UNB Research

National conference will attract hundreds of physicists to UNB

Author: UNB Research

Posted on Jun 16, 2023

Category: Research

The University of New Brunswick’s (UNB) Fredericton campus will soon welcome hundreds of physicists attending the Congress of the Canadian Association of Physicists (CAP).

They’ll spend five days exchanging ideas and sharing research advances. Members of the public will also have an opportunity to learn something new from one of the leading minds in the field.

Dr. Ben Newling, a professor of physics at UNB, chaired the conference’s local organizing committee.

“The CAP Congress is an extraordinary gathering of physicists working across Canada and across all areas of science, from medical imaging to the deepest mines, from the farthest reaches of space to the insides of the nucleus,” said Dr. Newling.

“It is always exciting to see the reach of the physics discipline and the range of the work that Canadian physicists are involved in.”

Also on the committee are fellow faculty members Dr. Bruce Balcom, Dr. Brynle Barrett, Dr. Abdelhaq Hamza, Dr. P. T. Jayachandran, Dr. Igor Mastikhin and Dr. Dennis Tokaryk; staff members Joey Bernard, Amy-Rae Gauthier, Jennifer Gale and Dan Trojand; and students Taylor Belczewski, Tim Blackmore, Nick Caron, Devin Morin and Will Selby.

The CAP, which represents more than 1,700 physicists working in academia, government and industry, is dedicated to highlighting achievements in Canadian physics and pursuing scientific, educational, public policy and communication initiatives that enhance the vitality of physics and physicists in Canada. Its annual Congress is an opportunity for its members to gather, share insights and learn.

In addition to panel discussions, academic presentations and posters, the CAP Congress also features special lectures by invited guests. This year, plenary speakers include Dr. Katherine Mack (also well-known as AstroKatie on Twitter) speaking on Dark Matter: A Cosmological Perspective; Dr. Tanja Tajmel, who will present on Exploring Approaches to Decolonizing Physics; and Dr. Jess McIver, who will highlight new discoveries with gravitational waves.

Each year, the CAP Congress also hosts the Herzberg Memorial Public Lecture, named in honour of Nobel Laureate Dr. Gerhard Herzberg. When they renamed the lecture in recognition of Dr. Herzberg’s known desire to increase the awareness and appreciation of science amongst the public, particularly youth, the CAP also decided to shift the event from a keynote lecture for delegates, to a public, open lecture.

Dr. Mark Kasevich, a professor of physics and applied physics at Stanford University will deliver the 2023 Herzberg lecture.

“Since his early days as a PhD student in the lab of Nobel Laureate Dr. Steven Chu, Dr. Mark Kasevich has pioneered the field of laser cooling and atom interferometry,” said Dr. Brynle Barrett, part of the local organizing committee.

“His research group continues to test the limits of quantum mechanics by utilizing the unique properties of ultracold atoms to push the frontier of quantum sensing."

Kasevich will speak about what physicists call ‘wave-particle duality,’ which is the concept that matter will sometimes behave like a particle – a physical ‘thing’ such as an electron or an atom – and sometimes like a wave – such as light, sound or other energy-based phenomena.

“The rules of quantum mechanics are quite unlike the physical rules that we experience every day,” explained Newling. “When you get together enormous numbers of atoms and molecules to make objects of ordinary size, the rules work together to give us the behaviours we expect. However, at the microscopic level, quantum mechanics is still strange to us.”

In his lecture, Kasevich will discuss recent experiments in this area of inquiry, detailing both how this new research is advancing academic and scientific knowledge, and how it enables new technologies and applied solutions.

“I think that one of the most exciting things about physics is the range of situations and sizes to which it applies,” added Newling. “Dr. Kasevich will talk about measurements on a tiny, tiny scale, but the behaviours that he is studying have implications for stars and galaxies and our understanding of the life story of the universe.”

Those interested in learning more about this subject are invited to attend this free lecture, which takes place Monday, June 19, 2023 at 7:30 p.m. The lecture will be held at the Richard J. CURRIE CENTER, located at 15 Peter Kelly Drive.