Talks & Events
Workshops & Events
Current & Future
Physics colloquium: Stephan Meyer, University of Chicago, "First results from the Fermilab Holometer testing space-time correlations at the Planck scale"
Science on the Screen: "The Martian" Film Screening and Discussion with UChicago planetary science experts
Watch a screening of 'The Martian' and join the discussion afterwards about Mars, icy moons and exoplanets with University of Chicago geophysical and planetary scientists Edwin Kite and Mohit Melwani Daswani moderated by Andy Davis, Chair and Professor of the Department of Geophysical Sciences.
Following are some of the topics and questions the panel will address:
Galactic cosmic radiation
Why is the air thin? (dust storm; launch of Mars Ascent Vehicle)
Why Watney is on Mars? (sample return vs. in-situ analysis)
Soil chemistry (growing potatoes)
Robot-human interaction (do we need humans?)
Pedro M.P. Raposo, Adler Planetarium, "Astronomy between solemnity and spectacle: the Adler Planetarium and the Chicago world exhibitions of 1893 and 1933-4"
Chicago hosted two epoch-making world exhibitions: the World´s Columbian Exposition of 1893, and the Century of Progress Exposition of 1933-4. Astronomy was well represented at the Columbian Exposition, with an exhibit about the US Naval Observatory, and a significant number of astronomical instruments, photographs, drawings and publications on display at the Manufactures and Liberal Arts Building. But it was even more prominent in the Century of Progress Exposition. The latter opened with a spectacular stunt in which light from the star Arcturus was used to turn on the lights of the exposition. A building named Hall of Science hosted exhibitions covering several branches of scientific knowledge, but astronomy had its focal point in the Adler Planetarium, which had been inaugurated in 1930. Concerned about the new institution becoming a mere venue for scientific entertainment, the founders of the Adler Planetarium had purchased a remarkable collection of antique scientific instruments. By doing so, they hoped that the Planetarium would rank alongside with the leading science museums in Europe. Century of Progress provided an opportunity for the Adler Planetarium to seek an appropriate balance between spectacle and cultural credibility, while affirming itself as a full-fledged astronomy museum. In this paper I will address the ways astronomy was presented in the 1893 and 1933-4 world exhibitions, in order to analyze i) the opportunities and challenges involved in the rise of modern planetaria, and particularly in the establishment of the Adler Planetarium, the first institution of its kind in America; ii) more generally, the role of planetaria and world exhibitions in shaping a public image for astronomy and astrophysics.
Pedro M. P. Raposo is a curator at Adler Planetarium, Chicago. He holds a doctoral degree in History of Science by the University of Oxford. Prior to his appointment at the Adler Planetarium, Pedro was an education and outreach officer at the Astronomical Observatory of Lisbon; a Magellan Scholar at St. Catherine’s College, Oxford; a research associate of the Oxford Museum of the History of Science; a post-doctoral fellow at the CIUHCT - Inter-University Centre for the History of Science and Technology, Lisbon; an associate lecturer at the University of Lisbon; and a visiting scholar at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin. Pedro’s current research interests include the history of celestial cartography, the history of modern planetaria, and the material culture of timekeeping.
Computations in Science Seminar: Carlo Graziani, University of Chicago, "The Biermann Catastrophe in Numerical MHD"
The Biermann Battery effect is frequently invoked in cosmic magnetogenesis and in High-Energy Density laboratory physics experiments. Unfortunately, it has recently been noticed that direct implementations of the Biermann effect in MHD codes produce unphysical magnetic fields at shocks, whose value does not converge with resolution. This convergence breakdown, which has affected all Eulerian and Lagrangian MHD codes implementing the Biermann effect, is due to naive discretization, which fails to account for the fact that discretized irrotational vector fields have spurious solenoidal components that grow without bound near a discontinuity. I show that careful consideration of the kinetics of ion viscous shocks leads to a formulation of the Biermann effect that gives rise to a convergent algorithm. I also note a novel physical effect: a resistive magnetic precursor in which Biermann-generated field in the shock "leaks" resisti! vely upst ream. The effect appears to be potentially observable in experiments at laser facilities.
