Professor Shane Larson will talk about how our understanding of the universe has expanded over time.
wphoto provided
Professor Shane Larson will talk about how our understanding of the universe has expanded over time. wphoto provided
Standing in a dark country meadow, staring up at a sky full of stars and the diaphanous glow of the Milky Way arching overhead, it is easy to feel small. Staring at pictures from the Hubble Space Telescope, it is easy to be stunned by the effortless beauty of the cosmos. Faced with the knowledge that our planet is only one small speck among a hundred billion galaxies and a billion-trillion stars, it is easy to feel insignificant.

Shane Larson understands the feeling. Larson is a research associate professor of physics at Northwestern University, where he is the Associate Director of CIERA (Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics). He works in the field of gravitational wave astrophysics, specializing in studies of compact stars, binaries, and the galaxy. He works in gravitational wave astronomy with both the ground-based LIGO project, and the future space-based detector LISA.

“…We live at a unique moment in human history,” Larson says. “We are the first humans to ever see a picture of the Earth, hanging against the darkness of the night. We are the first humans to ever know what lies on the surface of Mars, or behind the thick fog of Titan’s clouds. We are the first humans to ever know that we are deeply connected to the stars themselves. It is easy to forget how hard it was to win that

knowledge.”

Sisters Astronomy Club will present a public lecture on this topic by Professor Larson in the Sisters Public Library meeting room at 2 p.m., Saturday, August 10.

Larson grew up in eastern Oregon, and was an undergraduate at Oregon State University where he received his B.S. in Physics in 1991. He received a Ph.D. in theoretical physics (1999) from Montana State University. He is an award-winning teacher, and a Fellow of the American Physical Society.

He currently lives in the Chicago area with his wife, daughter and cats. He contributes regularly to a public science blog at writescience.wordpress.com, and tweets with the handle

@sciencejedi.

“We are stardust, wrought into complex machines of atoms that are capable of pondering the Universe itself,” Larson notes. “When faced with the cosmic vastness, it is easy to forget how awesome it is that we can understand — that is the hallmark of our relationship with the cosmos. In this chat, we’ll talk about how our understanding of the universe has expanded with time, and how we came to understand our place in it.”

For more information on the program contact Jim Hammond at 541-617-1086 or drjhammond@

oldshoepress.com