Friedman Lecture in Astronomy to take place May 18

A free presentation titled "Walk Softly When Exploring the Dark Side of the Universe" will take place at 7 p.m. on May 18, in room 102 of the Thomas Building on Penn State's University Park campus. The program will be presented by Karl Gebhardt, the Herman and Joan Suit professor of astrophysics at the University of Texas in Austin. This event is part of the 2010-11 Friedman Lecture Series in Astronomy. Gebhardt has measured more black hole masses than anyone in the world. His presentation will cover black holes, dark matter and dark energy, and it should appeal to anyone interested in any of these three cutting-edge topics of astronomy research.

"Penn State and Texas astronomers are putting a lot of effort into building a new instrument for an experiment to understand dark energy," said Caryl Gronwall, a senior scientist in astronomy and astrophysics at Penn State. "Dr. Gebhardt is visiting Penn State to participate in a meeting of scientists from around the world to discuss progress on building this instrument, which will be installed on the Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET) for the new experiment. The meeting also will cover future plans for the science resulting from this experiment. Gebhardt's lecture is a great opportunity for the Penn State and State College communities to share in the excitement of the prospects for major scientific breakthroughs that could result from this research." HET is a joint project of the University of Texas at Austin, Penn State, Stanford University, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat Muenchen, and Georg-August-Universitat Goettingen.

Gebhardt received a bachelor-of-science degree in physics and astronomy from the University of Rochester in 1986, a master's degree in physics and astronomy from Michigan State University in 1990, and a doctoral degree in physics and astronomy from Rutgers University in 1994. Throughout his career he has held astronomy positions at various universities, including the University of Michigan, the University of California at Santa Cruz, and his current position at the University of Texas. Most of his career has focused on understanding the role that black holes play in the formation of a galaxy. His recent work focuses on understanding dark energy with the Hobby-Eberly Telescope Dark Energy Experiment (HETDEX). He and his colleagues have outlined a unique experimental approach to solving the mystery of dark energy, which they expect will result in the most accurate measure of dark energy for many years to come. More information is online at http://hetdex.org/.

This presentation is hosted by the Penn State Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics and is funded largely by the Ronald M. and Susan J. Friedman Outreach Fund in Astronomy. Ronald Friedman is a member of the department's Board of Visitors.

For more information, contact Chris Palma, senior lecturer of astronomy and astrophysics, at 814-865-2255 or cxp137@psu.edu.

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Last Updated September 07, 2012