Talks & Events
Workshops & Events
Current & Future
Physics colloquium: Vyacheslav Turyshev, JPL,"Testing Fundamental Gravitation in Space: Recent Progress and Possible Future Directions"
Winter 2014 Postdocs Symposium
Adler After Dark: Bradford Benson, "Unveiling the Dark Universe with the South Pole Telescope"
The South Pole Telescope (SPT) is a microwave telescope located at the geographic South Pole, which has been used to make the most-detailed measurements ever of the light left over from the Big Bang, the cosmic microwave background. I will give an overview of the SPT, and how astronomers are using data from the SPT to better understand the "Dark" Universe: a component of the Universe that makes up over 95% of its density, but whose physical origin is still largely mysterious to us.
Mi Galaxia es Su Galaxia - My Galaxy is Your Galaxy
Meet Claudio Ugalde & enjoy astronomy shows, activities, and talks in Spanish.
On Saturday, March 8, the Adler Planetarium, in partnership with Latino organizations and Chicago-area institutions, will host Mi Galaxia es Su Galaxia to welcome Spanish-speaking families for a celebration of the universal world of science. Mi Galaxia es Su Galaxia is a one-day event designed to encourage Latino families to experience science together in their own language. Participants will enjoy a range of scientific experiences presented in Spanish including sky shows, lectures and demonstrations. A diverse group of renowned Latino scientists and local volunteers will be on hand to conduct experiments, lead interactive activities and answer questions throughout the day.
"Mi Galaxia es Su Galaxia will celebrate the exploration our Universe in ways that go beyond borders and language barriers," said Michelle B. Larson Ph.D., president & CEO of the Adler Planetarium. "The Adler is honored to host an international group of renowned Latino scientists, passionate volunteers and local families for a celebration of science."
Mi Galaxia es Su Galaxia will feature special programming and presentations including:
Mi Galaxia es Su Galaxia will offer families the opportunity to view some of the Adler's most immersive shows in Spanish. The Adler's Grainger Sky Theater will transform into a virtual observatory in Cosmic Wonder as photographer, visual artist and Adler Astronomer Jose Francisco Salgado narrates the Adler's blockbuster sky show in Spanish. The Definiti Space Theater will feature One World, One Sky: Big Bird's Adventure. This planetarium show follows Sesame Street's Elmo, Big Bird, and their friend, Hu Hu Zhu, as they explore the night sky. In the 3-D show, Exploding Stars and the Shape of Our Galaxy, audiences will investigate the Milky Way Galaxy and the Pinwheel Supernova. There will be a Q & A with astrophysicist Claudio Ugalde immediately following this show, which will be presented in the Samuel C. Johnson Family Star Theater.
Mi Galaxia es Su Galaxia will welcome a renowned group of scientists who will engage one-onone with Adler visitors. Physicist and professor Juan Carlos Campuzano will describe what superconductors are, how they are made and how they impact our lives. Mexican astrophysicist and professor, Claudio Ugalde, will explore the explosive science of supernovas and how thermonuclear reactions operate in the Universe. Roberto Castillo Ladron de Guevara, lead engineer for the Observatory in Cerro Paranal, Chile, will chat live via Skype from the Very Large Telescope (VLT) to discuss how the placement of observatories in Chile by the European Southern Observatory (ESO) is helping to revolutionize astronomical techniques.
For this event the Adler has partnered with Chicago-area institutions including The Field Museum, the University of Chicago, Northwestern University and the University of Illinois at Chicago. Other event partners include Casa Mexico-USA, Aeromexico, Direccion General de Divulgacion de la Ciencia, Evanston Public Library, European Chocolate, Rosa's Horchata, the Mexican Tourism Board and Taco Veloz. "Mi Galaxia es Su Galaxia is a grassroots community effort led by the Adler Planetarium and made possible by the tireless efforts of Latino community members and supporters," said Isabel Carrera, Casa Mexico-USA, Education programs director. "This event is the first of many efforts across numerous institutions that will address the current needs of the Latino community."
