Public Talk

Einstein's Blunder Undone: Exploding stars, Dark Energy and the Accelerating Universe

October 19, 2016

When: October 19, 2016 7:00PM
Where: Center Stage Theater, 751 Paseo Nuevo, Santa Barbara

Robert Kirshner

Harvard University

Just 100 years ago, Albert Einstein invented a new theory of gravity: general relativity. When he applied it to the universe as a whole, he inserted a mathematical term, the cosmological constant, to account for a static universe. But within a decade, astronomers showed that the universe is not static, but expanding. Einstein discarded that cosmological constant, dubbed his "greatest blunder." But more recent observations of exploding stars halfway across the universe show that the universe is not only expanding, but the expansion is speeding up. We attribute this to a "dark energy" that is very much like Einstein's cosmological constant-- a mysterious repulsive energy that makes up 2/3 of the energy in the universe.

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Robert Kirshner

We are pleased to have Dr. Robert Kirshner speaking at our October event! Dr. Kirshner is a Harvard College Professor of Astronomy and Clowes Professor of Science at Harvard University. He has authored over 200 research papers dealing with supernovae and observational cosmology. His work with the "High-Z Supernova Team" studying high-redshift supernovae and the acceleration of the universe that implies the existence of dark energy was dubbed the "Science Breakthrough of the Year for 1998" by Science Magazine. For this work, Dr. Kirshner and the High-Z Team were awarded the Gruber Prize for Cosmology in 2007.


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