Fall 2023

9/23: Ancient Astronomy – Sarah Borges and Shashwat Sardesai

    Since the dawn of humanity, the heavens above ahve always held awe and wonder for all. What did ancient humans make of the cosmos and the celestial bodies? Astronomy is one of the oldest sciences and is inherently linked to humankind's history. In this talk we'll look at the incredible measurmenets, observations, and theories that early civilizations had when it came to space, the motion of the planets, and creating the first calendars.

10/21: Expedition Lunaris: Reaching for the Moon – Tamal RoyChowdhury and Simon Yeung

    On April 3rd, 2023, NASA announced the crew members for the Artemis 2 mission to the Moon. This will be the second mission since Apollo 11 to take people back to the lunar surface. In the decades in between, several space agencies around the globe have sent unmanned missions to the Moon to study it. What questions did these missions seek to answer? What more do we want to find out about the Moon? Join us as we discuss the history of some of the most important lunar mission and how they shaped our understanding of this natural satellite, as well as plans for major upcoming missions and their objectives.

11/4: The Gravitational Wave Background Discovered! – Lulu Agazie, Gabe Freedman, and Shashwat Sardesai

    This past summer, scientists announced the discovery of the stochastic gravitational wave background, a cosmic hum emanating throughout the entire universe. It marked the first direct observation of low-frequency gravitational waves, and opened up a whole new chapter in researching these fascinating signals. The discovery was made possible through the work of many collaborators across the world, including at UWM! Join us as the students who worked directly on this project talk about their work, the importance of this discovery, and how exciting groundbreaking research is happening right here in Milwaukee.

12/2: What ever happened to Pluto? – Amanda Baylor and Ronan Humphrey

    In August of 2006, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) created an official definition for the term "planet". Pluto was not able to fit into this definition and was demoted to a "dwarf planet", causing outrage in both the scientific and general public communities. Debate over the decision even made its way into the California State Assembly, the New Mexico House of Representatives, and the Illinois Senate, all of which formed resolutions to uphold Pluto's status as a planet despite the IAU decision. Join us to learn more about Pluto and our own relationship to our solar system and beyond.

Spring 2023

2/25: The Universe is Not Real – Pratyusava Baral and Gabe Freedman

    Perhaps you’ve heard the news. The 2022 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded for experiments proving that the universe is not ‘locally real’. That might seem… unsettling. What does it mean for something to be real anyways? Come join us at Anodyne, we’ll all get through this together.

3/11: How Do We “See” a Black Hole? – Ronan Humphrey, Allie Spaulding, and Lulu Agazie

    If black holes don’t emit light, how do we see them and know that they are there? We can do this by studying how they affect matter nearby! Come learn about multiple techniques used to detect these “dark” objects!

4/22: The Lifespan of Stars – Shashwat Sardesai and Tamal RoyChowdhury

    From tiny stars that will last to the end of time, to massive stars that burn bright and brief, we explore the life and death of stars. We discuss the chaos brewing within the fiery furnace of a star and what fates lie in wait for it.

5/6: The Science of Science Fiction – Sarah Borges and Simon Yeung

    Join us for an epic journey into the science behind your favorite sci-fi movies! Discover the secrets of time with the blockbusters Back to the Future, Interstellar, Arrival, and Tenet. From the weirdness of relativity and time dilation to entropy, you'll explore the fascinating nature of time in this CoffeeShop Astrophysics event. Don't miss your chance to join us in this expedition behind the fiction!

Fall 2022

9/24 - How Do Stars Float? Great Questions from Kids You Might Not Know the Answer To - Pratyusava Baral and Sarah Borges

    Do you know how stars float? Why does time only move forward? Or even why night sky dark? If you are unsure of the answer to any of those questions, I invite you to the next coffee shop astrophysics! We will answer several great questions that kids ask and adults take for granted.

10/15 - The Sounds of Space - Gabe Freedman and Shashwat Sardesai

    We've all seen great pictures from outer space, but what do any of these planets, stars and black holes sound like? How are we able to 'listen' to these objects in space, and what can we learn from these sounds?

11/12 - Exploring the Universe with the James Webb Space Telescope – Lulu Agazie, Amanda Baylor, and Sinead Humphrey

    The James Webb Space Telescope launched Christmas Day 2021 and has already shown us so much! Join us as we learn about the science that got us to launch day, and all the new discoveries already being made! We’ll look at the oldest stars ever captured, fantastic nebulae, and even our own solar system images captured a million miles away! 

