The Saturday Physics Series consists of five to seven scheduled talks oriented toward adults and high school students. Lectures occur on specific Saturdays afternoons throughout the school year, typically in Duane G1B30. Unless otherwise noted, lectures begin at 1:30 p.m., and usually last about one hour. Material is presented at the level of high school juniors and seniors, which makes it an excellent opportunity for Physics teachers to offer extra credit to students. The series is free, open to the public, and no reservations are required. Simply show up and enjoy the show!

Unless otherwise noted, lectures will be from 1:30 - 2:30 in the Duane Physics Building!

Spring 2020 Schedule

January 25 — "Living in the Golden Age of Solar Physics"

  • Presented by: Professor Maria Kazachenko
  • Location: DUAN G1B20
  • Abstract: Space weather is largely caused by the activity of our Sun. Invisible yet powerful magnetic fields, created within the Sun, determine when and where the next solar eruption will happen. Large solar storms can put our technological society at risk. In this talk, CU Boulder and National Solar Observatory professor, Maria Kazachenko will discuss how advances in solar telescopes allow scientists to understand the Sun in a lot more detail than ever before.

February 22 — "The Anti-Matter Within Us"

  • Presented by: Professor Ed Kinney
  • Location: DUAN G1B20
  • Abstract: Many people are surprised to learn that the existence of anti-matter is not science fiction, but in fact a very real part of our universe! But what is anti-matter? How can we create it in the laboratory or observe the anti-matter made naturally? How can we tell “regular” matter from anti-matter and what happens when anti-matter and regular matter come together? In this talk we’ll learn about the basics of anti-matter, where you find it and how you make it, and in particular we’ll focus on the anti-matter that exists inside the atoms in our bodies as well as the anti-matter which comes from outer space.

**CANCELLED** March 7 — "From Nanomaterials to NASCAR: Materials at 200 Miles per Hour"

  • Presented by: Dr. Diandra Leslie-Pelecky
  • Location: DUAN G1B20
  • NOTE SPECIAL TIME: 2:00 p.m.
  • Abstract: You cannot win a NASCAR race without understanding science. Materials play important roles in improving performance, as well as ensuring safety. On the performance side, NASCAR limits the materials race car scientists and engineers can use to limit ownership costs. 'Exotic metals' are not allowed, so controlling microstructure and nanostructure are important tools. Compacted Graphitic Iron, a cast iron in which magnesium additions produce interlocking microscale graphite reinforcements, makes engine blocks stronger and lighter. NASCAR's new car design employs a composite called Tegris that has 70 percent of the strength of carbon fiber composites at about 10 percent of the cost.

    The most important role of materials in racing is safety. Drivers wear firesuits made of polymers that carbonize (providing thermal protection) and expand (reducing oxygen access) when heated. Catalytic materials originally developed for space-based CO2 lasers filter air for drivers during races. Although materials help cars go fast, they also help cars slow down safely—important because the kinetic energy of a race car going 180 mph is nine times greater than that of a passenger car going 60 mph. Energy-absorbing foams in the cars and on the tracks control energy dissipation during accidents.

    To say that most NASCAR fans (and there are estimated to be 75 million of them) are passionate about their sport is an understatement. NASCAR fans understand that science and engineering are integral to keeping their drivers safe and helping their teams win. Their passion for racing gives us a great opportunity to share our passion for science with them.

**CANCELLED** March 14 — "Can you Count to One Quadrillion in a Second?"

  • Presented by: Professor Scott Diddams
  • Location: DUAN G1B20
  • Abstract: Metrology is the framework behind modern science and technology. For most of us, our first experience with metrology might have been counting fingers and toes. But how do you measure the oscillations of a beam of light—the fastest thing in the universe? This talk will tell you about new metrology tools that are used to count the cycles of a wave of light and how that is being used to build ultraprecise optical atomic clocks. Interestingly, the same light measurement tools are also being applied to quantify the composition of the air we breathe and find exoplanets around nearby stars.

**CANCELLED** April 11 — "Atomic Clocks: The Greatest Rulers of Time"

  • Presented by: Professor Ana Maria Rey
  • Location: DUAN G1B20
  • Abstract: The best clock in the world has no hands, no pendulum, no face or digital display. It is made of ultra-cold Strontium atoms trapped in crystals of light. The clock is so precise that, had it begun ticking when Earth formed billions of years ago, it would not yet have gained or lost a second. These ultraprecise atomic clocks not only can serve as the state-of-the-art timekeepers, but also they could help us unveil the mysteries of the quantum world, which is ruled by the bizarre concept of entanglement or “spooky action at a distance”. In fact, the new generation of atomic clocks are paving the ground for the construction of quantum computers with computational powers beyond that of any imaginable classical machine. A quantum computer should be able solve otherwise intractable problems, with far-reaching applications to cryptology, material design and fundamental physical sciences. Can we make the clock even better? Regardless of their impressive precision and accuracy, current atomic clocks still operate with independent atoms which are fundamentally fuzzy. Interestingly, this fuzziness could be reduced if we entangle them. So atomic clocks are a win-win business, not only the current generation of clocks will help us to better understand the quantum world, but the gained understanding will in turn allow us to build the most incredible quantum rulers of time in the future.

September 28 — "Rocky Mountain High: The Physics of Baseball at Elevation"

  • Presented by: Professor John Bohn
  • Location: DUAN G1B30
  • Abstract: From the beginning, Coors Field has been tagged as a hitter’s ballpark, with home runs flying out at an incredible rate and pitchers unable to cope.  This is, at least partly, due to the thin air a mile above sea level, and is a result of influences whose physics can be understood.  In this talk I address the physics of baseball in Denver, including the effect the famous Coors Field humidor has had on the game. 

October 19 — "Lunar Exploration: 50 Years After the Historical Apollo 11 Landing"

  • Presented by: Professor Shijie Zhong
  • Location: DUAN G1B30
  • Abstract: This presentation is about the Apollo 11 landing, Apollo mission, and its impact on our understanding of the Moon and Earth-Moon system. Historical events surrounding the Apollo mission and landings will be recounted. Post-Apollo lunar missions by both US and other countries will also be discussed, together with a brief future outlook. 

November 2 — "Harnessing the Power of Plasma to Build the Particle Accelerators of the Future"

  • Presented by: Professor Michael Litos
  • Location: DUAN G1B20
  • Abstract: In order to continue pushing the boundaries of experimental particle physics, particles need to be collided at ever higher energies. This could be accomplished by building even larger accelerators that utilize current technologies, but such an approach may be prohibitively expensive. An alternative approach is to develop new accelerator technologies that can produce a higher energy boost to the particles over each meter of distance. Four decades ago, it was realized that the power of plasma waves could be harnessed to serve this purpose. Since then, plasma wakefield acceleration has become a major field of physics research, and significant progress has been made toward the realization of plasma-powered, high energy physics particle accelerators.

December 7 — "Making Snow - New Insights from Orographic Cloud Seeding"

  • Presented by: Professor Katja Friedrich
  • Location: DUAN G1B20
  • Abstract: Throughout the western U.S., water supplies are primarily fed through the melting of snowpack. Growing populations place higher demands on water while warmer winters and earlier springs reduce its supply. Water managers use seeding orographic clouds in winter as a way to increase snowfall. This talk will provide an overview of the history of cloud seeding, the underlying physical principle, the challenges, and scientific breakthrough to improve experimental design and address the main questions of how much snow can we actually produce.


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    For more information please contact Veronica Lingo.