A Tabletop Test of Special Relativity Using Atoms

posted on October 10, 2012 by

Justin M. Brown, University of California, Berkeley

Tuesday, October 9, 2012  4:30 pm  Millikan Lab – Room 134

 Gravity and quantum mechanics are expected to unify at the Planck scale described by an exceeding large energy of 1019 GeV. This regime is far from the reach of the highest energy colliders, but tests of fundamental symmetries provide an avenue to explore physics at this scale from the low energy world. Proposed theories of quantum gravity suggest possible breaking of Lorentz and CPT symmetry that have so far been unobserved. I present results from my recent graduate work that improved the existing limits of a Lorentz- and CPT-violating background field coupling to the neutron spin by a factor of 30. In a tabletop setup, polarized atomic vapors of K and 3He form a comagnetometer to suppress magnetic fields but remain sensitive to non-magnetic spin couplings. A distinctive feature of our apparatus is a rotating platform for frequent reversals of the comagnetometer with respect to the celestial frame. Rotating the apparatus introduces several systematic effects, the largest of which is the rotation of the earth. I will highlight continuing improvements to the experiment including transfer to the South Pole in December to eliminate the Earth’s rotation background entirely.

The Evolution of Flamenco Guitar: The International Flamenco Scene

posted on October 10, 2012 by

Eric Puma (PO, 2014)

2012 Iberian Grant Winner


Tuesday, October 9, 2012    

Noon to 1:00pm   

Oldenborg Dining Hall, south side

From southern Spain to the world stage, flamenco music has grown far beyond its humble roots. What changes has flamenco undergone as it has become more known globally? Has flamenco become unmoored from it historical roots? Does flamenco carry different nuances across different cultures? Join 2012 Iberian Grant winner Eric Puma for an afternoon of food, music, history, and guitar performance as he recounts his journey to Granada, Spain to discover the answers to these questions.

Eric Puma is a third-year physics major at Pomona College. He has studied guitar for six years and flamenco in particular for three under the guidance of Jack Sanders and Jorge “El Pisao.” Eric is also trained in percussion, trumpet, and voice training in various styles such as Latin and Afro-Cuban jazz and classical.

Established in 1988 as the result of a generous gift from a distinguished alumna of the college, the Iberian Grant has provided the opportunity for one Pomona student each summer to pursue an independent research project in Spain or Portugal. There are no departmental or disciplinary constraints on the kinds of projects that the grant supports. The purpose of the program serves to encourage students to apply their knowledge of Castilian, Portuguese, and the other Iberian languages to projects found across the academic spectrum.