Archive for the ‘Lecture’ Category

Search for Life Beyond Earth


Wednesday, October 11, 2017 at 7:00 p.m., Dr. Jill Tarter of the SETI Institute will give a free, illustrated, non-technical talk on: Will the 21st Century be the Time We Discover Life Beyond Earth? in the Smithwick Theater at Foothill College.

Dr. Tarter is a pioneer leading the effort to search for signals from civilizations among the stars. The 21st century will be the century of biology on our planet.  Dr. Tarter believes that this idea will be extended beyond the surface of our world and that we may soon have the first opportunity to study biology that developed on other worlds. The techniques we will need are different, depending on whether we are searching for microbes or mathematicians, but both are within reach.

Dr. Jill Tarter holds the Bernard Oliver Chair for SETI at the SETI Institute, serves on the management board for the Allen Telescope Array, is President Emeritus of the Board of the California Academy of Sciences and continues to make groundbreaking contributions to the worlds of science, education, and the arts. Jodie Foster portrayed a fictionalized version of Dr. Tarter in the film Contact.

Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Arrive early to locate parking.

Parking lots 1 and 8 provide stair and no-stair access to the theatre. Visitors must purchase a parking permit for $3 from dispensers in student parking lots. Dispensers accept one-dollar bills and quarters; bring exact change.

Smithwick Theater, Foothill College
12345 El Monte Road
Los Altos Hills, 94022
(650) 949-7360

Wednesday, October 11, 2017
7:00 pm
Admission: Free
Parking: $3.00

Campus Map (PDF) — Smithwick Theater, 1000

Finding a New Earth

Wednesday, May 11, Stephen Kane, Ph.D., will discuss Finding a New Earth: Exoplanets and the Habitable Zone, an illustrated, non-technical lecture in the Smithwick Theatre at Foothill College.

A key to finding a new Earth will be to identify rocky planets that occupy the Habitable Zone of their stars.

Dr. Kane has been researching planets around other stars for more than 20 years and has discovered and characterized hundreds of exoplanets.

Dr. Kane is professor of astrophysics at San Francisco State University (SFSU). He is also the chairman of the Kepler Mission Habitable Zone Working Group and the director of the SFSU Planetary Research Laboratory.

The lecture is free, but there is a charge of $3 for parking on campus and exact change is appreciated.

Smithwick Theater at Foothill College
12345 S El Monte Ave, Los Altos, 94022
May 11, 2016
7:00 p.m.

Admission: Free
Parking $3.00

How Things in the Universe Came About

Universe1
Wednesday, April 6, Tom Abel, Ph.D., will discuss How Things in the Universe Came About & How They Ended Up Within Us, an illustrated, non-technical free lecture in the Smithwick Theatre at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills.

Dr. Abel will cover the early stages of the universe, using the latest computer animations of how the first stars formed and died, and how stars built up the first galaxies.

Galaxies started to assemble just one hundred million years after the Big Bang, and they are still growing now. Computer simulations of these events provide insights into the early history of the cosmos.

From Dr. Abel ’s Stanford bio:

Career History

• M.A. 1998, Univ. of Regensburg
• Ph.D. 2000, Ludwig Maxemillian University Munich
• Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Astrophysics and Harvard College Observatory, Cambridge, MA 1999-2001
• Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge, UK 2001
• Assistant Professor, Pennsylvania State University 2002-2004
• Associate Professor, Pennsylvania State University 2004
• Associate Professor, Stanford University Physics Department, SLAC (Stanford Linear Accelerator Center) National Accelerator Laboratory, and KIPAC (Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology), 9/2004-present.
• Director, Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology, 6/2015-present (Acting Director 8/2013-6/2015)
• Division Director, Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology Division, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, 2/2015-present

The lecture is free, but there is a charge of $3 for parking on campus and exact change is appreciated.

Smithwick Theater at Foothill College

12345 S El Monte Ave, Los Altos, 94022

April 6, 2016
7:00 p.m.

Admission: Free
Parking $3.00

The Latest from New Horizons at Pluto

New Horizons spacecraftWednesday, March 2, 2016, at 7:00 pm, Dr. Jeff Moore (Research Scientist at NASA Ames Research Center) will give a free, illustrated, non-technical talk on: Report from the Planetary Frontier: The Latest from New Horizons at Pluto in the Smithwick Theater at Foothill College.

On July 14, 2015, the New Horizons spacecraft flew above the surface of Pluto and sent back images of the planet and its largest moon Charon.

