Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The (Multi) Universe(s)

Crossposted from Radiolab.org

Have you wondered if there is another you out there? Somewhere? Sitting in the same chair, reading the same blog post, wearing the same clothes and thinking the same thoughts? Well, Brian Greene says there must be one. Or two. Or lots and lots and lots and lots and… Why? You ask, well listen to Greene’s argument in this week’s podcast.

We are still furiously working on Season 5, so while you wait we bring you today’s podcast of a conversation between Robert Krulwich and Brian Greene, physics and mathematics professor and director of the Institute of Strings, Cosmology, and Astroparticle Physics at Columbia University. The interview is part of a series called “Giants of Science” hosted by venerable New York institution, the 92nd St Y.

Robert and Brian discuss what’s beyond the horizon of our universe, what you might wear in infinite universes with finite pairs of designer shoes, and why the Universe and swiss cheese have more in common than you think.

Take a listen here

You can see a video of Brian talking about string theory here.

Friday, August 15, 2008

2008 CUPC at U of T

The following is a message from Sarah Kavassakis, the CUPC chair:

Dear Fellow Undergraduate Physics Students,

It is that time of year again, it is time for the Canadian Undergraduate Physics Conference! This year, the University of Toronto will be hosting the 44th CUPC, from October 16th – 20th, 2008. For those of you who aren't familar with the conference, it consists of four days of academic talks and lab tours relating to all areas of physics. Each student will be given a chance to present, with either a 15 minute talk or poster presentation, in either French or English, research that they themselves have conducted, as well as to listen to the work done by their peers. Typically, topics of undergraduate research are broadly grouped under astronomy and astrophysics, experimental physics, mathematical physics, computational physics, chemical physics and physical chemistry, planetary physics, biophysics, and engineering physics. Along with the opportunity to present their own work, attendees are also able to enjoy a series of key note lectures presented by well respected and established physicists who are at the top of their field. In the past, key note speakers at the CUPC have included John A. Wheeler, Richard P. Feynman, Freeman Dyson, and other incredible minds. 2008 will be no exception, our invited speakers for English talks so far include popular icons Lawrence Krauss and Lee Smolin and Nobel laureate John Polanyi. We are also currently preparing our list of French language speakers.

Keeping up with past years, and due to Toronto's ideal location for travel, the 44th CUPC is expecting 250-300 delegates from Canada and North America and a few dozen international students. The full registration fee is $300, which includes hotel accomodation for the four days of events and a ticket to the final Awards Banquet. For students not needing accomodation, the registration fee is $150. More information about fees and to register, go online to our website: http://cupc.ca . The conference hotel this year is the Courtyard, which is downtown Toronto, and minutes from the University of Toronto's St. George Campus, where our Department of Physics is located.

Our website also contains information about the various labs and external research groups that you will have an opportunity to visit as well as the "social events calender" for the conference. In the standard vein of the physics conference, the 2008 CUPC will feature a downtown Toronto pubcrawl (and alternatively, for those who aren't interested, a "dessert crawl"), opportunities for sightseeing, and a number of "meet and greets" to let you get to know your fellow students and fellow physicists. We will also be featuring an awards banquet on the final night where awards will be given out to the top three contributed student talks and the top three student poster presentations (as judged by a panel of grad students, pdfs, and faculty).

All students are welcome. Typically the conference is attended by 2nd, 3rd and 4th year undergraduates along with recent graduates (new grad students). Attendees can present any work that they conducted as an undergraduate (that is somehow connected to physics), from either a summer job, NSERC, a reading course, a lab or project course, undergraduate thesis, etc. Consult the website if you need more information about the types of presentations that are typically given, or feel free to email me (sarah.kavassalis@utoronto.ca), the 2008 host and organizing chair, with your questions.

Arrival of students happens all day on the Thursday (October 16th), with most students arriving in the late afternoon for the reception in the evening at the hotel. Friday (17th), Saturday (18th), and Sunday(19th) are full conference days, with the Awards Banquet taking place Sunday evening. Monday (October 20th) is a final breakfast at the hotel. Please make your travel arrangements with all of this in mind. Many students arrive late on Thursday and leave Sunday night (meaning only one missed day of class). Look at the "Coarse Schedule" (which is subject to minor changes) on our website for more information on timing.

I look forward to meeting you all in October.

Sarah Kavassalis
2008 Canadian Undergraduate Physics Conference Chair
University of Toronto
President - Physics and Astronomy Student Union
e-mail: sarah.kavassalis.utoronto.ca
Visit http://cupc.ca for online registration.

September Movie Night

I'm happy to announce that we have a date, time, location, AND movie picked out for our first official Physics Society Movie Night. Here's what you need to know:

What: Phys Soc Movie Night - The Matrix or A Beautiful Mind
Where: Ravens' Roost
When: September 18th, 7pm (Note that this is special date, normally the movie nights will be held on the second Thursday of the month.)

This event is open to anyone so whether or not you are a member come on down and meet everyone!


Saturday, August 2, 2008

Tell Me A Story

Radiolab's Robert Krulwich gave the commencement speech at California Institute of Technology. It's on the importance of scientific storytelling. More specifically, the importance of talking about and teaching science at a level all people can understand. I think it's a truly fantastic speech, have a listen.