Statistics Colloquium: Josh Frieman, Fermilab and the University of Chicago, "Probing Cosmic Acceleration with the Dark Energy Survey: Statistical Challenges and Big Data in Cosmology"
The Nobel Prize in Physics for 2011 was awarded for the discovery that the expansion of the Universe is accelerating. Yet the physical origin of cosmic acceleration remains a mystery. The Dark Energy Survey (DES) aims to address the questions: why is the expansion speeding up? Is cosmic acceleration due to dark energy or does it require a modification of Einstein's General Relativity? DES is addressing these questions by carrying out a cosmological survey of 200 million galaxies over 1/8th of the sky using a new, 570-megapixel, digital camera on a 4-meter telescope in Chile over the next several years. I will overview the DES project, which achieved 'first light' in September 2012 and which just finished its first survey season last month, and present some early results. In the process, I will discuss some of the "Big Data" challenges in processing and analyzing the data and highlight a number of the statistical methods being employed to extract useful cosmological information (machine learning, spatial N-point clustering statistics, cluster-finding algorithms, Bayesian classification, MCMC, etc).
Broader Horizons: Kathryn Schaffer, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Kathryn Schaffer completed her PhD at the University of Washington studying solar neutrino physics after primarily studying philosophy as an undergraduate. She came to Chicago as a KICP Fellow in 2005, working on data analysis for cosmic microwave background observations with the South Pole Telescope (SPT). In 2008, she decided to veer off course from the "research track," and discovered an unusual faculty position at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). Since 2009, she has been full-time faculty at SAIC, teaching physics and cosmology to art and design students. She continues some research work as part of the SPT collaboration and also contributes to data analysis for nuclear non-proliferation research with a group at Los Alamos National Laboratory. She will discuss the unusual career choices she has made, the pros and cons of taking a teaching-centered position (particularly one that involves teaching to non-science students), and some of the insights she has gained about science and science communication from working with and around artists.
Kavli Foundation Webcast: Secrets of the Universe's First Light
THE FIRST PROOF that the universe underwent an almost unimaginably fast expansion when it was only a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second old has taken the world by storm. This sudden growth spurt was first theorized more than three decades ago. Yet only last month did astrophysicists reveal the first hard evidence that universe swelled from microscopic to cosmic size in less than the blink of an eye - an announcement so huge that some say dwarfs even the discovery of the Higgs boson.
On April 18, two of the scientists who made this groundbreaking discovery will come together for a conversation with two of the pioneering leaders of the field. Together, they will examine the detection of a distinctive, swirling pattern in the universe's first light, what the swirl tells us about that monumental growth spurt, and the many implications on the way we understand the universe around us.
About the Participants
JOHN CARLSTROM leads two experiments that study the universe's first light: the South Pole Telescope in Antarctica and the Sunyaev-Zeldovich Array in California. One of the foremost researchers in this field, Dr. Carlstrom is an expert at extracting information from patterns in light from the early universe. He is the Deputy Director of the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics. Dr. Carlstrom is also the S. Chandrasekhar Distinguished Service Professor in Astronomy & Astrophysics and Physics at the University of Chicago.
WALTER OGBURN is a member of the BICEP2 team that made this important discovery. He also conducts work at The Keck Array, a suite of telescopes at the South Pole that also search for twists in the universe's first light. Dr. Ogburn is a postdoctoral researcher at the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology at Stanford University.
MICHAEL TURNER (Moderator) is a theoretical cosmologist who works at the intersection of cosmology and elementary particle physics to understand the origin and evolution of the universe. Renowned for his work on inflationary cosmology, the characteristics of dark energy and the nature of dark matter, Dr. Turner is the Director of the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics as well as the Bruce V. and Diana M. Rauner Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago.
ABIGAIL VIEREGG is an active member of the BICEP2 team. In addition, she works on The Keck Array and the ANITA experiment, which studies ultra-high energy cosmic neutrinos. A member of the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics, Dr. Vieregg is also assistant professor at the University of Chicago.
The Kavli Foundation
Computations in Science Seminar: Robert Rosner, "Clashing cultures: Science and Public Policy in the realm of Climate Change"
As part of its mission, the Panel on Public Affairs (POPA) of the American Physical Society semi-regularly develops statements for the APS on matters of public interest. One such matter is climate change, and over the past 6 months, POPA has been involved in a re-examination of the existing APS statement on climate change. I will discuss our approach, focusing on the dual issues of what we as physicists can say about this topic with some assurance, especially in the realm of prediction - and how do we explain this to a public that is highly polarized on this subject, not tolerant of nuance, and poorly educated on risk assessment and risk tolerance. All of these issues relate closely to how physicists deal with uncertainty quantification of models, and how these may translate - or not - to modeling in the social sciences.
