Events, 2012
2012
DateEvents
January 9, 2012
4:15 PM
Talk
EFI Colloquium: Eric Dahl, "The COUPP Dark Matter Search- Results from the First Year of Deep Underground Running at SNOLAB"
January 10, 2012
10:30 AM
Event
Broader Horizons: Jeff Bezaire, Jump Trading
January 18, 2012
12:00 PM
Talk
Meg Urry, Yale University, "Women in Science: Why So Few?"
February 20, 2012
5:30 PM
Event
SWIP/KICP Pizza with Professors
February 27, 2012
4:00 PM
Event
Broader Horizons: Kim Coble, Chicago State University, "Teaching and Research at an Urban Comprehensive University"
March 15, 2012
1:30 PM
Postdocs Symposium
Winter 2012 Postdocs Symposium
March 16 - 17, 2012
Workshop
Supernova Hub workshop: "Photometric Identification of Supernova"
March 30 - April 1, 2012
Talk
KICP @ 2012 NSTA National Conference on Science Education "At the Crossroads for Science Education"
April 6, 2012
9:00 AM
Workshop
Chicagoland and Midwest Dark Matter Workshop
April 19 - 21, 2012
Workshop
Non-Gaussianity Hub
April 20, 2012
7:00 PM
Lecture
John Carlstrom, "Exploring the Universe from the Bottom of the World"
April 23, 2012
7:00 PM
Talk
Cafe Scientifique: Brad Benson, "The Ends of the Earth & the Beginning of the Universe: The Big Bang, Dark Energy & the South Pole"
April 30, 2012
1:00 PM
PhD Thesis Defense
Hao Huan: "Cosmic Gamma-Ray Propagation as a Probe for Intergalactic Media and Interactions"
May 18 - 19, 2012
Workshop
The 4th Neutrino
May 22, 2012
3:30 PM
Event
Broader Horizons: Francis Slakey, Georgetown University
May 30 - 31, 2012
Workshop
The Dark Energy Spectrometer
June 1, 2012
9:30 AM
Postdocs Symposium
Spring 2012 Postdocs Symposium
June 8, 2012
2:30 PM
PhD Thesis Defense
Immanuel Buder: "Measurement of the CMB Polarization at 95 GHz from QUIET"
July 10, 2012
2:30 PM
PhD Thesis Defense
Christopher Kelso: "Recent Results in Dark Matter Direct Detection Experiments"
July 11 - 21, 2012
Summer School
Summer School: Dark Matter Detectors
July 20, 2012
12:00 PM
PhD Thesis Defense
Samuel Leitner: "The Star Formation History of Disk Galaxies & Implications for Simulations"
July 23 - 27, 2012
Workshop
9th International Conference "Identification of Dark Matter"
August 3, 2012
2:00 PM
PhD Thesis Defense
Melanie Simet: "Galaxy cluster center detection methods with weak lensing"
August 5 - 11, 2012
Yerkes Institute
Making & Breaking: Destructive Testing , Yerkes Summer Institute
August 15, 2012
12:00 PM
Event
NASA Teleconference About Record-Breaking Galaxy Cluster
September 14, 2012
7:00 PM
Talk
Bradford Benson: "The Ends of the Earth & the Beginning of the Universe: The Big Bang, Dark Energy & the South Pole"
September 26 - 28, 2012
Cosmology Course
"Dark Matters", Short Course for Museum & Planetarium Staff
October 11, 2012
5:00 PM
Talk
John Carlstrom, "Exploring the Universe from the Bottom of the World"
October 12, 2012
12:00 PM
Event
Webcast with Josh Frieman, "Can a New Camera Unravel the Nature of Dark Energy?"
October 29, 2012
10:00 AM
PhD Thesis Defense
Christopher Greer, "Calibrating Optical Richness using Sunyaev-Zel'dovich Observations"
December 6, 2012
10:00 AM
Postdocs Symposium
Fall 2012 Postdocs Symposium
December 27 - 29, 2012
Yerkes Institute
Vision, Yerkes Winter Institute

EFI Colloquium: Eric Dahl, "The COUPP Dark Matter Search- Results from the First Year of Deep Underground Running at SNOLAB"
January 9, 2012 | 4:15 PM | LASR Conference room | Talk
COUPP detector
Talk
Precision cosmology tells us that most of the matter in the universe is dark, non-baryonic and non-relativistic. Whatever makes up this dark matter must lie outside the standard model of particle physics. The leading candidate for the dark matter is an undiscovered, stable Weakly Interacting Massive Particle (WIMP) which, if it is the dark matter, would be detectable in terrestrial detectors as the particles elastically scatter off atomic nuclei. The COUPP Collaboration uses bubble chambers to search for this elusive signal, and in the summer of 2010 deployed a 4kg bubble chamber 6800' below ground at SNOLAB in Sudbury, Ontario. I will present results from the first year of data from this detector, including the world-leading limit on the spin-dependent WIMP-proton cross section. With an ongoing campaign that will increase our WIMP sensitivity by an order of magnitude every year, COUPP may soon lead the field across the board in the hunt for WIMP dark matter and, if WIMPs do exist, could make the first detection of particles outside the standard model.

Broader Horizons: Jeff Bezaire, Jump Trading
January 10, 2012 | 10:30 AM | LASR Conference room | Event
Broader Horizons: Jeff Bezaire, Jump Trading
Event
The Broader Horizons talk series aims to educate members of the department, especially students and postdocs, on what career options lie outside of academia by bringing those with astronomy and physics PhDs to speak about their careers.

Next week as part of this series, we'll be hosting Jeff Bezaire from Jump Trading who will be speaking about his work as a quantitative trader.

