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Events & Talks
Current & Future Events
Summer School: CMB Detectors and Instrumentation
This 1-week "hands-on" summer school is designed to provide the participants with working knowledge of the detectors and instrumentation used to detect the tiny temperature and polarization anisotropy of the cosmic microwave background (CMB). Early graduate students interested in pursuing a PhD in experimental CMB research methods are particularly encouraged to apply. A feature of the school is hands-on activities to teach students the basics of CMB instrumentation. We expect to have room for approximately 15 students.
Topics will include: superconducting detectors, e.g., transition-edge-sensor (TES) bolometers, kinetic-inductance-detectors (KIDs); detector characterization (responsivity, beams, bands, time constants, polarization calibration); coherent techniques for characterizing mm-wave components; SQUIDs and detector readout; antenna design; and Fourier transform spectroscopy.
The School will be held at the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics (KICP) at the University of Chicago in the William Eckhardt Research Center (ERC).Learn more >>
Midweek on the Midway: Escape from planet Earth
Compare the movie's hero astronaut, Scorch Supernova, to critters walking our planet. See yourself as a South Pole explorer in our selfie booth. Pre-movie fun provided by UChicago's Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics, and Boy Scout Troop 599.
The Physics of Toys, Yerkes Summer Institute
Instructors: Huanqing Chen, Zoheyr Doctor, Clarke Esmerian, Emily Gilbert, Jason Henning, Gourav Khullar, Randy Landsberg, James Lasker, Phil Mansfield, Nora Shipp.
Over the course of a week, local Chicago high school students will learn about how the physics of energy conservation makes various everyday toys possible, and how using a structured engineering design process can allow them to understand the inner workings of things around them. In the three main labs, students will learn about pressure potential energy by reverse engineer super soakers and testing manufacturer claims about bottle rockets, they will learn about elastic potential energy by building and racing wind up cars, and they will learn about gravitational potential energy as they compete to build room-sized Rube Goldberg machines. The Institute will also contain various bite-sized activities, ranging from observing nebulae with the Yerkes 24-inch telescope, to learning defense techniques against deceptive infographics, to investigating the mysterious physics of the household microwave.
Michael Turner, "The origin of our universe: what we know for sure and the big mysteries"
Speaker: Michael S. Turner
Professor, Departments of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Physics; Enrico Fermi Institute; University of Chicago
We can trace the evolution of our Universe back 13.8 Billion years, to within a microsecond of a big bang beginning. At that early time, all that we see today existed as a hot, slightly lumpy quark soup. We are trying to answer even bigger questions today, e.g., the nature of the dark matter and dark energy that steer the evolution of the Universe, and extend our understanding even further back, even addressing what happened before the big bang.
Chen He Heinrich, "Lensing Bias to CMB Polarization Measurements of Compensated Isocurvature Perturbations"
Ph.D. Committee members: Daniel Holz, Abigail Vieregg, Liantao Wang.
Thesis Abstract: Compensated isocurvature perturbations (CIPs) are opposite spatial fluctuations in the baryon and dark matter (DM) densities. They arise in the curvaton model and some models of baryogenesis. While the gravitational effects of baryon fluctuations are compensated by those of DM, leaving no observable impacts on the cosmic microwave background (CMB) at first order, the baryon fluctuations correlate CMB anisotropies at different multipoles. As a result, CIPs can be reconstructed using quadratic estimators similarly to CMB detection of gravitational lensing. Because of these similarities, however, the CIP estimators are biased with lensing contributions that must be subtracted. In this work, we evaluate these lensing contributions and their impact on the CIP detection threshold due to lensing noise, and assess the prospect of detecting the maximal CIP signal in the curvaton model for a cosmic-variance-limited (CVL) temperature and polarization experiment.
Hsin-Yu Chen, "Multi-messenger Astronomy with Advanced LIGO-Virgo"
"Hsin-Yu's work is helping set the stage for the new era of gravitational-wave astronomy. She has played an active role within the LIGO collaboration in the analysis of our first detections, while also becoming a leader in the field of multi-messenger astronomy."
