Public Lectures

CCAPP Special Public Lecture
"We Have No Idea: A Guide to the Unknown Universe"

  • Jorge Cham (Creator of PhD Comics)
    Daniel Whiteson (Professor of Physics, U of California Irvine)

  • Friday October 27, 2017
    McPherson Chemical Lab, Room 1000 (Next to the cafe)
    140 W 18th Ave

  • Free and open to all!
    From the creator of PhD Comics, Jorge Cham and particle physicist Daniel Whiteson team up to explain everything we DON'T know about the Universe, from Cosmic Rays and Dark Matter to time travel and the Big Bang.
    Book signing opportunity immediately following lecture. Books available for purchase on site.
John Beacom

Science Sundays
"Neutrino Astronomy Made Easy"

  • John Beacom
    Professor of OSU Physics and Astronomy
    The Ohio State University

  • Sunday March 19, 2017
    Ohio Union, US Bank Conference Theatre
    3pm - 4pm

  • Neutrinos barely exist: They have almost no mass or interactions. Yet they are blazing forth from the hot, dense centers of nuclear reactors, the Sun, supernova explosions and who knows what else? If only we could see them! With new detectors, now we can, but faintly, opening up new vistas, questions and possibilities.

    Read more about this Science Sundays lecture...
Laura Cadonati

Science Sundays
"Listening to the Universe with Gravitational Waves"

  • Laura Cadonati
    Professor of Physics
    Georgia Tech Center for Relativistic Astrophysics

  • Sunday January 22, 2017
    Ohio Union, US Bank Conference Theatre
    3pm - 4pm

  • Einstein predicted gravitational waves as ripples in space-time produced by violent astrophysical events. One hundred years later, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) observed gravitational waves from the collision of two black holes. This groundbreaking discovery marks the beginning of a new astrophysics, providing new ways to probe the universe.

    Read more about this Science Sundays lecture...

"Death by Black Hole"

  • Christopher S. Kochanek
    Professor of Astronomy
    Ohio Eminent Scholar

  • Thursday December 1, 2016
    1153 Smith Lab

  • This lecture will explore the deaths of massive stars, including how these stars can explode as supernovae, and how they may lead to the formation of black holes. Professor Kochanek will present some exciting new results from his survey for black holes in formation with the Large Binocular Telescope, and evidence that they have caught a black hole in formation.

    Read more about this Astro lecture...
Todd Thompson

Science Sundays
"The Fantastic Forge: Supernovae and the Origin of the Elements"

  • Todd Thompson
    Professor of Astronomy
    The Ohio State University

  • Sunday March 20, 2015
    Ohio Union, US Bank Conference Theatre
    3pm - 4pm

  • Thompson describes the grand pageant of stellar death and transfiguration caused by supernovae -- exploding massive stars and tremendous thermonuclear detonations of white dwarfs -- that partially replenish galaxies with raw materials for future star formation. We owe our existence to the elements they provided: carbon, oxygen and iron.

    Read more about this Science Sundays lecture...

TEDxOhioState University: Reconstructing Reality

  • Join TEDxOhioStateUniversity on March 5, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. in Mershon Auditorium. Arts and Sciences speakers include: Paul Sutter, CCAPP visiting scholar.
Clifford Will

Science Sundays
"Black Holes, Waves of Gravity, and other Warped Ideas of Dr. Einstein"

  • Clifford Will
    Distinguished Professor of Physics
    University of Florida

  • Sunday January 11, 2014
    Wexner Film/Video Theater
    3pm - 4pm

  • Einstein's General Theory of Relativity has had a major impact on everything from popular culture to everyday life to basic science. Songs, plays and movies proclaim Einstein as the symbol of genius, while people navigating with GPS devices unknowingly take account of Einstein's relativistic warpage of time.

    Read more about this Science Sundays lecture...
Ray Jayawardhana

Science Sundays
"Neutrino Hunters: Chasing a Ghostly Particle to Unlock Cosmic Secrets"

  • Ray Jayawardhana
    Canada Research Chair in Observational Astrophysics
    University of Toronto

  • Sunday October 12, 2014
    Wexner Film/Video Theater
    3pm - 4pm

  • Move over Higgs -- it's neutrino time. Take a thrilling journey into the shadowy world of these elusive particles as Jayawardhana recounts a captivating detective story with a colorful cast of characters and awesome cosmic implications.
    Ray Jayawardhana is an astronomer and award-winning science writer. His primary research areas include the formation and early evolution of stars, brown dwarfs and planets.

