Colloquium Schedule

Fall 2014

Is There a Universal Character to Plasma Turbulence?

Michael Brown, Swarthmore College
Fri., Sep. 19, 2014, 12:30 PM

Turbulent fluctuations in conventional fluids like air or water seem to have a universal statistical character.  Measurements of statistical turbulence metrics in a wind tunnel or in a tidal basin seem to be the same. It is not known whether plasma turbulence is universal. The Sun launches a turbulent stream of high velocity plasma with imbedded magnetic fields into interplanetary space at about 400 km/s. Properties of this solar wind have been studied for decades and much is known about fluctuations in the velocity, density, and magnetic field.  In this talk, I'll discuss measurements in a high velocity plasma wind tunnel at Swarthmore. The SSX MHD wind tunnel features flow speeds up to 100 km/s, magnetic field of 0.5 T, and temperatures of nearly a million Kelvin.  Comparisons to measurements from the solar wind will be made.

See Prof. Brown's website for more information about his research. 

Probability Processing, Probabilistic Programming, and Live Chicken Fresh Killed: Stories of Science Entrepreneuring in Graduate School, Industrial Research, and Startups

Ben Vigoda, Gamelan Labs
Fri., Oct. 24, 2014, 12:30 PM

Ben Vigoda (Swarthmore Physics ’96) will talk about his experiences building interesting new things at the MIT Media Lab, industrial research labs, and startups, and will be available for questions and discussion. He and Jake Neely (Swarthmore Physics Class of '13) will also talk excitedly about their newest startup, Gamelan, that combines probabilistic programs, statistical physics, machine learning, and advanced compiler technology to enable “big models”, the next step after big data.

See the Gamelan Labs website for more information.