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Physics and Astronomy

Physics & Astronomy Colloquium

3:30 PM, Friday, April 17, 2009
Room 155, Chem-Phys Building

Dr. Frank Wilczek
Department of Physics
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

In 1937, shortly before his mysterious disappearance, Ettore Majorana wrote a brief, beautiful paper showing how to modify the Dirac equation so that it could describe spin-1/2 particles which are their own antiparticles. For many years his idea lay dormant, but now it seems ready to bear fruit. Ordinary neutrinos are probably Majorana particles, as are the dark-matter WIMPs suggested by supersymmetry. And very recently Majorana fermions have been predicted to occur as quasiparticles in special states of ordinary matter, where they lead to weird behavior that could be useful for quantum computing (nonabelian anyons). I'll explain all this in physical terms, and also flash a few key equations for initiates.

Refreshments will be served in CP 177 at 3:15 PM