    Read more about this Science Sundays lecture...

Big Bang Science Day at COSI

"Confirmed Truths and Remaining Mysteries Regarding the Origin of the Universe"

  • Lloyd Knox
    Professor of Physics at UC Davis

  • Sunday February 23, 2014
    COSI - Center of Science and Industry, 333 West Broad Street
    3pm - 4pm : Lecture with Dr. Knox in COSI's Extreme Screen Theatre
  • 4pm - 5pm : Big Bang Science Day in COSI's Atrium

  • It all started with a Big Bang. The Universe was once filled with hot, dense matter, smoothly distributed across a rapidly expanding space. Professor Lloyd Knox will trace the history of this "Big Bang" picture of our origins, clarifying its observational successes and highlighting the remaining questions that drive us toward deeper exploration.

    Meet the speaker and scientists from the Center for Cosmology and AstroParticle Physics at The Ohio State University. Ask questions about the universe and its amazing contents, hear about exciting research being done at The Ohio State University, and find ways to further your interests in science.

    Lloyd Knox is a Professor of Physics at the University of California at Davis. He is leading the U.S. component of the effort to determine the basic parameters of the cosmos from the data acquired by the Planck satellite, which was launched in 2009. He is well known as an excellent speaker for both scientific and public audiences.

    Both events are free, open to all, and targeted to be interesting to broad audiences. Admission to other COSI exhibits and parking are not included.
    See COSI's event page for further details.

    Columbus Dispatch Event Article: "Big Bang insights ripple to our era, physicist tells COSI crowd" The Lantern Event Article: "University of California Davis professor gives lecture at COSI on universe's expansion"

Science Sundays
"Building the Cosmos: How Simulations Shed Light On the Dark Universe"

  • Risa Wechsler

  • Sunday Nov 17, 2013
    Ohio Union U.S. Bank Conference Theater
    3pm - 4pm

  • Recent advances in observations of the cosmos have allowed us to peer into the earliest moments of our Universe, and have dramatically changed our picture of its contents. Wechsler will walk you through how cutting-edge simulations allow us to be a fly on the wall during the formation of the cosmos, and shed light on the physical processes that created the Universe we see today.

    Risa Wechsler is an associate professor in the Physics Department at Stanford University and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and a member of the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology. She studies the evolution and contents of the Universe from its earliest moments to the present, and is playing a leading role in several initiatives to map out billions of galaxies and determine what they can teach us about the dark matter and dark energy that dominate our Universe.

    ASL interpreter available upon prior request.
David Kaplan
David Kaplan, Johns Hopkins

The Discovery of our (Space-)Time

Wednesday March 6, 2013
Smith Seminar Room
PRB 1080

CCAPP Public Lecture - Free and open to all

The Large Hadron Collider, perhaps the greatest machine ever built by human beings, represents one step in a thousands-year-old quest to understand the nature of reality. A chapter in this adventure was closed with the much anticipated discovery of the Higgs Boson last summer. Its identification, and the measurement of its mass, has given us the first hint of what might be coming next. The favored idea, supersymmetry, would be the first extension of Einstein's space-time symmetry in 100 years. Will this be the generation to discover it, or is the information beyond our grasp?

David Kaplan is a professor of physics at Johns Hopkins University and producer of the upcoming documentary film Particle Fever.

Note: Documentary film crews will be present to record the talk and audience reactions.

Sean Carroll
Sean Carroll, Caltech

(Watch the Lecture Online, same lecture but given in London)

The Particle at the End of the Universe:
How the Hunt for the Higgs Boson Leads Us to the Edge of a New World

Wednesday February 20, 2013
Smith Labs Room 1153 - Directions and Parking Info

CCAPP Public Lecture - Free and open to all

For decades, particle physicists have searched for the elusive Higgs boson, the missing piece to the "Standard Model" that explains the world we see. In July 2012, scientists at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva announced that they found it. I will explain why the Higgs boson is so important, talk about the enormous challenge physicists overcame to build the LHC and get it running, and consider what the future of particle physics will look like.

Sean Carroll is a physicist at the California Institute of Technology. He received his Ph.D. in 1993 from Harvard University. His research focuses on theoretical physics and cosmology, especially the origin and constituents of the universe. He has contributed to models of interactions between dark matter, dark energy, and ordinary matter; alternative theories of gravity; and violations of fundamental symmetries. Carroll is the author of From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time, Spacetime and Geometry: An Introduction to General Relativity, and The Particle at the End of the Universe.