12/03 - How Empty is Space? – Shashwat Sardesai and Allie Spaulding

    Have you ever looked up at the sky and wondered how big the universe really is? It seems like stars fill the night sky with not much room in-between, but is that really the case? In this talk we will discuss how big the universe is and what we think fills all that space.

Spring 2022

5/7 - Voyager

    In 1977 two space probes, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, were launched from Earth, each carrying a small gold record containing a summary of the sights, sounds, languages, and music of home. Today both Voyagers have long left the Solar System and will continue to drift in interstellar space forever. This Saturday at Anodyne, come find out what makes Voyager one of the most scientifically and culturally important space missions of our time.

4/23 - The Secrets of Neutron Stars: Inside the Densest Stars in the Universe.

    The first neutron star was discovered in 1967 by Jocelyn Bell Burnell. But, after almost 60 years, we still don't know how matter behaves inside those objects. This week, we will journey into the frontiers of physics to understand the proposed models of what is inside those stars and how astronomers are testing them with observations.

3/12 - The Modern Scientific Method

    The scientific method was a key process in early astronomy research and still is in the research we do today! The steps of the method hold fast, but instrumentation and analysis techniques have greatly improved over time. Find out more about how parts of the method have evolved over time.

2/22 - Our Expanding Universe

    In this talk, we explore the history of cosmology including the history of the Hubble Constant and the Cosmological Constant. We begin our journey at the Big Bang and follow 'Our Expanding Universe' through its evolution. We’ll discuss the different phases of our universe, the driving force behind its expansion, and its ultimate fate.

Fall 2021

12/18 - Transient Astronomy

11/20 - Forgotten Physicists

    As long as the field of physics has existed, there has been drastic underrepresentation of women and people of color. In this talk, we look at the current statistics of minorities in physics and showcase the lives of minority physicists who have made significant contributions to the field but who have not gotten the recognition they deserved.

10/30 - Moon Worlds

    Did you know that almost every planet in our solar system has its own moon? Join us as we dive into what makes each of these moons unique and different. Of course we will also be talking about our very own moon, as well as the myths about what happens on a full moon.

9/25 - Volcanoes

    Earth’s volcanos have been present in many parts of human culture because of their explosive power and destructive lava. But what is it that actually drives these explosive mountains, and what does the presence of these giant lava fountains tell us about a planet?

Spring 2021

5/8 - 95% Invisible: Dark Matter and Dark Energy (Special Guest Presentation)

    Scientists believe that 95% of the universe is composed of dark matter and dark energy, mysterious phenomena that we do not yet understand. In this talk we’ll discuss the evidence for the dark parts of the universe, from the Big Bang to observations of galaxies and distant supernovae.

4/10 - The Search for Extraterrestrial Life

    Since the dawn of humanity, we have wondered about our existence on this planet. Many of our questions and answers depend on our own experience as humans on Earth, which is only a small piece of the puzzle! In this talk, we will discuss the search for life beyond our own planet, the technological advances we have made (and barriers that still exist) in its detection, and several of the ways that we use the minimal information available to us to develop hypotheses about the likelihood of alien development.

2/20 - The Science of Lightning

    Thunder and lightning aren't so frightening! Did you know that there are many types of lightning that occur in varying storm conditions, and sometimes the lightning actually originates on the ground? In this week's talk, we will discuss the characteristics of many types of lightning as well as their origins.

3/13 - Hunting for Exoplanets

    Is our solar system the only of its kind, or is it possible there are others like it? Since the 1980s researchers have been discovering more and more exoplanets that slightly resemble the planets we know and love. To date, more than 4,000 exoplanets have been found. Is it possible there are some that are habitable and look like our planet Earth?

Fall 2020

11/21 - Exotic Telescopes

    Can you turn an ice sheet in Antarctica into a telescope? Sometimes to see strange astronomical objects we need to build strange observatories! Join us as we talk about some of the most fascinating facilities astronomers use to see into space.

10/24 - What Makes Viruses Go 'Viral'? (Special Guest Presentation)

    Viruses are one of nature’s most interesting but easily misunderstood biological systems. There are more viruses in a liter of coastal sea water than people on Earth. But, did you know that they aren’t all harmful to us? In this week's talk, we will discuss about origins and transmission of viruses. Also what really happens when we’re infected, how vaccines work and how infections of our ancestors became ‘molecular fossils’ available for our exploration.

Spring 2020

2/8 - What Does it Mean to be Quantum?

    Have you ever wondered what life would be like if you were the size of an atom? Well, behavior at this scale changes so much that physicists have given it its own category of physics, Quantum Mechanics. Come find out just how differently objects of this size, such as light, behave compared to classical everyday objects.

