Saturday Science: The First Exciting Discoveries with the James Webb Space Telescope
March 25th, 3pm. Main Library at Goodwood
The NASA James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is the largest optical telescope in space, orbiting a million miles away from Earth. It is designed to observe at infrared wavelengths which allow the JWST to observe the furthest galaxies just after they formed, and planets around other stars. This new telescope is making new discoveries every day from planets in our own Solar System to galaxies far, far away. These investigations involve many fields of astronomy and cosmology, such as observation of the first stars, the formation of the first galaxies, and the atmospheres of potentially habitable exoplanets.
How Earth Came to Be: From the Big Bang to Planet Formation
March 12th, 3pm. Main Library at Goodwood
Presenter: Matthew Penny, Assistant Professor, LSU Department of Physics & Astronomy and Center for Computation & Technology
The past quarter century has brought the discovery of thousands of planets orbiting other stars and new telescopes that can observe planetary systems as they form. With these, astronomers are finally building a fuller picture of planetary systems other than our own and how they form. But the complete story of the origin of planets and our own solar system requires reaching back further in time to understand how the ingredients that built the planets were gathered from exploding stars, and how the very existence of planets around a star may depend on where that star was born. I will take you on a tour of the late history of the universe, through some of the most monumental upheavals, to reveal how we are all connected to the big bang.
"A journey to the Big Bang and Beyond"
February 26, 3pm. Main Library at Goodwood
Presenter: Dr. Parampreet Singh Professor, Department of Physics & Astronomy
Abstract: According to Einstein's theory of general relativity our universe started with a big bang. But near the big bang, gravitational attraction becomes so strong that the fabric of space and time is completely destroyed causing a breakdown of not only Einstein's theory but all physical laws! The origin of our universe thus remains a fundamental unsolved question. We discuss in this talk the way recent understanding of quantum effects in gravity resolves the problem of big bang singularity and opens a new gateway to the regime of the universe before the big bang. We will discuss the new physics of this regime, how it answers various questions about the birth of our universe and the way we can test this theory using precision astronomical experiments.
In the natural world we see trees, flowers, insects, animals, soil, rivers, rocks, and mountains around us. Above us we see birds, clouds, the Moon, the Sun, and stars. The air carries the scent of life.
Based upon measurable evidence and logic, science provides a profound understanding of the origin of things dating back in deep time to almost 13.8 billion years when the origin event governed by quantum gravity began our universe. Over the next small fraction of a second the universe expanded by 26 orders of magnitude, and within the first three minutes all of the basic forces (gravity, electromagnetism, strong, weak) and components (electrons, protons, neutrons, photons) were assembled.
During the next 300,000 years the universe cooled enough so neutral atoms could form, but it would take another 150 million years before the first stars would light up. It is these first stars that began the process of making the carbon and calcium in our bodies, the oxygen and nitrogen we breathe, and the silicon and iron that comprises the Earth. As our universe aged, galaxies formed, stars died, black holes merged to generate gravitational waves, and space expanded. Most recently, science determined that a mysterious “dark energy”, acting like an “anti-gravity” force, is driving an increase in the universe expansion rate. The ultimate fate of the universe is still controversial but, in general, it is thought that as the universe expands into the far future (greater than 100 Trillion years) fewer stars will be born, the existing stars will die, and the universe will darken.
In the “Sounds of Science” David B. Walters, LSU School of Music, has rendered his interpretation of the evolution of the universe and life on Earth into a musical composition that reflects the mystery and majesty of the known science. With the composition premier on November 9th, a collaboration between the LSU School of Music, the LSU Department of Physics & Astronomy, the East Baton Rouge Public Library, and the LSU Manship School of Mass Communication is launching a series of public events in 2023 exploring NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope(JWST) mission, our understanding of the universe, and how music provides an alternate method for understanding our place in the universe.
Public lectures are scheduled at the EBRPL Main Library at 3:00 pm on January 29, 2023, February 26, 2023, and at 1:00 pm on March 25, 2023.
A performance of “Sounds of Science” is scheduled for 7:00 pm on March 25, 2023 at the EBRPL Main Library followed by a panel discussion on science and music composition. A schedule of events plus background reading will be available starting in the January 2023 edition of the EBRPL newsletter The Source.