[ASC-media] Top US cosmologist to shed light on "dark energy": November talks

Helen Sim Helen.Sim at csiro.au
Mon Nov 16 06:32:13 CET 2009


Media contact for images and interviews: Sue Nelson, Quick Thinking  
Communications 0403 343 275 or sue at qtcommunications.com

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Top US cosmologist to shed light on "dark energy"

Prize-winning Harvard astronomy professor Robert P Kirshner is  
touring Australia this month to give a series of public talks for the  
International Year of Astronomy.

Professor Kirshner is an expert on exploding stars — supernovae — and  
what they can tell us about the most mysterious component of the  
universe, ‘dark energy’.

He was a member of one of the teams that observed exploding stars  
halfway across the universe and made a stunning discovery: that the  
expansion of the universe is speeding up.

The finding was named the top science breakthrough of 1998 by Science  
magazine and was a huge turning-point in our understanding of the  
universe.

‘Dark energy’ is the name astronomers have given to whatever is  
making the acceleration speed up — but no-one knows what it actually is.

Astronomers are trying a couple of ways to find out, however.

In his public lectures Professor Kirshner will explain an  
astronomers’ view of the universe, drawing on his own first-hand  
account of the discovery of the accelerating universe as a member of  
the High-Z Supernova Search Team.

And he will describe how astronomers are attempting to get a handle  
on the nature of dark energy — which, whatever it is, will lead to a  
new understanding of physics.

An author of over 250 scientific publications, Robert Kirshner has  
also written for National Geographic, Sky & Telescope, Natural  
History, and Scientific American magazines and is a frequent public  
speaker on science. His award-winning popular-level book The  
Extravagant Universe: Exploding Stars, Dark Energy, and the  
Accelerating Cosmos is now in paperback and has been translated into  
four languages.

Professor Kirshner’s tour of Australia is funded by a Selby  
Fellowship administered by the Australian Academy of Science.

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Tour dates (all talks are free)

Canberra, Monday 16 November, 6pm: Australian Institute of Physics’  
IYA public lecture series, Dunbar Physics Lecture Theatre, ANU

Melbourne, Wednesday 18 November, 8pm: Elisabeth Murdoch Theatre,  
Melbourne University.
Adelaide, Thursday 19 November, 6.30-7.30pm: Union Hall, Adelaide  
University.

Perth, Friday 20 November, 6.30pm for 7.00pm: Scitech, Perth.
Sydney, Sunday 22 November, 2-3pm: Talk at Powerhouse Museum in  
conjunction with From the Earth to the Universe Exhibition, Coles  
Theatre.


Biography
Robert P. Kirshner is Clowes Professor of Science at Harvard  
University. At Harvard, Kirshner teaches a large undergraduate course  
for students who are not concentrating in the sciences called The  
Energetic Universe. Kirshner is a member of the American Academy of  
Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, and the American  
Philosophical Society. He was President of the American Astronomical  
Society from 2004 to 2006. Kirshner received the Caltech  
Distinguished Alumni Award in 2004. In 2007, Kirshner and his  
colleagues of the High-Z Supernova Team (led by Professor Brian  
Schmidt of the ANU and including many of Kirshner's former students  
and postdocs) shared in the Gruber Prize in Cosmology.

The International Year of Astronomy 2009
The International Year of Astronomy 2009 is coordinated globally by  
the International Astronomical Union and endorsed by the United  
Nations. IYA activities in Australia are funded with assistance from  
the Science Connections Program within the Department of Innovation,  
Industry, Science and Research. www.astronomy2009.org.au



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Helen Sim
Public Relations and Media Liaison
CSIRO Australia Telescope National Facility (email: Helen.Sim at csiro.au)
and
Anglo-Australian Observatory (email: hsim at aao.gov.au)

Single Point of Contact (SPOC) in Australia for the 2009  
International Year of Astronomy

Tel: +61-2-9372-4251
Mob: +61-419-635-905


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