Department of Physics Autumnal Equinox Lecture "Hunting for habitable Worlds"

Dr. Stephen A. Rinehart, NASA Goddard Space Center
 Thursday, September 27, 2018
 4:15pm in the Library Auditorium
 Reception and Student Posters in the Baber Room at 4pm
 A few short decades ago, astronomers found the first evidence of a planet outside of our own solar system — an exoplanet. While such distant worlds have been alive in the imagination of humanity for centuries, with new capabilities, scientists are just now able to begin to study exoplanets. Over the past few decades, these studies have focused largely on discovery and on understanding the population of exoplanets. These have resulted in startling new discoveries, including several unanticipated types of planets, have shown that planets are incredibly common in our galaxy, and have given new insights into the formation and evolution of planetary systems. They have also spawned a plethora of theoretical studies that address questions such as “What does it mean for a planet to be habitable?” Over the next decade, the study of exoplanets will be transformed. The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is expected to find thousands of new exoplanets around bright, nearby stars; with follow-up observations from ground-based telescopes, and with the powerful capabilities of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), astronomers will be able to start characterizing many of these new worlds. But finding unambiguous signs of habitability will require even more powerful future facilities.
Dr. Stephen Rinehart is an astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. He obtained his Ph.D. in 1999 from Cornell University, and after a two-year stint as a researcher in London, moved to Goddard in 2001. In his time at Goddard, Dr. Rinehart has been fortunate to work on a wide range of missions at all different phases of development - over a dozen different missions or instruments in the last 20 years. The two most notable of these roles were his time as a Project Scientist for the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) from 2005-2009, and as the Project Scientist for the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission from 2010-2018. He has also been a leader in developing new mission and instrument concepts, has carried out research using existing data, and developed a new laboratory astrophysics program. He is currently the Principal Investigator for the Balloon Experimental Twin Telescope for Infrared Interferometry (BETTII), and the Principal Investigator for the Space High Angular Resolution Probe for the InfraRed (SHARPIR), and is now on temporary detail in the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters.

XRD in Industry

Dr. Milen Gateshki, Philips - Panalytical
 Thursday, October 11, 2018
 4pm in Dow 107 (Reception at 3:30pm in Dow 208)
 Presented jointly with the Science of Advanced Materials Program

Understanding liquid water from first principles: A tale of two liquids

Marivi Fernandez-Serra
 Thursday, October 18, 2018
 4pm in Dow 107 (Reception at 3:30pm in Dow 208)
 Despite the simplicity of its molecular structure, condensed phases of water present a complicated phase diagram that has not yet been fully completed. Liquid water as we know it is not a simple liquid. The anomalies of water manifest in many thermodynamic and structural ways. Because of this the complete understanding of the phase diagram of liquid water and ice is still an active area of research in the chemical physics community. In this talk I will present how this problem can be addressed using density functional theory. Our results show that the anomalies of water are strongly linked to the coupling between vibrational and electronic degrees of freedom in the hydrogen bond interaction. And that both electronic and nuclear quantum effects play a role in the second critical point conjecture. In addition, I will show how the second critical point scenario also connects to the interaction of water with functional semiconductor and metallic surfaces. I will present the state of the art of current simulations and the challenges we face, focusing on two specific problems: the description of aqueous solvated electrode surfaces and the simulation of photocatalytic surfaces in aqueous environments.

Physics faculty presenting opportunities to work in their labs

CMU Physics Faculty
 Thursday, November 1, 2018
 4pm in Dow 107 (Reception at 3:30pm in Dow 208)

Nuclear Physics

Dr. Lubby McCutchan, Brookhaven National Lab
 Thursday, November 15, 2018
 4pm in Dow 107 (Reception at 3:30pm in Dow 208)

Nuclear Physics

Dr. Richard Longland, North Carolina State University
 Thursday, November 29, 2018
 4pm in Dow 107 (Reception at 3:30pm in Dow 208)
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