Dr. Moore will show the latest photos and fill us in on the current thinking among the New Horizons team members about Pluto and its five moons.

The lecture is free, but there is a charge of $3 for parking on campus and exact change is appreciated.

Smithwick Theater at Foothill College
12345 S El Monte Ave, Los Altos, 94022

Admission: Free
Parking $3.00

Einstein’s Blunder Undone: The Runaway Universe

Albert_EinsteinHarvard University astronomer Robert Kirshner, Ph.D., will
discuss Einstein’s Blunder Undone: The Runaway Universe, an illustrated, non-technical lecture Wednesday, Nov. 11, at 7 p.m. in the Smithwick Theatre at Foothill College. Admission is free; however, seating is first come, first served.

Einstein invented a new theory of gravity called “General Relativity” and applied it to the study of the universe as a whole. He introduced the Cosmological Constant, a factor that would guarantee the entire universe itself was static—neither expanding nor collapsing. Astronomers showed the universe was not static at all, but expanding, and Einstein banished his constant, even calling it his greatest blunder.

Dr. Kirshner will show the methods used to discover the cosmic acceleration and present the evidence that we live in a universe that is only 4 percent matter like the atoms of the periodic table, with the balance divided between dark energy, speeding up the universe, and equally mysterious dark matter, drawing things together.

Dr. Kirshner has been a leader in the use of supernova explosions to chart the expansion history (including the acceleration) of the universe. He is the author of The Extravagant Universe: Exploding Stars, Dark Energy, and the Accelerating Universe.

Parking lots 1, 7 and 8 provide stair and no-stair access to the theatre. Visitors must purchase a parking permit for $3 from dispensers in student parking lots. Dispensers accept credit/debit cards, as well as one-dollar bills. Campus Map (PDF).

Smithwick Theatre
Foothill College
12345 El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills, 94022
(650) 949-7888

November 11, 2015
7:00 p.m.

Admission: free
Parking: $3.00

100 Years of Einstein’s Relativity

Albert_EinsteinJeffrey Bennett, Ph.D. an astronomer from the University of Colorado, will discuss 100 Years of Einstein’s Relativity (and How It Underlies Our Modern Understanding of the Universe), a free, illustrated, non-technical lecture Wednesday, May 6, at 7:00 p.m. in the Smithwick Theatre at Foothill College.

2015 marks the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s completion of his General Theory of Relativity, the comprehensive theory of space, time and gravity.

Albert Einstein developed the general theory of relativity along with quantum mechanics.

Dr. Bennett is the author of college-level textbooks in astronomy, astrobiology, mathematics and statistics, as well as the popular books “What is Relativity?” and “Beyond UFOs: The Search for Extraterrestrial Life.”

Dr. Bennett will sign copies of “What is Relativity?” after the lecture in Appreciation Hall (Room 1501).

Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Arrive early to locate parking.

Parking lots 1, 7 and 8 provide stair and no-stair access to the theatre. Visitors must purchase a parking permit for $3 from dispensers in student parking lots. Dispensers accept one-dollar bills and quarters; bring exact change.

Smithwick Theater, Foothill College
12345 El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills
Wednesday, May 6, 2015
7:00 pm
Admission: Free
Parking: $3.00

Encountering the First Dwarf Planet

Dawn_space_probe
Marc Rayman, Ph.D., the mission director for NASA’s Dawn Spacecraft, will discuss Encountering the First Dwarf Planet: The Dawn Mission to Ceres, a free, illustrated, non-technical lecture Wednesday, April 8, at 7:00 p.m. in the Smithwick Theatre at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills.

The Dawn Spacecraft is now in orbit around Ceres —the largest asteroid in the asteroid belt and also the first dwarf planet to be discovered. Ceres was discovered January 1,1801 by Giuseppe Piazzi of Italy. As big across as Texas, Ceres’ nearly spherical body has a differentiated interior – denser material at the core and lighter minerals near the surface.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory manages the Dawn mission. It is the first NASA exploratory mission to use ion propulsion, which enabled it to enter and leave the orbit of multiple celestial bodies.
Ion propulsion is a technology that involves ionizing a gas to propel a craft. The gas xenon is given an electrical charge, or ionized. It is then electrically accelerated to a speed of about 30 km/second. When xenon ions are emitted at such high speed as exhaust from a spacecraft, they push the spacecraft in the opposite direction.

