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Physics professor gives public lecture: “How Did We Get Here?”

Hubble Deep Field
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Throughout time, people have asked the question, “How did we get here?” In the inaugural George J. Losoncy Lecture in Physics and Astronomy, Dr. Robert Forrey, Penn State Berks Professor of Physics, will attempt to answer that very question from the point of view of a physicist in a lecture by the same name on Thursday, March 22, 2012, at 4:30 p.m. in the Perkins Student Center Auditorium. This event is free and open to the public, and it will be followed by a reception in the Freyberger Gallery, where light refreshments will be served.

The event will begin with opening remarks by Chancellor R. Keith Hillkirk and Dr. Paul Esqueda, Senior Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, and an introduction of the lecture by Dr. Pradip Bandyopadhyay, Science Division Head.

This event is the first in what will be an annual lecture series named in honor of George Losoncy, who was a dedicated Penn State Berks employee for 17 years, serving the college with perfect attendance, and donating 182 unused sick days when he retired in 2009. He was an enthusiastic supporter of the Science Division Colloquia and was particularly interested in physics and astronomy. Upon his retirement, he donated $25,000 to set up a research endowment in physics and astronomy at Penn State Berks.

Forrey’s talk will focus on what the Universe was like at the beginning of time, and what is still needed in our understanding to bridge the gap between the relative uniformity of the early Universe and the hierarchical structures of matter that we see today. In the beginning there were no atoms, no molecules. The Universe was an extremely hot and dense plasma embedded in an intense radiation field. According to the standard Big Bang cosmology, the Universe expanded adiabatically after an initial phase of rapid inflation. We observe the expansion today as a red shift in the radiation emitted from galaxies. The red shift increases with distance away from us and serves as a measure of time.

Forrey is a Fellow of the American Physical Society. He has published more than 70 peer-reviewed journal articles on a variety of topics in physics, chemistry, and astrophysics. His research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Smithsonian Institution, Air Products, and NASA.

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