Physics Department Seminar Announcements

For the 2013-2014 academic year the department of physics will again be hosting seminar talks every other Friday afternoon in TH106. Refreshments will be served starting at 3:15 p.m., and the talks will begin at 3:30 p.m. The duration of the talks may range from 15 minutes to 50 minutes, and they will be at a level accessible to freshmen physics majors. Non-physics faculty and students are welcome to attend. If you wish to contribute a talk, please contact the chair of the seminar committee, Dr. C.D. Clark III.


Spring 2014 Schedule  

01/31/2014, Rachel Schmidt


Fall 2013 Schedule  

11/15/2013, Aaron Hoffman, Thermo-optical response simulations for experiments (What I did over my summer break)
In the summer of 2013, Aaron went to San Antonio, TX to work in a research lab where he made contributions to multiple projects by running simulations to predict the outcome of experiments. Aaron will tell us a little bit about the lab where he worked, the projects he worked on, and his contributions to the research.

11/01/2013, Dr. Eric Deyo
Symmetry Considerations for Electrical Current

10/18/2013, Dr. C.D. Clark III, Black hole Thermodynamics and the Holographic Principle
The Holographic Principle postulates that all information contained in a 3-dimensional volume is encoded on the 2-dimensional surface enclosing the volume. In this talk, the series of “discoveries” that led to this principle will be reviewed. This will include a discussion of black holes and the theory of thermodynamics as it applies to black holes.

10/03/2013, Dr. Bobby Marefat, MD, Ophthalmologist: Cotton-O’Neil Clinic, Topeka, KS
Our speaker this week is a 2013 recipient of the Fort Hays State University Alumni Award. He received both a B.S. in physics and a B.S. in chemistry from FHSU and then went to medical school at the University of Kansas School of Medicine. He is a practicing Ophthalmologist in Topeka. Dr. Marefat has offered to speak to both the Physics and Chemistry departments, so join us for a joint seminar with the Chemistry Department.

09/18/2013, Dr. Thomas Koschmieder, Freescale Semiconductor, Inc., Austin, TX
Mechanical robustness of electronic microprocessors attached to printed circuit boards is of great importance for everyday consumer reliability expectations. If an electronic gadget cannot survive being dropped, what good is it? The seminar will provide an overview of what an electronic package is, how its reliability expectations are established and how they are tested. Examples of mechanical testing will include a video of the violent motion a cellphone experiences during a shock impact with a floor. Additionally the speaker will provide observations about working in industry and what students could potentially expect as they enter the job market.

09/06/2013, Dr. Elise Crull, Center for History and Philosophy of Science, Technology, and Medicine, University of Aberdeen, Scotland, Modeling quantum decoherence
Our visiting speaker first received her B.S. in Physics from Calvin College and then pursued her interest in the history and philosophy of physics, receiving her Ph.D. in History and Philosophy of Science from the University of Notre Dame. She has just finished her first postdoc in Scotland, and will be starting her next postdoc soon. Fortunately, she will be traveling through Hays during her move, and has offered to speak about her work on quantum decoherence.


Spring 2013 Schedule  

04/26/2013, Justin Maughan, Laser-induced action potentials
It is known that pulsed laser stimulation with infrared light can cause nerve cells to fire. The process by which this happens has remained largely a mystery. Shapiro et al. [1] recently showed that this can be explained by an interaction between the water molecules both inside and outside of the cell with the infrared light. This is due to the changing of temperature dependent potentials at the inner and outer cell membrane interfaces. There are six coupled equations that govern the temperature dependent potentials. For this project, a C++ program was written to solve the equations using a Newton-Raphson root finding method. The current across the membrane was then calculated using the intrinsic capacity of the membrane and the solved for potentials. The results of the C++ program closely match the behavior measured experimentally and computed using mathematica by Shapiro et al.

  [1] Shapiro, M.G. et al., Infrared light excites cells by changing their electrical capacitance. Nature Communications (2012).

04/12/2013, Dr. Hendratta Ali, The role of physics in exploration geology
Physics has many applications in many different fields. In this talk, Dr. Ali will give an overview of how the various sub-fields of physics are used by geologists in exploration. An exploration geologist is interested in obtaining information about the physical properties of Earth below the surface from measurements taken above the surface, which can then be used to detect minerals, oil, water, or other geological structures. This remote sensing requires an understanding of the physics of wave propagation, sound, electromagnetic fields, and more.

