Other Events, 2011
 
2011 University of Chicago Brinson Lecture: Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal, "From Big Bang to Biospheres"
April 11, 2011 | 6:00 PM | School of the Art Institute of Chicago, 112 South Michigan Ave., MacLean Ballroom
Website

The Martin Rees lecture audio (WBEZ)

Martin Rees is Master of Trinity College, Cambridge and holds the honorary title of Astronomer Royal. He was previously Director of the Institute of Astronomy at Cambridge, and has lectured widely in the US, Europe and the Far East. His research interests include cosmology, galaxy formation, black holes and 'high energy' phenomena in the universe As well as his research publications, he is the author of eight books, and numerous articles on scientific and general subjects. He is a foreign associate of the US National Academy of Sciences, the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Pontifical Academy, and several other foreign academies. He is a member of the UK's House of Lords, and recently completed a five-year term as President of the Royal Society (the UK's national science academy).

2011 Brinson Lecture: "From Big Bang to Biospheres"
Moderated by Gabriel Spitzer, WBEZ

Astronomers have made astonishing progress in probing our cosmic environment, thanks to advanced technology. We can trace cosmic history back to some mysterious 'beginning' nearly 14 billion years ago, and understand in outline the emergence of atoms, galaxies, stars and planets -- and how, on at least one planet, life developed a complex biosphere of which we are part. But these advances pose new questions: What does the long-range future hold? How widespread is life in our cosmos? Should we be surprised that the physical laws permitted the emergence of complexity? and Is physical reality even more extensive than the domain that our telescopes can probe? This illustrated lecture will address (but not answer!) such questions.

This event is co-sponsored by the University of Chicago and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

This event is made possible by a generous gift from the Brinson Foundation to the University of Chicago.
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Related Links:
KICP Members: Edward W. Kolb; Randall H. Landsberg
 
"One Book, One Chicago": Lawrence Krauss
April 20, 2011 | 6:00 PM | Harold Washington Library Center
"One Book, One Chicago": Lawrence Krauss
The Illinois Science Council is partnering with the Chicago Public Library and the "One Book, One Chicago" program to connect fantasy to physics.

On Wednesday, April 20th, Lawrence Krauss will speak as a fantasy connector.

Lawrence Krauss is an internationally known theoretical physicist whose studies include the early Universe, the nature of dark matter, general relativity and neutrino astrophysics. He is the director of the Origins Project at Arizona State University and author of Quantum Man: Richard Feynman's Life in Science and The Physics of Star Trek.
Neil Gaiman is the author of Neverwhere (the spring "One Book, One Chicago" selection of the Chicago Public Library) that explores an unknown world below the streets of London. Dr. Krauss will use Neverwhere as a starting point for an entertaining lecture on how scientists are exploring the possibility of parallel universes.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011
6:00 - 7:00pm
Harold Washington Library Center
Cindy Pritzker Auditorium
400 S. State Street, Chicago

Lawrence M. Krauss is Foundation Professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration and Physics Departments, Associate Director of the Beyond Center, Co-Director of the Cosmology Initiative and Director of the exciting new Origins Initiative at Arizona State University, which will explore questions ranging from the origin of the Universe to the origins of human culture and cognition. Krauss received his PhD from MIT in 1982 and then joined the Society of Fellows at Harvard University. The author of 8 popular books, Krauss is also a radio commentator and essayist for newspapers such as the New York Times, the LA Times, the Wall St. Journal, and has written a regular biweekly column for New Scientist, and now writes a monthly column for Scientific American. Most recently he led the call for a Presidential Debate on Science and Technology, is co-chair of the Board of Sponsors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and on the Board of Directors of the Federation of American Scientists.
 
Fermi's time capsule opening
June 2, 2011 | 4:00 PM | The Research Institutes, 5640 South Ellis Avenue
Enrico Fermi planted a time capsule in the cornerstone of the Research Institutes building in 1949.
Website

Sixty years ago, Enrico Fermi planted a time capsule in the cornerstone of the Research Institutes building. Join fellow students and faculty during Alumni Weekend to see what he placed there. You will also get to learn about the building's former tenants - the Enrico Fermi Institute and James Franck Institute - and the work they have done to shape scientific history.

