Friday, March 18, 2016

Coming Up for SPS!


It's spring break at last, and there is a lot coming up for our chapter in the second half of the semester. We hope to see you at one of our events soon!

  • Officer Elections: April 1-7
    • If you have great ideas for our chapter or just want to get some leadership experience, being an SPS officer is a fun way to get it done! All you have to do is get your name on the board above the ballot box.* Speaking of which, we are running a ballot system, so please stop by NC 3405 and drop your ballot in the box anytime during the first week of April.
  • SPS Semi-Monthly Shindig: April 6, 11AM - 12:30PM
    • We'll be hosting another pizza party for SPS members and friends in NC 3405, featuring a tower build-off with some sort of prize for the winning team. Stop by for pizza, or join a team to see if your tower won't topple!
  • Special Guest Speaker: April 12, 3PM - 4PM
    • Warren Skidmore of the Thirty Meter Telescope will be delivering the following talk: "The Thirty Meter Telescope: The Next Generation of Ground Based Telescope" in NC 3405 for SPS, the MSU Engineering club, and members of the community. Join us for a compelling discussion on the science behind this controversial telescope.
  • SPS Outreach: April 29, 3PM - 6PM
    • We have our second outreach event of the semester scheduled with the Denver Boys & Girls Club, location TBA. Keep an eye out for more info, and if you are interested in being on our outreach mailing list, please reply to this email!
  • SPS Colloquium Series (extra dates)
    • For exoplanet lovers! April 1, 3PM - 4PM: Dr. Webster Cash - "Starshades: Direct Imaging and Spectroscopy of Earth-like Planets"
      • The Starshade was invented at the University of Colorado about ten years ago. It features a large (~50m diameter) external occulter of a shape designed to optimally suppress diffraction from a parent star, leaving the exoplanet light visible over the edge. Currently it is the only financially feasible approach identified for performing spectroscopy of Earth-like planets around the nearby stars, and as such is now thought to be the key technology in the search for biomarkers and life outside the Solar System. NASA is currently starting up a project to a fly a starshade in the mid 2020’s with WFIRST. In about another decade we will be able to not only map the planets of the neighboring stars, but characterize the planets we find there through spectroscopy.
    • For galactic astronomy types! April 8, 3PM - 4PM: Dr. Alberto Sadun - "Quasar Light Curves: Secrets Revealed"
      • Dr. Sadun will be presenting his research on active galactic nuclei in the distant universe. Abstract TBA.
    • For particle physics types! April 22, 3PM - 4PM: Akaxia Cruz - "Neutrino Oscillation and 1-10 GeV Neutrino/Nucleon Scattering"
      • Over the past two decades experiments have observed the the oscillation of neutrino flavor. This implies that neutrinos have a small non-zero mass and that the three neutrino flavor states are not equivalent to the mass states. The amplitude of mixing between the flavor and mass states is parameterized by three angles. The frequency of oscillation is determined by the differences between the masses squared. Magnitude and sign measurements have been made for some of the masses. This sign determines the ordering of the neutrino mass states, also known as the neutrino mass hierarchy. The neutrino mass hierarchy will help answer open questions in physics such as the origin of matter/anti-matter asymmetry and whether neutrinos are their own anti-particle. Future neutrino experiments will use neutrinos with energies of a few GeV to deter-mine the hierarchy. Neutrino scattering in this energy range is messy as many distinct interaction channels exist. In this talk I will present a brief overview of neutrino oscillation and related open questions in physics, as well as problems I predict future neutrino experiments will face based on an examination of out-going particles produced via each distinct interaction channel in the few-GeV energy range.
Have a relaxing break and we'll see you soon!
* All new officers will be required to attend officer meetings, one colloquium, and the outreach event during April to get up to speed for next school year.

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