KICP Lectures, Talks, & Events, 2011
KICP @ 2011 NSTA National Conference on Science Education "Celebrating the Joy of Science"
March 10 - 13, 2011 | San Francisco, CA
2011 NSTA National Conference in in San Francisco
March 10-13, 2011
Thursday, March 10 @ 3:30-4:30 PM
From zines to art installations, this collaboration between the School of the Art Institute and the University of Chicago offers unique STEM learning opportunities.
Presenter(s): Kathryn Schaffer (KICP/UC/SAIC), Randall H. Landsberg (University of Chicago/KICP), Douglas Pancoast (School of the Art Institute of Chicago: Chicago, IL).

Edgy Science 4
Saturday, March 12 @ 12:30-1:30 PM
Physics Frontier Centers (PFCs) provide a smorgasbord of demos and activities based on the latest research in cosmology and biophysics, from bacteria to the Big Bang.
Presenter(s): Kathryn Schaffer (KICP/UC/SAIC), Christopher M. Smith (University of California: San Diego, CA); Daniel Hone (University of California: Santa Barbara, CA); Sharlene Denos (University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign: Urbana, IL).

Related Links:
KICP Members: Randall H. Landsberg; Kathryn K. Schaffer
KICP open house for prospective graduate students
April 8, 2011 | 1:30 PM | LASR conference room
This Friday, April 8, is the physics department prospective graduate student open house. Students interested in astrophysics will join us for a discussion of KICP activities and research opportunities at 1:30PM in the LASR conference room. After the discussions the students will have time to meet with people individually.
Cafe Scientifique: Dan Hooper, "Our Dark Cosmos"
April 18, 2011 | 7:00 PM | Map Room - 1949 North Hoyne Ave Chicago, IL
Everyone knows that there are things that no one can see -- the air you're breathing or a black hole, for example. But recently, cosmologists have come to realize that what we can see makes up only 5 percent of the mass and energy of our Universe. The rest is totally invisible to us. The invisible stuff comes in two varieties - dark matter and dark energy. One holds the Universe together while the other tears it apart. What these forces really are has been a mystery for as long as anyone has suspected they were there, but the latest discoveries of experimental physics have brought us closer to that knowledge.

Related Links:
KICP Members: Daniel Hooper; Randall H. Landsberg
73th Compton Lectures: Nahee Park, "99 years of discovery: What is our current picture of cosmic rays?"
May 14, 2011 | 11:00 AM | Kersten Physics Teaching Center, Room 106
We are living in a great era supplied with a continuous flow of new discoveries about the universe. There are several telescopes on the ground and in space providing beautiful pictures generated with the light coming from the stars, galaxies and different parts of the universe. However, light is not the only messenger. There are particles coming from the universe - from our galaxy and likely from outside of our galaxy. Since Victor Hess's discovery of these alien particles, which were later named "Cosmic Rays", 99 years have passed. There are many questions about Cosmic Rays: Where are these coming from? How and where do they gain their energy? Can our knowledge of the universe provide sufficient mechanisms to explain what we’ve measured on Earth? Since the discovery, there have been numerous experimental and theoretical efforts to answer these questions. Much significant progress has been made here in Chicago by lots of scientists, including Arthur Holly Compton, for whom the lecture series is named. Now, just one year short of the centennial of discovery, how are we doing withall these questions? During this season's Compton lecture series, we will talk about what kind of knowledge we can gain by looking at Cosmic Rays, and we will take a look at our current picture of Cosmic Rays. Also, we will find how the knowledge obtained from light and particles can complement our understanding of the universe.

Related Links:
KICP Members: Nahee Park
Josh Frieman, "The Dark Universe"
June 9, 2011 | 7:00 PM | Adler Planetarium

Over the last decade, cosmologists have made remarkable discoveries about our Universe: only 4% of the Universe is made of ordinary matter---atoms, molecules, etc. The other 96% is dark, in a form totally unlike anything with which we are familiar. Dark Matter, which makes up about a quarter of the Universe, holds galaxies together and is the key ingredient in their formation. The remaining three quarters of the Universe is composed of Dark Energy, a mysterious substance that is causing the expansion of the Universe to speed up. This presentation will introduce the Dark Universe, overview what we've learned about it, describe new experiments and observatories that will aim to solve these enigmas, and will include a virtual full-dome tour of the large- scale Universe revealed by recent cosmic sky surveys.

Josh Frieman is a senior staff scientist at the Fermilab Center for Particle Astrophysics and Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics and member of the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics at the University of Chicago. He currently directs the Dark Energy Survey, a collaboration of over 120 scientists from 20 institutions on 3 continents, which is building a 570 Megapixel camera for a telescope in Chile to probe the origin of cosmic acceleration.

Related Links:
KICP Members: Joshua A. Frieman; Mark Subbarao
Scientific projects: Dark Energy Survey (DES)
Cafe Scientifique: Chris Lintott, "Why we need you to save science"
June 20, 2011 | 7:00 PM | Map Room - 1949 North Hoyne Ave Chicago, IL
Scientists have become too good at their jobs. For much of the last 400 years, our ability to understand the Universe has been limited by the data we could obtain about it, but now in many fields we're limited by the use we can make of that data. One of the most innovative responses to this deluge of data is to throw open the doors and invite everyone to make a real contribution to science. Astronomer Chris Lintott, founder of, the largest and most successful set of projects to do just that, will explain how you could rescue climate data, read ancient papyri, surf through the Milky Way or even discover your own planet.

