong gravitational lenses and white dwarfs (two different subjects; definitely NOT a single research avenue). From 2006-2010, he was a National Science Foundation Astronomy and Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellow at UT Austin working with the white dwarf asteroseismology group. During this time he helped to discover a new type of variable white dwarf, although it remains unclear whether or not these white dwarfs are actually interesting. Dr. Williams joined the faculty at A&M-Commerce in the fall of 2010 and hasn't been kicked out yet.
Examples of good scientific writing by Dr. Williams can be found at http://xxx.lanl.gov/find/astro-ph/1/au:+Williams_K/0/1/0/all/0/1
One of the most crucial aspects of science is the communication of your results to the scientific community. In this discussion, we will talk about some of the most important points about writing up your results for publication in peer-reviewed journals. We will discuss items such as using your title and abstract as marketing tools, the elements of style, citations, ethics, and the peer-review process. All students should read the following materials prior to the colloquium and be prepared for a reading quiz:
1) Excerpts from The Craft of Scientific Writing
* Introduction: http://writing.engr.psu.edu/workbooks/intro.html
* Structure: http://writing.engr.psu.edu/other/chap2.html
* Language: http://writing.engr.psu.edu/other/chap4.html
2) The Science of Scientific Writing http://www.americanscientist.org/issues/pub/the-science-of-scientific-writing
3) Scientific Writing Booklet from the University of Arizona: http://cbc.arizona.edu/sites/default/files/marc/Sci-Writing.pdf
4) How to Write a Scientific Paper http://members.verizon.net/~vze3fs8i/air/airpaper.html (Consider the source....)
Ground based observations of asteroids - PDF
Prof. Michael Fauerbach
Florida Gulf Coast University
Dr. Michael Fauerbach is a Professor of Physics & Astronomy at Florida Gulf Coast University. He grew up in Germany where he also received his primary education. In 1992, he received a M.S. (Dipl. Phys.) in experimental nuclear physics from the Technical University in Darmstadt for work performed at GSI –the German Heavy Ion Research Center. The title of his thesis was: ‘Study of projectile fragmentation of relativistic heavy ions with a cascade model’. Michael went on to Michigan State University to pursue a Ph.D. under the guidance of Walter Benenson and 2011 Seaborg Award winner David J. Morrissey (dissertation: ‘Study of light neutron rich nuclei’). After receiving his Ph.D in March of 1997, Michael spent two years as a research associate at Florida State University. In the spring of 1999, Michael joined the Physics Faculty at the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science, where he taught physics and astronomy and supervised student research projects. He joined Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) in the fall of 2000 as an Assistant Professor of Physics & Astronomy. FGCU is the 10th member of the Florida State University System and was founded in 1997. When Michael joined FGCU he was the sole physics & astronomy professor on staff. His duties included not only teaching classes, but also to develop new courses and curriculum in physics and astronomy; as well as selection of equipment for the soon to be constructed on-campus observatory. His research focus shifted from experimental nuclear physics to observational astronomy –primarily the study of physical properties of asteroids. He is the author or co-author of 77 peer reviewed publications, as well as the author of countless popular articles for local/regional newspapers and magazines. His innovative teaching style was acknowledged by his peers in 2005 when he received FGCU’s Teaching Excellence Award, and later was asked by the Florida Department of Education (FLDOE) to serve as a Framer for the Next Generation Sunshine State Science Standards. Michael continues his work with FLDOE as a grant reviewer, and ‘science expert’ for review of teacher certification and student test items, course descriptions, etc. From 2005-2006 he served as Chair of the Department of Physical Sciences and Mathematics and from 2006-2008 he served as the Chair of College Governance Team (CGT) of the College of Arts & Sciences. The CGT is responsible for considering College-wide matters of faculty concern, and serving as a faculty voice independent of and advisory to the College Leadership Team (Deans and Chairs). Since 2001 Michael serves on the Advisory Board of the Florida Space Grant Consortium and was the Associate Director from 2010-2011. In 2012 Michael was elected into the chair line of the Forum on Education of the American Physical Society. He currently serves as chair-elect of the Forum and also chairs the K-12 sub-committee of the Committee on Education of the APS. More information about Prof. Fauerbach and his research can be found at http://www.fgcu.edu/CAS/Observatory/2103.asp
Asteroids- which literally means star-like are leftover pieces from the formation of the solar system that did not coalesce into a major planet. As such they hold clues to the formation of the solar system and therefore are important research objects. However, as the name suggests, even in large telescope they appear just like stars, making them a challenge to study. Most of them orbit in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. To us on Earth the more interesting ones are those that cross our planet’s orbit. These Near Earth Asteroids have the potential of catastrophic impact. The good news is that we are certain that no asteroid larger than 1km in diameter –threshold for a global catastrophe- will impact within the next 100 years. However, as we have seen with the airburst event in February of this year, smaller impacts, from previously undetected objects, leading to localized or regional damage can still occur. My presentation will focus on the different kind of studies of asteroids one can pursue. While focusing on the work done at the Egan Observatory at Florida Gulf Coast University, I will also demonstrate the work that can be done with other telescopes. From small backyard telescopes to the 10m Keck telescope utilizing adaptive optics, to the Arecibo radio telescope, highlighting the very effective way that amateurs and professionals collaborate on the study of asteroids.
