April 3, 2003 – Vol. 22 No. 13

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    ‘Cosmic Fireworks’ begin Saturday at lectures

    By Steve Koppes
    News Office

    The Arthur Holly Compton Lectures will offer a glimpse into the art, science and meaning of explosions in the universe when the University’s Enrico Fermi Institute sponsors the 57th series of these public lectures, beginning Saturday, April 5.

    The series of 10 lectures, titled “Cosmic Fireworks,” will be held Saturday mornings from 11 a.m. to noon in Room 106 of the Kersten Physics Teaching Center, 5720 S. Ellis Ave.

    Frank Timmes, Senior Research Associate in the Fermi Institute, will deliver the lectures. Timmes’ audience will peer into the heart of exploding stars while he describes how they occur, what scientists observe from them and what can be learned from the results.

    “Exploration of new ways to model these explosive events on modern, parallel supercomputers will reveal how gold is made, where the oxygen we breathe is produced, and the alchemy of the heavens,” said James Pilcher, Director of the Fermi Institute. “Since recent observations of distant supernovae indicate that we live in a universe that is getting larger faster, we’ll sketch out the contents of a universe that lasts forever, the physics of eternity.”

    In addition to his work at the University, Timmes teaches undergraduate astronomy, physics and mathematics at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He earned a bachelor’s degree in physics, with honors, from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

    The Fermi Institute sponsors the Compton lectures each spring and fall. Compton was a Chicago physicist and a Nobel laureate, best known for demonstrating that light has the characteristics of both a wave and a particle.

    The lectures are intended to make science accessible to a general audience and to convey the excitement of new discoveries in the physical sciences. Previous topics have ranged from the smallest fundamental particles to the history of the universe.