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The PPPL function that reaches out to students, teachers and the general public through programs ranging from student internships to weekly talks on scientific topics from January through April.

The Olympics of science knowledge at DOE's New Jersey Regional Science Bowl at PPPL

Just as the Olympics were wrapping up in Sochi, PPPL was hosting its own Olympics of sorts for budding young scientists. But this Olympics focused on young contestants’ knowledge of science, mathematics and technology in a quest to win the regional contest to compete in the National Science Bowl in Washington D.C.

COLLOQUIUM: Your Restless Brain: Changing Continually Throughout the Day and Night

As you read this, your brain is changing. Think about that. Do you remember what you just read? Of course you do, and the only way that could happen is by some type of biochemical or structural modification of your brain. Your brain is constantly active, day and night and constantly being altered. Brain plasticity is the hottest topic in neuroscience today and will be for many years to come.

COLLOQUIUM: In Pursuit of Ignition on the National Ignition Facility

The Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF) Program is conducting experiments at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory with the goal of igniting a propagating thermonuclear burn wave in DT fuel leading to energy gain (defined as fusion yield/input laser energy >1). To do this the NIF laser delivers up to ~ 2 MJ of energy to a hohlraum (cylindrical cavity) which generates x-rays that implode a ~2 mm diameter spherical capsule filled with a solid layer of cryogenic deuterium-tritium (DT) fuel.

COLLOQUIUM: Renewable Fuels and Chemicals

We will discuss modern technologies that rely on biomass degradation to simple derivatives, such as sugars, followed by a number of reactions, such as isomerization, acid-based chemistry, and etherification to convert sugars to valuable intermediates, such as furans and green monomers. Cross-cutting technologies, including hierarchical multiscale materials and models, will be reviewed.

COLLOQUIUM: Risks of Nuclear Weapons Use in an Era of Proliferation, Cyber Warfare and Terrorism

The United States and eight other countries that possess nuclear weapons run myriad risks every day -- risks of accidental detonations, of unauthorized launches caused by false warning, of provoking escalation between nuclear forces, and of nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists.

COLLOQUIUM: Genetic Hitchhikers

In principle, evolution can take a nearly unlimited number of possible paths.  Using laboratory experimental evolution, we can run the same evolutionary experiment in hundreds of parallel populations.  We observe that each population finds a unique genotypic solution.  Yet, in these data, phenotypic patterns emerge suggesting that there are a limited number of accessible pathways to substantially higher fitness.  Therefore, despite the inherent randomness of genotypic evolution, phenotypic evolution is strongly constrained, and perhaps even predictable.  

COLLOQUIUM: The Fate of the Land Carbon Sink

Models of the global terrestrial biosphere in current Earth system models (climate models with coupled atmosphere, ocean and biosphere) uniformly predict a large current carbon sink caused by CO2 fertilization of terrestrial vegetation that sequesters 1-2 GtC/y.   Models with a nitrogen cycle generally predict that a large fraction of the sink will disappear by midcentury because of nitrogen limitation.  The models all include some form of Liebig’s Law of the Minimum for nitrogen.  All models currently predict that water limited systems will see large and sustained sinks because water use e

COLLOQUIUM: Extrasolar Planets with Small Telescopes

We now know more than one thousand extrasolar planets (exoplanets), and another two thousand exoplanet candidates.  Many of the best understood ones are so-called transiting exoplanets, and many were discovered by small telescopes.  I will review two currently running small telescopes projects (HATNet and HATSouth) that have altogether yielded 60 exoplanets.  I will highlight some of the discoveries and recent scientific results from these projects.

COLLOQUIUM: Quantum Mechanics and Spacetime Geometry

Quantum mechanics is important for determining the geometry of spacetime. We will review the role of quantum fluctuations that determine the large scale structure of the universe. In some model universes we can give an alternative description of the physics in terms of a theory of particles that lives on its boundary. This implies that the geometry is an emergent property. Furthermore, entanglement plays a crucial role in the emergence of geometry.

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