He has appeared on TV shows such as The Colbert Report (November 29, 2012 and March 10, 2010) and Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman, and frequently serves as a science consultant for film and television. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, writer Jennifer Ouellette. His website:


Science Sundays
"Ready for Their Closeup: Scientists Go Hollywood"

  • Jennifer Ouellette

  • Sunday Dec 9, 2012
    Ohio Union US Bank Confer Theatre
    3-4pm, Reception 4-5pm

Science Sundays
"Landing and Roving on Mars"

Evalyn Gates

Science Sundays
"The Hunt for Dark Matter and Dark Energy"

  • Evalyn Gates
    (Cleveland Museum of Natural History)

  • Sunday May 20, 2012
    Ohio Union US Bank Confer Theatre
    3-4pm, Reception 4-5pm

The Era of International Space Station Research:
Discoveries and Potential of an Unprecedented Laboratory in Space

Date: Monday April 4, 2011
Time: 7:30pm
Location: Smith Labs 1153
Speaker: Julie A. Robinson, Ph.D. --
(International Space Station Program Scientist, NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX)

The assembly of the International Space Station was completed in early 2011. Its largest research instrument, the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer is planned for launch in late April. Unlike any previous laboratory in space, the ISS offers a long term platform where scientists can operate experiments rapidly after developing a new research question, and extend their experiments based on early results.

This presentation will explain why having a laboratory in orbit is important for a wide variety of experiments that cannot be done on Earth. Some of the most important results from early experiments are already having impacts in areas such as healthcare, telemedicine, and disaster response. The coming decade of full utilization offers the promise of new understanding of the nature of physical and biological processes and even of matter itself.

Watch the Lecture Streaming Online! (Real Player, Windows, Flash)

This public lecture was featured in OSU's OnCampus Newspaper.
"Science In Space: Mothballed shuttles won't slow down scientific work aboard ISS"
Read the OnCampus Article...

Dr. Julie A. Robinson is the Program Scientist for the International Space Station (ISS) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) at Johnson Space Center. She serves as the chief scientist for the ISS Program, representing all ISS research disciplines and providing information and recommendations both inside and outside of the agency. She chairs the ISS Program Science Forum, made up of the senior ISS scientists for each of the primary space agencies comprising the space station international partnership and represents NASA at the multinational agency ISS User Operations Panel. As ISS Program Scientist, Robinson has overseen the transition of the laboratory from the assembly period, with just a few dozen active investigations, to full utilization, with hundreds of active investigations.

Dr. Robinson has an interdisciplinary background in the physical and biological sciences. Her professional experience has included research activities in a variety of fields, including virology, analytical chemistry, genetics, statistics, field biology, and remote sensing. She has authored over 50 scientific publications.

She earned a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Utah State University in 1989. She earned a Doctor of Philosophy in Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Biology from the University of Nevada Reno in 1996.

She began her career at NASA Johnson Space Center (working for Lockheed Martin), in the Image Science Laboratory and later led a major NASA-sponsored scientific project to facilitate a distribution network for global maps of coral reefs. She has collaborated with ecologists and conservation biologists in incorporating remote sensing data into their projects. Her most recent book from her continuing discipline work is the textbook Remote Sensing for Ecology and Conservation Biology (Oxford University Press 2010).

She joined NASA as a civil servant in the Office of the ISS Program Scientist in 2004, was named Deputy ISS Program Scientist in 2006, and ISS Program Scientist in 2007.

Francis Halzen
Speaker: Francis Halzen
Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison

Ice Fishing for Neutrinos
Scientists are melting holes in the bottom of the world!

Monday October 12, 2009

Scott Labs Room 0001
201 W 19th Ave

We have melted half of the eighty holes over two km deep in the Antarctic icecap to be used as astronomical observatories. Into each hole is lowered a string knotted with basketball-sized light detectors which are sensitive to the shimmering blue light emitted in the surrounding clear ice when ghostly particles called neutrinos pass through the Earth. These neutrinos are cosmic messengers from the most violent processes in the universe, for example giant black holes gobbling up stars in the heart of quasars, and gamma-ray bursts which are the biggest explosions since the Big Bang. Neutrinos will tell us if there are dark matter particles trapped in the heart of the Sun, and perhaps even reveal if there are additional dimensions in space.

