24th May 2019 at 14.30 in D101: Bergita Ganse

For our colloquium on 24th of May, we will be joined by Dr. Bergita Ganse. Dr. Ganse is a medical doctor, book author and scientist specialising in space medicine, working as a lecturer in space medicine at RWTH Aachen University in Germany. Her research deals with the musculoskeletal system in space, and she is involved in large international studies with both NASA and ESA.

In her talk, titled Space Medicine – Weightlessness and Shrimp Cocktail, she will tell us about the physiological toll that spaceflight places on the human body, and research that is currently underway to mitigate its effects. Here is her abstract:

Human spaceflight is associated with massive challenges to the body and health. While planning missions to Mars, asteroids, moons and other planets of the solar system, health and human physiology are major operational concerns for mission success. Phenomena such as space motion sickness, bone and muscle loss, space adaptation back pain, cardiovascular changes, G-measles, decompression sickness during space walks and the Apollo-15-syndrome need to be addressed to guarantee crew safety. Space Medicine is still a “final frontier” 50 years after the first men walked on the moon.

This talk will give an overview of the field of space medicine with regards to medical and physiological issues connected to human space flight. It will also give an insight into research methods used in space medicine, such as bed rest studies, human centrifugation and parabolic flights. In addition, it will explain why Shrimp Cocktail is the favourite dish on board the International Space Station.

This colloquium is organised jointly with the HIP seminar series, and will follow the talk given by Physics Nobel Prize winner Frank Wilczek, starting at 13:15 in the same room, D101. His talk is titled Axion plasmon converter. More information can be found on the HIP seminar webpage.

At 15:00, there will be a cocktail reception. Welcome!

12th April 2019 at 14.15 in D101: Pauline Gagnon

Image credit: CERN

Our next colloquium will be held on 12th April. The speaker will be Pauline Gagnon,  retired Senior Research Scientist in particle physics from Indiana University and popular science writer.

Pauline Gagnon has conducted most of her research career at CERN, searching for dark matter particles. She has also contributed to the construction of a tracking device for the ATLAS detector.  She is strongly involved in science communication to the general public, and is the author of a popular science book on particle physics: Who Cares about Particle Physics: Making Sense of the Higgs boson, the LHC and CERN. In the recent years, she has been giving numerous public talks about diversity issues in physics.

In her presentation, titled The tragic destiny of Mileva Marić Einstein, she will tell us more about the little-known story of a hidden female figure in physics history.

Here is the abstract of her talk:

What were Albert Einstein’s first wife’s contributions to his extraordinary productivity in the first years of his career? A first biography of Mileva Marić Einstein was published in Serbian in 1969 but remained largely unknown despite being translated first in German, then in French in the 1990’s. The publication of Mileva and Albert’s love letters in 1987 revealed how they lived together while two recent publications shed more light on Mileva Marić’s life and work. I will review this evidence in its social and historical context to give a better idea of her contributions. In this presentation, I avoid all type of speculation and do not attack Albert Einstein personally, but rather strictly stick to facts. The audience will be able to appreciate why such a talented physicist has been so unkindly treated by history.

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

8th February 2019 at 14.15 in D101: Peter Johansson

Our next colloquium will be held on 8th February. Our next talk is an inaugural lecture by another new professor in our department, Peter Johansson.

Peter is Professor of Astrophysics here in Helsinki. His research interests range from supermassive black holes to galaxy evolution. He recently received an ERC Consolidator Grant to study the dynamics of supermassive black holes in galactic-scale hydrodynamical simulations and estimate their gravitational wave signatures.

In his talk, titled The birth, life and death of astrophysical black holes, he will discuss exactly those topics.

Here is the abstract of his talk:

Black holes are an important component of the Universe. Stellar-mass black holes are found in abundance throughout galaxies, whereas supermassive black holes reside in the centres of galaxies. In this presentation I will discuss the formation and evolution of different types of black holes and what impact they have on the surrounding galaxy. I will also discuss how black holes and their immediate surroundings can be observed using both electromagnetic and gravitational wave signals. The presentation will be rounded off by a discussion on what is going to happen to black holes in the very distant future and whether they will exist forever.

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


18th January 2019 at 14.15 in D101: Eero Castren

Our first Kumpula Physics colloquium of 2019 will be held on 18th January. The speaker will be Eero Castrén, Academy Professor with the Neuroscience Center of HiLIFE here in Helsinki.  His lab is investigating neuronal growth factors and their effects on brain development and plasticity. They have focused in particular on how neurotrophic factors are regulated by drugs used for the treatment of brain disorders.

In his talk, titled Everything you always wanted to know about the Brain (but did not know whom to ask), he will introduce some of the current ideas around brain function—particularly from the point of view of brain development. Here is his abstract:

We know a lot of details about how neurons function and increasingly about how they work together to make neuronal networks, but we understand very little about how the brain works as a whole. Progress in understanding the brain will need interdisciplinary cooperation between neuroscientists, physicists, computer scientists and philosophers.

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

14th December 2018 at 14.15 in D101: Ilona Riipinen

Our final colloquium of 2018 will take place on 14th December. Our speaker is physicist and atmospheric scientist Professor Ilona Riipinen from Stockholm University. Her work focuses on understanding the atmospheric processes governing air quality and global climate. She studies various aspects of the atmosphere, in particular mass transfer processes at atmospheric gas-liquid interfaces, focusing on the sources, processing and sinks of ultrafine (less than 100 nm in diameter) aerosol particles. To pin down the effects of aerosols on climate and air quality, the processes governing their concentrations and interactions with clouds need to be understood and represented accurately in large-scale models. The methodologies used range from molecular level simulations to global Earth system modelling.

In her talk, titled How clouds clean the air and influence the climate – and why should you care?, she will tell us a bit about this interesting, and very important work. Here is her abstract:

Clouds are an important component of the Earth’s energy budget. Besides emissions of greenhouse gases, human activities influence the climate through the impacts anthropogenic aerosol particles have on clouds. Understanding the role of aerosols and clouds in the climate system is central for understanding climate sensitivity – i.e. the response of the climate system to different pollutants – and hence designing the actions required for meeting the Paris agreement. In my presentation, I will discuss the future of the Earth’s climate, the role of aerosols and clouds in it, and how it links to the choices we make in our everyday lives.

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