Saturday Physics for Everyone

Saturday Physics for Everyone (SPE) is a series of lectures on modern aspects of the physical sciences held Saturday mornings each fall. The program began in 1993 and offers high school students the opportunity to hear presentations from world-class scientists and researchers.

By attending Saturday Physics for Everyone, you will learn about recent advances in the physical sciences, you will gain an understanding of how physics affects development in modern technology, and influences your life on a daily basis. A question and answer session is held at the end of each program. This is your chance to interact with renowned scientific leaders in the research community.

  • Audience: High school students and the general public.
  • Cost: Free of charge.
  • Time: 10:15 am to 11:30 am, unless indicated otherwise.
  • Location: Room 141, Loomis Laboratory of Physics, 1110 West Green Street, Urbana, IL
  • Parking: East side of building in lot B21.
  • Questions/comments? Email us at sat_physics@physics.illinois.edu.
  • Talk slides: When available, the slides from the professors' talks can be found linked from the individual events below.
Event Title Speaker Date/Time Location
Saturday Physics for Everyone: When Stars Attack! Radioactive evidence for a near-Earth supernova explosion.

Professor Brian Fields, Department of Astronomy and Department of Physics, University of Illinois

9/9/2017
10:15 am

141 Loomis Laboratory

9/9/2017 10:15 am 9/9/2017 America/Chicago Saturday Physics for Everyone DESCRIPTION:

The most massive stars are the celebrities of the cosmos: they are very rare, but live extravagantly and die in spectacular and violent supernova explosions. While these events are awesome to observe, they can take a sinister shade when they occur closer to home, because an explosion inside a certain "minimum safe distance" would pose a grave threat to Earthlings. We will discuss these cosmic insults to life and present recent evidence that a star exploded near the Earth about 3 million years ago. Radioactive iron atoms have been found in ancient samples of deep-ocean material found around the globe, and also on the Moon. These unique atoms are tiny, telltale samples of debris from the supernova explosion. Thus, for the first time we can use sea sediments and lunar cores as telescopes, probing the nuclear fires that power exploding stars. Furthermore, an explosion so close to Earth was probably a "near miss," which emitted intense and possibly harmful radiation.

View Professor Fields presentation slides

Cassiopeia A: Death Becomes Her

\n\nSPEAKER:

Professor Brian Fields, Department of Astronomy and Department of Physics, University of Illinois

141 Loomis Laboratory

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Saturday Physics for Everyone: Visualization in Science, Technology and the Arts

Professor Donna Cox, University of Illinois Michael Aiken Endowed Chair, Director of the Illinois Emerging Digital Research and Education in Arts Media Institute (eDream), Director of the Advanced Visualization Laboratory at NCSA, Professor in the School of Art and Design at the College of FAA

9/23/2017
10:15 am

141 Loomis Laboratory

9/23/2017 10:15 am 9/23/2017 America/Chicago Saturday Physics for Everyone DESCRIPTION:

Professor Donna Cox is a nationally and internationally recognized pioneer in scientific visualization for public outreach, education, and cinema. Professor Cox and her collaborators have inspired millions with cinematic virtual tours through astrophysics, earth sciences, engineering, and other data domains. Their work is shared through venues such as international digital-dome museum shows, high-definition documentary television programs, and IMAX movies. For example, she was the art director for the IMAX film A Beautiful Planet.

In her presentation, Professor Cox will give us a small window into how visualization enhances communication between science and the arts.

A FREE SCREENING of Professor Cox film, Seeing the Beginning of Time:   Tuesday Oct 24 7 PM at NCSA, Room 1122, 1205 West Clark Street in Urbana, followed by a Q&A with a panel of experts.

Dark Matter Month Seeing Beginning

TO REQUEST A TOUR OF NCSA VISUALIZATION GROUP GO TO http://www.ncsa.illinois.edu/about/tour

View Professor Cox's presentation slides.