Abstract:
As a "quant" working at an electronic trading firm, I develop models and strategies for fully automated, computerized trading of futures and equities in electronic markets around the world. In this talk I'll describe what I do, different roles for quants in finance and trading (and in particular in Chicago), and why physics/astrophysics grads are particularly good at it. The short answer – teasing causal relationships out of large datasets with time-varying, non-Gaussian noise, horrible non-stationary correlated systematics, from telemetry of questionable quality, where understanding what's going on at the hardware level is important… and making it all run fast too.

Jump Trading

Meg Urry, Yale University, "Women in Science: Why So Few?"
January 18, 2012 | 12:00 PM | Kent 120 | Talk
Meg Urry, Yale University, "Women in Science: Why So Few?"
Talk
The PSD Women in Science, the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics, and the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics invite you to a seminar by Prof. Meg Urry from Yale University on: Women in Science: Why So Few?
on Wednesday January 18th, at 12pm noon at Kent 120.

Talk: Women in Science: Why So Few?
Women continue to be underrepresented in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). The gender imbalance is particularly large in Physics, where fewer than 20% of college physics majors are women. Decades of research suggest this is due in large part to lower expectations and evaluations of women as leaders, thinkers, do-ers. I discuss the experimental data and outline steps that can be taken to mitigate these obstacles. Fuller participation is better for the field and better for everyone.

Speaker: Prof. Meg Urry
Israel Munson Professor of Physics and Astronomy
Chair, Department of Physics
Director, Yale Center for Astronomy & Astrophysics
Yale University

SWIP/KICP Pizza with Professors
February 20, 2012 | 5:30 PM | Kersten Family Atrium of the Gordon Center for the Integrative Sciences | Event
SWIP/KICP Pizza with Professors
Event
Photo Gallery
The Society of Women in Physics (SWIP) at the University of Chicago is partnering with the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics (KICP) to hold a dinner for undergraduate students interested in physics. Professors and Postdocs will join students for a pizza dinner and roundtable discussion about the joys and stresses of pursing a career in physics.

Broader Horizons: Kim Coble, Chicago State University, "Teaching and Research at an Urban Comprehensive University"
February 27, 2012 | 4:00 PM | TAAC 67 | Event
Faculty and students, Chicago State University
Event
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a faculty member at a minority-serving institution? A teaching-focused university? A state-funded organization? I will describe what led me to become interested in such a position, some of the thrills and challenges, as well as the requirements for landing the job and earning tenure. As a member of the AAS astronomy education board, I will provide tips and information on how to make your astronomy teaching more engaging and effective. Finally, I will briefly discuss the importance of astronomy education research and what led me to become involved in a project targeting student understanding of cosmology.

Winter 2012 Postdocs Symposium
March 15, 2012 | 1:30 PM | LASR conference room | Postdocs Symposium
Postdocs Symposium
On Thursday 15 March, we will host the next Postdoc symposium in the LASR conference room. It will take place from 1.30 pm to 5 pm. There will be food and snacks in the beginning and pizza at the end.
Speakers:
  • Craig Booth, "Feedback and Galaxy Formation: From Small Scales to Large"
  • Claudio Ugalde, "The Superheated Target for Astrophysics Research"
  • Surhud More, "How accurate is our knowledge of the galaxy bias?"
  • Rahul Biswas, "Topics in Supernova Cosmology"
  • Peter Adshead, "Chromo-Natural Inflation"
  • Will High, "Weak gravitational lensing by galaxy clusters in the South Pole Telescope survey"
  • Michael Solontoi, TBA
  • Eduardo Rozo, "A Fully Self-Consistent Picture of Galaxy Cluster Abundances and Optical, X-ray, and SZ Scaling Relations"

Supernova Hub workshop: "Photometric Identification of Supernova"
March 16 - 17, 2012 | Chicago, IL | Workshop
Supernova Hub workshop: "Photometric Identification of Supernova"
Workshop
Webpage

Photo Gallery
The workshop will focus on methods for identifying type Ia Supernvae (SNIa) without spectroscopy. The emphasis will be on using these photometric SNIa for Hubble Diagram analyses in PannStarrs, the Dark Energy Survey (DES) and the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST).Learn more >>

KICP @ 2012 NSTA National Conference on Science Education "At the Crossroads for Science Education"
March 30 - April 1, 2012 | Indianapolis, IN | Talk
KICP @ 2012 NSTA National Conference on Science Education "At the Crossroads for Science Education"
Talk
Louis E. Abramson, Randall H. Landsberg: "PHENOMenology: Stepping Through the Scientific Method"
Act out the scientific process as both investigator and phenomena in this interactive lab that explores the concepts of observation, inference, correlation, and causation.
Friday, March 30, 2012 @ 11:00 AM-12:00 PM
Indiana Convention Center, 207
Randall H. Landsberg, Mark SubbaRao: "Science Visualized: The Art of Science"
Pictures and images allow all types of learners to approach and explore modern science. Experience learning with depictions of cosmological data and remote observatories.
Saturday, March 31, 2012 @ 11:00 AM-12:00 PM
Westin Indianapolis, Grand Ballroom 3
Randall H. Landsberg, Kathryn Schaffer: "ART/Science"
From zines to art installations, this collaboration between the School of the Art Institute and the University of Chicago offers unique STEM learning opportunities.
Sunday, April 1, 2012 @ 8:00-9:00 AM
Indiana Convention Center, 106

Chicagoland and Midwest Dark Matter Workshop
April 6, 2012 | 9:00 AM | Fermilab | Workshop
Chicagoland and Midwest Dark Matter Workshop
Workshop
Webpage

Argonne, Fermilab and KICP will host a one day Chicagoland and Midwest Dark Matter Workshop with the goal of bringing together the collider, indirect and direct DM communities. The workshop is geared towards persons interested in Dark Matter who live within a 4-5 hr drive of Chicago. The workshop will be held in the Curia II conference room in Wilson Hall at Fermi National Laboratory.