Francis Halzen, "Ice Fishing for Neutrinos"
Francis Halzen, 2015-2016 Brinson Lecturer
Francis Halzen is a theoretical physicist who works at the interface of particle physics, astrophysics and cosmology. He is the Principal Investigator for IceCube, the world's largest neutrino detector, the Director of the Institute for Elementary Particle Physics, and the Hilldale and Gregory Breit Distinguished Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Among his recent honours are the 2015 Balzan Prize, the European Physical Society Prize for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology in 2015; the Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award for Physical Sciences in 2014; the Physics World Breakthrough of the Year Award for making the first observation of cosmic neutrinos; and the International Hemholtz Award of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in Germany.
2015-2016 Brinson Lecture: "Ice Fishing for Neutrinos"
IceCube is a strange telescope which looks down rather then up. It is located at the South Pole and it is BIG (a cubic kilometer) with eighty-six holes over 1.5 miles deep melted into the Antarctic icecap. IceCube recently discovered a flux of neutrinos reaching us from deep in the cosmos, with energies more than a million times greater then those humans can produce in accelerators. These energetic neutrinos are astronomical messengers from some of the most violent processes in the universe including: starbursts, giant black holes gobbling up stars in the heart of quasars and gamma-ray bursts, the biggest explosions since the Big Bang. We will explore the IceCube telescope, its recent scientific results, and working at the South Pole.
This event is co-sponsored by the University of Chicago and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
LIGO update on the search for gravitational waves
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the first publication of Albert Einstein's prediction of the existence of gravitational waves, which are ripples in the fabric of spacetime. The advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) has been designed to search for these waves, and has just finished its first science run.
We will be hosting an event to provide an update on efforts to detect gravitational waves. The event will begin with a live stream of a press conference hosted by the National Science Foundation, immediately followed by a Q&A panel led by Associate Professor and LIGO member Daniel Holz and featuring Ben Farr, McCormick Postdoctoral Fellow in the Enrico Fermi Institute; Hsin-Yu Chen, graduate student in the Astronomy & Astrophysics; and Zoheyr Doctor, graduate student in Physics.
I hope you are able to join us for coffee and a live stream of a press conference and the discussion.
*Dean of the Physical Sciences*
Physics colloquium: Daniel Holz, University of Chicago, "Update on LIGO and Gravitational Waves"
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the first publication of Albert Einstein’s prediction of the existence of gravitational waves. The advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) has been designed to search for these waves. We will provide an update.
C2ST Speakeasy: Ritoban Basu Thakur, "Dark Matter -- The Dark Path to our Being"
Everything we see today, our precious atoms and molecules, got here by traveling on swaths dark matter. From the oscillations of the hot plasma of the primordial universe, to the formation and dynamics of modern galaxies, dark matter plays a necessary role. The very construct in which we sit is defined by its abundance. Our universe’s evolution is controlled tightly by a cosmic tug-of-war between dark matter and dark energy. Thus understanding dark matter is not only important to explain the past and the present, but also the future trajectory of our universe. It has been over 80 years since its discovery, and we have yet to “see” dark matter directly. This talk will discuss how we came to know about dark matter and the multitude of concordant observations. Next, we will discuss our best ideas regarding the nature of dark matter and detection strategies being pursued world-wide.
Dr. Ritoban Basu Thakur is an experimental cosmologist at the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics (KICP), at the University of Chicago. His research focuses on understanding early universe physics by precise measurements of the cosmic microwave background, and progressing experimental techniques toward terrestrial detection of dark matter. To this end, he is developing novel detectors and analyzing observational data collected via these detectors. Dr. Basu Thakur obtained his PhD in Physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. The crux of his PhD research, on dark matter, was carried out at the Fermilab Center for Particle Atrophysics. He was URA fellow and graduate student association officer at Fermilab. He got his B.S. in Physics, and graduated Phi Beta Kappa (liberal arts and sciences) from Dickinson College.
KICP workshop: "Cosmology Using Low Resolution Spectroscopy in the 2020s"
The Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics (KICP) at the University of Chicago is hosting a workshop "Cosmology Using Low Resolution Spectroscopy in the 2020s" on February 16-17, 2016. The goal of this workshop is to evaluate the cosmological impact of future wide field low-resolution spectroscopic surveys. All of the top surveys will be represented, and the many cosmological studies that these surveys will allow will be discussed.
