Rethinking Reality

Our intuitive understanding of reality comes from what we see and experience, but modern physics tells us that our world is actually stranger than the one we see, hear and touch every day. At extremes of scale, speed and time, our perceptions of the world prove hard to reconcile with established physical law. Here, at the cutting edge of physics where we attempt to reconcile the bizarre domain of quantum mechanics with the cosmic vastness of relativity, we must increasingly rely on new ways of thinking, seeing and experimenting to probe the principles which underlie everything. Join us as five University of Arizona physicists explain their role as pioneers rethinking the rules of reality.

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Live Streaming, TV Broadcast and Digital Viewing Options
Each lecture is streamed live by Arizona Public Media On Demand. Each lecture will also air on television after a one-week delay on Mondays more information to follow when available.

Each lecture is also made available on iTunes “U” as a Podcast and uploaded to YouTube 1-2 weeks after the lecture date. Links will be posted when available.

Jan 30 2017
Rethinking the Rules of Reality

Keith R. Dienes, Program Director, Physics, National Science Foundation and Professor of Physics, University of Arizona
In this series kickoff lecture, we take a tour through some of the most cutting-edge concepts in modern physics. After discussing the connections between symmetries, forces, and conservation laws, we describe the fundamental building blocks of the natural world and what they tell us about where physics might be heading in the future. Finally, we discuss how physics gives rise to “weirdness at the extremes”, including the emergence of a new “dark sector” populated by modern ghosts.


Feb 6 2017
The Journey to the Extreme

Feryal Ozel, Professor of Astronomy and Physics, University of Arizona
The Universe presents us with a myriad of extreme objects where our understanding of physical reality is continuously challenged. Do normal nuclei dissolve into quarks and perhaps into other new particles in the cores of neutron stars? What is the boundary between normal matter and a black hole’s infinite energy density, enshrouded by an event horizon? Why are our theories of gravity and quantum mechanics incompatible? The quest for answers continue with the development of new physical laws, Earth-sized telescopes, and an unending joyful journey to the edge of the extreme.


Feb 13 2017
Space, Time and Gravity

Sam Gralla, Assistant Professor of Physics, University of Arizona
At the dawn of the twentieth century, Einstein revolutionized our conception of reality, showing that space and time are not merely the stage on which the show unfolds, but dynamical entities that stretch, bend, and vibrate to give rise to the force we know as gravity. A century later, the vibrations of spacetime have been directly detected as gravitational radiation from colliding black holes, confirming Einstein’s prediction and ushering in a new era in observational astronomy. How did physicists measure these minuscule vibrations, and what does it mean for our understanding of the universe? And what is the next revolution, fomenting right now, in our conception of space and time?


Feb 27 2017
A Myriad of Particles

Elliott Cheu, Interim Dean, Honors College and Distinguished Professor of Physics, University of Arizona
From the beginning of civilization, we have attempted to reduce our world to its simplest components. This search resulted in the discovery of the electron and culminated in the recent detection of the Higgs boson. Our current model of the particle world is stunningly successful in describing the Universe as we know it. Yet we do not understand many of the underlying principles that shape the natural world. The nature of mysterious things such as dark matter and dark energy are as yet unknown to us. This lecture will describe the journey that has culminated in our current understanding of our Universe, while pointing to the discoveries that are yet to be made.


Mar 6 2017
Domesticating the Quantum

Pierre Meystre, Editor in Chief, American Physical Society
Following its discovery, the quantum became central to our quest for a fundamental understanding of nature, from the structure of atoms and light to the Standard Model of particle physics, and beyond. As we learned how to tame, and increasingly how to domesticate the quantum, this also resulted in a technological `Quantum Revolution’ with a profound impact on our lives. This goes from the utterly devastating – with the invention of weapons capable of destroying civilization in the blink of an eye, to the most empowering – from medical imaging to the GPS, from the transistor to the laser, and from the internet to the smart phone. Following a brief review of these developments the lecture will focus on a more counter-intuitive aspect of quantum reality, what Einstein called “spooky action at a distance.” I will discuss how worldwide efforts at domesticating this elusive quantum attribute may lead to a `Second Quantum Revolution,’ with much promise for quantum communications, quantum metrology and quantum computing.


Lectures will be held at Centennial Hall on the campus of the University of Arizona.
View map to Centennial Hall


Parking is available in the Tyndall Avenue Garage.
View map to Tyndall Avenue Garage

Time and Cost

All lectures begin at 7 PM and are free to the public.

For More Information

Please call 520.621.4090


Course Overview
ECOL 596s is structured as a 1-unit graduate course with discussion, lecture and activities on the teaching of science in a high school classroom. The course is focused around the UA Science Lecture Series offered through the College of Science.

Teacher-participants meet once a week for three hours in the evening. In the first hour the class participates in an activity for teaching science in a high school science classroom or a presentation on a K-12 outreach opportunity at the UA. In the second hour the class attends the UA Science: Rethinking Reality lecture. The third hour consists of discussion of the lecture and its application to the high school classroom. This course is structured for science teachers at the 6-12 grade level, but K-12 teachers at all levels are invited to participate. Pre-service teachers who are not yet certified may also take the course and earn undergraduate credit. Teachers earn 1 unit of graduate credit.

For More Information
John Pollard
Associate Professor of Practice
Chemistry and Biochemistry
(520) 621-8843

To Register
Please email John Pollard explaining (briefly) why you are interested in the class. Enrollment is limited.

Tuition and Fees
100% tuition is paid by the College of Science.

Location and Time
Class location will be announced. Classes run from 6:00-9:00 pm on six evenings beginning January 30. Parking is available in the Tyndall Avenue Garage.
View map to Tyndall Avenue Garage


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