Aspen Center for Physics

    2019 Heinz R. Pagels 
    FREE Physics Talks

    Thursdays at Aspen Center for Physics

    5:30 to 6:30 PM Public Talks

    View a 13-minute Video about the Aspen Center for Physics
  • June 6, 2019
    Exploring the Dark Side of Our Cosmos: “Seeing" the Invisible.
    Speaker: Mustafa Amin, Rice University
    In the past three decades, a robust standard paradigm of cosmology has emerged which is consistent with existing observations. This paradigm necessarily includes two important components, dark matter and dark energy, which are different from regular matter that we, and the stars are made of. Together, they make up 96% of our cosmos. These components barely interact with regular matter or light - they are invisible. How do we “see”/know about these dark components? I will discuss how we arrived at this "dark" model, what these dark components might be, and how we plan to understand their properties better in the future.
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  • June 13, 2019
    A Dark Matter Hunter's Guide to the Galaxy
    Speaker: Kathryn Zurek, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
  • If you can’t see dark matter, how do you know it exists?” We take a survey of the galaxy (and Universe) to find out. We also describe how scientists search for dark matter interactions with ordinary matter in laboratory experiments.
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  • June 20, 2019
    Physics and the HIV Virus
    Speaker: Robijn Bruinsma, University of California Los Angeles
  • Despite decades of intense research, the HIV virus still is not well understood. The lecture will discuss how physics has provided insight into questions concerning the very curious assembly and disassembly processes of this virus. The lecture also will discuss arguments indicating that the HIV virus may have “invented" a physical mechanism - selective nucleation - that appears to be unknown in the physics literature.
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  • June 27, 2019
    How Much Number Theory Does it Take to be a Sunflower
    Speaker: Leonid Levitov, MIT
  • One of humanity’s earliest mathematical inquiries might have involved the geometric patterns in plants. The arrangement of leaves on a branch, seeds in a sunflower, and spines on a cactus exhibit repeated spirals, which appear with an intriguing regularity providing a simple demonstration of mathematically complex patterns. Surprisingly, the numbers of these spirals are pairs of Fibonacci numbers consecutive in the series 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55... obeying a very simple rule 1+2=3, 2+3=5, 5+8=13 and so on. This talk will discuss how physics helps to understand the origin of this interesting behavior.
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  • July 11, 2019
    Making Crystals Clear - from Food to Phone
    Speaker: Emilia Morosan, Rice University
  • What do you think of when hearing the word “crystal”? Table salt? Precious rocks?  A few people may think of pencils or chocolate; fewer may think of eggshells; fewer still may think of microphones or sonars. Yet, crystalline materials are present in the electronic devices we all depend on. Professor Morosan will shed some light on what crystals are, how they form in nature, how they can be grown in the lab or the kitchen, and why we need and want crystals?
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  • July 18, 2019
    Information processing in a single cell: what and how does E. coli compute?
    Speaker: Yuhai Tu, IBM Research
  • Living systems exhibit fascinating behaviors -- even a single cell. For example, a bacterium cell such as E. coli can detect a trace amount of chemical (nutrient or toxin) in its environment and move towards/away from its source, a behavior called “chemotaxis”. How does E. coli sense its environment? How does the cell process the chemical information? Does E. coli have a memory? What kind of computation does the cell do to detect the source of the chemical? In this lecture, Dr. Tu will address some of these questions on what and how E. coli computes with its molecular machinery to guide its chemotaxis behavior.  


  • July 25, 2019
    The Brain Inside a Cell: Adaptation and Learning with Cellular Networks
    Speaker: Naama Brenner, Technion



  • August 1, 2019
    Richard Feynman's Adventures in Biology: Forgotten History with Implications for Today
    Speaker: Curtis Callan, Princeton University


  • August 8, 2019
    Graphic Talk About the Universe
    Speaker: Clifford Johnson, University of Southern California



  • August 15, 2019
    Dark Matter Genesis: Tales from an Agnostic
  • Speaker: Josh Ruderman, New York University



  • August 22, 2019
    Particle Physics at the Crossroads
    Speaker: Csaba Csaki, Cornell University


  • August 29, 2019
    TBA
    Speaker: Samaya Nissanke, University of Amsterdam


"I found the general atmosphere [at the Aspen Center for Physics] very stimulating. All practical matters were taken care of in a pragmatic and effective way, all time was available for discussions and self-study. The beautiful surroundings did not distract, but stimulated creative thinking. It is too bad that life cannot always be so simple and pleasant."