Upcoming Colloquia

Wednesday, February 22

4:00 PM, C215 ESC

David Hutchison

Waymo [Formerly GoogleX]: Self-Driving Car Project

Lidar for self-driving cars

Cars have evolved slowly for over a century, becoming increasingly safe and convenient. Recently, developments in self-driving technology may herald a rare step-function in the transportation industry. At the simplest level, moving control from human to machine could result in fewer accidents and less time wasted driving, and it empowers the disabled and those too young or old to drive. More fundamentally though, it can change how we spend our time, where we live, how we build cities, how we work, and even how we think.

Waymo (formerly the Google Self-driving Car Project) has been building and testing self-driving cars for several years, and has driven more than 2 million autonomous miles. I’m on the team that is developing Waymo’s next-generation lidar system. I will discuss the current and future state of self-driving technology generally, then dive a bit deeper into the lidar system as an example of physics in industry.

Wednesday, March 8

4:00 PM, C215 ESC

Elizabeth Jeffery

Physics & Astronomy, Brigham Young University

Wednesday, March 15

4:00 PM, C215 ESC

Thomas Baumgarte

Bowdoin College

Critical Gravitational Collapse of Rotating Perfect Fluids

Critical phenomena, i.e. the appearance of universal scaling laws and self-similarity in the vicinity of phase transitions, appear in different fields of physics and beyond.  Critical phenomena in the gravitational collapse to black holes were first observed by Matt Choptuik about 25 years ago - a seminal discovery that launched a whole new field of research.  Until recently, however, much of this research was restricted to spherical symmetry, and therefore could not account for effects that break this symmetry, in particular rotation.  In this talk I will review the appearance of scaling laws and self-similarity close to the onset of black hole formation.  I will then present new numerical relativity simulations of the gravitational collapse of rotating perfect fluids, in the absence of spherical symmetry.  These simulations inform perturbative treatments of the problem, leading to the formulation of generalized scaling laws that take into account the role of angular momentum in the critical collapse to black holes.

Diploma, 1993; PhD 1995, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet, Muenchen (Germany)

1993-1996: Visiting Scientist/Research Associate, Cornell University

1996-2001: Postdoctoral Fellow/Visiting Assistant Professor, University of Illinois

Since 2001: Assistant/Associate/Full Professor, 
William R. Kenan Professor of Physics, Bowdoin College

- Guggenheim Fellowship (2004)
- Bessel-Research Prize (Humboldt Foundation, Germany, 2012)
- Fellow of the APS (2016)

Wednesday, March 22

4:00 PM, C215 ESC

Karl Nelson

Honeywell Aerospace Advanced Technology

Wednesday, March 29

4:00 PM, C215 ESC

David Nygren

University of Texas Arlington

Wednesday, April 5

4:00 PM, C215 ESC

Michael Ware

Physics & Astronomy, Brigham Young University

We welcome anyone who wish to attend, and typically serve refreshments ten minutes before the colloquium begins. Speakers generally keep their presentation accessible to undergraduate physics students.