Homepage for Ph135c (Spring 2011): Quantum Mechanics of the Universe

Instructors:      Marc Kamionkowski    
                        Cahill 322
                        kamion AT tapir.caltech.edu


TA:    Denis Bashkirov (denisb AT caltech.edu; x2632, 404 Downs)                      
Class times:    Tues,Thurs, 1-2:30 in 219 Cahill (note change of room!)

Class description:   This will be a seminar class on various topics of current research interest in cosmology, particle astrophysics, and other areas of physics.  There will be no lectures and problem sets.  Rather, students will give presentations in class about subjects that the instructor will suggest and that students will choose.  Attendance will be required, and students will be required to learn on their own a subject well enough to explain it to others in the class.  Some of the subjects will be things that the instructor knows quite well, but others will be on subjects that the instructor knows less about but is interested in learning.    These student talks will be supplemented on occasion by talks from others in the Caltech community.  The purpose of the class is to get an overview of current research topics and to get some practice figuring out things from the literature and giving talks.

Prerequisites:  Basic undergraduate physics and particularly nonrelativistic quantum mechanics.  Some quantum field theory or general relativity may be useful, but many of the subjects can be understood, at least qualitatively, without a detailed familiarity with the technical aspects of these subjects.

Grade:     Grades will be assigned on the class presentation(s) you make as well as your attendance and participation in class.

On the first day of class, we will go through possible talk subjects, and students will then email me preferences for subjects they'd like to speak on.  I will then make a schedule of talks based on these responses.

The talks will need to be researched and prepared by the students.  For some subjects there are good review articles.  Others may require reading of original papers.  And google and wikipedia are always valuable as places to start.  I will also provide some places to start and possibly some suggestions, but the burden will really be on the students.


1.    Astronomical evidence for dark matter
2.    WIMP/Neutralino dark matter
3.    Axions
4.    Neutrino masses and mixing
5.    Tests of short-range gravity
6.    Double beta decay
7.    Baryogenesis
8.    ultra-high-energy cosmic rays
9.    large extra dimensions
10.    theories for cosmic acceleration
11.    inflation and the CMB
12.    atomic tests of parity violation
13.    supersymmetry searches at the LHC
14.    integer/fractional quantum hall effect
15.    theory of superconductivity
16.    biased galaxy clustering


Suggestions for the talks


Mar 29    Marc gives overview
Mar 31     Marc gives overview
Apr 5    TA Denis Bashkirov on Hawking radiation, Unruh effect, etc.
Apr 7     Sean Carroll on quantum measurement theory
Apr 12      Astronomical evidence for dark matter    Blasius/Cohen
Apr 14      WIMP/neutralino dark matter    Mooley/Chien
Apr 19      Axions                Lam/Hood
Apr 21      Neutrino masses and mixing      Rousseau/Chien
Apr 26      atomic tests of parity violation    Hood/Chivukula
Apr 28      supersymmetry searches at the LHC      Cohen/Lee
May 3       baryogenesis    Haas/Venumadhav
May 5      theories for cosmic acceleration    Rousseau/Chivukula
May 10      inflation and the cmb      Hui/Haas
May 12      large extra dimensions and short-range gravity:     Lam/Blasius
May 17      integer/fractional quantum Hall effect Lee/Mooley
May 19      theory of superconductivity   Hui/Venumadhav
May 24     
May 26     


Last updated 4/6/2011