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Having the knowledge and understanding of scientific concepts and processes necessary to make informed decisions on scientific issues.

Tracking the paths of the “Starlight Detectives” at Science on Saturday

When astronomer Isaac Roberts showed a photograph of the Andromeda Nebula to the Royal Astronomical Society, it caused a huge sensation. “There were audible gasps in the audience,” astronomer Alan Hirshfeld told the audience at the first Ronald E. Hatcher Science on Saturday lecture at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory on Jan. 9.

“The professional astronomers had never seen such a clear image of the nebula,” Hirshfeld said.

COLLOQUIUM: Proton Therapy for Cancer: Current Status, Promise and Challenges

This presentation will provide a physicist’s perspective on a proton therapy for cancer treatment. It will include a context of how radiation therapy fits into cancer management overall with an emphasis on the differences between proton and conventional radiation therapy. Additionally, new developments in proton therapy including spot scanning, range verification approaches, and gel spacers will be presented.

 

COLLOQUIUM: Assessing First Wall Materials at the Atomic Scale and Energy Writ Large at Princeton

Quantum mechanics based computer simulations can help provide insights into the survivability of first wall and divertor materials. I will present results of research aimed at assessing how hydrogen isotopes interact with solid tungsten and liquid lithium, candidates for plasma facing components of fusion reactors. An overview of Princeton University's Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment will also be provided.

COLLOQUIUM: Chance, Necessity, and the Origins of Life

Earth's 4.5 billion year history is a complex tale of deterministic physical and chemical processes, as well as 'frozen accidents'. Most models of life's origins also invoke chance and necessity. Recent research adds two important insights to this discussion. First, chance versus necessity is an inherently false dichotomy--a range of probabilities exists for many natural events. Second, given the astonishing combinatorial chemical richness of early Earth, events that are extremely rare may, nevertheless, be deterministic on time scales of a billion years.

COLLOQUIUM: Technical Aspects of the Iran Nuclear Agreement

After 20 months of negotiation, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Russia and the United States reached an agreement with Iran to constrain and verify its nuclear program, in exchange for relief from international sanctions. The constraints on Iran are unprecedented among non-proliferation agreements, as are the verification procedures. Iran will be required, for 15 years, to maintain an inventory of no more than 300 kg of uranium enriched to no more than 3.67%. It will be prevented from constructing a research reactor using natural uranium.

A.J. Stewart Smith to step down as Princeton University vice president for PPPL in 2016

As a young man, A.J. Stewart “Stew” Smith won the Canadian National Lacrosse Championship as a member of a powerful Vancouver, British Columbia, club team. That early success and love of teamwork foreshadowed an illustrious career in which Smith has played leading roles as an educator, administrator and particle physicist. Now, after nearly 50 years on the faculty and staff of Princeton University, Smith is stepping down next February from his current post as the University’s initial vice president for the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL).

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