Workshops & Events
Michael Meyer, ETH Zurich, "Building a Predictive Theory of Planet Formation: Extrapolation versus Phenomenology in the Era of Direct Imaging"
January 12, 2015 | LASR conference room | 1:30 PM
 

Planetary bodies provide suitable environments for the emergence of life. Thus knowing their distribution as a function of mass, orbital radius, and bulk composition can help constrain the possible number of habitable worlds. Observations in the accessible regions of our Galaxy provide empirical constraints on planet populations. Yet extrapolation of these results to the rest of the observable Universe requires understanding the dependence of formation and evolution on a wide range of initial conditions. On the one hand, this process is simple: small bodies grow into larger ones through collisions (and sticking) of solid particles, or through local gravitational instabilities. On the other hand, the specific outcomes depend on a large number of complex properties requiring coupled understanding of dynamics, chemistry, and radiative transfer over several orders of magnitude in solid particle size, gas density and orbital radius. I will first introduce some simple theories of planet formation, and derive expected outcomes as a function stellar mass. Then I will summarize recent observations that constrain these theories with a focus on the power of direct imaging for "model-breaking". Finally, I will discuss experiments (some underway with new IR instrumentation on 8-meter class telescopes, and others planned for future facilities) that aim to efficiently improve our understanding. One exciting prospect is the direct detection of circumplanetary disks around forming planets, which may be key to regulating planet masses.

Physics colloquium: John Carlstrom, University of Chicago, "Physics and Cosmology with the Cosmic Microwave Background"
January 22, 2015 | KPTC 106 | 4:00 PM
 

The study of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) has driven spectacular advances in our understanding the origin, make up and evolution of our universe. We now have a standard cosmological model, ΛCDM, that fits all the cosmological data with only six parameters, although there are some tensions that may hint at that cracks in the model. Far from being the last word in cosmology, the model points to exciting times ahead using the CMB to explore new physics, i.e., inflation, dark matter, dark energy, neutrino masses and possible extra relativistic species, or dark radiation. This talk will review the current status and near term plans for CMB measurements, with emphasis on the South Pole Telescope, and discuss the plans for the next generation experimental program, CMB-S4.

All Chicago Cosmology Colloquium: Alexander Szalay, Johns Hopkins University, "Baryon Acoustic Oscillations and Redshift Space Distortions"
February 9, 2015 | room One West, Fermilab's Wilson Hall | 2:00 PM
 

The talk will present results about measuring the Baryon Acoustic Oscillation signal in redshift surveys. The impacts of various effects like survey geometries, redshift space distortions, nonlinear corrections will be discussed. In particular, we will show that redshift-space distortions can substantially sharpen the BAO peak in directions close to the line of sight. We also demonstrate a detection of Baryon Acoustic Oscillations in the SDSS Main Galaxy Survey.

Seth R Siegel, California Institute of Technology, "Multiwavelength Analysis of Galaxy Clusters"
February 10, 2015 | LASR conference room | 4:00 PM
 

I will report on the joint analysis of X-ray, weak lensing, strong lensing, and Sunyaev-Zel'dovich (SZ) measurements of the CLASH sample of 25 massive galaxy clusters. The high-quality multiwavelength data is able to constrain more realistic parametric models for the distribution of dark and baryonic matter in the galaxy clusters, avoiding biases in mass estimates that result from the assumptions of spherical symmetry and hydrostatic equilibrium. I will present results for a subsample of the clusters, including constraints on the level of non-thermal pressure support in the intracluster medium (ICM). I will conclude by introducing the Multiwavelength Sub/millimeter Inductance Camera (MUSIC), a new photometric imaging camera for the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory that is simultaneously sensitive to four bands at 150, 230, 290, and 350 GHz, and is ideally suited for studies of the ICM through the SZ effect. I will describe the characterization and removal of noise sourced by MUSIC's Microwave Kinetic Inductance Detectors (MKIDs) and their readout electronics.

