Public Lecture: “The Living History of the Universe”
7:30 p.m. March 17, 2010
Tucson Marriott University Park
Dr. Alan Dressler
Talk Abstract: Every minute of every day light from the remote past arrives at Earth, much of it originating before the Earth itself was born. Astronomers are uniquely privileged to have a look at history as it actually happened, but in practice gathering enough light from distant galaxies to learn something about them is not at all easy. Drawing connections from what we see in a younger universe to the one of our own time is also very challenging. A small history of this endeavor teaches us something about how science works and the persistence of human curiosity.
About the Speaker
Alan Dressler is an astronomer at the Observatories of the Carnegie Institution. His research has focused on galaxy evolution, particularly the issue of what leads to the diversity of different galaxy types and properties, including such affects as galaxy environment and interactions. Dressler has used large ground-based telescopes such as Magellan, and space telescope such as Hubble and Spitzer to look back in time to study the formation and evolution of galaxies, in particular, to better understand how much of what we see in today’s galaxies comes from “nature” versus “nurture.” Dressler’s HST & Beyond Committee proposed what is now called the James Webb Space Telescope, a successor to the Hubble planned for launch in 2014, and the OIR Panel of the 2000 Decadal Survey of Astronomy & Astrophysics that he chaired recommended private/public partnerships on giant new ground-based facilities LSST and GSMT, as well as greater access to all US telescopes through the NSF TSIP program. He is now chairing the Electromagnetic Observations from Space Panel of the present Decadal Survey that will recommend a program of new space telescopes beginning in this decade.