Physics colloquium: Adam Riess, "The Hubble Constant and Dark Energy from Supernovae, Cepheids and Parallax"
The Hubble constant remains one of the most important parameters in the cosmological model, setting the size and age scales of the Universe. Present uncertainties in the cosmological model including the nature of dark energy, the properties of neutrinos and the scale of departures from flat geometry can be constrained by measurements of the Hubble constant made to higher precision than was possible with the first generations of Hubble Telescope instruments. Streamlined distances ladders constructed from infrared observations of Cepheids and type Ia supernovae with ruthless attention paid to systematics now provide 3.5% precision and offer the means to do much better. While WFC3 has helped open this new route, its full exploitation can come from a new technique, Parallel Astrometric Spatial Scanning (PASS), to measure parallax distances beyond a kiloparsec. I will review recent and expected progress.
Spring 2014 Postdocs Symposium
DES Supernova workshop
The KICP at the University of Chicago will host a 3-day workshop dedicated to the Supernova program within the Dark Energy Survey (DES). This workshop will focus on
1) optimizing the strategy for the 2nd season (starting Fall 2014),
2) spectroscopic follow-up strategy, and
3) data analysis.
KICP special seminar: Silvia Galli, IAP (Paris), "Constraining fundamental physics with Planck"
One of the major challenges of modern cosmology is to understand the nature of dark matter and dark energy. Our poor understanding of these components might even be indicating that physics as we know it today is not sufficient to describe the universe at large scales. In this talk, I will propose two ways to try to answer few of the questions of standard model of cosmology with Planck data. First, I will show how the CMB is a very powerful tool to constrain the characteristics of dark matter particles, as it strongly constrains dark matter annihilation. I will review the general ideas behind searches of dark matter annihilation with the CMB and present current and forecasted results from the Planck satellite. Second (time permitting), I will show how the detection of hundreds of new galaxy clusters through the Sunyaev-Zel'dovich effect by Planck and other ongoing experiments is a potentially powerful new probe of fundamental physics. In particular, the x-ray and SZ observations of these objects can be used to test the value of fundamental constants, i.e. to test the validity of currently known physics, at redshifts z< 1. I will show that current data can constrain the value of the fine structure constant at the level of 0.8%, comparable to CMB constraints.
Computations in Science Seminar: Daniel Fabrycky, "Modeling Perturbed Planetary Systems"
The Kepler mission represents a breakthrough in the dynamics of planetary systems. The number of systems with detectably perturbed orbits jumped from two to over a hundred. But the interpretation of these perturbations has lagged the collection of data. I am modeling the systems with high signal-to-noise transit timing variations (TTVs), which have distinctive features beyond parabolas or sine curves. Such features can uniquely determine the mass and orbital parameters of the perturbing planet. In a few systems of multi-transiting planets, I infer the presence of a planet that does not transit. The future transit times of some systems with particularly large TTVs are starting to become uncertain, which I quantify with a Monte Carlo sampling of our dynamical fits. For these systems we are scheduling and obtaining new transit observations, both from the ground and from space observatories, lest we lose knowledge of when to look for transits. With continued m! onitoring , the TTVs in these systems will result in mass-radius measurements for cool exoplanets and inferences on the formation and evolution of exoplanetary systems.
79th Compton Lectures: Elise Jennings, "Cosmic Cartography - Exploring an Expanding Universe"
April 5, 2014 @ 11 am
April 12, 2014 @ 11 am
April 19, 2014 @ 11 am
April 26, 2014 @ 11 am
May 3, 2014 @ 11 am
May 10, 2014 @ 11 am
May 17, 2014 @ 11 am
May 31, 2014 @ 11 am
June 7, 2014 @ 11 am
The discovery that the expansion of the Universe is being accelerated by a mysterious force that cosmologists call "Dark Energy" has had an immense impact and is the most exciting area of research in Cosmology today. The 2011 Nobel Prize in physics was awarded to three astronomers who found the first direct evidence of this acceleration by observing the brightness of exploding stars in the Universe. These astonishing observations have ignited a race towards an even bigger discovery - what is Dark Energy? Unravelling the nature of Dark Energy is one of the most important problems facing cosmologists and will answer profound questions about fundamental physics in our Universe.
In these lectures Dr. Jennings will describe the cutting-edge of current research which tries to make sense of Dark Energy and the accelerating expansion. Uncovering the nature of Dark Energy will require exciting cosmic detective work gathering evidence, formulating theories and testing new ideas in the largest laboratory available to us - the Universe. The lectures require no mathematical or scientific background; just bring your curiosity.
