Weekly Colloquium

Most weeks during the semester, we host a scholar for a one-day visit. The visit culminates with a public talk on a topic of contemporary physics or astronomy. Students are welcome to these talks, and seniors are required to attend at least nine over the course of a year. We gather before the talks for tea, coffee, and cookies. Near the end of each semester, honors thesis students give public lectures on their work. The typical schedule has refreshments at 4:00 pm in Merrill 204 with the talk at 4:15 pm in Merrill 3. 

Our Astronomy program is part of the Five College Astronomy Department, which hosts its own colloquium series Thursdays at 3:45 pm at UMass in LGRT 1033. 

  • If you would like to be mailed seminar announcements, please send an email to physics@amherst.edu.
  • Contact colloquium organizer Larry Hunter (lrhunter@amherst.edu) with any questions about colloquia.

Tue, Feb 27, 2018

Associate Professor Tanya Zelevinsky from Columbia University: "Ultracold molecules as quantum clocks"

Laser cooling is a tool that allows physicists to obtain samples of atoms, and even molecules, near the temperature of absolute zero, - colder than anything we observe in the universe. We describe the ideas behind laser cooling of atoms and using them as building blocks for diatomic molecules at ultracold temperatures. The atoms or molecules can be trapped and exquisitely probed with lasers, serving as extremely precise quantum oscillators, or “clocks”. These systems are useful for measurements in fundamental physics, as well as for studies of quantum optics and chemistry.

Tue, Mar 6, 2018

Professor David Weiss '85, Penn State: "Quantum computing with Maxwell's demon". Do you think it's too much?"

Abstract: I will describe our approach to making a quantum computer with
neutral atom quantum bits (qubits) in a 3D optical lattice. I will show
how we use a randomly half-filled array of 125 lattice sites to
perfectly fill a target sublattice (either 5x5x2 or 4x4x3). Our
procedure is conceptually like the action of Maxwell's famous demon; it
lowers the total entropy of the system by a factor of 2.44. I will also
explain how we independently change the quantum state of any atom in the
3D array without affecting the quantum states of the surrounding atoms.

Tue, Mar 20, 2018

Professor Steven Chu, Stanford University: "Advances in biological and bio-medical imaging”

In recent years, new imaging probes such as green fluorescent proteins and optical microscopy methods such as optical tweezers, single molecule FRET and super-resolution microscopy is having a profound impact on biological sciences. I will discuss our development of photostable nanoparticles that will allow the long-term, real time tracking of proteins in live cells, and the tracking of cells in live animals using greatly improved up-converting nanoparticles that we have recently designed and synthesized. These particles have also been used in combined SEM-cathodoluminescence nanoscale imaging. Also, experimental results that promise to greatly increase the sensitivity of photo-acoustic imaging with nanoparticle contrast agents, and the introduction novel methods in ultrasound imaging will also be discussed.

Wed, Mar 21, 2018

Professor Steven Chu, Stanford University: “Climate Change and needed technical solution for a sustainable future”

The industrial and agricultural revolutions have profoundly transformed the world, but the unintended consequence of these revolutions is that humans are changing the climate of Earth. I will briefly describe new data on climate change, before turning to how progress in carbon-free energy can provide a low-cost path to a more sustainable world. Research in energy storage and new approaches to electrochemical production of chemical fuels will be described in the context of the remaining scientific and technology challenges that need to be overcome in the transition to clean energy solutions.

Tue, Mar 27, 2018

Assistant Professor Ian Crossfield, MIT

Tue, Apr 3, 2018

Assistant Professor Chen Wang, University of Massachusetts

Tue, Apr 10, 2018

Weekly Physics & Astronomy Seminar: TBA

Unless otherwise noted, all physics seminars and colloquium are held on Tuesdays from 4:45 to 6:00 pm, in Lecture Room 3 of Merrill Science Center. Tea and snacks will be served before seminars at 4:15 in 204 Merrill. If you would like to be mailed seminar announcements, please send an email to physics@amherst.edu

Tue, Apr 17, 2018

Physics/Astronomy Senior Thesis Talks

Tue, Apr 24, 2018

Physics/Astronomy Senior Thesis Talks