12th Annual Biard Lecture: "The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars"
11th Annual Biard Lecture: "Planet Nine from Outer Space"
March 7th, 2018 6:30pm
COSI - National Geographic Giant Screen Movie Theater
Recent evidence suggests that a massive body is lurking at the outskirts of our solar system, far beyond the orbits of the known giant planets. This object, at a distance approximately 20 times further than Neptune and with a mass approximately 5000 times larger that Pluto, is the real ninth planet of the solar system. I will talk about the observation that led us to the evidence for this Planet Nine and discuss how so massive an object could have been hiding in the outer solar system for so long. Finally I will discuss the international effort to pinpoint this newest member of our planetary family.
10th Annual Biard Lecture: "The Exploration of Pluto"
February 15th, 2017 7pm
COSI - National Geographic Giant Screen Movie Theater
New Horizons is NASA's historic mission to explore the Pluto system and the Kuiper Belt. The fastest spacecraft ever launched, New Horizons left Earth on 19 January 2006. It made the first exploration of the Pluto system--3 billion miles from Earth--summer 2015, culminating with a highly successful flyby inside the orbits of all five of Pluto's moons on July 14th. Dr. Stern will describe the history of the mission, the encounter with planet Pluto, and the major scientific discoveries made to date.
Dr. Alan Stern is a planetary scientist, space program executive, aerospace consultant, and author. He leads NASA's New Horizons mission to that successfully explored the Pluto system and is now exploring the Kuiper Belt-the farthest worlds ever explored by a space mission.
9th Annual Biard Lecture: "Song of the Stars: A Dance Experience of Cosmic Proportions"
Seven Dance Company and Active Galaxy Productions
April 21st, 2016 7:30pm
8th Annual Biard Lecture: "Our Mathematical Universe: From Primordial Gravity Waves to Precision Cosmology"
November 19th, 2014 7:15pm
Schoenbaum Hall Room 105
I survey how we humans have repeatedly underestimated not only the size of our cosmos, but also the power of our humans minds to understand it using mathematical equations. My examples include the recent claims of B-modes in the cosmic microwave background as smoking-gun evidence for quantum gravity, Hawking radiation, and cosmological inflation. I also highlight mysteries such as the nature of dark matter, dark energy and our early universe, and how creating the largest-ever 3D maps of our universe can shed new light on them.
Known as "Mad Max" for his unorthodox ideas and passion for adventure, his scientific interests range from precision cosmology to the ultimate nature of reality, all explored in his new popular book "Our Mathematical Universe". He is an MIT physics professor with more than two hundred technical papers and has featured in dozens of science documentaries. His work with the SDSS collaboration on galaxy clustering shared the first prize in Science magazine's "Breakthrough of the Year: 2003."
7th Annual Biard Lecture: "Dissecting Galaxies With the Hubble Space Telescope"
November 13th, 2013 6:30pm
Fawcett Center - Conference Theater
6th Annual Biard Lecture: "SETI at 50+ Five Decades of Progress in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence"
November 7th, 2012 8:00pm
McPherson Lab Room 1000
J. Richard Gott III
The Sun is so large that a million Earths could fit inside it, yet there are stars much larger than the Sun, and the distances between stars and galaxies are truly awesome. The large sizes encountered in astronomy are part of its fascination, but depicting them is perhaps astronomy's greatest challenge. Professor Gott will tell about his Map of the Universe, which preserves shapes (as the Mercator map of the Earth does), but which allows him to plot everything from satellites in Earth orbit to the moon and planets to distant stars and galaxies, out to the cosmic microwave background, the most distant thing we can see -- all on a single map. The L.A. Times compared it to famous maps over the centuries, calling it "arguably the most mind-bending map to date." Professor Gott will tell how he got in the 2012 Guinness Book of Records for measuring the "largest structure in the universe," the Sloan Great Wall -- 1.37 billion light years long. He will show size comparisons and maps from his new National Geographic book Sizing Up the Universe, in collaboration with Professor Robert J. Vanderbei, answering such questions as, how big was Hurricane Katrina compared to the Great Red Spot (a centuries-old storm on Jupiter)? A series of size comparisons, each covering a scale a thousand times larger than the one before, will show everything from Buzz Aldrin's footprint on the moon, to asteroids, moons, planets, stars, black holes, and galaxies, ending with the first real picture of the entire visible universe.
