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Fall 2003

10/18/2003 | Weighing the Untouchable -- Stephen Miller (U-M Physics)

Massive, unstable elementary particles decay quickly into a cascade of subatomic particles. Without ever directly measuring the original particle, we can find out its mass and everything else we want to know about it from the pieces of its decay. Dr. Stephen Miller will explain how these new particles are discovered and the search for the Higgs boson - the particle that explains the property of mass itself.  

10/11/2003 | Seeing the Subatomic -- Stephen Miller (U-M Physics)

Particle physicists study the infinitesimally small, using the largest scientific instruments ever built. Dr. Stephen Miller will describe how we can not only "see" elementary particles, but also learn about their properties in great detail. As an example, he will describe how physicists at the U-M are using the world's highest-energy collider to study the heaviest, rarest, and nearly the most unstable elementary particle ever discovered.

10/25/2003 | Finding the Invisible -- Stephen Miller (U-M Physics)

Some elementary particles travel right through the earth (and us) without leaving a trace. Dr. Stephen Miller will explain how these particles were discovered, some of the surprises uncovered while studying these invisible particles, and the search for Dark Matter - the invisible particles which constitute most of matter in the universe.

11/01/2003 | Saving Lives: The Physics of Medical Imaging -- Seth Blumberg (U-M Physics)

Nine years ago Seth Blumberg was told that he had cancer. His exact diagnosis required the use of ultrasound, x-ray & radioisotope imaging. Part of his treatment consisted of controlled doses of high-energy radiation. All of these scans and procedures rely on physics. Thankfully, Seth is currently in full remission and this lecture will discuss how physics helped to save his life.

11/08/2003 | Calling 911: The Physics of Heart and Lung Function -- Seth Blumberg (U-M Physics)

Seth Blumberg’s cancer experience inspired him to enter medical school. As a medical student with a quantitative background, he has enjoyed learning about the role physics plays in health and disease. For instance, when medical professionals respond to an emergency their first priorities are to ensure adequate airway clearance, breathing and circulation. The physics behind adequate breathing and circulation is remarkably simple, yet pervasive. This lecture will discuss the role physics plays in our understanding of various respiratory and circulatory diseases.

11/15/2003 | Probing the Causes of Disease: Single Molecule Studies of Dancing DNA -- Seth Blumberg (U-M Physics)

Seth Blumberg is currently investigating how mechanical forces affect DNA's dynamic structure. His particular focus is how tension affects DNA's ability to form protein-mediated loops. The research involves an intriguing combination of single-molecule microscopy, polymer physics and molecular biology. This lecture will describe the goals and methods of Seth’s research. He will also discuss how his perspective as a cancer survivor and medical student has helped him to make connections between his physics research and the molecular mechanisms of disease.

11/22/2003 | What Puts the Super in Superconductors? -- Sa-Lin Cheng Bernstein (U-M Physics)

The phenomenon of superconductivity is characterized by the absence of electrical resistivity below a critical temperature, T_c, and the physical property of perfect diamagnetism - the expulsion of magnetic fields - below a critical magnetic field, H_c. Superconductivity occurs only in select materials of two types: I and II. The recently discovered high-T_c superconductors are all of Type II. Dr. Sa-Lin Cheng Bernstein will explain how Type II superconductors afford greater potential for practical applications in the real world, such as power transmission, superconducting magnets in generators, and energy storage devices.  

12/06/2003 | Why Make Holes in Superconductors? -- Sa-Lin Cheng Bernstein (U-M Physics)

Type II superconductors differ from Type I superconductors because of the appearance of interior magnetic flux lines. The movement of flux lines within a superconductor causes dissipation of internal energy. In order to "pin" flux lines in place, "flux pinning centers" are introduced. Dr. Sa-Lin Cheng Bernstein will discuss various techniques which have been used to produce artificial pinning centers in the form of microscopic holes to better understand flux pinning in superconductors. Research has shown that the presence of a regular pattern of holes enhances the effects of pinning.

12/13/2003 | Where Does the Real World Meet Superconductors? -- Sa-Lin Cheng Bernstein (U-M Physics)

Superconductivity is a field with many practical applications. Dr. Sa-Lin Cheng Bernstein will talk about a well-known example called the Maglev train, which can reach speeds of 250+ mi/hr riding on a bed of magnetic fields produced by superconducting magnets. She will discuss additional applications including Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) medical devices and particle accelerators (atom-smashers) for high-energy physics research.