21 August 2019, Wednesday, 7:45 PM, Randall Museum Theater
“Cosmic Gold: Neutron Star Mergers, Gravitational Waves, and the Origin of the Heavy Elements”
Eliot Quataert, PhD, UC Berkeley
Scientists have recently developed a new way to “see” the universe, using the gravitational waves predicted by Einstein nearly a century ago. These waves can teach us about some of the most exotic objects known, including star “corpses” known as black holes and neutron stars. Remarkably, they have also helped solve a longstanding puzzle about where in the Universe some of the elements we know and love here on Earth are produced, including gold, platinum, uranium, and even Californium!
Eliot Quataert is Professor of Astronomy and Physics at UC Berkeley and Director of the Theoretical Astrophysics Center. He received his B.S. in Physics from MIT in 1995 and his PhD in Astronomy from Harvard in 1999. He was a postdoc in the School of Natural Sciences at the Institute for Advanced Study for two years before coming to Berkeley as a faculty member in 2001. As an astrophysics theorist, he works on a wide range of problems, and is the recipient of a number of national awards, including the Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship (2002), the Packard Fellowship in Science and Engineering (2003), the Warner Prize of the American Astronomical Society (2008), and a Simons Investigator Award. Eliot is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and is a highly regarded teacher and public lecturer.