Links to Colloquia

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Past years' colloquia

Eisenbud Lecture Series in Mathematics and Physics

Berko Symposium

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Department Colloquia


Martin Weiner Lecture Series
Department of Physics Colloquium
4:00 pm, Abelson 131
Refreshments at 3:30pm outside Abelson 131



Fall 2015 Colloquia


Tuesday , September 8, 2015

Jesse Thaler (MIT) 
The Rise of Jet Substructure:  Boosting the Search for New Physics at the LHC
Host: Albion Lawrence

Watch the video.


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

No colloquium (Rosh Hashanah).


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Michael Rubinstein (UNC)
Airway Surface Brush Sweeps Lungs Clean: Polymer Physics Helps Us Breathe Easier
Host: Zvonimir Dogic

Abstract: The classical view of the airway surface liquid (ASL) is that it consists of two layers – mucus and periciliary layer (PCL). Mucus layer is propelled by cilia and rides on the top of PCL, which is assumed to be a low viscosity dilute liquid. This model of ASL does not explain what stabilizes the mucus layer and prevents it from penetrating the PCL. I propose a different model of ASL in which PCL consists of a dense brush of mucins attached to cilia. This brush stabilizes mucus layer and prevents it penetration into PCL, while providing lubrication and elastic coupling between beating cilia. Both physical and biological implications of the new model will be discussed.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2015
  
No colloquium (Brandeis Monday).


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Markus Greiner  (Harvard University)
Measuring Entanglement Entropy in Synthetic Quantum Matter

Abstract: With quantum gas microscopy we are now able to take the control of ultra cold quantum gases in an optical lattice to the next and ultimate level of high fidelity: addressing, manipulation and readout of single particles. In my talk I will first give an introduction to this field of research and present an overview of recent experiments. I will then focus on presenting experiments in which we are for the first time able to directly measure entanglement entropy in a quantum many-body system.

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Host: Matthew Headrick


Tuesday, October 13, 2015
 
Karsten Heeger (Yale)
Understanding the Nature of Neutrinos: Recent Discoveries and Future Prospects

Abstract: The discovery of neutrino mass and oscillations have opened an intense field of study in the properties of neutrinos and their role in the Universe but many open questions remain. Recently the Daya Bay reactor experiment observed the oscillation of antineutrinos over kilometer-scale baselines and opened the window to the study of CP violation in the lepton sector. The search for neutrinoless double beta decay with CUORE will probe if neutrinos are their own antiparticles and probe the effective mass of neutrinos. New experiments are getting underway to study neutrino oscillation at short and long baselines and search for signs of new physics in the neutrino sector. I will review recent results and future prospects for neutrino studies with reactor neutrinos and in double beta decay.

Watch the video.

Host: Gabriella Sciolla

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

No Colloquium due to overlap with Gabbay Award talk


Eisenbud Lectures in Mathematics and Physics
October 27 - October 29


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

4:00pm
Abelson 131
Jeffrey Harvey
, University of Chicago
Eisenbud Lectures in Mathematics and Physics 
A physicist under the spell of Ramanujan and moonshine

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

4:00pm
Abelson 131
Jeffrey Harvey, University of Chicago
Eisenbud Lectures in Mathematics and Physics 
Mock modular forms in mathematics and physics

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Thursday, October 29, 2015

11:00am
Abelson 333
Jeffrey Harvey, University of Chicago
Eisenbud Lectures in Mathematics and Physics  
Umbral Moonshine

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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Cora Dvorkin (Harvard University)
Fingerprints of the Early Universe
Host: Gabriella Sciolla

Abstract: Cosmological observations have provided us with answers to age-old questions, involving the age, geometry, and composition of the universe. However, there are profound questions that still remain unanswered.  The origin of the small anisotropies that later grew into the stars and galaxies that we see today is still unknown. In this talk, I will explain how we can use measurements of the Cosmic Microwave Background, which was last scattered when the universe was 380,000 years old, to reconstruct the detailed physics of much earlier epochs, when the universe was only a tiny fraction of a second old. I will also discuss the potential of current and upcoming measurements of the large-scale structure of the universe to further constrain the physics underlying inflation.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Steve Whitelam (Lawrence Berkeley National Lab)
Joint Quantitative Biology/Martin Weiner Lecture Series
Physics Department Colloquium
Geometry and symmetry in nanomaterial self-assembly
Host: Michael Hagan

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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Tom Powers (Brown University)
Hydrodynamics of Swimming Microorganisms in Complex Fluids
Host: Zvonimir Dogic

Abstract: Since fluid mechanics at the scale of the cell is dominated by viscosity, swimming microorganisms use drag for propulsion. While there has been much work on the mechanics of swimming in water at micron scale, many microorganisms usually encounter complex fluids such as mucus, which are full of polymers. I will address the emerging area of swimming in complex fluids. We use theory and simple scale-model experiments to study how viscoelasticity affects the swimming speed of swimmers with simple illustrative stroke patterns, such as small-amplitude traveling waves and rigid-body rotation of helices. We also study swimming mechanics in anisotropic media such as liquid crystals. We find that the nature of anchoring conditions for the liquid-crystalline degrees of freedom plays a critical role in determining the swimming speed. Furthermore, we study the fluid transport induced by the swimmers motion by calculating the flux of fluid in the laboratory frame.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

 No colloquium (Thanksgiving week).


