The lectures begin at 6:30PM and will last approximately one hour. Doors open to the public at 6:00PM.
We provide informational materials about our research programs and light refreshments. Limited parking is available off Jocelyn and 32nd Streets in our lots, and there is street parking in the area. The campus is a three-block walk from Connecticut Avenue and two blocks south of Military Road.
Lectures Are Free, But Seating is Limited. Skip the registration line by signing up online, click here.
5251 Broad Branch Road, NW, Washington, DC 20015 - Greenewalt Building (PDF of directions)
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When: Thursday, 14 May 2015
Title: "Alien Worlds and the Origins of Science"
Speaker: Paul Butler - Modern science began with Copernicus speculating that the Earth is a planet and that all the planets orbit the Sun. Bruno followed up by speculating that the Sun is a star, that other stars have planets, and other planets are inhabited by life. For this and other heresies, Bruno was burned at the stake in a public square in Rome in 1600. Astronomy and extrasolar planets were a really hot field at the time.
Over the past 20 years more than a thousand extrasolar planets have been found, first from ground-based precision Doppler surveys, and more recently by the Kepler space mission. We have concentrated on building precise Doppler systems to survey the nearest stars. Our systems at Lick, Keck, AAT, and Magellan have found hundreds of planets, including five of the first six extrasolar planets, the first saturn-mass planet, the first neptune-mass planet, the first terrestrial mass planet, and the first multiple planet systems.
We are focused on surveying the nearest stars with new custom built spectrometers designed to achieve the highest possible Doppler precision: The Planet Finder Spectrometer on the 6.5-m Magellan Telescope, and the Levy spectrometer on the 2.4-m Automated Planet Finding Telescope. These spectrometer will lead to the discovery of many terrestrial mass and potentially habitable planets over the next decade. Within a generation new technology giant telescopes and adaptive optics systems will be able to directly image these systems and begin the detailed search for life.
When: Thursday, 16 April 2016
Title: "The Quest for Room Temperature Superconductivity"
Speaker: Viktor Struzhkin - Superconductivity is a rare physical state in which matter is able to conduct electricity—maintain a flow of electrons—without any resistance. It can only be found in certain materials, and even then it can only be achieved under specific temperature and pressure conditions. Although superconductivity has many practical applications for electronics, medical engineering, power transmission and storage, and transportation, the difficulty of creating superconducting materials prevents it from being used to its full potential.
Imagine electrons moving in a current through a lattice-like structure built out of toothpicks. In a typical metallic substance some of the electrons would bounce off the toothpicks, making their flow imperfect. In a superconducting substance, thanks to quantum phenomena, pairs of electrons bound together are able to flow through the toothpick lattice without running into or bouncing off anything.
Traditionally superconductors were made only in extremely low temperatures—below -400 degrees Fahrenheit. But over time scientists discovered that applying pressure could create superconductors at somewhat higher temperatures. Here at the Geophysical Lab, we have developed very sensitive techniques capable of creating and detecting superconductivity under very high pressures. During this lecture, Viktor Struzhkin will detail our efforts in finding higher-temperature superconductivity. The chances of finding room temperature superconductors are high, but the experimental challenges are tremendous. Watch Viktor's lecture here!
When: Thursday, 13 November 2014
Title: "What Are You Breathing? Stable Isotopes in the Atmosphere"
Speaker: Douglas Rumble - Our atmosphere contains only a handful of major gases but many hundreds of minor ones. Each one of these gas species has its own signature stable isotope compostion. Analysis of isotopes makes it possible to trace chemical reactions governing atmospheric chemistry. Isotopic signatures of atmospheric gases are preserved in rocks, under favorable conditions, leaving behind a record of changes in atmospheric chemistry over the past 3 billion years. Watch Doug's lecture here!
When: Thursday, 9 October 2014
Title: "The Geology of Diamonds and Why Yours Is Remarkable!"
Speaker: Steven Shirey - To the geologist, diamonds worn as expensive jewelry are a scientific opportunity of far greater value than just gems. Diamonds are erupted in kimberlite volcanoes and carry within them the deepest, oldest, and most pristine mineral inclusions from the mantle known on Earth. Most of these amazing specimens come from the mantle keels of continents at depths greater than 150km but some derive from greater depths including the mantle transition zone (410-660km) and the top of the lower mantle (>660km). We will explore how diamonds form and what their inclusions tell us about continent formation, mantle circulation and the water content of the mantle.