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Sethna describes how scientific theories work

Overwhelmed by the infinite complexities of how physics or life or economics work? Prof James Sethna along with Ben Machta, Ricky Chachra, and Mark Transtrum have applied a framework from physics to generalize how we understand scientific theories. They've coined this framework the "Sloppy" model and can apply it to fields as diverse as physics, biology and economics. It is used to show how our theories and predictions are based on a fairly limited number of important factors and that much of the complexity we wrestle with has negligible effects on outcomes. See the Chronicle article and the write up on Jesse Silvergerg's blog. Read the paper in the November issue of Science Explore more on Prof Sethna's site.

Watch the 2 related videos

Interview with Steve Reiner



Interview with Soft Matters

Sloppy Models

Itai Cohen's work featured in Cornell Daily Sun

Prof Itai Cohen talks with Somrita Banerjee of the Cornell Sun about recent unexpected discoveries in crystal growth.

Check out the Sun article.

Cohen featured in Daily Sun

Andreas Hermann and Neil Ashcroft theorize properties of astatine

Andreas Hermann and Neil Ashcroft along with Roald Hoffmann from chemistry have developed a theory describing the properties of astatine. This radioactive rare element has remained a mystery since its synthesis in 1940. Read more in the Chronicle. View full article at Physical Review Letters.

Astatine ground-state Cmca structure

Tomas Arias part of "Flipped Classroom" project

Prof Tomas Arias is part of a pilot project that flips the typical lecture/homework classroom. Instead of lecturing to learn content material in class and applying it in homework, a flipped classroom uses homework to learn the content and class time is focused on applications and problem solving.

More about the flipped classroom initiative is in the Chronicle

Memorial service for Robert Richardson held July 13

A memorial service for physicist Robert Richardson was held July 13 in Sage Chapel. Remembrances from the service are in the Chronicle.

A Nobel laureate and one of Cornell’s most influential administrators, Richardson died Feb. 19 in Ithaca. He served as Cornell's first vice provost for research from 1998 to 2007 and was named senior vice provost for research emeritus in 2008.

Robert Richardson

Séamus Davis Images Electron Pairing in a Simple Magnetic Superconductor

In the search for understanding how some magnetic materials can be transformed to carry electric current with no energy loss, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory, Cornell University, and collaborators have made an important advance: Using an experimental technique they developed to measure the energy required for electrons to pair up and how that energy varies with direction, they've identified the factors needed for magnetically mediated superconductivity—as well as those that aren't.

"Our measurements distinguish energy levels as small as one ten-thousandth the energy of a single photon of light—an unprecedented level of precision for electronic matter visualization," said Séamus Davis, Senior Physicist at Brookhaven the J.G. White Distinguished Professor of Physical Sciences at Cornell, who led the research described in Nature Physics. "This precision was essential to writing down the mathematical equations of a theory that should help us discover the mechanism of magnetic superconductivity, and make it possible to search for or design materials for zero-loss energy applications."

Read more from from Brookhaven National Laboratory.

superconducting electron pairs