THE DEPARTMENT OF PHYSICS AND ASTRONOMY PRESENTS
A SERIES OF LECTURES, DEMONSTRATIONS, AND FILMS

WHAT PHYSICISTS DO

“We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.” - Carl Sagan

NINETY-FIFTH SERIES
Spring 2018

History of the Series

Mondays at 4:00 p.m. Darwin 103 Coffee at 3:30 p.m.
Date About
Feb 05 MAKING AT SSU
Jeremy Qualls will discuss the rapid advances in digital fabrication and social media that has given rise to new opportunities blending science, technology, art, and entrepreneurship. Sonoma State University has embraced the do it yourself maker mindset with many new innovative programs including a campus community maker-space and a sophomore year experience. An introduction to the "If you can dream it, you can make it" movement and the future of digital fabrication will be included.
Feb 12 COSMOS EPISODE 1 - 1980
The 1980 COSMOS series has inspired many for generations. We will be looking at the first episode in the original series, and comparing the contents with developments in astronomy since its broadcast.
Feb 19 THINGS ONE CAN LEARN BY PUTTING A QUADCOPTER IN A VACCUUM CHAMBER
Quadcopters (also known as “drones”) do not fly in vacuum. This is obvious enough that experimenting on one in a vacuum chamber would seem rather uninteresting, but there is one question that Eric J Ayars will address by such an experiment: the mechanism for yaw control. Quadcopters control yaw (rotation about the vertical axis) by differential rotor speed, and the question of whether those changes in rotor speed create yaw torque via conservation of angular momentum or via atmospheric drag can be addressed by “flying” a quadcopter in a vacuum where there is effectively zero atmospheric drag.
Feb 26 HOW SSU PHYSICS PREPARED ME FOR GRADUATE ACADEMICS AND RESEARCH
From Dr. Shi’s quantum to Dr. Jones’ statistical mechanics, Kevin Zach's time in the physics department helped in graduate school. He will describe SSU’s impact on his three years of graduate classes and research yielding a master’s in electrical engineering and two more satellites ready for orbit.
Mar 05 THE GREAT POTENTIAL OF EXOPLANET SATELLITES FOR HIGH ENERGY ASTROPHYSICS
Krista Lynne Smith will discuss how the new generation of satellites like Kepler and TESS designed to search for the minute signals of transiting exoplanets around main sequence stars have many design properties that make them ideal instruments for high-precision timing studies of numerous high energy phenomena. In particular, the study of accretion disks around black holes and the physics of energetic young stars have had many recent breakthroughs due to these fascinating instruments, and the future is bright for rapid optical timing if we can continue to leverage these missions for science beyond their intended target.
Mar 12 ECLIPSE MEGAMOVIE: GATHERING IMAGES OF THE SOLAR CORONA FROM THE PUBLIC FOR SCIENCE, EDUCATION, AND ART
Last August 21, 2017, there was a total solar eclipse crossing the United States from the Pacific to the Atlantic—the first such eclipse in 99 years. This astronomical event brought people from around the world to the United States to experience the eclipse, and to perform scientific research. The promise of a unique experience during “totality,” when the moon completely blocks the Sun, also created a motivation for communities throughout the U.S. to learn simple orbital dynamics, information about the dynamic Sun as a star, and the practices of astronomical research. Since 2011, a team of solar scientists, eclipse chasers, educators, outreach professionals, and filmmakers have been working toward a dream of gathering images from—and ultimately for—the public during the 2017 eclipse across the United States. The goal of this project is to collect these images for use by the public, including scientists, to create an “Eclipse Megamovie” of the corona from images taken along a long stretch of land and over a long time period. An archive of all the images will be used for research on the Sun’s corona as well as science education, art, and videos—all to enhance the experience of the eclipse. Dr. Peticolas will provide an overview of the 2017 total solar eclipse and describe some scientific research efforts that are ongoing, as a result of collecting over 50,000 coronal images.
Mar 19 SPRING BREAK
Mar 26 GRAVITATIONAL WAVES FROM MERGING COMPACT BINARIES
Prof. Lynn Cominsky from Sonoma State University will present an introduction to LIGO's discoveries of gravitational waves and will review the most recent results reported from LIGO and Virgo.
Apr 02 SUMMER AT CERN
Zachary Kurland is a graduating physics student at Sonoma State University. In the summer of 2017, he was awarded the NSF-IRES award to perform research at CERN on the ATLAS experiment of the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva Switzerland for eight weeks. He will be discussing his research, how he was selected to go to CERN, and his experiences while there.
Apr 09 THE MYSTERIOUS MASS OF THE HIGGS BOSON
The discovery of the Higgs boson at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in 2012 triumphantly completed the Standard Model of particle physics and opened the experimental program studying this new particle. At the same time, particle experiments are searching for physics beyond the Standard Model, including an those that explain the hierarchy between the measured Higgs mass, and the Planck scale. Nearly all of the proposed resolutions to this "Hierarchy Problem" predict new particles which are light enough to be discovered at the LHC, but to date no new particles have appeared. However, the most powerful experimental probes assume the new particles carry the same "color" charge as the quarks within the proton. If the particles which keep the Higgs light do not carry this color, new search strategies need to be employed. In this talk Christopher Verhaaren introduces how color neutral particles can solve the Hierarchy Problem, and also some of the ways these new particles can be discovered at the LHC.
Apr 16 ELECTRONICS AND OPTO-ELECTRONICS WITH TWO-DIMENSIONAL ATOMIC CRYSTALS
Two-dimensional (2D) atomic crystals are recently discovered materials that are only atoms thick, and yet can span laterally over millimeters. The diverse family of such materials includes graphene: a semimetal with massless relativistic charge carriers, and monolayer transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDCs), such as molybdenum disulfide (MoS2): direct band gap semiconductors with strong spin-orbit interaction. In this presentation, AKM Newaz will talk about the electrical and optical properties of 2D atomic crystals and future device applications.
Apr 23 THE QUANTUM AND THE COSMOS: THE QUEST FOR THE ORIGIN OF ORDINARY AND DARK MATTER
Stefano Profumo will explain why modern cosmology is a scientific theory, and introduce the two key ingredients that this scientific theory is based upon: dark matter and dark energy. Stefano will argue that it is far more interesting to think about what the dark matter is, as this is the leading clue to new particle physics beyond our beloved "Standard Model", and he will explain how the search for dark matter is currently unfolding. Finally, Stefano will briefly talk about testable models for the generation of the matter-antimatter asymmetry, a second profound mystery at the interface of cosmology and particle physics.
Apr 30 THE SuperCDMS SNOLAB EXPERIMENT: SEARCHING FOR ELUSIVE DARK MATTER A MILE UNDERGROUND
Although yet to be directly observed, there is a wealth of evidence for the existence of some form of non-luminous matter distinct from the normal material that makes up our everyday world. Although an extremely challenging search, there are a number of experimental groups attempting to detect and characterize dark matter particles via a range of different methods. Matthew Hollister will discuss the SuperCDMS SNOLAB, the latest generation of a series of experiments deployed by the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search collaboration. The CDMS detection method uses silicon and germanium crystals cooled to within a few hundredths of a degree of absolute zero as targets for interaction with dark matter particles. The experiment must be well shielded from natural background radiation and cosmic rays to avoid false detections, and so is operated in underground facilities such as the SNOLAB facility in Ontario, Canada.

Sonoma State University

This series is supported by private donations and Instructionally Related Activities funds.

Department of Physics and Astronomy, Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, CA 94928-3609. (707) 664-2119
phys.astro@sonoma.edu       http://phys-astro.sonoma.edu/wpd/