Life, the Universe and Everything
Science in the Pub Number 74
With panellists Charley Lineweaver and John Dickey
Compered bySimon Ellingsen
Friday, August 20th 2004, 7:30-10:00pm
Bridie O'Reilly's Pub
124, Davey Street, Hobart
National Science Week 2004 is focusing on space. A regular feature of national science week, Science in the Pub returns to Tasmania at Bridie O’Reilly’s, and attempts to answer some of the big questions of life, the universe and everything! We look at how our culture and the Universe are enmeshed, and ask whether astronomy plays a role in defining who we are and what we believe in. Two internationally renowned astrophysicists lead the fray: Dr Charley Lineweaver (University of NSW) and Prof. John Dickey (University of Tasmania), in a discussion compered by Simon Ellingsen.
Lured away from home by the “summer of love” in San Francisco, Dickey enrolled as an undergraduate in Physics at Stanford University in 1968. While there he led a hippie lifestyle in remote Half Moon Bay, California, and he experimented with various substances, including but not limited to cosmic rays and high energy electrons at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. He moved on to Cornell University in 1972, where he was sent as a research assistant to the huge Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. He was immediately and irrevocably hooked on radio astronomy, and so ended the remote possibility that he might ever have a productive career or contribute anything to society. While at Cornell he worked briefly with Carl Sagan and Frank Drake searching for signals from extraterrestrials, but he was lured away by the more sexy topic of studying the temperature of cool clouds in the interstellar medium.
After getting his Doctorate in 1977, Dickey went on to work at the Five College Radio Astronomy Observatory and the U.S. National Radio Astronomy Observatory, and then to the University of Minnesota, where he chugged placidly down the tenure track, coming to rest as a full professor in 1989. This would have been the end of the story, as it is for most academics, if he had not been roused by the call of the Southern Sky. Starting in 1992, Dickey came more and more frequently to Australia to use the Compact Array telescope in Narrabri to study the Magellanic Clouds and the inner parts of the Milky Way, that are visible only from the Southern Hemisphere. With advancing age, he found it more and more difficult to remember which side of the equator he was on, and thus which side of the road he should be steering for. The only solution was to head for Tasmania, where most of the roads are so narrow that it doesn’t matter which side you’re on.
tonight is Simon Ellingsen, a lecturer in the School
of Maths & Physics at the University of Tasmania. He currently mixes
the entertainment of small children and dogs with trying to understand
the processes behind the formation of the largest stars in our Galaxy.
He has spent much of the past decade searching for and studying alcohol
in space, which may or may not be a good grounding for Science in the
Our poems tonight, firstly from Charley, inspired by some Olympics bush poetry:
Beer and Life
Next, John's classicaly inspired verse:
With apologies to Kipling’s “Ballad of East and West”
Science in the Pub is the Eureka Award winning endeavour in science communication. Sessions are generally staged 3-4 times per year. Admission costs $5 worth of raffle tickets, your chance to win one of many excellent prizes!
Visit our website at http://www.scienceinthepub.com/.
Next Science in the Pub session:
Friday Oct 22, Imperial Hotel, Coonabarabran
Science in the Pub, © 2000. Stutchbury, R, Burton, M.