Workshop: "High-Energy Messengers: Connecting the Non-Thermal Extragalactic Backgrounds"
The Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics (KICP) at the University of Chicago is hosting a workshop this summer on the origin of the non-thermal extragalactic backgrounds. The goal is to bring together observers and theorists representing all the high-energy wavebands and particles: radio, GeV and TeV gamma rays, and extragalactic cosmic rays and neutrinos. Topics will include isotropic diffuse intensity measurements, resolved extragalactic source populations and their collective contributions below the individual source detection threshold, anisotropies, and propagation effects and secondary cascades.
Example focus questions:
* Is there a coherent scenario which explains all the current observations in terms of established extragalactic source populations?
* What are the next steps (experimental + theoretical) to move past current uncertainties/degeneracies?
We are planning a three-day workshop for about fifty participants convening on the campus of the University of Chicago. Each day will consist of plenary presentations with plenty of time for discussion in large and/or small groups.
- Radio, gamma rays, neutrinos, UHECRs
- Isotropic diffuse intensity measurements
- Resolved extragalactic source populations and their collective contributions below the individual source detection threshold
- Propagation effects and secondary cascades
Astronomy Symposium in Honor of Donald York and Edward Kibblewhite
Please join the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics for a retirement event honoring Donald York and Edward Kibblewhite on Monday June 9.
There will be a day-long scientific program at Ida Noyes on Monday June 9th. The program will be immediately followed by a wine and cheese reception from 4 - 6 pm in Ida Noyes.
The program for June 9th is as follows
Flash Center Special Seminar: Christian Ott, Caltech, "New Aspects of Core-Collapse Supernova Theory"
Core-collapse supernovae from massive stars are among the most energetic events in the universe. They liberate a mass-energy equivalent of ~15% of a solar mass in the collapse of their progenitor star's core. The majority (~99%) of this energy is carried away by neutrinos, while (~1%) is transferred to the kinetic energy of the explosive outflow. A smaller, yet still tremendous amount of energy is emitted in electromagnetic and gravitational waves. The stellar collapse phenomenon and its range of outcomes pose a formidable challenge to computational modeling. I discuss recent progress made with multi-dimensional simulations and highlight (i) the potential impact of asphericity from unstable convective shell burning in the progenitor star and (ii) first full 3D results on the magnetorotational explosion mechanism that is considered in the context of hyperenergetic core-collapse supernova explosions and long gamma-ray bursts. Finally, I outline how detection of gravitational waves and neutrinos from the next nearby core collapse event can help to observationally probe the dynamics and thermodynamics of the supernova engine.
519th UChicago Convocation: honoring Wendy L. Freedman
Dear Astronomy & KICP scientists (students, postdocs, faculty, et al)
Please join us in honoring Wendy L. Freedman who will be receiving an Honorary of Doctor of Science from the University of Chicago this upcoming 519th Convocation.
Wendy L. Freedman, a world leader in astronomy and cosmology, will receive a Doctor of Science honorary degree. Freedman is the Crawford H. Greenewalt Director of the Observatories of the Carnegie Institution of Washington in Pasadena, Calif. Freedman served as scientific leader for a team of 30 astronomers who carried out the Hubble Key Project to measure the current expansion rate of the universe. At the project’s start in the mid-1980s, the age and size of the universe ranged between 10 and 20 billion years. The project’s final results resolved this longstanding debate, determining the age of the universe as 13.7 billion years with an uncertainty of 10 percent. She served as co-leader of the Carnegie Supernova Project to study exploding stars to provide constraints on the nature of dark energy, a mysterious force that appears to be accelerating the expansion of the universe.
Currently, Freedman focuses on measuring both the current and past expansion rate of the universe, and on characterizing the nature of dark energy. She is leading a project to use the Spitzer Space Telescope to measure the expansion rate to an accuracy of three percent.
Freedman is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences and of the American Philosophical Society. She also is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the American Physical Society. Additional honors include the American Physical Society’s Magellanic Prize, as well as the Gruber Cosmology Prize.
Looking forward to seeing you there,
Angela V. Olinto,
Homer J. Livingston Professor and Chair Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics
KICP Summer School on Education and Outreach
The Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics (KICP) at the University of Chicago will host a Summer School on Education and Outreach from June 16 to June 27, 2014.
