Public Release: 

NSF invites science journalists to public symposium on astronomy

National Science Foundation

On October 7-8, 2003, science journalists are invited to attend "The Universe From the Ground Up," a public symposium on astronomy in the 21st century. The event is being sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF), and will be held at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, 2500 Calvert Street NW, Washington, DC.

On the evening of Tuesday, October 7, following a public reception, Harvard University's Robert Kirshner will set the stage with a lecture describing the current, remarkable state of excitement in cosmology. Prof. Kirshner is the incoming president of the American Astronomical Society and a co-discoverer of "dark energy": a mysterious force that is slowly, but inexorably, causing the cosmic expansion to accelerate.

The following morning, Wednesday, October 8, begins a full day of exhibits, lectures, and panel discussions. Welcoming the participants will be Rita Colwell, director of NSF, and Michael Turner, a University of Chicago astrophysicist and the incoming head of NSF's Directorate of Mathematical and Physical Sciences. Sandra Faber of the Lick Observatory, a co-discoverer of our galaxy's motion toward a cosmic "Great Attractor," will deliver the keynote address: "Astronomy and Our Place in the Cosmos." And the day will continue with discussions of the origin and fate of the universe; the search for planets around other stars; LIGO and gravitational wave astronomy; and plans for a new generation of ultra-high-tech telescopes. Among the speakers will be gravity theorist Kip Thorne of Caltech, one of the guiding spirits behind LIGO, and physicist Alan Guth of MIT, inventor of the theory of cosmic inflation. Astronomer Chris Impey of the University of Arizona will conclude the day with a talk on "Life and the Universe."

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For a complete agenda, an online registration form, and directions.


The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering, with an annual budget of nearly $5.3 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives about 30,000 competitive requests for funding, and makes about 10,000 new funding awards. The NSF also awards over $200 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

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