Friday, March 19, 2021

APS March Meeting, Day 5

 More work meetings so that I had to view some talks out of sequence, but here are some highlights.  I'll post a bit of a wrap-up later.

  • In a talk that I watched on delay, here is a really fun talk by Harry Atwater, photonics expert par excellence, about photonic materials considerations for light-based propulsion for an interstellar probe, as discussed here.  A phase gradient on a flat metasurface can give the same kind of dynamic stability that you could get from a curved purely reflective sail.  The fact that serious scientists and engineers are at least thinking about and discussing interstellar probes is pretty damn cool.  
  • Also on delay, it was fun to watch the Physics for Everyone session about popularization.  (Note to self:  get brilliant, truly original inspiration for popular book approach.)  All the talks that I could see were good, but I particularly enjoyed David Weitz talking about his famous science and cooking course (edx version here), since cooking is a hobby of mine.  Jim Kakalios spoke engagingly about using superheroes as a tool for science outreach.  I was very disappointed that the recording then stopped, and somehow did not capture the last two talks of the session - it would have been nice to hear about Ainissa Ramirez's recent book.
  • This morning there was an invited session all about various approaches that check very critically for superconductor/semiconductor device effects that can look like but often are not Majorana fermions.  Javad Shabani showed a neat result, where it looks convincingly like they can use gate tuning of spin-orbit coupling to go from topologically trivial (s-wave) to topologically nontrivial (p-wave-like) superconductivity in Al/InAs/Al structures.  Again, with this session, the last talk was not recorded for some reason.  Weird.
  • Alex Hamilton from UNSW (no connection to the Ten Dollar Founding Father, as far as I am aware) gave a really nice talk about hydrodynamic flow of electrons in 2D systems, where he addressed an issue that's bugged me for a long time:  What controls the boundary condition on the fluid at the edges of the channel?  That is, what determines whether there is perfect slip, no slip, or something in between?
  • Finally, I enjoyed Mark Miodownik's excellent talk based on his book Stuff Matters, which is just a great read.  If you haven't read it, do.


Anonymous said...

I believe the missing talks are ones where the speaker did not consent to recording.

Douglas Natelson said...

Anon, I thought that might be the case, but it seems surprising that the cases I've seen all happen to fall at the ends of sessions. Could be coincidence, I suppose.