Understanding of microscopic phenomena has progressed significantly since the dawn of quantum theory. Many scientists are engineering tools to design a quantum world that is more suitable to their interests, rather than work with what nature provides them. Engineering the quantum states of light and atoms allows scientists to probe issues of fundamental physics and develop useful technology. I will discuss my experience working in this field, often called quantum information science. I will cover the preparation and measurement of atomic states, as well as using a non-linear process called four-wave mixing to prepare interesting states of light and atoms.
Sponsored by: Dean of the College; Physics Program.
Reem-Kayden Center Laszlo Z. Bito '60 Auditorium Tomorrow in bio seminar, Professor Felicia Keesing will be giving a talk on how to plan a meaningful summer. We'll talk about when, how, and why to apply for research positions -- and when other kinds of jobs might be even more valuable. She'll also cover what you need to know to ask your professors -- or anyone -- for letters of reference. Action-packed and not to be missed, especially since the attendance policy is the same as for other meetings of bio seminar. Visitors welcome. Sponsored by: Biology Program.
Perceiving and Acting in Complex and Dynamic Environments
Brett Fajen, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Thursday, November 5, 2015 4:45 pm
Anyone who has ever been awed by the performance of a professional athlete can appreciate the challenges that are faced when executing a perceptual-motor skill. Although not as dramatic, even routine, everyday tasks represent impressive feats of perception and action. In the first part of this talk, I will provide a broad overview of the perceptual, motor, and cognitive components that underlie both routine and skilled actions. In the second part, I will show how these ideas can be put to work to understand a complex perceptual-motor task that is an integral part of everyday behavior -- walking over complex terrain with obstacles to step over and irregularly spaced target footholds. The findings reveal how the perceptual and motor systems cleverly exploit informational and physical constraints to achieve a remarkable degree of stability and efficiency with a minimal amount of active control.
Electromagnetic fields carry energy, momentum, and even angular momentum. The momentum density is ∊0 (E x B), and it accounts (among other things) for the pressure of light. But even static fields can harbor momentum, and this would appear to contradict a general theorem: if the center of energy of a closed system is at rest, then its total momentum must be zero. Evidently in such cases there lurks some other momentum, not electromagnetic in nature, which cancels the field momentum. But finding this “hidden momentum” can be surprisingly subtle. I’ll discuss a particularly nice example.
Reem-Kayden Center Laszlo Z. Bito '60 Auditorium Come explore how satellite images, fake leaves, DNA sequencing and nightclub fog machines are changing the way we think about how plants function in one of the world’s rarest and most endangered ecosystems.Sponsored by: Biology Program; Dean of the College.
Neural Circuitry Underlying Social and Economic Incentives
David Smith, Rutgers University
Thursday, November 19, 2015 4:45 pm
Our decisions shape the courses of our lives and contribute to the substantial variability observed across the population. In this talk, I will show how individual differences in decision making can be linked to how we process incentives. I will focus on how social and economic incentives are converted into a common value scale. In addition, I will also discuss how incentives are imbued with multiple properties that modulate specific neural circuits. Taken together, our findings advance a mechanistic understanding of how incentives are processed and shape behavior.
How Undergraduate Research Experiences Impact Students’ Participation in Physics
Gina Quan, University of Maryland
Friday, November 20, 2015 12 pm
Physics Education Research (PER) is a rich field which studies how students learn physics as well as how to support better teaching and learning. In my work, I develop innovative learning spaces that integrate authentic physics practices, student collaboration, and an inclusive community. Within these spaces, I qualitatively study identity, how students recognize themselves and are recognized by others as able to participate in physics. In this talk, I will first present a brief overview of the field of Physics Education Research. I will then present research on an undergraduate freshman seminar that I have co-developed in which students worked with faculty and graduate student research mentors on research projects. In videotaped classroom data and interviews, students described ways in which their research experiences were different from their expectations. Students tie an improved sense of competence in research to a better understanding of who does physics and how physics research works. This work sheds light on mechanisms by which research experiences may positively impact students’ identity development in physics.
Come to an information session Friday, November 20, 4 PM - 5 PM, on the pods. Felicia, Gabriel, and Arseny will outline how to know if graduate school is right for you, how to pick the right school and advisor, and whether to take time off between Bard and graduate school. And just in case that's not enough, there will be cookies and tea.