Spring 2020 Modern Physics Grand Challenge Problem Presentations

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The Grand Challenge Problem is an open-ended, non-textbook physics question intended to stimulate creativity and deeper investigation in students. The prompt or question is intentionally vague. Students are organized into teams, identify a scenario of interest to them (aligned with the prompt_, and investigate at least three aspects of the scenario to try to address the original prompt. Students are expected to go beyond the core material of the course, while applying that material to address their investigations.

Three teams were formed this semester. Team P-LAB Enterprise focused on pulsars, the rapidly spinning corpses of dead stars, as a potential means to harness energy for future space travel or as a means to navigate for such travel. Team Right-Hand Rulers looked at nuclear fusion, which requires immense temperature and pressure and provides a short window to make all the nuclear reactions occurs. Team LABRats imagined a deadly prion disease outbreak and how it might be addressed using the tools of modern physics. Please find their presentations below.

Grand Challenge Problem Prompt

Welcome and Introduction

Team P-LAB Enterprise

Part 1 (4/28/2020)

Part 2

For technical reasons, only 3 of the 4 members of P-LAB Enterprise were able to present live; the fourth member provided their part of the talk in a separate video (part 2). For the live presentations, internet connectivity issues between the person sharing the slides and the other speakers led to long delays between requests for slide changes and actual slide changes (5-10 seconds in most cases). These have been edited out for clarity. The speaker with internet issues was asked afterward to re-record their presentation and send it in a separate video file; this was edited into the above video, though we followed their presentation very well live even with distortions. Because they were a team of 4, each speaker was allotted 9 minutes for their part of the presentation.

Team Right-Hand Rulers

Part 1 (4/28/2020)

Team Right-Hand Rulers was always going to have to end on a “cliff hanger,” since there are only 80 minutes in a class period and insufficient time to fit their whole presentation into one period. Mic trouble by one speaker was edited out for clarity, with no change in content in the presentation. Because they were a team of 3, each speaker was allotted 12 minutes for their part(s) of the presentation.

Introduction (Day 2)

Team Right-Hand Rulers

Part 2 (4/28/2020)

Team LabRATs