Related Links:
KICP Members: Randall H. Landsberg
74th Compton Lectures: Mark Wyman, "Before the beginning to after the end"
October 1 - December 10, 2011 | 11:00 AM | KPTC 106
October 1, 2011 @ 11 am
October 8, 2011 @ 11 am
October 15, 2011 @ 11 am
October 22, 2011 @ 11 am
October 29, 2011 @ 11 am
November 5, 2011 @ 11 am
November 12, 2011 @ 11 am
November 19, 2011 @ 11 am
December 10, 2011 @ 11 am

We will hear the tale of the Cosmos, beginning with the epoch before the Big Bang and concluding with extrapolations into the far future. We will begin with the first fourteen billion years of cosmological history, explaining how theorists and observers have worked together to establish a consensus model for cosmology. We can now account for most of what we see in the cosmos with just six numbers. But, cosmology is not yet finished: our inability to connect this model to fundamental physics is leading us into crisis. In the second half of the series, we'll learn about these crises of contemporary cosmology -- and hear some speculations about how they might be resolved. History will look back on these years as the golden age of cosmology. Cosmological observations have never been better. Theory has rarely been more confused. Dr. Wyman will provide a glimpse into the minds of today's cosmologists: towards what they are bending their thoughts and what kinds of radical breakthroughs they hope to discover.

Related Links:
KICP Members: Mark Wyman
KICP at GLPA Conference: Randall H. Landsberg, Tom Plagge, Mark SubbaRao, Fredrick W. High, "The Hunt for Dark Energy"
October 20, 2011 | 3:30 PM | Staerkel Planetarium at Parkland College, in Champaign, IL
Dark Energy dominating the composition of the Universe (72%) has become an accepted story. However, no one knows what this strange stuff is, as it is really different then anything that we are familiar with. Join us for an insider's view of on going experiments that seek to characterize Dark Energy. Learn the gritty and amazing details of a multipronged approach to get a handle on this weird stuff and take away visuals, stories, and science that you can use back at your home institution.

Related Links:
KICP Members: Fredrick W. High; Randall H. Landsberg; Tom Plagge; Mark Subbarao
Chicago Humanities Festival: Rocky Kolb, "Telescopes: The Long Lens of History"
October 23, 2011 | 2:30 PM | The Law School, Glen A. Lloyd Auditorium

For over 400 years, the telescope has been an indispensible tool of scientific discovery, wielded by amateurs and luminaries alike in their eager explorations of the heavens. The telescope revealed the existence of our solar system's outer planets and brought us crisp images of approaching comets. It also radically changed our understanding of the universe and its boundaries. As telescopes have increased in size and power, astronomers have answered old questions and raised new ones about dark matter, distant planets, and the existence of other life forms. Rocky Kolb, chair of the University of Chicago's Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, uses the history of the telescope to take us on a journey through time, the cosmos, and human discovery.

Related Links:
KICP Members: Edward W. Kolb
John Mather, NASA, "James Webb Space Telescope: Science Opportunities and Mission Progress"
October 31, 2011 | 4:00 PM | KPTC 106
The James Webb Space Telescope, the planned successor for the Hubble Space Telescope and the Spitzer Space Telescope, is making excellent technical progress. It will carry four instruments to cover the wavelength range from 0.6 to 28 μm with imaging, spectroscopy, and coronography, and will have a deployable 6.5 m aperture telescope cooled to about 40 K. It will be launched by an Ariane 5 vehicle from French Guiana to reach an orbit around the Sun-Earth Lagrange point L2. Two of the flight instruments are completed and in test, all 18 of the beryllium primary mirror segments have been polished warm, and 5 of them have been coated with IR-reflecting gold. I will describe the scientific programs that future users are likely to propose, ranging from the first objects to form after the big bang, to the assembly of galaxies, the formation of stars, and the potential detection of planetary systems capable of supporting life. I will also outline the remaining work for the project, including testing the telescope and instrument package end-to-end at the gigantic vacuum chamber at Johnson Space Center, and developing and testing the deployable sunshield.
EFI Colloquium: Andrey Kravtsov, "The chemistry of galaxy formation"
November 7, 2011 | 4:15 PM | LASR conference room
I will discuss the current state of modeling galaxy formation in cosmological context of LCDM model and review both success and challenges of such modeling. Recent progress shows that we are quite close to understanding the main features of galaxy formation and origin of observed properties of galaxies, such morphology, baryon and dark matter connection, etc. I will argue that recent modeling results indicate that correct modeling of galaxy formation requires the right "chemistry" - a non-trivial mix of nonlinear processes - to be treated correctly. To this end, I will present a novel model of star formation based on non-equilibrium treatment of molecular hydrogen in self-consistent cosmological simulations of galaxy formation, including effects ofself-shielding and shielding by dust. The model predicts strong dependence of the global Kennicutt-Schmidt star formation relation on the metallicity of the interstellar medium of galaxies (and a weaker dependence on the interstellar UV field) and can explain recent results indicating inefficient star formation in high-redshift Damped Lyman alpha galaxies at z~3. General considerations and some preliminary simulation results indicate that low efficiency of star formation at high redshifts can have significant implications for galaxy formation and may help resolve many of the main problems and puzzles of galaxy formation within hierarchical CDM scenario. I will also present ongoing efforts to understand the mechanisms which can make stellar feedback efficient with globally inefficient star formation.

Related Links:
KICP Members: Andrey V. Kravtsov
Astronomy Conversation @ Adler Planetarium
December 14, 2011 | 12:00 PM | Adler Planetarium
Tom Crawford will give a special KICP Astronomy Conversation in honor of the Centennial of man's arrival at the South Pole Roald Amundsen and his team of 5 and 16 dogs reached the South Pole on December 14, 1911.

Related Links:
KICP Members: Thomas M. Crawford
Scientific projects: South Pole Telescope (SPT)