03/01/2013, Linnea Gustafsson, Radiation Emitted by Surface Plasmons
Many of the fundamental properties of solid state physics are identified by assuming that electrons move in a periodic array of atoms. However, as we know, there are some concepts that are easier to explain through other models. In the early 1900s it had been noted that when an electron was shot through a thin foil it lost energy. It was apparent that this energy was absorbed, and the explanation came from plasma oscillations. When studying solids from the plasma perspective, the free electrons in the material are treated as a liquid with high density. The plasma oscillations are equivalent to longitudinal density function propagation through the material. Even though the fact that the electrons lost energy was well known, it was extremely hard to measure it since the energy loss was extremely small in comparison to the incoming and outgoing electrons. This means that to find the absorbed energy, which was wanted in order to find the frequency of the plasma oscillations, scientists were subtracting two extremely large, and close to equal numbers. The solution to the problem came in 1958 when Richard A. Ferrell suggested that as accelerated charges generally radiate, it would be logical to assume that the plasma oscillations would give of some type of measurable electromagnetic radiation. He added that the frequency of the emitted radiation would correspond precisely with the frequency of the plasma oscillations. This was experimentally verified two years later by Wulf Steinmann. This talk will include a basic explanation of plasma, an introduction to the radiation emitted by surface plasmons in gratings, as well as present results from experiments conducted with the aim to investigate the radiation emitted by them.

02/15/2013, Dr. C.D. Clark III and Dr. Jack Maseberg, The dangers of lasers and safe practices for their use
We all know that you shouldn’t look into a laser, but why? We will investigate how lasers cause damage, what parameters affect how dangerous a laser is, safe practices when using lasers to minimize the risk of injury, and what can happen if you don’t follow these practices.

02/01/2013, C.J. Pearce, Ab initio investigation of Sarin micro-hydration
The micro-hydration of the chemical warfare agent Sarin (GB) was investigated using ab initio calculations. The different structural conformers, water hydrogen bonding motifs, and adsorption energies for a series of gas phase optimized Sarin●nH2O (n = 1–4) clusters were evaluated. A rich and varied structural environment for these micro-hydrated clusters was observed, with hydrogen bonding between water and the P=O oxygen being the dominating binding interaction. Only with the addition of at least four explicit waters does hydrogen bonding between water and either the isopropyl oxygen or the fluorine atom of Sarin become energetically favorable in these gas-phase optimized clusters. It is determined that the different isopropyl torsional configurations of Sarin give rise to changes in the water adsorption energies. The relative energies between the different Sarin conformers were also dependent on the number of explicit waters present within the optimized micro-hydrated cluster. Comparison of the energies for the Sarin●4H2O cluster did not reproduce the destabilization of the high energy Sarin conformer that was predicted from calculations employing an implicit water PCM solvent. The use of a mixed cluster/continuum model was shown to be unsuccessful for the computation of accurate free energies for these micro-hydrated Sarin clusters.


Fall 2012 Schedule  

11/30/2012, Aaron Hoffman, 3D Printing
3D printing is a form of additive manufacturing in which material is placed by a machine in order to build a 3D object. RepRap is a project that uses open source hardware and software with the end goal of creating self-replicating 3D printers available at low cost. A brief introduction to the RepRap project will be presented followed by Q&A and a live 3D printing demonstration.

11/09/2012, Dr. Amit Chakrabarti, Fat Fractals, Skinny Nuclei, and Patchy Proteins
I will start my talk with an overview of the physics department's internationally recognized research in atomic molecular-optical (AMO) physics (ranked 13th in the nation), soft-matter physics, high-energy physics, physics education, and cosmology. K-State physics faculty currently includes nine fellows of the American Physical Society (APS) and two Carnegie National Professor of the Year winners - making K-State's Department of Physics the only department in the nation to have two recipients of this award. Next I will discuss my own research in soft condensed matter physics with an emphasis on how small particles in a dispersed phase come together to form larger clusters when the small particle system becomes, by some manner, unstable. From a broad perspective, the "particles" can be aerosols, colloidal particles, nanoparticles, or protein molecules, and the transition from a dispersed phase to clusters can include the formation of precipitated crystalline solids from solutions as well as the formation of fractal aggregates and gels.

10/26/2012, Dr. Eric Deyo, The Higgs Boson
The Higgs Boson is an elementary particle that was predicted to exist in 1964 by Peters Higgs (along with his collaborators) to explain why things have mass. Since then, physicists have been working to observe the particle, building larger and larger particle colliders. The Higgs Boson seems to have recently been discovered at the Large Hadron Collider in CERN. I will talk about the physics behind the existence of this particle.

09/28/2012, Dr. Jack Maseberg, Numerically solving the time-dependent Schrodinger equation
A historical and simplistic method for numerically solving the Schrodinger equation in one dimension will be presented. Following this, a brief review of more recent numerical techniques and boundary conditions will be provided. There will be pretty pictures, movies, and cookies!

