2009 - 2010

Dr. Doug Welch: "Light Echo: Personal Reflections by Astronomer Doug Welch on Supernova Light Echoes"

When Oct 15, 2009
from 08:00 PM to 10:00 PM
Where Chester New Hall (CNH) Room 104
Add event to calendar vCal
iCal

Doug Welch

Dr. Doug Welch
McMaster University
OI International Year of Astronomy Lecturer

Download the official lecture poster (PDF)
Watch the video recording of this lecture

Doug Welch completed his Ph.D. in Astronomy and Astrophysics from the University of Toronto in 1985. He was an NSERC Visiting Fellow and a Research Associate at the National Research Council's Dominion Astrophysical Observatory in Victoria, British Columbia from 1985 to 1988. In September 1988, he arrived at McMaster as an Assistant Professor and NSERC University Research Fellow. At present, he is a Professor in the Department of Physics & Astronomy. To date, he has supervised five Ph.D. and four M.Sc. students. During 2006 and 2007 he served as the Chair of the Board of the Gemini Observatory. The current research interests of Dr. Welch include supernovae, the extragalactic distance scale, dark matter studies using microlensing, and variable stars. His work with the MACHO Project has involved the analysis and characterization of pulsating variable stars. He has been a Co-Investigator on several successful Hubble Space Telescope proposals and is a frequent user of offshore national facilities.

Dr. William Harris: "Galileo, Shakespeare and van Gogh: Creative Reactions to the End of the World"

When Oct 21, 2009
from 08:00 PM to 10:00 PM
Where Chester New Hall (CNH) Room 104
Add event to calendar vCal
iCal

William Harris

Dr. William Harris
McMaster University
OI International Year of Astronomy Lecturer

Download the official lecture poster (PDF)
Watch the video recording of this lecture.

Four hundred years ago, Galileo made startling discoveries with the new telescope that dramatically changed the course of science and western culture. Modern-day astrophysics has see a flood of equally amazing findings including the discoveries of hundreds of planets around nearby stars; the expanding universe; and giant black holes at the centers of galaxies. This talk will explain how we got here from Galileo's work, and how writers, artists, and thinkers have reacted to these universe-changing events in different ways over the course of history -- a story of exhilaration, fear, depression, awe, and most of all, beauty.

Speaker backgroundBill Harris has been a Professor of Physics and Astronomy at McMaster since 1976 and one of the originators of our astrophysics program. He did his PhD studies at the University of Toronto, was elected as a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2004, and currently holds a Killam Foundation Research Fellowship. Dr. Harris has a long record of teaching and speaking to student and pubic audiences, and this talk especially intended for IYA 2009 draws on both his scientific training and a lifelong interest in history and the connections among science, culture and the humanities.

Dr. Fernando Quevedo: "String Theory and the Real World?"

When Oct 28, 2009
from 08:00 PM to 10:00 PM
Where CNH-104
Add event to calendar vCal
iCal

Fernando Quevedo

Dr. Fernando Quevedo
DAMTP, University of Cambridge

Download the official lecture poster (PDF)

String theory is the most promising candidate for a fundamental theory of the universe. But, after more than 25 years of intense work, what have we learned about our universe, or others, from this theory? Is it possible to test string theory with current and future experiments, either on particle accelerators, such as LHC, or observations about the early universe? In this lecture I will survey recent progress towards answering these and other questions.

Speaker backgroundGuatemalan high energy theoretical physicists. Undergraduate degree in Guatemala, PhD in UT Austin (under Steven Weinberg, Nobel prize 1979) in 1986. Research appointments at CERN, McGill, Los Alamos, Neuchatel. Professor at UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico), Mexico (1997-1998). In Cambridge since 1998 where he is Professor of Theoretical Physics and fellow of Gonville and Caius College. Starting in November 2009 he will be the new director of ICTP (International Centre for Theoretical Physics), Trieste, Italy. He works on string theory, phenomenology and cosmology.

Dr. Roberto Abraham: "From Cosmic Dawn to the First Planets: The Rise of Complexity"

When Nov 17, 2009
from 08:00 PM to 10:00 PM
Where Chester New Hall (CNH) Room 104
Add event to calendar vCal
iCal

Roberto Abraham

Dr. Roberto Abraham
University of Toronto
OI International Year of Astronomy Lecturer

Watch the video recording of this lecture

The universe soon after the Big Bang was a dark, bleak place, devoid of galaxies, stars, planets and even the basic elements of life. This cosmic dark age ended with "First Light" - the illumination produced by the first generation of stars and galaxies. We know almost nothing about these early objects except that they somehow began a cycle of cosmic birth, death and rebirth, in a chain reaction that ultimately resulted in the complex Universe seen around us today. In this lecture I will show how, after decades of searching, astronomers are now on the verge of finally observing the sources of First Light, using the latest generation of monster telescopes, both on Earth and in space. I will also highlight some recent work suggesting that we may now be detecting light from the formation of solar systems in distant galaxies, thus witnessing the formation of planets billions of years before our own Earth came into existence.

