On Thursday, October 22, VRG students were treated to an engaging and provocative lecture by visiting professor, Ian Morison. Mr. Morison is the UK’s preeminent radio-astronomer and astrophysicist, based at the Jodrell Bank Observatory and Centre for Astrophysics in Manchester. For a major portion of his career, Ian was director of Jodrell Bank and for four years he was Gresham Professor of Astronomy, London, a post previously held by Christopher Wren.
Ian is uniquely qualified to lecture on SETI, as from 1998 to 2003 he was the UK project scientist at Jodrell Bank for Project Phoenix, as the post-detection site for signals picked up by observers at Arecibo.
Mr. Morison talked about that we can search for evidence of past, or even present, life forms within our own solar system, find evidence of simple life on planets around other stars –- a planet where water could be present has
recently be found –- or even detect an intelligent signal from an alien civilization.
He discussed his work as a project scientist in the most sensitive search, Project Phoenix, ever undertaken. He explained that sadly no signals were detected but a new 10-year search using two of the world’s largest radio telescopes is about to begin and, during the next decade, a giant radio telescope, the Square Kilometer Array, will have the sensitivity to detect alien signals from across the galaxy. The program lasted 90 minutes, including 30 minutes for questions and answers. The program also included a summary of how stars form, die and produce the elements necessary for life to arise, as well as the science of how radio-astronomy works.
Here you can flip through the slides he presented:
This was a unique opportunity for students to see and hear a direct account of what it is like to research and work with such interesting questions about space and exploration. Mr. Morison’s approach was focused and detailed, yet laid back and open for debate and discussion.
Wonder what Mr. Morison thought of the students at VRG Djursholm? All were actively engaged and many were in their Halloween costumes. An inspiring mix of #vrganda and student creativity combined with real and relevant learning within astrophysics. Another example of Art and Science do go hand-in-hand!
Thanks to the Brahe Educational Foundation for making this visit possible.
Information about this and other Brahe programs is at www.brahe.org.