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This Week at Physics

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Events on Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

Chaos & Complex Systems Seminar
Thom's catastrophe theory and Zeeman's model of the stock market
Time: 12:05 pm
Place: 4274 Chamberlin (Refreshments will be served)
Speaker: Joel Robbin, UW Department of Mathematics
Abstract: Catastrophe theory is a method for describing the evolution of forms in nature. It was discovered by RenA`e Thom in the 1960aEuroTMs. Thom expounded the philosophy behind the theory in his 1972 book Structural stability and morphogenesis. Catastrophe theory is particularly applicable where gradually changing forces produce sudden effects. The applications of catastrophe theory in classical physics (or more generally in any subject governed by a aEuro~minimization principleaEuroTM) are noncontroversial and help us understand what diverse models have in common. The applications of the theory in the social and biological sciences have met with some resistance. (I donaEuroTMt know if any workers in these areas have been influenced by ThomaEuroTMs ideas.) In this talk I will discuss three examples: ZeemanaEuroTMs toy (the aEurooecatastrophe machineaEuro), light caustics, and ZeemanaEuroTMs explanation of stock market booms and busts. The constantly evolving slides for this talk are available on my website.
Host: Sprott
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"Physics Today" Undergrad Colloquium (Physics 301)
Quantum Computing
Time: 1:20 pm
Place: 2223 Chamberlin
Speaker: Sue Coppersmith, University of Wisconsin Department of Physics
Abstract: A series of weekly presentations and discussions of current research topics in physics by the scientists involved in those studies designed to expose students to the topics and excitement of the research frontier.
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Theory Seminar (High Energy/Cosmology)
Interactions and width of the Higgs-like particle
Time: 4:00 pm
Place: 5280 Chamberlin Hall
Speaker: Bogdan Dobrescu, Fermilab
Abstract: The newly discovered Higgs-like particle may have modified interactions with the Standard Model particles. Naively, the strength of these interactions may be extracted from rate measurements at the LHC. However, Higgs decays into new light particles may dramatically affect the rates so that the extraction of the Higgs couplings is possible only under some theoretical assumptions. I will present a method for determining the Higgs couplings and total width based on the existing data and a well-motivated theoretical constraint.
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