19th February 2021 at 14:15: Otso Ovaskainen

Our first Physics Colloquium for 2021 will take place on Friday, February 19th. We will have a presentation to be given by Otso Ovaskainen, a renowned expert in ecological modelling.

Otso Ovaskainen is Professor of mathematical and statistical ecology at the University of Jyväskylä, starting from the beginning of this year. He has previously worked at the University of Helsinki since 2009. He is the leader of the LIFEPLAN project, funded by an ERC Synergy grant, which aims at mapping global biodiversity, and was granted an Academy Professor position in 2021. His work focuses on ecological research, using mathematical and statistical methods to better understand the dynamics of ecosystem.

In his colloquium, titled A planetary inventory of life – a new synthesis built on big data combined with novel statistical methods, Otso will talk about his current projects using big data and mathematical methods to better understand biodiversity.

The event will be held on Friday 19.02.21 at 14:15, on Zoom (Meeting ID: 616 8515 5291 – Passcode: 338747).

Here is his abstract:

Traditional methods of detecting species are being increasingly replaced by semi-automated methods based on DNA barcoding, camera-traps, bioacoustic monitoring, and other such methods. This has created unprecedented potential for advancing our understanding of nature, but at the same time provides major challenges for data processing and interpretation for two reasons. First, there is the need for converting the information collected by automated samplers to the basic currency of biodiversity analysis: species-level occurrence and/or abundance. Second, current statistical techniques are inherently unsuitable for application to massive scales, both in terms of their underlying assumptions and in terms of their computational performance. I present pilot results of the ERC-synergy project LIFEPLAN (2020-2026) that samples biodiversity at spatial scales covering six orders of magnitude (from 100 m to the global scale of 10000 km) and develops new bioinformatic, statistical and mathematical methods for big ecological data. I show that sampling fungal DNA from the air, arthropod DNA with Malaise traps, birds with autonomous recorders, and mammals with camera-traps provides a highly cost-efficient method for large-scale biodiversity surveys. The pilot results reveal previously undiscovered spatial and temporal patterns in the distribution of global biodiversity, both for its previously known and unknown components.

5th March 2021 at 14:15: Manohar Kumar

Our second Physics Colloquium for this spring will take place on Friday, March 5th. We will have a presentation to be given by Manohar Kumar, whose recent work in the field of quantum physics was featured on the front cover of Science. In this colloquium, titled Mystery particle anyons finally revealed their identity in a particle collider, Manohar will talk about the discovery of the nature of anyons.

Manohar Kumar obtained his PhD from Leiden University in 2012, and is currently a Research Fellow in the Department of Applied Physics at Aalto University. His research interests include quantum transport, quantum devices and technologies and electron quantum optics, and his current work focuses on graphene.

The event will be held on Friday 05.03.21 at 14:15, on Zoom (Meeting ID:  637 7087 6002 – Passcode: 753457).

Here is the abstract:

Two-dimensional systems at low temperatures and the high magnetic field can host exotic particles with elementary excitations carrying fractional charge e* = e/q such as in fractional quantum Hall effect. These exotic particles are anyonic particles, whose quantum statistics are neither bosonic nor fermionic; instead, they are predicted to obey fractional statistics. The fractional charge of these anyons has been studied successfully using low frequency shot noise measurement. However, a clear sign of the fractional statistics remains elusive. We probed the fractional statistics and the fractional charge of anyons in mesoscopic anyonic collider. Here we collided two independent anyonic excitations at a beam splitter and measured the correlation in the noise fluctuations of outgoing beam currents. Our collision results explicitly extract the quantum phase of Φ = π/3 for the exchange of two anyonic quasiparticles with q = e/3. This is the very first smoking gun result on fractional statistics of anyon. This collider geometry could be extended to perform the ultimate braiding experiment to the realized full potential of a special kind of anyon called non-Abelian anyons in topological quantum computation.

18th December 2020 at 14.15: Sabrina Maniscalco

Our last online Physics Colloquium for the Autumn 2020 season will take place on Friday, December 18th. We will have an inaugural lecture to be given by a new professor in our Department, Sabrina Maniscalco, who is a world-renowned expert in Quantum Technologies.

