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University of Melbourne

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April 2018

The Quantum Revolution in Science and Technology


Miegunyah Lecture in Physics Modern research instruments can measure spectacularly small changes of length, time or energy. These devices use the quantum behaviour of atoms and light to achieve their extraordinary sensitivity, and that in turn is being used to probe the quantum world with ever more subtlety. For example, by studying the shape of the electron we can learn about high-energy physics that gave birth to our universe; by sensing weak forces between objects on earth we can find…

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May 2018

Testing cosmological foundations

May 1 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

The nature of dark energy is the biggest problem in cosmology. But the answer may not be very different to what most cosmologists assume. General relativity is not a complete theory. It leaves many important questions unanswered, including the nature of gravitational energy. This is directly relevant to an important observational fact: the Universe is a very inhomogeneous cosmic web on the small scales on which general relativity is actually tested. How one fits one geometry inside another to arrive…

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Make it, Shake it, Bake it: Warm Gas in the Circumgalactic Medium

May 15 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Warm photonized gas in the halos surrounding galaxies can be observed via quasar spectroscopy. They serve as our main window into the circumgalactic medium surrounding galaxies, serving as important indicators of star formation fueling (infall) and star formation feedback processes (outflow). Yet, the origin and survival of this gas is poorly understood. I discuss the possible origin of this gas via thermal instability, its puzzling survival despite strong hydrodynamic instabilities which should tear it apart, and the influence of non-thermal…

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The lithium-rich giant star puzzle


Dr. Andy Casey, Postdoctoral Fellow Monash University Email: andrew.casey@monash.edu All theoretical models of stellar evolution predict that most of the lithium inside a star is destroyed as the star becomes a red giant. However, observations reveal that about 1% of red giants are peculiarly rich in lithium, often exceeding the amount in the interstellar medium or predicted from the Big Bang. With only 151 lithium-rich giants discovered in the past four decades, and no distinguishable properties other than lithium enhancement, the origin…

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