- Daniel E. Holz, PhD advisor
Thesis Abstract: My thesis is focused on gravitational wave multi-messenger astronomy. The most promising sources for current gravitational wave detectors are compact binary mergers, including the mergers of stellar mass binary black holes, binary neutron stars, and neutron star-black hole system. I investigated the detection rate of binary neutron star and neutron star-black hole mergers from observations of their potential electromagnetic emission. To facilitate the search for the electromagnetic counterparts and the host galaxies of compact binaries, I developed a rapid algorithm that reconstructs the sky direction and luminosity distance of binary mergers from their gravitational wave signals, and predicted the existence of well-localized events. In addition, I carried out a thorough study of how gravitational-wave observational selection effects influence electromagnetic follow-up.
In summary, I explored how to measure astrophysical and cosmological parameters with gravitational wave detections, and facilitated gravitational wave-electromagnetic follow-up through various approaches, paving the way for the future of gravitational wave astrophysics and cosmology.
DES Collaboration Meeting
The Dark Energy Survey is a collaboration of 400 scientists from 25 institutions in 7 countries using the Dark Energy Camera on the Blanco 4-meter telescope at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory to carry out a 5-year multi-band imaging survey to probe the nature of dark energy and the physics of cosmic acceleration. Our Spring 2017 collaboration meeting will take place at the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics (KICP), in the Eckhart Research Center at the University of Chicago.Learn more >>
Michael Fedderke, "Studies in Higgs physics, particle dark matter and early universe"
"Michael's thesis work covers several important aspects of particle physics and cosmology. It includes detailed studies on the signal of dark matter annihilation in the galactic halo. After producing an interesting paper on the heavy particle production in the early universe, he delved into Higgs physics. He evaluated the potential of discovering new physics via fermionic Higgs portal, which has implications for the physics reach of both current and future colliders. In his most recent project, he has also constructed a model which addressed the little hierarchy problem in the composite Higgs scenario using cosmological evolution of an axion like field."
- LianTao Wang, PhD advisor
Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, "NASA Science Missions"
NASA Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen will be visiting next Wednesday May 31. He will be giving a short presentation about NASA Space Science and answering questions about NASA and its science program. This is a wonderful opportunity to hear directly from the individual who directs NASA's Science program, as well as asking questions and expressing your views.
He is especially interested in meeting and hear from graduate students and postdocs.
Spring 2017 Postdocs Symposium
Computations in Science Seminar: Daniel Scolnic, "Measuring the size of the Universe with Standard Candles"
Astrophysicists use standard candles, objects which have roughly the same luminosity, to infer distances to far-away parts of the universe. Standard candles of variable stars called 'cepheids' were used to discover the expanding universe, and standard candles of exploding stars called 'supernovae' were used to discover the accelerating universe. Together, these two standard candles can be used to measure the size of the universe. Interestingly, this measurement of the size of the universe recovered conflicts with measurements of the size of the universe from extrapolations of data from the Cosmic Microwave Background. I will go over how we make our measurement, from soup to nuts, and discuss how we can be confident in the accuracy of our values. I will then discuss different ways too explain the tension we see in the different sets of measurements, and possible new physics that may be on the horizon.
French-American Science Festival 2017
Cosmin Deaconu, Postdoctoral Researcher - Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics, University of Chicago
Eric Oberla, Postdoctoral Researcher - Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics, University of Chicago
Sam Passaglia, Graduate Student - Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics, University of Chicago
The Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics (KICP) at the University of Chicago focuses on understanding the nature of the universe. Scientists at the University of Chicago use many different methods to learn about our universe. Come take a look at our cosmic ray detector, which can sense particles from outer space. Learn how we discover planets around other suns and about cosmology and particle astrophysics research performed by KICP in Antarctica, and the expansion of the universe. Feel free to ask us any questions you might have about the universe.