First Light in the Renaissance Simulations: Formation of the Very First Galaxies in the Universe at 1:07

\n\nSPEAKER:

Professor Donna Cox, University of Illinois Michael Aiken Endowed Chair, Director of the Illinois Emerging Digital Research and Education in Arts Media Institute (eDream), Director of the Advanced Visualization Laboratory at NCSA, Professor in the School of Art and Design at the College of FAA

141 Loomis Laboratory

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Saturday Physics for Everyone: Radiation, friend or foe?

Professor Kevin Pitts, Department of Physics, University of Illinois

10/7/2017
10:15 am

141 Loomis Laboratory

10/7/2017 10:15 am 10/7/2017 America/Chicago Saturday Physics for Everyone DESCRIPTION:

Radiation is a word that we encounter all of the time, in terminology such as “radioactivity”, “radiation therapy”, and “microwave radiation”. In this presentation, we will discuss what radiation is and different types of radiation. We will also describe where radiation comes from, how it can be dangerous, and ways that it can be beneficial.

View Professor Pitts presentation slides

How It Works

\n\nSPEAKER:

Professor Kevin Pitts, Department of Physics, University of Illinois

141 Loomis Laboratory

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Saturday Physics for Everyone: Nuclear Proliferation: Can terrorists buy, steal or build a nuclear bomb?

Professor Matthias Grosse Perdekamp, Department of Physics, University of Illinois

10/21/2017
10:15 am

141 Loomis Laboratory

10/21/2017 10:15 am 10/21/2017 America/Chicago Saturday Physics for Everyone DESCRIPTION:

The first nuclear weapon was tested in Alamogordo, NM, in July 1945. In the following month, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed through the explosion of two nuclear warheads. These horrifying strikes directly led to the surrender of Japan almost 4 years after its attack on Pearl Harbor. An industrial scale effort with more than 130,000 employees produced the first nuclear fission weapons during World War II. With the United States and its allies facing totalitarian aggressors in the European and Pacific theaters, many elite scientists, engineers, and technicians supported the Manhattan Project through their scientific and technological innovations. Now, 72 years later, despite enormous international efforts to limit nuclear weapons technology to the initial Cold War nuclear powers, knowledge and technology have further proliferated, and today nine countries possess nuclear weapons. Most recently the impoverished Democratic People's Republic of Korea has built and tested a small number of nuclear warheads relying on modest resources in capital and talent. The aphorism "today's sensation is tomorrow's calibration" fittingly describes the rapid progress in science and technology. In the context of nuclear weapons, the fast technological progress raises concerns that nuclear weapons will become reachable one day for non-state actors. This lecture will summarize the status of present nuclear arsenals and technology. It will discuss the possibility of nuclear weapons materials and technologies falling into the hands of terrorists. The lecture will describe the consequences of a possible nuclear attack on a major population center in the United States and review possible measures that can reduce the risk of nuclear terrorism.

View Professor Grosse Perdekamp's presentation slides

Download Bombs Nuclear Wallpaper 1152x864

\n\nSPEAKER:

Professor Matthias Grosse Perdekamp, Department of Physics, University of Illinois

141 Loomis Laboratory

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Saturday Physics for Everyone: How Small Can We Go? The physics behind nanoscale electronics

Professor Nadya Mason, Department of Physics, University of Illinois

11/4/2017
10:15 am

141 Loomis Laboratory

11/4/2017 10:15 am 11/4/2017 America/Chicago Saturday Physics for Everyone DESCRIPTION:

We are in the midst of a great revolution in miniaturized electronics, with nanoscale electronic elements enabling technologies such as tiny cell phones and hand-held computers. But is there a limit to how small electronics can be? In this talk, I will approach this question by discussing the past and future of a key nano-electronic element, the transistor. As transistors approach the atom-scale, their operation is limited by quantum mechanical effects. Thus, radically new technologies will be needed to overcome this fundamental physical limit. I will discuss the science and research behind some new approaches, including using novel nanomaterials and quantum computation.