Fall 2019

12/14 - How to Build the Periodic Table

    We're all familiar with it, that collection of all of the basic atomic elements we have discovered organized by their common properties which we call the Periodic Table of Elements. They form the building blocks of essentially everything we can see with our eyes in the universe, but where did they come from? If you break down one of these atoms you get a collection of things like protons, neutrons, and electrons, but how do you put them together to build an atom in the first place? In this talk we will explore the ways in which the universe's factories produce nature's building blocks!

11/16 - Alternative Telescopes

    Our eyes are windows into the world around us. These biological lenses focus light and allow our brains to process everything we see. Our understanding of lenses gave us the invention of the telescope, which has forever changed the way we understand not only our world, but the universe around us. But these traditional telescopes are not the only way in which we can bring distant objects into focus. Using our amazing understanding of math and physics we might in the future be able to turn other objects, not just glass, into extremely powerful lenses, to build alternative and radically new types of "telescopes." So come to this talk and we'll look at the ways in which we might be able to turn objects such as the Earth or even the Sun into the lenses of future telescopes.

10/19 - How did we see a Black Hole?

Special Announcement: We are also excited to announce that this talk will be an official part of the Wisconsin Science Festival! If you want to learn all things science for all ages in Milwaukee and around the state, be sure to check out this website for more information!

    You may have seen it in the news back in April of this year, a team of scientists from around the world managed to take the first direct image of one of the universe's most enigmatic objects - a black hole. This tremendous accomplishment required the combined strength of telescopes from all around the world working together, effectively creating an Earth-sized telescope! How was all of this achieved, and moreover, how do you take a picture of an object which consumes all light that touches it, an object which for all intents and purposes, is invisible? Come join us at Anodyne to drink coffee and talk science!

9/14 - The Science of Science-Fiction: Episode II

    Here in "Episode II," we once again revisit the popular topic of the science behind some of our favorite science-fiction culture! Where is art inspired by science, and where does it take its own liberties? What does the reality behind the science fiction imply by the possible future technologies we might achieve? Well from the massive star forge that created Thor's mighty hammer in Marvel's "Infinity War," to the far looking galactic society that we could become in Isaac Asimov's "Foundation" series of novels, we hope you join us for a fun look into the possibly real, and the really possible!

Summer 2019

7/20 - It's all in the Brain: The Neuroscience of Vision and Hearing (Special Guest Presentation)

    Imagine that you’re seated by the window in Anodyne on a Sunday morning. You’re fixated on a puppy playing in the park outside, while simultaneously hearing the hustle and bustle of the coffeeshop like the hiss of the cappuccino machine, two old friends catching up on a table next to you, and the music playing in the background. A few minutes later you hear your name being called out. You look in the direction of the sound, and see the barista putting your hot espresso on the bar. While the ability to take in your surroundings seems automatic, it takes an immense amount of processing in the brain to give you an accurate and continuous representation of the world around you. In this talk, we will discuss how information taken in from the environment by the eyes and ears is processed by the brain to produce sight and hearing. First, we will discuss how the components of each system take in, process and synthesize information from the senses to help us understand our surroundings. Then we will discuss how our goals and past experiences can change what we pay attention to in our environment. Finally, we will point out how the brain contributes its own assumptions when it forms this comprehensive picture and how sometimes these assumptions can lead these representations astray.

Spring 2019

5/12 - The Physics of Everyday Objects

    Think of the things that you use or encounter every day. If one day you were abducted by aliens and asked to explain how the technology of our civilization worked, do you think you could do it? Things like the television, telephones, GPS, and cameras, which you may use regularly. Or perhaps even items you may have never stopped to consider, like smoke detectors, anti-shoplifting alarms, or even… your toaster – do you actually understand how they work? We live in a society propped up on its technology, but yet if you stopped for a moment to try and explain how that stuff worked, you might find yourself at a loss for words. So come join us as we try to shed light on some of these commonly used items, which work in fascinating ways!

4/7 - An Update from New Horizons: Beyond Pluto

    Back in 2015 the world got its very first image of the surface of Pluto, taken from the New Horizons spacecraft. But since then it has continued it's epic journey out further, pushing back the horizon of our solar system even more. Three and a half years later, this New Year's day 2019, New Horizons made its latest fly-by encounter with a rocky world beyond Pluto, nicknamed Ultima Thule. This strange new world is not quite like any we have ever seen before, and has been likened to a "snowman" because of its peculiar shape. So come to learn some of the latest updates from New Horizons - what have we learned over the years in the time it made its closest approach to Pluto, and what are we continuing to learn about some of the outer-most reaches of our solar system.