Winter 2016 Postdocs Symposium
KICP workshop: Next-Generation Techniques for Ultra-High Energy (UHE) Astroparticle Physics
The Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics (KICP) at the University of Chicago is hosting a workshop this winter on the Next-Generation Techniques for Ultra-High Energy (UHE) Astroparticle Physics. The origin of the most energetic particles in the universe could be related to extremely energetic astronomical phenomena or other exotic processes, such as the decay of the super-heavy dark matter in the halo of our galaxy or topological defects created in an early phase of the development of the universe. In order to clarify their origin, it is essential to develop next-generation techniques for detection of their particles by large amounts of statistics. The workshop will address the road map and near-future prospects of cosmic rays and neutrinos above the PeV scale. Included topics are reviews of the latest results, upcoming detectors and techniques, and related theory topics. The anticipated structure is a series of presentations with ample time for discussion and working sessions.
Computations in Science Seminar: Daniel Hooper, Fermilab, "Uncovering the particle nature of dark matter"
A wide range of observations support the conclusion that most of the matter in our universe is not made of protons, neutrons, or electrons, but of some other substance or substances that do not interact electromagnetically or through the strong nuclear force. For a lack of a better name, we simply call this stuff "dark matter". I'll discuss some of our best hypotheses for what dark matter might be made of, and the experimental program designed to test this list of possibilities. I'll focus in particular on searches for dark matter annihilation products using gamma-ray telescope, which may have already seen the first evidence of particle dark matter interactions.
Anthony Scopatz, University of South Carolina, "Non-judgmental Code-to-Code Comparisons with Gaussian Processes and Dynamic Time Warping"
This talk presents a non-judgmental analysis methodology that couples Gaussian process regression, a popular technique in Machine Learning, to dynamic time warping, a mechanism widely used in speech recognition. This method is intended to be used for code-to-code comparisons and benchmark studies for which no 'true' validation data exists or when validated data is sparse. Predictive climate models and the nuclear fuel cycle are both examples of where this method may be useful.
Together Gaussian processes and dynamic time warping generate figures-of-merit for a suite of simulator results or derived metrics. These figures-of-merit have the advantage that they reduce the dimensionality of comparison to a scalar. The figures-of-merit account for uncertainty in the metric itself, utilize information across the input parameter domain, and do not require that the simulators use a common grid for the independent variables. This talk defines a distance measure that can be used to compare the performance of each simulator for a given metric. Additionally, a contribution measure is derived from the distance measure that can be used to rank order the impact of different partitions for a total metric. This talk also warns against using standard signal processing techniques for error reduction, as error reduction is better handled by the Gaussian process regression itself.
This talk will walk through a representative code-to-code comparison for nuclear fuel cycle time series obtained via the DYMOND and Cyclus simulators. Additionally, potential modifications of the method for spatial warping will also be presented.
Cafe Scientifique: Erik Shirokoff, "Using nano-scale devices at the South Pole to study the most distant objects in the Universe"
Broader Horizons: Joshua Carter, quantitative analyst at Citadel in Chicago
UChicago Conference: "Space: Speculation and Exploration"
The University of Chicago's Conference titled "Space: Speculation and Exploration" is a day long event, hosting speakers from across the country. The conference aims to inspire public fascination and contemplation of the universe by connecting renowned professors and experts on space from various fields of science, economics, politics, and fiction with University of Chicago students and community members.