View Professor Mason's presentation slides

Digital image from http://www.nanowerk.com/

\n\nSPEAKER:

Professor Nadya Mason, Department of Physics, University of Illinois

141 Loomis Laboratory

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Saturday Physics for Everyone: Understanding Nature's Micro Swimmers

Professor Yann Chemla, Department of Physics, University of Illinois

12/2/2017
10:15 am

141 Loomis Laboratory

12/2/2017 10:15 am 12/2/2017 America/Chicago Saturday Physics for Everyone DESCRIPTION:

A key property of all living organisms is the ability to sense environmental signals and respond to them by modifying behavior. This feature extends from the most complex organisms (e.g., humans) to the smallest unit of life, the cell. It forms the basis of a wide range of biological phenomena that include embryonic development, immune function, and cognition. In this talk, I will focus on one of the simplest examples of "cellular decision making" found in nature: how swimming bacteria navigate their environment, a phenomenon known as chemotaxis. I will explain how unicellular microorganisms like E. coli propel themselves in water, how they sense their surroundings, and how they change their swimming behavior in response to changing environmental conditions. I will describe how researchers are now able to study such processes in unprecedented detail using tools at the interface between the biological and physical sciences. Finally, I will discuss what new insights have emerged and how they relate to decision-making in more complex organisms.

Digital image entitled E. coli h1

\n\nSPEAKER:

Professor Yann Chemla, Department of Physics, University of Illinois

141 Loomis Laboratory

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Event Title Speaker Date/Time Location
Saturday Physics for Everyone: Exoplanets

Professor Jon Thaler, Physics Department

9/10/2016
10:15 am

141 Loomis Laboratory of Physics, 1110 West Green Street, Urbana, IL 61801

9/10/2016 10:15 am 9/10/2016 11:30 am America/Chicago Saturday Physics for Everyone DESCRIPTION:

Popular lecture. To date, extrasolar-planet searches have found 3,501 planets that orbit other stars. One exciting goal of these projects is to find a planet that orbits within the "habitable zone" of its star and is sufficiently Earth-like to (perhaps) sustain life. I will talk about how extrasolar planets are found and how we might be able to determine whether they actually contain life.

View Professor Thaler's presentation slides

SPE slide for Exoplanets

\n\nSPEAKER:

Professor Jon Thaler, Physics Department

141 Loomis Laboratory of Physics, 1110 West Green Street, Urbana, IL 61801

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Saturday Physics for Everyone: Visualizing the Amazing Quantum World

Professor Vidya Madhavan, Physics Department

9/24/2016
10:15 am

141 Loomis Laboratory of Physics, 1110 West Green Street, Urbana, IL 61801

9/24/2016 10:15 am 9/24/2016 11:30 am America/Chicago Saturday Physics for Everyone DESCRIPTION:

Popular lecture. 
The amazing sight of superfluid helium dripping through a solid container and of a magnet floating peacefully above a superconductor are macroscopic manifestations of essentially quantum phenomena. While we understand many aspects of these exotic phenomena, important questions, such as the microscopic mechanism of high-temperature superconductivity, still remain unanswered. Not only will solving these puzzles enrich our understanding of fundamental physics, it will also lead to tremendous advances in decreasing our energy consumption, which in turn will have a direct impact on greenhouse emissions. But how do we obtain the necessary microscopic information on the quantum properties of electrons in solids? A critical component to this is the ability to directly "see" the behavior of matter on the scale of atoms and electrons. In this talk, I will describe the miracle of the modern scanning tunneling microscope, which actually uses quantum mechanics for its basic operation.  I will describe how we can use this quantum microscope to probe and manipulate atoms and electrons and how this powerful tool can be used to obtain microscopic quantum information on many materials, including high-temperature superconductors. 

View Professor Madhavan's presentation slides

SPE slide for Visualizing the Amazing Quantum World

\n\nSPEAKER:

Professor Vidya Madhavan, Physics Department

141 Loomis Laboratory of Physics, 1110 West Green Street, Urbana, IL 61801

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Saturday Physics for Everyone: What can theoretical physics tell us about the evolution of early life?

