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Last update: 2009-05-26

How Much Information is in a Quantum State?

2009-05-26

People often talk about the quantum state of n entangled particles as if it contained an amount of information exponential in n. Sometimes, they draw the conclusion from this that quantum mechanics must be an extravagant theory valid only for simple systems or small numbers of particles, or that largescale quantum computing must be impossible in principle.…

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Serving Astrophysics - An Alternative Approach

2009-05-12

The author of this talk, an astrophysicist by training, had the opportunity, on two occasions, to visit the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) on its Low Earth Orbit as a member of STS-46 and STS-103 Space Shuttle crews. These two visits allowed the execution of essential repair work, mainly in the area of optical performance, electrical power supply, and attitude control of the orbiting observatory.…

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Watching the Dance of the Atoms in Slow-Motion

2009-05-05

The changes in the atomic configuration underlying chemical reactions, phase transitions and many other fundamental processes in nature take place on a femtosecond (fs) time scale, that is, roughly speaking 10-14 to 10-13 s (1 fs = 10-15s). Ultrafast lasers and optical spectroscopy provide the capability of temporally resolving these processes but they lack the spatial resolution that is be required to directly track the motion of the atoms…

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The Two Mysteries of Superconductivity

2009-04-28

Superconductivity is a most remarkable property of matter, whereby electrons enter spontaneously a state of macroscopic quantum coherence in which electricity flows perfectly. Were this state sustainable at room temperature, our technological world would be profoundly transformed. The most promising materials are the copper oxides which remain superconducting halfway to room temperature…

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Atoms and Molecules in Rydberg states

2009-04-21

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Is the 2000 Watt Society Sustainable?

2009-04-07

Recently a debate has arisen here at ETH Zurich centering on the question whether the envisaged 2000 Watt Society is inevitable. Why should not we be allowed to use more energy? Would not it be more important to limit greenhouse gas emissions? In this lecture, we shall analyze whether the 2000 Watt Society is at all sustainable, and if so, what it will take to keep energy supply at that level after the end of ample and cheap fossil fuels.…

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Galileos Discovery of a New World in the Heavens and a New Physics on Earth

2009-03-31

In the autumn of 1609 Galileo pointed his telescope to the heavens and made six important discoveries. First, the Moon has mountains and craters like the Earth, second, there are many more stars than was believed; third, the Milky Way is a congeries of starlets; fourth, Venus has phases and hence goes around the Sun; fifth, Jupiter has four satellites; and sixth there are spots on the Sun.…

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The Large Hadron Collider

2009-03-24

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN is a proton-proton collider with a centre-of-mass energy of 14 TeV. The machine has many novel design features including a twoin- one magnet cooled in superfluid helium at 1.9K. A brief description of the main design features is given and some of the challenges in accelerator physics discussed.…

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Solving Gauge and String Theories with Integrable Spin Chains

2009-03-17

The standard model of particle physics is built upon four-dimensional gauge theories. Unfortunately, computations within them are intrinsically hard, and our knowledge is therefore restricted to tiny fractions of their parameter space. In recent years we have made considerable progress towards solving the spectrum of at least one such theory exactly by employing technology well-known from condensed matter physics such as integrable spin chains.…

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X-Rays Shines Light on the Mystery of Water

2009-03-10

Water is the key compound for our existence on this planet and it is involved in many important physical, chemical, biological and geological processes. Although water is the most common molecular substance it is also the most unusual with many anomalies in its thermodynamic properties such as compressibility, density variation and heat capacity.…

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Precision Quantum Metrology

2009-03-03

Quantum state engineering of ultracold matter and precise control of optical fields have allowed accurate measurement of light-matter interactions for applications ranging from precision tests of fundamental physics to quantum information science.…

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Cavity Optomechanics: Backaction-Cooling of Mechanical Oscillators

2009-02-24

The mutual coupling of optical and mechanical degrees of freedom via radiation pressure has been a subject of interest in the context of quantum limited displacements measurements for Gravity Wave Detection for many decades. Recent advances in nano- and micro-mechanical oscillators have allowed observing for the first time radiation pressure phenomena in an experimental setting and constitute the emerging research field of Cavity Optomechanics.…