3/10 - How the Higgs Boson was Discovered (Special Guest Presentation)

    In the world of everything on the smallest of scales, how does particle physics try to explain our universe, and what is the role of the enigmatic "Higgs Boson?" Back in 2012 this particle rose to somewhat of a celebrity status as CERN, home of the world's largest particle accelerator, made the announcement of the discovery of this particle. Join us for this talk to listen to our special guest Dr. Vincent Smith, honorary visiting lecturer at the University of Bristol in the UK, gives an exciting and insightful look into the what the Higgs Boson is and how it completes the so-called "Standard Model" of particle physics. Dr. Smith has worked at CERN and so will give us a first-hand look at the science that takes place there!

2/10 - Fuse, Fuse, Little Star: I Think I Know What You Are

    When we look at the night sky with the naked eye, most of the objects we see are stars. How much do we really know about these little specks of light? In this talk, we return to our CoffeeShop Astrophysics roots by exploring what stars are, how they shine, and what stages they go through throughout their lives. Come join us for some Stellar (CoffeeShop) Astrophysics!

Fall 2018

12/15 - Exploring the Solar System and the Search for Planet Nine

    Planet Nine, Planet X, Planet Next, Giant Planet Five - whatever nomenclature you prefer, there is mounting evidence of an undiscovered planet far more distant than Neptune, with an estimated mass ten times that of the Earth, and a ~15,000 year orbit around the Sun. We will revisit the discoveries of other planets and Trans-Neptunian Objects (TNOs) in our Solar System, consider the existence of an as-yet-undiscovered massive planet, and learn about joining the search with a citizen science project called "Backyard Worlds: Planet 9."

11/18 - Climate Change 101 with Guest Speaker Dr. Paul Roebber

    With climate change becoming an increasingly politicized talking point in the 24-hour news cycle, have you ever wanted to know exactly what climate change is? What separates climate from everyday weather? What do scientists think is the cause? Humans burning fossil fuels? Methane produced by cattle? Something else? Learn the bread-and-butter basics about how Earth’s climate has evolved and the reasons why from none other than Dr. Paul Roebber, an atmospheric researcher from UWM. Let’s learn from the expert and get better informed together!

10/21 - Probing Other Worlds: The Instruments on Space Missions

    We have learned so much about our solar system by physically sending probes to far-away worlds like asteroids, moons, and other planets. What we can discover about these worlds depends critically on what instruments we send to explore them. In this talk we will describe what instruments different space missions use, how those instruments work, and the discoveries that they have lead to.

9/9 - It was a Dark and Stormy Planet: Space Weather (Part II)

Announcement: This is the conclusion to the two-part miniseries on space weather, so be sure not to miss it!

    Every day we make decisions based on what the weather is going to be like. But what if you checked the weather forcast and saw that there was a significant chance of methane rain, or a planet-wide dust storm on its way? While these types of weather don't occur here on Earth, they can occur on other planets. In fact, the weather on other planets can be far more extreme. So from the storm on Jupiter which has lasted for centuries, to the run-away greenhouse effect which has rendered Venus perhaps completely uninhabitable, to perhaps the even more extreme weather that may occur on planets throughout our galaxy and universe, be sure to join us to learn more about the ever fascinating forecasts of extraterrestrial space weather!

Summer 2018

6/3 - Human Evolution: The Background Story and Recent Discoveries (Special Guest Presentation)

    Our understanding of human origins and evolution has changed dramatically over the last several decades. Once viewed as a smooth, linear succession of progressively larger-brained and more human-like hominids, new fossil discoveries and genetic sequencing data have uncovered a much more complex picture of our evolutionary past. Likewise, work by archeologists, primatologists, and cognitive scientists points to a highly intricate pattern of similarities and differences between the minds of humans and non-human animals, thus revealing important clues about how our minds have been shaped by evolution. In this talk, we will review some of the most important discoveries and how they shaped the current scientific views on the subject.

Spring 2018

5/13 - Cosmology: The Shape and Evolution of our Universe

    To an ant walking over the surface of an apple, its "universe" is round - if it travels in a straight line, eventually it will end up back where it started. But what about for us, if we travel in a straight line away from Earth for long enough, would we end back where we started? Or does it extend out to infinity in all directions? How would we know, and how might we measure its shape? Has our universe always been like this, did it all start in "bang," and will it remain like this forever in the future?

4/8 - Cloudy with a Chance of Solar Flares: Space Weather (Part I)

Announcement: The first installment in a two-part miniseries on space weather, be sure to return this fall 2018 for "Part II" of this talk!

