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Seminar Series

Seminar Series

The Department of Physics and Astronomy has an active seminar series where members of our community meet twice a month to learn about current physics research, to watch student presentations about their research at Ithaca College, and to hear updates about faculty research. The Physics Seminar Series is usually held on Tuesdays from 12:10 pm to 1 pm with snacks and drink being provided by the physics department.

The Department of Physics and Astronomy also hosts the Physics Café. The Physics Café is a campus-wide lecture series sponsored by the Physics and Astronomy Department of Ithaca College. The idea is to grab and hold the attention of science and non-science majors by offering talks on exciting and accessible current topics in physics. Past Café lectures have featured the time-warping properties of black holes, the exploration of planet Mars, the communication of elephants, and remote sensing of archaeological sites. The talks are presented in a café environment, where coffee is served and students and physicists can informally discuss new ideas.

Physics & Astronomy Colloquium Schedule: Fall 2020

All seminars will be held on Tuesdays at 12:10 (unless otherwise indicated).
Pizza and refreshments will be available for $1
Remember to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle - Please bring your own cup.

Sept 22: Catherine Herne, SUNY New Paltz

Seeing the unseen: finding force with light
How can physicists see forces acting on optical materials? Optical tweezers, trapping and controlling objects with lasers, provides forces for laser-controlled micro-robotics. The precise motion of transparent “micro-arms” resulting from laser illumination is often hard to model; instead we measure the change in the laser light after passing through objects in order to infer forces acting on them. My students and I have developed a technique using polarization measurements to image these laser modes.  In this talk, calcite crystals feature as the micromachine and polarimetry as the measuring device. 

Oct 6: Rhett Allain, Southern Louisiana University, Wired Magazine

As the technical consultant for both MacGyver (CBS) and MythBusters (Science Channel), I get to see many examples of science.  The role of a technical consultant varies, but in general, it is my job to review scenarios or explanations and modify them to be as accurate as possible. In some cases the science is completely realistic, but in other cases it has to be exaggerated somewhat.

Both real and unreal science in popular shows can be used to promote science.  In this talk, I will share my favorite examples and experiences from MacGyverMythBusters and other shows to discuss implications for science communication.

Oct 20: Hannah Kaplan, NASA

Spectral investigation of asteroid Bennu with the OSIRIS-REx Mission. 

OSIRIS-REx is a spacecraft mission to near-earth asteroid (101955) Bennu that will collect and return a sample from the asteroid to Earth. Two spectrometers on the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft measured the visible, near-infrared and thermal-infrared wavelengths of light reflected or emitted from the asteroid over multiple years of observation. This spectral data can be used to determine the chemistry and mineralogy of the asteroid, which in turn tell about its origin and geologic history. Major findings from the spectrometers include: the presence of hydrated minerals across the surface of Bennu, organic materials, and the minerals magnetite and carbonate. Our new understanding of Bennu’s composition provided by OSIRIS-REx suggests that the asteroid experienced substantial aqueous alteration, minor to moderate heating, surface contamination for impactors, and ongoing alteration from space weathering. Through the lens of Bennu’s composition, Dr. Kaplan will describe Bennu’s history and implications for the returned sample. 

Nov 3: Student Seminar: Brady Elster, Antara Sen, Ted Mburu

Antara Sen. Spectral Effects of Textural and Compositional Lab Simulations of Asteroid (101955) Bennu. Advisor: Beth Ellen Clark Joseph

Brady Elster. Computer Modelling of the Early Stages of Planet Formation. Advisor: Jerome Fung

Ted Mburu. Dynamic Simulation to Help with the Understanding of Electric Fields. Advisor: Colleen Countryman

Nov 17: Hannah Herde, CERN

Building an Olympian: Assembling the Next Generation of the ATLAS Detector for the High Luminosity LHC Era

How do you measure the smallest components of the universe? The ATLAS Experiment, located on the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, measures the known building blocks of nature and searches for new ones. This talk discusses the effort to build the next generation of the ATLAS Experiment's innermost particle detector, designed to withstand more simultaneous proton collisions than ever before!

Dec 1: Vera Smolyaninova, Towson University

Condensed matter.