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Astrophysics: Looking Ahead

“Space: The Final Frontier.” So starts Gene Roddenberry’s introduction to the original Star Trek television series in 1966. And so it is true today that the mysteries and the blossoming facts about the universe continue to overarch our daily lives. This Premier Class will highlight four distinctly unique innovations that continue our efforts to understand this amazing “Frontier.”

Astronomy in the Era of Mega-Telescopes

Professor Shelley Wright

By the next decade, construction will be completed on colossal optical telescopes, exceeding 30 meters in diameter, heralding a new era that will revolutionize our knowledge of the universe. This lecture will discuss the numerous challenges involving the massive cameras and spectrographs needed to take advantage of the revolutionary size and complexity of this construction project. Once the telescope and instruments are built, the discoveries will span the range of the cosmos, from the solar system, to extrasolar systems, to black holes, to distant galaxies, to the very first stars in the universe.

Presenter: Shelley Wright is Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics and the Center for Astrophysics and Space Sciences at UC San Diego. She has extensive experience working with cameras and spectrographs of the type being constructed. Her research focuses on galaxy and supermassive black-hole formation and evolution across cosmic time. Wright is currently Project Scientist for the Thirty Meter Telescope. She received her PhD from UCLA.

Th 10:00 a.m-12:00 p.m., Apr 5 Classroom 129

Astrophysics: The Gravitational Wave Revolution

Professor Tom Murphy

Gravitational waves impose inconceivably small distortions in the fabric of spacetime that can now be detected by arguably the most sensitive and sophisticated detectors ever built. This talk will describe the fundamental nature of these ripples, the method of detection (and some of mind-boggling aspects of this capability), the types of sources we can see, and what we have learned so far from the first half-dozen events. The 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded for the LIGO (the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Observatory) to scientists at Caltech and MIT.

Presenter: Tom Murphy is Professor of Physics at UC San Diego. His research involves testing General Relativity using laser measurements of the distance to reflectors left on the Moon. He also has a business making detectors that observatories can use to avoid accidentally illuminating aircraft by lasers. Murphy also explores realistic schemes for renewably energizing our society in the years ahead, sponsoring a popular blog called Do the Math.

Th 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., Apr 19, Classroom 129

Course Number: OSHR-70061   Credit: 0 units

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Dates Class Type Section ID Fee
04/05/2018 - 04/19/2018 In-class 131099 $0.00  

Day and Time: Thursday, 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Location: Room 129, UCSD Extension Complex, 9600 N. Torrey Pines Rd., La Jolla