Skip to Content

Search: {{$root.lsaSearchQuery.q}}, Page {{$}}

Public Lectures


 LCTP Public Lecture 
Thursday, April 11, 2024
Rackham Ampitheatre 4th Floor, 7:00 pm
Paul Davies (Arizona State University )  

  "Are we alone in the universe?"

After decades of searching, scientists have still found no evidence of extraterrestrial civilizations, or indeed of any life beyond Earth. So are we looking for the wrong thing in the wrong place? Is the transition from non-life to life easy and widespread, or a chemical fluke? Might there be new physics lurking in living matter? The answers to these questions affect where we might look for a second genesis. Rather than pinning our hopes on a message from ET, we need to broaden the search for general ‘biosignatures’ and ‘technosignatures’ in the solar system and beyond.



 LCTP Public Lecture 
Tuesday, November 1, 2022
182 Weiser Hall, 7:00 pm
        Stephon Alexander (Brown)     

  "Jazz of the Spheres"

In this public lecture, I revisit the interconnection between music and the evolution of astrophysics and the laws of motion. We will explore new ways music, in particular jazz music, mirrors modern physics, such as quantum mechanics, general relativity, and the physics of the early universe. Finally, I discuss ways that innovations in physics have been and can be inspired from "improvisational logic" exemplified in Jazz performance and practice.



     **This Event has been cancelled**


The 3rd LCTP Public Lecture
Monday, March 16, 2020
Rackham Ampitheatre 4th Floor, 4:00 pm
Cliff Johnson (USC)

"Graphic Talk About the Universe"

There should be other ways to get readers engaged with science besides just putting words on a page, representing the voice of the author. What if the reader could get multiple voices, and different points of view? What if they could see and relate to a variety of people engaged with the ideas? Maybe see glimpses of the language and tools that the scientists actually use when they develop scientific ideas and discover truths about our universe? What if these things could all take place on the page at the same time? Is there a kind of book that can do all that?

Yes! Graphic novels, sequential art, comics - whatever term you prefer to use - are a unique narrative form that can communicate serious, multifaceted scientific ideas to sophisticated readers. In fact, they are perfectly suited to physics! Johnson demonstrates this in his book “The Dialogues: Conversations about the nature of the Universe” (MIT Press), listed by Science Friday as one of the year’s best books in 2017 and in 2018. In this talk he discusses some of the scientific and artistic ideas contained in it, and how he came to write and draw the book.

The 2nd LCTP Public Lecture
Thursday, February 21, 2019
Roberston Auditorium, 4:00 pm
Neal Weiner (NYU)

"Illuminating Dark Matter"

We now know that the overwhelming majority of matter throughout our galaxy and the universe is something other than what we are made of. All ordinary matter - gas, dust, stars, planets - is a small fraction of the mass of the universe. We remain profoundly ignorant of what this missing universe is. In this talk, we will describe the range of ideas that have arisen as to what this mysterious stuff might be, where it came from, and how to look for it. We will detail the progress made in the search to understand the nature of dark matter, and what questions this era hopes to answer, including perhaps the central one: what does the dark universe have to do with the one we can see?


The LCTP Inaugural Lecture
Thursday, January 18, 2018
Rackham Amphitheatre, 4:00 pm
Nima Arkani-Hamed (IAS)

"The Future of Fundamental Physics"

Fundamental physics started the 20th century with the twinrevolutions of relativity and quantum mechanics, and much of the second half of the century was devoted to the construction of a theoretical structure unifying these radical ideas. Yet storm clouds are gathering, which point towards a new set of revolutions on the horizon in the 21st century. Space-time is doomed—how can it emerge from more primitive building blocks? And how is our macroscopic universe compatible with violent microscopic quantum fluctuations thatseem to make its existence wildly implausible? In this talk I will describe these deep mysteries and outline some of our strategies for making progress on them. I will also discuss plans for a giant new particle accelerator with energy seven times higher than the Large Hadron Collider, that will be necessary to make major progress on at least some of these questions in the coming decades


Monday, September 23, 2013
Edward Henry Kraus Building, #2140 7:00 pm
Rocky Kolb, Professor of Physics (University of Chicago)

"Mysteries of the Dark Universe"

Ninety-five percent of the Universe is missing! Most of the mass and energy in the Universe are in mysterious forms called dark matter and dark  energy. Unlocking their secrets will illuminate the nature of space and time and connect the quantum  with the cosmos.