Finally, you will learn about the Physical Science Division's next research facility, the William Eckhardt Research Center. This new addition will help carry the work of the division far into the future.

Please join us as we unveil a piece of history left by Enrico Fermi and take a brief glimpse at the scientific milestones achieved at the University of Chicago.
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Dan Fabricant, CfA, "NIRMOS: Wide Field Near-IR Imaging and Spectroscopy for GMT"
August 3, 2011 | 2:00 PM | AAC 123
Understanding how galaxies formed a few hundreds of millions of years after the big bang and how these galaxies grew to contain hundreds of billions of stars is a major motivation for developing extremely large telescopes like the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT). Progress in understanding the history of galaxy evolution will require efficient large infrared spectroscopic surveys. NIRMOS, with a field of view up to 40 square arcminutes enabled by GMT's fast optics and great sensitivity enabled by the superb seeing of GMT's Las Campanas site has the potential to lead in this research. NIRMOS is a powerful general purpose near-infrared spectrograph (0.9 to 2.5 micron spectral coverage) that will enable break-through discoveries in a broad range of astrophysics from exoplanet atmospheres to the first stars.

Related Links:
KICP Members: Richard G. Kron
Scientific projects: Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT)
 
Darren DePoy, Texas A&M University, "A wide-field, multi-object, moderate-resolution optical spectrograph for the Giant Magellan Telescope"
August 5, 2011 | 3:00 PM | AAC 123
The Giant Magellan Telescope will have several unique capabilities relative to other Extremely Large Telescopes. One of these will be an exceptionally large field-of-view: nearly 20 arcminutes in diameter. I will describe an optical spectrograph that can make use of this large field for multi-slit observations. The science case for such an instrument is extensive; a few cases will be presented that represent the potential of the instrument. Some details of the instrument design will be presented, but, as the instrument is still in the conceptual design phase, the hope is to stimulate discussion and comment that can influence the final choices for the instrument's capabilities.

Related Links:
KICP Members: Richard G. Kron
Scientific projects: Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT)
 
Andrew Szentgyorgyi, CfA, "G-CLEF: A Versatile, Optical Echelle Spectrograph for the GMT"
August 11, 2011 | 2:00 PM | AAC 123
The GMT-CfA/Carnegie/Catolica Large Earth Finder (G-CLEF)

G-CLEF is a broad-band (3500-9500) fiber fed, optical echelle spectrograph that is in concept design study phase for first light at the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT). A key scientific mission for G-CLEF is the discovery of exoearths and characterization of exoplanetary systems like the Solar System. However, G-CLEF has been designed to be a powerful engine for discovery across a broad swath of stellar astrophysics and cosmology. In addition to exoplanet science, I will discuss applications to near-field and high-Z cosmology. The most demanding application for G-CLEF, the measurement of 10 cm/sec reflex motion of a solar-type star in response to the gravitational influence of an Earth-mass planet in a 1 AU orbit, requires technology that is slightly beyond the current state of the art. I will discuss a roadmap to the required technology, especially progress with laser frequency combs.

Related Links:
KICP Members: Richard G. Kron
Scientific projects: Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT)
 
