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Mapping the Heavens"

Priyamvada Natarajan, Professor, Departments of Astronomy & Physic, Yale University

12:30pm in the Auditorium; Lunch at 12:15pm (suggested donation $5)

Our cosmic view has been rapidly evolving. Until 1914, we believed that we were alone in the universe and unique. In addition to demonstrating the existing of other galaxies, the astronomer Edwin Hubble in the 1920s also discovered that our cosmos was in motion. Starting with this disorienting finding that our universe, unmoored and no longer stagnant, we have been rapidly uncovering many other features of our cosmos - the existence of dark matter, black holes, dark energy, extra-solar planets - that have fundamentally transformed our current understanding of the cosmos and our place in it. Professor Natarajan will focus on two of these radical ideas - dark matter and black holes - and examine how despite being deeply contested, they were eventually accepted. The arc of their acceptance reveals not only our shifting conceptions of the cosmos, but also demonstrates the power of the confluence of ideas and instruments. Mapping the seen and the unseen elements in the universe continues to help us refine our understanding of the cosmos and our place in it.