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Worlds of Physics, Spring 2015

All lectures begin at 7:30 pm in ESS 001, usually on the second Friday of the month. "Worlds of Physics" is part of a lecture series that includes the Astronomy Open Night, the Living World and the Geology Open Night.


February 20
Martin Rocek: "A Close Look to the Theory of Everything"

We will discuss the discoveries made by Stephen Hawking, the main character in the recently released movie the "Theory of Everything". The movie is nominated to 5 Academy Awards, and the Oscar Ceremony is scheduled 2 days after the talk. See the movie, read Hawking's book, "A Brief History of Time", come to the talk and ask your questions!
Martin Rocek is a professor of theoretical physics at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and a member of the C. N. Yang Institute for Theoretical Physics. He received A.B. and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard University in 1975 and 1979. He did post-doctoral research at the University of Cambridge with Stephen Hawking, and another postdoc at Caltech before becoming a professor at Stony Brook.

His research interests include supersymmetry, string theory and applications of generalized complex geometry. He is the local coordinator of the annual Simons Workshop in Mathematics and Physics jointly hosted by Yang Institute for Theoretical Physics and the Department of Mathematics of the Stony Brook University.


March 27
Dmitri Averin: "Computation-inspired physics: from Maxwell demon to relativistic quantum mechanics"

Advanced models of computation: reversible, and its descendant, quantum computation, have served as motivation for several fundamental discoveries in physics, a prime example being the resolution of the Maxwell's demon paradox based on the Landauer principle. The talk will provide a basic description of the established physics and more recent developments in this area using the superconducting structures as the main example.
Dmitri Averin is a professor of physics at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and a member of the Condensed Matter Theory group. He got his Ph.D. at Moscow State University in 1987. He works on the physics of mesoscopic Josephson junctions, quantum computation, Coulomb blockade and correlated electron transport in mesoscopic conductors, including mesoscopic superconductors and structures in the Fractional Quantum Hall effect regime.


April 10
Konstantin K. Likharev: "Merging Neuro and Nano"

I will review recent attempts at a dramatic advance of artificial neuromorphic networks using hybrid CMOS/nanoelectronic circuits. Recent estimates show that such networks which may provide unparalleled performance for some important information processing tasks, and in future may become the first hardware basis for challenging the mammal cerebral cortex in both density and speed, at manageable power consumption.
Konstantin K. Likharev received the Candidate (Ph.D.) degree in Physics from the Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia in 1969. From 1969 to 1988 Dr. Likharev was a Staff Scientist of Moscow State University, and from 1989 to 1991 the Head of the Laboratory for Cryoelectronics of that university. In 1991 he assumed a Professorship at Stony Brook University (Distinguished Professor since 2002). During his research career, Dr. Likharev worked in the fields of nonlinear classical and dissipative quantum dynamics, and solid-state physics and electronics, notably including superconductor electronics and nanoelectronics. Likharev is an author of more than 250 original publications, 75+ review papers and book chapters, 2 monographs, several patents, and the recent online lecture series Essential Graduate Physics. Dr. Likharev is a Fellow of the APS and IEEE.


May 1
Chang Kee Jung: "The Physics of Baseball"

Worlds of Physics, Fall 2014

September 19
Dario Arena (Brookhaven National Laboratory): "Shining Synchroton Light on Exotic Magnets"

Cloud computing, wireless communication, hybrid cars, advanced medical imaging and many other technologies could not exist without advanced magnetic materials. Researchers constantly try to develop better magnetic materials to provide more efficient performance or entirely new applications, often by combining magnetic and non-magnetic elements in unusual configurations.
Dr. Arena earned a Ph.D. in physics from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, in 2000. He was a postdoc at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and awarded a National Research Council Research Fellowship in 2001, and was affiliated with the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C. while stationed at the National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS). Since 2003, he has been a physicist at the NSLS at Brookhaven National Lab, where he is the spokesman of beam line U4B, the magnetic materials characterization beam line at NSLS.