Cafe Scientifique: Abby Vieregg, "Turning a Continent into a Telescope"
Searching for the highest energy particles in the universe requires an extremely large detector, because they are very rare and elusive. Our hunt for these particles takes us to the bottom of the world - Antarctica - where we can use the entire 14 million square kilometer Antarctic ice sheet as a detector. The particles we are looking for are ultra high energy neutrinos that come from astrophysical sources which are the most powerful accelerators in the universe. At the cafe we will discuss why we search for these high energy neutrinos, how we do it, what we know now, and what we hope to learn in the coming years.
Astronomy on Tap: Zoheyr Doctor, "100 Years in the Making: The Detection of Gravitational Waves"
Join us for a Yuri's Night edition of Chicago Astronomy on Tap hosted by Univ. of Chicago at The Map Room! Yuri's Night celebrates the launch anniversary of the first person in space, Yuri Gagarin. Come hear about the history of human spaceflight, research into the ripples of the fabric of spacetime, and updates on the upcoming March For Science. Compete in astronomy trivia to win awesome astronomy prizes, enjoy the 25+ beers on tap at The Map Room, and enjoy an evening with some awesome alcohol-inclined astronomers!
This month's talk
100 Years in the Making: The Detection of Gravitational Waves - Zoheyr Doctor
Almost two years ago, a ripple in the fabric of space-time, originating from two black holes colliding a billion light-years away, was detected by an international team of scientists. Hear the story of how scientists made this groundbreaking discovery, and about the mind-boggling phenomena physicists and astronomers hope to understand in the coming years.Learn more >>
Broader Horizons: Nicole Fields, a health physicist at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
"From Grad School to Government": UC graduate Nicole Fields will discuss her career as a health physicist and how she got there since gaining her PhD.
Film Screening and Discussion: "Hidden Figures"
Watch a screening of 'Hidden Figures' and join an expert panel of UChicago female physicists and astrophysicists who will explore the contributions of women of color in science and the current and historical challenges they experience. Panelists are Professor Young Kee Kim, Kavli Institute graduate student Andrea Bryant, and KICP Fellow Camille Avestruz.
As the United States raced against Russia to put a man in space, NASA found untapped talent in a group of African-American female mathematicians that served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in U.S. history. Based on the unbelievably true life stories of three of these women, known as "human computers", we follow these women as they quickly rose the ranks of NASA alongside many of history's greatest minds specifically tasked with calculating the momentous launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit, and guaranteeing his safe return. Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Katherine Johnson crossed all gender, race, and professional lines while their brilliance and desire to dream big, beyond anything ever accomplished before by the human race, firmly cemented them in U.S. history as true American heroes.Learn more >>
LSST DESC Hack Week
The LSST Dark Energy Science Collaboration will be having its second "Hack Week" from April 3-7 at Fermilab, with April 5, Wednesday, spent at KICP. This is an excellent opportunity for those of you who have been waiting to get involved with LSST to begin!
The LSST DESC Hack Week is a working meeting aimed at gathering DESC members to perform focused work on specific projects. The meeting is scheduled for a full work-week, but we expect hacks and sprints of various duration will take place. We encourage participants to attend for all or part of the week.
Supported by the LSSTC and the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics.
Daniel Holz, "Gravitational Waves"
Join The Triple Helix for a discussion with Professor Daniel Holz, who worked on last year's gravitational waves discovery! Learn about what led to the discovery and what further progress has been made in the past year.
We will have copies of the newest edition of our Scientia journal available.
Computations in Science Seminar: Joshua A Frieman, "The Dark Energy Survey"
I will overview the Dark Energy Survey (DES) project, highlight its early science results, and discuss its on-going activities and plans. The DES collaboration built the 570-megapixel Dark Energy Camera for the Blanco 4-meter telescope at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile to carry out a 5-year, deep, multi-band, optical survey over one eighth of the sky and a time-domain survey that will discover several thousand supernovae. The survey started in Aug. 2013 and is now nearing completion of its fourth observing season. DES was designed to address the questions: why is the expansion of the Universe speeding up? Is cosmic acceleration due to dark energy or does it require a modification of General Relativity? If dark energy, is it the energy density of the vacuum (Einstein's cosmological constant) or something else? DES is addressing these questions by measuring the history of cosmic expansion and the growth of structure through four complementary techniques: galaxy clusters, the large-scale galaxy distribution, gravitational lensing, and supernovae, as well as through cross-correlation with other data sets. I will also discuss how the data are being used to make a variety of other astronomical discoveries, from our Solar System to the most distant quasars.