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ESO: Present and Future

2008-12-16

The European Southern Observatory is an intergovernmental organization for astronomy, created in 1962 by Belgium, France, Germany, Sweden and The Netherlands, and today has 14 member states. Headquarters are located in Garching near Munich.…

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Cold Dark Matter Searches and the XENON Experiment

2008-12-09

The XENON experiment aims to detect weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs) via their elastic scattering on Xe nuclei, using a low background, two-phase time projection chamber.…

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The Quest for the Inner Structure of the Proton

2008-12-02

Exploring the nature of matter has been of central interest over centuries. In order to study the structure of atoms, protons and neutrons, scattering experiments have become the tool of choice, which have their origin in Rutherfords work in the last century.…

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The Interplanetary Transport Network: Mapping Chaotic Motion Through the Solar System

2008-11-25

The competing gravitational pull between celestial bodies creates a vast array of passageways that winds around the sun, planets and moons. These corridors are tube-like structures connecting regions of balance in interlinked three body problems.…

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Coupling MEMS to Photons: an new Approach to Macroscopic Quantum Phenomena

2008-11-18

Radiation pressure provides a coupling between the electromagnetic field and the center-of-mass motion of macroscopic objects. This coupling offers a promising route towards observing quantum phenomena on surprisingly large scales.…

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Quantum Private Queries

2008-11-11

Alice wants to ask Bob a question. Bob wants to give Alice the answer. But there's a catch: Alice doesn't want Bob to know what the question is. Classically, the only ways for Alice to make a provably private query are unwieldy. For example, Alice sends Bob a billion questions, of which her original question is one, and has him answer all of them. Quantum mechanically, however, Bob can answer Alice's question and provide her with a guarantee that he doesn't know what her question is. This talk shows how.…

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Entangeled Electrons in the Solid State: Quantum Interference and Dephasing

2008-11-04

I will describe two experiments, where pairs of electrons were entangled in a solid state Mach-Zehnder interferometer, leading to entirely different outcomes. In one experiment a which path detector was entangled with an interferometer, leading to total dephasing of the interference.…

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Solar Neutrino Spectroscopy with BOREXINO at Gran Sasso

2008-10-28

The physics program of the Borexino experiment at the Gran Sasso underground laboratory focuses on the measurement of low-energy solar neutrinos. Data taking started in May 2007. With the achieved unprecedented radio-purity of the detector materials, the Borexino collaboration succeeded after only two months of data taking to measure neutrinos in real time which are emitted in the electron capture of 7Be in the core of the Sun.…

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Coherent X-Ray Imaging and Microscopy for Life Science Applications

2008-10-21

Visible-light microscopy is a standard and widely used tool with a broad range of applications in science, industry and everyday life. Besides standard bright-field imaging, many more contrast mechanisms have been developed, and dark-field-imaging, phase-contrast, confocal and fluorescence microscopy are routine methods in todays light-microscopy applications.…

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Non Abelian Anyons - What they are and How They can be Identified

2008-10-14

I will describe the non-abelian quantum Hall effect, how its excitations become non-abelian anyons, and how they may be used for topological quantum computation. I will then focus on several proposed experiments that can serve as litmus tests for identifying non-abelian anyons.…

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Precision Atom Interferometry

2008-10-07

Atom de Broglie wave interferometry has emerged as a tool capable of addressing a diverse set of questions in gravitational physics, and as an enabling technology for advanced sensors in geodesy and navigation. This talk will review basic principles, then discuss recent applications and future directions.…

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Engines of Discovery: The Role of Accelerators in Scientific Exploration

2008-09-30

Hundred and ten years have passed between J.J. Thomson used a cathode ray tube to discover the electron and the start of commissioning of the LHC collider, where protons are accelerated to 7 TeV. This span of nine orders of magnitude in energy allowed the nuclear and particle physicists to establish the present day standard model of the fundamental laws of nature.…

