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Science Night Live with Brian Saam

Wednesday, Nov. 19 @ 5:30 p.m. - Science Night Live! with Brian Saam. "A History of the Second: From Grains of Sand to Atomic Clocks" at Keys on Main (242 South Main Street, Salt Lake City, UT).

SCIENCE NIGHT LIVE

with Dr. Brian Saam,
Professor of Physics & Astronomy

A History of the Second: From Grains of Sand to Atomic Clocks

Date & Time: Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014. 5:30 - 7:00 PM

Location: Keys on Main (242 South Main Street, Salt Lake City, UT)
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Without getting too deep into existential philosophy,we can begin a discussion of time with an operational definition: time separates cause from effect; more precisely, time delineates the order of events. Our earliest human ancestors recognized that to measure time, one needs a periodic event that is easily, reliably, and universally observed in exactly the same way. Both the rotation of the Earth on its axis and revolution of the Earth about the Sun satisfy these requirements and have been universally accepted time standards throughout most of recorded history. Every timepiece ever invented prior to 1967—sundials, water clocks, hourglasses, and mechanical clocks—traced its calibration in some way back to the apparent motion of the sun in the sky. However, as robust and reliable as this standard appears (the Earth’s rate of rotation slows by about 1 second in 60,000 years), it is inadequate for the modern frontiers of scientific discovery, as well as for the needs of a global telecommunications and geo-positioning infrastructure. A much more stable standard was developed starting in the 1960s that is based on a transition that occurs between two specific energy levels in atomic cesium. These “atomic clocks” are stable to about 1 second in 30 million years. Work on even more stable clocks (1 second in 30 billion years) is at the frontier of modern atomic physics.

Frontiers of Science is free and open to the public. Must be 21 or older to attend.

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Solar Eclipse Viewing Party at NHMU: 10/23/2014

From the Natural History Museum of Utah's website.

Solar Eclipse Viewing Party!

Natural History Museum of Utah (map & parking)
Sky Gallery, The Canyon & Outside Terraces at the Museum

Thursday, October 23, 2014
1:00 - 5:00 pm

Join us and spot it from from the best spot in the Salt Lake Valley!

  • Meet some of our knowledgeable and local astronomy experts and view the eclipse through professional solar telescopes brought by Salt Lake Astronomy Society.
  • Check out the newest robotic system, COLE mrk 5, built by RoboUtes, recently back from NASA robo-ops competition.
  • Create your own pinhole viewer that will help you safetly view the eclipse.
  • Build your own Mars rover, soda bottle rocket, and more!

For more information on what we'll see on October 23, click here!

First 200 guests get a FREE pair of solar glasses!
*Solar glasses can also be purchased in the Museum Store.

Maximum Eclipse will occur at 4:26 pm
Best times to view the eclipse are from 4:15 to 4:40 pm.

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Asteroid Named for University of Utah

Orbiting between Mars and Jupiter, ‘Univofutah’ Is No Threat to Earth

Sept. 23, 2014 – What’s rocky, about a mile wide, orbits between Mars and Jupiter and poses no threat to Earth?
An asteroid named “Univofutah” after the University of Utah.


At the request of longtime Utah astronomy educator Patrick Wiggins, shown here, the International Astronomical Union this month named an asteroid that Wiggins discovered in 2008 as "Univofutah" to honor the University of Utah. Photo Credit: Bill Dunford

Discovered on Sept. 8, 2008, by longtime Utah astronomy educator Patrick Wiggins, the asteroid also known as 391795 (2008 RV77) this month was renamed Univofutah by the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

“It’s neat,” Wiggins says. “There aren’t too many other universities on the whole planet with asteroids named after them. So that puts the U in rather rarified company.”

“We are very honored,” says Carleton Detar, the university’s chairman of physics and astronomy. “Patrick Wiggins has been a dedicated champion of Utah amateur astronomy. Next, we’ll need student volunteers to install a large block U on our asteroid.”

Wiggins, who now works as a part-time public education assistant in the university’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, had submitted the naming request in July as “Univ of Utah” but the naming agency changed it to Univofutah – much to the dismay of university marketing officials, who would have preferred “U of Utah.” Wiggins says names must be limited to 16 characters, ruling out the university’s full name

The asteroid “is no more than 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) across,” Wiggins says. Because of its small size and distance, it is “too far away for even the Hubble Space Telescope to determine the shape.”

“Thankfully, this one will not be coming anywhere near the Earth,” he adds. “It’s a loooong way out. It is in the main asteroid belt. It stays between the orbits or Mars and Jupiter.”

As a NASA solar system ambassador to Utah since 2002, Wiggins this year won NASA’s Distinguished Public Service Medal, the space agency’s highest civilian honor.

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Two Years on Mars: The Good, Bad and Ugly

Frontiers of Science Lecture Series

Sept. 17, 2014 – Kimberly Lichtenberg, an instrument engineer for the Mars Curiosity rover, will speak about “Two Years on Mars: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” during the University of Utah’s Frontiers of Science Lecture on Wednesday, Sept. 24.

For two years NASA’s Curiosity rover vehicle was on a mission to answer a fundamental question about Mars: Was the planet ever a habitable environment? After the successful landing of the rover in August 2012, the team used Curiosity to explore the plains and deltas of Mars’ Gale Crater, a location known for its abundant minerals. The rover completed its journey in July after two years of lucky finds, obstacles and flat tires.

Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity previously found that liquid water once existed on Mars, suggesting the planet may have supported some form of life. In her lecture, Lichtenberg, who works at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, will discuss where to look for a habitable environment on Mars, the importance of Gale Crater to the mission and how humans can handle living on Mars time. Mars has a 24-hour, 39-minute day, which means mission researchers needed to start their shifts 39 minutes later each day, eventually working in the middle of the night.

Lichtenberg is a system engineer for the Sample Analysis at Mars instrument on Curiosity. She helps develop and maintain instruments that investigate a habitable environment on Mars. Lichtenberg also is part of the team that controls the rover, making her job “completely different and exciting” every day.

She received a bachelor’s degree in engineering physics from the University of Virginia and a master’s degree and doctorate in Earth and planetary sciences from Washington University in St. Louis. Lichtenberg also is an advocate on social media for space exploration.

The Frontiers of Science Lecture Series is sponsored by the University of Utah’s College of Science and College of Mines and Earth Sciences.

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