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The 2019 Penn State Lectures on the Frontiers of Science: Cosmic Clues Open New Frontiers in Space Science

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19 November 2018


The Penn State Lectures on the Frontiers of Science is an annual series of six weekly lectures organized by the Penn State Eberly College of Science as an enjoyable and enlightening learning opportunity for residents of the Central Pennsylvania area; Penn State students, faculty, and employees; and other eager learners who will view archived recordings of these lectures online.

The lectures in the 2019 series begin at 11:00 a.m. on the University Park campus. The February 9 lecture by Nobel Laureate Barry C. Barish will be in 104 Keller Building; all the other lectures will be in 100 Huck Life Sciences Building, the Berg Auditorium.

Miguel MostafáJanuary 19, 2019 -- Berg Auditorium, 100 Huck Life Sciences Building

Cosmic messengers from deep space launch a new era of discovery

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

The Astrophysical Multimessenger Observatory Network at Penn State aims to discover new phenomena by merging the world’s leading observatories of weakly interacting neutrinos, strongly interacting nuclei, and wavelike oscillations in the fabric of spacetime into a single system for the first time. These linked detectors of astrophysical “messengers” complement detections by gamma-ray observatories. Learn how we now are probing the high-energy universe via all four fundamental forces.


Jocelyn Bell BurnellJanuary 26, 2019 -- Berg Auditorium, 100 Huck Life Sciences Building

Discovery of Pulsars: A Graduate Student's Story

Jocelyn Bell Burnell, Visiting Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Oxford, 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 a 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."


J. Richard BondFebruary 2, 2019 -- Berg Auditorium, 100 Huck Life Sciences Building

The Quantum Universe in the Planck Era and Beyond

J. Richard Bond, University Professor, Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics, University of Toronto

“Over the 25 years from the Planck Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) satellite go-ahead to our 2018 Planck Legacy release,” Dr. Bond says, “cosmology became a precision science that established our standard model, full of dark energy and matter as well as ‘ordinary’ matter.” His lecture will focus on the Planck maps of the ultra-early universe. “These reveal a remarkable simplicity in the quantum fluctuations that create the cosmic web of galaxies that we inhabit. In future CMB experiments, we are in quest of ‘beyond the standard model’ physics, in more complex density-structures, and in gravity-wave fluctuations.”


Barry C. BarishFebruary 9, 2019 -- 104 Keller Building

Probing the Universe with Gravitational Waves

Barry C. Barish, Linde Professor of Physics Emeritus at the California Institute of Technology

The 2016 discovery of gravitational waves launched the birth of a new era of astronomy research. 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.


Doug CowenFebruary 16, 2019 -- Berg Auditorium, 100 Huck Life Sciences Building

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

Doug Cowen, Professor of Physics and of Astronomy and 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.


Ivan AgulloFebruary 23, 2019 -- Berg Auditorium, 100 Huck Life Sciences Building

The Universe Beyond Einstein: Lessons from Primordial Messengers

Ivan Agullo, Assistant Professor of Physics at 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 in order to probe what really happened in the early universe and to test this new paradigm using the cosmic microwave background.


Parking near the Huck Life Sciences Building for lectures in the Berg Auditorium is in the Eisenhower Parking Deck on Eisenhower Road and in the HUB Parking Deck on Shortledge Road.

Parking near Keller Building for the lecture on February 9 in room 104 is in the Nittany Parking Deck on Fischer 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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