What Physicists Do

Physics 123, Spring 2020

(First 5 weeks) Fridays, 6a (3:30-4:30), AND 036

1 Credit; S/CR/NC

The Department of Physics and Astronomy is pleased to announce this year’s Physics 123 Line-up.  “What Physicists Do” is our annual series of five lectures by invited speakers, many of whom are Carleton Physics alumni.  It is intended to introduce students to a broad range of real-world physics and to give some perspective on the kinds of work done by people with a physics background.  The course is open to all interested students who have taken PHYS 151; those considering a major in physics are particularly encouraged to enroll. 

The presentations are in Anderson 036 on Fridays during 6th period (3:30-4:30pm). The only requirement, beyond attending five talks, is to read an assigned article beforehand and then to submit a short (one page) typed essay afterwards commenting on both the talk and the reading. Speakers will be available for informal discussions over refreshments afterward.  Questions: Marty Baylor, OM 211, x4149, mbaylor@carleton.edu

April 3rd        Mara Orescanin ’06:  “Rain, Tides, and Waves:  What Makes Physics at the Beach so Fun?”

Ever been to the beach and wonder where does the sand go and why is it on the beach? As a coastal physical oceanographer, my research centers on the fluid motions of waves, tides, and rivers and how sand moves as a result of their combined actions.  Specifically, my current research projects focus on coastal systems called bar-built estuaries.  Bar-built estuaries are common to coasts like California that experience seasonal variation in precipitation.  The result is intermittent river discharge, that creates periods of closed coastal lagoons followed by beach breaching and river/wave interactions that are accompanied by tens of meters of sediment erosion and accretion. 

April 10th      Andrea Mulhausen Johnson:  “Newton to Netter:  My path from Physics to medicine”

As a family practice physician, quantum mechanics and differential equations are not exactly part of my day to day. My background in physics and the skills I learned as a physics major, however, have played a critical role in my path to medicine and who I am as a physician. In this presentation I will discuss how I came to this career path and why my physics background was so important in leading me here. 

April 17th      Craig Hogle ‘07:  “Quantum computing with Microfabricated Surface Ion Traps”

Quantum computing has the ability to solve classes of problems much faster and perform certain simulations more efficiently than classical computing. Trapped ions present a platform to perform quantum operations and they demonstrate many of the qualities needed to scale towards larger quantum systems. In this talk, I will discuss the physics of ion traps as well as their role in ongoing work in quantum information.

April 24th       Karina Leppik:  “Oh the Places You’ll Go (with Physics and Astronomy)”

You know you won’t be working in a regular office when before you can start: a. you are sent to fire school to learn how to be a firefighter; b. you are sent to a military base for land and water survival training; c. your mandatory first aid course is more than “stop the bleeding and call for help” because there is no other help; d. they give you a psychological examination to make sure you’re not crazy; e. all of the above.  Answer: E.  All of the above.  With my BA in physics, and eventually an MS in Astronomy, I have had a winding career that has taken me to various interesting places.  I will talk about some of the routine- and not so routine- jobs I’ve had and how they have all managed to make sense with each other.  Even the ones that weren’t related to physics.

May 1st          Andy Krominga ‘07:   “Does this make sense?  How Physics applies to Manufacturing”

I will be talking about how my physics degree and Carleton experience helped prepare me for a manufacturing environment. Manufacturing is about converting theory and experiment into a process/product that can be made in a diverse environment with people who have diverse skills.