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The Accelerating Universe – Megan Donahue (Lansing)

April 8, 2010
7:30 pm - 9:00 pm

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Michigan State University
220 Trowbridge Rd
East Lansing, MI 48824 United States

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Organized by:
Christian Orlic
Email: msu@centerforinquiry.net


If an expanding universe wasn’t surprising enough, consider the reaction to the evidence for an accelerating universe. By measuring the speed at which the universe expands, we can infer how long it took to expand, and the age of the universe.

The desire for a better idea of the contents and the age of the universe led to a multi-decade search for evidence of deceleration. By the turn of the century, evidence for an accelerating, rather than a decelerating universe had been compiled by multiple teams of researchers.

Megan Donahue will discuss the context of our expanding universe and the evidence for acceleration, as well as some of our best guesses as to what the universe is really made out of.

Students from other area campuses are invited to attend.

About Megan Donahue, PhD

Professor of Physics & Astronomy, Michigan State University

Megan Donahue grew up on a family farm in Nebraska, and went on to get a bachelor of science in physics at MIT. She received a PhD in astrophysics from the University of Colorado, Boulder, where she met her husband, Mark Voit, who is also an astrophysicist and frequent collaborator. She spent time as a Carnegie fellow at the Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena, California and as an Institute Fellow at Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland. She then accepted a staff astronomer position at STScI, working with the Hubble Space Telescope archive and James Webb Space Telescope science planning. In 2003, she and Mark Voit moved to Michigan State University to join the physics and astronomy department where they are now both full professors. Megan spends significant time in service to the astronomical community through committee work at the national and international levels, including the National Academy of Science Committee for Astronomy and Astrophysics, the International Astronomical Union committee to advise the Office for Astronomy for Development, located in South Africa, and NASA, NSF, and AURA advisory committees. She is also the author of a best-selling introductory college astronomy textbook series, called the Cosmic Perspective, (co-authors Jeffrey Bennett, Nick Schneider, and Mark Voit), published by Pearson.