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Douglas Natelson
Works at Rice University
Attended Stanford University
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Douglas Natelson

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Proxima Centauri's planet and the hazards of cool animations
It was officially announced today that Proxima Centauri has a potentially earthlike planet .  That's great, especially for fans of science fiction.  Here is a relevant video by Nature: Did you spot the mistake?  The scientists discovered the planet by seein...
Did you spot the mistake? The scientists discovered the planet by seeing the wobble in the star's motion (measured by painstaking spectroscopy of the starlight, and using the Doppler shift of the spectrum to "see" the tiny motion of the star). The animation tries to show this at 0:55-1:12.
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Douglas Natelson

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Short items - new physics or the lack thereof, planets and scale, and professional interactions
Before the start of the new semester takes over, some interesting, fun, and useful items: The lack of any obvious exotic physics at the LHC has some people (prematurely, I suspect) throwing around phrases like "nightmare scenario" and "desert" - shorthand f...
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Douglas Natelson

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Ask me something.
I realized that I haven't had an open "ask me" post in almost two years .  Is there something in particular you'd like me to write about?  As we head into another academic year, are there matters of interest to (grad or undergrad) students?
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Hi Andreas - In the broadest terms, the main frontier in condensed matter physics is understanding strongly interacting quantum systems, particularly far from equilibrium. In addition (and subsumed by that, to some extent), there are specific questions that range from the theoretical (what is the microscopic mechanism behind high temperature superconductivity? How should we think about the long-lived, low energy excitations of strongly interacting electron gases?) to the practical (can we control the flow of energy at the nanoscale to do useful tasks? Can we make superconductors with much higher transition temperatures? Can we leverage topology to transport charge and spin over long distances with very little dissipation? Can we scale up quantum computers?).
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Douglas Natelson

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Impact factors and academic "moneyball"
For those who don't know the term:  Moneyball is the title of a book  and a movie about the 2002 Oakland Athletics baseball team, a team with a payroll in the bottom 10% of major league baseball at the time.   They used a data-intensive, analytics-based str...
For those who don't know the term: Moneyball is the title of a book and a movie about the 2002 Oakland Athletics baseball team, a team with a payroll in the bottom 10% of major league baseball at the time. They used a data-intensive, analytics-based strategy called sabermetrics to find "hidden ...
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Douglas Natelson

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The critical material nearly everyone overlooks
Condensed matter physics is tough to popularize, and yet aspects of it are absolutely ubiquitous in modern technologies.  For example:  Nearly every flat panel display, from the one on your phone to your computer monitor to your large television, takes adva...
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Douglas Natelson

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Frontiers in Quantum Materials and Devices 2016 - day 2
Continuing with my very brief (and necessarily incomplete) summary of the FQMD 2016 meeting at RIKEN at the beginning of this week: Eric Heller of Harvard gave a very interesting and provocative talk about two topics, Raman scattering in graphene and then t...
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Douglas Natelson

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Statistical and Thermal Physics
Eight years ago I taught Rice's undergraduate Statistical and Thermal Physics course, and now after teaching the honors intro physics class for a while, I'm returning to it.   I posted about the course  here , and I still feel the same - the subject matter ...
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Why is desalination difficult? Thermodynamics.
There are millions of people around the world without access to drinkable fresh water.  At the same time, the world's oceans contain more than 1.3 million cubic kilometers of salt water.  Seems like all we have to do is get the salt out of the water, and we...
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Dark matter, one more time.
There is strong circumstantial evidence that there is some kind of matter in the universe that interacts with ordinary matter via gravity, but is otherwise not readily detected - it is very hard to explain things like the rotation rates of galaxies , the mo...
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Keeping your (samples) cool is not always easy.
Very often in condensed matter physics we like to do experiments on materials or devices in a cold environment.  As has been appreciated for more than a century, cooling materials down often makes them easier to understand, because at low temperatures there...
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Douglas Natelson

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Short items
Here are a few items: This is fantastic .  Eric Schlaepfer, a hardware engineer at Google, has built a "disintegrated circuit", making a 6502 processor (the CPU from the Apple II and also used in one of my favorite undergrad courses back when I took it) out...
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Frontiers in Quantum Materials and Devices 2016 - day 1
There were a number of really interesting talks at the Harvard/MIT sponsored, RIKEN-co-sponsored FQMD workshop this week.   It was a very dense two days!  I have to be a bit careful in what I write, given that some of the work is not yet published.  Here ar...
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Have him in circles
375 people
Pisrut Phummirat's profile photo
Karen Bastos's profile photo
Ramiro Gonzalez's profile photo
ofir olga shein's profile photo
Scott Horton's profile photo
Sapphonouveau's profile photo
muraleetharan boopathi's profile photo
Song LI's profile photo
sanchar sharma's profile photo
Work
Employment
  • Rice University
    Professor of Physics and Astronomy, 2000 - present
  • Bell Labs
    Postdoctoral Member of Technical Staff, 1998 - 2000
Basic Information
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Condensed matter/nanoscale physicist at Rice University
Introduction
My professional background:  After an undergrad degree from Princeton in mechanical and aerospace engineering, I went to grad school at Stanford and got a doctorate in physics.  Following a postdoctoral appointment at Bell Labs, I moved to Rice University and established a research program in experimental condensed matter physics, with a particular emphasis on nanoscale science.  If you're interested in this stuff, please think about buying my book - it's a page-turner, and you'll want to finish it before the HBO miniseries spoils the ending. (That last part was a joke.)    I blog regularly about science at Nanoscale Views.   As should be obvious to pretty much everyone, anything I say there or here are my personal views, and in no way are official opinions of Rice University or it's Department of Physics and Astronomy.
Education
  • Stanford University
    Physics, 1993 - 1998
  • Princeton University
    Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, 1989 - 1993
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