2019 University of Minnesota Physics & Astronomy Open House

Friday, November 15 2019, 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM [CST]

116 Church St SE, Minneapolis, MN, 55455, United States


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Event Information

Friday, November 15 2019, 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM [CST]

About the Event

Friday, November 15, 2019

6:00-9:00PM in Tate Hall

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities Campus 


Nearby parking options include the Church Street Garage and the Washington Avenue Parking Ramp.  More information can be found at http://www.pts.umn.edu/park/facilities


Lab tours and discussion groups will depart from the newly renovated Tate Hall, lower atrium.  These groups are limited in size due to space considerations, and free tickets will be available on a first come-first served basis. 


Lab tours and Discussion Groups:




In the last few decades, astronomers have been faced with more data than any one person can classify on their own. To address this, "citizen science" has been a powerful tool: Volunteers from anywhere in the world can examine astronomical data themselves and classify it with their votes. This talk will introduce you to "Galaxy Zoo", a citizen science project that has classified over a million galaxies over 12 years, and its latest iteration, "Galaxy Zoo: Clump Scout".





The solar astrophysics group at UMN builds new hardware to try to answer fundamental questions about our Sun, the closest and most important star.  To do this, we analyze data from existing NASA satellites. We also work on developing new technology that will fly on the next generation of spacecraft to support further investigations.  This involves flying experimental hardware on small rockets for short trips into space, and in constructing small, shoe-boxed sized satellites (“SmallSats” or “CubeSats”) to try out astronomical instrumentation.  UMN students play large roles in all of these projects.



Due to popular demand, we have added a telescope observation session prior to the Keynote address.  This session may be helpful to some of our stargazers who are not able to stay later in the evening.   Join us for rooftop observing through our historic telescope in the dome of the John T. Tate Hall.  Weather permitting, attendees have the opportunity to view the sky through multiple 8-inch reflecting telescopes, assisted by students of the Minnesota Institute for Astrophysics.



The goal of the Puchner Lab is to investigate and characterize the biophysical principles of cellular signaling networks by connecting the behavior of single molecules and their complexes to the biological response of the entire cell.  We approach this problem with a wide range of techniques – synthetic biology, genetic engineering, and molecular biology – but our specialty is quantitative single   molecule super-resolution microscopy (Nobel Prize Technique, Chemistry 2014).  This integrative approach allows us to precisely decipher the spatial organization and dynamics of biomolecules within cells below the optical diffraction limit, while simultaneously measuring the cell’s signaling activity.



The Cryogenic Dark Matter Experiment (CDMS) experiment is comprised of germanium semiconductor detectors placed deep underground in order to detect a signal from dark matter particles. The CDMS group at UMN is forefront in testing these detectors. Our facility is responsible for thoroughly investigating the behavior of these detectors before their use in official science runs. We also conduct research and development efforts for future progressions of the experiment. In the lab tour you will get to see the equipment popularly employed in condensed matter physics that our facility uses to test detectors. In addition, you will get to see the clean room and methods we must use in order to keep our detectors and tools pure from contamination. Moreover, you will be able to see what a true experimental laboratory environment looks like and what tools are used on a daily basis to conduct our work!



The Hanany Lab is attempting to understand the physics of the big bang. What happened at or very near the origin of time? What physical mechanisms controlled the expansion of the Universe at these high energies? To address these questions the group is building balloon borne telescopes that observe the cosmic microwave background radiation. This radiation, which is an echo of the big bang, provides the earliest image of the Universe. The balloon-borne payloads are launched from various locations around the globe and are flown at the edge of Earth’s atmosphere.  



The Dahlberg Lab develops fundamental understanding in areas of thermodynamics and statistical mechanics, considered to be one of the four core areas of physics.  The research uses square magnetic particles as small as 200 atoms on a side and 50 atoms thick with four non-magnetic wires attached as the model system. They pass an electrical current through a particle with two of the wires and measure the voltage across the particle with the other two.  The measured voltage depends upon the direction of the North and South poles of the magnetic particle and so the voltage allows them to see how the magnetization direction jumps around- called fluctuations. The manner of the fluctuations is used to develop a fundamental model of the dynamics that can be applied to any system exhibiting similar phenomena; one exotic system that exhibits similar behavior is the stock market!



In the Pribiag lab, we study the way electrons flow at very low temperatures in certain materials where they can only move in one or two dimensions. During the tour, you will be able to see the ‘fridge’ we use to cool samples to near absolute zero. You will also see some of our samples, as well as highly-magnified images of nano-sized devices made from these materials.



In recent years, particle physicists have increasingly turned their attention to finding physics beyond the Standard Model, the current description of the building blocks of matter and how they interact. Discoveries beyond the Standard Model will help scientists answer some of the most fundamental questions about matter and our universe. Were the forces of nature combined in one unifying force at the time of the Big Bang? How did the universe change from being dominated by energy and radiation remnants from the Big Bang to the one we see today with visible matter, including people and plants?



Like ice cream, neutrinos exist in different flavors. One unexpected result of experiments during the last several decades is, unlike ice cream, neutrinos can spontaneously change from one flavor to another. Even more interesting is that measuring the parameters of this flavor changing process may yield information about the matter antimatter asymmetry in the Universe. This talk will focus on what we know and how we know it.



Do you ever wonder how computers get faster, smaller, and more robust all the time? Physics is quite often the answer. Spin electronics is a growing field that has applications in consumer electronics.


Additional options may be added as the event approaches. 



Following lab tours & discussion sessions, guests are invited back to Tate Hall B50 for:


Faculty Keynote Speaker, Professor Priscilla Cushman

Dark Matter Detectives

There is clear evidence that the Universe is filled with a mysterious form of matter that affects the motion of stars and galaxies, bends light from distant galaxies, and influences cosmic evolution. While the evidence for the existence of this “dark matter” is overwhelming, its nature is still unknown. To understand what it is made of, scientists look for clues in special detectors located deep underground where cosmic rays can’t interfere.  So far, there has not been a confirmed sighting of the elusive particles, but the dark matter detectives are not giving up. They have lots of new ways to try to catch a dark matter particle and study it.


The Minnesota Institute of Astrophysics is hosting a public presentation about Pulsars and telescope viewing (weather permitting) at the end of the Keynote Presentation (8PM).  Space for this portion of the evening is more limited, so please RSVP separately for this portion if you plan to attend.  







Cancellation policy

If you find you are unable to attend after registering, please cancel to help us maintain an accurate number for planning.  Thank you!

Event Location

About the Organizer

University of Minnesota School of Physics and Astronomy