Professor Nigel Goldenfeld, Physics Department, Director, NASA Astrobiology Institute for Universal Biology

10/8/2016
10:15 am

141 Loomis Laboratory of Physics, 1110 West Green Street, Urbana, IL 61801

10/8/2016 10:15 am 10/8/2016 11:30 am America/Chicago Saturday Physics for Everyone DESCRIPTION:

Popular lecture. 
Life on Earth is wonderfully diverse, with a multitude of life forms, structures, and evolutionary mechanisms. However, there are two aspects of life that are universal—shared by all known organisms. These are the genetic code, which governs how DNA is converted into the proteins making up your body, and the unexpected left-handedness of the amino acids in your body. One would expect that your amino acids were a mixture of left- and right-handed molecules, but none are right-handed! In this talk, I describe how these universal aspects of biology can be understood as arising from evolution, but generalized to an era where genes, species, and individuality had not yet emerged. Lastly, I will describe experimental work, conducted in collaboration with Tom Kuhlman, that probes the mechanisms of evolution at the molecular level, in real time, in living cells. These experiments complement the theoretical work and can test some of the fundamental assumptions of the theory of evolution.

View Professor Goldenfeld's presentation slides

SPE slide for What can theoretical physics tell us about the evolution of early life?

\n\nSPEAKER:

Professor Nigel Goldenfeld, Physics Department, Director, NASA Astrobiology Institute for Universal Biology

141 Loomis Laboratory of Physics, 1110 West Green Street, Urbana, IL 61801

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Saturday Physics for Everyone: Black Holes, Gravitational Waves, and LIGO

Professor Edward Seidel, Physics Department, Director, National Center for Supercomputing Applications

10/22/2016
10:15 am

141 Loomis Laboratory of Physics, 1110 West Green Street, Urbana, IL 61801

10/22/2016 10:15 am 10/22/2016 11:30 am America/Chicago Saturday Physics for Everyone DESCRIPTION:

Popular lecture. 
The discovery of gravitational waves from a binary black hole system by the LIGO Scientific Collaboration is a milestone in the history of science. In the next few years, the LIGO detectors will continue to increase their sensitivity, and the worldwide network of gravitational wave detectors will expand to Europe, Japan, and India. We will then be in a unique position to study in detail the properties of ultra compact objects that do not emit light and to follow up those that have electromagnetic counterparts. In this talk, I will discuss the scientific developments that led to the detection of gravitational waves. I will also describe how gravitational wave astronomy will enable us not only to study the astrophysical properties of black holes and neutron stars with unprecedented detail, but also to detect completely unexpected sources of gravitational waves.

SPE slide for Black Holes, Gravitational Waves, and LIGO

\n\nSPEAKER:

Professor Edward Seidel, Physics Department, Director, National Center for Supercomputing Applications

141 Loomis Laboratory of Physics, 1110 West Green Street, Urbana, IL 61801

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Saturday Physics for Everyone: The Hidden Universe: Dark Matter and Dark Energy

Professor Jeffrey Filippini, Physics Department

11/5/2016
10:15 am

141 Loomis Laboratory of Physics, 1110 West Green Street, Urbana, IL 61801

11/5/2016 10:15 am 11/5/2016 11:30 am America/Chicago Saturday Physics for Everyone DESCRIPTION:

Popular lecture. 
Over the past several decades astronomers have been driven to a remarkable conclusion: the objects we see through our telescopes form only the tiniest portion of the stuff of our Universe. The vast majority of our Universe is in unseen forms, different from anything we know from the laboratory. Galaxies and galaxy clusters are held together by the gravitational pull of invisible clouds of dark matter, while a mysterious force called “dark energy” drives the Universe to expand ever faster. We will discuss how scientists have come to these remarkable conclusions, and the ongoing search to understand the nature of these components.

SPE slide for The Hidden Universe: Dark Matter and Dark Energy

\n\nSPEAKER:

Professor Jeffrey Filippini, Physics Department

141 Loomis Laboratory of Physics, 1110 West Green Street, Urbana, IL 61801

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Saturday Physics for Everyone: Visit to the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) where the Higgs Boson was Found.