Towards a kg-size dark matter detector with CCDs
On January 25-27, the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics (KICP) will be holding a workshop on "Towards a kg-size dark matter detector with CCDs." The workshop will gather a group of scientists interested in developing a kg-size detector based on the Charged-Coupled Devices technology.
The first day of the Workshop will be dedicated to review the current status and lessons learned with DAMIC100, a 100 g CCD detector installed at SNOLAB. The following days working groups will focus on specific topics (e.g. CCD development, Electronics, DAQ, Simulation and Data Analysis, etc.).Learn more >>
On MLK Day King College Prep Cosmology Club Explores Dark Matter
On Martin Luther King Day, 2017, students from the Cosmology Club at Dr. Martin Luther King Prep High School will visit KICP to learn about current dark matter research and tour the lab facilities. The instructor of the club, Nora Wengerski, has been working with KICP Professor Luca Grandi and his group for several months, including a week-long research experience in the summer of 2016 and developing the curriculum for the King Prep cosmology club, which is in its inaugural year.
Winter 2017 Postdocs Symposium
Up & Down, Yerkes Winter Institute
Instructors: Randy Landsberg, Phil Mansfield, Eric Oberla, and Erik Shirokoff.
The 2016 Yerkes Winter Institute (YWI) focused on the forces that lift objects up and what happens when they are pushed down. Twenty local high schoolers in the Space Explorers program participated in three labs led by Erik Shirokoff, Eric Oberla, Phil Mansfield, and Randy Landsberg, which focused on pressure and buoyancy. This year's activities included weighing a car using only an air pressure gauge and a sheet of paper, determining how many party balloons it would actually take to lift the house in the film Up! (or the ANITA experiment), and a camp-wide competition where students used Archimedes' Principle to design boats that could carry as many pennies as possible. The activities in this year's YWI will help prepare the Space Explorers for the launch of a high altitude balloon which they will be performing later in the year. Nighttime activities included observations with the 24-inch telescope, identifying constellation and interesting astrophysical objects that they contain, and a slide show of the recent launch of ANITA in Antarctica. Thirty-seven parents and siblings joined the last day of YWI for presentations and closing ceremony.
Fall 2016 Postdocs Symposium
Physics colloquium: Carlos Wagner, University of Chicago, "Understanding the Origin of Mass and Matter"
Almost a century after the conceptual revolutions brought by the theories of relativity and quantum mechanics, the Standard Model has been established as the correct effective field theory describing all physical phenomena observed in nature, with the exception of gravity. Precision measurements of the recently discovered Higgs boson have provided the first clue on the origin of the mass of all known fundamental particles. As great as these achievements have been, there are several outstanding questions that remain to be answered. In this talk, after reviewing the current status of the field of particle physics, I will describe the efforts directed to understanding the dynamical origin of the observed ordinary and dark matter in the Universe.
Life Long Learning Training Session
In conjunction with the KICP Life Long Learning program, we are hosting a training session focused on working with older adults. Gerontologist Karen Kolb will conduct a workshop that will explore demographic trends, the physiology and psychology of aging, and practical considerations for presenting to older adults.
Theoretical Advances in Particle Cosmology
Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics (KICP) is hosting a workshop "Theoretical Advances in Particle Cosmology" this fall on the University of Chicago campus. The workshop will bring together theorists with common interests in early universe cosmology and high energy particle physics.
