Physics@MIT Journal

Issue: Fall 2011

Message from the Department Head 4

New Faculty 6

Faculty & Staff Notes 8

News & Events in Physics 13

In Remembrance 21

Student Honors & Awards 23

Student Profile 31

Alumni/ae Notes 51

Giving to the Department of Physics 56

Donors 60

Many-body Physics Through a Gravitational Lense
34 The development of physics has largely followed a dichotomy between the frontiers of reduction and emergence. On the one hand, we search for the most fundamental laws that would encompass all phenomena in nature. String theory—an ambitious attempt to marry general relativity and quantum mechanics, and to unify all fundamental interactions—may be considered the epitome of this approach.
A Little Big Bang. Gases of ultracold atoms teach us how matter behaves under the strongest interactions that nature allows.
42 A few billionths of a degree above Absolute Zero, ultracold gases of fermionic atoms allow the study of strongly interacting matter, relevant for many different fields of physics—from the behavior of electrons in modern materials, to neutron matter in the crust of neutron stars, and to the quark-gluon plasma of the early universe.