J. Richard Gott is noted for his contributions to cosmology and general relativity. He has received the Robert J. Trumpler Award, an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, the Astronomical League Award, and Princeton's President's Award for Distinguished Teaching. He discovered exact solutions to Einstein's field equations for the gravitational field around one cosmic string (in 1985) and two moving cosmic strings (in 1991). This second solution has been of particular interest because, if the strings move fast enough, at nearly the speed of light, time travel to the past can occur. His paper with Li-Xin Li, "Can the Universe Create Itself?" explores the idea of how the laws of physics may permit the universe to be its own mother. His book Time Travel in Einstein's Universe was selected by Booklist as one of four "Editors' Choice" science books for 2001. He has published papers on map projections in Cartographica. His picture has appeared Time, Newsweek, and the New York Times. He wrote an article on time travel for Time magazine as part of its cover story on the future (April 10, 2000). His and Mario Juric's Map of the Universe appeared in the New York Times (January 13, 2004), New Scientist, and Astronomy. Gott and Juric are in Guinness World Records 2006 for finding the largest structure in the universe: the Sloan Great Wall of Galaxies (1.37 billion light years long). Gott's Copernican argument for space colonization was the subject of an article in the New York Times (July 17, 2007).
Sizing Up the Universe
Sizing Up the Universe reveals an ingenious new way to envision the outsize proportions of space, based on the work of Princeton University professors Richard Gott and Robert Vanderbei. Using scaled maps, object comparisons, and beautiful space photographs, it demonstrates the actual size of objects in the cosmos -- from Buzz Aldrin's historic footprint to the visible universe and beyond. The authors offer visual comparisons with astonishing precision and maximum reader-friendliness, conveying clear and understandable explanations of unimaginable vastness. Plus, as an unprecedented bonus, their 1.5-million-selling Map of the Universe is published here for the first time ever in a book -- presented on an oversize foldout page that maximizes its eye-popping presentation of satellites, planets, stars, and galaxies. Based on the popularity of the map and of Richard Gott's Time Travel in Einstein's Universe, and offering innovative ways to appreciate the majesty of the universe, this new title should soar.
4th Annual Biard Lecture: "The Future of Human Space Exploration: A Panel Discussion with Luminary NASA Astronauts"
Senator John Glenn, John M. Grunsfeld, Ph.D., and the Honorable Harrison H. Schmitt
November 21st, 2010 2:00pm
Join historic NASA astronauts whose collective careers have spanned the Mercury, Apollo and Space Shuttle Programs for a lively and informative panel discussion that celebrates the achievements of NASA's manned space program and explores the future of space exploration. Featured panelists will be Senator John Glenn (Ret.) - Mercury-6/STS-95, John M. Grunsfeld, Ph.D. - STS 67/81/103/109/125 and the Honorable Harrison H. Schmitt - Apollo 17.
3rd Annual Biard Lecture: "BLAST! The Movie - Welcome to Astrophysics Indiana Jones style!"
Mark Delvin, PhD and Paul Delvin
December 1st, 2009 5:00pm
Physics Research Building Atrium
Mark Delvin PhD
A five-time Emmy winner for his work on NBC's Olympics and CBS's Tour de France, Paul Devlin's films include Power Trip, which screened in 60 countries, theatrically across the United States and on PBS's Independent Lens, was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award and has won 10 film festival awards, including top prizes at Berlin, Hot Docs in Toronto, and Florida.
2nd Annual Biard Lecture: "Mysteries of the Universe"
October 29th, 2008
Ninety-five percent of the universe is missing! Astronomical observations suggest that most of the mass of the universe is in a mysterious form called dark matter and most of the energy in the universe is in an even more mysterious form called dark energy. We have no understanding of the nature of the stuff that makes up our universe. In a nontechnical discussion, I will outline the evidence for dark matter and dark energy, and discuss why cosmologists feel that unlocking the secrets of dark matter and dark energy will illuminate the nature of space and time and connect the quantum with the cosmos.
Edward W. Kolb (known to most as Rocky) is the Arthur Holly Compton Distinguished Service Professor of Astronomy & Astrophysics and the College and Chair of the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics at the University of Chicago, as well as a member of the Enrico Fermi Institute and the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics. The field of Rocky's research is the application of elementary-particle physics to the very early Universe. In addition to over 200 scientific papers, he is a co-author of The Early Universe, the standard textbook on particle physics and cosmology.
1st Annual Biard Lecture: "Exploding Stars and the Accelerating Cosmos: A Blunder Undone"
Professor Robert P. Kirshner
October 17th, 2007
Recent observations of exploding stars located halfway across the Universe reveal an astonishing fact: the expansion of the Universe is speeding up! This suggests that empty space itself is the source of a mysterious "dark energy" that drives cosmic acceleration. Curiously, when Albert Einstein first thought about the role of gravity acting throughout the Universe in 1917, he imagined a repulsive "cosmological constant" that would balance out the attractive effects of gravitation. After the expansion of our Universe was clearly established by astronomers, Einstein regarded this cosmological term as a mistake. Modern observations show that we need something that acts very much like Einstein's discarded cosmological constant to account for an accelerating universe. And we need a lot of it-- dark energy accounts for 70% of the universe today. This talk will show how astronomers use supernova explosions to trace cosmic history and will sketch some of the plans to learn more about the nature of the dark energy through observations.