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Free lecture series to explore most violent places in the universe

March 20, 2007

Nine free lectures at the University of Chicago will explore how black holes, remnants of exploded stars and other exotic celestial objects emit streams of powerful gamma rays.

“The Quest for Gamma Rays: Exploring the Most Violent Places in the Universe,” is the title of this year’s Arthur Holly Compton Lectures, sponsored each spring and fall by the University’s Enrico Fermi Institute. The 65th series of these public lectures will begin Saturday, March 24, and will be held each Saturday through June 2 (except for April 21 and May 26, when there will be no lectures). The lectures will be given from 11 a.m. to noon in Room 106 of the Kersten Physics Teaching Center, 5720 S. Ellis Ave.

Compton Lectures are intended to make science accessible to a general audience and to convey the excitement of new discoveries in the physical sciences. Delivering the lectures this spring will be Elizabeth Hays, Research Associate in the Fermi Institute and at Argonne National Laboratory. Hays received her B.A. in physics from Cornell University in 1999 and her Ph.D. in physics from the University of Maryland in 2004.

Among her topics, Hays will discuss the work of VERITAS (Very Energetic Radiation Imaging Telescope Array System). An array of four telescopes at Kitt Peak in southern Ariozna, VERITAS is one of the most sensitive high-energy gamma-ray observatories in the world.

The Compton Lectures are named for Arthur Holly Compton. A former physicist at the University, Compton is best known for demonstrating that light has the characteristics of both a wave and a particle. He organized the effort to produce plutonium for the atomic bomb and directed the Metallurgical Laboratory Chicago, where Fermi and his colleagues produced the first controlled, nuclear chain reaction in 1942.

For more information about the lecture series, call (773) 702-7823.

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Last modified at 11:09 AM CST on Monday, July 23, 2007

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