SU’s Feb. 28 Saturday Morning Physics to explore ‘chemical factories’ of interstellar space
SU’s Feb. 28 Saturday Morning Physics to explore’chemical factories’ of interstellar spaceFebruary 23, 2004Edward Byrnesedbyrnes@syr.edu
Gianfranco Vidali, a professor in Syracuse University’s physics department and a leader in the field of astrochemistry, will present his lecture “Astrochemistry and Astrobiology: Exploring the Chemical Factories of Interstellar Space” as the seventh installment of the physics department’s Saturday Morning Physics program, Feb. 28 at 11 a.m. in Stolkin Auditorium. The lecture, which will include demonstrations designed to help the lay audience understand complex physics concepts, is free and open to the public and will be followed by a question-and-answer period.
Vidali will begin his presentation by discussing the makeup of interstellar space, where new stars are born and into which dying stars eject material. He will discuss how, in dense clouds of gas and dust, the simplest molecules are first synthesized; and how some of these molecules help the formation of new stars, while others are transformed into molecules of more complexity. Vidali will then address questions including, “what are these molecules and how are they formed?” and “could they be important in the emergence of extra-terrestrial life?” Vidali will also illustrate how processes of molecule formation can be studied on Earth. The lecture will conclude with an outline of current space exploration programs aimed at discovering propitious environments for extraterrestrial life.
Professor Vidali leads a group of undergraduate students, graduate students and colleagues working on laboratory experiments that reproduce molecule formation in interstellar space. Visit http://physics.syr.edu/research/astro for a peek at his lab and research.
The Saturday Morning Physics program is designed to share the content and excitement of the physics department’s internationally known scientists and cutting-edge research with the wider Syracuse community.