Laser Studies of Basic Atoms and Nuclei – an Olympics of Precision - PDF
Prof. David Shiner
University of North Texas
Dr. David Shiner is a Professor of Physics at the University of North Texas. Dr. Shiner received his B.A. in Physics from the UC Berkeley in 1977 and his Ph. D from the University of Michigan in 1988. He was an Associate Research Physicist and Lecture at Yale University before joining the faculty at UNT in 1994. Dr. David Shiner uses precision laser techniques to measure fundamental properties of atoms to incredible precision and accuracy in order to test experimentally fundamental theories of Quantum Electrodynamics. More information about Prof. Shiner and his research can be found at http://physics.unt.edu/content/david-shiner-phd
I will provide an overview of the laser experiments my students and I perform in our lab at the University of North Texas. The tabletop experiments give experience and training in developing new laser sources and optical techniques. We apply these experiments to test our present understanding of some fundamental physical systems. In particular, the experiments provide benchmarks that test (1) the atomic theory and computation of electron-electron interactions in helium, the simplest multi-electron atom, and (2) the nuclear interactions and computations that predict the observed size of few-nucleon nuclei.
Chandra X-ray Grating Spectroscopy of Cataclysmic Variables - PDF
Prof. Eric M. Schlegel
The University of Texas at San Antonio
Dr. Eric M. Schlegel has carried out research on cataclysmic variables, supernovae, spiral galaxies, and X-ray binaries in the optical, ultraviolet, X-ray and gamma-ray bands. He is the author or co-author of over 300 publications of which more than 110 are in the refereed literature. Dr. Schlegel is currently the Vaughan Family Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Previously, he worked at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory as part of the Chandra X-ray Observatory science team, spending five years as Data Quality Verification Team Lead. Dr. Schlegel also worked at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center as part of the ROSAT and Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer teams, was a post-doc at Harvard College Observatory and at Indiana University. Schlegel obtained his Ph.D. from Indiana University on time-resolved, optical spectroscopy of cataclysmic variables. He also holds two B.Sc. degrees from SUNY-Albany. He authored the well-received popular book on X-ray astronomy entitled The Restless Universe: Understanding X-ray Astronomy in the Age of Chandra and Newton (Oxford University Press, 2002). More information about Prof. Schlegel and his research can be found at http://physics.utsa.edu/Faculty/Schlegel/Schlegel.html
The Chandra X-ray observatory carries dispersive gratings to provide the highest resolution X-ray spectroscopy to date. About 15 cataclysmic variables (CVs), which are short-period interacting binary stars, have been observed with the gratings on Chandra revealing a range of ionization conditions. Emission lines from oxygen to iron are present. This presentation will highlight the results and limitations of the data and how both lead to the physics of CVs.
High Energy Nuclear Collisions: Hard Probes, Heavy Quarks, and Strong Gluon Fields - PDF
Prof. Rainer Fries
Texas A&M University
Collisions of nuclei at collider energies allow us to study the properties of nuclear matter at extremely high temperatures and densities. The last one and a half decades of collider experiments have delivered strong indications that a state of matter with deconfined quarks and gluons, a quark gluon plasma, has been created at temperatures above 10^12 Kelvin. In this talk I will introduce some fundamental features of high energy nuclear collisions, and I will review some recent results from RHIC and LHC. In the second half of the talk I will focus on two important aspects: Strong gluon fields as the key to understanding the earliest stages of high energy nuclear collision, and heavy quarks as important probes of quark gluon plasma.
Archaeoastronomy: Ancient People Connecting the Earth to the Sky
Prof. Kent Montgomery
Texas A&M University-Commerce
Archaeoastronomy is the study of ancient sites looking for astronomical connections. Typically the astronomical connections are to rising or setting positions of the Sun or Moon or even precise alignment with the cardinal points. The study of Archaeoastronomy has long been a fascination of mine and several years ago I turned this fascination into a semester long course. In this talk I will give an overview of some of the more interesting archaeoastronomy sites in the world, specifically focusing on sites with well-defined astronomical alignments.
Responsible Conduct in Research
Prof. Matt Wood
Texas A&M University-Commerce
Dr. Matt Wood received his PhD. in Astronomy from the University of Texas at Austin in 1990 and was a NSF-NATO Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Montreal during 1990-1991. Before becoming the Department Head and Professor of Physics and Astronomy at A&M-Commerce in 2012, Dr. Wood was a professor at Florida Institute of Technology since 1991. Dr. Wood studies both theoretical and observational aspects of close interacting binary stars and of the white dwarf stars. His primary research area is the numerical modeling of the accretion flows between the interacting close binary stars known as “cataclysmic variables.” His research has been funded mainly by NASA and NSF. More information about Dr. Wood and his research can be found at http://astro.tamuc.edu/wood/
Scientists are in general trusted as honest and reliable by other scientists and the public, but in order to maintain that trust every scientist must behave ethically and honestly. Those situations which are "black and white" are easy - it is the grey areas that are difficult. We will discuss as a group some of the issues relevant to ethics in an academic setting, from authorship practices to the much thornier issue of scientific misconduct. In preparation for this discussion, please take a few minutes to read "On Being a Scientist: A Guide to Responsible Conduct in Research: Third Edition (2009)" from the National Academies Press. Our discussion will be based in large part upon this publication. Free download from http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12192