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How Galaxies Were Cooked from the Primordial Soup

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As part of the 13th annual Silicon Valley Astronomy Lecture Series, University of California Observatories Interim Director Sandra Faber, Ph.D., will discuss How Galaxies were Cooked from the Primordial Soup, an illustrated, non-technical lecture, Wednesday, Feb. 6, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the Smithwick Theatre at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills. Admission is free and the public is invited. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Arrive early to locate parking.

One of the great mysteries of the night sky is why it's mostly dark, only punctuated by pinpoints of light in the form of stars and galaxies. The lumpiness of today's universe is a fundamental characteristic that took billions of years to grow. Dr. Faber will review the prevailing "Cold Dark Matter" theory for galaxy formation and compare its predictions to present-day observations. It's a remarkable saga involving invisible dark energy and matter, the properties of the universe an instant after it was born, cosmic expansion faster than light, and the creation of structure from quantum fluctuations. What's more, she will show that we probably understand this cosmic history better than we understand the origin of our own DNA!

Faber is interim director of the University of California Observatories and astronomy professor at UC Santa Cruz. She was one of three astronomers who diagnosed the flaw in the mirror of the Hubble Space Telescope and played a major role in its repair. She established the scientific case for the giant Keck Telescopes, now operating in Hawaii and has helped develop instruments for them to probe the early universe. Her primary research interests include the formation and distribution of galaxies and cosmology--the study of the properties of the entire universe. Dr. Faber was one of the creators of the "Cold Dark Matter" theory that details how the cosmos developed its present-day structure. Among her awards are the Russell Prize of the American Astronomical Society and Bruce Medal of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, each given for a lifetime of distinguished contributions to astronomy. In 2013, she will receive the National Medal of Science from President Obama.

The free lecture series is sponsored by the Foothill College Astronomy Program, NASA Ames Research Center, SETI Institute and Astronomical Society of the Pacific. Past lectures from the series are available online at www.astrosociety.org/education/podcast/index.html.

Visitors must purchase a parking permit for $3 from dispensers in student parking lots. Parking lots 1, 7 and 8 provide stair and no-stair access to the theatre. Dispensers accept one-dollar bills and quarters. Foothill College is located off I-280 on El Monte Road in Los Altos Hills. For more information, access www.foothill.edu or call (650) 949-7888.

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