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Entropy: The Mathematical Heritage of Ludwig Boltzmann

2008-09-23

In this lecture I shall discuss how Boltzmanns treatment of entropy and the second law of thermodynamics, although developed for physical reasons, has found applications in various fields of mathematics and is still at the basis of current research, in various subjects such as the mathematical theory of kinetic gases, probability theory, Riemannian geometry or Von Neumann algebras. The talk is intended to be accessible to a generalist scientific audience.…

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The Quantum Spin Hall Effect

2008-09-16

Search for topologically non-trivial states of matter has become an important goal for condensed matter physics. Recently, a new class of topological insulators has been proposed. These topological insulators have an insulating gap in the bulk, but have topologically protected edge states due to the time reversal symmetry.…

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Nuclear Physics, Stellar Explosions and the Abundance Evolution in Galaxies

2008-05-27

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Quasiparticle Extinction due to approaching Mottness - the Achilles Heel of High-TcSuperconductivity?

2008-05-20

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Nanotechnology Tools for Biology, the Power of Single Molecule Biophysics

2008-05-13

I will discuss the impact of nanoscience, in particular single-molecule techniques, on biology. Single-molecule tools such as scanning probes, tweezers, and nanostructures provide powerful new entries to study the structure, dynamics and function of biomolecules, molecular motors, DNA-enzyme interactions, and the like.…

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Inelastic Electron Scattering off Magnetic Impurities

2008-05-06

This talk reviews the theory and experiments investigating the electron relaxation in metals with magnetic impurities. Such impurities enhance the energy exchange between electrons and make the electron energy relaxation sensitive to the magnetic field…

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100 Years of Liquid Helium

2008-04-22

The first liquifaction of Helium was achieved in the summer of 1908 at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. This breakthrough gave the decisive impetus for the emerging new branch of low-temperature physics, which was first dominated by research on the properties of liquid Helium itself and, naturally, on the phenomenon of superconductivity of metals.…

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The Quest for Very Low Mass Planets

2008-04-15

In the last thirteen years, more than 250 exoplanets have been detected. These discoveries have revealed the impressive diversity of exoplanet orbital properties. The past thirteen years have also witnessed a remarkable improvement of the precision of radial velocity measurements.…

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Superconducting Interfaces Between Insulating Oxides

2008-04-08

At interfaces between complex oxides, electronic systems with unusual properties can be generated. As reported first by Ohtomo and Hwang, a highly mobile electron gas is formed at the interface between LaAlO3 and SrTiO3, two insulating dielectric perovskite oxides. It will be shown that the ground state of this system is superconducting.…

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Real and Futuristic Spin Qubits

2008-04-01

Electrons confined in nanoscale semiconductor islands (quantum dots) occupy quantized orbitals, much like the ectrons bound to an atomic nucleus. This opens prospects for the coherent control of their spin states, and may form the basis for a scalable quantum computer.…

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The role of accelerators in understanding the Dark Universe

2008-03-18

Many key questions in particle physics and cosmology are unanswered today. In particular, some 95% of the Universe consist of unknown dark matter and dark energy.…

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Challenges and Opportunities of High Field Magnetic Resonance Imaging

2008-03-11

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a powerful medical imaging technology which has become one of the premier modalities for visualizing anatomy in radiological practice.…

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Verschraenkung der Physiker

2008-03-04

Physik zu betreiben bedeutet, Information ueber unsere Natur zu sammeln, zu ordnen und in Form von physikalischen Gesetzen auf moeglichst kompakte Art darzustellen.…

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The Physics of Dunes

2008-02-26

Dunes are aerodynamic instabilites that exist in deserts and along coasts. I will present the first set of equations of motions that correctly describes the evolution of a free granular surface under the action of wind and gravity.…

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Precision Physics with Jet Observables

2008-02-19

The fundamental building blocks of protons, neutrons, pions and atomic nuclei are quarks and gluons, which interact through the strong interaction.…

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Particle Tracking in Turbulence

