Friday 5th February 2021 at 7.30 pm on Zoom,

The Looking Glass Universe – From Baryogenesis to Biogenesis

Is there a connection between the excess of matter over antimatter and handedness in biology?

Roger Blandford (KIPAC, Stanford University)

Image credit: ESO/APEX & MSX/IPAC/NASA and A.Symes

The laws of physics were long thought to be unchanged when viewed in a mirror.
We have known for over sixty years that they are not.
As Sakharov first explained, this asymmetry, in action during the first moments of the universe, may account for the prevalence of matter over antimatter today.
Likewise, as Pasteur first showed, the laws of biology are similarly asymmetric, as is exhibited by the structure of DNA.
In this talk I will discuss how there might be a causal connection between these two qualities, mediated by cosmic rays.
On the way, I will illustrate this uneven-handedness using recent, exciting, astronomical discoveries, involving black holes, neutron stars and exoplanets.

Roger Blandford took his BA, MA and PhD degrees at Cambridge University. Following postdoctoral research at Cambridge, Princeton and Berkeley he took up a faculty position at Caltech in 1976 where he was appointed as the Richard Chace Tolman Professor of Theoretical Astrophysics in 1989. In 2003 He moved to Stanford University to become the first Director of the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (KIPAC) and the Luke Blossom Chair in the School of Humanities and Science. His research interests include black hole astrophysics, cosmology, gravitational lensing, cosmic ray physics and compact stars. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Physical Society and a Member of the National Academy of Sciences. In 2008-2010, he chaired a two year National Academy of Sciences Decadal Survey of Astronomy and Astrophysics. He was awarded the 1998 Dannie Heineman Prize of the American Astronomical Society, the 2013 Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society, the 2016 Crafoord Prize for Astronomy and the 2020 Shaw Prize for Astronomy.

As a lecture of exceptional interest, this is classed as a BRLSI premier event with tickets available from Eventbrite at £7 and £4 (Please note that BRLSI and Herschel Society members qualify for the lower price). Follow the link to Eventbrite below to reserve tickets.

Friday 6th March 2020, Professor Michael G. Edmunds – Astronomy in an Age of Revolutions: The Foundation and Founders of the Royal Astronomical Society 1820

Two hundred years ago on a cold winter’s night in January, fourteen men sat down to dinner at the Freemasons’ Tavern in London. They agreed to form the Astronomical Society of London – which would become the Royal Astronomical Society in 1831.  What sort of men were they? What were they hoping to achieve?  In this bicentenary year the talk will look at these colourful characters – some famous, some less well known – with a few others from the early membership, and ask:  what was known about the Universe at that time?

Friday 7th February 2020, Dr Cees Carels, “Dark Matter and Current Direct Detection Experiments”

A large fraction of the matter content of the universe is thought to be dark matter. There are numerous experiments around the world that aim to detect dark matter or infer its properties directly or indirectly, though to date there has not yet been a conclusive direct experimental detection of a dark matter interaction. Dr Cees Carels will explore the current evidence in favour of the existence of dark matter, and cover in more detail a number of modern experiments and the challenges towards direct detection.

Our lecture programme has been suspended from April 2020 onwards

Our lecture programme was suspended from the beginning of April 2020 onwards because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Therefore the planned lecture by Michael Perryman on Friday 3rd April 2020 did not take place. The title was “Hipparcos and Gaia – Space Astrometry: unravelling the formation and evolution of our galaxy”. Also cancelled for now is our May lecture which was to have been “How the Sun Paints the Sky” by Dr Robert Fosbury.

The programme will be resumed in September 2020 with lectures streamed live over Zoom complete with Q & A sessions. Tickets will be available from Eventbrite at the same price as for physical lectures (£2 for members/students, £5 for others). Please check this Events page for further details and links to purchase tickets.

Friday 6th December 2019 – Moon: Art, Science, Culture, Dr Robert Massey & Dr Alexandra Loske

Tuesday 26th November, at 7pm, Caroline Herschel Prize Lecture, Bath University – Small Stellar Systems, Big Astrophysical Questions, Dr Anna Lisa Varri, University of Edinburgh

Friday 4th October 2019, Joint WHS/BIS Lecture – William Herschel and the Rings of Uranus, Dr Stuart Eves

It is generally believed that the rings around the planet Uranus were discovered during an occultation experiment in 1977. Remarkably, however, the first possible observations of a ring around Uranus may have been made by William Herschel some 180 years earlier. This talk discusses the evidence, and then considers the factors that might have changed to prevent further observations of the rings.

Friday 6th September 2019 – Exploring the Properties of Extreme Matter using Gravitational Waves and Gamma Ray Bursts, Dr David Tsang

Dr David Tsang was born in Canada, and did his undergraduate degree in Engineering Physics and Maths at the University of British Columbia, followed by a Masters and PhD in Physics at Cornell University. He has worked as a research scientist at Caltech, McGill University, the University of Maryland and the University of Southampton. He is now a Lecturer in the department of Physics at the University of Bath specializing in theoretical astrophysics.

Thursday 6th June. Bob Mizon and others. “Building Momentum on Starlit Skies.”

Pleae note that this is an invitation only event.