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The H. L. Welsh Distinguished Lecturer Series Program 2017

by Physics Web Admin — last modified 01-Mar-2011 15:01


The Department of Physics invites faculty, students and the public to our 42nd  annual celebration of physics.

The H. L. Welsh Distinguished Lectures are held on:


Earth Sciences Centre, Auditorium ES1050, 5 Bancroft Avenue

1:30 p.m. -  Prof. Nergis Mavalvala (MIT)

Title: The Warped Universe: The One Hundred Year Quest to Discover Einstein’s Gravitational Waves

Abstract: In 2016, scientists announced the first-ever detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes, launching a new era of gravitational wave astrophysics. Gravitational waves were predicted by Einstein a hundred years earlier. I will describe the science, technology, and human story behind these discoveries that provide a window into some of the most violent and warped events in the Universe.

3:00 p.m. Coffee Break

3:30 p.m. -  Prof. Leon Balents (University of California, Santa Barbara)

Title: Strange Stuff: A Second Quantum Revolution

Abstract: Weird but true: quantum mechanics tells us that reality is not what it seems. The glass is not necessarily empty or full, but can be both at the same time. Erwin Schrödinger, one of the founders of quantum theory, imagined a cat that is simultaneously alive and dead. In practice, while such odd quantum states are common for microscopic particles, they are harder and harder to arrange for larger objects. But more recently, researchers have turned this question around to ask: what sorts of weird quantum states can be achieved? The answers are surprising. Quite strange quantum behavior is possible even in large assemblies of electrons and atoms, realizing new forms of matter. These ideas are influencing not only our understanding of matter, but also that of information and gravity. In my talk, I'll introduce you to this second quantum revolution and its implications for the future.



Koffler House, KP 108, 569 Spadina Crescent

11:00 a.m. - Prof. Leon Balents (University of California, Santa Barbara)

Title: Quantum Spin Liquids

Abstract: Quantum spin liquids may be considered “quantum disordered” ground states of spin systems, in which zero point fluctuations are so strong that they prevent conventional magnetic long range order. More interestingly, quantum spin liquids are prototypical examples of ground states with massive many-body entanglement, of a degree sufficient to render these states distinct phases of matter. Their highly entangled nature imbues quantum spin liquids with unique physical aspects, such as non-local excitations, topological properties, and more. I will give an overview of the different types of quantum spin liquids, the models and theories used to describe them, and describe the current status of experiments.


2:00 p.m. - Prof. Nergis Mavalvala (MIT)

Title: First Results From LIGO: Past, Present and Future

Abstract: The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) detected gravitational waves for the first time in 2015. Since then there have been a couple more detections of binary black hole mergers. I will discuss the instruments that made these discoveries, the science so far, and plans for future improvements and upgrades to LIGO.

Sponsored by the Department of Physics:  (416) 978-7135 or or