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The MIT DEPARTMENT OF PHYSICS presents
The 17th Annual Pappalardo Fellowships
in Physics Symposium
THURSDAY, MAY 17, 2018
2:00  5:00 PM
MIT Department of Physics
Pappalardo Community Room
Building 4, Room 349
Cambridge, MA
Five members of the Department's premier postdoctoral fellowship program, the Pappalardo Fellowships in Physics, will present highlights from their independent research projects.The talks are designed for the enjoyment of all members of the MIT physics community.
 Zhen Bi (Theoretical Condensed Matter Physics)
 Julieta Gruszko (Experimental Nuclear & Particle Physics)
 Itamar Kimchi (Theoretical Condensed Matter Physics)
 Lampros Lamprou (String Theory)
 Michael Wagman (Theoretical Nuclear & Particle Physics)
Refreshments available for attendees in the foyer of 4349 beginning at 1:30 pm.
 Schedule of Speakers
 A. Neil Pappalardo (EE '64): Pappalardo Fellowships Program Founder
 Pappalardo Fellowships in Physics Program Home Page
SCHEDULE OF SPEAKERS
TIME  SPEAKER  TITLE & ABSTRACT 
1:45 pm  Refreshments for attendees served in foyer outside the Pappalardo Community Room (4349). 

2:00 pm  Pablo JarilloHerrero, Professor of Physics 
Introductory Remarks 
2:15 pm  Julieta Gruszko, 
Shedding “Nu” Light on the Nature of Matter Why is the universe dominated by matter, and not antimatter? This is a basic and fundamental question, but we cannot yet answer it. Neutrinos, which are elusive neutral particles with tiny masses, could give us insight into this and other outstanding questions in fundamental physics. If the neutrino is its own antiparticle, processes that create particles with no corresponding antiparticles would then be possible, giving us a new path forward to explain the predominance of matter over antimatter in our universe. To discover whether this is the case, we must search for neutrinoless doublebeta decay, a theorized process that would occur in some nuclei. Detecting this extremely rare process, however, requires us to build multiton detectors with very low background rates. At MIT, we’re beginning construction on NuDot, a proofofconcept experiment that will explore promising techniques for future detectors. I’ll discuss the progress we’ve already made in demonstrating how previouslyignored light signals can help us distinguish signal from background, and the technologies we’re developing with an eye towards the coming generations of experiments. 
2:30 pm  Question & Answer  
2:45 pm  Zhen Bi, 
The Universe in Topological Phases Condensed matter physics studies phases of matter and the transitions between them. Symmetry has been a powerful and successful mathematical principle to differentiate phases of matter. For example, crystalline solids can be classified by the symmetry of their atomic arrangement pattern. However, symmetry is not the whole story. Nature provides us with many new exotic phases of matter, such as Integer and Fractional Quantum Hall Effects, where topology emerges as a natural mathematical language to capture the physics. In this talk, I will discuss some recent progress on understanding topological phases of matter. There are a vast set of new quantum phases—named symmetryprotected topological phases—once we take into account the interplay between symmetry and topology. I will also talk about our recent work on phase transitions between topological phases. We found that nonabelian gauge fields (the mediator of the weak and strong forces between elementary particles in our universe) naturally emerge at some topological phase transition. 
3:00 pm  Question & Answer  
3:15 pm  Michael Wagman, 
Nuclei, Neutrinos, and New Physics Neutrino oscillations provide direct experimental evidence for beyondtheStandard Model physics. Experimental searches for neutrinoless doublebeta decay can test new physics theories predicting nonzero neutrino masses and neutrino oscillations. Doublebeta decay searches and other neutrino experiments measure nuclear reaction rates, and nuclear theory is needed to relate these reaction rates to the underlying parameters of the Standard Model and its possible extensions. I will discuss my research on lattice field theory simulations of nuclear physics from the Standard Model, including protonproton fusion and doublebeta decay in a small nucleus. Lattice simulations involving larger nuclei relevant to doublebeta decay experiments face exponentially hard signaltonoise problems related to phase fluctuations, and I will also mention my ongoing research at MIT to apply “phase unwrapping” techniques to improve signaltonoise in lattice field theory simulations. 
3:30 pm  Question & Answer  
3:45 pm  I N T E R M I S S I O N  
4:00 pm  Lampros Lamprou, 
Spacetime from Quantum Mechanics Black holes reveal a deep inconsistency between our two experimentally successful physical frameworks: Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity. Quantum theory endows black holes with the ability to irreversibly destroy information via their evaporation—a fact contradicting the very principles of quantum mechanics. This is the famous information paradox, whose resolution has been traditionally described as the program of "Quantization of Gravity." In this talk, I will suggest the idea that the answer lies, instead, in the converse: the "Geometrization of Quantum Mechanics." This novel perspective leads to the surprising insight that Einstein's spacetime is an emergent concept, with its dynamical geometry providing an approximate description of an underlying quantum theory. How do we get spacetime from quantum mechanics? What properties of the quantum system can probe the curvature of spacetime, which is responsible for the gravitational force according to general relativity? I will present a simple idea for how to approach this question, which I've proposed in my most recent work, and which will be the subject of my ongoing research. 
4:15 pm  Question & Answer  
4:30 pm  Itamar Kimchi, 
Dirty Quantum Entanglement Recent developments in quantum condensed matter theory provide us with a better understanding of possible behavior that can arise when many electrons interact. This understanding is often based on idealized theoretical settings that can only sometimes be applicable to the electrons in a piece of material such as a magnetic insulator. One intriguing question is how to create and observe an entangled state of two electrons, with its "spooky action at a distance," for a pair of electrons separated across distant atoms. I will present our new theoretical work that answers this question by addressing a difficult but important ingredient: randomness, that necessarily arises in real materials. I will show, with pictures, how randomness can stabilize longrange entanglement. Finally, I'll show strong evidence that our theory indeed describes many real quantum magnetic materials. 
4:45 pm  Question & Answer  
5:00 pm  F I N I S 