Sundeep Das, University of California (Berkeley) , "Probing Cosmology and Particle Physics with the Atacama Cosmology Telescope"
August 31, 2011 | 11:00 AM | ANL, Bldg. 362, Rm. F-108
Atacama Cosmology Telescope
Over the coming decade, tiny fluctuations in temperature and polarization of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) will be mapped with unprecedented resolution. The Planck Surveyor, the Atacama Cosmology Telescope (ACT), and the South Pole Telescope (SPT) are already making great advances. In a few years, high resolution polarization experiments, such as PolarBear, ACTPol, and SPTPol will be in full swing. While these new arc-minute resolution observations will continue to help constrain the physics of the early universe and possible deviations from the Standard Model, they will also be unique in a new way - they will allow us to measure the gravitational lensing of the CMB. This lensing is the deflection of CMB photons by intervening large scale structure. CMB lensing will probe the growth of structure over cosmic time, helping constrain the total mass of neutrinos and the behavior of dark energy. In the first part of the talk, I will review the recent progress made with AC T. In the second part, I will discuss the scientific potential of the CMB lensing signal, its first detection, a new way to constrain dark energy, and its prospects for cross-correlation with other datasets. Finally, I will discuss the upcoming polarized counterpart of ACT --- the ACTPol project, which will have greater sensitivity than ACT, and will be a premier CMB lensing experiment. I will describe our plans to extract different flavors of science from the ACTPol data, including the cross-correlations with optical lensing and galaxy surveys, such as SDSS, BOSS, DES and LSST.
 
Peter McGregor, Australian National University, "The GMT Integral-Field Spectrograph (GMTIFS): What It Can Do for You!"
September 20, 2011 | 10:00 AM | AAC 123
GMTIFS on Instrument Platform
The GMT Integral-Field Spectrograph (GMTIFS) is one of six potential first-light instruments for the 25m-diameter Giant Magellan Telescope. The Australian National University has completed a Conceptual Design Study for GMTIFS. I will summarize the science cases for GMTIFS, and describe the instrument capabilities and design. GMTIFS will be the work-horse adaptive-optics instrument on GMT. It will address a wide range of science from epoch of reionization studies to forming galaxies at high redshifts, to star and planet formation in our Galaxy, and studies of the Solar system. These are largely the science case for Laser-Tomography Adaptive Optics on the telescope. I will describe why you will want to routinely use LTAO with GMTIFS for your science in the 2020s.

Related Links:
KICP Members: Richard G. Kron
Scientific projects: Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT)
 
Robert Kirshner, Harvard-Smithsonian CfA, "Energy and the Accelerating Universe: Einstein's Blunder Undone"
November 1, 2011 | 4:00 PM | Northwestern University, Technological Institute Building
Website

Exploding stars halfway across the universe reveal an extraordinary fact: the expansion of the universe is speeding up. We attribute this to a dark energy that acts to make the universe spring apart. The resulting picture is a truly strange one: most of the universe is in the form of dark matter we cannot see and dark energy we do not yet understand. Only 4% of the mass-energy of the universe is in the form of atoms that can make stars, galaxies, planets, and people. This talk will show how we know the universe is accelerating and sketch how today's idea of dark energy resembles Einstein's cosmological constant, an idea he invented in 1916 and discarded in 1931.

Robert Kirshner is Clowes Professor of Science at Harvard University. A 1970 graduate of Harvard College, Kirshner received his Ph. D. from Caltech and recently received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from the University of Chicago. His work with the High-Z Supernova team helped uncover the fact that the expansion of the universe is speeding up. Kirshner shared in the 2007 Gruber Prize in Cosmology for that work. Kirshner won the 2011 Heineman Prize for "his sustained and enduring contributions to our understanding of supernovae and cosmology." A frequent public lecturer on astronomy, he teaches a large undergraduate course at Harvard called "The Energetic Universe" and is the author of popular-level book The Extravagant Universe: exploding stars, dark energy, and the accelerating cosmos.

For the article by Science in Society about this research, please see "Our Rapidly Expanding Universe", an interview with Prof. Kirshner by Beth Herbert.
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2011-2012 Brinson Lecture: John Mather, Nobel laureate, "History of the universe in a nutshell: from the Big Bang to life and the end of time"
November 1, 2011 | 6:00 PM | School of the Art Institute of Chicago, 112 South Michigan Ave., MacLean Ballroom
John C. Mather, Nobel laureate
Website

John C. Mather, 2011-2012 Brinson Lecturer

John C. Mather is an astrophysicist, cosmologist and Nobel laureate. He was awarded the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on the Cosmic Background Explorer Satellite (COBE). Mather received his Nobel Prize for the precise determination that the spectrum of the cosmic microwave background radiation is that of a thermal source and the first detection and measurement of the anisotropy. These measurements marked the beginning of the era of precision cosmology.