    While the local weather channel on TV only ever covers the weather outside, there is a lot of weather going on out in space as well! That massive, fusion-burning Sun at the center of our solar system often erupts with powerfully energetic particles that affect all of the planets in the solar system, and can create everything from beautiful aurora to devastating blackouts. The outer solar system delivers comets, the inner solar system contains asteroids, and space debris can often be seen burning up in our atmosphere as "shooting stars." Not to mention, hurricanes, lightning, and tectonic movement are all things that have been observed on other planets and moons, not just here on planet Earth. So be sure to check the weather forecast today - the number of sunspots on the sun might just tell you if you should go outside tonight to look for aurora in the sky!

3/11 - Mysteries of the Extreme Universe

    If you ever decide to take a tour of the Universe in your spaceship, you might well encounter some strange objects that are better observed from a distance. But be warned, their inexorable other-wordly charms (and gravity) might draw you too close, at your own peril. So if you want to be well prepared for your journey, and accumulate nuggets of useful information (including, but not limited to - distortions of space, slowing of time, tunnels to other universes), about the various known and speculative exotic objects out there, be sure to join us for this talk!

2/11 - Astrobiology: Life Beyond Earth

    Astronomers are discovering increasing numbers of exoplanets and beginning to understand what types of environments these other worlds may have. At the same time, biologists are digging deeper into how life arises, what it requires to persist, and how it evolves. Astrobiology is the exciting intersection of astronomy and biology that seeks to answer the fundamental question: Does life exist beyond Earth?

    We are excited to collaborate with special guest speaker and biochemist Amber Bakkum for this talk!

Fall 2017

12/9 - Alien Messages and Earth's Space Invasion of the Proxima Star System: The Breakthrough Initiatives

    The earth-born space invasion has begun! Ok, not really, that was an excitedly-made statement, but we are considering it. As a civilization, in order to begin inter-star system travel we first need to prepare some things. The Breakthrough Initiatives , a privately funded program, hopes to do just that - pave the way for human expansion outside of our own solar system! What is the approach? Listen for extraterrestrial life. Prepare a message from humanity if contact is made. Actively search the known extrasolar planets nearest to ours for signs of life. And finally, prepare a fleet of nanocrafts to leave our solar system and become the first human-made objects to directly visit another star system. Sound far-fetched and sci-fi? Come join us to learn how this is currently becoming a reality...

11/11 - Things That Go Bump —and Shine— in the Night: LIGO Ushering in a New Era of Multimessenger Astronomy

Special Announcement: LIGO principle scientists receive the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics for the observation of gravitational waves!

Special Announcement 2: LIGO detects the merging of neutron stars and with it brings a revolution in multimessenger astronomy!

    Imagine attending a rock concert that has no speakers – the flashing lights and the animated singers are cool, but the muted show dampens a lot of the excitement. For a long time, when massive objects (binary neutron stars, neutron star-black holes, ...) went 'bump' out there in space, the best astronomers could hope to do was see these “flashing lights” (gamma-ray bursts, kilonovae) using telescopes; with the “music” muted, they couldn’t always tell with certainty what went bump in the night. But, in 2015, sound-like vibrations of space itself – gravitational waves – caused by massive orbiting black holes, were detected for the very first time by LIGO. Come join us as we explore what possibilities lie ahead as LIGO joins hands with telescopes all around the world. The speakers are now in place and the cosmic rock concert should be more exciting than ever before.

10/8 - Future Frontiers in Astronomy

    The Hubble Space Telescope, currently operating 12 years beyond its original 25-year lifespan, has been our premier eye on the sky for over two decades, inspiring the public and astronomers alike. But the era of Hubble is coming to an end, and astonomers are gearing up for the next generation of telescopes that will change how we see the Universe. From Hubble's successor, the James Webb Space Telescope (to be launched next year), to the next 30m ground based telescopes, to visions of telescopes such as LUVOIR, we'll highlight astrnomer's wish-list for future observatories and the science they hope to accomplish.

9/10 - Fast Radio Bursts: Neither Aliens nor Microwaves

    Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) are extragalactic, millisecond-duration pulses of unknown origin that were discovered by astronomers in 2007 with the Parkes radio telescope. A decade later only two dozen bursts have been observed, some lasting for less than a millisecond! The energy released by FRBs as well as their duration, sky position and repeatability give astronomers clues about what they might be. Spoiler: not aliens — but there are many other exotic theories that claim to explain their origin. Come join us to hear about the discovery of FRBs and recent developments, including a repeating "burster" that has been localized to a galaxy 3 billion light years from Earth. And don’t blink, or you’ll miss it!