Questions to discuss:
* What are the strengths and weakness of each approach to DM?
* Where do the different approaches complement each other in a way that provides more information than each individually?
* What are the prospects for making progress with each technique over the next decade?
* How can we build a larger community that can argue effectively for DM experiments leading up to the Snowmass 2013 meeting?

Organizing Committee:
Dan Bauer, Karen Byrum, Juan Collar, Dan Green, Salman Habib, Dan Hooper, Alexander Paramonov, Carlos Wagner, Ben Zitzer.Learn more >>

Non-Gaussianity Hub
April 19 - 21, 2012 | KICP, Chicago, IL | Workshop
Non-Gaussianity Hub
Workshop
Webpage

Photo Gallery
The Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics (KICP) at the University of Chicago will host Non-Gaussianity Hub workshop on April 19-21, 2012. We plan to bring together theorists and data analysts in this 3-day workshop on non-Gaussianity to consolidate the recent progress and discuss future efforts. We expect attendance by about 30 worldwide leaders in the field of non-Gaussianity.

Come to the workshop with your constraint on f_NL not worrying about systematics or uncertainties in the other cosmological parameters and work on the analysis of simulations:
* How would the systematics enter?
* What about inflationary input?
* Model -> observables?Learn more >>

John Carlstrom, "Exploring the Universe from the Bottom of the World"
April 20, 2012 | 7:00 PM | The Adler Planetarium, Universe Theater | Lecture
John Carlstrom, "Exploring the Universe from the Bottom of the World"
Lecture
Webpage

Astronomy Lecture presented by Dr. John Carlstrom

We are in the middle of a revolution in our understanding of the Universe. We can finally begin to answer questions such as "How old is the Universe? How did it start? What is the Universe made of? Cosmologists at the University of Chicago have been searching for answers to these questions in one of the most forbidding places on Earth: the high Antartica plateau. Dr John Carlstrom will speak about new measurements being carried out with the 10-m South Pole Telescope to test the inflation theory of the origin of the Universe and to investigate the nature of Dark Energy. The South Pole Telescope studies the Cosmic Microwave Background radiation, the fossil light from the Big Bang, providing a direct view of the Universe as it was 14 billion years ago.

John E. Carlstrom is the Subramanyan Chandrasekhar Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago and the deputy director of the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics. He received his Ph.D. in physics from the University of California at Berkeley in 1988. Dr. Carlstrom is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences. He has received several awards including a MacArthur Fellowship.Learn more >>

Cafe Scientifique: Brad Benson, "The Ends of the Earth & the Beginning of the Universe: The Big Bang, Dark Energy & the South Pole"
April 23, 2012 | 7:00 PM | Map Room - 1949 North Hoyne Ave Chicago, IL | Talk
Cafe Scientifique: Brad Benson, "The Ends of the Earth & the Beginning of the Universe: The Big Bang, Dark Energy & the South Pole"
Talk
One hundred years ago humans first arrived at South Pole and for the past 20 or so years scientists have traveled there to build telescopes to study the early Universe. These experiments measure light left over from the Big Bang, the cosmic microwave background (CMB). They provide a unique snapshot of the infant Universe at a time when it was only ~400,000 years old, or 0.003% of its current age. These measurements and other evidence tell us that the Universe began with a Big Bang about 14 billion years ago, and that it contains only 4 percent "ordinary" matter (e.g., stars and galaxies, you and me, etc.). The rest of the Universe consists of two mysterious dark components: Dark Matter and Dark Energy. We will discuss evidence for the Big Bang, Dark Matter, and Dark Energy; the latest results from the South Pole, and what its like to work at the bottom of the world.

Hao Huan: "Cosmic Gamma-Ray Propagation as a Probe for Intergalactic Media and Interactions"
April 30, 2012 | 1:00 PM | LASR Conference room | PhD Thesis Defense
Hao Huan: "Cosmic Gamma-Ray Propagation as a Probe for Intergalactic Media and Interactions"
PhD Thesis Defense
Ph.D. Committee: Paulo Privitera, Jonathan Rosner, Mark Oregia.

Thesis Abstract: Very-high-energy gamma rays from extragalactic sources travel a long way through the universe before being detected. Along this path the gamma-ray photons interact with the intergalactic photon field, including the cosmic microwave background and extragalactic background light, to initiate an electromagnetic cascade in the cosmic voids. The geometry of the cascade is affected by the presence of an extragalactic magnetic field, resulting in a characteristic morphology called a pair halo in observations. We employ both semi-analytic modeling and a full-scale Monte Carlo simulation to predict the distribution of cascade photons. In comparing predictions with observed data we are able to place a lower limit on the magnetic field strength at pG level, the weakest people have been able to probe so far.

The 4th Neutrino
May 18 - 19, 2012 | Chicago, IL | Workshop
The 4th Neutrino
Workshop
Webpage

The 4th Neutrino workshop will take place from Friday May 18th to Saturday May 19th in Chicago, IL. The workshop is being hosted by the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics (KICP) in the Laboratory for Astrophysics and Space Research (LASR) building at the University's of Chicago main campus in Hyde Park.

