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February 17, 1997

Four UCSC professors speak at Seattle meeting of world's largest scientific society

By Robert Irion

Sunny Seattle, just a $64 round-trip away, is playing host to this year's meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the largest general science organization in the world. The meeting, February 13-18, is an annual showcase for forefront research in science, and it also features interdisciplinary sessions on public policy, science and the arts, education, and many other topics.

The organizers of several sessions on innovative research in astronomy and physics called upon UCSC experts in those fields to speak at the meeting. The resulting talks by Santa Cruz professors represent a fascinating cross-section of our universe, from the very small to the very large.

Physicist Michael Dine mused about the laws of physics that may operate on the scales of the tiniest particles, including hypotheses about "supersymmetries" that draw upon aesthetics as well as science. Astronomer Douglas Lin also considered particles in harmonious motion--in his case, new systems of planets that researchers are finding elsewhere in our galaxy.

Old stars, not new planets, were the focus of astronomer Michael Bolte's address. In fact, Bolte described today's famous contradiction in cosmology, that the oldest stars appear more ancient than the universe itself. Finally, physicist Joel Primack turned the clock back, way back, to the beginning of time itself. When, Primack asked, can we say that time started for our universe?

For complete details about each talk, click on the headlines below.

Plenitude of new worlds challenges skills of planetary modelers

Symmetry at its smallest

Estimated ages of oldest stars probably won't fall below 15 billion years

When did time begin?

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