Distinguished Astrophysicist to Explore History of the Universe
in Talk at Allegheny College
MEADVILLE, Pa. - February 2008 - Distinguished astrophysicist
Virginia Trimble will give a free public talk titled "Cosmology: Man's
Place in the Universe" at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 2 in Carr Hall
Auditorium at Allegheny College. The lecture, which is designed for a
broad audience, will outline what scientists currently know about the
history of the universe and its contents.
Trimble, who teaches at the University of California, Irvine,
will be at Allegheny April 1-3 as a Harlow Shapley Visiting
Lecturer in the college's physics department. She holds a
B.A. in physics and astronomy from UCLA, an M.S. in astronomy
and physics from Caltech, an M.A. from Cambridge University
and a Ph.D. in astronomy from Caltech.
"We are certainly delighted to have Virginia Trimble visit
Allegheny," said James Lombardi Jr., associate professor of
physics at the college. "In addition to being a prominent
researcher in astrophysics, she is well known for her ability
to explain scientific discoveries and their broader
implications. Her public talk will provide a wonderful
opportunity for those from the local community to hear and ask
about recent exciting discoveries in cosmology."
Trimble's current scientific interests include the structure
and evolution of stars, galaxies and the universe -- and of
the communities of scientists who study them. Her technical
research is focused on white dwarfs, supernovae, productivity
of telescopes and related subjects.
"Human beings come in the middle, the geometric means between
the large scale phenomena of astronomy and cosmology and the
small scale phenomena of nuclear and particle physics, in
scales of length, time and mass," said Trimble in describing
the basis of her talk. "We are here after about 14 billion
years of cosmic evolution, beginning with a hot, dense early
phase (called the Big Bang), out of which emerged stars and
galaxies, the synthesis of nearly all the elements in those
stars, and eventually planets and the potential for
carbon-based life and its evolution.
"In a very general sense, our universe can be described in
terms of only eight constants, four small scale and four large
scale ones; and if even one of those had been very different,
we would not be here to talk about it. The talk will outline
what we currently know about the history of the universe and
its contents and possible meanings of that curious
The author of more than 500 publications, Trimble is past
chair of the Forum on History of Physics of the American
Physical Society and recently completed terms as president of
the Division of Union-Wide Activities of the International
Astronomical Union and chair of the Commission on Astrophysics
of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics.
Her lecture is sponsored by the American Astronomical Society,
the Allegheny College Department of Physics and the Allegheny
College Astronomy Club. For more information, contact
Professor Lombardi at (814) 332-2975.