Science Cafe Brings New Insight Into Neutron Stars, Black Holes

OXFORD, Miss. – New insights into the physics of black holes and neutron stars will be shared in a monthly public science forum scheduled by the University of Mississippi Department of Physics and Astronomy.

The second meeting of the Oxford Science Cafe is set for 6 p.m. Nov. 15 at Lusa Pastry Cafe, 1120 North Lamar Ave. Jocelyn Read, a postdoctoral fellow who specializes in gravitational research, will discuss “The Intense Life of Stars After Death.” Admission is free.

“In my lecture, I’ll talk about how fundamental theories of physics predicted these crazy astrophysical objects, neutron stars and black holes, which don’t behave like anything we see on Earth,” Read said. “But over the years we’ve actually made a lot of observations of them, and these allow us to understand some of their properties – how big they are, how they interact with each other and with other stars. These observations can tell us new things about the theories of gravity and quantum physics.”

Read’s 30-minute presentation will address what a black hole is, what neutron stars are and how people observe them with telescopes, satellites and other detectors. The lecture will be followed by a question-and-answer session.

“We’re planning one event the third Tuesday of each month,” said Marco Cavaglia, associate professor of physics and astronomy. “Due to the holidays, we will not meet in December. The cafe resumes Jan. 17, 2012 with Maurice Eftink (UM associate provost and professor of biochemistry) discussing ‘Access to STEM Education in Mississippi: Status and Goals.'”

Lucien Cremaldi, chair and professor of physics and astronomy, expressed his support for the concept.

“The physics department is delighted to host the Science Cafes in Oxford,” Cremaldi said. “I hope our other departments on campus will participate in the excitement of exposing big ideas in science, math and technology to the public through this novel approach.”

Read holds earned degrees from the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee and the University of British Columbia in Canada. Before joining Ole Miss last year, she was in the Astrophysical Relativity group at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics in Potsdam, Germany.

For more information, visit the Oxford Science Cafe and the UM Department of Physics and Astronomy,  or call 662-915-5311.