Physics Colloquium

Spring 2010

Thursdays 4:00 p.m., Room 104 Physics
Refreshments served at 3:40 p.m.
  Colloquium organizer: Alexey Yamilov
(Link to main colloquium page)

Green - open date
Yellow - tentative (reserved)
Red - firm commitment


Date Host Speaker Title of the talk Abstract
Jan. 21 Vojta Thomas Vojta
Missouri S&T
Cluster computing in the Missouri S&T Physics Department Official opening of the Pegasus II and Gryphon clusters
Jan. 28 Yamilov Joshua Rovey
Missouri S&T
Deep space propulsion systems    Exploration of deep space requires high exhaust velocity propulsion systems that efficiently utilize propellant mass.  Chemical propulsion systems, such as the Space Shuttle, rely on chemical combustion reactions that inherently limit their exhaust velocity and application.  Electric propulsion systems use electrical energy to propel a spacecraft and have substantially higher exhaust velocity and better propellant utilization.  These types of systems are ideally suited for deep-space missions.  Specifically, ion thrusters are a type of electric propulsion system that expels ionized gas plasma propellant.  Ion thrusters have been used on NASA deep-space missions, such as Deep Space 1 and DAWN.  Because an ion thruster produces a small amount of thrust, it must operate for a long period of time to reach its destination.  Destruction of important thruster components due to the presence of plasma and prolonged operation limits the operational lifetime of the device.  Dr. Rovey will present a short background on rocket propulsion elements and then a detailed theory combining both experiment and modeling to explain the processes that govern ion thruster lifetime.  Finally, Dr. Rovey will discuss the future direction of advanced space propulsion research.
Feb. 4 Yamilov Ralf Wessel
Vision with neural microcircuits    Arguably the biggest goal of modern neuroscience is to gain a deeper and more complete understanding of strongly correlated neural systems, also known as microcircuits. A striking phenomenon of strongly correlated neural systems is visual perception, where a convincing microscopic theory remains elusive. The challenges posed by visual perception clearly highlight the need for fresh concepts. One step towards attaining this goal is to understand evolutionary related but reduced versions of microcircuits in visual pathways.
   I will present results from our research on visual pathways in reptiles and birds. These pathways provide useful model preparations in which to realize accessible and anatomically well-defined microcircuits exhibiting the processing of visual information. The microcircuits allow the control over experimental variables such as the visual stimuli, the cellular properties, and the neural interaction. While the strategy of using anatomically well-defined neural circuits to gain insight into complex brains is certainly nothing new, the possibilities afforded by reptile and bird visual pathways substantially widen the scope of relevant toy models, the solutions of which can often have surprising and unexpected properties.
Feb. 11 Cancelled

Feb. 18 Waddill CM faculty candidate N/A
Feb. 25 Waddill CM faculty candidate N/A
Mar. 4 Waddill CM faculty candidate N/A
Mar. 18 Yamilov Tsampikos Kottos
Wesleyan University
Quantum chaos Cancelled
Mar. 25 Waddill CM faculty candidate N/A
Apr. 8 Cancelled
Apr. 15 Jentschura James Vary
Iowa State
Building bridges from quarks to the cosmos    Fundamental theories, such as Quantum Chromodynmamics (QCD) and Quantum Electrodynamics (QED) offer the promise of great predictive power spanning phenomena on all scales from the microscopic to cosmic scales.  However, new tools that do not rely exclusively on perturbation theory are required to build bridges from one scale to the next.  I will outline recent theoretical and computational progress in nuclear theory to build these bridges. Important phenomena such as the origin of three-nucleon forces and the spin-orbit properties of light nuclei are emerging as sensitive tests of the theories.  These phenomena will play important roles in nuclear double beta decay and searches for physics beyondthe standard model.
Apr. 22 Yamilov Timothy Kaiser
Colorado School of Mines
Consider an Ojive Cow...
   Dr. Timothy Kaiser is the Director of Research and High Performance Computing at the Colorado School of Mines (CSM), a school similar to MST in size and focus. More importantly, he is a 1981 graduate of The University of Missouri-Rolla receiving a BS in Physics while working for Dr. Ed Hale. He also holds a MS in EE/Applied Physics from UCSD and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from UNM.
   In this talk he will discuss his alternative career path as a physicist. In particular he will discuss how his training as a physicist has enabled him to be successful in many different types of endeavors. He will discuss some of the interesting and diverse projects that he has been a part of including those with nicknames of: “Don’t tell Maggie (Thatcher)”, “Don’t tell Seattle” and of course, “Don’t tell your wife.”
   He will discuss the elective classes that have been important to his career along with many lessons learned off campus before and after leaving Rolla. Just as his career has wondered so will this talk, but again, both always come back to being a physicist. In the spirit of “A Brief History of Time” there will only be a single equation in this presentation, but it is a doozy. Dr. Kaiser has published on such topics as earthquake modeling, computer languages, optimization, graphics, and biology. In his present position his primary role is being an advisor to faculty and graduate students, helping scientists get their science done.
Apr. 29 Yamilov 39th Annual Harold Q. Fuller Prize Colloquium 1. "Determining Missing Transverse Energy in the ATLAS Detector" by Thomas Schmit
2. "Simulations of Wave-Front Shaping in Light Propagation Through Disordered Medium" by Laura Sisken and Winston Carr
May 6SchulzAlexander Godunov
Old Dominion University
Correlated electron motion in Helium and the collective effects of Plutonium sputtering: examples of the few-body and many-body problemsThe helium atom has been the primary testing playground for both experiment and theory since the dawn of quantum mechanics. However, numerous recent experiments demonstrated that dynamic processes involving an electronic transition in helium still pose a significant challenge to theory.  For example, for transfer-ionization of helium by proton impact it was shown that our understanding of electron correlation, even of a system as simple as helium's, is far from complete, to say nothing of the true many-body systems. In this talk, I will discuss the recent results of the transfer-ionization of Helium by protons (the few-body problem), as well as the sputtering of Plutonium by fast ion impact (the many-body problem).
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