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Steve Reichenbach

May 23, 2018

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Physics of empty space

Feb 23 university colloquium topic

Dr. Stephen Harnish, mathematical and natural sciences department chair at Bluffton University, will present the colloquium, “‘Much Ado About Nothing’: Empty Space and Its Glorious Imperfections,” at 4 p.m. on Feb. 23 in Centennial Hall’s Stutzman Lecture Hall.
 
According to Oxford University physicist Frank Close, “Nothing is not as simple as it seems.” Harnish will explore this phrase in relation to the void of space.
 
According to Harnish, when theoretical physicists talk about ‘nothing’ they often use technical words like ‘vacuum,’ ‘quantum field,’ ‘space-time,’ or ‘grid.’ These connect to several properties of empty space that have both challenged and intrigued physicists over the past century and that in some sense may be seen as ‘glorious imperfections.’
 
In this colloquium, Harnish will explain three core phenomena of empty space and suggest simple analogies for better understanding them including: particle/antiparticle pair production and annihilation, dark energy and gravitational waves. Simple activities and mathematical games will also help participants visualize these phenomena.
 
This event is free and open to the public.