Physics and Astronomy Colloquium
Speaker: Geoff Greene
University of Tennessee
Title: The Life and Death of the Free Neutron
Abstract: The decay of the free neutron is the simplest example of nuclear beta decay and, as such, is the archetype for a wide variety of Weak Interaction processes. These include radioactivity, Big Bang Nucleosynthesis, and energy production in the sun. Additionally, The precise value of the free neutron lifetime, can, along with other data, be used to test the consistency of the Standard Model. Remarkably, the value of neutron lifetime can also help determine the atmospheric composition of Venus. Given the breadth of physics involved, it is disconcerting to note that, at present, measurements of the neutron lifetime by different methods are inconsistent. In this talk, I will discuss the physics of neutron decay and will review the strategies for the experimental determination of the neutron lifetime. I will discuss some of the experimental challenges and will attempt to provide some illumination of the current discrepant situation.
Title: Electrify Everything!
Abstract: Making everything run on electricity is a necessary step in the transition from fossil fuels. Starting that process immediately is also necessary, and helpful both to the process and the environment.
Title: Trapped-ion optical clocks: Telling time and testing physics at the quantum limit
Abstract: Optical transitions in trapped, laser-cooled ions can provide an extremely well-controlled frequency reference for atomic clocks. The most stable and accurate atomic clocks now make measurements with total uncertainty approaching 1×10-18. The Ion Storage Group at NIST develops optical clocks based on the 1S0-3P0 resonance in 27Al+. To perform precision spectroscopy on this atomic system we use the basic building block of a quantum computer, the two-qubit gate, which transfers information from 27Al+ to a second ion species held in the same trap. I will introduce these systems and present recent frequency comparisons between them and other optical clocks at NIST. These comparisons provide valuable data for international time/frequency standards and can test our fundamental theories including relativity and the Standard Model. I will also describe quantum metrology techniques that have allowed us to approach the quantum limit for stability in a 27Al+ single-ion clock.
Title: Dynamics at the edge: charge fractionalization and near-stationary high energy state
Title: Quantum Codes from Condensed Matter to Quantum Gravity
Abstract: I will explore the appearance of quantum codes in diverse contexts, from the toric code of condensed matter physics to holographic codes in quantum gravity. The contexts and implementations of these codes vary widely, but their structures have much in common and suggest a deeper connection between them.
Title: Combining Galaxy and CMB Surveys — all the science that “comes for free”
Abstract: The LCDM model has been extraordinarily successful. In the past 20 years, the cosmology community has worked hard to make ever more precise measurements of the LCDM parameters using large datasets from cosmic surveys. As error bars shrink and several tensions arise, we are eager to look for new and different ways of making robust statements of the LCDM paradigm. In this talk I like to focus on one particular direction where we can get new information to help this effort — by combining different cosmic surveys, in particular galaxy and CMB surveys. I will first describe the latest cosmological analysis using the Dark Energy Survey (DES) and CMB lensing from the South Pole Telescope (SPT) and Planck. Then I will talk about combining DES galaxies and the thermal Sunyaev Zel'dovich (tSZ) effect measured from SPT and Planck to learn about the baryonic feedback in our galaxies. These analyses will highlight the power of combining different datasets to tackle some of the most pressing issues in observational cosmology today.
This colloquium will be remote over zoom.
Title: Cosmic Building Blocks: Forming Planets from Tiny Grains of Dust
Abstract: Planet formation takes place in disks of dust and gas around young stars, where the dust grains are the building blocks to form new planets. Nevertheless, capturing the planet-formation process is challenging as disks are complex and dynamic environments. Observational studies of both disks and planet formation are rapidly changing with the development of high resolution and multi-wavelength instrumentation. With current capabilities, we can characterize structural features in disks, study their chemistry, and even detect young protoplanets embedded in these systems. In this presentation, I will provide an overview of both current and future capabilities, highlighting stunning images and results. I will also discuss some of the challenging open questions and how future research may tackle many of these questions.