November Monthly Meeting

Spectroscopy Society of Pittsburgh Monthly Meeting

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WHEN: Wednesday – November 19, 2014
RSVP BY: Thursday – November 13, 2014

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Technology Forum Speaker’s Presentation & Social Hour: 5:30 PM – Laura Falk Lecture Hall (located in Mellon Hall)
Social Hour: 5:30 PM – City View Café (6th Floor of Union)
Dinner: 6:30 PM – City View Café (6th Floor of Union)
Business Meeting: 8:00 PM – Laura Falk Lecture Hall (located in Mellon Hall)
Technical Program Speaker’s Presentation: 8:15 PM – Laura Falk Lecture Hall (located in Mellon Hall)

TECHNOLOGY PROGRAM – 8:15PM
Arthur Kosowsky — Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Pittsburgh

“Microwave Background Polarization and the Beginning of the Universe”
We live in a universe whose properties are remarkably well described by a very early epoch of accelerating expansion, termed inflation. One generic prediction of inflation is a relic background of stochastic gravitational radiation. These gravitational wave perturbations leave a distinctive imprint in the polarization of the microwave background. In March 2014, the BICEP experiment at the South Pole announced the detection of this signal for the first time, although subsequent analysis cast doubt on whether polarized emission from dust in the Milky Way galaxy might be contaminating the signal. I will review the current state of observations and give an overview of upcoming observational efforts at measuring the polarization spectrum which will definitively distinguish the cosmological and galactic signals. If the BICEP signal has a significant cosmological component from inflation, this opens the door to the remarkable possibility of detecting the gravitational radiation background directly with a space-based laser interferometer. Such a measurement would provide a precision probe of physics at energy scales a trillion times higher than those at terrestrial accelerators.


TECHNICAL FORUM – 5:30 PM
Ken Kobus

“Allegheny Observatory: The Selling of Time and Beginning of EST”
This presentation will focus on the development of the American Time System and the role played by Pittsburgh and Pittsburghers in its formation. This city, the Pennsylvania Railroad and Allegheny Observatory were important players in creating the ways in which accurate time was determined and distributed to the nation. There were little quirks and interesting sidebars that came along for the ride. For instance: did you know that at one time the Central Time Zone began at Pittsburgh?