Leonard E Parker

Center for Gravitation, Cosmology & Astrophysics

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Leonard E Parker Center for Gravitation, Cosmology and Astrophysics

Coffee, with a dash of Astrophysics!

Posted by Laura Nuttall on October 7, 2014

Since the beginning of September a team of postdocs and grad students from the CGCA have been delighting local Milwaukeans with an informal lecture series - CoffeeShop Astrophysics. Taking place in a local coffeeshop, the group discusses hot topics in astrophysics with the local community. Lectures have included 'the big bang' and 'live fast, die young; the lifecycle of stars'. There are more to come!

This project is the brain child of Sydney Chamberlain, a grad student within the CGCA. She wanted to to bring the joy of astrophysics to anyone, particularly for those who wanted to know more, but were afraid to ask. A local coffee shop seemed the perfect environment for an informal lecture series. She subsequently applied for and was successful in receiving a grant through the American Physical Society (see previous news item) to make this project a reality. With the help of colleagues from within the CGCA (Sarah Caudill, Megan DeCesar, Laura Nuttall, Laleh Sadeghian, and Alex Urban) 2 lectures have been devised and presented, with a further 3 to go before Christmas.

The first lecture in the series discussed the origin of our universe - the Big Bang, which attracted over 30 people, some of which had to stand for lack of available chairs. For half an hour, the group spoke of how we got from the big bang to universe we see today. They talked about the human stories behind finding the cosmic microwave background and how Hubble found the universe to be expanding. All this was done with a few slides and some stunning images. The audience were invited to ask questions at the end, which prompted interesting dicussions for an equal amount of time. For children, there was the 'kids table', which included colouring books and puzzles, all with an astrophysics theme!

This coming saturday will be the third installation of CoffeeShop Astrophysics titled 'The black hole that ate my sock: strange facts about these and other dead stars'. There will be a further two lectures after this, one taking place in November and December. Please see the schedule on the CoffeeShop Astrophysics website for more details on each lecture. We hope to see you there, for some lively discussion, coffee and free cookies!

To find out more about CoffeeShop Astrophysics please visit the website. This will give you information about each lecture, the location and times.

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