News & Events

Events Calendar

Jan 14 Sat 11:00am

Universe in the Park: William O'Brien State Park

Universe in the Park is hosted by the Minnesota Institute for Astrophysics and area state and local parks.

Representatives of the Institute will present a short (~20 min) outdoor public talk and slide show. Presentations cover a variety of astronomical topics such as: the history of matter, how astronomers "see," and a journey through our solar system. For the 2022 season, talks will be outdoors to ensure they are as safe as possible.

Afterwards, if weather allows, attendees have the opportunity to view the sky through multiple 8-inch reflecting telescopes, operated by the staff and provided by the Minnesota Institute for Astrophysics. Additionally, free star maps (e.g., and instructions are provided. Throughout the evening, audience members are encouraged to ask questions and discuss topics ranging from backyard astronomy to the latest scientific discoveries.

Although a vehicle permit is usually required to enter the parks, the events are free to the public. More about William O'Brien State Park, here.

Physics Force in Rochester

The auditorium shows will feature all the fun big demos, bringing the wonders of physics to life in an educational and spectacular display.

There will be five public shows: 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 12, 2022.
and 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m and 7:00 p.m. on Friday, May 13, 2022

Physics Force performances are typically 60-75 minutes long. Intended for all ages, the shows are free and open to the public. Registration is required.


Physics Force is supported by the School of Physics and Astronomy, the Dean of the College of Science and Engineering, and the University of Minnesota's Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC). Physics Force is sponsored by a gift from the 3M Company. 

Continuous Advances in QCD 2022

The workshop "Continuous Advances in QCD" (CAQCD 2022) is being organized by the William I. Fine Theoretical Physics Institute (FTPI) at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. The workshop will be held from May 12-14, 2022. 

We will have a session dedicated to the memory of Misha Voloshin who, sadly, left our world on March 20, 2020.  This session will be devoted to heavy quark physics and decays of quasi-classical objects –– the topics so cherished by Misha, in which his contributions were instrumental. 

Seven Pines Public Lecture: Peter Galison

About the talk: In thousands of atlases depicting the working objects of inquiry—from bodies, clouds, plants, to crystals and insects—physicians and natural philosophers worked out what counted as scientific objectivity. This long-term history, with its various takes on what a reliable scientific image should be, converged in the years-long struggle of the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) to produce a picture of a black hole robust enough to make public. On April 10, 2019, the team released the first image of a black hol leased the first image of a black hole, an image viewed within a very few days by more than a billion people. This talk is about how the EHT team of some 200 scientists came to judge the glowing, crescent-like ring as objective.

About the Speaker:Peter Galison is a physicist, historian of science, and filmmaker at Harvard University, where he is the Joseph Pellegrino University Professor and Director of the Black Hole Initiative. In 1997, he was named a MacArthur Fellow; with his Event Horizon Telescope colleagues, Galison shared in the 2020 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics for the first image of a black hole. He is the author of several books, including How Experiments End; Image and Logic; Einstein’s Clocks, Poincaré’s Maps; and (with L. Daston), Objectivity. Galison partnered (as dramaturg) with South African artist William Kentridge on a multi-screen installation, The Refusal of Time (2012) and an associated chamber opera. He and Robb Moss co-directed Secrecy (2008), on national security secrecy, which premiered at Sundance. The two also co-directed Containment (2015), about the need to guard radio-active materials. The latest film produced and directed by Peter Galison is: Black Holes: the Edge of All we Know, which was released in 2020 (and is available on channels like Netflix, AppleTV and others).

About the Lecture: The Seven Pines public lecture is part of an annual symposium held by the Seven Pines Institute. It is co-sponsored by the Minnesota Center for the Philosophy of Science at the University of Minnesota and The Science Museum of Minnesota.

WiPA de-stress event

There will be arts and crafts! There will be snacks! There will be conversation and hanging out! Among other things, we'll have painting, drawing, coloring, and possibly nail polish. See you there!

Colloquium: Alex McLeod, University of Minnesota; & Student Awards

Unveiling the Realm of Quantum Materials with Nano-optics

Abstract: Tool sets wielded by condensed matter researchers over the past century have expanded meteorically into frontiers of the ultra-small and ultra-fast, today leveraging advancements like atomically precise crystal growth, nano-scale device assembly, and femtosecond spectroscopy with ultrafast photon pulses.  On the other hand, despite breathtaking 20th century advancements in photon sources and detection technologies, our capacity to resolve condensed matter through optical spectroscopies has remained largely arrested by the diffraction limit since its 19th century observation by Ernst Abbe.  However, recent decades have seen the marriage of “conventional” optics with scanning probes to circumvent the diffraction limit, realizing a nanometer-resolved optical spectroscopy mediated fundamentally by electromagnetic near-fields.  In this talk, I review and celebrate the breakthrough of this technique into regimes of low temperature and nanometer spatial scales necessary for fundamental studies of quantum materials.  I showcase seminal investigations of collective excitations in 2-dimensional media like graphene, electronic phase competition in correlated electron solids, and on-demand control of optical properties in strongly interacting materials.  I will share my ambitious perspectives for the future of nano-optical probes for quantum materials, a future that is simultaneously ultra-bright and ultra-small, and fundamentally transformative for optical spectroscopies of complex matter.

This colloquium will have a remote option via zoom: 

Van Vleck Colloquium: William Unruh, University of British Columbia

Abstract: In 1976 I predicted that an accelerated detector in the vacuum would respond as though it were immersed in a thermal bath with temperature proportional to the acceleration. The proportionality factor is very small, so that to see a temperatures of 1K would require and acceleration of about 10^22cm/(second squared). An analogous effect can take place in a fluid where the velocity of sound takes over from the light velocity. In a BEC which remains fluid at temperatures of 10^(-12)K and with a velocity of sound of mm/s, an analog of this effect holds the possibility of seeing this effect in an experiment using a novel energy laser interferometer. I will be reviewing the successes of using such analog systems to measure Hawking radiation, and our proposal of also measuring the acceleration effect in an analogue system.