The main topics of the workshop are:
* Neutrino and Cosmic Microwave Background
* Neutrino and Big Bang Nucleosynthesis
* Current bounds on N_nu and Sum m_nu from cosmology
* Sterile Neutrinos in the Early Universe
* Sterile Neutrinos in Astrophysics
* Terrestrial "hints" for sterile neutrinos: short-baseline anomalies
* Reactor Neutrino Experiments
* Theoretical understanding of neutrinos from nuclear reactors
* Theoretical Models of neutrino massLearn more >>

Broader Horizons: Francis Slakey, Georgetown University
May 22, 2012 | 3:30 PM | LASR Conference room | Event
Broader Horizons: Francis Slakey, Georgetown University
Event
Francis Slakey is the Upjohn Lecturer on Physics and Public Policy at Georgetown University and an Associate Director at the American Physical Society, where his focus is the intersection of science and society. The founder and co-director of the Program on Science in the Public Interest, a Lemelson Associate of the Smithsonian Institution, and a MacArthur Scholar, Dr. Slakey has been featured by NPR, National Geographic, and others, and his writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The New York Times, Slate, and Scientific American. In recognition of his adventures, he carried the Olympic Torch from the steps of the U.S. Capitol as part of the 2002 Olympic Games. In July of 2009 he became the first person to summit the highest mountain on every continent and surf every ocean.

The Dark Energy Spectrometer
May 30 - 31, 2012 | Chicago, IL | Workshop
The Dark Energy Spectrometer
Workshop
Webpage

Photo Gallery
The Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics (KICP) at the University of Chicago will host The Dark Energy Spectrometer workshop on May 30-31 to discuss DESpec, a conceptual next generation dark energy project to enable massive spectroscopic surveys in the southern hemisphere. It would naturally synergize with the Dark Energy Survey (DES), which will start taking data later this year, and with LSST in the longer term. The goal of this meeting is to review past and present work on DESpec and to make plans for how to proceed. We will briefly review the current state of the instrument design and then identify the next steps in the project, including describing the R&D necessary to proceed with theory, survey strategy, and instrument definition. The goal of the workshop will be to begin to assemble the DESpec team, define the project's mission statement, and plan how to proceed in the coming year.Learn more >>

Spring 2012 Postdocs Symposium
June 1, 2012 | 9:30 AM | LASR conference room | Postdocs Symposium
Postdocs Symposium
On Friday June 1, we will host the Spring Postdoc symposium in the LASR conference room. It will take place from from 9:30 AM to 12:30 PM followed by lunch.

Schedule:
9:30-9:55
Maria Monasor, "Microwave detection of Ultra High Energy Cosmic Rays"
9:55-10:20
Jeff Grube, "VERITAS observations of Galactic particle accelerators"
10:20-10:45
Stephen Hoover, "The Birth of SPTpol"
10:45-10:55
Break
10:55-11:20
Brad Benson, "SPT-3G: Building the Science Case and the Design for the Next Generation Camera on SPT"
11:20-11:45
Yuko Kakazu, "Deep Spectroscopy of High-redshift (4 < z < 6) galaxies in the COSMOS field
11:45-12:10
Suman Bhattacharya, "Dark Matter Halo Profilesof Massive Clusters: Theory vs. Observations"

Immanuel Buder: "Measurement of the CMB Polarization at 95 GHz from QUIET"
June 8, 2012 | 2:30 PM | ACC 211 | PhD Thesis Defense
Immanuel Buder: "Measurement of the CMB Polarization at 95 GHz from QUIET"
PhD Thesis Defense
PhD Committee: Paolo Privitera, Michael Turner, David Biron.

Thesis Abstract: Despite the great success of precision cosmology, cosmologists cannot fully explain the initial conditions of the Universe. Inflation, an exponential expansion in the first 10-30s, is a promising potential explanation. A generic prediction of inflation is odd-parity (B-mode) polarization in the cosmic microwave background (CMB). The Q/U Imaging ExperimenT (QUIET) aimed to limit or detect this polarization. We built a coherent pseudo-correlation microwave polarimeter. An array of mass-produced "modules" populated the focal plane of a 1.4-m telescope. We incorporated "deck" rotation, an absorbing ground screen, a new time-stream "double-demodulation" technique, and optimized optics into the design to reduce instrumental polarization. We observed with this instrument at the Atacama Plateau in Chile between August 2009 and December 2010. We collected 5336.9,hours of CMB observation and 1090,hours of astronomical calibration. This thesis describes the analysis and results of these data. We characterized the instrument using the astronomical calibration data as well as purpose-built artificial sources. We developed noise modeling, filtering, and data selection following a blind-analysis strategy. Central to this strategy was a suite of 32 null tests, each motivated by a possible instrumental problem or systematic effect. We also evaluated the systematic errors in the blind stage of the analysis before the result was known. We then calculated the CMB power spectra using a pseudo-$C_ell$ cross-correlation technique that suppressed contamination and made the result insensitive to noise bias. We measured the first three peaks of the E-mode spectrum at high significance and limited B-mode polarization. Systematic errors were well below ($r < 0.01$) our B-mode polarization limit. This systematic-error reduction was a strong demonstration of technology for application in more sensitive, next-generation CMB experiments.

Christopher Kelso: "Recent Results in Dark Matter Direct Detection Experiments"
July 10, 2012 | 2:30 PM | LASR conference room | PhD Thesis Defense
Christopher Kelso: "Recent Results in Dark Matter Direct Detection Experiments"
PhD Thesis Defense
PhD Committee members: Juan Collar, Carlos Wagner, Wendy Zhang

"Chris' research has been focused on dark matter, and interpretations of data from a number of underground experiments designed to search for it. Particularly exciting has been his work on dark matter interpretations of the signals reported by the CoGeNT, CRESST and DAMA experiments. While we cannot say for certain yet whether these experiments are seeing dark matter particles, Chris' work has certainly helped to make these experiments and their anomalous results a "hot topic" among particle physicists and cosmologists."
- Dan Hooper, PhD advisor

Thesis Abstract: Three dark matter direct detection experiments (DAMA/LIBRA, CoGeNT, and CRESST-II) have each reported signals which resemble that predicted for a dark matter particle with a mass of roughly 10 GeV. I will review the detectors and their reported signals over the last few years. I will also compare the signals of these experiments and discuss whether they can be explained by a single species of dark matter particle, without conflicting with the constraints of other experiments. I will show that the spectrum of events reported by CoGeNT and CRESST-II are consistent with each other and with the constraints from CDMS-II, although some tension with xenon- based experiments remains. Similarly, the modulation signals reported by DAMA/LIBRA and CoGeNT appear to be compatible, although the corresponding amplitude of the observed modulations are a factor of at least a few higher than would be naively expected, based on the event spectra reported by CoGeNT and CRESST-II. I will also discuss some ways that this apparent discrepancy could potentially be resolved.

