Fermilab lecture to explore 'Pluto Revealed'

Submitted by Fermilab Arts & Lecture Series
Posted5/17/2016 3:58 PM

Fermilab Arts & Lecture Series will present "Pluto Revealed" with David Weintraub, a professor of astronomy of Vanderbilt University, at 8 p.m. Friday, May 20, in Ramsey Auditorium, off Pine Street in Batavia.

Tickets are $5. For reservations, go to www.fnal.gov/culture to order online, or call (630) 840-ARTS (2787) from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays.


In 2015, Pluto emerged from the depths of the outer solar system and joined the family of planets and moons that spacecraft have visited, surveyed and studied.

That the New Horizons spacecraft could travel three billion miles from Earth and hit the bull's-eye, flying past Pluto in 2015 within minutes of the moment calculated for that close encounter before launch from Florida in 2006, and that it could then still function and make all of the measurements it made, and that it could even then store all of the data it collected and is now slowly sending those bits back to Earth, is one of the most impressive scientific and engineering achievements ever accomplished by humankind.

During this talk, Weintraub will describe what we have learned about Pluto from the science returned by New Horizons, and he will discuss how the new knowledge about Pluto impacts our understanding of Pluto, of planets more generally, and of our solar system.

Weintraub is a professor of astronomy at Vanderbilt University where he also directs programs in the Communication of Science and Technology and in Scientific Computing. He earned his bachelor's degree in physics and astronomy at Yale in 1980 and his Ph.D. in geophysics & space physics at UCLA in 1989 before he was appointed to the Vanderbilt astronomy faculty in 1991.

He is an expert in the study of star and planet formation and is the author of nearly 100 peer-reviewed papers in professional journals and three books for popular audiences, including "Religions and Extraterrestrial Life: How Will We Deal With It?" (2014), "How Old is the Universe?" (2010), and "Is Pluto a Planet?" (2006). He is the 2015 winner of the Klopsteg Award from the American Association of Physics Teachers, which recognizes the outstanding communication of physics.


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