Colloquium

The Fermilab colloquium introduces staff, users, students and members of the public to a wide range of scientific and science-related topics presented by notable speakers from across the country and around the world. Colloquia are open to the public.

An integral part of Fermilab’s academic culture, “orange” colloquium talks are aimed at a broad scientific and technical audience, while “green” talks are of general interest to all laboratory staff, users and members of the public.

Colloquia are open to everyone. Unless otherwise advertised, the talks are held at 4 pm on Wednesday afternoons in the One West auditorium in Wilson Hall. Members of the public wishing to attend must show a photo ID at the laboratory entrance and tell the guard on duty that they are attending the colloquium.

Fermilab upcoming colloquia

Lectures begin at 4:00 p.m. in 1 West

  Appropriate for physicists     Appropriate for all lab staff and members of the public
May 29, 2019, 4:00 pm
Jimena Canales, Harvard
Einstein’s famous claim that “the distinction between the past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion” underpins most physicists’ current understanding of time. Yet in recent years, agrowing number of contemporary physicists have opposed the need to write off our experience of emergent temporality from our understanding of the universe. The “hole at the heart of physics” (Scientific American, 2002) is usually traced back to how time is defined by the theory of relativity and the “block universe.”Can these debates be solved by science alone or are they inescapably philosophical, historical and cultural? My talk will explore the origins of this persistent quandary by focusing on the relation of physics to philosophy, and history and the humanities.
June 5, 2019, 4:00 pm
Daniel Goldman, Georgia Institute of Technology
Robots will soon move from the factory floor and into our lives (e.g. autonomous cars, package delivery drones, and search-and-rescue devices). However, compared to living systems, locomotion by such devices is still relatively limited, in part because principles of interaction with complex environments are largely unknown. In this talk I will discuss efforts to develop a physics of moving systems -- a locomotion ``robophysics'' -- which we define as the pursuit of the discovery of principles of self-generated motion [Aguilar et al, Rep. Prog. Physics, 2016].
June 26, 2019, 4:00 pm
Michael Gordin, Princeton
2019 has been named the International Year of the Periodic Table because it marks 150 years since Dmitrii Mendeleev (1834-1907), then a young chemistry professor in St. Petersburg, formulated his version of the system of elements. The choice of date is somewhat arbitrary. There were five other attempts at periodic tables postulated earlier in the 1860s, some of which resemble our present version slightly more than Mendeleev’s in certain respects. Also, the main achievement of Mendeleev’s table — its predictive capacity — was also a gradual process that began in 1869 but took many years to cement his international reputation. This talk will explore what Mendeleev did in 1869, how it related to what came before and after, and also discuss a few of the myths that have accumulated around his work.
July 10, 2019, 4:00 pm
J. Rafael Martinez-Galarza, Harvard & Smithsonian
Upcoming large observational time-domain surveys such as the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) and the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) will produce millions of regularly- and irregularly-sampled astronomical light curves. The large volume of the resulting datasets, however, implies that their processing, classification, and interpretation will require sophisticated algorithms involving statistical learning. One important question is: how do we discover the unexpected when we are presented with a large dataset? How do we find scientifically interesting light curves (or any kind of astronomical data) that are not explained by current models? In this talk I will discuss state-of-the-art anomaly detection methods that use machine learning to find needles in this upcoming haystack of data, and will show the results of applying them to a dataset of Kepler, TESS, and Chandra objects. After a brief introduction to machine learning and its application in time-domain astronomy, I will delve into different methods for outlier detection. I will then show how these methods can be adapted for time-domain and for high energy astronomy, and present the results of applying them to a large dataset of TESS light curves and the Chandra Source Catalog 2.0. I will describe the astrophysical implications of our findings in terms of where the most extreme outliers live in the Hertzprung-Russell diagram, and discuss the potential of the algorithms for discovery in the era of large astronomical datasets.
Aug. 7, 2019, 4:00 pm
Prof. Goren Senjanovic, Abdus Salam International Center for Theorectical Physics
Aug. 14, 2019, 4:00 pm
Prof. Yvonne Wong, University of South New Wales
Aug. 21, 2019, 4:00 pm
Louis Strigari, Texas A&M University
Coherent elastic neutrino-nucleus scattering (CEvNS) is a long-standing theoretical prediction of the Standard Model (SM), and the COHERENT experiment has recently achieved the first detection of it. CEvNSprovides an important probe of physics beyond the SM. In addition, it can open up a new window into neutrino astrophysics, through studies of low energy neutrinos from the Sun, atmosphere, and supernovae. CEvNS is also vital for understanding and interpreting future particle dark matter searches. In this talk, I will discuss the prospects for learning about the nature of neutrinos and astrophysical sources from CEvNS detection, highlighting how astrophysical and terrestrial-based detections play important and complementary roles.