EFI colloquium: John Carlstrom, "Cosmic Microwave Background measurements through the Next Decade"
We will review the current status of cosmic microwave background (CMB) measurements and the planning for the experimental program for the next decade. The talk will focus on the science case and the path forward for the stage 4 ground - based experimental program, CMB - S4, as recommended by P5. The upcoming extremely sensitive CMB measurements will allow us to stringently test the cosmological model and investigate extensions to it. We will be searching for inflationary gravitational waves and rigorously testing single field slow roll inflation, determining the neutrino mass scale, searching for new relic particles, mapping the universe in momentum, investigating dark energy, testing general relativity and more.
Screening & Discussion: STARMEN
The screening will included a conversation with Director Alison Rose,
Kavli Prize Laureate Donald Lynden-Bell,
KICP Director Michael Turner,
and KICP associate director John Carlstrom.
Sponsored by: The Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics (KICP) and The Kavli Foundation
STARMENLearn more >>
Future Cosmic Surveys
On September 21-23, KICP will be holding a workshop on Future Cosmic Surveys. The workshop is intended to gather community input and support for five potential future projects, outlined in "Cosmic Visions Dark Energy: Science", produced by the DOE group. Related ideas were presented in the National Academies sponsored Elmegreen report; the recent NOAO/Kavli sponsored study; and the NRAO 2020 Futures Program.
The first day will be an overlap day with the CMB-S4 workshop preceding it; Thursday will be devoted to plenary talks about the five potential projects; Friday morning, we will break up into groups for each project and formulate a plan for developing the case for the projects; we come together Friday afternoon to hear and comment on the individual plans.
CMB-S4 Collaboration Workshop
This is the fourth of a series of biannual "Cosmology with CMB-S4" workshops dedicated to developing the next generation ground-based Cosmic Microwave Background program, CMB-S4. The first two days of the workshop are dedicated to CMB-S4. The third day will be an overlap day with the "Futures Cosmic Surveys", which is being held at Chicago September 21-23.
The CMB-S4 workshop will start with a review of the science case presented in the recently completed first edition of the CMB-S4 Science Book, followed by sessions dedicated to working on refining the science driven requirements for the CMB-S4 instrumental configuration.
We will review the set of instrumentation white papers, now being drafted, that summarize the current state of relevant technologies for CMB-S4 and identify R&D efforts to advance them for evaluation for possible use in CMB-S4. We will work on the road map to determine the instrumental configuration of CMB-S4.
The goal of the overlap day (Wednesday September 21) with the "Cosmic Surveys" workshop is for the two communities to update each other on their future plans and to explore the synergistic and joint analysis of the combined data sets.Learn more >>
"Observing Einstein's Outrageous Universe", Short Course for Museum & Planetarium Staff
Observing Einstein's Outrageous Universe: Gravitational Waves, Black Holes, Neutron Stars, Gravitational Lenses and the Big Bang
Who Should Attend: Museum & Planetarium Staff
What to Expect:
A century ago Einstein put forth his theory of gravity. For the first 50 years it was an exotic theory with many untestable predictions thought to be irrelevant to our Universe. Beginning 50 years ago with the discovery of quasars and the cosmic microwave background (CMB), it has become clear that we live in Einstein’s Universe where the extraordinary is now the ordinary and his theory is in full bloom. To study the Universe today you have to understand the cosmic implications of Einstein's theory. We will focus on observable aspects of some of the most outrageous and compelling predictions of general relativity. These predictions include black holes, gravitational waves, gravitational lensing, and the Big Bang. We will explore the recent detection of gravitational waves from the merger of black holes 30 times the mass of our Sun, the spectacular fireworks associated with the death of stars and the formation of neutron stars and black holes, precise measurements of properties of the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy, the bending of light due to the gravity of clusters of galaxies, and how we learn about the origin of space, time, and the earliest moments of the Universe.Learn more >>
Spy vs. Spy, Yerkes Summer Institute
Instructors: Camille Avestruz, Zoheyr Doctor, Gourav Khullar, Richard G. Kron, Randall H. Landsberg, James Lasker, Phil Mansfield, Sam Passaglia, Rebecca Pierce, Jason Poh.
