Lectures by noted Caltech physicist, UNC Charlotte faculty part of N.C. Science Festival

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

April is North Carolina Science Festival time, and UNC Charlotte will hold a series of public lectures entitled “Research Journeys” to educate and inform the community about a variety of science topics.

Sean Caroll from the California Insitute of Technology (Caltech) will be the featured guest lecturer for the series. He will present “The Particle at the End of the Universe” at 7 p.m., Wednesday, April 10, in EPIC, Room G256.

A respected and wide-ranging research scientist whose work includes both the fields of cosmology and particle physics, Carroll has built a second career as an explainer and spokesman for science, particularly for modern physics.

In his April 10 talk, Carroll will discuss the Higgs boson, the topic of his latest work “The Particle at the End of the Universe: How the Hunt for the Higgs Boson Leads Us to the Edge of a New World.”

Long theorized by contemporary physics, the Higgs boson was only recently proven to exist by experiments at the Large Hadron Collider, a 17-mile-long, $9 billion Swiss-French facility expressly built to find it. The Higgs is literally the particle that puts the mass in matter – and that makes the universe (as humans know it) possible.

The series “Research Journeys,” sponsored by the Research and Economic Development Office and Charlotte Research Institute, begins with a talk by Daniel Rabinovich, UNC Charlotte professor of chemistry. He will present "Hydrogen to Copernicium: The World of Chemistry on Postage Stamps" at 3 p.m., Friday, April 5, in Grigg Hall, Room 132. Rabinovich, an active researcher in inorganic chemistry, has developed a fascination with the way stamps have been used as a vehicle for communicating the science of chemistry to the public, and he has edited a column for Chemistry International on stamps and chemistry.

On Monday, April 8, software professor and former dean of UNC Charlotte’s College of Computing and Informatics Mirsad Hadzikadic will speak on "Learning How to do e-Science in a Virtual World" at 7 p.m. in the Bioinformatics Building, Room 105.

Hadzikadic, who is currently the director of the Complex Systems Institute, is developing an academic program at UNC Charlotte in doing e-Science, an emerging discipline that is already having a major impact in numerous fields, from the social sciences through the life sciences and physical sciences. E-Science’s basic premise is that in addition to the two accepted scientific inquiry methods -theoretical/mathematical formulation and experimentation - computational simulation/modeling has become a third method for doing science. 

Greg Gbur, associate professor of physics and optical science, will speak on “How Not to Be Seen: The History and Science of Invisibility” at 7:30 p.m., Monday, April 15, in the Bioinformatics Building, Room 105.

An active researcher in invisibility and other related areas in optics, Gbur also is a prominent science blogger and the author of popular essays and books on science. He is an authority on the history of science and science/horror fiction, both of which, he argues, can give current researchers valuable perspective on their work.

Dan Janies, Carol Grotnes Belk Distinguished Professor of Bioinformatics and Genomics, will conclude the lecture series at 7 p.m., Wednesday, April 17, with the presentation "Weather Maps for Infectious Disease" in Grigg Hall, Room 132.

Janies is the lead developer of the Supramap Project, a software system that links enormous quantities of real-time genomic data on pathogens (such as influenza viruses) with geography to help epidemiologists combat disease epidemics.

In addition to “Research Journeys,” UNC Charlotte will host a number of other North Carolina Science Festival events, including a Star Party on Friday, April 5, and a Science and Technology Expo on Sunday, April 21.

The N.C. Science Festival Star Party, one of many being held simultaneously statewide, will be at the UNC Charlotte Observatory; in order to accommodate more people, there will be two sessions at 8 and 9 p.m. Register to attend via email at clas-event@uncc.edu.

The UNC Charlotte Science and Technology Expo, set for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., April 21, on the campus plaza near the Student Union, is a free, public event that will feature dozens of hands-on science and technology activities and educational presentations, with something of interest for every member of the family.

More information about the N.C. Science Festival is on the Web.