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This Week at Physics

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Events on Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

Chaos & Complex Systems Seminar
Can entropy be thought of as a fluid in biological systems?
Time: 12:05 pm
Place: 4274 Chamberlin Hall (refreshments will be served)
Speaker: Jim Reardon, UW Department of Physics
Abstract: Climb into an automobile and drive in any direction on the highway of your choice, and in anywhere between a few minutes and a few hours, you'll find that your automobile refuses to go any farther. You could reasonably say that this is because it has run out of energy. You might wait for a while by the side of the road, and then try to start the car again, but it won't work. Since you're now stranded in the middle of nowhere, you now have a good opportunity to try this experiment: after doing appropriate warm-up exercises, start sprinting as fast as you possibly can (presumably in the direction of the nearest gas station). In something less than 40 seconds, your legs will refuse to carry you any farther, and you will either slow down or fall down. Yet if you lie there for a while by the side of the road, and then try to sprint again, you'll find that you can, nearly as well as before. It cannot be said that you have run out of energy. It might perhaps be said that you have temporarily accumulated too much entropy, and have to wait a while for it to dissipate. Whether or not this is a reasonable statement depends on whether entropy can be thought of as a fluid. In this seminar I'll argue that the answer is "yes" and support the argument with quantitative phenomonological data.
Host: Clint Sprott
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"Physics Today" Undergrad Colloquium (Physics 301)
Introduction/The Higgs Boson
Time: 1:20 pm
Place: 2223 Chamberlin
Speaker: Wesley Smith, UW Madison Department of Physics
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Atomic Physics Seminar
Faculty Candidate Seminar
Searching for Extraordinary Physics in Ordinary Places
Time: 4:00 pm
Place: 4274 Chamberlin Hall
Speaker: Michael Hohensee, UC Berkeley
Abstract: The Standard Model and General Relativity have proven to be extraordinarily good at describing the world we live in. Unfortunately, it is not yet clear how these theories are reconciled with one another at extremely high energies. This is one of the puzzles which motivates ongoing experimental and observational searches for new phenomena in high energy, astro-particle, gravitational, and precision measurement physics. Any deviation from the predictions of the Standard Model and General Relativity could point the way towards a unified theory. This talk will describe recent developments in precision tests of the fundamental symmetries underlying both the Standard Model and General Relativity using atomic physics techniques. As I will show, sometimes the most sensitive test of new physics doesn't require observing physics at very high energies, large distances, or extreme gravitational environments. Sometimes the best place to look for extraordinary physics is in what might at first seem to be a rather ordinary place.
Host: Thad Walker/Deniz Yavuz
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