posted on Oct. 2: 2001 Whidden Lectures promise to be out of this world


[img_inline align=”right” src=””]Steven Beckwith, director of the Space Telescope Science Institute and professor of physics and astronomy at Johns Hopkins University will deliver this year's Whidden Lectures, exploring the theme of Rocket Science and Little Green Men: The Universe from Orbit.

The Space Telescope Science Institute is the astronomical research centre responsible for operating the Hubble space telescope as an international observatory for the world-wide astronomical community.

The Hubble space telescope was launched in 1990 and has been returning a steady stream of scientific data and images–images that Beckwith will share with the public at each lecture.

The lectures (free admission) take place at 8 p.m., Oct. 3 and 4, at the Health Sciences Centre, room 1A1.
The first lecture, on Wednesday, Oct. 3 explores Where did we come from? Where are we going? using new images from the Hubble space telescope to show how we detect the presence of unseen matter and energy. While we can look to the night sky to see planets, stars, galaxies and nebulae, space telescopes detect many other fascinating objects such as neutron stars, black holes or planets orbiting other stars.

Beckwith notes that “all these objects constitute only a small fraction of the matter and energy in the universe–they are like spots on the side of a leopard.”

The second lecture, on Thursday, Oct. 4, discusses the sophisticated space technologies that have been developed to answer the age-old question, “Are we alone?” Beckwith will discuss Looking for Life in the Galaxy and examine how the search for extraterrestrial life is entering the realm of observational astronomy.

The Whidden Lectures were established in 1954 by E.Carey Fox, a philanthropic alumnus of McMaster University, to honour a beloved chancellor, Rev. Howard P. Whidden, churchman, statesman and teacher, who had been the architect of the Universiy's transfer from Toronto to Hamilton in 1930. The first lecture in the annual series was delivered in 1956.

Photo: Towers of sculpted gas in the Eagle nebula(M16) captured by the Hubble space telescope.