Speaker backgroundDr. Roberto Abraham is a Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Toronto and the Principal Investigator of the Gemini Deep Deep Survey, an international project designed to study galaxies formed when the universe was only a few billion years old. His many awards include the E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellowship from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Canada Foundation for Innovation Career Award, and the University of Toronto's Outstanding Teaching Award.

Dr. Sean Carroll: "Remarkable Creatures: Epic Adventures in the Search for the Origins of Species"

When Nov 30, 2009
from 04:30 PM to 06:30 PM
Where Gilmour Hall Council Chambers
Add event to calendar vCal
iCal

Sean Carroll

Dr. Sean Carroll
University of Wisconsin, Molecular Biology and Genetics

Download the official lecture poster (PDF)

Sean Carroll is Professor of Molecular Biology and Genetics and Investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at the University of Wisconsin. Dr. Carroll's research has centered on those genes that control body patterns and play major roles in the evolution of animal diversity. He is the author of the new book Remarkable Creatures: Epic Adventures in the Search for the Origins of Species (2009), The Making of the Fittest (2006) which won the Phi Beta Kappa 2007 Science Book Award, and Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo (2005), which was a finalist for the 2005 Los Angeles Times Book Prize (Science and Technology). His first two books are the foundation for, and Dr. Carroll is the scientific consulting producer of, a new two-hour NOVA special that will be broadcast in fall 2009 on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Darwin's The Origin of Species.
Dr. Carroll is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has received the National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award, the Distinguished Service Award of the National Association of Biology Teachers, and the Viktor Hamburger Outstanding Educator Award from the Society for Developmental Biology.
Dr. Carroll earned his B.A. in Biology at Washington University in St. Louis, his Ph.D. in Immunology at Tufts Medical School, and carried out his postdoctoral research at the University of Colorado-Boulder. He has also received an honorary Doctor of Science from the University of Minnesota.

Dr. Christian Marois: "Celebrating 400 years of the telescope with the first image of another Solar System"

When Feb 03, 2010
from 08:00 PM to 10:00 PM
Where TSH-120
Add event to calendar vCal
iCal

Christian Marois

Dr. Christian Marois
NRC, Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics

Are there Earth-like planets orbiting other stars? Is there life elsewhere in the Universe? Humanity has been waiting for more than 2,000 years for an answer to these questions. With his invention, the telescope, Galileo Galilei saw for the first time another “mini” planetary system – it was Jupiter and its moons. After 400 years of technological achievements, we now have large enough telescopes and good enough instruments to directly image planets orbiting other stars.
For the past 8 years, my team and I have been using the world’s biggest telescopes to search for planets orbiting nearby young stars. I will describe the path that we have followed that led, in 2008, to a breakthrough discovery – the first images of a multi-planet system. This three Jupiter-like planets system, called HR 8799bcd, is located 130 light years from Earth. This detection marks a crucial first step in the ultimate quest of finding a life-sustaining Earth-like planet orbiting another star.

Speaker backgroundDr Marois completed his Ph.D. at the Université de Montréal in 2004. The main topic of his thesis work was speckle/noise suppression for direct exoplanet imaging using advance image processing techniques. After completing his first postdoctoral project at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and a brief research assignment at the University of California Berkeley late 2007, he became a research associate early 2008 at the NRC Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics. He now splits his research time between developing the next generation exoplanet imager, the Gemini Planet Imager, and pursuing an exoplanet imaging survey using currently available instruments. In 2008, Dr Marois led the team that took the first image of another planetary system, the HR 8799bcd three planets system. This achievement was selected as the runner-up for best scientific discovery of 2008 by the prestigious Science magazine. Dr Marois and his Canadian collaborators were also named the “2008 scientist of the year”, a distinction given annually by the French CBC station.

Dr. Ralph Pudritz: "From First Stars to First Life"

When Mar 24, 2010
from 08:00 PM to 10:00 PM
Where TSH-120
Add event to calendar vCal
iCal

Ralph Pudritz

Dr. Ralph Pudritz
McMaster University, Origins Institute, and Physics & Astronomy

Download the official lecture poster (PDF)

How did life arise on Earth? Are we alone? These are among the oldest and most profound human questions. Life as we know it requires rocky planets that have liquid water and carbon rich molecules such as amino acids – the building blocks of proteins. All of these basic ingredients for life are the products of the formation and evolution of stars. This talk will trace the remarkable story of how star formation, that first appeared 400 million years after the Big Bang, has prepared the cosmos to build planets that are equipped with the basic ingredients for life. We’ll then address some of the basic steps that may be taken on planets everywhere towards building their first cells and genetic codes.

Speaker backgroundRalph Pudritz received his Ph.D. in Physics in 1980 from the University of British Columbia. He then left Canada to take up an NSERC postdoctoral Fellowship at the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Cambridge, followed by further postdoctoral research at Berkeley and the Johns Hopkins University. He joined the faculty of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at McMaster in 1986. His research focuses on the origins of stars and planets, as well as topics in Astrobiology. He was the chair of Canada’s decadal review of Astronomy and Astrophysics in 2000 that produced the basic roadmap for Canada’s participation in many new international observatories. In 2004, he founded and is the Director of McMaster’s Origins Institute.