This week I thought I’d talk a little bit about one of the greatest things about being at a university: getting to hear from some of the world’s brightest minds. Especially at a large research institution like USC, scientists and experts from other schools are often coming to visit and give talks about their discoveries. I wish that I had started taking advantage of these opportunities earlier, but now that I am in my last semester here, I’m making sure to go to as many of these special events as possible.
The last event I went to was part of the Irene McCullouch Distinguished Lecture series, which brings several renowned academics in to Bovard Auditorium on campus to give a talk. This lecture was given by Professor Adam Riess, a professor in Physics and Astronomy at Johns Hopkins University and a Nobel Laureate.
The title of his talk was “Supernovae Reveal an Accelerating Universe” – pretty cool, right? You may remember hearing about this discovery a few years ago when Prof. Riess and his team were awarded the Nobel Prize for this work in 2011.
The bulk of Prof. Riess’ talk was spent explaining his work as an undergraduate with supernovae (extremely bright exploding stars) that was actually focused on measuring the rate at which the universe expansion was decelerating. After taking lots of data on various supernovae, Prof. Riess ran some calculations and discovered that the data required that the universe was actually accelerating! He shared some photos of his lab notebook and emails with colleagues that showed their initial thoughts on such a shocking discovery. It was really cool to see a bit of history and science in the making. You can read a little more about Dr. Riess’ talk and others in the series here.
It’s really important to take opportunities like this – find something that excites you and go learn about it! It makes me remember why I’m here – because I like learning.
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