26th January 2018 at 14.15: Claus Montonen – Nobel lecture

Claus Montonen headshotOn Friday 26th of January 2018, the Physics department will hold the first in a series of exciting, thought-provoking colloquia. These talks are aimed at a wide audience.

Our first talk is from Claus Montonen, a distinguished theoretical physicist. He is known for his work on the Montonen-Olive duality in quantum field theory, but it is his involvement with ICAN, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, that he shall speak about in a talk titled The Road to a Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons.

ICAN won the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize “for its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons”.

ICAN logo

Montonen will discuss the history of attempts to achieve complete nuclear disarmament, and outline the developments leading to the agreement on the Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons (TBNW) last July. He will highlight the role of non-governmental organizations and initiatives, and discuss the obstacles to the general acceptance of the TBNW. Here is his abstract:

Since the introduction of nuclear weapons there have been attempts to achieve complete nuclear disarmament. This history will be recalled and the developments leading to the agreement on a Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons (TBNW) last July described. The role of non-govermental organizations and initiatives, especially of the recent Nobel peace laureate ICAN, will be highlighted. Finally the obstacles to the general acceptance of the TBNW will be discussed.

After the 30 minute talk, there will be a cocktail reception. Welcome!

16th February 2018 at 14.15: Jaakko Lehtinen

Our second colloquium of 2018 will be held on 16th of February. Our speaker will be Jaakko Lehtinen. Jaakko is both an associate professor at Aalto as well as a principal research scientist with NVIDIA Research.

We have invited him to speak to us to give a broader perspective on research in the natural sciences, and how it can make contact with industry. He will tell us about some of the ways in which machine learning combined with physical simulations can help to tackle hard problems in artificial intelligence, in a talk titled Physically-based simulation meets machine learning to enable drastic advances in AI?

Here is his abstract:

How do we make computers perceive the everyday world and deeply understand it just by looking at it? How do we build virtual agents and real robots that build on this perception and are able to move and interact with the world, including us humans, in a natural manner? In this talk, I’ll aim to get you excited about the currently accelerating congruence of physically-based simulation and machine learning in solving very hard problems in artificial intelligence. I’ll argue that the classic approach of “merely” learning from human-labeled examples is doomed – there is simply no way for us to cover all the variability in the real world with annotated examples – and that making use of interpretable models (simulators!) in the learning process is the way forward. I’ll give examples of my own work, as well as that of my close colleagues and collaborators, and other highlights from around the world.

After the 30 minute talk, there will be a cocktail reception. Welcome!

18th May 2018 at 14.15: Mark Hindmarsh

Our final colloquium for the spring semester will be held on 18th May. Our speaker will be Mark Hindmarsh, professor of theoretical physics at the University of Sussex, and visiting professor at Helsinki. His work is principally concerned with the exciting topic of gravitational waves produced in the early universe, and so the title of his talk is Gravitational waves from the Big Bang.

Here is his abstract:

About 10 picoseconds after the beginning of the Universe, the Higgs field turned on. In extensions of the Standard Model of particle physics, this could have been a first order phase transition, with bubbles of the Higgs phase expanding and colliding at relativistic speeds.  I will discuss how the Higgs “fizz” generates gravitational radiation, prospects for observing the radiation at the future space-based gravitational wave detector LISA, and outline how LISA complements the LHC as a probe of physics beyond the Standard Model.

After the 30 minute talk, there will be a cocktail reception. Welcome!