SETI Institute Weekly Colloquium - Upcoming Speakers

Tuesday, August 04 2015 - 12:00 pm, PDT

Gamma Ray Bursts and Recent Results from the Fermi Mission

Peter Michelson
Stanford University

Dr. Michelson is the Principal Investigator of the Large Area Telescope on the Fermi Observatory.

The Large Area Telescope (LAT) on the Fermi Observatory scans the entire sky once every three hours.  It has revealed many types of high-energy sources including gamma-ray bursts, many types of pulsars, active galaxies, and binary systems.

In this talk Dr. Michelson will give an overview of Fermi’s discoveries and offer speculation of what might be found next, including possible sources of gravitational radiation.


Tuesday, August 11 2015 - 12:00 pm, PDT

Titan's Oceans observed by CASSINI Radar

Howard Zebker
Stanford University

Tuesday, August 18 2015 - 12:00 pm, PDT

REU Students Lightning Talks

Research Experience for Undergraduate summer students
SETI Institute

Tuesday, August 25 2015 - 12:00 pm, PDT

The NASA K2 Mission: Extending Kepler's Legacy

Tom Barclay
Bay Area Research Institute

The NASA K2 mission makes use of the Kepler spacecraft to expand upon Kepler's groundbreaking discoveries in the fields of exoplanets and astrophysics through new and exciting observations. K2 uses an innovative way of operating the spacecraft by carefully balancing the pressure of photons coming from the Sun. The K2 mission offers long-term, simultaneous optical observation of thousands of objects at high precision. Ecliptic fields are observed for approximately 75-days enabling a unique exoplanet survey which fills the gaps in duration and sensitivity between the Kepler and TESS missions, and offers exoplanet target identification for JWST transit spectroscopy. Astrophysics observations with K2 include studies of young open clusters such as the Pleiades and Hyades, galaxies, supernovae, and galactic archeology.


Tuesday, September 01 2015 - 12:00 pm, PDT

Planet Occurrence Rates with Kepler: Reaching Towards the Habitable Zone

Christopher Burke
SETI Institute

Tuesday, September 22 2015 - 12:00 pm, PDT

Completing the Census of Exoplanetary Systems with Microlensing

Scott Gaudi
Ohio State University

Measurements of the demographics of exoplanets over a range of planet and

host star properties provide fundamental empirical constraints on theories of planet formation and evolution.  Because of its unique sensitivity to low-mass, long-period, and free-floating planets, microlensing is an essential complement to our arsenal of planet detection methods. 

Dr. Gaudi will review the microlensing method, and discuss results to date from ground-based microlensing surveys.   Finally, Dr. Gaudi will motivate a space-based microlensing survey with WFIRST-AFTA, which when combined with the results from Kepler, will yield a nearly complete picture of the demographics of planetary systems throughout the Galaxy.


Tuesday, September 29 2015 - 12:00 pm, PDT

Kepler’s Heartbeat Stars: When Binary Stars Get Funky

Susan Thompson
SETI Institute

Tuesday, November 03 2015 - 12:00 pm, PST

Shape dynamics: a relational view of the Universe

Henrique Gomes
Perimiter Institute

Shape Dynamics is a new theory of gravity which removes the notion of local relativistic time from the guiding principles of gravity in the universe. It is a very promising approach which has been shown to be equivalent to Einstein's Theory of General Relativity, without being embedded in time. It is inspired by adherence to Mach's Principle, which is violated by Einstein's theory.

Shape Dynamics provides new tools in the quest for a theory that describes quantum gravity. 

In the first part of the talk Dr. Gomes will review some of the Machian motivations for shape dynamics and sketch its construction.  In the second half, Dr. Gomes will talk about recent developments on black holes in this formulation, and discuss some positive aspects of its ongoing quantization program.