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Nuclear and Particle Physics Colloquium

FALL 2008

Every Monday
@4:15 pm
Room 26-414, Kolker Room

Refreshments @ 4:00pm

September 8th

Lindley Winslow, MIT

"KamLAND: Measuring Neutrinos from the Earth, the Sun and Nuclear Reactors"


Host: J. Formaggio

September 15th

Erich Varnes
"Top Quark Measurements at DO"

Eleven years after the discovery of the top quark, we have entered the era of precision measurement of its properties. These measurements allow us to constrain the mass of the Higgs boson within the standard model, and to search for non-standard model effects in top production or decay.

I will review the current state of our knowledge of the top quark based on data collected by the D0 experiment at Fermilab. In particular, I will discuss the rate of top quark pair production, the search for single-top production, measurement of the top quark mass, and measurement of the helicity of the W boson produced in top quark decay.

September 22nd

Steve Sekula, OSU

"The White Elephant: Upsilon Physics at the BaBar B- factory"

For a decade, the PEP-II/BaBar B-factory has been a flagship experiment in precision measurements in the flavor sector, notably in the decays of B and charm mesons. Before its shutdown in April, the B- factory took a new direction and secured the world's largest samples of Upsilon(3S) and Upsilon(2S) mesons and performed an extensive scan above the Upsilon(4S) resonance. I will talk about the motivation for this change of course and our new results in both the search for the ground state of bottomonium and the search for evidence of new physics at a low mass scale, including both the Higgs and dark matter.

Host: G. Sciolla

September 29th

Justin Khoury, Perimeter Institute

"The Early Universe and Non-Gaussianity"

We review different theories of early universe cosmology that account for the origin of structure and explain the observed degree of flatness and homogeneity. We discuss near-future observational prospects for discriminating between these scenarios, focusing in particular on deviations from Gaussianity in the spectrum of primordial density perturbations.

Host: Alan Guth

October 6th

Frank Maas, Mainz

"The structure of the nucleon, from parity violation to antiproton annihilation"

The structure of the proton and neutron (the nucleon) at low energy scales is dominated by the dynamic creation of gluons and quark-antiquark pairs. The sea-quark dynamics in the nucleon can be studied in parity violating electron scattering where the contribution of the strange quarks to the electromagnetic form factors of proton and neutron can be directly accessed. The A4 Experiment at the MAMI accelerator in Mainz has been build to determine the weak form factors of the proton by a measurement of small (order ppm) parity violating longitudinal single spin asymmetries in the elastic scattering of electrons off protons. The results of the present world data and their implications for the strangeness contribution to the electromagnetic form factors will be discussed. The PANDA detector at the upcoming FAIR facility at GSI renders the unique possibility of measuring the electromagnetic form factors of the proton in the time like domain over a wide range of momentum transfer. The perspectives will be discussed in the second part of the presentation.

Host:Stanley Kowalski

October 13th

Columbus Day - NO TALK

TUESDAY, October 21st

Joint with Astrophysics


James Battat, MIT

"Testing Gravity in the Solar System"

Ten years ago, shocking news came from the world of astrophysics: we live in an accelerating Universe. General Relativity (GR) with a cosmological constant can accommodate these observations, but no adequate explanation for the observed dark energy density yet exists. A plausible alternative to dark energy is that GR breaks down on cosmological scales. Indeed, speculative "post-Einstein" gravity theories abound. Many of these theories predict observable signatures in the solar system, and can therefore be constrained with Lunar Laser Ranging (LLR) and planetary ranging observations. LLR, in fact, provides the tightest constraints on many facets of gravitational physics including the strong equivalence principle, the inverse square law of gravity, gravitomagnetism, and Lorentz symmetry in the gravitational sector. I will describe the ongoing Apache Point Observatory Lunar Laser-ranging Operation (APOLLO), a project which currently delivers millimeter-precision measurements of the Earth-Moon distance. In addition, I will present new constraints on Lorentz invariance and theories that produce cosmic acceleration without dark energy.

Host: G. Sciolla

October 27th

Jonathan Feng, UC Irvine

WIMPs and Their Relations
Weakly-interacting massive particles (WIMPs) are among the leading candidates for particle dark matter.  I review their motivations, recent developments expanding the WIMP paradigm to related but very different classes of dark matter, and the implications of all of these candidates for identifying dark matter in the coming years through probes at the interface of particle physics, astroparticle physics, and cosmology.

Host: A. Guth

November 3rd

Krishna Rajagopal, MIT

"Quark-Gluon Plasma in QCD, at RHIC and LHC, and in String Theory"

Host: A. Guth

November 10th

Veteran's Day - No Talk

November 17th

Carleton Detar

"QCD Thermodynamics from Lattice Gauge Theory"

At an early stage it is likely the universe was predominantly a high-temperature quark-gluon plasma.  In heavy ion colliders we seek to recreate the plasma and study its properties.  The challenge for theory is to predict its behavior and assist in experimental discovery.  Numerical simulation is the only successful tool we have for making ab initio predictions in quantum chromodynamics.   Results from recent high-statistics calculations in lattice gauge theory are becoming available.   I will give a brief review of the current state of the art, present some new results, and list remaining challenges.

Host: J. Negele


November 24th

Prof. Kadak, MIT

"The Role of Nuclear Energy as the Earth Warms?"

The reason for the question mark in the title is two fold:  Is there a role for nuclear energy in the future; and  Is the earth warming?  This seminar will address the basic energy and environment dilemma we face with a description of the possible role that nuclear energy can play.  Fundamentals of nuclear power and process heat applications will be explained as will the current plans of power companies to use nuclear energy as part of their energy mix.   Obstacles to deployment will be raised as will the question of what are we going to do with the waste.

Host: R. Milner

December 1st

Aaron Pierce, University of Michigan

"Dark Matter on the Eve of LHC"

Host: A. Guth

December 8th

A. P. French, MIT Physics Department

A very junior physicist in the British and U.S. atomic bomb projects, 1942-1946

This will be a talk based on the speaker's personal  experiences and recollections, first at the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge, between June 1942 and October 1944, and then at Los Alamos from October 1944 to August 1946, during a major part of World War II.

Host: J. Negele

Committee Members:

Gabriella Sciolla (Chair)
Joseph Formaggio
Steve Nahn
John Negele
Alan Guth

updated 11/25/08
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