Robert Wicks, NASA GSFC
Fri., Feb. 6, 2015, 12:30 PM
The solar wind is the hot, tenuous and turbulent plasma that is emitted by the Sun. I will review how the solar wind is formed and how the solar wind and solar variability cause space weather at the Earth. I will then describe some recent results looking at the small-scale variability and turbulence of the solar wind and what we have learned about plasma physics from launching spacecraft into deep space. We will try to answer questions like: How big is the solar system? What is a solar flare? What is space weather and should we worry about it? Finally, I will discuss upcoming missions and opportunities for students who would like to work at NASA in the future.
See the Goddard Space Flight Center's website for more information about the physics research done there.
Was Einstein Right Handed?
Stephon Alexander, Dartmouth College
Fri., Apr. 17, 2015, 4:30 PM (in SC 128)
It is interesting that theories beyond the standard model of particle interactions, such as string theory, generically predict modifications to Einstein's theory of general relativity that are left-right asymmetric (parity violating). In this colloquium I provide a pedagogical discussion of the possibility that parity violating primordial gravitational waves, which are produced during the epoch of cosmic inflation, can generate the observed matter anti-matter asymmetry and play a second crucial role in actually ending the epoch of cosmic inflation. I discuss the potential for detecting this form of parity violating gravitational waves in future CMB missions.