Professor Verena Martinez Outshoorn, Physics Department

12/3/2016
10:15 am

141 Loomis Laboratory of Physics, 1110 West Green Street, Urbana, IL 61801

12/3/2016 10:15 am 12/3/2016 11:30 am America/Chicago Saturday Physics for Everyone DESCRIPTION:

Popular lecture. 
Come on a virtual tour of the famous LHC accelerator in Geneva, Switzerland. Visit the experiments that found the famous Higgs Boson with Professor Verena Martinez Outschoorn. Prof. Martinez has been on the team that built the formidable particle detectors and developed tools for looking at the data. 

SPE slide for Visit to the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) where the Higgs Boson was Found

\n\nSPEAKER:

Professor Verena Martinez Outshoorn, Physics Department

141 Loomis Laboratory of Physics, 1110 West Green Street, Urbana, IL 61801

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Event Title Speaker Date/Time Location
Saturday Physics for Everyone: "The First Galaxies in the Universe and the ALMA Telescope"

Professor Joaquin Vieira, Astronomy Department, and Faculty Associate, Physics Department

9/12/2015
10:15 am

 Room 141, Loomis Laboratory of Physics, 1110 West Green Street, Urbana, IL

9/12/2015 10:15 am 9/12/2015 11:30 am America/Chicago Saturday Physics for Everyone DESCRIPTION:

Professor Joaquin Vieira is an observational cosmologist interested in the cosmic microwave background, experimental tests of inflation, dark matter, dark energy, gravitational lensing, high redshift galaxies, and instrumentation. He builds experiments, conducts cosmological surveys, and performs observations of the distant Universe. He works with data from the South Pole Telescope, Herschel, Hubble, Spitzer, Chandra, and the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA). 

In this talk, he will tell us about the first galaxies and about ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. ALMA is a single telescope of revolutionary design, composed of 66 high precision antennas located on the Chajnantor plateau in northern Chile, at 5000 meters altitude.

View Professor Vieira's presentation slides.

Display for Professor Vieira's lecture

 

\n\nSPEAKER:

Professor Joaquin Vieira, Astronomy Department, and Faculty Associate, Physics Department

 Room 141, Loomis Laboratory of Physics, 1110 West Green Street, Urbana, IL

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Saturday Physics for Everyone: "Building Emergent Biological Machines"

Professor Rashid Bashir,  Abel Bliss Professor of Engineering and Head Department of Bioengineering

9/26/2015
10:15 am

 Room 141, Loomis Laboratory of Physics, 1110 West Green Street, Urbana, IL

9/26/2015 10:15 am 9/26/2015 11:30 am America/Chicago Saturday Physics for Everyone DESCRIPTION:

As engineers, we have always built with silicon, metal, plastics, and other materials that have well defined properties. Can we build machines and systems with living cells and biological materials? Can we use top-down engineering-design approaches and bottom-up emergent biological processes to build machines and systems that can benefit humanity?

This grand challenge requires a highly interdisciplinary approach, bringing together engineers, biologists, physicists, chemists, material scientists, and others. Ethical issues are very important to consider because these biological machines begin to imitate and look like living entities.  

View Professor Bashir's presentation slides.

Display for Professor Bashir's lecture

\n\nSPEAKER:

Professor Rashid Bashir,  Abel Bliss Professor of Engineering and Head Department of Bioengineering

 Room 141, Loomis Laboratory of Physics, 1110 West Green Street, Urbana, IL

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Saturday Physics for Everyone: "Hunting for the Elusive Neutrino"

Professor Liang Yang, Physics Department

10/10/2015
10:15 am

 Room 141, Loomis Laboratory of Physics, 1110 West Green Street, Urbana, IL

10/10/2015 10:15 am 10/10/2015 11:30 am America/Chicago Saturday Physics for Everyone DESCRIPTION:

Neutrinos are among the tiniest elementary particles in the Universe. They are extremely difficult to detect, but scientists have gone to extraordinary lengths to measure their properties since the 1930s.  It often takes the ingenuity of a large team of people and decades to catch a glimpse of these elusive particles.