Summer School: Dark Matter Detectors
July 11 - 21, 2012 | Chicago, IL | Summer School
Summer School: Dark Matter Detectors
Summer School
Webpage

Photo Gallery
The Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics (KICP) at the University of Chicago will host a Summer School on Dark Matter Detectors from July 11th to July 21st 2012. The aim of the School is to expose a select group of 15 to 20 graduate students to the challenges of designing, building, and operating both current and future dark matter detectors for searches conducted at underground laboratories. The School will provide the students a full-immersion, hands-on experience, with several labs exploring experimental techniques for dark matter detection. Planned experiments that students will be able to perform include: calibration of photon detectors, characterization of ultra-pure Germanium detectors, radiopurity determination through spectroscopic measurements, the art of fighting electronic noise, shielding techniques, measurement of a scintillator's quenching factor, particle detection with a bubble chamber and CCDs, and measurement of electroluminescence in noble gases. Data acquisition and simulation techniques will also be covered.

The School will be held in the Laboratory for Astrophysics and Space Research (LASR) at the University of Chicago. A visit to Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), where the students will become familiar with noble liquid, bubble chamber and cryogenic detectors, is also included.Learn more >>

Samuel Leitner: "The Star Formation History of Disk Galaxies & Implications for Simulations"
July 20, 2012 | 12:00 PM | ACC 211 | PhD Thesis Defense
Samuel Leitner: "The Star Formation History of Disk Galaxies & Implications for Simulations"
PhD Thesis Defense
PhD Committee members: Fausto Cattaneo, Hsiao-Wen Chen, Nick Gnedin.

"In his thesis paper Sam has derived star formation histories of galaxies, which are still forming stars now, using a variety of observations on how star formation rate depends on stellar mass of galaxies as a function of cosmic epoch. Remarkably, the results show that galaxies such as our Milky Way have formed more than 80% of their stars over the last ten billion years of the evolution, and less than 20% during the first three billion years. This result is at variance with most simulations of galaxy formation and may help to explain why simulations generally fail to produce late-type disk galaxies with small bulges. In his paper, Sam has also uncovered a curious discrepancy between the star formation histories of dwarf galaxies derived using the method he used and those deduced from the color-magnitude diagram of stars for nearby dwarfs."
- Andrey Kravtsov, PhD advisor

Thesis Abstract: Disk galaxies are sensitive probes of the processes governing the growth of stellar mass in the universe. Hydrodynamic simulations still struggle to match the observed properties of these galaxies. I will present the mass-dependent star formation history of disk galaxies (deduced from surveys of the relation between star formation rate and stellar mass). These histories robustly trace present-day massive disks back to when they were close to 10% of their current mass. Based on these star formation histories, I will argue that limiting star formation at early epochs is crucial to forming more realistic disks in simulations. Simulation further show that gas accreted at high redshift cannot be allowed to settle at the centers of disks. Improved treatment of the star formation and the radiation feedback within molecular clouds provides a natural path to both restrained star formation and redistributed gas. I will briefly discuss subgrid treatment of these processes and some promising results from simulations.

9th International Conference "Identification of Dark Matter"
July 23 - 27, 2012 | Chicago, IL | Workshop
9th International Conference "Identification of Dark Matter"
Workshop
Webpage

Photo Gallery
The Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics (KICP) at the University of Chicago will host the 9th International Conference "Identification of Dark Matter, 2012" in Chicago, USA on July 23-27, 2012. The conference will take place in downtown Chicago at the Holiday Inn Mart Plaza.

The main topics of the conference are
* Dark matter candidates
* Dark matter direct searches
* Dark matter indirect searches
* Connections with accelerator searches
* Halo models and structure formation
* Weak lensing
* Neutrino physics
* Cosmology and dark energy

The conference will include both invited and contributed talks as well as a few more specialized sessions.Learn more >>

Melanie Simet: "Galaxy cluster center detection methods with weak lensing"
August 3, 2012 | 2:00 PM | TAAC 67 | PhD Thesis Defense
Melanie Simet: "Galaxy cluster center detection methods with weak lensing"
PhD Thesis Defense
PhD Committee members: Dan Hooper, Michael Gladders, Angela Olinto, Michael Turner.

"Melanie has studied weak gravitational lensing caused by galaxy clusters. She led the effort to measure this lensing signal in Stripe 82 of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, with results that will help calibrate cluster masses and begin the community on the road to measuring tomography. For her thesis, Melanie studied the important effect that it is difficult to locate the true center of a galaxy cluster. This "mis-ceterning" problem leads to incorrect mass determinations. By using a combination of simulations and data from SDSS, Melanie quantified both the effect and various algorithms proposed to address it."
- Scott Dodelson, PhD advisor

Thesis Abstract: The precise location of galaxy cluster centers is a persistent problem in weak lensing mass estimates and in interpretations of clusters in a cosmological context. In this work, we test methods of centroid determination directly from weak lensing data and examine the effects of such self-calibration on the measured masses. Drawing on lensing data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey Stripe 82, a 275 square degree region of coadded data in the Southern Galactic Cap, together with a catalog of MaxBCG clusters, we show that halo substructure as well as shape noise and stochasticity in galaxy positions limit the precision of such a self-calibration (in the context of Stripe 82, to $sim 500 h^{-1}$ kpc or larger) and bias the mass estimates around these points to a level that is likely unacceptable for the purposes of making cosmological measurements. We note two MaxBCG clusters that may be centered on a location other than the brightest cluster galaxy and discuss implications for future work.