09/14/2012, Dr. Gavin Buffington, The Basis-Spline Colocation Method: A More Sophisticated Method for Solving Differential Equations on a Computer
An introduction to the basis spline collocation method (BSCM) for solving partial differential equations numerically will be presented. Familiarity with common differential equations encountered in undergraduate physics and the finite difference method will be beneficial. Strengths and weaknesses of this method will be considered with respect to single and parallel processor computers. Examples of the eigen value problem and the initial-boundary value problem will be presented.

08/31/2012, Dr. C.D. Clark III, The Finite-Difference Method: Solving Differential Equations on a Computer
A very basic introduction to the Finite-Difference method is presented. Exposure to differential equations is beneficial, but not required as overview of partial differential equations is covered in the background portion of the talk. A motivation for using computers to solve differential equations is given, and the standard Finite-Difference technique is developed using the 1D, time-dependent heat equation as an example.


Spring 2012 Schedule  

05/04/2012, SooBum Kim, Robots: the Arduino, Kinect, and openFrameworks
SooBum will describe and demonstrate a robotics project which involves micro-controllers, wireless communication, and vision systems.

04/27/2012, Dr. Tara Adams, Unraveling the Mechanisms behind Bleeding in von Willebrand Disease
Von Willebrand factor (VWF) is a multimeric plasma protein that plays a critical role in hemostasis by mediating platelet adhesion at sites of blood vessel injury. Von Willebrand disease (VWD) is a bleeding disorder associated with either a quantitative (Types 1 and 3) or functional defect (Type 2) in VWF. Although VWD is the most frequently diagnosed bleeding disorder in the world, clinical diagnostic values do not correlate well with bleeding severity. We hypothesize that the phenotypic variability observed in VWD (particularly in type 1 VWD) is related to the degree of incorporation of mutant monomers into VWF multimers. We demonstrate here that increasing the transfection ratio of mutant:wild-type cDNA in cell culture has variable effects on the production, assembly and secretion of our type 1 VWD mutants, which may explain the decreased levels of plasma VWF in patients with these mutations. Moreover, by exploiting the dynamic nature of the VWF-platelet interaction in our model flow system, we expect to identify subtle functional defects in our VWD mutants that cannot be detected with the current clinical VWD panel. Ultimately, the information generated by this study may allow clinicians to provide more individualized therapy for patients living with VWD.

04/13/2012, Dr. Bharat Ratra, The "Standard" Model of Cosmology
Experiments and observations over the last decade have provided strong support for a "standard" model of cosmology that describes the evolution of the universe from an early epoch of inflation to the complex hierarchy of structure seen today. I review the basic physics, astronomy, and history of ideas on which this model is based. I describe the data which persuade cosmologists that (as yet undetected) dark energy and dark matter are by far the main components of the energy budget of the universe. I conclude with a list of open cosmological questions.

03/30/2012, Doug Goddard, High Energy Laser Instrumentation
The AEgis Technologies Group is addressing the need to directly measure the beam profile on the surface of a material exposed to high energy laser (HEL) radiation. To overcome this technology gap, AEgis is developing two arrays of resistive temperature detectors (RTDs), one of which also measures irradiance directly. The first array is being fabricated in an open mesh architecture so that 90% of the beam directly hits the target with minimal impact on thermal and aerodynamic nano fabricated material to directly measure the irradiance level, a resistive temperature detector (RTD) that measures temperature, and a protective coating that ensures survivability of the microsensors in the HEL beam. The second system measures the temperature on the backside of its target and then calculates the beam profile by using inverse heat conduction (IHC) modeling to deduce the heat flux distribution on the front surface of the target. Each array of RTDs is printed on flexible substrates, which allow attachment of the sensor matrix to materials of arbitrary curvature in a conformal manner with minimal impact to the target. The microprinting technique developed for HEL diagnostics can provide large arrays of low cost (disposable), high-resolution temperature sensors that can be quickly attached to a target. This discussion will report results from recent sensor demonstrations on each sensor array and IHC model development, as well as validation of the IHC model.

03/09/2012, Dr. Jack Maseberg and Dr. Paul Adams, Scientific balloons
The results from FHSU's first successful High-Altitude Balloon Launch (December 16, 2011) will be presented. The launch was a joint venture of an undergraduate research experience (URE) project and a class project for the Introduction to Engineering Science class.

