Public Science Lecture Series

Public Science Lecture Series

Public Science Lecture Series

Hosted by Physics and Space Sciences, the Public Lecture Series is an evening lecture on a topic of general interest in science. After the lecture, attendees are invited to visit the Olin Physical Sciences Building rooftop to view the stars from the Ortega telescope, weather permitting. 



Lectures are typically held 4th Friday of each month during the academic year.

Spring 2019

April 26, 2019, Dr. Eric Perlman, Florida Institute of Technology. "Black Holes: Imaging the Darkness". 

This month’s revealing of the first-ever image of a black hole is at once both thrilling and puzzling. It's thrilling because it is something many thought could not be done, and because it is in a very concrete way the first image taken of the most extreme place in the universe. For the first time we've seen a place where nothing can escape, where the curvature of spacetime is infinite. It's a discovery that required supreme creativity and several triumphs in engineering and instrument-building, verifies General Relativity at its most extreme, and is definitely Nobel-worthy. It's puzzling because it hints at so many more questions, only hinting at their answers. It's also puzzling to many in the public because of its fuzziness -- although to scientists who are familiar with interferometry and the imaging techniques used this is no surprise. While we see the photon ring surrounding the black hole, we are not able to figure out where the material that generated the emission is. There are also many other things that we don't know about the other physics going on in the black hole's neighborhood.  

For scientists who work on galactic nuclei, black holes, and the energetic regions surrounding them, this discovery takes us from "we think that..." to certainty when describing the presence of a supermassive black hole in a galaxy's center, powering nature's most luminous phenomena. This seemingly small change in language is very powerful. We will explore black holes, discuss at length the fascinating effort to image the darkness, talk about the observations and the image, and discuss its implications, both for relativity research as well as in other areas. Some personal notes, based upon Dr. Perlman’s knowledge and experience of the field and of several of the team members, will also be added.



8:00 p.m - 9:00 p.m. - Lecture.
9:00 p.m - 10:30 p.m. - Public observatory open house, weather permitting.

Locations and Parking

F. W. Olin Engineering Complex, auditorium room 118 (lecture).

F.W. Olin Physical Sciences Building, 4th floor accessed via elevator (public observatory open house, weather permitting).

Once on campus, the nearest parking is on "Engineering Street" and in the "Panther Place".

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