physics & astronomy

Taylor Hughes

Taylor Hughes presenting at Great Lakes Strings 2013.

Shavaji Sondhi

Shavaji Sondhi presenting at Great Lakes Strings 2013.

Samir Mathur

Samir Mathur presenting at Great Lakes Strings 2013.

David Turton

David Turton presenting at Great Lakes Strings 2013.

Astronomy Professor Researches Latest Hubble Space Telescope Images

For UK physics and astronomy professor Gary Ferland, the latest images of the Ring Nebula, captured by the Hubble Space Telescope, provide an invaluable resource to understand more about dying stars similar to the sun.

Great Lakes Strings Conference

Friday, May 17, 2013 - 9:00am to Sunday, May 19, 2013 - 6:00pm
Chemistry-Physics Building Room 155.


The 7th annual Great Lakes Strings Conference brings together researchers in fields related to string theory from the Midwest region and beyond. The program of 44 talks over 3 days will feature applications of string theory to condensed matter systems. 

Sponsored by the Department of Physics & Astronomy and the College of Arts & Sciences.

Visit the conference website for more information - .


Robert Milton Huffaker Named Honorary Doctorate

Robert Milton Huffaker, a native of Wayne County, Ky., has an over 50-year career as a distinguished physicist, company founder and CEO, and philanthropist. After earning a Bachelor of Science in physics and pursuing graduate studies at UK, Huffaker worked at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center for 15 years.

Black Holes: Probes of the Cosmos and Fundamental Physics

The class of spacetimes with event horizons contain some of the most fascinating solutions to the equations of general relativity. Over the past few years, numerical simulations have begun to reveal many dynamical, strong-field solutions not amenable to exact analytical or perturbative treatments. In this talk, I will describe 3 such scenarios. First, the inspiral and merger of two black holes, which is thought to occur frequently in the universe. Such events are powerful emitters of gravitational waves, and a concerted world-wide effort is currently underway to observe them. Second, I will discuss the ultra-relativistic collision of two solitons. Arguments suggest that at sufficiently high velocities gravity dominates the interaction, causing a black hole to form. These arguments underlie claims that the Large Hadron Collider, or cosmic ray collisions with the Earth, will produce black holes in speculative large extra dimension scenarios. Finally, I will show results elucidating the fate of a black string in 5 dimensions, subject to the Gregory-Laflamme instability. Rather remarkably, the event horizon exhibits dynamics akin to a low viscosity fluid stream suffering the Raleigh-Plateau "beading" instability. In the gravitational process arbitrarily large spacetime curvatures are revealed to an external observer, culminating in naked singularities.

New Perspectives for QCD

AdS/QCD, together with ``Light-Front Holography", provides an analytic, frame-independent color-confining first approximation to QCD, accounting for light-quark meson and baryon spectroscopy, hadronic form factors, and other hadronic observables. A remarkable holographic feature of hadron dynamics in AdS space in five dimensions is that it is dual to Hamiltonian theory in physical space-time, quantized at fixed light-front time. This light-front holographic principle provides a precise relation between the bound-state amplitudes in AdS space and the boost-invariant light-front wavefunctions describing the internal structure of hadrons in physical space-time. The hadronic eigensolutions of the light-front QCD Hamiltonian satisfy a single-variable relativistic equation of motion, analogous to the nonrelativistic radial Schr\"odinger equation. The color-confining potential is determined uniquely using a method based on conformally invariant quantum mechanics. The resulting potential is color-confining and reproduces the observed linear Regge behavior of the light-quark hadron spectrum in both orbital angular momentum and the radial node number. The pion mass vanishes in the chiral limit, and other features of chiral symmetry are satisfied. The elastic and transition form factors of the pion and the nucleons are also found to be well described in this framework. A number of novel phenomenological consequences will be discussed, including hadronization at the amplitude level.

Gauge fields with cold atoms

Gauge fields are ubiquitous in Physics. For example, in the context of high energy physics, they are the fundamental carrier of forces; while in condensed matter systems the associated physical fields (electrical and magnetic) are essential in creating and understanding many-body phenomena. Here I present our experimental work synthesizing static gauge fields for ultracold neutral atoms (bosonic and fermionic alkali atoms), analogous to applied fields in condensed matter systems. I will discuss these static gauge fields in the language of spin-orbit coupling where it consists of an equal sum of Rashba and Dresselhaus couplings. In experiment, we couple two internal states of our alkali atoms with a pair of ``Raman'' lasers and load our degenerate quantum gas into the resulting adiabatic eigenstates. For a Bose gas, a function of the Raman laser strength, a new exchange-driven interaction between the two dressed spins develops, which drives a (quantum) phase transition from a state where the two dressed spin states spatially mix, to one where they phase separate. Going beyond this simple modification to the spin-dependent interaction, we show that in the limit of large laser intensity, the particles act as free atoms, but interact with contributions from higher even partial waves.


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