Wednesday, October 25, 2000

Astronomer to Discuss Why Nothing "Is Real"

Chestertown, MD, October 24, 2000 — The Washington College Department of Physics presents "Patterns in the Void: Why Nothing Really Matters," a talk by Dr. Sten Odenwald, astronomer and chief scientist for Raytheon STX. Sponsored by the Shapley Endowment Fund of the American Astronomical Society, the presentation will be held at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, November 2 in the Casey Academic Center Forum at Washington College. The event is free and the public is encouraged to attend.
For thousands of years, humans have been perplexed by the nature and meaning of the void. Most of us think of space as empty space or "nothingness," but during the last 100 years physicists and astronomers have begun to recognize that space is not "empty" in the common sense of the word, and it is far from being nothing. This presentation will challenge many of the most basic concepts of space, and why the dark spaces between the stars may hold the key to the destiny of our universe. This wide-ranging lecture will survey what astronomers and physicists now know about the void and how relativity, string theory, cosmology, and quantum mechanics all point toward a bizarre, and in many ways disturbing, picture of what space really is.
Dr. Odenwald holds a Ph.D. in astronomy from Harvard University and specializes in infrared astronomy. He is involved in education and outreach to broaden the public's understanding of the science of astronomy. In addition to technical papers, he has published articles in such popular publications as Sky and Telescope and The Washington Post. In 1999, he received the NASA Goddard Award of Excellence for Public Outreach.

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