Dr. Rayman is both mission director and chief engineer for Dawn. He has worked at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory since 1986, designing instruments for space telescopes, Mars measurements, the search for planets around other stars and laser communications with spacecraft.

Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Arrive early to locate parking.

Parking lots 1, 7 and 8 provide stair and no-stair access to the Smithwick Theater. Visitors must purchase a parking permit for $3 from dispensers in student parking lots. Dispensers accept one-dollar bills and quarters; bring exact change.

Smithwick Theater, Foothill College
12345 El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills
(650) 949-7888

Wednesday, April 8, 2015
7:00 pm

Admission: Free
Parking: $3.00

Finding Asteroids Headed for Earth

Asteroid02Wednesday, March 4, former NASA Astronaut Edward Tsang “Ed” Lu, Ph.D. will discuss The Sentinel Mission: Finding the Asteroid Headed for Earth, an illustrated, non-technical lecture at 7:00 p.m. in the Smithwick Theatre at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills.

Asteroids are the only natural disaster for which we have a technological solution. There are an estimated one million in our inner solar system, and the vast majority of the threatening ones are still undiscovered. In this non-technical talk, Dr. Lu will describe the threat, and discuss the Sentinel Mission, an orbiting telescope designed to detect and track asteroids that cross Earth’s orbit.

In 2013 an asteroid just 60 feet across exploded over the city of Chelyabinsk in Russia sending more than 1,700 people to seek medical attention, damaged more than 7,200 buildings and cost the city more than $33 million dollars in property damage.

As a NASA Astronaut, Ed Lu has flown three missions logging 206 days in space, to construct and live aboard the International Space Station. A graduate of Cornell, Dr. Lu earned a Ph.D. from Stanford.

Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Arrive early to locate parking.

Parking lots 1, 7 and 8 provide stair and no-stair access to the theatre. Visitors must purchase a parking permit for $3 from dispensers in student parking lots. Dispensers accept one-dollar bills and quarters; bring exact change.

Smithwick Theater, Foothill College
12345 El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills

Wednesday, March 4, 2015
7:00 pm
Admission: Free
Parking: $3.00

Pluto on the Horizon

pluto-atmosphere
Wednesday, January 28, Mark Showalter, will discuss Pluto on the Horizon: Anticipating Our First Encounter with the Double Planet, an illustrated, non-technical lecture , in the Smithwick Theatre at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills.

Four tiny moons have been discovered orbiting Pluto and its large moon Charon. Pluto itself has a thin atmosphere and shows signs of seasonal changes; also, evidence suggests that Charon may have volcanoes.

Dr. Showalter will describe how he discovered two of the moons of Pluto and will talk about how on July 14, 2015, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft will fly past Pluto and provide our first close-up look.

Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Arrive early to locate parking.

Parking lots 1, 7 and 8 provide stair and no-stair access to the theatre. Visitors must purchase a parking permit for $3 from dispensers in student parking lots. Dispensers accept one-dollar bills and quarters; bring exact change.

Smithwick Theater, Foothill College
12345 El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills

Wednesday, January 28, 2015
7:00 pm

Admission: Free
Parking: $3.00

Monster Black Holes

Astronomer Chung-Pei Ma, PhD, of UC Berkeley, will discuss Monster Black Holes: What Lurks at the Centers of Galaxies, a free, illustrated, non-technical lecture, Wednesday, May 21, at 7 p.m. in the Smithwick Theatre at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills. The public is invited. Seating is first come, first served.

Black holes can grow to monstrous size, swallowing the mass of millions or billions of suns. Dr. Ma will describe recent discoveries of record-breaking black holes, each with a mass of 10 billion times the mass of the Sun. New evidence shows that these objects could be the dormant remnants of powerful “quasars” that existed in the young universe.

A cosmologist and astrophysicist, Dr. Ma’s research interests include the origin and large-scale structure of the universe, the formation and development of galaxies, and the growth of giant black holes. Her specialty areas include: theoretical cosmology; dark matter and energy; galaxy and structure formation; black holes; gravitational lensing; cosmic microwave background.


Parking lots 1, 7 and 8 provide stair and no-stair access to the Smithwick Theater. Visitors must purchase a parking permit for $3 from dispensers in student parking lots. Dispensers accept one-dollar bills and quarters; bring exact change.

Smithwick Theater, Foothill College
12345 El Monte Road
Los Altos Hills 94022
(650) 949-7888

Wednesday, May 21, 2014
7:00 pm

Admission: free
Parking: $3.00

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