11th October 2019 at 14:15 in Physicum D101: Tuija Pulkkinen

For our colloquium on 11th of October, we will be joined by Professor Tuija Pulkkinen. Professor Pulkkinen is a space physicist and Chair of the Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering, University of Michigan, USA. Her primary research foci are studying the energy flow from the solar wind to the near-Earth space environment and the energy dissipation processes in the magnetosphere.

In her talk, titled Wellbeing in the academia – how to achieve the oxymoron?, she will tell us about how to improve wellbeing in academia. Here is her abstract:

Students drown under expanding curricula, young assistant professors panic under the everchanging requirements for tenure, senior professors have no time for research, and faculty and staff have no voice in the university’s decision-making.” We have all seen these headlines, in all continents and throughout times. Yet, the challenges are changing and contain regional and cultural aspects. While the academia will continue to be a competitive environment and thereby to some extent stressful, there are many ways to turn unnecessary competition to collaboration, reward community building efforts, and actively promote diversity, equity and inclusion in the local environment. This talk discusses issues contributing to wellbeing or lack thereof based solely on personal experiences of academic leadership in Finland and in the US.
After the 30 minute talk, there will be a cocktail reception. Welcome!

4th October 2019 at 14.00 in Exactum A111: High Performance Computing Applications

Our first colloquium of Fall 2019 is a Special Colloquium on High Performance Computing (HPC) Applications. We are joined by the Minister of Science and Culture, Hanna Kosonen, who will talk about why HPC is so important for Finland. We will also hear from Professors Ilpo Vattulainen, Minna Palmroth, and Kari Rummukainen who will highlight supercomputing applications at the Department of Physics and Helsinki Institute of Physics (HIP).

Finland has made considerable investments in high-performance computing by renewing the capacity within the CSC – IT Center for Science, and by leading the LUMI consortium that will install one of Europe’s largest pre-exascale supercomputers in Kajaani. But who are the scientific users of HPC in Finland? One of the largest users is the University of Helsinki Department of Physics and HIP, having several groups pioneering in modelling physical systems using supercomputers. This Special Colloquium is targeted to highlight supercomputing applications at the Department of Physics and HIP in a generally understandable manner.

Hanna Kosonen has served as a Member of Parliament since 2015, and is currently Minister of Science and Culture and a member of the Centre Party. During her previous term, she served as a member of the Education and Culture Committee among her other parliamentary duties. Kosonen came to politics from a business career spanning more than ten years. She is a World Champion in Ski Orienteering.

14:00  Opening, Professor Paula Eerola, Vice Rector for Research
14:00  Minister of Science and Culture, Hanna Kosonen: Why is HPC important for Finland?
14:15  Professor Ilpo Vattulainen: Overall Finnish HPC usage, HPC in biophysics
14:30  Professor and Centre of Excellence Director Minna Palmroth: HPC and New Space Economy
14:40  Academy Professor Kari Rummukainen: HPC in particle physics and cosmology
14:50  Questions & Discussion
15:00  Cocktail reception


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!