Almost at every turn, neutrinos have surprised us. As we dig deep into the mysteries of neutrinos, we find that they may be responsible for our very existence.  In this talk, I will discuss the fascinating history of neutrino physics and the cutting edge research in this area.

View Professor Yang's presentation slides.

Display for Professor Yang's lecture

\n\nSPEAKER:

Professor Liang Yang, Physics Department

 Room 141, Loomis Laboratory of Physics, 1110 West Green Street, Urbana, IL

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Saturday Physics for Everyone: "How Laws, Sausages, and Science are Made: an Inside View of How Science Really Works"

Professor Peter Abbamonte, Physics Department

10/24/2015
10:15 am

 Room 141, Loomis Laboratory of Physics, 1110 West Green Street, Urbana, IL

10/24/2015 10:15 am 10/24/2015 11:30 am America/Chicago Saturday Physics for Everyone DESCRIPTION:

Professor Abbamonte studies how electrons interact inside materials. He and his group look at materials exhibiting quantum behaviors and observe how these materials behave when charge or spin inside the materials change. Most of their experiments use x-rays, electrons, or visible light and are carried out at Department of Energy national labs, such as Argonne National Laboratory.

In this talk Professor Abbamonte will tell us how science is done in real life–and how it is similar to and different from making laws and sausages. 

View Professor Abbamonte's presentation slides.

Display for Professor Abbamonte's lecture

\n\nSPEAKER:

Professor Peter Abbamonte, Physics Department

 Room 141, Loomis Laboratory of Physics, 1110 West Green Street, Urbana, IL

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Saturday Physics for Everyone: "I'm Beginning to See the Light: Properties and Applications of our Friendly Photons"

Professor Paul G. Kwiat, Physics Department

11/7/2015
10:15 am

 Room 141, Loomis Laboratory of Physics, 1110 West Green Street, Urbana, IL

11/7/2015 10:15 am 11/7/2015 11:30 am America/Chicago Saturday Physics for Everyone DESCRIPTION:

The year 2015 is officially designated as the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies. In fact, light has long been a motivator for much of our scientific understanding of the world and a key tool–arguably the most important one–for making further discoveries.  

In this talk we will illuminate (!) the properties of light with LOTS of dazzling demos, and will discuss some of its applications in science, technology, commerce, medicine, entertainment, life, etc. 

View Professor Kwiat's presentation slides.

Display for Professor Kwiat's lecture

\n\nSPEAKER:

Professor Paul G. Kwiat, Physics Department

 Room 141, Loomis Laboratory of Physics, 1110 West Green Street, Urbana, IL

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Saturday Physics for Everyone: "How to Train your Photon"

Professor Virginia Lorenz, Physics Department

12/5/2015
10:15 am

 Room 141, Loomis Laboratory of Physics, 1110 West Green Street, Urbana, IL

12/5/2015 10:15 am 12/5/2015 11:30 am America/Chicago Saturday Physics for Everyone DESCRIPTION:
The talk will be followed by lab tours. 
PLEASE see instructions below for getting a lab tour ticket.
ONLY individuals with tickets will be able to tour the lab 

Just like dragons, single particles of light, called photons, are notoriously difficult to train; their shape depends a lot on the environment they are born into, they can be in multiple places at once, and they fly faster than anything else in the world. On the other hand, these properties make them extremely useful for accomplishing otherwise impossible tasks and for bringing us to new levels of understanding. But how do you get them to do what you want? I will give a quick photon-training tutorial to show how we coax single photons out of hiding and increase their powers. When photons are trained, they can do amazing things, like alerting you if anyone is eavesdropping on your conversation, telling you the answer to currently unsolvable questions, and telling us whether our theories of how the world fundamentally works are correct.

The format of this presentation is a 30 minute talk, followed by a tour to see the training grounds and other applications of the powerful photon in physics labs at Illinois. 

ATTENTION !! People interested in touring the labs: 
When you first come in, before the talk, everyone interested in a tour MUST sign up for it at the table in front. You will receive a color coded ticket assigning you the time and the tour.  
Admission is limited.  We will offer tours twice if there are more than ~50 people interested.  The first tour will start at about 10:45am , the second tour will start about 11:05.  
Labs have strictly limited capacity.  ONLY individuals with tickets will be able to tour the lab   (e.g. you and your child must each have a ticket)

View Professor Lorenz's presentation slides. 

