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
Feb. 5, 2020, 4:00 pm
David Z. Albert, Columbia University
It turns out that a promising proposal for solving the Quantum-Mechanical measurement problem – which is the central problem at the foundations of quantum mechanics – may shed an important and unexpected new light on the nature and the origins of the probabilities at the foundations of Statistical Mechanics. I will begin by reviewing the measurement problem, and I will give a very brief overview of various attempts at solving it. Then I will focus in on one family of such attempts - the theories of the so-called “spontaneous localization” of the wave-function. And finally, I will show how those theories – if they turn out to be true - can explain the origin of the statistical-mechanical probabilities that we need to account for (say) the second law of thermodynamics, and (more generally) for all of the rest of the special sciences.
Feb. 26, 2020, 4:00 pm
Adam Becker, Author and Astrophysicist
Quantum physics is arguably the most successful scientific theory ever devised. It explains an enormous variety of natural phenomena to an extraordinary degree of accuracy  — everything from semiconductors to the Sun itself. Yet there is a problem: it's unclear what this immensely fruitful theory says about reality. What is going on in the world of quantum physics? Why does "measurement" play a special role in the theory? Is it really impossible to talk about what's happening to atoms and subatomic particles when we're not looking at them? For many years, the standard answer to questions like this was to "shut up and calculate," to ignore these issues and simply use quantum physics to predict the outcomes of experiments. There was also a historical myth that went along with this answer, a myth that said Einstein had once worried about these questions, but he was shown the error of his ways by the great Danish physicist Niels Bohr. Yet that myth is simply untrue, and these thorny quantum paradoxes are far more important than most physicists once believed. In this talk, I'll explain the puzzles at the heart of quantum physics, why they matter, and what really went down between Einstein and Bohr 90 years ago.
April 22, 2020, 4:00 pm
Scott Aaronson, University of Texas at Austin
May 6, 2020, 4:00 pm
Prof. Janna Levin, Barnard College of Columbia University