Summer 2017

8/13 - The Summer Solar Eclipse Countdown!

    Amidst the general excitement of the summer months, there is another very special event that will take place August 21st - a full solar eclipse! The breathtaking passage of the moon in front of the sun will cast a complete shadow that will carve a swath from coast to coast through the heart of the United States. A bit farther north where we are here in Milwaukee, the show won't be a complete solar eclipse, but we'll still get to see between 80-90% of the sun's light eclipsed. Join us one week in advance to hear about what you can expect to see. So grab your eclipse glasses, make a day trip down to southern Illinois if you can, and prepare for one of the greatest astronomical sights you can see here on this planet!

7/9 - How are Memories Stored in the Brain? (Special Guest Presentation)

    Can you imagine not being able to remember anything that ever happened, experiencing every minute as if it were the first one in your life? The ability to remember things we have learned and recall past experiences is so central to our lives that it is difficult to even imagine how we would be without it. Unfortunately, this ability can be severely affected in people suffering from dementia, brain injury, or some infectious diseases. In this session, we will explore the changes undergone by brain cells as we acquire new information, and the brain structures that are critically involved in storing, retrieving and modifying different types of memories. Finally, we will present the latest research on behavioural and brain changes associated with normal aging, Alzheimer's disease, and dementia.

Spring 2017

5/13 - Citizen Science, and the projects that you can be a part of!

    We live in an era where the experiments we run allow us to collect more data than anyone could ever hope to study by themselves in their own lifetime. We need all of the help that we can get - so would you like to don the lab-coat and become a scientist yourself? Many projects, including Einstein@home , SETI@home , or the Zooniverse projects , allow you to help out in the collective pursuit of knowledge, from hunting for gravitational waves, to listening for extraterrestrial life, to studies in biology, history, medicine, language, and more! And all from your own personal computer. So come join us to learn more about what some of these projects are, how they work, and what you can do to be a part of them!

4/8 - The Interstellar Medium: The Ocean Between the Stars

    There isn’t just empty space between the stars. The material between stars, called the interstellar medium or ISM, is mostly gas and dust and can have an enormous range of temperatures and densities. Stars form from the ISM and supernovae blast new material into the ISM. We use the ISM to understand what galaxies are made of and how galaxies are rotating. In this talk, we will explain what the ISM is and how we can use it to understand galaxies.

3/11 - Stellar Women: Celebrating the women who have shed light on our universe

    We’ve all heard of the “greats” in astronomy: Kepler, Copernicus, Hubble, etc. Instead of focusing on these prominent figures, let’s celebrate the women scientists whose contributions to modern astronomy have all too often been overlooked. From revelations in dark matter to pulsars, and from the classification of stars themselves to astronauts who have traveled to space, these women’s contributions to astronomy and science have been nothing short of stellar, and have changed the way we understand the universe around us.

2/11 - Gravitational Lensing, and the quest to build a solar system sized telescope!

    Lenses and mirrors allow us to bend and focus light, and through their construction in telescopes they have allowed humans to see faint objects in the far off reaches of our universe. And in a similar way to how your glasses help focus light into your eyes so you can see better, massive objects in space such as stars or galaxies can bend and focus light towards Earth, coming from objects far away. So picture the largest telescope that you have ever seen. Now, do you think humans could build one as large as the solar system itself...?

Fall 2016

12/10 - The Science of Science-Fiction!

    This topic is an enormous one which we obviously can't completely cover in one coffeeshop sitting. So what we are going to do is to present to you some famous examples of science fiction concepts that have been portrayed in films, books, comics, and popular culture in general, what about them is based from real science, and where creative license has taken its liberties! So from the profetic mind of Jules Verne in the novel "From the Earth to the Moon," through the wormholes of the "Stargate" franchise, to contact with extraterrestrial life, to the rise of artificial intelligence like HAL 9000, we hope you join us for this fun exploration of the science of science-fiction!

11/12 - Active Galactic Nuclei: The Cosmic Beacons

    Active Galactic Nuclei, or AGN, are ultra-luminous central regions of galaxies where radiation is emitted from a supermassive black hole as matter falls onto it. They are the most luminous continuous sources of light in the universe, which makes them some of the most distant observable objects. The study of AGN is one of the largest fields in modern astronomy. During this talk we will discuss what these objects are and how they are used to study large scale-structure in the universe in addition to telling us how galaxies form and evolve through time.