October 10
Max Katz (Stony Brook University): "The Role of Nuclear Power on a Warming Planet"

Climate change caused by human emission of greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide is already a serious problem for the world to address. Nuclear power has provided the world with low-carbon electricity for decades, but has lingering long-term concerns including cost overruns and safety issues. In this talk I will discuss the basics of global warming and argue that other environmental concerns related to nuclear power are not nearly as serious as global warming, which nuclear power can address by displacing fossil fuels. Thus it should be a key source of stable electricity in future decades. I will also discuss future developments in nuclear power that are expected to substantially mollify the current safety concerns, and discuss how future political and economic events might affect the deployment of nuclear power.
Max Katz is a third year Ph.D. student in the Stony Brook Department of Physics and Astronomy. He is part of the nuclear astrophysics group, where he uses computational methods to study stars. In particular, Max's research focuses on how certain types of stars explode in brilliant flashes of light called supernovae. On campus he also serves as Vice President for the Graduate Student Organization. Off campus, he is deeply passionate about climate change and how we can deal with it, and volunteers with Citizens' Climate Lobby, a nonpartisan grassroots lobbying organization working to build the political will for a livable world. Max holds an M.S. in Physics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

November 7
Alexander Abanov (Stony Brook University): "Quantum Hall Effect: exotic properties of electron fluids"

Quantum Hall Effect (QHE) is one of the most fascinating discoveries in condensed matter physics in XX century. In this lecture I will try to explain the effect in elementary terms. We will talk about the concepts of quasiparticles, quantization, localization of electrons on impurities, charge fractionalization etc. From its discovery QHE lead to two Nobel prizes and strongly influenced many branches of modern physics and mathematics.
Dr. Abanov has received his Ph.D. in theoretical condensed matter physics from the University of Chicago in 1997. He has become a faculty in the Department of Physics and Astronomy in Stony Brook in 2000 after a postdoctoral position at MIT. Currently Sasha is an Associate Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and a Deputy Director of the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics in Stony Brook University. Sasha's research is in theoretical condensed matter physics and in mathematical physics. He is mainly interested in systems whose properties are defined by the laws of quantum physics. Some examples of such systems are superfluids, superconductors and Quantum Hall effect systems.

November 21
Emilio Mendez (Stony Brook University and Brookhaven National Laboratory): "Is Energy Efficiency the Short Term Answer to Climate Change?"

By now, there is little scientific doubt that climate is changing, and that, most likely, the change is primarily driven by human activities. As the world's economy grows, energy usage increases, and so does the production of greenhouse-effect gases (mostly CO2), as most energy is nowadays derived from carbon-rich fossil fuels. In the long run, the only sustainable answer to the economic growth versus livable planet dilemma is carbon-free energy. On the other hand, it is unrealistic to expect a drastic reduction, let alone the elimination, of fossil fuels in the short and medium terms. A more efficient use of energy is therefore paramount - and possible. For instance, refrigerators have become four times more efficient in the last forty years. In this spirit, the Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded this year to three scientists for "the invention of efficient blue light-emitting diodes which has enabled bright and energy-saving white light sources."

Starting with the connection between economic growth and energy usage, in this talk I will discuss ways of increasing energy efficiency in transportation, building lighting, and industrial processes. I will then introduce the so called "rebound" effect of energy efficiency before addressing the key question, does efficiency reduce overall energy usage, or, by reducing operating costs, favor more energy consumption?, as some commentators have recently argued.


Mendez has held Distinguished Visiting Professorships at Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, NTT Research in Tokyo, and Paul Drude Institute in Berlin. He has served in multiple scientific advisory and visiting committees, most recently, MIT's Materials Science and Engineering Visiting Committee. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, and has received an IBM Outstanding Innovation Award, the Quantum Devices Fujitsu Award, and the Prince of Asturias Prize for Science and Technology.

Mendez's professional interests are in nanomaterials physics and devices, management of science and technology, and higher education. This semester, he is teaching an undergraduate course at Stony Brook on Energy and Climate.


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