What does the Universe look like and what
is our place in it? How is it evolving and what did it look like in
the distant past? What will it be like in the future?
This talk will introduce the ideas
behind the standard Cosmological model and the observational evidence
on which it rests. After describing the Universe's characteristics and
what it means that it is expanding, Dr Watkins will discuss the
observational evidence that it is currently occupied primarily by Dark
Matter and Dark Energy and what this implies about its future.
Dr. Watkins' research interests include
Astrophysics, Cosmology, and Particle Physics. His current research is
focused on both nearby stars and on distant galaxies.
In the solar neighborhood, he and his
undergraduate research students study short-period variable stars
using a newly constructed research observatory located at nearby Zena
Farm. These stars pulsate in size, and hence brightness, over periods
as short as a few hours. By taking sequential images of these stars,
students can construct a “light curve” for a star, which plots its
brightness over time. Further analysis of this light curve yields
information about the dynamics of the star’s pulsation, which in turn
can help us understand how all stars work.
On much larger scales,
The Hubble Ultra-Deep Field
Dr. Watkins is a cosmologist who studies
the flow of galaxies though the Universe. Basically, galaxies are
pulled by gravity into regions where matter is concentrated and out of
regions that are relatively empty. By studying these motions one can
learn how much matter the Universe contains, how it is distributed,
and how this distribution is changing in time. This information can,
in turn, be used to test models of how the Universe has evolved, thus
illuminating such issues as dark matter and dark energy.
He received his PhD in Physics from UC
Santa Barbara in 1989, and taught at Dartmouth College and Reed
College before joining the faculty at Willamette University in 1999.