Talking about dark matter in a bar

Next Tuesday (June 4, 2013) I will be speaking at SciencePub RVA, a monthly gathering at The Camel in Richmond, Virginia. The doors open at 6 PM, and my talk starts at 7 PM. The event is free, but we’d love it if you would register, so we have an idea of the crowd size. (Also, tip your servers. Seriously. They’re your friends.)

Mining for dark matter

Dark matter makes up about 80% of all the mass in the Universe, but what exactly is it? To see how scientists are trying to answer this question, we’ll examine the evidence for dark matter in the Universe, from the early days of the cosmos to the structure of galaxies. Then, we’ll travel a half-mile underground to the Soudan laboratory in northern Minnesota, where one experiment works to detect dark matter particles directly.

Two BIG THINGS coming up!

A box containing a representative sample of the entire Universe.

A box containing a representative sample of the entire Universe.

April will be a busy month for the Bowler Hat: I begin my new gig as Director of CosmoAcademy in earnest, and I will be traveling to New York City to participate in the ScienceOnline Teen conference. Here’s the scoop:

  • The Universe we inhabit inspires some of the biggest questions about meaning, purpose, origins, and endings. However, the study of the Universe is also a serious science, blending aspects of astronomy and physics into one of the most dynamic areas of research. So, in that spirit, CosmoAcademy is offering a new class: Introduction to Cosmology! The class begins April 2; sign up at our EventBrite page, and check out the details over at CosmoQuest.
  • ScienceOnline Teen is designed to create “connections between students & teachers and the online scientific community and discuss how new media is changing the world of science. The conference is informal and based on conversations, not presentations. So participants will interact during the entire event.  Teens will moderate the sessions and ensure that the topics are teen-driven and teen-focused.” The goal: inspiration. The method: bowler hats science! We’ve got some great people from a variety of backgrounds and interests.

Black holes don’t suck

Yesterday (November 10, 2012) I spoke about black holes at the Richmond Public Library. For those who couldn’t make it, or who were there but want more information, here’s the essence of the talk, along with the relevant images that formed my slides. Please leave any questions you have in the comments, and thanks to everyone who came out (despite the insane marathon-related traffic)!

Black Holes Don’t Suck

(Yes, I’ve used that joke before. So sue me.)

Discussions of black holes fall into two distinct categories. The first is the sexy string theory/quantum gravity/Stephen Hawking category, all about time warps, wormholes, extra dimensions, Bekenstein entropy, and baby universes; the second discusses the real black holes discovered in our galaxy and beyond. While the sexy stuff is a lot of fun to talk about, that’s not what I discussed: it’s speculative, and at the present time impossible to test. (Some of it by its very nature is impossible to test, since we can’t get access to the region inside a black hole. More on that shortly.) However, I think real astronomical black holes are just as interesting, and over the last several decades astronomers have realized how important they are in shaping the galaxies they inhabit. Continue reading

Black holes in the library!!!

Did I mention the talk is informal? It’s an informal talk.

Today—November 10, 2012—I will be speaking about black holes at the Richmond Public Library. The talk is free and for all ages (though I think older children may appreciate the topic more). No prior knowledge is assumed, so bring your questions and curiosity!

The details:

See you there!