Events at Physics

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Events During the Week of March 21st through March 28th, 2010

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

Plasma Physics (Physics/ECE/NE 922) Seminar
Research on DIII-D to Address the Challenges of Fusion Power
Time: 12:05 pm
Place: 2241 Chamberlin Hall
Speaker: Richard Buttery, General Atomics
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Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Chaos & Complex Systems Seminar
Emotional Communication in Primates: Music to Their Ears?
Time: 12:05 pm
Place: 4274 Chamberlin Hall
Speaker: Chuck Snowdon, UW-Madison, Dept. of Psychology
Abstract: Vocal communication in nonhuman animals is thought to communicate the emotional state of the caller and provide information about the caller's behavior. An alternative view is that animal signals induce emotional states in listeners. In support of this alternative are the prosodic features of speech that humans use to communicate with infants ("parentese") or their animals ("doggeral"). Building on this idea, my collaborator, David Teie, a musician and composer and I have hypothesized that music evolved from emotional communication and is a powerful means to communicate emotions. We have hypothesized several acoustic features that are emotional universals and have tested these using music-naive cotton-top tamarins. Since tamarins communicate with higher pitch and faster tempo than humans, we also hypothesized that they would be indifferent to human based music, but would instead respond emotionally to music composed at their frequency range and tempo. Tamarins did show appropriate emotional responses to music composed for them by David Teie and were generally unresponsive to human music. The results have several implications: emotional aspects of music may have a long evolutionary history, animal vocalizations may serve to induce emotional contagion in listeners and, although musical aspects of emotions follow universal principles they actual music tested must be appropriate to the vocal range and tempo of the species tested.

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Astronomy Colloquium
Whitford Lecture
Bringing our Galaxy's Supermassive Black Hole and Environs into Focus with Laser Guide Star Adaptive Optics
Time: 3:30 pm
Place: 3425 Sterling Hall
Speaker: Andrea Ghez, UCLA
Abstract: The proximity of our Galaxy's center presents a unique opportunity to study a galactic nucleus with orders of magnitude higher spatial resolution than can be brought to bear on any other galaxy. After more than a decade of astrometry from diffraction-limited speckle imaging on large ground-based telescopes, the case for a supermassive black hole at the Galactic center has gone from a possibility to a certainty, thanks to measurements of individual stellar orbits. The advent of adaptive optics technology has significantly expanded the scientific reach of our high-spatial-resolution infrared studies of the Galactic center. In this talk, I will present the results of several new adaptive optics studies on (1) our current understanding of the galaxy's central gravitational potential, (2) the puzzling problem of how young stars form in the immediate vicinity of the central black hole, (3) the surprising, apparent absence of the predicted central stellar cusp around the central supermassive black hole (an essential input into models for the growth of nuclear black holes), and (4) how future large ground-based telescope may allow these studies to test general relativity and cosmological models.
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Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

No events scheduled

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

R. G. Herb Condensed Matter Seminar
Holographic Algorithms Capture Precisely Tractable Planar Counting Problems
Time: 1:00 pm
Place: 5310 Chamberlin
Speaker: Jin-Yi Cai, UW-Madison
Abstract: Counting type problems and their associated partition functions have been studied from many interesting perspectives.

In the statistical physics community there is a long history of research on Exactly Solved Models (Fisher, Temperley, Kasteleyn, C.N.Yang, Baxter, Lieb, ...). In the pure mathematics community Lovasz defined the general graph homomorphism functions in 1967.

There is a general sense that certain "systems" can be solved "exactly", while others are "difficult". There is also tremendous interest in certain "systems" which are "difficult" in general, but can be solved "exactly" on restricted classes of inputs. Fisher-Kasteleyn-Temperley method is a famous example.

All these predate the modern theory of computing, which is now guided by the P and NP conjecture. In the language of computational complexity theory, the FKT algorithm is a polynomial time algorithm for counting the number of perfect matchings for all planar graphs.

In this talk I report some exciting new development, coming from complexity theory. They give fairly general answers, in a provable sense, to the venerable question: What "systems" can be solved "exactly" and what "systems" are "difficult".
Host: Susan Coppersmith
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NPAC (Nuclear/Particle/Astro/Cosmo) Forum
Title to be announced
Time: 4:00 pm
Place: 4274 Chamberlin
Speaker: David Ernst, Vanderbilt University
Host: Baha Balantekin
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Friday, March 26th, 2010

Theory/Phenomenology Seminar
Dark Matter from the Baryon Asymmetry
Time: 2:30 pm - 3:30 pm
Place: 5280 Chamberlin Hall
Speaker: Kathyrn Zurek, University of Michigan
Host: V. Barger
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Physics Department Colloquium
Increasing Diversity in Physics: the Fisk-Vanderbilt Masters to PhD Bridge Program
Time: 4:00 pm
Place: 2241 Chamberlin Hall (coffee at 3:30 pm)
Speaker: David J. Ernst, Vanderbilt University, Fisk University
Abstract: Statistics will be presented to demonstrate that the production of minority physicists is a leaky pipeline, and that one of the largest leaks is the undergraduate to graduate school transition. The talk will describe the Fisk-Vanderbilt Masters to PhD Bridge program. A history of the program will be given, and the present status of the program described. Our best understanding of the ingredients that have been necessary for the program to succeed will be discussed. Future plans will be described, and the speaker's view of the long-term future will be presented.
Host: Balantekin
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