Lorenzo Moncelsi, California Institute of Technology, "Cosmology above the clouds with SPIDER"
February 11, 2015 | LASR conference room | 12:00 PM
 

SPIDER is a balloon-borne microwave polarimeter designed to measure cosmological B-modes on degree angular scales in the presence of Galactic foregrounds. With six independent telescopes housing a total of ~2000 detectors in the 90 GHz and 150 GHz frequency bands, SPIDER is the most instantaneously-sensitive CMB polarimeter deployed on the sky to date. SPIDER was successfully launched from McMurdo Station, Antarctica in January 2015 and acquired science data for 16 days. I will briefly cover the in-flight performance and the expected analysis challenges. Pending recovery, the SPIDER team is already planning the next flight, featuring one or two foreground-optimized channels, which will allow us constrain the primordial tensor-mode amplitude at the level of r < 0.03 (99% CL), even in the presence of foregrounds.

The Cabinet: Cosmos
February 13, 2015 | Logan Center, Performance Penthouse (915 E 60th St) | 7:00 PM
 

Website
The vastness of the observable universe; the seeds of ancient religious belief; a mythical faraway world; the humming network of your neighborhood streets; intricate technological systems; blood vessels inside our bodies; nerves of the brain; the world of a single cell; known and unknown totalities. All these visions conjured by this single term, with infinite possibilities remaining. Our Cosmos Cabinet is built on the idea that such a concept can inspire scientists and artists equally to inquiries and creations that will engage all who are mystified and intrigued by the connections, relationships, orders, limits and limitlessness, and the tremendous scale of the world and worlds we inhabit or imagine. Please join us for a series of performative presentations by scholars and artists from the University of Chicago and beyond, who explore cosmology and its reverberations.

EVENING PROGRAM
  • Cosmic Mysteries: the Dark Universe and the Most Energetic Particles
    a conversation with Angela Olinto (Homer J. Livingston Professor, Chair, Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics; Enrico Fermi Institute; and the College, the University of Chicago)
  • The Night Sky
    a magic lantern performance created by Artemis Willis (filmmaker and media arts curator; PhD Candidate, Cinema and Media Studies, the University of Chicago) featuring Terri Kapsalis (writer, performer and cultural critic; Adjunct Professor of Visual and Critical Studies, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago).
  • Sun Ra
    performed on tenor and soprano saxophones by David Boykin (composer, bandleader, and multi-reed instrumentalist)

Presenter & Performer Bios
  • DAVID BOYKIN is one of the most original and dynamic artists in the Chicago music scene. He is a composer, bandleader, and a multi-reed instrumentalist performing on the tenor and soprano saxophones, the Bb soprano and bass clarinets, and the drum set. He has received many grants and awards for his talents as a composer. He is the leader of the David Boykin Expanse; founder of Sonic Healing Ministries; and an occasional collaborator with other artists. David Boykin began studying music on the clarinet at the age of 21 in 1991 and first performed professionally in 1997. Since 1997 he has released 10 album length recordings as a leader and contributed as a featured soloist to other musicians’ recordings; and performed at major international jazz festivals and smaller jazz venues locally and abroad.
  • TERRI KAPSALIS is a founding member of Theater Oobleck and has performed in 15 Oobleck productions. Her writings have appeared in such publications as Short Fiction, The Baffler, Denver Quarterly, new formations, Public, and Lusitania. Her most recent publication is Jane Addams’ Travel Medicine Kit (Jane Adams Hull-House Museum, 2011). She teaches in Visual and Critical Studies and Writing at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC).
  • ANGELA OLINTO is the Homer J. Livingston Professor, Chair, Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics; Enrico Fermi Institute; and the College (UChicago); and a member of the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics (UChicago). Her Research interests are in astroparticle physics and cosmology. While at UChicago, she has expanded her work on cosmic magnetic fields' and has investigated the nature of the dark matter in the universe. Her most recent research encompasses investigations into the origin of the highest energy cosmic particles cosmic rays, gamma U rays and neutrinos. Olinto' received her B.S. in Physics from the Pontificia Universidade Catolica, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and her Ph.D. in Physics from the Massachusetts Institute Technology. Her many awards and accolades included receiving the Chaire d' Excellence Award of the French Agence Nationale de Recherche in 2006 and the Llewellyn John and Harriet Manchester Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching in 2011.
  • ARTEMIS WILLIS Artemis is a non-fiction filmmaker, media arts curator and scholar of the magic lantern. Her films have screened at the MFA Boston, the Brooklyn Museum and Anthology Film Archives. She has curated magic lantern shows at Film Society of Lincoln Center, the National Gallery of Art, and the Freer and Sackler Galleries. She is presently working on a dissertation at UChicago concerning the international history, practice and culture of the magic lantern.