Display for Professor Lorenz's lecture

\n\nSPEAKER:

Professor Virginia Lorenz, Physics Department

 Room 141, Loomis Laboratory of Physics, 1110 West Green Street, Urbana, IL

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Event Title Speaker Date/Time Location
Saturday Physics for Everyone: Decisions, Decisions: How Cells Sense Their Environment and Make Decisions to Adapt and Respond

Professor Thomas E. Kuhlman

9/13/2014
10:15 am

141 Loomis Laboratory, 1110 W. Green Street, Urbana, IL 61801

9/13/2014 10:15 am 9/13/2014 11:30 am America/Chicago Saturday Physics for Everyone DESCRIPTION:

Popular lecture: Your body is made up of a variety of kinds of cells: heart, skin, etc, and all the information the cells require to become these different kinds of cells is stored in their DNA as genes. You might imagine that different cell types contain different genes, however this is not the case! All cells contain the same genes, and different cell types are made by simply making use of different genes. That is, cells need to make decisions about which genes are expressed and which ones are not based upon what kinds of cells they are and what their environment is. Cells use molecular machines to sense their environment and, based upon that information, make decisions about which genes to express in order to adapt, survive, and become the type of cell they need to be. I will describe the insights and tools physics gives us to study how these machines work and are able to get around inside the cell to do their job.

View Professor Kuhlman's presentation slides.

\n\nSPEAKER:

Professor Thomas E. Kuhlman

141 Loomis Laboratory, 1110 W. Green Street, Urbana, IL 61801

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Saturday Physics for Everyone: This Old Zero-Net-Energy House

Professor Scott S. Willenbrock

9/27/2014
10:15 am

141 Loomis Laboratory, 1110 W. Green Street, Urbana, IL 61801

9/27/2014 10:15 am 9/27/2014 11:30 am America/Chicago Saturday Physics for Everyone DESCRIPTION:

Popular lecture. Can you retrofit a house in Illinois such that it provides its own energy over the course of a year, and do it at a reasonable cost? The answer is yes, thanks in part to the decline in the price of solar photovoltaic modules. I describe how to reduce a home's energy use via various energy-efficiency upgrades, as well as geothermal heating and cooling. Using my own house as a case study, I show that each of these steps have a positive return on investment.

View Professor Willenbrock's presentation slides.

\n\nSPEAKER:

Professor Scott S. Willenbrock

141 Loomis Laboratory, 1110 W. Green Street, Urbana, IL 61801

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Saturday Physics for Everyone: Everyone Loves Science

Professor Mats A. Selen

10/11/2014
10:15 am

141 Loomis Laboratory, 1110 W. Green Street, Urbana, IL 61801

10/11/2014 10:15 am 10/11/2014 11:30 am America/Chicago Saturday Physics for Everyone DESCRIPTION:

Popular lecture. In this brief presentation I will showcase some really cool education & outreach efforts created by the Department of Physics at the University of Illinois. The Physics Van shows the fun of science to elementary school kids. The WhysGuy is a weekly science segment at a local TV station. Physics 123 is a hands-on physics course for elementary education students. smartPhysics is a tool used to flip intro physics classes all over North America, and IOLab is a gadget that could change the way we approach hands-on activities in these courses, as well as fostering communities of citizen scientists. All of these seemingly different projects are actually all very similar; they have, as their focus, the engagement of people with each other and with science, and they have all evolved in ways that we could never have anticipated.

View Professor Selen's presentation slides.

