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A Determination of the Fine Structure Constant Using Precision Measurements of Helium Fine Structure

Description: Spectroscopic measurements of the helium atom are performed to high precision using an atomic beam apparatus and electro-optic laser techniques. These measurements, in addition to serving as a test of helium theory, also provide a new determination of the fine structure constant α. An apparatus was designed and built to overcome limitations encountered in a previous experiment. Not only did this allow an improved level of precision but also enabled new consistency checks, including an extremely useful measurement in 3He. I discuss the details of the experimental setup along with the major changes and improvements. A new value for the J = 0 to 2 fine structure interval in the 23P state of 4He is measured to be 31 908 131.25(30) kHz. The 300 Hz precision of this result represents an improvement over previous results by more than a factor of three. Combined with the latest theoretical calculations, this yields a new determination of α with better than 5 ppb uncertainty, α-1 = 137.035 999 55(64).
Date: August 2010
Creator: Smiciklas, Marc

EEG, Alpha Waves and Coherence

Description: This thesis addresses some theoretical issues generated by the results of recent analysis of EEG time series proving the brain dynamics are driven by abrupt changes making them depart from the ordinary Poisson condition. These changes are renewal, unpredictable and non-ergodic. We refer to them as crucial events. How is it possible that this form of randomness be compatible with the generation of waves, for instance alpha waves, whose observation seems to suggest the opposite view the brain is characterized by surprisingly extended coherence? To shed light into this apparently irretrievable contradiction we propose a model based on a generalized form of Langevin equation under the influence of a periodic stimulus. We assume that there exist two different forms of time, a subjective form compatible with Poisson statistical physical and an objective form that is accessible to experimental observation. The transition from the former to the latter form is determined by the brain dynamics interpreted as emerging from the cooperative interaction among many units that, in the absence of cooperation would generate Poisson fluctuations. We call natural time the brain internal time and we make the assumption that in the natural time representation the time evolution of the EEG variable y(t) is determined by a Langevin equation perturbed by a periodic process that in this time representation is hardly distinguishable from an erratic process. We show that the representation of this random process in the experimental time scale is characterized by a surprisingly extended coherence. We show that this model generates a sequence of damped oscillations with a time behavior that is remarkably similar to that derived from the analysis of real EEG's. The main result of this research work is that the existence of crucial events is not incompatible with the alpha wave coherence. In addition to this important ...
Date: May 2010
Creator: Ascolani, Gianluca