Popular Physics Café is back | AspenTimes.com

Popular Physics Café is back

Aspen Times Staff

Aspen, CO ColoradoASPEN – Following the success of last winter’s Physics Café, the Aspen Science Center and the Physics Center of Aspen are once again offering low-key chats with visiting lecturers.Billed as “family-friendly, fun and informal,” the Café chats are short conversations that precede the formal lectures, which start in January.Interested families, students and community members are invited to the Wheeler Opera House lobby at 4:15 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 10, before a lecture on “Energy and Extra Dimensions in Einstein’s Universe” by Harvard University’s Lisa Randall.”The gathering features coffee and croissants along with a short [approximately 10-minute] presentation aimed at high school kids,” said Aspen Science Center Executive Director Kevin Ward. “Café participants will have a chance to ask informal questions and chat with these eminent physicists about any topic from string theory to their favorite happy hour spot in Aspen.”The beauty of these cafés is that you have 11-year-olds asking Nobel laureates to explain questions we all consider, but are afraid to ask. For example, one 8-year-old asked, “What kind of container can hold anti-matter?” Ward continued. “Invariably, the most insightful questions were from children unafraid of asking ‘stupid questions.’ We all need to allow ourselves that intellectual freedom, and the Physics Cafés provide a venue for that.”The Physics Café is open to the entire Roaring Fork community. Pastries and coffee will be on sale during the hour-long cafés; about 75 kids of all ages attended each of last year’s events, Ward said.In addition to Randall’s lecture, the series includes a lecture on condensed matter physics by Charles Marcus, also of Harvard on Jan. 17; “Ghostly Messengers of the Heavens” by Baha Balantekin of the University of Wisconsin on Jan. 31; “Reflections from Outbursts of Supermassive Black Holes at the Centers of Galaxies,” by Christine Jones of Harvard on Feb. 14; and on Feb. 19, Dick McCray of the University of Colorado will discuss “Supernovae and Cosmic Evolution.”