\n\nSPEAKER:

Professor Mats A. Selen

141 Loomis Laboratory, 1110 W. Green Street, Urbana, IL 61801

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Saturday Physics for Everyone: When Stars Attack! In Search of Killer Supernova Explosions

Professor Brian D. Fields, Astronomy and Physics

10/25/2014
10:15 am

141 Loomis Laboratory, 1110 W. Green Street, Urbana, IL 61801

10/25/2014 10:15 am 10/25/2014 11:30 am America/Chicago Saturday Physics for Everyone DESCRIPTION:

Popular Lecture: The most massive stars are the celebrities of the cosmos: they are very rare, but live extravagantly and die in a spectacular and violent supernova explosion. While these events are awesome to observe, they can take a more sinister shade when they occur closer to home, because an explosion inside a certain "minimum safe distance" would pose a grave threat to Earthlings. We will discuss these cosmic insults to life, and ways to determine whether a supernova occurred nearby over the course of the Earth's existence. We will then present recent evidence that a star exploded near the Earth about 3 million years ago. Radioactive iron atoms have been found in ancient samples of deep-ocean material, and are likely to be debris from this explosion.
These data, for the first time, allow sea sediments to be used as a telescope, probing the nuclear fires that power exploding stars. Furthermore, an explosion so close to Earth was probably a "near-miss," which emitted intense and possibly harmful radiation.

View Professor Fields presentation slides.

\n\nSPEAKER:

Professor Brian D. Fields, Astronomy and Physics

141 Loomis Laboratory, 1110 W. Green Street, Urbana, IL 61801

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Saturday Physics for Everyone: Building Mountains: How Forces in the Earth Raise Rock Miles into the Sky

Professor Stephen Marshak, Professor of Geology, Director, School of Earth, Society, & Environment

11/8/2014
10:15 am

141 Loomis Laboratory, 1110 W. Green Street, Urbana, IL 61801

11/8/2014 10:15 am 11/8/2014 11:30 am America/Chicago Saturday Physics for Everyone DESCRIPTION:

Popular Lecture: The highest mountains on Earth rise almost to the heights that jet planes fly.  It takes a lot of thrust to get a plane into the sky, and needless to say, a plane weighs much less than a mountain.  What forces can drive the immense mass of a mountain range up against the pull of gravity?  In this presentation, we'll explore the causes of mountain building, and several related phenomena - - including earthquakes, volcanism, continental drift, and sea-floor spreading.  We'll see that our planet is uniquely dynamic, for a reason.

\n\nSPEAKER:

Professor Stephen Marshak, Professor of Geology, Director, School of Earth, Society, & Environment

141 Loomis Laboratory, 1110 W. Green Street, Urbana, IL 61801

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Saturday Physics for Everyone: Magnets and Big Machines: The Use of Neutrons to Explore Magnetism in New Materials

Professor Gregory MacDougall

12/6/2014
10:15 am

141 Loomis Laboratory, 1110 W. Green Street, Urbana, IL 61801

12/6/2014 10:15 am 12/6/2014 11:30 am America/Chicago Saturday Physics for Everyone DESCRIPTION:

Popular Lecture:  At a length-scale a hundredth of a million times smaller than an inch, physicists talk about magnetic materials as a regular lattice of atoms, where each atom hosts a series of spinning electrons acting as tiny bar magnets. Characterization and control of these magnetic patterns is central to technologies underpinning modern data storage, electric motors, sensors and medical imaging. Physicists study spin systems as part of the search for new superconductors and novel quantum states, and observe the emergence of particles in these systems that don’t exist in the universe at large.

Yet, how is this done? The patterns involved are a thousand times smaller than the wavelength of visible light, and conventional imaging probes are insufficient for the study of electron spins. In this talk, I will explain the concept behind neutron scattering, and discuss how physicists use beams of neutrons and cleverly designed machines at research reactors and accelerators to gain insight into the position and movement of atoms inside materials. I will present recent and ongoing developments at U.S. and international neutron facilities, and discuss how the research being done there is impacting technology development and our greater understanding of condensed matter physics.

\n\nSPEAKER:

Professor Gregory MacDougall

141 Loomis Laboratory, 1110 W. Green Street, Urbana, IL 61801

false

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You may also like Saturday Engineering for Everyone offered in the spring semester.

Be sure to sign up for an NCSA tour "Artful 3D animations of scientific phenomena" offered all year long.