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The 2019 Penn State Lectures on the Frontiers of Science: New Frontiers for Space Science

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19 November 2018


The Penn State Lectures on the Frontiers of Science is an annual lecture series organized by the Penn State Eberly College of Science as an enjoyable and enlightening learning opportunity for residents of the Central Pennsylvania area and beyond.

Cosmic messengers from deep space launch a new era of discovery

January 19, 2019

Miguel Mostafá, Professor of Physics and of Astronomy & Astrophysics at Penn State

The Astrophysical Multimessenger Observatory Network at Penn State aims to discover new phenomena by merging the world’s leading observatories into a single system for the first time. The linked facilities complement the gamma-ray observatories by providing the detection of the other astrophysical “messengers”: the weakly-interacting neutrinos, the strongly-interacting nuclei, and the wavelike oscillations in the fabric of space-time. Learn how we probe the high-energy Universe via all four fundamental forces.


Discovery of pulsars -- a graduate student's story

January 26, 2019

Jocelyn Bell Burnell, Visiting Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Oxford, and Professorial Fellow in Physics at Mansfield College

Jocelyn Bell Burnell received the 2018 Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics for her discovery of pulsating stars that emit intense beams of radio waves (pulsars) and for her inspiring decades of scientific leadership. She will describe the accidental discovery of these stars when she was graduate student. She also will describe some previous occasions when pulsars were almost discovered. Their discovery has been described as "one of the biggest surprises in the history of astronomy, transforming neutron stars from science fiction to reality."


Title to be announced

February 2, 2019

J. Richard Bond, University professor of astronomy and astrophysics at the University of Toronto, Director of the Cosmology and Gravity Program at the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research


Probing the Universe with Gravitational waves

February 9, 2019

Location: Penn Stater Hotel & Conference Center

Barry Barish, Nobel Laureate, Linde Professor of Physics emeritus at California Institute of Technology

The 2016 discovery of gravitational waves launched the birth of a new era of astronomy. Before, astronomers used visible light and all other types of electromagnetic radiation to reveal an amazing understanding of the universe and its evolution. Now, with gravitational waves, we can study these signals in a very different way, plus we can observe new signals that never before could be studied. Nobel Laureate Barry Barish will reveal plans and prospects for this exciting new science.


The Ghost Particle: A new tool for deep-space discoveries

February 16, 2019

Doug Cowen, Professor of Physics and Professor of Astronomy & Astrophysics at Penn State

When Earth was new 4 billion years ago, a distant, massive black hole fired an extraordinarily powerful jet of photons and neutrinos directly to where the planet would be on September 22, 2017 -- the day one of those neutrinos crashed into a web of detectors buried under the IceCube Neutrino Observatory at the South Pole. IceCube alerted telescopes to trace the neutrino's path, revealing the first known source of super-energetic neutrinos. Now you can learn more about this historic discovery and the clues it reveals about our universe.


The Universe Beyond Einstein: lessons from primordial messengers

February 23, 2019

Ivan Aguillo, Assistant Professor of Physics, Louisiana State University

Current understanding of cosmic history rests on Einstein’s theory of general relativity. It traces the origin of the universe to the Big Bang, where space-time ends and physics comes to a halt. But Einstein recognized that the Big Bang is an artifact of applying general relativity outside its domain of validity. Learn about exciting research led by Penn State on how to combine general relativity with quantum mechanics to probe what really happened in the early universe, and how to test this new paradigm using the cosmic microwave background.


Berg Auditorium is located in the Huck Life Sciences Building. Parking is available in the HUB Parking Deck on Shortledge Road and in the Eisenhower Parking Deck on Eisenhower Road.

Penn State encourages qualified persons with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities. If you anticipate needing any type of accommodation or have questions about the physical access provided, please call 814-863-4682 or e-mail sci-comm@psu.edu in advance of your participation or visit.

Use the links to the left to access more information about the Penn State Lectures on the Frontiers of Science, including archived recordings of previous lectures.

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