Top scientists to discuss dark energy Oct.4-8 at Texas A&M


COLLEGE STATION, Sept. 15, 2004 - Five internationally renowned speakers will discuss dramatic recent discoveries in astronomy and cosmology during the DARK 2004 Conference Oct. 4-8 at Texas A&M University.

The conference, sponsored by the George P. and Cynthia W. Mitchell Institute for Fundamental Physics and the Texas A&M Department of Physics, is the fifth in a series of conferences held worldwide since the program began in 1996. Others have been held in Germany and South Africa.

The meeting of international scientists centers on the nature and origin of dark matter and dark energy, which dominate our universe, says George Kattawar, professor of physics at Texas A&M and coordinator of the public talks for the event. The technical talks are coordinated by Richard Arnowitt, Distinguished Professor of Physics.

"We know the universe is accelerating, and dark energy and dark matter are two of the hottest topics in astronomy in recent years," Kattawar explains.

"Dark matter keeps things together, while dark energy remains very mysterious. When you go outside at night and look at the stars, everything you can see, even with our most powerful telescopes, is only about 4 percent of the universe. The rest of it is dark matter or dark energy."

All five of the general interest talks are free and open to the public.

"Once again, because of the presence of the Mitchell Institute, students and faculty of Texas A&M will get the opportunity to hear some of the greatest minds in the world talking about some of the most fundamental scientific questions of our age," said H. Joseph Newton, dean of the College of Science.

Speaking Monday, Oct. 4, at 7:30 p.m. in Rudder Theater will be Adam Riess discussing "Supernovae, Dark Energy and the Accelerating Universe." Riess and his co-workers published the first evidence that the expansion of the universe is accelerating and was filled with dark energy, a finding that Science magazine called the "breakthrough discovery of the year" in 1998. He is associate astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute and teaches at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md.

On Oct. 5 at 7:30 p.m. in Room 100 of the Chemistry Building, Charles Bennett of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center will speak on "3-2-1 Blastoff: A Tour of the Universe." He leads the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe, which has detailed the age, content, history and other properties of the universe. In 2002 he was named the most highly cited researcher in space science.

Eric Linder of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will speak on "Exploring the History and Fate of the Universe" at 4 p.m. Oct. 7 in Room 601 of Rudder Tower. Linder is head of the Supernova/Accleration Probe Theory Group at Lawrence Berkeley Lab and is the author of First Principles of Cosmology which is used in universities worldwide.

Also on Oct. 7 at 7:30 p.m. in Rudder Theater, Wendy Freedman, director of the Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena, Calif., will discuss "Explaining the Universe in the New Millennium." Freedman is heading the Giant Magellan Telescope project, which will build the world's telescope and consists of several universities, among them Texas A&M and the University of Texas. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and also led the Hubble Key Project, which determined the rate at which the universe is expanding.

Concluding the series of public talks will be a presentation on Friday, Oct. 8 at 7:30 p.m. in Room 301 of Rudder Tower by Edward Kolb of the University of Chicago. He will speak on "The Quantum and the Cosmos." Kolb is head and founder of the NASA/Fermilab Astrophysics Group and is co-author of The Early Universe, the standard textbook on particle physics and cosmology.

"These are world leaders in their fields," Kattawar says of the speakers.

"The conference promises to enlighten us on various aspects about our universe. We have already registered participants from all over the world who will be attending this meeting, so we really do have some of the best minds in the world coming to Texas A&M."

Source: Eurekalert & others

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