Events at Physics

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Events During the Week of March 6th through March 13th, 2011

Monday, March 7th, 2011

Plasma Physics (Physics/ECE/NE 922) Seminar
High-Energy-Density Laboratory Astrophysics Experiments at the Omega Laser Facility and the National Ignition Facility
Time: 12:05 pm
Place: 2241 Chamberlin Hall
Speaker: Carolyn Kuranz, University of Michigan
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Special Physics Talk
A Discussion with Brian Cox
Time: 2:30 pm
Place: 2241 Chamberlin Hall (refreshments at 2:15 pm)
Speaker: Brian Cox, High Energy Physics group of the University of Manchester
Abstract: Ever wondered just what a physicist is capable of? Come join internationally-known particle physicist, former Dream keyboardist and one of the 2009 Sexiest Men Alive, Brian Cox, for an informal discussion and Q&A on Monday, March 7th from 2:30-3:30pm in 2241 Chamberlin. Brian Cox is a professor and member of the High Energy Physics group of the University of Manchester who is well-known for his involvement with BBC radio and television science programs. He has helped bring physics and astronomy to many and is here to share his wisdom with physics students, faculty and staff. Refreshments will be provided; come ready to ask those questions you've always had about how to succeed in physics research and communication.

The Wisconsin Union Directorate is bringing Brian Cox to Madison to deliver their distinguished lecture series talk at the Memorial Union at 7:30 pm Monday March 7th. You can see more about him at:
His TED lecture on why we should support fundamental research:
And an interview on some of his public TV programming:

A limited supply of free tickets for Cox's Monday evening lecture will be available at the discussion--first come, first served.
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Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

Chaos & Complex Systems Seminar
Psychotherapy is Remarkably Effective-- For the Reasons Patients (but not scientists) Know
Time: 12:00 pm
Place: 4274 Chamberlin Hall
Speaker: Bruce Wampold, UW Department of Counseling Psychology
Abstract: Randomized clinical trials have produced sufficient evidence to conclude that psychotherapy is remarkably effective-- more effective than many accepted medical procedures. However, the research evidence seems to indicate that widely divergent approaches to psychotherapy (e.g., cognitive, behavioral, and psychodynamic) are equally effective, casting doubt on the "scientific" explanations that are the bases of these treatments. Indeed, there is little evidence to support the treatment mechanisms purported to explain how psychotherapy works. Instead, there is much research evidence that there is significant variability among clinicians in terms of benefits, regardless of the treatment approach used. We are beginning to understand the characteristics and actions of effective therapists-- and these involve developing a collaborative working relationship with the patient, providing an acceptable (but not necessary scientifically correct) explanation for the distress, and inducing healthy actions.
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Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

Department Meeting
Time: 12:15 pm
Place: 5310 Chamberlin Hall
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Thursday, March 10th, 2011

R. G. Herb Condensed Matter Seminar
Topological Insulators
Time: 10:00 am
Place: 5310 Chamberlin
Speaker: Liang Fu, Harvard University
Abstract: Traditionally phases of matter are classified by spontaneous symmetry breaking. The discovery of quantum Hall effect in 1980s led to the concept of topological phases characterized by topological quantum numbers. In the past few years, new topological phases have been theoretically predicted and experimentally observed in band insulators at zero magnetic field. These topological insulators are characterized by topological invariants in the band structure. They have protected gapless surface states with Dirac dispersion. I will describe theory of topological insulators, prediction and observation of these new phases in real materials, and recent experiments on topological surface states. I will end by describing recently observed superconductivity in doped topological insulators and its implication for unconventional pairing in spin-orbital coupled materials.
Host: Andrey Chubukov & Maxim Vavilov
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Astronomy Colloquium
The Formation of Molecular Clouds and Massive Stars
Time: 3:30 pm
Place: 4421 Sterling Hall
Speaker: Mordecai-Mark Mac Low, American Museum of Natural History
Abstract: In this talk I consider two questions. First, I investigate the formation of molecular clouds from diffuse interstellar gas. It has been argued that the midplane pressure controls the fraction of molecular hydrogen present, and thus the star formation rate. Alternatively, I and others have suggested that the gravitational instability of the disk controls both. I present numerical results demonstrating that the observed correlations between midplane pressure, molecular hydrogen fraction, and star formation rate can be explained within the gravitational instability picture. Second, I discuss how ionization affects the formation of massive stars. Although most distinctive observables of massive stars can be traced back to their ionizing radiation, it does not appear to have a strong effect on their actual formation. Rather, I present simulations suggesting that stars only ionize large volumes after their accretion has already been throttled by gravitational fragmentation in the accretion flow. At the same time these models can explain many aspects of the observations of ultracompact H II regions.&lt;br&gt;<br>
Host: Astronomy Department
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Friday, March 11th, 2011

Physics Department Colloquium
Using Spin-Stable Neutron Stars to Detect Nano-Hertz Gravitational Waves from Cosmological Sources
Time: 4:00 pm
Place: 2241 Chamberlin Hall (coffee at 3:30 pm)
Speaker: Jim Cordes, Cornell University
Abstract: Discoveries of spin-stable pulsars with millisecond periods combined with new algorithms for determining arrival times of pulses have greatly increased the likelihood of detecting long-wavelength gravitational waves using an array of such objects. I will discuss gravitational wave sources, which include merging supermassive black holes and cosmic strings. Processes within the neutron star and its magnetosphere along with plasma propagation effects from the interstellar medium limit our ability to time-tag pulses as do instrumental effects. I will discuss these issues and assess the minimum requirements for pulsar-timing arrays to be successful. This will also involve a summary of how existing radio telescopes are being used, the most important of which are the Arecibo Observatory and the Green Bank Telescope, and a discussion of how future array telescopes, including the Square Kilometer Array and precursor arrays, are required.
Host: McCammon
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