02/10/2012, Dr. C.D. Clark III, Tensors in curved space: The mathematics of General Relativity
General Relativity (Einstein’s theory of relativity that includes gravity) is based on an advanced mathematical theory called Tensor Analysis. While undergraduate physics students are typically familiar with the ideas of general relativity (the curvature of space-time), they rarely are exposed the mathematics it involves. In this talk, the audience will be introduced to the concepts of tensors (abstract vectors) and geometry in curved space. The connection to general relativity will be shown, and an example involving our own Tomanek Hall pendulum will be presented.

01/27/2012, Jaron Hake, Electron energy loss spectroscopy and SIMION simulations
A brief introduction to the method of Electron Energy Loss Spectroscopy (EELS) will be provided, including some relevant examples and useful applications. Jaron will then introduce SIMION software and report on his current progress regarding the modeling of the EELS apparatus located in TH203. The SIMION model will eventually provide valuable insight into what specific voltages should be applied to various electron lenses in order to obtain an optimum electron beam.


Fall 2011 Schedule  

12/02/2011, Justin Maughan, Matt Dinkel, Aryton Pittman, Naomi Kitzis, Brent Risting, Aaron Hoffman, Taylor Kane, and Kristen Brake; Predicting Skin Damage from Laser Light
The dangers of laser light, and the need to develop safe practices for its use, have been recognized since the laser’s invention. Ultimately, to determine if a laser is “safe”, we must know when it is “dangerous”. The modeling group in the FHSU physics department has helped developed a model for laser-tissue damage (a C++ program that can predict whether or not a laser will cause damage to tissue) and uses this model to analyze the hazards of various laser systems. In this presentation, the group will present the work done over the last semester in analyzing the dangers of a 1319 nm laser to skin tissue.

11/11/2011, Linnea Gustafsson, Towards Localized Cancer Treatment
In 2010 more than 1.5 million people living in the United States were diagnosed with cancer. Over half a million died from the disease in the U.S. alone. Not surprisingly, it is a lifelong goal for many scientists to understand the disease more in depth as well as finding the ultimate cure. One of the most common ways to treat cancer today is through various types of radiation treatments. However, this method kills both healthy cells and tumor cells. The more localized the treatment becomes, the less healthy cells are damaged. In this presentation, Miss Gustafsson will introduce how today's localized cancer treatment can be improved by taking the effects of stopping power into account as well as through the use of nanotechnology.

11/04/2011, Dr. Eric Deyo, Neutrinos and the OPERA experiment
Neutrinos have recently made headline news with the release of experimental data that seem to indicate they can travel faster than the speed of light. In this talk, Dr. Deyo will discuss these recent findings and what this means for our current understanding of matter.

10/28/2011, Dr. Gavin Buffington, The Objective-C programming language and the Foundation framework
An overview of the Objective-C programming language and some of the iOS frameworks will be presented. The development of (very) simple iOS apps will be demonstrated. Some knowledge of a computer language like C, C++ or java and concepts of object oriented programming is assumed. There will be a discussion of potentially useful apps for teaching undergraduate physics. Bring your Mac (with Xcode and the iOS SDK installed) if you would like to follow along and create these apps for yourself.

10/21/2011, Dr. Jack Maseberg, Spin-polarized electrons
A brief overview of the spin property of electrons will be presented. Various technologies for creating spin-polarized beams will be reviewed. Finally, we will focus on some specific physics experiments which utilize spin-polarized electron beams.

10/14/2011, Dr. Kent Rohleder, Giving a good presentation
As scientists, we must be able to effectively communicate our thoughts and ideas. This often requires us to present work we have done to our peers or to the public. Public speaking can be difficult, but presenting technical material has its own set of challenges. In this talk, Dr. Rohleder will give advice and techniques for delivering a good technical presentation.

09/30/2011, Dr. Kayvan Aflatooni, The Kapitza-Dirac effect
Over the past 80 years, physicists have theorized, searched, and experimentally observed the complementary particle-like and wave-like nature of matter that has become a foundation of quantum mechanics. The Kapitza-Dirac (KD) effect, diffraction of electron-waves by light, is one such Wave-Particle Duality aspect that was only recently observed. This is now the 10th anniversary of the “Observation of KD effect” Nature publication, and we will look at the historical background, the current search and achievements, and the future of matter waves and matter optics.

09/23/2011, Justin Maughan, The effects of annealing on BaFe2-xCoxAs2
A brief introduction to iron-pnictide superconductors will be given, followed by a discussion of the methods used to grow, harvest, anneal, and test BaFe2-xCoxAs2 superconducting crystals. We show that annealing at 700 ºC and 800 ºC for 1, 2, and 4 weeks can raise the onset of the critical temperature Tc. Comments will also be made regarding the summer REU experience.

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