KICP Dark Matter meeting
February 17, 2015 | LASR conference room | 9:00 AM
 

The theme will be "beyond the simple WIMP" and focusing on a broader framework of the dark matter sector.

AGENDA
9:10-9:40
Dan Chung - "Dark matter in the early universe"
9:45-10:15
Bibhushan Shakya - "Neutrino Masses and Sterile Neutrino Dark Matter from the PeV Scale"
10:20-10:50
Francis-Yan Cyr-Racine - "Gravitational Detection of Self-Interacting Dark Matter"
11:10-11:40
Tongyan Lin - "CMB probes of WIMP and non-WIMP dark matter"
11:45-12:15
Dan Grin - "Axions in cosmology"
12:30 - 1:30
Lunch and discussion on dark sector, lead by Rocky Kolb

Adler colloquium: Andy Howell, Las Cumbres Global Telescope/UC Santa Barbara, "Understanding Mysterious Sources of Energy in Supernovae"
February 19, 2015 | Adler Planetarium | 11:00 AM
 

Website
In the past few years new classes of supernovae have been discovered that are both brighter and fainter than previously thought possible. The superluminous supernovae have luminosities 100 times greater than a core-collapse supernova, and their origin is a mystery. I will present data on two of the most distant and best-observed events from the Supernova Legacy Survey, and the first radiative transfer model that gives insight into their origin. They seem to result from the creation and spin-down of a magnetar. I'll also discuss a range of both normal and exotic supernovae from the local universe, including an even newer class of superluminous supernovae, and show how new observations are revealing or limiting SN progenitors for the first time. The Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network (LCOGT) is one of the latest tools allowing new kinds of observations with its 11 node network of one and two meter robotic telescopes spanning the globe. We have now begun the LCOGT Supernova Key Project, which will collect the largest sample of low-redshift supernovae ever obtained: lightcurves and spectroscopy on 450 supernovae over 3 years for use in cosmology, understanding explosions, and determining supernova progenitors.

Mark SubbaRao, Adler Planetarium, "The Future of the Planetarium"
February 23, 2015 | Crerar Library, Kathleen A. Zar Room | 2:00 PM
 

The first planetarium was developed over 90 years ago. Today thousands of planetaria exist all across the world. This talk will argue that the future of the planetarium is to make the transformation to a big data visualization facility. After reviewing the state of the art in planetarium visualization the talk will conclude with a invitation for University researchers to visualize their data sets at the Adler Planetarium.

Speaker Biography: Mark SubbaRao is the Director of the Space Visualization Laboratory at the Adler Planetarium. He received his bachelors degree in engineering physics at Lehigh University and his Ph.D from Johns Hopkins University in astrophysics. His Ph.D thesis concerned the characterization and evolution of the luminosity function of galaxies. After obtaining his degree he worked as a post doctoral researcher at the University of Chicago on the Sloan Digital Sky Survey a project to make a 3D map of the Universe. He has led the development of major exhibition galleries at the Adler such as “The Universe: A Walk Through Time and Space” and has also produced, written and directed a number of stereoscopic videos and full-dome planetarium shows. These include the planetarium shows “Welcome to the Universe” and “Cosmic Wonder.” His visualizations have been widely shown in print and television. He was part of a team that created a first-prize-winning visualization in the 2011 International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge. He was also on a team that was awarded the best visualization at XCEDE 2013. Dr. SubbaRao chairs the international Planetarium Society’s Task Force on Science and Data Visualization, which seeks to realize the potential of the planetarium as a scientific visualization tool.

Broader Horizons: Stephen Hoover, Civis Analytics
March 3, 2015 | TAAC 67 | 2:00 PM
 

In mid-2014, I left a postdoc as a cosmologist at the University of Chicago to join Civis Analytics as a "data scientist". Civis is a 2-year old Chicago-based tech company that helps organizations use the data they have to connect with the people they care about. Data science is the core of Civis's business, and to us that means smart applications of statistics and machine learning to make sense of real-world person-level data. In this talk, I'll describe what a data scientist does at Civis Analytics, how my PhD in physics prepared me for what I do now, and what a physicist or astronomer could do to prepare for a transition to data science.