Robert Rosner- University of Chicago Professor in Astronomy and Astrophysics and Physics
Jay M. Pasachoff- Williams College Professor in Astronomy
Brian Fields- University of Illinois Professor in Astronomy
Grace Wolf-Chase- Adler Planetarium Astronomer
Zoltan G. Levay - Imaging Group Lead in the Office of Public Outreach at Space Telescope Science Institute
Scott Sandford- NASA Astrophysicist
BUSINESS AND POLITICS PANEL
Eligar Sadeh- CEO of Astroconsulting
Charles Blandchard- former General Counsel of the Air Force and the Army
David Livingston- Host of The Space Show
Eric S. Rabkin- University of Michigan Professor of English Language and Literature and Professor of Art & Design
Robert J. Scherrer- Vanderbilt University Professor and Chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy and science fiction blogger
John Hemry- New York Times Best Selling Author of The Lost Fleet series
Robert Buettner- National Bestselling Author of Jason Wander and Orphan's Legacy series
Joshua Frieman in the Deborah Stratman film "The Illinois Parables"
For the last 25 years, Deborah Stratman (BFA 1990) has explored the landscape of our national history and psyche in riveting films, sculpture, sound, and public works. With THE ILLINOIS PARABLES, she turns her attention to the “American microcosm” and its storied past. Bracketed by sweeping aerial shots of the state’s ancient prairies and waterways, Stratman spins eleven tales of natural disaster, messianic devotion, technological breakthrough, government resistance, and unsolved mystery. Together, these stories ask how the systems of belief they represent have shaped how we see the land, ourselves, and our nation. 16mm. (Amy Beste)
The World’s Oldest Computer: The Antikythera Mechanis
More than 21 centuries ago, Greek scientists created a mechanism that used brass gearwheels to predict the movements of the sun, the moon, and probably most of the planets, essentially inventing the world's first computer.
Found by Greek sponge divers in an ancient shipwreck, its corroded remnants, now known as the Antikythera Mechanism give us fresh insights into history and challenge our assumptions about technology transfer over the ages.
Dr. John Seiradakis, Radio Astronomer and Physics Professor at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, will discuss the work of an international team of experts who used 21st century technology to decode the truth behind the world's first computer.
This program will also feature the artwork of two local artists inspired by the Antikythera Mechanism: Terry Poulos and Keith Skogstrom.
Astronomy Conversations Training Session
SVL and Astronomy Conversations
Chicago Astronomy on Tap
Astrophysics for Older Adults
Beginning in 2013, the KICP has developed an astrophysics outreach effort to older adults (formerly known as senior citizens). This program has brought fundamental and cutting-edge content in astronomy to older adults at Chicago senior centers, retirement homes, and public libraries. The material has been presented by graduate students, postdocs, and faculty at the KICP, the University of Chicago's Astronomy/Astrophysics Department, Physics Department, and even broader pool including biologists at the UofC, as well as scientists at FermiLab, the Adler Planetarium, and the Field Museum. After briefly introducing the program, we'll cover how to effectively reach out to this audience. This event is a perfect entry point to participate in the program! After a ~1 hour presentation, participants will have an opportunity to present slides for critique and improvement, and discuss the program more informally.
Dark Matter Hub workshop
This hub meeting will focus on direct detection. After the talks, we will have a discussion at the end on possible new directions to pursue and cooperate.
KICP workshop: Photometric Classification of SNIA
The Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics (KICP) at the University of Chicago is hosting a workshop on the Photometric Classification of SNIA on April 28-29, 2016. This workshop will focus on Photometric classification methods and validation techniques for large SNIA data samples. The emphasis will be on defining samples that can be used to measure cosmological parameters, rate vs redshift, and SN-host correlations.
Kavli Lecture: Michael Turner, "From The Big Bang To The Multiverse & Beyond"
Lecture Flyer [PDF]
7:30 pm - 9:00 pm: Lecture and Q&A Session
9:00 pm - 10:00 pm: Speaker Reception with Refreshments
Presented by The Kavli Foundation
The Kavli Foundation fulldome lecture will be streamed live at fourteen other institutions including the American Museum of Natural History (NY, NY), the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and the Pacific Science Center (Seattle, WA). This dome-cast will allow audiences across the country to immerse themselves in the presentation in real time and ask questions.
We know the Universe began 13.7 billion years ago in an explosion of space called the Big Bang. We also know that the gravity of dark matter created the galaxies and other cosmic structures we see today from tiny quantum fluctuations that arose just after the Big Bang. Yet some big questions remain.
Is our Universe part of a larger multiverse? What is speeding up the expansion of the Universe? These are the mysteries that inspire cosmologists today. In a dazzling, fulldome presentation, this presentation will illustrate what we know and how we know it, as well as the big ideas and puzzles of cosmology today.
On May 5, the University of Chicago's Michael Turner will explore some of the biggest mysteries in modern cosmology.