After obtaining her PhD in theoretical physics from the University of Palermo, Sabrina Maniscalco has worked in Bulgaria, South Africa and the UK before becoming a professor and Chair of Theoretical Physics at the University of Turku in 2014. She is now joining our Department of Physics at the University of Helsinki as the new Professor in Quantum Information and Logic. She is also the Vice Director of the Finnish Centre of Excellence for Quantum Technologies. Her research interests include open quantum systems, quantum brownian motion, as well as cold atoms and quantum tomography. She is also very active in outreach and communication, in which she likes combining art and science.

In her colloquium, titled The Promise of Quantum, Sabrina will talk about how combining quantum research with other fields of science could help tackle global challenges.

The event will be held on Friday 18.12.20 at 14:15, on Zoom (Meeting ID: 667 9916 8136 – Passcode: 994654).

Here is her abstract:

Quantum Science and Technology have entered a new exciting age characterized by a high degree of cross-fertilization and interaction among different fields. Specifically, the utilization of quantum phenomena in combination with AI, complex network theory, and big data promises to impact in a tremendous manner our ability to tackle the most urgent global challenges faced by humanity: from energy to environment, data security, and health.
We are at a stage in which completely new approaches, combining quantum and classical resources, are being developed and they have already shown capabilities to re-think and attack problems from a completely different perspective.
In this colloquium I will review some of the most promising new methods – such as complex quantum networks and quantum simulators for chemistry, biology, and new materials – highlighting the challenges and exciting prospects that lay ahead. I will also discuss how the research performed in my group sits in the context, presenting some examples of open problems and possible quantum-enhanced solutions.


In the spirit of our usual cocktail reception, we encourage all attendees to join us with a glass of your favourite tipple. Cheers!

27th November 2020 at 14.15: Christer Fuglesang

Our next online Physics Colloquium will take place on Friday, November 27th. We will have a presentation to be given by Christer Fuglesang.

Christer Fuglesang is best known as the first astronaut from the Nordic Countries, who travelled to space twice, in 2006 and 2009. He is also a particle physicist, and obtained his PhD in experimental particle physics from Stockholm University and worked at CERN before being selected in the European Space Agency astronaut program. He is currently a Professor in Space Travel and the Director of the KTH Space Center in Stockholm. His research interests focus on particles in space, such as high-energy cosmic rays.

In his colloquium, titled From KTH to Space: A story of space travel to ISS and future large projects, Christer will talk about his experience as an astronaut and his current projects.

The event will be held on Friday 27.11.20 at 14:15, on Zoom (the link will be added closer to the date of the event).

Here is his abstract:

I’ll give a brief background how I became an ESA astronaut and describe my two visits to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2006 and 2009 with two short videos. ISS itself will be discussed and the research there mentioned. After 25 years with ESA I’m back at KTH and now looking into how solar sails could be used as sunshades positioned at the L1 Lagrangian point between Earth and the Sun to help control global temperature increase. The physics, technology and economy of such a sunshade system will be presented.

In the spirit of our usual cocktail reception, we encourage all attendees to join us with a glass of your favourite tipple. Cheers!

30th October 2020 at 14.15: Joonas Nättilä

For our first Physics Colloquium of the new academic year, we will have a presentation to be given by Joonas Nättilä. In his colloquium, entitled Astrophysical turbulence: from stirring coffee to illuminating black holes, Joonas will give an overview on how supercomputer simulations can help shed new light on astrophysical turbulence.

Joonas Nättilä is a postdoctoral research scientist at Columbia University and a Flatiron Research Fellow at the Flatiron Institute’s Center for Computational Astrophysics in New York, USA. His research interests lie in high-energy astrophysics and plasma physics, focusing particularly on modelling the physics of neutron stars.

The event will be held on Friday 30.10.20 at 14:15, on the following University Zoom meeting:

Here is his abstract:

Turbulence – the seemingly chaotic flow of fluids and plasmas – is said to be one of the most important unsolved problems of contemporary physics and mathematics. It is a ubiquitous physical phenomenon operating in all kinds of environments, from mixing liquids in coffee cups to energizing astrophysical plasmas around black holes and neutron stars. In my talk, I will review some of the latest insights we have gained in understanding astrophysical turbulence from first principles by utilizing new state-of-the-art particle-in-cell supercomputer simulations.

In the spirit of our usual cocktail reception, we encourage all attendees to join us with a glass of your favourite tipple. Cheers!