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News & Events

About October 2012

This page contains all entries posted to Physics Announcements in October 2012. They are listed from oldest to newest.

September 2012 is the previous archive.

November 2012 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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October 2012 Archives

October 3, 2012

Seminar: Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012 at 3:30 pm

Genius Machines: The Future of Artificial Intelligence,
Virtual reality, Robotics, and Biomechanics
Dr. Catherine Asaro

Disruptive technologies are those innovations that create new markets or replace old ones. Such a technology applies a new set of scientific, social, or economic conditions that ultimately, and often unexpectedly, displaces an existing market. The car replaced the horse and buggy; CDs replaced LP records and cassette tapes; online social networking such as email and Facebook now dominate social interactions once confined to mailing hardcopy letters. The areas of artificial intelligence, virtual reality, robotics, and biomechanics are exploding in their expansion and will continue to disrupt current technologies over the next decades, changing how we live, do business, and even what it means to be human. Catherine Asaro is a member of SIGMA, a think tank of futurists that consults for the US government and private industry on such developments. In January of 2012, Asaro was one of four futurists, along with Arlan Andrews, Kathleen Goonan, and Mark O'Green, who were hosted as invited speakers at the Global Competitiveness Forum in Saudi Arabia, an annual gathering of several thousand of the world’s political, financial, academic and intellectual leaders. During their panel, “Disruptive Technologies,” Asaro spoke on the innovations of AI, VR, robotics, and biomechanics. The seminar presented by Asaro at UMBC is an expansion of her talk that she has adapted for seminars at venues such as Georgetown University, the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society, and the Naval Observatory in Washington DC.

Location: Physics Bldg., Room 401

October 10, 2012

Seminar: Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012 at 3:30 pm

From Random Walks to Brownian Motion to Diffusion and Entropy:
Statistical Principles in Introductory Physics
Mark Reeves
Department of Physics George Washington University

Introductory biology courses often begin with an exploration of the qualities of water that are important to living systems. One idea that is often not addressed is dominant contribution of the entropy of water molecules in driving biologically important processes towards equilibrium. Compounding the problem, many introductory physics courses have deemphasized entropy, almost to the point of eliminating it entirely. In contrast, we are teaching this concept in our introductory physics and biology classes, and are collaborating to bring the pedagogical approaches of Scale-Up Physics teaching into biology instruction. From a content point of view, we strive to bring quantitative modeling into the biology class and life into the physics course. To this end, students are introduced to prediction and random walk by first considering coin flips. We move on to a Java-based simulation of the random walk problem that mimics the diffusion of molecules in water. The simulations are complemented by lab experiments in which Brownian motion and dye diffusion in agarose gels are observed and quantitatively measured using ImageJ software. These measurements link the microscopic model of Brownian motion to its macroscopic realization in diffusion. Furthermore, this curricular unit, which is presented in both the introductory physics and biology classes, leads to the important conclusion that lipid bilayers and folded proteins are formed because of the entropic release of water molecules from the surfaces of hydrophobic moieties. Formative and summative assessments of the students’ learning provide perspectives to the challenges of our joint curricular reforms.

Location: Physics Bldg., Room 401

October 17, 2012

Seminar: Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012 at 3:30 pm

Dust and volcanoes: Natural aerosols in human-induced climate change
Dr. Lorraine Remer
UMBC Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology

Aerosols are tiny suspended liquid and solid particles found in the atmosphere. These particles degrade air quality and are active in the climate system. Over the past 20 years, man-made aerosols, those particles emitted hand-in-hand with greenhouse gases, have been the focus of intense scrutiny by the aerosol-climate community.

Let’s not forget natural aerosols. The bulk of aerosol particles are natural, not man-made, and these natural aerosols are just as important to the climate system. Natural aerosols travel long distances and affect exceptionally pristine areas of the Earth where small changes in the aerosol environment can produce relatively large responses. Most importantly the processes producing natural aerosols such as dust and volcanic emissions are not constant. Therefore, there is no background aerosol environment from which to quantify the perturbation made by human activity and man-made particles. How do we calculate the aerosol forcing imposed by human activity if we do not know what the aerosol effect was before people became involved?

Location: Physics Bldg., Room 401

October 24, 2012

Seminar: Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012 at 3:30 pm

"The Higgs Boson"
Drew Baden
University of Maryland, College Park

Last July, experimentalists reported on the observation of a new particle seen in proton proton experiments at CERN. This new particle might be the first observation of a fundamental scalar, and is very likely to be the long sought after Higgs boson. I will try to give an overview of the experiment and the impact of the measurement.

Location: Physics Bldg., Room 401

October 31, 2012

Seminar: Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012 at 3:30 pm

"Violin Acoustics, Bowing, and Construction"
Joseph Sedlak

This talk will begin with a brief description of the violin's early history, evolution, and main structural characteristics. Next, we will look in more detail at two topics concerning the instrument's acoustics. The first is Helmholtz's solution for the waveform and spectrum of the bowed string, which we will compare with the plucked string. The second is a simple mathematical model describing the coupling of the air cavity resonance with the sound radiated from the violin body. This resonance is important for the richness of sound when playing the lowest notes. Finally, a slide-show will be presented showing the step-by-step construction of a violin.

Location: Physics Bldg., Room 401