About Michael Turner
Michael S. Turner is a theoretical astrophysicist and the Bruce V. and Diana M. Rauner Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago. He is also Director of the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics at Chicago. Turner helped to pioneer the interdisciplinary field of particle astrophysics and cosmology, and has made seminal contributions to the current cosmological paradigm known as "LambdaCDM", including the prediction of cosmic acceleration. His current research interests are dark matter, dark energy and inflation. Turner has won numerous prizes and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences.
About the Kavli Fulldome Lecture Series
The Kavli Fulldome Lecture series takes audiences on a journey to the very edges of human knowledge. Adler experts and leading scientists work together to create dazzling, animated images of real data, which are projected onto the planetarium dome during the lectures. Audiences don't have to imagine what an equation might tell us about the Universe’s distant past, they can travel back in time and see it with their own eyes.
Current list of institutions participating in the dome-cast:
Graduate Student Symposium
We are excited to invite you to the second KICP Graduate Student Symposium that will take place *May 12th from 12-2:00pm.* Last year was a great success and we hope that you will join us again this year. We will have tasty foods being served before we kick things off from 11:30 until 12
Broader Horizons: Korey Haynes, associate editor at Astronomy Magazine
After completing my PhD at George Mason University studying exoplanets, I joined the staff of Astronomy in December 2014. Astronomy is the largest general level magazine of its type, serving fans of both the science and hobby sides of the field. As an editor, I work closely with scientists and science writers to make stories ready for publication, write for print and the web, and manage large tracts of our website. I will talk about my experiences in the field, and address specifically the transition from scientist to science communicator.
The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty at 20: Prospects for Ratification and the Enduring Risks of Nuclear Testing
"The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty at 20: Prospects for Ratification and the Enduring Risks of Nuclear Testing"
Twenty years after the signing of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (ctbt) and creation of its accompanying organization, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (ctbto), the ctbt remains extremely relevant in the context of nuclear proliferation, deterrence, testing, and more. Yet challenges also remain that impede the ratification of the treaty and its entry into force. On Thursday, May 19, 2016, the American Academy invites you to participate in a discussion on nuclear testing and the prospects of the ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. Participants at the University of Chicago will watch a livestream of a panel discussion held at the American Academy's headquarters in Cambridge, MA, featuring the speakers listed below. Following the panel discussion, Rachel Bronson will moderate a dynamic discussion at the University of Chicago.
Executive Secretary, Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization
Rose E. Gottemoeller
Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security, U.S. Department of State
William E. Wrather Distinguished Service Professor in the Departments of Astronomy & Astrophysics and Physics, and the Enrico Fermi Institute and the Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago
Senior Fellow, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies; Research Professor of Management Science and Engineering, Stanford University
Correspondent, npr and wgbh
Executive Director & Publisher Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Featuring
Joan Schmelz, Acting Director of Arecibo Observatory and Director of the Solar Physics Lab at the University of Memphis, "Unconscious Bias in Hiring, Promotions, and Tenure"
Spring 2016 Postdocs Symposium
The Future of Cosmological Physics: Scott Dodelson, "Cosmic Coda"
All talks will take place in the Eckhardt Auditorium, 3-5PM, with discussion and reception to follow.
"Observing Einstein's Outrageous Universe", Short Course for Museum & Planetarium Staff
Observing Einstein's Outrageous Universe: Gravitational Waves, Black Holes, Neutron Stars, Gravitational Lenses and the Big Bang
Who Should Attend: Museum & Planetarium Staff
What to Expect:
A century ago Einstein put forth his theory of gravity. For the first 50 years it was an exotic theory with many untestable predictions thought to be irrelevant to our Universe. Beginning 50 years ago with the discovery of quasars and the cosmic microwave background (CMB), it has become clear that we live in Einstein’s Universe where the extraordinary is now the ordinary and his theory is in full bloom. To study the Universe today you have to understand the cosmic implications of Einstein's theory. We will focus on observable aspects of some of the most outrageous and compelling predictions of general relativity. These predictions include black holes, gravitational waves, gravitational lensing, and the Big Bang. We will explore the recent detection of gravitational waves from the merger of black holes 30 times the mass of our Sun, the spectacular fireworks associated with the death of stars and the formation of neutron stars and black holes, precise measurements of properties of the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy, the bending of light due to the gravity of clusters of galaxies, and how we learn about the origin of space, time, and the earliest moments of the Universe.