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Astrophysics Seminars


The CASS Astrophysics Seminar features world-class astrophysicists from around the world speaking on current topics of research. Presentations are aimed at the graduate and post-graduate level, but are open to the general public. CASS seminars take place on Wednesdays from 4:00 - 5:00 p.m. in 383 SERF (Marlar Seminar Room), unless otherwise noted. You can watch a live stream of the talk or prior talks at the CASS Seminar YouTube Channel. The organizers are Prof. Shelley Wright and Prof. George Fuller.

Upcoming Seminars

Winter 2018

March 19, 2018

NOTE: Special Astro Seminar @ 9:30AM - SERF 383
 "Probing strong-field gravity: Black holes and mergers in general relativity
and beyond"

Leo Stein
Postdoctoral Researcher

 General relativity—Einstein's theory of gravitation—has been studied for more than 100 years. Over the past century, we have learned that the theory agrees with all available experimental and observational tests. At the same time we know that the theory is incomplete, as it leads to inconsistencies when coupled with quantum mechanics.

The strong-field regime is our best hope to study GR, both observationally and theoretically, and thus understand how to correct its shortcoming. In this talk, I will discuss investigations in the strong field, including black holes and neutron stars, in GR and theories beyond GR. The main focus will be predicting gravitational waves from merging black holes beyond GR. These predictions will allow for the most rigorous testing of general relativity, using LIGO, in the dynamical strong-field regime.

March 22, 2018

NOTE: Special Astro Seminar @ 10:00AM - SERF 383
 “Numerical relativity in the era of gravitational-wave observations”

Geoffrey Lovelace
Assistant Professor, Department of Physics
CSU Fullerton

 With their first observations of merging black holes and merging neutron stars, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) and Virgo have inaugurated a new era of gravitational-wave astronomy. In this talk, I will discuss the latest discoveries from LIGO and Virgo and how numerical relativity is playing a key role in interpreting gravitational-wave observations. I will highlight some of the ways my students and I are contributing to these discoveries as well as our future plans.

March 26, 2018

NOTE: Special Astro Seminar @ 10:00AM - SERF 383
 "Black holes, alone and in pairs"

Aaron Zimmerman
Senior Research Associate
Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics (CITA), University of Toronto

 The recent detections of gravitational waves have revealed an invisible side of the universe: black holes in binaries. These observations test our understanding of black holes, their violent mergers, and the theory of general relativity. A combination of analytic approximations and full numerical simulations is required to understand black hole binaries and predict the gravitational waves they emit. I will take us on a tour of these systems, discuss the ``ringdown of the final merged black hole, and present the most recent results from the Advanced LIGO and Virgo detectors.

Spring 2018

April 4, 2018

 "Is Anyone Out There?
The Search for ET with Help from Eight Million Volunteers"

Dan Werthimer
Chief Scientist, SETI, Department of Astronomy
UC Berkeley

 When will Earthlings discover intelligent life in the universe? Can we detect radio, infrared, or visible wavelength signals from alien civilizations? Current and future projects searching for such signals may provide an answer. Dan Werthimer will describe plans for future searches and show how new technologies are revolutionizing the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence (SETI). Dan will also describe Berkeley's SETI@home project, which analyzes data from the world's largest radio telescopes using desktop computers and cell phones from millions of volunteers, forming one of Earth's most powerful supercomputers.


Dan Werthimer was in the “Homebrew Computer Club” with Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak; everyone in that club became filthy rich, except Dan, because Dan fancied utilizing his signal processing and electronics skills in astrophysics. Dan holds the Marilyn and Watson Alberts SETI Chair and is Chief Scientist of the Berkeley SETI Research Center, where he oversees SETI@home, the $100 million Breakthrough Listen project, and several other SETI programs. Dan also directs the Center for Astronomy Signal Processing and Electronics Research (CASPER) and is associate director of the Berkeley Wireless Research Center (BWRC). He has been associate professor in the engineering and physics departments of San Francisco State University and a visiting professor at Beijing Normal University, the University of St. Charles in Marseille, and Eotvos University in Budapest. Dan has also taught at universities in Peru, Egypt, Ghana, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Uganda and Kenya.

April 11, 2018

Emily Pringle
Scripps Postdoctoral Fellow

April 25, 2018

Jorge Pineda
Research Scientist

May 2, 2018

Rene Ong
Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy

May 9, 2018

Jessica Werk
Assistant Professor
University of Washington

May 23, 2018

Chung-Pei Ma
Professor of Astronomy and Physics
UC Berkeley

May 30, 2018

Ruth Murray-Clay
UC Santa Cruz