Mather is currently a Senior Astrophysicist at the U.S. space agency's (NASA) Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland and the Senior Project Scientist for the James Webb Space Telescope, the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope.

2011-2012 Brinson Lecture: "History of the universe in a nutshell: from the Big Bang to life and the end of time"
The history of the universe in a nutshell, from the Big Bang to now, and on to the future - John Mather will tell the story of how we got here, how the Universe began with a Big Bang, how it could have produced an Earth where sentient beings can live, and how those beings are discovering their history. Mather was Project Scientist for NASA's Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) satellite, which measured the spectrum (the color) of the heat radiation from the Big Bang, discovered hot and cold spots in that radiation, and hunted for the first objects that formed after the great explosion. He will explain Einstein's biggest mistake, how Edwin Hubble discovered the expansion of the universe, how the COBE mission was built, and how the COBE data support the Big Bang theory. He will also show NASA's plans for the next great telescope in space, the James Webb Space Telescope. It will look even farther back in time than the Hubble Space Telescope, and will peer inside the dusty cocoons where stars and planets are being born today. It is capable of examining Earth-like planets around other stars using the transit technique, and future missions may find signs of life.

This event is co-sponsored by the University of Chicago and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
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Related Links:
KICP Members: Edward W. Kolb; Randall H. Landsberg; Stephan S. Meyer
 
Play "Creation's Birthday," written by Prof. Hasan Padamsee, Cornell University
November 12, 2011 | 7:00 PM | Gorilla Tango Theater, 1919 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Website

A play will be performed in Chicago in November entitled "Creation's Birthday," written by Prof. Hasan Padamsee (Cornell U). The description is the following:
"How did boxing champ, war-hero, and prodigy astronomer, Edwin Hubble gang up with a moon-shine peddling janitor and a Jesuit priest to defeat the champion of science, Albert Einstein? Come see the brainchild of Chicago and Evanston capture Hollywood hearts, expand our Universe, and figure out Creation's Birthday."

Gorilla Tango Theater
1919 N. Milwaukee Ave.
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Related Links:
KICP Members: Edward W. Kolb
 
Cafe Scientifique: Liz Moyer, "A Reality Check on Alternative Energy"
November 21, 2011 | 7:00 PM | Map Room - 1949 North Hoyne Ave Chicago, IL
Online Materials (PDF)

Our modern industrial lives were made possible only by fossil fuel use: already in the 1600's, factories in Europe were shutting down for lack of wood. Will it be possible in the future to support a bigger, richer population without fossil fuels (which will definitely run out someday)? Energy is a hot topic right now, but without an engineering degree, how do you make sense of which proposals are silly and which are feasible? It turns out that if you understand where we can divert energy from, and can balance a checkbook, you can understand which energy options have the promise of supporting humankind - wind, hydro, biofuel, solar.
 
Science in Action: How Scientists Can Affect Policy Decisions
November 29, 2011 | 1:00 PM | LASR conference room
Learn how scientific integrity is key to policy making. Experts will share breaking news on climate legislation, threats to the Clean Air Act, and the controversial global warming emissions standards.
 
Ask a Scientist & Physics with a Bang
December 3, 2011 | 11:00 AM | Kersten Physics Teaching Center
Website

Students, families, teachers and especially the curious are invited to attend our annual Holiday Lecture and Open House. See fast, loud, surprising and beautiful physics demos performed by Profs. Heinrich Jaeger and Sidney Nagel. Talk to scientists about their latest discoveries. Participate in hands-on activities related to their research.

Saturday, December 3rd, 2011
Kersten Physics Teaching Center
5720 S. Ellis Ave., Chicago, IL
Lecture repeated at 11am and 2pm
Open House from 12pm-4pm

Doors for the Lectures open 30 minutes before each show. Admission to this event is free, but donations are welcome. Souvenirs/gifts available for purchase. In case of overflow, shows will be streamed to an alternate venue.
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