Physics and Astronomy
Contact
Department Chair:
Stephen FitzGerald

Administrative Assistant:
Diane Doman

Department Email:


Phone: (440) 775-8330
Fax: (440) 775-6379

Location:
Wright Laboratory of Physics
110 N. Professor St.
Oberlin, OH, 44074

Physics and Astronomy Lecture Series

Physics and Astronomy Lecture Series

2016-2017

September

15 (Thursday) 4:35 pm

Speaker:  Rob Owen, Assistant Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Oberlin College
Title: The Detection of Gravitational Waves and the Modeling of their Sources
Abstract:  Over the last year, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) has made two direct detections of gravitational waves, propagating ripples in the geometrical structure of spacetime itself, produced in these cases by collisions of pairs of stellar-mass black holes. This phenomenon has been anticipated for just over a century, as a consequence of Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, but a phenomenal effort of experimental and theoretical physics has been required to bring it to fruition. In this talk, I will review the concept of gravitational waves, the basic structure of the LIGO experiment, the significance of its results, and the work that I and my collaborators do to model the sources of these waves theoretically. In particular, I will describe aspects of my ongoing research effort: developing techniques to define and calculate the energy, momentum, and angular momentum of empty space.
Location:  Wright 201

October

25 (Tuesday) 4:35 pm

Speaker:  Chiara Mingarelli, Marie Curie Fellow at Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy
Title: The Gravitational-Wave Universe Seen By Pulsar Timing Arrays
Abstract:  Galaxy mergers are a standard aspect of galaxy formation and evolution, and most (likely all) large galaxies contain supermassive black holes.  As part of the merging process, the supermassive black holes should in-spiral together and eventually merge, generating a background of gravitational radiation in the nanohertz to microhertz regime.  An array of precisely timed pulsars spread across the sky can form a galactic-scale gravitational wave detector in the nanohertz band. Mingarelli will describe the current efforts to develop and extend the pulsar timing array concept, together with recent limits which have emerged from North American and international efforts to constrain astrophysical phenomena at the heart of supermassive black hole mergers.
Location:  Wright 201

November

10 (Thursday) 4:35 pm

Speaker: Carlos Castro, Assistant Professor, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, The Ohio State University
Title: Self-assembly of DNA Nanomechanical Devices
Abstract:  Structural DNA nanotechnology is a rapidly emerging field with great potential for applications such as single molecule sensing, drug delivery, and manipulating molecular components. However, the functional scope of DNA nanotechnology is limited by an inability to design dynamic mechanical behavior such as complex motion, conformational dynamics, or force generation. A major focus of our lab is to develop nanomechanical devices by adapting methods used in macroscopic machine design and assembly. I will discuss our development DNA nanostructures with programmable 1D, 2D, and 3D motion as well as dynamic nanostructures with controlled conformational dynamics. We aim to develop devices where nanoscale dynamic behavior (i.e. motion, conformational distributions, and kinetics) can be exploited to probe physical properties or manipulate nanoscale components or molecular interactions in real time. I will present our recent work on implementing a DNA nanocalipers to study the structure and structural dynamics of nucleosomes, the fundamental packaging unit for genomic DNA in cell nuclei, which consist of DNA wrapped around a protein core.
Location:  Wright 201

December

1 (Thursday) 4:35 pm

Speaker:  Matt Elrod, Biggs Professor of Natural Science, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Oberlin College
Title: To React or Not to React: Classifying Atmospheric Chemicals as Air Pollutants and Greenhouse Gases
Abstract:  The chemical aspects of the environmental issues of air pollution and climate change can be, in part, characterized by the differing rates of reaction of certain key substances in the atmosphere. This seminar will address how to think about whether a particular atmospheric compound may contribute to an air pollution problem such as ground level ozone formation or instead contribute to the climate change problem by acting as a greenhouse gas. As an example of the former, detailed mechanistic results concerning the atmospheric oxidation of aromatic compounds—a major constituent of automobile emissions—will be presented. A second project concerning the identification of greenhouse gases, carried out in collaboration with the US Environmental Protection Agency, will also be discussed.
Location:  Wright 201

Department of Physics and Astronomy Lecture Series speakers from past years.