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June 2005
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MMA presents “The Texture of the Universe”

A Lecture by Dr. Charles Liu

June 29, 2005





The Maria Mitchell Association is pleased to be presenting a lecture by Dr. Charles Liu entitled “The Texture of the Universe” on June 29, 2005. 


Just after the Big Bang, all of the matter and energy was evenly distributed throughout the young universe.  Today, nearly 14 billion years later, is this still true? Yes – and no!  On a very large scale, larger than the sizes of superclusters of galaxies, the distribution of matter and energy is more or less uniform.  Yet on smaller scales, we observe a lot of structure – from planets to stars, galaxies to superclusters.  In his lecture, Dr. Liu will explore the various structures of the universe.  From the tiniest to the grandest scales, he will explain the intricate layering of large and small that creates the texture of the cosmos.


Dr. Vladimir Strelnitski, Director of the Observatories at the Maria Mitchell Association, encourages the public to attend, calling Dr. Liu an “outstanding lecturer” as well as stressing the importance of cosmic structures to us as human beings.   The human brain is the most complex structure in the universe (that we know of), and it was brought about by the way matter and energy settled in the universe, he says.  Astronomical evolution and history, then, is also the history of humans.  “We are a product and part of the universe,” says Dr. Strelnitski, and to understand its history is to understand our own history.  Dr. Liu has also expressed this view, saying, “Astronomy is perhaps the most basic of the basic research sciences.  Astronomers study things we can’t touch, that are far larger and older than Earth itself.  We attempt to answer the most fundamental questions that all humans ask: Where are we? How did we get here? Where are we going? Are we alone?”


Dr. Liu is widely considered one of the best astronomy lecturers in the country, and is currently a Professor of Astrophysics at the City University of New York and Associate in Astrophysics with Hayden Planetarium and the American Museum of Natural History.  His research focuses on galaxy evolution, and he is also involved with a Hubble Space Telescope Treasury Program called COSMOS.  He has appeared several times on CNN’s Lou Dobbs Tonight, and co-wrote a book titled Our Universe: At Home In The Cosmos, which was awarded the 2001 American Institute of Physics Science Writing Award in Physics and Astronomy in the scientist category.


Dr. Liu’s lecture, “The Texture of the Cosmos,” is the first of the season and will be held at the Hinchman House on the corner of Milk Street and Vestal Street at 7:00 pm.  Admission is $5.  For more information contact the Maria Mitchell Association at 508-228-9198 or Dr. Vladimir Strelnitski at 508-228-9273.

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