The topic of the 2014 Robert M. Walker Distinguished Lecture the evening of Oct. 23 will be black holes. The speaker is Ramesh Narayan, a Harvard astrophysicist who has studied the event horizon and the spin of these celestial enigmas. The talk, which starts at 7 p. m. in Whitaker Hall on the Danforth Campus, is free and open to the public.
Early in September, the X-Calibur mission, preparing for launch at the Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility in Fort Sumner, N.M., put its pointing system through its paces to make sure all of its parts were working in programmed harmony.
In a few days, a balloon-borne telescope sensitive to the polarization of high-energy “hard” X rays will ascend to the edge of the atmosphere above Fort Sumner, N.M., to stare fixedly at black holes and other exotic astronomical objects. It will be carried aloft by a stratospheric balloon that will expand to a sphere large enough to hold a 747 jetliner the float height of 120,000 feet, three times the height at which commercial aircraft fly and on the edge of Earth’s atmosphere. Launching the balloon is not child’s play.
Clifford Will, PhD, the James S. McDonnell Professor of Space Sciences, will deliver the McDonnell Distinguished Lecture at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 12, in Room 100, Whitaker Hall, at Washington University in St. Louis. Will plans to discuss “Black Holes, Waves of Gravity and Other Warped Ideas of Dr. Einstein.”
NASA has just funded Henri Krawczynski and his colleague Matthias Beilicke, to launch a balloon-borne telescope sensitive to the polarization of light that will float at an altitude of 130,000 feet for a day. During that time, the balloon will stare fixedly at two black holes in our galaxy, an accreting neutron star, the Crab nebula, an extragalactic black hole and other targets yet to be chosen. One of the first instruments of its type, it should be able to make the first direct measurements of the spin rate of black holes, among other advancements.
In conjunction with Einstein expert Clifford Will’s 60th birthday, the Gravity Group in Arts & Sciences’ physics department at Washington University in St. Louis is hosting the 16th Midwest Relativity Meeting (MWRM-16) Nov. 17-18 as well as the CliffFest Dinner Nov. 18 and the Cliff Will Birthday Symposium on Gravitational Theory and Experiment Nov. 19. The three events are expected to bring more than 200 physicists from around the country and the world to campus.
WillClifford M. Will, Ph.D., has been named the James S. McDonnell Professor of Physics in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, announced Edward S. Macias, Ph.D., executive vice chancellor, dean of Arts & Sciences and the Barbara and David Thomas Distinguished Professor in Arts & Sciences. Will is known worldwide as one of the leading experts in using experimental and observational data to explain Einstein’s general theory of relativity.