This two-week summer school will immerse early career researchers in education and outreach (E&O) and allow them to gain experience and exposure to best practices by working with other scientists, E&O professionals, and museum staff on real projects. The core of the summer school will be a one-week practicum where students will be embedded in an existing E&O program and work with their mentors to develop K-12 lab activities, museum programming, visualizations, or a citizen science activity. The school will also provide a concise introduction to E&O basics through lectures and panel discussions on key topics (e.g., National Science Foundation, NSF, broader impacts), case studies of exemplary programs (e.g., the Brain Scoop), and field trips to Chicago area institutions including the Chicago Museum of Science & Industry (MSI), the Digital Media Lab/YOUmedia and the Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum. Because communication is central to effective E&O (and science), the school will kick-off with a special one-day science communication workshop presented by the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science. The school will culminate with presentations by the participants on the results of their practicum experiences to their peers and a panel of E&O experts and faculty from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC).
KICP workshop: "Status and Future of Inflationary Theory "
The Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics (KICP) at the University of Chicago is hosting a workshop this summer on inflationary theory. The goal is to gather a small group of researchers working in inflationary cosmology for several days of informal presentations and discussion relating to the status of theories of the inflationary universe. Topics of particular focus are model building, challenges for inflationary theories, connections to fundamental physics, and prospects for refining our understanding with future datasets. This meeting is a satellite conference of COSMO 2014. The meeting will be complementary to the COSMO conference in that it will be small, informal, and relatively narrow in scope.
COSMO-2014: International Conference on Particle Physics and Cosmology
The Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics (KICP) at the University of Chicago will host the International Conference on Particle Physics and Cosmology (COSMO 2014) on August 25-29, 2014, held at the University of Chicago's Gleacher Center.
International conference: "Type Ia Supernovae: progenitors, explosions, and cosmology"
The Joint Institute for Nuclear Astrophysics (JINA), the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics (KICP), and the Flash Center for Computational Science at the University of Chicago will host an International conference on the observations and simulations of thermonuclear "Type Ia Supernovae: progenitors, explosions, and cosmology" on on September 15-19, 2014. The conference will be held at the University of Chicago's Kersten Physics Teaching Center (KPTC).
* Progenitors, rates, and pre-explosion physics
* Explosion mechanisms and simulations: mergers, double detonations, single degenerates, sub-chandra's, and failed explosions
* Exceptional quality data: 2011fe, STIS UV
* Thermonuclear weirdos, SNIax, the fast and the furious
* Nucleosynthetic yields from supernovae and their effect on galaxy chemical compositions
* Host galaxy <-> luminosity relationship
* Radiation transport for SNIa
* Data-driven models for SNIa lc+spec
* SNIa and cosmology Challenges
We especially welcome young scientists. For students/postdocs who are eager to participate but lack travel funds, you may contact us to request travel support (sn2014supportcosmo.uchicago.edu).
KICP Cosmology Course: "Evolving Universe", Short Course for Museum & Planetarium Staff
In our eighth short course KICP researchers will share the most current research about the cosmos focused on the theme of change and evolution. The course will feature a practicum, where teams of participants develop sky show presentations, which will be juried on the final day.
Who Should Attend: Museum & Planetarium Staff
What to Expect:
- A better understanding of the BIG Picture of cosmology
- To meet and talk with researchers at the forefronts
- To visit the Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum to see innovative ways to bring current cosmology into a museum
- Practicum sessions that will allow you test drive programming ideas developed during the course
- Tools and resources to bring forefront research into your home institution
Course Description The heavens fixed no more. Discoveries made over the past decade have revealed that the Universe and objects within are changing on timescales from shorter than a microsecond to longer than a billion years. From our own solar system and other planetary systems to stars, galaxies and clusters of galaxies astronomers are chronicling an evolving and evermore interesting universe with their sophisticated instruments.
Though astronomers since antiquity have realized that new objects sometimes appear in the night sky, they considered the cosmos to be timeless and unchanging. Even as recently as the 1920s, astrophysicists had difficulty comprehending a universe that was not eternal. Now we know differently. Change is the rule. Planets form and orbit other stars; stars explode in violent supernovas; galaxies and black holes merge; and the Big Bang set it all in motion.
Astronomers now regularly witness many of these phenomena -- fleets of space satellites and ground based telescopes monitor the sky in real time, detecting transient events like solar flares, gamma ray bursts and supernovae within hours. Telescopes in Antarctica are mapping the spacetime ripples from the Big Bang, the Universe's most dramatic period of evolution. These events let us observe new physics in extreme conditions which are only ever reproduced on Earth in massive computer simulations revealing how galaxies collide and stars explode
Application Deadline: August 1, 2014 (note: rolling admissions policy, applications will be reviewed beginning June 1).