The 2016 Yerkes Summer Institute (YSI) was filled with secrecy, deception, and espionage. At YSI, high school students in the Space Explorers program played the role of 20th-Century spies to handle secret information: revealing, concealing and distorting information. Through three day-long lab activities, the students explored connections between spying and science. In the "Secret Photos" lab, they studied angular size, resolution, and the film-development process in order to effectively gather information on "enemy operatives" using 35 mm cameras. In the "Radio Beams" lab, students designed, built, and tested a system to transmit audio via an amplitude-modulated (AM) laser, which allowed them to secretly communicate across long distances. Lastly, techniques to securely communicate were examined in the "Codes and Ciphers" lab, which also served as an introduction to modern cryptography. After cycling through these three day labs, the students broke into three new groups and took one of the labs a step further: one group doctored photographs to spread false information, another built AM radio transmitters and receivers, and the last created treasure hunts using codes and ciphers for the clues. Nighttime activities included: observations with the Yerkes telescopes, astrophotography, explorations of the constellations which focused on what current research can tell us about them (e.g. most know exoplanets were found by Kepler in the constellation Cygnus); and bad weather activities that included examinations of the veracity of viral internet photos, and stories of famous spies. The week's spy-themed activities not only introduced the students to the importance of privacy in the digital age, but also to the concepts and skills that are integral to any modern STEM career.
The 2016 Summer Kavli Fulldome Lecture: Michael Turner, "From The Big Bang To The Multiverse And Beyond"
We know the Universe began 13.7 billion years ago in an explosion of space called the Big Bang. We also know that the gravity of dark matter created the galaxies and other cosmic structures we see today from tiny quantum fluctuations that arose just after the Big Bang. Yet some big questions remain.
Is our Universe part of a larger multiverse?
What is speeding up the expansion of the Universe?
Theoretical astrophysicist Michael Turner has devoted his life and research to the pursuit of the answers to these questions. On July 31, the esteemed University of Chicago Professor will return to the Adler Planetarium for a reprise of the lecture that he delivered to a sold-out crowd on May 5. In a dazzling, fulldome presentation custom-made by the Adler's Space Visualization Lab, this presentation will illustrate what we know and how we know it, as well as the big ideas and puzzles of cosmology today.
As an important feature of the Kavli Fulldome Lecture Series, Turner's presentation will be live domecasted from the Adler to other planetaria around the country and the world. Stay tuned as locations are added.
About Michael Turner
Michael S. Turner is a theoretical astrophysicist and the Bruce V. and Diana M. Rauner Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago. He is also Director of the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics at Chicago. Turner helped to pioneer the interdisciplinary field of particle astrophysics and cosmology, and has made seminal contributions to the current cosmological paradigm known as "LambdaCDM", including the prediction of cosmic acceleration. His current research interests are dark matter, dark energy and inflation. Turner has won numerous prizes and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences.
About The Kavli Fulldome Lecture Series
The Kavli Fulldome Lecture series takes audiences on a journey to the very edges of human knowledge. Adler experts and leading scientists work together to create dazzling, animated images of real data, which are projected onto the planetarium dome during the lectures. Audiences don’t have to imagine what an equation might tell us about the Universe's distant past, they can travel back in time and see it with their own eyes.
Sponsor: The Kavli FoundationLearn more >>
Asher Berlin, "Phenomenology of Particle Dark Matter"
Ph.D. Committee members: Juan Collar, Wayne Hu
"Asher's work has covered a broad range of topics related to dark matter and efforts to reveal its particle nature. He has worked on theory calculations relevant to underground and space-based dark matter searches and to searches for dark matter at the Large Hadron Collider. More recently, he has worked on non-standard ways in which dark matter may be have created in the early universe."
- Dan Hooper, PhD advisor
Thesis Abstract: The search for dark matter incorporates a wide range of characteristic energies. In this talk, I will explore recent work related to theoretical aspects of dark matter that are sensitive to physics ranging from the QCD scale, to LHC energies, and even up to the reheating temperature following inflation.