CANCELLED: Feeling Small in a Big Cosmos


In line with State of Illinois Coronavirus emergency recommendations to cancel large public community events through May 1st, CIERA is canceling the April 29 CIERA Public Lecture. We look forward to rescheduling this event in the future, as circumstances allow. Thank you.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020 @ 6:00 PM
Northwestern University, Technological Institute, Room LR3
2145 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208

Northwestern University’s Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics (CIERA) Presents: THE INAUGURAL CIERA SPRING PUBLIC LECTURE

  • RSVP on Eventbrite.
  • Free and open to the public.
  • All are welcome! Content tailored to a general audience.
  • Meet Northwestern astronomers after the lecture.
  • Campus parking lots are unrestricted in the evenings.
  • Map the room location.

Shane Larson
CIERA, Northwestern University

About this Talk:
Staring out into the Universe has the power to simultaneously make you feel small, but empowered. On the one hand, we are deeply aware of the notion that we are small lifeforms on an insignificant speck of dust in some lonely corner of the Cosmos. That overwhelming sense of smallness is at great odds with the realization that we are capable of unravelling and exposing the deepest mysteries of the Cosmos. The ability to understand the Cosmos can make us feel big. We live at a unique moment in history — we are the first humans to ever know that we are deeply connected to the stars themselves. It is easy to forget how hard it was to win that knowledge.

The road to understanding our place in the Cosmos has been a long and tangled journey. We are stardust, wrought into complex machines of atoms that are capable of pondering the Universe itself. When faced with the Cosmic vastness, it is easy to forget how awesome it is that we can understand — that is the hallmark of our relationship with the Cosmos.  In this chat, we’ll examine some of the story of how newfound knowledge has continually forced us to abandon cherished ideas about the Universe, leading us from a time when we believed Earth and humanity were the center of all things, to today, where we are one small part of the greater Cosmos.

About the Presenter:
Shane Larson is a research associate professor of physics at Northwestern University, where he is the Associate Director of CIERA (Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics). He works in the field of gravitational wave astrophysics, specializing in studies of compact stars, binaries, and the galaxy.  He works in gravitational wave astronomy with both the ground-based LIGO project, and future space-based observatory LISA. He was formerly a tenured associate professor of physics at Utah State University. He contributes regularly to a public science blog at writescience.wordpress.com, and tweets with the handle @sciencejedi.

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Image Credit: Royce Bair, NightScape Photography


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