Thursday, October 9, 2008
340 West hall, 7:00 pm
Will Kinney, Asst Professor of Physics (University of Buffalo)

"The End of the Universe and the Future of Life"

Recent developments in cosmology have not only shed new light on the beginning of the Universe: they have also changed our speculations about how the Universe may end in the far future. Chief among these new discoveries is the observation that the expansion of the Universe is accelerating, indicating that the Universe will end not in a “Big Crunch”, but in an ever-faster rush of expansion. In the context of this new cosmology, I will revisit the famous argument first made by Freeman Dyson in 1979 that life in an expanding universe has a limitless future. The reality for the future of evolution is more complex than Dyson envisioned.


March 27, 2008
1400 Chemistry Bldg at 7:00PM (Refreshments will be available) 
Jonathan I Lunine (University of Arizona, Tucson) Professor of Planetary Science and Physics

"Exploring the Outer Solar System: Present and Future"

With the Cassini mission moving into its extended phase, it is time to consider the next steps in exploring the diverse worlds around Jupiter and Saturn – and beyond. This part of our solar system is active, diverse, and might hold clues to whether life is a cosmic imperative.


May 7, 2007
Gregory Laughlin (University of California, Santa Cruz)

"Alien Solar Systems - Taking the Galactic Planetary Census"

In the past decade, over two hundred planets have been discovered in orbit around nearby stars. The current planetary census includes bizarre "hot Jupiters", massive "Eccentric Giants", as well as objects that closely resemble the more familiar Jupiter, Saturn, and Neptune in our own solar system. Within 5 years, we will likely know of planets with masses as low as one Earth mass. In this lecture, I'll give an accessible overview of the most exciting developments in this fast-moving field, and I will point the way toward the even more astonishing discoveries that are likely soon to come.

This public lecture will take place during the Annual AAS Meeting of the Division on Dynamcial Astronomy May 6-10th, 2007 


April 9, 2007 
Joel R. Primack, Nancy Ellen Abrams 

"Public Lecture: The View from the Center of the Universe"

The View from the Center of the Universe presents new ways of wrapping our minds around the universe, and does so without math or jargon, so that we can all take part in this extraordinary revolution. The book helps launch what will be a great cultural task: developing language and imagery that we can all use to grasp our universe viscerally, to talk about it accurately, and to appreciate what a new universe may mean for our personal lives and for our planet. Please join the conversation!


January 17, 2006
S. James Gates, Jr.
John S. Toll Professor of Physics and Center for String and Particle Theory Director
(University of Maryland) 

"Concerto-I and Opus by A. Einstein"

Einstein once asked, "How can it be that mathematics, being the product of human thought independent of experience, is so admirably adapted to the objects of reality?" Yet for most people, mathematics is a daunting language unpleasant to even contemplate. There now exists an instrument on which mathematics can be ?played? much as a score can be played on a piano. In this talk, a performance of an Einstein Concerto and Opus are given using this instrument. The instrument is called a computer. talk, a performance of an Einstein Concerto and Opus are given using this instrument. The instrument is called a computer. 


May 18, 2004
Mark Trodden (Syracuse University) 

"The New Cosmology and its Challenge to Fundamental Physics"

Professor Mark Trodden of Syracuse University will give a public lecture describing the problems for fundamental physics theory posed by our new understanding of the contents of the universe. A series of remarkable experiments completed over the last decade provides convincing evidence that the universe is roughly 4% ordinary matter (the stuff of the periodic table), 26% dark matter (the nature of which is mostly unknown), and 70% dark energy (the nature of which is almost completely unknown). Professor Trodden will describe how each provides challenges to particle physics - highlighting the current connections and our hopes for the future.


April 16, 2004
Paul Davies, 
Professor of Natural Philosophy, Australian Centre for Astrobiology, 
(Macquarie University, NSW Australia)

"Did Life Come From Mars?" 

The origin of life remains one of the great outstanding problems of science. It affects such big questions as whether or not we are alone in the universe, and the place of humanity in the great cosmic scheme. For some years, internationally-acclaimed physicist, cosmologist, astrobiologist and writer Paul Davies has championed the theory that life may have started on Mars on come to Earth ready-made, hitching a ride in rocks blasted from the Red Planet by comet impacts. In his lecture, Davies will explain why Mars was a more favorable environment for life to get started, and why it may still harbor life today. 


March 16, 2001
Michael Duff
Oskar Klein Professorship Inaugural Lecture

"The World In Eleven Dimensions"

Current attempts to find a unified theory that would reconcile Einstein's General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, and explain all known physical phenomena, invoke the Kaluza-Klein idea of extra spacetime dimensions. The best candidate is M-theory which lives in eleven dimensions, the maximum allowed by supersymmetry of the elementary particles.