Making & Breaking: Destructive Testing , Yerkes Summer Institute
August 5 - 11, 2012 | Yerkes Observatory, Williams Bay, WI | Yerkes Institute
Making & Breaking: Destructive Testing , Yerkes Summer Institute
Yerkes Institute
Photo Gallery
Instructors: Alissa Bans, Juan Collar, Nicole Fields, Dylan Hatt, Sean Johnson, Chris Kelso, Randy Landsberg,Reid Sherman, Kyle Story.

The Yerkes Summer Institute (YSI) is a week long, residential, science camp for inner-city high school students in the Space Explorers Program. In addition to providing the students a science immersion experience, it offers many teaching, curriculum design, communications and team working opportunities for the instructors, who are generally early career scientists.

YSI 2012 explored destructive testing as a tool for understanding stress, strain, and safety devices. In each lab, students studied the basic physics underlying a device, designed their own device, and then employed destructive testing to improve their designs. Monday through Wednesday, students cycled through three different day long laboratories, which examined bridge failure, crash tests, and the effects of earthquakes on structures. These daytime activities lead to two days of extension activities in which groups of students further investigated a lab and prepared a presentation on their findings for their parents and peers. Nighttime activities focused on observations with the Yerkes Observatory telescopes.

In the "Spanning the Gap: Bridges" lab students studied the fundamentals of bridge design, especially how bridges accommodate loads (static stresses). They designed and constructed their own bridges, which they then stress tested by loading with progressively more weight, until they failed. Finally, the students applied what they had learned from the failure modes to build better bridges.

The "Humpty Dumpty: Crash Test" lab investigated the extreme stresses that occur during a car crash using a pinewood derby car with an egg as a proxy for a passenger. After exploring impact stress, stopping distances, deceleration and how seat belts, airbags and crumple zones lessen damage, the students designed safety devices to protect an egg during a derby car crash test. Although none of the initial student designs were successful, by experimenting with different seatbelt and airbag configurations, the students iteratively improved their designs until they were able to keep their egg passengers safe.

During the "Quaking Towers: Shake Table" lab, students investigated strategies employed to help buildings withstand the powerful dynamic stresses of an earthquake. They then designed and constructed "earthquake resistant" model sky-scrappers, using an evolved form of Tinker Toys called K'nex. These model buildings were tested on a homemade shake table, which simulated earthquake conditions. The dynamic stress tests were documented via video, and careful frame-by-frame analysis helped the students to determine where and how their buildings had failed, which lead to improved designs.

Participant Survey excerpts:
77% felt there were connections between the Yerkes labs and everyday life (e.g., I usually don't wear seatbelts, now I understand why its important to wear it.)
94% would recommend this institute to their friends
  • "I love this experience and it really helped me learn more things about science and things in general."
  • "I really enjoyed this trip because I learned a lot about how to improve buildings, cars, and bridges. You cannot just build something in a little amount of time."
  • "I think it was a fun experience. I learned a lot about ways of improving everyday things that I had never thought about."

NASA Teleconference About Record-Breaking Galaxy Cluster
August 15, 2012 | 12:00 PM | Event
Bradford Benson, KICP fellow
Event
Webpage

NASA will hold a media teleconference to discuss an extraordinary galaxy cluster that is smashing several important cosmic records.

The panelists are:
* Michael McDonald, Hubble Fellow, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass.
* Bradford Benson, astrophysicist, KICP
* Megan Donahue, professor of astronomy, Michigan State University, East Lansing
* Martin Rees, professor of cosmology and astrophysics, University of Cambridge, United KingdomLearn more >>

Bradford Benson: "The Ends of the Earth & the Beginning of the Universe: The Big Bang, Dark Energy & the South Pole"
September 14, 2012 | 7:00 PM | Adler Planetarium | Talk
Bradford Benson: "The Ends of the Earth & the Beginning of the Universe: The Big Bang, Dark Energy & the South Pole"
Talk
Webpage

One hundred years ago humans first arrived at South Pole and for the past 20 or so years scientists have traveled there to build telescopes to study the early Universe. These experiments measure light left over from the Big Bang, the cosmic microwave background (CMB). They provide a unique snapshot of the infant Universe at a time when it was only ~400,000 years old, or 0.003% of its current age. These measurements and other evidence tell us that the Universe began with a Big Bang about 14 billion years ago, and that it contains only 4 percent "ordinary" matter (e.g., stars and galaxies, you and me, etc.). The rest of the Universe consists of two mysterious dark components: Dark Matter and Dark Energy. I will discuss evidence for the Big Bang, Dark Matter, and Dark Energy; the latest results from the South Pole, and what its like to work at the bottom of the world.

