It’s just been confirmed that Dr. Alex Filippenko will be giving the keynote talk at the 2012 New England Fall Astronomy Festival!!
Dr. Filippenko, currently the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Distinguished Professor in the Physical Sciences at the Astronomy Department at the University of California, Berkeley, is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences and one of the world’s most highly cited astronomers. He is the recipient of numerous prizes for his scientific research, and was a member of both teams that discovered the accelerating expansion of the Universe – the “Top Breakthrough of 1998” according to the editors of Science magazine and winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics. Winner of the most prestigious teaching awards at UC Berkeley and voted the “Best Professor” on campus a record 9 times, he was named a National Professor of the Year in 2006. He has produced 5 astronomy video courses with The Teaching Company, wrote an award-winning astronomy textbook, and appears in numerous television documentaries, including about 40 episodes of The History Channel’s space documentary series, The Universe. In 2004, he was awarded the Carl Sagan Prize for Science Popularization.
Below is the abstract for Dr. Filippenko’s keynote 2012 NEFAF talk, entitled “Dark Energy and the Runaway Universe”, to be given Friday, September 21, 2012 [time TBA].
We expected that the attractive force of gravity would slow down the rate at which the Universe is expanding. But observations of very distant exploding stars show that the expansion rate is actually speeding up, a discovery that was honored with the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics. Over the largest distances, the Universe seems to be dominated by a repulsive “dark energy” – an idea Albert Einstein had suggested in 1917 but renounced in 1929 as his “biggest blunder.” It stretches the fabric of space itself faster and faster with time, creating a “runaway universe.” But the physical origin and nature of dark energy, which makes up about three quarters of the contents of the Universe, is probably the most important unsolved problem in all of physics.