April 1, 1999
Vol. 18 No. 13

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    Big bang breakthroughs topic of spring session of Compton Lectures

    By Steve Koppes
    News Office

    The breakthroughs that led to the hot big bang model of the universe and highlights of current cosmological research will be covered in the University’s spring series of the Compton Lectures beginning Saturday, April 3.

    The series of 10 lectures, titled “Exploring the Mysteries of Our Evolving Universe: Observational Tests of Big Bang Cosmology,” will begin each Saturday morning at 11 a.m. through June 12 in Room 115 of the Kersten Physics Teaching Center, 5720 S. Ellis Ave. There will be no lecture May 29, the Saturday before Memorial Day.

    Joseph Mohr, a Chandra Fellow in Astronomy & Astrophysics, will deliver the lectures. Mohr earned his bachelor’s degree in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his master’s and doctoral degrees in astronomy from Harvard University. Formerly a research fellow in physics and astronomy at the University of Michigan, he was appointed to a Chandra Fellowship in 1998.

    The first five lectures will cover the foundations of the big bang model. These include discoveries of the universe’s expansion, the existence of the cosmic microwave background and the resulting theoretical framework. The last five lectures will describe ongoing efforts to map the universe, to detail the nature of “dark” or unseen matter and to understand how the complex structures in the nearby universe, such as stars, galaxies, clusters of galaxies and larger-scale structures, arose from an astonishingly uniform early universe.

    The talks are the 49th series of Arthur Holly Compton Lectures, sponsored each fall and spring by the Enrico Fermi Institute. Compton was a Chicago physicist and Nobel laureate, best known for demonstrating that light has the characteristics of both a wave and a particle. He also organized the effort to produce plutonium for the atomic bomb and directed the Metallurgical Laboratory at Chicago where Fermi and colleagues produced the first controlled nuclear chain reaction in 1942.

    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. All of the lectures, which are free and open to the public, are listed in the Chronicle Calendar. For more information about the lectures, call (773) 702-7823.