E.E. Just Symposium: The Higgs Boson to the Music of Physics

The third Annual E.E. Just Symposium at Dartmouth is set to emerge on Halloween. “From the Higgs Boson to the Music of Physics: Exploring Creativity in STEM” is the title of the 2014 conclave.

Sylvester James “Jim” Gates will deliver the keynote address at this year’s symposium. (Photo by Eli Burakian ’00)

The symposium kicks off on Friday, Oct. 31, with theoretical physicist and television personality Sylvester James “Jim” Gates delivering the keynote address at 6 p.m. in the Arvo Oopik Auditorium in the Class of 1978 Life Sciences Center. All the symposium sessions will be held in Oopik, and are free and open to the public.

Gates, widely known for his appearances on shows such as PBS’ NOVA and The Elegant Universe, will provide a nontechnical introduction to the subject of gravitation waves, phenomena first theorized by Einstein as being ripples in space-time that may be traced back to the Big Bang.

The conference was conceived as a forum in which students in the E.E. Just Program could get access to leading scholars and researchers in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. But the annual event has increasingly drawn large numbers of Dartmouth faculty, staff, students, and visitors. Consequently, this year's symposium is geared toward the entire community.

Read more:

The New E.E. Just Program: Two Years Old and Still Growing

E.E. Just Scholars Delve Into Science, History at Woods Hole

The E.E. Just Symposium: A Success in Physics and Beyond

“The E.E. Just program is a Dartmouth initiative, targeting undergraduate students of color and first-generation students, to bolster their interest in the STEM fields,” says physicist Stephon Alexander, The Ernest Everett Just 1907 Professor and director of the E.E. Just Program.

“We want to develop personal and leadership skills for tomorrow’s scientists, focusing on the creative and collaborative side of the scientific endeavor,” Alexander says. “Ultimately, we want to increase the diversity of Dartmouth students who matriculate to graduate programs in STEM.”

President Phil Hanlon ’77 opens Saturday, Nov. 1, with a 9 a.m. welcome followed by the day’s presentations, concluding at 5 p.m.

Farran Briggs, Margaret Gellar, John Asher Johnson, and Michael Peskin are among the science stars who will be speaking at the symposium.

  • Neurobiologist Farran Briggs of the Geisel School of Medicine is interested in the relationship between attention and the activity of neurons in the brain. Understanding this connection may provide a foundation to develop more effective treatments of attention deficits. In her talk, Briggs will describe experiments conducted to explore the potential connection between attention and the way which neurons communicate with each other.
  • Margaret Geller, a pioneer in mapping the nearby universe, is an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. She says that art and science are two very different ways of exploring and seeing the universe around us. In her presentation, she'll show how Miro, Dali, and Gaudi enhance the perception of space, time, and gravity. “These fundamental concepts are the pillars underlying our understanding of the nature of the universe and of the objects in it,” says Geller, who received an honorary degree from Dartmouth in June.
  • Harvard astronomer John Asher Johnson will speak about his search for “Goldilocks planets,” not too hot, not too cold, and potentially habitable. “I will describe our multi-telescope campaign to validate and characterize these tiny planetary systems, and present some early exciting results that point the way to the first detection of the first Earth-sized planets in the habitable zones of nearby stars,” says Johnson.
  • Stanford Linear Accelerator Center physicist Michael Peskin will discuss “Beyond the Higgs Boson.” Says Peskin: “The Higgs Boson had been predicted by the unified theory of weak and electromagnetic interactions. In this lecture, I will give my best understanding of where we are in the search for new particles and forces related to the weak interactions.”