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Joern Dunkel (MIT)
Pattern formation in soft and biological matter
Host: Zvonimir Dogic

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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Ariel Amir  (Harvard University)
Getting in Shape: how do microorganisms control their geometry?
Host: Zvonimir Dogic

Abstract: Microorganisms such as bacteria and budding yeast are remarkably successful in accurately self-replicating themselves within several tens of minutes. How do cells decide when to divide? How do they control their morphology? I will show how ideas from statistical mechanics and materials science can help answer these questions. In particular, I will show how a stochastic model of cell size control, combined with single cell data, can be used to infer a particular strategy for cell size control in bacteria and budding yeast, and how the theory of elasticity can be utilized to understand the coupling of mechanical stresses and cell wall growth in bacteria.

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Spring 2016 Colloquia


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Leonid Mirny (MIT)
Genome in 3D: some physical considerations
Host: Zvonimir Dogic

Abstract: 

DNA of the human genome is 2m long and is folded into a structure that fits in a cell nucleus. One of the central physical questions here is the question of cross-scale communication: How can molecules a few nanometers in size control chromosome geometry and topology at micron length scales? Recently developed Chromosome Conformation Capture technique (Hi-C) provides comprehensive information about frequencies of spatial interactions between genomic loci. Inferring principles of 3D organization of chromosomes from these data is a challenging biophysical problem. We develop a top-down approach to biophysical modeling of chromosomes. Starting with a minimal set of biologically motivated interactions we build polymer models of chromosome organization that can reproduce major features observed in Hi-C experiments. I will present our work on modeling organization of human metaphase and interphase chromosomes. Our works suggests that active processes of loop extrusion can be a universal mechanism responsible for formation of domains in interphase and chromosome compaction in metaphase. 

Watch the video.
 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Ravi Radhakrishnan (University of Pennsylvania)
Can Soft Signals Be Oncogenic
Joint Quantitative Biology/Martin Weiner Lecture Series
Physics Department Colloquium
Host: Michael Hagan

Abstract: There are emerging links between the stiffness of the tissue microenvironment and the tumorogenicity  in several tumors of soft tissues, thereby bringing to light the importance of how cells transduce mechanical signals to alter signals and cell fate. This talk will focus on molecular and subcellular mechanisms of curvature induction and sensing in cell membranes by a novel class of membrane remodeling proteins. I will discuss how thermally induced membrane undulations can couple to the induced curvature field by such proteins thereby providing a mechanism for curvature focusing. The curvature-undulation coupling also leads to a mechanism for long-range curvature sensing whereby such proteins can migrate toward preferred curvature locations at distances much larger than their size. Consistent with in vitro biophysical as well as cellular experiments, the curvature sensing/generating proteins can also be shown to be exquisite sensors of membrane tension thereby representing an important class of transducers of mechanical signals. I will describe a theory guided set of experiments, which demonstrate how such proteins can initiate and sustain survival signaling pathways that are initiated solely by physical stimulus and without any biochemical cues. We hypothesize that such survival mechanisms can be significant in enhanced survival of cells under conditions of altered mechanics (such as stiffness) of the tumor microenvironment.

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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Zvonimir Dogic (Brandeis)
Spontaneous flow in active fluids

The laws of equilibrium statistical mechanics impose severe constraints on the properties of conventional materials assembled from inanimate building blocks. Consequently, such materials cannot exhibit spontaneous motion or perform macroscopic work. Inspired by biological phenomena such Drosophila cytoplasmic streaming, our goal is to develop a new category of soft active materials assembled from the bottom-up using animate, energy-consuming building blocks such as kinesin molecular motors and microtubule filaments. Released from the constraints of the equilibrium, these internally driven gels, liquid crystals and emulsions are able to change-shape, crawl, flow, swim, and exert forces on their boundaries to produce macroscopic work. In particular we describe properties of an active fluid that upon confinement transitions from a quiescent to a spontaneously flowing state. We characterize the properties of the emergent flows as well as how the transition to a flowing state depends on the properties of the confining geometry. Our results illustrate how active matter can serve as a platform for testing theoretical models of non-equilibrium statistical mechanics, developing new microfluidic applications and potentially even shedding light on self-organization processes occurring in living cells.

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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Dan Pomeroy (MIT)
From Higgs Discovery to the Halls of Congress: How Scientists Can Engage In Public Policy
Host: Craig Blocker

Abstract: 

National policy decisions increasingly involve complex issues with strong technological and scientific components. Scientists can play an important role in informing public policy both from within academia and by pursuing a career in public policy. This talk will provide examples of how a scientist may engage in public policy as well as a detailed discussion of the role of a science policy advisor to a United States Senator.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

No colloquium (Midterm Recess).

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Aram Harrow (MIT) 
What should we do with a small quantum computer?
Host: Matthew Headrick


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Marcelle Soares-Santos (Fermilab)
The Dark Energy Survey and Gravitational Waves
Host: Gabriella Sciolla

Abstract: DES is an ongoing imaging sky survey, the largest such survey to date. Its main science goal is to shed light onto dark energy by making precision measurements of the expansion history and growth of structure in the universe. In this talk I present our latest results and introduce a new DES initiative: searches for optical counterpart of gravitational wave events.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Aditi Mitra (NYU)
TBA
Host: Albion Lawrence


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

No colloquium (APS).
Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Paul Mackenzie (Fermilab)
TBA
Host: Albion Lawrence

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Vladan Vuletic (MIT)
What does the Golden Ratio have to do with friction? An answer atom by atom
Host: Matthew Headrick

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Asamina Arvanitaki, Perimeter Institute
TBA
Host: Albion Lawrence
Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Jeremy England (MIT)
TBA
Host: Michael Hagan

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Gregory Grason (UMass Amherst)
TBA
Host: Zvonimir Dogic

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

No colloquium (Passover and spring recess).