Dr. Francis Halzen is a Hilldale and Gregory Breit Distinguished Professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He is a theoretician studying problems at the interface of particle physics, astrophysics and cosmology. Since 1987, he has been working on the AMANDA experiment, a first-generation neutrino telescope at the South Pole. AMANDA obser- vations represent a proof of concept for IceCube, a kilometer-scale observatory now under construction.

Watch this Public Lecture streaming online here!

Island Universe

From the Big Bang to Island Universe

Josiah McElheny and David Weinberg

Wednesday May 6, 2009

  • 5:30pm
  • Film/Video Theater
  • (Located in the lower level of the Wexner Center)

  • Over the last four years, MacArthur-award winning artist Josiah McElheny and Ohio State astronomer David Weinberg have collaborated on the design of four cosmologically inspired sculptures. In this joint lecture, McElheny and Weinberg will describe the history of their collaboration and the scientific and philosophical ideas behind these extraordinary art works, which have been exhibited across the United States and Europe.

  • Their work together began with An End to Modernity, a memorable sculpture produced when McElheny was a Wexner Center Residency Award artist and exhibited here in 2005, and is concluding with a five-piece installation titled Island Universe (2008) that's been shown in London and Mardrid.

  • Today, they'll describe the history of their collaboration and the scientific and philosophical ideas behind these extraordinary art works. The presentation concludes with the Columbus premiere of McElheny's recent film, also titled Island Universe (19 mins., Super 16mm film transferred to high definition video).

An End to Modernity
  • Live Video Streaming: Can't make it to the event? You can watch this event live on your computer. Click here for details.

  • Co-sponsored by Wexner Center for the Arts and the Center for Cosmology and AstroParticle Physics (CCAPP). Image Up/Left: Island Universe

  • The sculpture to the left, An End to Modernity was designed in collaboration with CCAPP scientist David Weinberg. McElheny's sculpture traces the 14 billion year history of the expanding universe. The central aluminum sphere, lamps, and glass pieces depict the last scattering surface, the rise and fall of the quasar population, and the growth, transformation, and clustering of galaxies.

  • First exhibited at the Wexner Center for the Arts, An End to Modernity is now in the collection of the Tate Modern gallery in London.

  • Watch a video of artist Josiah Elheny discussing his work.

  • Come visit the Physics Research Building Mezzanine to see it on display along with The Last Scattering Surface
View from Center of Universe book cover

The View From The Center Of The Universe

March 24, 2008

  • The Ballroom, The Blackwell Inn
  • 5:00-6:00pm
  • 2110 Tuttle Park Place

  • The universe is made mostly of dark matter and dark energy, with visible matter making up only about half a percent of the total. This lecture explains and visualizes this new picture of the universe and its evolution. Joel and Nancy alternate frequently during the presentation, presenting scientific and philosophical viewpoints. They show spectacular new images and videos, using both updated ancient symbols and the latest astronomical data and simulations. They also use humorous cartoons to illustrate how cosmological ideas have cultural implications. The talk is both entertaining and educational, and it can be enjoyed by everyone from people who know nothing about modern astronomy to experts in the field. It is a remarkable fact that humans - and indeed intelligent life anywhere in the universe - must have a size that is in the middle of all possible size scales. Becoming aware of this and other aspects of our special place in the cosmos opens a sweeping new perspective on what we truly may be as humans and what we can do to resolve our personal and global challenges.
Joel Primack

Joel R. Primack

  • Joel R. Primack, a professor of physics at the University of California Santa Cruz, has done foundational research in cosmology. He and his team use some of the world's biggest supercomputers to simulate the evolution of the universe, and they compare the results with observational data. He has recently chaired the Forum on Physics and Society of the American Physical Society, as well as the Committee on Science, Ethics, and Religion of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and he served on the recent Beyond Einstein study of the National Academy of Sciences.
Nancey Ellen Abrams

Nancy Ellen Abrams

  • Nancy Ellen Abrams is a lawyer, writer, and former Fulbright scholar, with a long-term interest in the history, philosophy, and politics of science. While working on the staff of the U.S. Congress, she co-created a novel method by which government agencies can make wise policy decisions in cases involving scientific uncertainty, and she has consulted on this for the Swedish government, several state governments, and various corporations. Her articles have appeared in journals, magazines, and books. She has also released three albums of her songs and performed in eighteen countries.

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