Dr. Bradford Benson is a postdoctoral fellow at the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics at the University of Chicago. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1999, received his Ph.D. in physics from Stanford University in 2004, and was first a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California-Berkeley. Dr. Benson has published over 50 scientific papers. His scientific interests include clusters of galaxies, sub-mm and mm-wavelength detector development, and measurements of the cosmic microwave background, the 14 billion year old light left-over from the Big Bang. His main goals are to develop instrumentation and make observations that can answer some of the biggest questions in cosmology: What physics was responsible for the Big Bang? What is Dark Energy? What is the mass of the neutrino? How did they affect the growth of the largest structures in the Universe?Learn more >>

"Dark Matters", Short Course for Museum & Planetarium Staff
September 26 - 28, 2012 | Chicago, IL | Cosmology Course
"Dark Matters", Short Course for Museum & Planetarium Staff
Cosmology Course
Webpage

Photo Gallery
The past twenty years have brought enormous advances in our understanding of the Universe. Evidence from multiple forms of investigation including: precise measurements of the CMB, supernovae, statistical studies of the structures of the Universe, gravitational lensing, baryon acoustic oscillations, theory and phenomenalogical simulations all point to the same concordance model: a Universe that started with a big bang and then went through a brief period of superluminal growth (i.e. inflation); which is currently expanding at an accelerated rate and has a matter energy composition of:
  • 72% dark energy
  • 23% dark matter
  • 4.6% atoms
  • 0.4% photons

However nice and neat this picture is, it remains full of unknowns. This short course will explore in depth one of the major mysteries on which this model rests: dark matter. It will provide you with the current big cosmological picture, gritty details of the on going searches for dark matter, stories from the forefronts of research and resources that will help you to bring dark matter back to your home institution in a meaningful way. You will meet the individuals behind the headlines and the course format will provide abundant time for informal interactions with them and your peers.

Beyond the big picture and how dark matter fits into this picture, we will delve much deeper into this mysterious stuff that comprises almost a quarter of the universe. We will explore the evidence for the existence of dark matter, what models and experimental evidence point to as potential candidates for the particles that compose dark matter, and how dark matter might be detected. Dark matter detection and detector hardware will be a special focus of this course. We will explore direct detection, indirect detection, accelerator searchers (i.e.., producing it in an accelerator and then detecting the decay particles) and the hardware that makes these searchers possible.Learn more >>

John Carlstrom, "Exploring the Universe from the Bottom of the World"
October 11, 2012 | 5:00 PM | School of the Art Institute of Chicago 112 South Michigan Ave., SAIC Ballroom | Talk
John Carlstrom, "Exploring the Universe from the Bottom of the World"
Talk
Webpage

Speaker: John Carlstrom, PhD., Professor at the Departments of Astronomy & Astrophysics, Physics, and the Enrico Fermi Institute; and Director of the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics at the University of Chicago

Abstract: Our quest to understand the origin, evolution and make-up of the Universe has undergone dramatic and surprising advances over the last decades. Much of the progress has been driven by measurements of the cosmic microwave background radiation, the fossil light from the big bang, that provide a glimpse of the Universe as it was 14 billion years ago. By studying tiny variations in the background radiation, cosmologists have been able to test theories of the origin and evolution of the Universe, as well as determine that ordinary matter (the stuff that makes up stars and humans alike) accounts for a mere 4% of the density of the Universe, that the mysterious dark matter accounts for six times that amount, and that a still-elusive and poorly understood "dark energy" is required to make up the remaining 70% of the Universe. After reviewing how we have arrived at such startling conclusions, this talk will focus on new measurements being carried out with the 10-meter South Pole Telescope to test theories of the origin of the Universe and to investigate the nature of mysterious dark energy.Learn more >>

Webcast with Josh Frieman, "Can a New Camera Unravel the Nature of Dark Energy?"
October 12, 2012 | 12:00 PM | Kavli Foundation | Event
Webcast with Josh Frieman, "Can a New Camera Unravel the Nature of Dark Energy?"
Event
Webpage

ONE OF THE MOST AMBITIOUS astronomical surveys in history will soon begin to answer perhaps the biggest question in cosmology: Why is the universe expanding at an ever accelerating rate? On Sept. 12, a new powerful camera on the Victor M. Blanco Telescope at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile saw First Light. The milestone paves the way for survey operations to begin in December.

The Dark Energy Camera, constructed at the U.S. Department of Energy's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois and equipped with 570 megapixels, is expected to image 300 million galaxies, 100,000 galaxy clusters and 4,000 supernovae as far as 8 billion light years away during the five-year Dark Energy Survey. The multinational project will use the data it collects to study four probes of dark energy, the mysterious and unexplained force driving the accelerated expansion of the universe. They include the study of galaxy clusters, supernovae, the large-scale clumping of galaxies and weak gravitational lensing - the phenomenon by which the light from distant galaxies is stretched and magnified by foreground clusters of galaxies. More than 120 scientists from 23 institutions in the United States, Spain, the United Kingdom, Brazil and Germany are involved in the Dark Energy Survey. On Friday Oct. 12, science writer Bruce Lieberman will ask questions from the public about the survey and the new camera that will drive it in a roundtable interview with Joshua Frieman, director of the survey and a member of the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics (KICP) at the University of Chicago, and Brenna Flaugher, project manager at Fermilab for the Dark Energy Camera.Learn more >>

Christopher Greer, "Calibrating Optical Richness using Sunyaev-Zel'dovich Observations"
October 29, 2012 | 10:00 AM | LASR conference room | PhD Thesis Defense
Christopher Greer, "Calibrating Optical Richness using Sunyaev-Zel'dovich Observations"
PhD Thesis Defense
PhD Committee members: Al Harper, Wayne Hu, and Scott Dodelson.