10/8 - Light and Spectra: The Colors of our Universe

    Light is an incredibly powerful and essential tool that we use to understand our universe. We use light everyday to observe the world around us. With the aid of telescopes, astronomers observe the light coming from different objects to help them understand the universe better. In this talk, we’ll describe what light actually is and how we can extract information from it to learn about our universe. Want to know what an object is made of? How hot it is? How fast it’s moving? All you need is light!

9/10 - The History of Space Exploration

    With the recent arrival in July of the Juno spacecraft at our mighty planet Jupiter, we will reflect on just how far the space programs of our world have come, from the first super-sonic flight, to the first humans in space, and the arsenal of satellites and rovers which we have sent as our forerunners to study the heavenly bodies of our solar system. Each of these stepping stones has further advanced our space exploration technology and has allowed us to go further, faster, and for longer durations, leading us ever closer to the goal of human space travel.

Spring through Summer 2016

6/4 - Pulsars and Neutron Stars: The Universal Timekeepers

    You've probably heard of black holes--objects so dense, with such massive gravity, not even light can escape from them. Neutron stars are almost as tiny and dense as black holes, but their mass and gravity are small enough that they can still hold themselves up against gravity, and they emit light that we can see! Neutron stars are about 10 miles across, have incredibly strong magnetic fields, and can rotate up to nearly 1000 times per second--faster than a kitchen blender! The light they emit appears to pulse as they spin, just like a lighthouse, which is why we call these objects pulsars. By studying neutron stars and pulsars, we can learn about gravity, particle physics, magnetic fields, and other physics in environments so extreme that they cannot be produced on Earth.

5/7 - "Elements" of the Cosmos: Quantum Physics, the Higgs Boson, and Beyond

    Sometimes to study the biggest things in the universe like stars and galaxies, you have to go all the way back to the very building blocks of nature. In this lecture we will explore nature on the smallest of scales, look at how science has changed our perspective of the "elements" of nature and what the fundamental forces are, and hear more about that ominous sounding theory which governs it all - quantum mechanics! We will also explore how scientists study these amazing theories, where particle physicists in laboratories like CERN (home of the largest machine ever constructed by mankind - the Large Hadron Collider) are smashing subatomic particles at nearly the speed of light to recreate conditions that were similar to just moments after the Big Bang itself!

3/12 - What Can Brain Scans Tell Us About the Mind? (Special Guest Presentation)

    This month, we'll take a detour from astrophysics to neuroscience! Our guest speaker, Dr. Leo Fernandino, will tell us about what we can learn by scanning the brain. Come hear Leo talk about his work on Functional Brain Imaging and how this technique can teach us about the mind!

2/20 - Making History with Einstein's Final Prediction: The Discovery of Gravitational Waves!

    Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity revolutionized humanity's understanding of gravity. Instead of gravity acting like a rope that holds the Earth in orbit around the Sun, Einstein showed that gravity is the curvature of spacetime—the very fabric of our universe. His theory makes many predictions about the way stars, planets, and even light should travel through curved spacetime, all of which have been shown to be correct. There is one final test of Einstein's theory, which has continued to elude scientists: the direct detection of gravitational radiation, or gravitational waves.

    As some of you might now know, gravitational waves have now been directly detected! In this lecture, we will explain how scientists actually search for gravitational waves—including many of the physicists at UWM! You will hear from some of the graduate students and postdocs who are in LIGO, and who were directly involved in this historic discovery. They will tell you all about LIGO and the discovery of gravitational waves!

Summer through Fall 2015

12/5 - Galaxies!

    We've all seen beautiful pictures of galaxies from the Hubble Space Telescope. In this talk, we will tell you about how galaxies form, and how they've changed over time -- including our own Milky Way!

10/24 - 100 Years of Einstein's Theory of General Relativity

    2015 marks the 100-year anniversary of Einstein's theory of general relativity, which taught us to think about gravity in a completely different way than our everyday life experience: gravity is the curvature of spacetime. So many of the things that happen in our universe depend on the way spacetime curves. For example, the reason the planets orbit the Sun is the same reason that black holes do not shine: the fabric of spacetime becomes curved in the presence of a massive object, and we experience or observe this curvature as gravity. In the case of our Solar System, the Sun's gravity, or curvature of the spacetime around it, causes the planets to orbit it; while in the case of a black hole, spacetime is curved so much that light travels in circles and cannot escape.

    But what is spacetime, and what do we mean when we say it "curves"? These questions (and their answers!) will be the topics of this lecture.

    Watch a video from this CoffeeShop lecture!

9/19 - From Neurons to Thoughts: A Guided Tour of the Brain (Special Guest Presentation)

    We are excited to have a guest speaker join us for this event! Dr. Leonardo Fernandini is a Ph.D. neuroscientist at the Medical College of Wisconsin. He will tell us about how our brain's activity leads to thoughts -- for example, those that allow us to contemplate the universe!

