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Dec. 4, 2006 Press Contact: Steve Koppes
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The Exploratorium to offer live webcasts Dec. 9, Dec. 30 highlighting University of Chicago’s South Pole Telescope

Three University of Chicago cosmologists are providing an insider’s look at the race to finish building their 10-meter South Pole Telescope in a series of blogs and video updates in collaboration with the Exploratorium, San Francisco’s Museum of science, art and human perception. The Exploratorium’s next two live webcasts featuring the telescope project will begin at 8 a.m. CST on both Saturday, Dec. 9 and Saturday, Dec. 30.

On Dec. 9, Tom Crawford and Jeff McMahon, scientists of the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics at the University of Chicago, will show viewers a day in the life of a South Pole scientist. Then they will describe their plans to use the telescope to search for dark matter, galaxy clusters, and evidence of the expanding universe.

On Dec. 30, as the new telescope reaches completion, the scientists at the South Pole will discuss what they are looking for. What is dark energy? Anti-gravity? Do galaxy clusters grow?

Archived webcasts from Nov. 25 and Dec. 2 also are available.

From the Dec. 2 webcast: After one week at the South Pole, scientists Tom Crawford and Jeff McMahon of the University of Chicago’s Kavli Institute conducted a virtual tour of the South Pole Station. They discussed working in the polar environment, what progress they had made, and their goals for the week.

From the Nov. 25 webcast: University of Chicago scientists discussed the challenges they face in constructing a major scientific instrument in freezing conditions. The discussion included Kavli Institute scientist Kathryn Miknaitis speaking from the Exploratorium in San Francisco. Also participating, from the South Pole, were institute scientist Jeff McMahon and graduate students Ryan Keisler and Joachin Vieira.

The South Pole Telescope team is led by John Carlstrom, the S. Chandrasekhar Distinguished Service Professor in Astronomy & Astrophysics at the University of Chicago. The telescope’s first key science project will be to study how a mysterious phenomenon called dark energy has affected the formation of galaxy clusters over the last several billion years. Dark energy pushes the universe apart, overwhelming gravity, the attractive force exerted by all matter in the universe. Carlstrom’s team would like to know when dark energy began preventing galaxy clusters from forming.

The telescope is one of the major projects launching during the International Polar Year. IPY is a two-year, globally coordinated research program to study polar environments and climate, both past and present, and a variety of other phenomena.

The webcasts are part of an Exploratorium celebration of the 2007-2008 IPY highlighting the work of scientists at field sites surrounding the North and South Poles. The webcasts are supported by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Jim Clark Endowment for Internet Education, and the McBean Family Foundation. The webcasts can be downloaded via

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Last modified at 03:22 PM CST on Monday, December 04, 2006.

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