Monday, September 28, 2009

Smashing Protons!

"Smashing Protons!: Exploring Nature's Fundamental Particles and Forces with the Large Hadron Collider" with Beate Heinemann, Assistant Professor of Physics, UC-Berkeley

(September 30, 2009)

Dr. Heinemann's experiment recently became famous when it was featured in the blockbuster movie "Angels & Demons" with Tom Hanks. She will discuss particle physics and her work with the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland.

"The field of "particle physics" tries to understand the physics of the most fundamental building blocks of matter. How many such building blocks are there? How do they relate to each other? Why are they there? Currently we do not have a good theory why we have any mass at all, even though of course we know that all matter has a mass. There are, however, many theories about why this might be and the goal of my experiment is to prove or disprove them, or to maybe find completely unexpected phenomena that will then need to be explained. One exciting possibility is that we find extra dimensions of space that could even result in the production of mini-blackholes. My experiment is called ATLAS and is situated at the "Large Hadron Collider" (abbreviated as LHC) that is located in Switzerland. There are more than 2000 physicists on my experiment, and many engineers and technicians: all of them collaborate with each other to answer some of the most basic and fundamental questions of Science today. In my talk I will describe how this experiment works and what we hope to discover there."

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Detecting Illicit Nuclear Material with Edward Morse, PhD

Join us for the kick-off to the Marin Science Seminar Fall 2009 season!

Detecting Illicit Nuclear Material with Professor Edward Morse
Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009, 7:30 - 8:30 pm
Terra Linda High School, San Rafael, Room 207


Detecting nuclear material at ports of entry into the United States and at other locations is a daunting problem but is an essential element of a counterterrorism strategy for the country. A major difficulty in detection is the minimization of false-positive signals from a wide variety of cargo containing NORM, or naturally occurring radioactive material. One technique which looks promising is the use of nuclear resonance fluorescence (NRF) for detecting special nuclear material such as U-235. We have embarked on a five year program at UC Berkeley, called DoNuTS (Domestic Nuclear Threat Security), which looks at various aspects of the threat detection problem. This program will be discussed, with emphasis on the physics and technology of NRF as well as other aspects including materials science, computer machine vision, sensor networks, and basic nuclear physics research.

Prof. Edward Morse is a professor of Nuclear Engineering at UC-Berkeley and has a thirty-year involvement in teaching and research at Berkeley in the areas of applied physics, nuclear technology, electronics, and mathematics.

Thursday, September 3, 2009