2007-12-18

Fluid turbulence leads to a dramatic enhancement of transport and mixing and therefore is of great importance in a wide variety of natural and industrial processes from cloud physics to chemical reactors.…

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Elementary Particles in the Mirror of Space and Time: Violation of Discrete Symmetries

2007-12-11

The role of symmetries in physics will be introduced with special emphasis on two particular discrete symmetries, viz., the parity operation, P, which inverts spatial coordinates and the time reversal operation, T, which reverses the arrow of time.…

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Imaging 3D Neural Network Activity: A Glance at the Mesoscopic Scale in Neuroscience

2007-12-04

Nonlinear optical microscopy tools such as two-photon laser-scanning microscopy offer entirely new and fascinating views on brain dynamics.…

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From Disks to Planets - Boulders, Gaps, and Traffic Jams

2007-11-27

The talk will provide a general description how stars and planets form. The journey will start with the stellar nurseries: In the very cold and opaque parts of molecular clouds, the physical conditions allow gravitational collapse to occur.…

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Abschied von der Weltformel

2007-11-26

"A Different Universe: Reinventing Physics from the Bottom Down" lautet der Originaltitel des Buches von Physik-Nobelpreistraeger Robert B. Laughlin, das seit kurzem in deutscher Uebersetzung vorliegt. Am 27. November praesentiert der Stanford-Professor an der ETH Zuerich sein Werk.…

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Quantum Nanoplasmonics and Cellular BASICs for Quantitative Biology and Medicine

2007-11-20

Cellular Biological Application Specific Integrated Circuits (BASICs) have been developed for quantitative systems biology and molecular medicine.…

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Physics Across the Energy Frontier

2007-11-13

Besides the four well known fundamental forces (gravity, electromagnetism, the weak interaction and the strong one) additional dynamics must exist in nature.…

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One-Electron Quantum Cyclotron Determines the Electron Magnetic Moment and the Fine Structure Constant

2007-11-06

A single electron is suspended by itself for months in the magnetic field of a Penning trap. Its cyclotron motion is cooled to the point where the quantum structure in this motion manifests itself as the energy levels of an artificial atom - the electron bound to our apparatus.…

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Schroedingers Mirrors: Quantum Experiments with Micro-Mechanical Systems

2007-10-30

The quantum regime of mechanical systems offers fascinating new possibilities for both applied and fundamental physics.…

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QED in a Pencil Trace

2007-10-23

When one writes with a pencil, thin flakes of graphite are left on the surface making a dark trace. Some of these flakes turn out to be only one atom thick and can be viewed as individual atomic planes pulled out from bulk graphite.…

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Physics for Safety in the Mountains

2007-10-16

The principal threat to safety in the mountains are gravitationally induced mass movements: snow avalanches, debris flow, land slides, or rock avalanches. Physics can contribute to many safety measures by understanding the process-initiation and -dynamics. The most advanced scientific foundations have been achieved in snow avalanches.…

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Graphene - Electronic Structure of an Intriguing Material

2007-10-09

Graphene, the single sheet of carbon atoms which is the building block of graphite and carbon nanotubes, has recently attracted a great deal of attention because of its unusual transport properties.…

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Particle Acceleration by the Sun

2007-10-02

The Sun accelerates ions up to tens of GeV and electrons to hundreds of MeV in two distinct physical processes. Solar flares release up to 1020 kWh in a few minutes, with possibly more than half of this energy in accelerated particles.…

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Deterministic Quantum Mechanics

2007-09-25

The differences between the quantum world and the classical world appear to be so sound, that attempts at a deterministic interpretation of quantum mechanics are usually dismissed.…

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The Zurich Physics Colloquium

The Zurich Physics Colloquium is jointly organized by the University of Zurich and the ETH Zurich. Its mission is to bring both students and faculty with diverse interests (astrophysics, condensed matter physics, high energy physics, quantum electronics/optics) into contact with newest scientific developments in natural sciences, predominantly physics but also biology, chemistry, and topics from environmental sciences. Leading experts explain the basic questions in their field of research and communicate the fascination for their work.

The Zurich Physics Colloquium


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