Cosmic Knowledge and the Long-term Strategy of the Human Race: The Raymond and Beverly Sackler Distinguished Lecture in Astronomy
Lecture | November 8 | 6-8 p.m. | Sibley Auditorium, Bechtel Engineering Center
Sandra Faber, Professor Emerita of Astronomy & Astrophysics, University of California, Santa Cruz
Modern astronomy has succeeded remarkably well in explaining the cosmic origins of the human race - how the Galaxy was assembled, how the Sun and Earth were formed, and where the precious chemical elements that comprise our bodies came from. For the first time in history, the human race is poised to use that knowledge of our cosmic past to predict our cosmic future, and it looks extraordinarily bright ahead. Evidently, we human beings have been given the most precious gift of all, cosmic time - roughly a billion years of it. The ultimate challenge to our species is now clear: how will we use this extraordinary opportunity? Sandy Faber will argue that incorporating the profound insights from cosmology will be central to answering this question.
Currently Professor Emerita of Astronomy & Astrophysics at U.C. Santa Cruz, Sandra Faber dreamed as a kid to understand where the Universe came from. From a lifetime of studying cosmology at UC Santa Cruz, she now feels she has some answers. Faber helped to discover dark matter in the Universe, and, with UCSC colleagues Joel Primack and George Blumenthal, co-invented the standard paradigm for galaxy formation based on it. She led the team that discovered ubiquitous massive black holes at the centers of galaxies. She's helped to build and use some of the world's largest telescopes, including the twin 10-meter Keck giants on Mauna Kea and the Hubble Space Telescope, for which she and her graduate student/postdoc Jon Holtzman diagnosed the optical flaw. Currently she leads the CANDELS project, the largest galaxy survey yet with Hubble, which is revealing how infant galaxies formed 95% of the way back to the Big Bang. She received the National Medal of Science in February 2013 from President Obama and the Gruber Prize in Cosmology in October 2017.