This colloquium will have a remote option via zoom:


Link to join Webinar

Van Vleck Public Lecture: William Unruh, University of British Columbia

About the Talk: The detection of gravitational waves from events such as the collision of black holes is based on one of the most exquisitely sensitive experiments in the world.  Although the energy released in the original collision is as large as that from anything humans have ever observed, the resulting ripples in space-time are so small by the time they reach the earth that they generate displacements less than a billionth of a billionth of a meter.  This is why gravitational waves resisted detection for a century until their observation in 2015, a feat recognized by the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics.  At present, the key source of noise  limiting the sensitivity in these experiments is due to quantum mechanics. Given that the detector mirrors weigh 40 kg, it is astounding that the quantum theory originally developed for atoms matters in this case for macroscopic objects.  This year’s Van Vleck lecture will explore this phenomenon.  Things can go strangely in the quantum world, and Professor Unruh will show how it is possible to reduce the effects of this noise by actually injecting more quantum noise into the detector.

About the speaker:

William Unruh received his Ph.D. in 1971 under John Wheeler (the person who popularized the name "Black Hole" for the phenomenon). In trying to understand the quantum mechanics of black holes, Unruh discovered the Unruh effect  and the Unruh vacuum around black holes. His work has concentrated on the overlap between quantum mechanics and gravity, leading to work on the nature and measurement of time, the study of (non-)non-locality. in quantum mechanics, the quantum origin of matter in early cosmology, the impact of quantum mechanics on the detectors of gravitational waves, and other effects in the same general area. He holds a number of honors including Fellowships in the Royal Societies of Canada and of London, and is a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. At present he is Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of British Columbia; Distinguished Research Chair at the Perimeter Institute; and Research Professor at Texas A&M University.

The lecture is free and open to the public, but registration is requested

Women in Astronomy and Physics Lecture Series (WAPHLS): Ana Maria Rey, University of Colorado, Boulder

Abstract: Harnessing the behavior of complex systems is at the heart of quantum technologies. Precisely engineered ultracold gases are emerging as a powerful tool for this task. In this talk I will explain how ultracold strontium atoms trapped by light can be used to create optical lattice clocks – the most precise timekeepers ever imagined. I am going to explain why these clocks are not only fascinating, but of crucial importance since they can help us to answer cutting-edge questions about complex many-body phenomena and magnetism, to unravel big mysteries of our universe and to build the next generation of quantum technologies.  

Colloquium: The Genesis of the CPT Theorem

Abstract:  The CPT theorem is a well-known and well-established fundamental result in relativistic quantum field theory (QFT), stating that any such theory will be invariant under a sequence of transformations consisting of time reversal (T), spatial inversion (P), and charge conjugation (C). In my talk I will show how this combined transformation arose in the work of Julian Schwinger, Gerhart Lüders, Wolfgang Pauli and John Bell, in particular in the search for an adequate relativistic and field-theoretic generalization of the notion of time reversal in the early 1950s. I will thus aim to explain the surprising fact that the CPT theorem was first proved a couple of years before taking center stage with the discovery of parity violation in 1957. (Based on joint work with Andrés Martínez de Velasco.)

School News

Light from supernova

Kelly leads study of Red-supergiant supernova images

School of Physics and Astronomy Professor Patrick Kelly led a team that has measured the size of a star dating back more than 11 billion years ago using images that show the evolution of the star
Sauviz Alaei

Alaei named Apker Finalist

Sauviz Alaei, B.S. Physics, 22 was named a 2022 Leroy Apker Award Finalist by the American Physical Society. The LeRoy Apker Award recognizes outstanding achievements in physics by undergraduate
Vlad Pribiag

Pribiag group creates first few-mode multi-terminal Josephson junction

Professor Vlad Pribiag from the School of Physics and Astronomy led a group effort that has experimentally realized a long-theorized few-mode multi-terminal Josephson junction.
Marie Lopez del Puerto

Lopez Del Puerto wins Excellence in Physics Education Award

Marie Lopez del Puerto, (Physics PhD, ‘08), currently Professor and Chair of the Department of Physics at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, was a recent recipient of the American Physical
Maxim Pospelov

Pospelov named APS Fellow

Maxim Pospelov, Professor of the School of Physics and Astronomy, has been named a Fellow of the American Physical Society.
Anatoly Larkin

2022 Larkin Awards announced

The inaugural Fine Theoretical Physics Institute Larkin Awards have been announced.
TURBO telescope

Kelly receives $1 million grant to build superfast ‘TURBO’ telescopes

A team led by School of Physics and Astronomy Assistant Professor, Patrick Kelly, is constructing two sets of telescopes that will open a new window into the collisions of neutron stars and black
Ben Messerly

Messerly wins Postdoc Award

Dr. Ben Messerly, postdoctoral researcher in the School of Physics and Astronomy, won a 2022 UMN Postdoc Award for Teaching and Mentoring.
Alexander McLeod

McLeod receives Young Scientist Prize

Assistant Professor Alex McLeod of the School of Physics and Astronomy has received the 2022 International Union of Pure and Applied Sciences Young Scientist Prize.
Ali Sulaiman

Ringleader: New faculty member is expert in planetary physics

This fall, the School will welcome Ali Sulaiman to the space physics group.

School of Physics and Astronomy Seminar Calendar