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Star Night: September 16

[1]Friday, September 16, 2011
7:00 – 11:00 p.m.

Public Star Night at the Little Thompson Observatory, 850 Spartan Ave at Berthoud High School (park east of the high school; directions are posted on www.starkids.org [2]).

Guest speaker John Ensworth will present: “Theories of Everything – from the Beginning of Time to When Time Doesn’t Exist.”

This will be the second of two talks on two consecutive public Star Nights, August 19 and September 16. Given the material being discussed at these two star nights, it would be appropriate for interested early teens but an early high school science background would help those new to the topics.

Part 1 of this presentation went into the earliest theories-of-everything (TOE’s) to modern efforts to unify the forces to see how reality is built. Ensworth touched on the role of the Higgs Boson [3] (the “God particle” that is being sought at CERN [4] near Geneva), zip by black holes [5], parallel universes and the flow of time itself and the promise of the (still un-testable) String Theory. [6]

Part 2 of this presentation will be held on September 16, and will recap the topics of the first presentation and then move on to Information Theory, Loop Quantum Gravity to the role of entropy in everyday life and the death of the universe. Then we can wonder if a Theory of Everything [7]is even, ultimately, possible in light of the mathematician Kurt Gödel [8] and the computer pioneer Alan Turing [9]. Be ready to ask questions

John Ensworth is the Senior Science Education Specialist at the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies [10] working with NASA Headquarters in Washington DC. He conducts independent reviews of all Earth and Space Science education products produced by or for NASA. (www.strategies.org) He conducts workshops and professional development opportunities year around and at national science education meetings like the NSTA and the AGU. He has a master’s degree in meteorology from the University of Oklahoma and has undergraduate degrees in physics & astronomy, geography & meteorology with minors in math and computer science.

He became interested in astronomy in the 2nd grade and began to teach astronomy to cub scouts and boy scouts by the 5th grade.

He worked for the Arizona State University planetarium when Halley’s Comet paid the inner solar system a visit in 1985-1986 and was a planetarium lecturer at the Oklahoma City Omniplex Planetarium for almost 10 years. He has worked at Steward Observatory, at the University of Arizona, Tucson and conducted site testing for the placement of the Mt. Graham observatory complex. He has also observed at the 4-meter telescope at Kitt Peak, a 36” telescope at Kitt Peak, and at the Multi-Mirror Telescope at Mt. Whipple.

More recently he has conducted over 50 astronomy nights for Oklahoma, Virginia, Maryland audiences, has taught college level astronomy for almost 25 years and is a volunteer for the Little Thompson Observatory in Berthoud, CO.

Weather permitting, after the presentation, visitors will be invited to look through the large telescope at various celestial objects.

Public star nights are held the third Friday of each month (except July, when the LTO is closed for annual maintenance). No reservations are necessary for these nights. Just come and join in for the talk and some observing afterwards.

If you have any questions, please call the observatory information line at 970-613-7793 or check the LTO web site at: www.starkids.org [2].