Kavli Prize Lecture: Michael E. Brown, California Institute of Technology, "Tales from the Outer Solar System"
March 5, 2015 | Adler Planetarium | 7:30 PM
 

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Join us on Thursday, March 5, from 7:30 to 9:30 pm for the first Kavli Prize Lecture and Q&A session by 2012 Kavli Prize Laureate in Astrophysics, Michael E. Brown, from the California Institute of Technology. Following the Q&A portion of the lecture guests will have a chance to interact with Michael Brown and Adler astronomers during a reception in the Welcome Gallery. Coffee and refreshments will be served. The past decade has seen an explosion in the discoveries of Pluto-sized and near Pluto-sized bodies in the outer Solar System, giving rise to a new classification of "dwarf planets." Like Pluto, each of these largest dwarf planets has a unique story to tell about the history and evolution of the Solar System. Dr. Brown will discuss the discoveries of these objects and the new views of giant collisions, stellar encounters, and planetary rearrangement that we are gaining from their study. Finally, he will show intriguing new evidence that there is an even larger object lurking far beyond these dwarf planets. This object, if we can find it, will finally silence the lingering questions about Pluto and planethood, for this object, if we can find it, will be the new rightful 9th planet.

Michael E. Brown has been a professor of planetary astronomy at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) since 2003. His team has discovered many trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs), notably the dwarf planet Eris, the only known TNO more massive than Pluto. He has referred to himself as the man who "killed Pluto", because he furthered Pluto being downgraded to a dwarf planet in the aftermath of the discovery of Eris and several other probable trans-Neptunian dwarf planets. He is the author of How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming, published in 2010.

There will be a live domecast of this presentation to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, the Peoria Riverfront Museum, and the Flandrau Planetarium in Tucson, Arizona.

Karen Kolb Flude, Aging with Ease, Forward Chicago, "Astrophysics for Older Adults"
March 5, 2015 | LASR conference room | 10:00 AM
 

The KICP has a substantial astronomy/physics/cosmology outreach effort underway at Chicago City Senior Centers, in which we've brought astronomy and physics content to ~200 seniors free of charge, followed by subsidized field trips to the Adler Planetarium. If you think you might be interested in participating, this is the perfect opportunity to get involved. The session will be led by gerontologist Karen Kolb Flude, gerontologist, and KICP postdoc Daniel Grin, on Thursday March 5th, 10 AM-12 PM, in the LASR Building, in the central conference room. The session will begin with a short overview of our existing program. We'll then hear from Karen Flude about the motivation for lifelong learning and senior outreach, the specific challenges seniors face worldwide, and then some important tools for participating in senior outreach effectively. The session will wrap up with an opportunity for attendees to show the group any existing presentation material and then get helpful feedback on tailoring it to a senior citizen audience.

CMB Spectral Distortion Workshop
May 18 - 20, 2015 | Chicago, IL
 

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The Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics (KICP) at the University of Chicago is hosting a workshop on CMB spectral distortions.

The frequency spectrum of the Cosmic Microwave Background has been shown to be a blackbody to a precision of 50 parts per million. However, at higher sensitivity the CMB is expected to show distortions from the blackbody shape. These distortions contain the signatures of energy-releasing processes in the early universe. A new experiment could improve the sensitivity to distortions by a factor of 1000 or more, opening a new window into the physics of the early universe.

This workshop will explore the science potential and design requirements for such an experiment. A series of working sessions will examine the spectral signatures from different effects, instrument trades to reach different sensitivity levels, and data analysis techniques to maximize the science return from the spatial/spectral maps.

The conference will be three days, Monday May 18 through Wednesday May 20.
  • The first day, Monday, will include an overview of the scientific questions accessible with CMB spectral distortion measurements, both from a theoretical and experimental perspective. These include predictions for the type and amplitude of distortions due to specific energy inputs in the early universe as well as predictions for the competing Galactic foreground emission. Experimental considerations include the sensitivity and accuracy of possible instruments and the trade space for optimization.
  • The second day, Tuesday, will consist of splinter sessions followed by short plenary reports. The goal is to allow workshop participants to exchange ideas and potentially develop collaborations for future research. Each splinter session will have a workshop leader who will give a brief splinter report. Reports from earlier sessions will inform and modify later sessions as freewheeling discussion leads to new critical topics. The topics for the splinter sessions are open for modification. The last topic of the Monday program is to update the splinter session topics. Suggestions for additional topics are invited.
  • The third day, Wednesday, will consist of topical reviews of the activities leading into a discussion of priorities for future research, both theoretical and experimental.