"Chris Greer made critical contributions to the building and deploying of the Sunyaev-Zel'dovich Array (SZA), an interferometric array of 3.5 meter mm-wave telescopes located at the CARMA site in California. He used the SZA to image the SZ effect for a sample of galaxy clusters selected by their richness in the SDSS maxBCG cluster catalog. His thesis provides the first joint calibration of the SZ and optical mass-observable relation. This work is important for using cluster surveys for constraining cosmology, in particular the nature of dark energy, and it provides the ground work for the upcoming joint analysis of the large South Pole Telescope and Dark Energy Survey data sets."
- John Carlstrom, PhD advisor

Thesis Abstract: The advent of multiple large-area galaxy cluster surveys across multiple wavelengths means that galaxy cluster abundance measurements will play a key role in understanding the dark energy accelerating the universe. The main systematic limitation at the moment, however, is the understanding of the observable-mass relation. Recent theoretical work has shown that combining samples of clusters from surveys at different wavelengths can mitigate this systematic limitation. I present Combined Array for Research in Millimeter-wave Astronomy (CARMA) Sunyaev-Zel'dovich (SZ) observations of 28 galaxy clusters selected from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) maxBCG catalog. This cluster sample represents a complete, volume-limited sample of the richest galaxy clusters in the SDSS DR7 survey between redshifts 0.2 &ge z &ge 0.3, as measured by the RedMaPPer algorithm being developed for the Dark Energy Survey (DES, Rykoff et al., 2012).

I develop a formalism that uses the cluster abundance in tandem with the galaxy richness measurements from SDSS and the SZ signal measurements form CARMA to calibrate the SZ and optical mass-observable relations. We find that the scatter in richness at fixed mass is &sigma = 0.24+/-0.09 using SZ signal calculated by integrating a cluster pressure profile to a radius of 1 Mpc at the redshift of the cluster. I also calculate the SZ signal at R500 and find that the choice of scaling relation used to determined R500 has a non-trivial effect on the constraints of the observable-mass relationship. Finally, I investigate the source of disagreement between the positions of the SZ signal and SDSS Brightest Cluster Galaxies (BCG)s. Improvements to the richness calculator that account for blue BCGs in the cores of cool-core X-ray clusters, as well as multiple BCGs in merger situations will help reduce &sigma further. This work represents the first independent calibration of the RedMaPPer algorithm.

Fall 2012 Postdocs Symposium
December 6, 2012 | 10:00 AM | LASR conference room | Postdocs Symposium
Postdocs Symposium
On Thursday 6 December, we will host the Fall 2012 Postdoc symposium in the LASR conference room. It will take place from 10AM pm to 12:30PM. After the talks, we will all have pizza for lunch.

Speakers:
(20-minute talk, with ~5 minutes for questions)
  • Keith Bechtol,"Contribution of Hadronic Processes to the Isotropic Diffuse Gamma-ray Background"
  • Doug Watson,"On the relation between satellite and central galaxies and their host dark matter halos since z=2"
  • Mark Wyman, "Massive gravity: solutions and perturbations"
  • Andrew McCann, "Giant Radio Pulses: A search for correlated incoherent emission"
  • Marilena LoVerde

Vision, Yerkes Winter Institute
December 27 - 29, 2012 | Yerkes Observatory, Williams Bay, WI | Yerkes Institute
Vision, Yerkes Winter Institute
Yerkes Institute
Photo Gallery
Lab Instructors: Dylan Hatt, Alissa Bans, Juan Collar, Walter Glogowski, Randy Landsberg, Tongyan Lin, Sean Mills, and Denis Erkal (lab development).

The 2012 Yerkes Winter Institute focused on the eye and how the world is perceived through vision. Three daytime laboratories that explored different aspects of human vision formed the core of the institute:
  • Critical Flicker Factor,
  • Stop Motion Video,
  • Alien Vision.
In the Critical Flicker Factor lab the students investigated the differences between rods and cones, the two types of photoreceptors within the eye; this included the perception of color and detail, and the minimum response time to notice a changing stimulus. The Stop Motion Video lab explored this finite response time and how it influences our perception of motion. In the lab, students determined the limits of frame rates and applied this to the creation of stop-motion videos based on scientific principles and phenomena (see videos). While human vision encompasses only a small portion of electromagnetic spectrum, some animals can take advantage of a greater range, which students studied through experiments with the infrared and ultraviolet in the Alien Vision lab. Poor weather did not permit telescope observations but everyone enjoyed other evening activities including a video showcase of the students' own stop motion productions.

Nineteen (19) Space Explorers and seven (7) instructors were in residence at the Institute, and thirty-five (35) parents, siblings and family members joined the last day of the institute for the student presentations and the closing ceremony.

Participant Survey Excerpts:
94% of participants would recommend it to their friends
  • "That I learned about my eyes and I know how they work"
  • "[Most Valuable] Learning about everyday things we take for granted"
  • "I learned that cones are for the day time and rods are for dim or dark light"
  • "I really enjoyed the whole thing, but I just wish that we could have been able to look out the telescopes."
  • "I enjoy coming to Yerkes to learn about science."

YWI 2012 "Vision" - Laboratory Descriptions:
Critical Flicker Factor (Dylan Hatt, Tongyan Lin)
There are many parts of the eye that allow us to see the way we do, but the ability to see light depends on biological detectors within the eye. There are two main types of detector cells. The cones allow us to see the bright and colorful world during the day, and the rods allow us to find our way at night when it is dark. In this laboratory, we will discover how our perception of the world changes based on whether it is light or dark and how the eye switches between one tool of vision to another.
Stop Motion (Sean Mills, Walter Glogowski, Randy Landsberg)
In this lab we will explore how one can make still images look like they are moving. We will use a zoetrope, a mechanical precursor to a movie projector, to examine the limits of when still images appear to move and when they do not. Finally we will create our own stop motion movies. You will be the writer, producer, director and possibly star of these short motion pictures with a point.
Alien Vision (Juan Collar, Alissa Bans)
What if you could see the world in a whole new light? Not just a new perspective, but literally, what would the world look like if we could see outside the normal boundaries of human vision? While our unaided eye can only detect a small range of light, with technology we can detect light spanning from radio waves to gamma-rays! In this lab, not only will we be experimenting with how objects appear in these exotic forms of light, but we will also demonstrate that even though this light is invisible to your eye it shares the exact same properties of visible light. We will use these properties to "see" the invisible and learn a little bit about what it would be like to have alien vision!