    Most of us have a reasonable understanding of how organs such as the heart or the lungs work to keep us alive, but have you ever wondered how the brain -- a three-pound lump of goo -- is able to generate thoughts, memories, emotions, intentions, and voluntary actions? Science tells us that all these mental experiences result from the activity of the brain, but figuring out exactly how the brain gives rise to the mind is one of the major scientific challenges of our time. This lecture will explain how recent advances in neuroscience have brought us close to answering those questions and raised new ones, including the possibility for 'mind reading' and direct brain-machine interfaces.

8/29 - The Dark Side of the Universe: The Mysteries of Dark Matter and Dark Energy

    In our everyday lives, we see, hear, touch, taste, and smell everything in our surroundings. But did you know that everything we experience on a daily basis -- from the toast we eat for breakfast to the stars we see in the night sky -- is composed of the same material that makes up only 4% of our universe? The rest of our universe is made up of an unknown type of matter that we call ''dark matter'', and a mysterious energy that we call ''dark energy.'' In this coffeeshop lecture, we will show you scientific evidence for the existence of dark matter and dark energy, and will tell you what astronomers know so far about these two great mysteries of the universe.

7/25 - New Horizons mission to Pluto

    Pluto has long been a mysterious member of our Solar System. It is famous for its ''demotion'' from planet to dwarf planet, a decision that highlighted its peculiar properties and the need to better understand Pluto and other dwarf planets in the context of our Solar System's formation. Until the last few months, the best image we had of Pluto was a pixellated image from the Hubble Space Telescope. But, on July 14, after nine years of travel, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft reached its closest approach in its fly-by mission to Pluto. In this CoffeeShop lecture, we will discuss what has been learned from the mission so far, and will show the amazing new images taken by the New Horizons mission -- our first close-up views of this distant world.

Spring 2015

03/28 - A visit from NASA (Special Guest Presentation)

    We are delighted to host Dr. Michelle Thaller , the Assistant Director for Science Communication from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, for our next installment of CoffeeShop Astrophysics!

Fall 2014

12/6 - Exoplanets and extraterrestrials: touring the exoplanet zoo

    Are we alone in the universe? This is one of the questions we are going to explore in the next installment of CoffeeShop Astrophysics. We'll look at how planets form and discuss the methods scientists use to seek out other worlds. We'll also discuss aliens: what do we expect them to look like? Have they really visited Earth? Are they even out there? Since this is our last lecture before a winter hiatus, we will be giving away prizes. We hope you can join us; otherwise, stay warm and have a happy New Year!

11/08 - Listening to the universe with dead stars and lasers: the search for gravitational waves

   Have you ever wondered how gravity works? You may picture Isaac Newton getting hit in the head by a falling apple. But Albert Einstein changed that view a bit. In this installment of CoffeeShop Astrophysics, we'll explain Einstein's view of gravity. We'll show you how this view naturally leads to a phenomenon that is near and dear to our hearts - something called gravitational waves! We will dicuss the sources of these waves, what they are and how we are trying to listen to our universe for the first time with lasers and dead stars.

10/11 - The black hole that ate my sock: strange facts about these and other dead stars

   In the run up to Halloween what better way to get you in to the spooky spirit than to talk about 'zombie stars' - objects which keep on living after the death of a star! In this installment of coffeshop astrophysics we will be discussing black holes and pulsars, as well as other eerie astrophysical objects. Come join us to find out how we see these objects, what spacetime is and why spaghettification is no fun.

09/27 - Live fast, die young: the lifecycle of stars

   The Sun is the most important star in our sky - without it, life on Earth could never exist. Have you ever wondered how the Sun has continued to shine for all these years, or what would happen if the Sun went away? In this installment of coffeeshop astrophysics, we'll talk about how stars are born, how they produce light, why some stars have shorter or longer lives, and what happens when they start to run out of fuel. Perhaps most excitingly, we'll talk about what happens when stars die, and the tiny, dense remnants (white dwarfs, neutron stars, and even black holes!) they leave behind.

09/06 - The Big Bang

   You've probably heard that our universe began in a Big Bang. But what does that really mean? And why do astrophysicists view the Big Bang as the best scientific explanation for the formation of our universe? To find out the answers to these questions and more, join us for the first meeting of Coffeeshop Astrophysics. In this informal setting, we'll show you the discoveries that led to our current understanding of the explosive birth of our universe, and we'll answer any questions you may have about how our universe came to be.