Saturday Science Public Lectures

Fall 2016

by Dr. Michael Friedlander

This semester, the Department of Physics and University College will again sponsor a series of lectures that will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday mornings, October 22 - November 19, in the Hughes Lecture Room, Room 201 in Crow Hall. Lectures will presented by faculty members of the Department of Physics and are tailored for the general public. Over weekends, parking is available in any yellow-permit lot.

For more information, please contact the Department of Physics at (314) 935-6276.

These lectures are free and open to the public; no registration is required.

-Mike Friedlander                              

The Strange World of Quantum Physics

The quantum revolution did more than add to our knowledge of the physical world. It changed fundamentally how scientists and philosophers view the world, and continues to drive change in all of our technologies. This semester’s Saturday Science lectures will offer a deep loop at some of the strangest aspects of quantum physics.

Oct 22: Michael Ogilvie

Unsung Heroes of Quantum Physics
Our understanding of quantum physics is the work of many scientists. In addition to giants like Bohr, Schrodinger, and Heisenberg, physicists such as Franck, Ramsauer, and Bloch made tremendous contributions to understanding what is fundamentally new in quantum physics. Some won Nobel prizes, but some did not. We will look at a few of these scientists, how their research exposed the strange features of quantum physics, and how their work led to our modern technological world.

Oct 29: Kater Murch and Andrew Jordan (Rochester)

Quantum measurement and the emergence of an arrow of time
The laws of quantum mechanics that govern the atomic and molecular building blocks of our physical world are fundamentally time symmetric. What then allows us to conclude that time moves forward rather than backwards? Clues to this puzzle have long been thought to reside in the process of wave function collapse: a quantum system can be initialized in a superposition of states but will collapse randomly into a classically allowed state if it is measured. Recent experimental innovations allow us to examine quantum measurement as a continuous process, revealing the evolution induced by measurement. An open question in continuously measured systems is the presence of time reversal symmetry in this process. We will discuss our recent theoretical and experimental efforts to characterize a statistical arrow of time in continuous quantum measurement.

Nov 5: Carl Bender

Black holes and quantum mechanics
Black holes are a gravitational phenomenon, which is a classical phenomenon, and this Saturday Science series is about quantum mechanics. However, Stephen Hawking discovered a remarkable quantum-mechanical property of black holes, namely, that they are radioactive. The radiation emitted by black holes is called Hawking radiation. This talk will describe the classical and the quantum-mechanical properties of black holes.

Nov 12: Mark Alford

Spooky action at a distance: the EPR experiment and the weirdness of nature
Quantum Mechanics is famously weird, containing phenomena like entanglement, instantaneous correlations, indeterminism, and so on. But could it eventually be replaced by a more conventional theory? In this talk I will describe how EPR experiments show us that some of that weirdness is inherent in nature, and will have to be included in any future theory that may replace quantum mechanics.

Nov 19: Alexander Seidel

Quantum meets Classical: The Superconducting State
Discovered in 1911, the superconducting state required the science of physics to mature for almost 50 more years in order to produce a fundamental explanation. In retrospect, this may be no surprise. The superconducting state is tied to virtually all aspects of modern physics, and encompasses nearly everything that is exciting about it. In a superconductor, electrons manage to remember their quantum nature over distances much larger than the atomic scale. As a result, a superconductor will modify the laws of 19th-century classical electromagnetism to “know” about quantum physics in ways that practically no other large-scale phenomena do. As the ultimate macroscopic quantum state, the superconductor is a prime test bed for spooky quantum paradoxes such as Schrödinger’s cat, and may have qualities that lend themselves to schemes of quantum computation. We will give a pedagogical introduction to this fascinating quantum state of matter.

Click here to search for previous Saturday Morning Lectures