Talks given by high profile astronomers and scientists.

Thursday June 11, 2009
Prof. Roger Davies
Department of Physics, University of Oxford, UK


The SAURON survey has revised our view of early type galaxies discovering that central disks and multiple kinematic components are common; 75% of the sample have extended ionized gas, often misaligned with the stars; half of S0s and 25% of Es have intermediate age populations. There is a tight relationship between the escape velocity and Mg line strength which holds both within and between galaxies raising uncomfortable questions for hierarchical assembly. Many of the properties of ETGs are related to a measure of their specific angular momentum : slow rotators are triaxial, close to spherical, isotropic and frequently exhibit decoupled central kinematics, whereas fast rotators are intrinsically flatter, oblate, have disk-like (anisotropic) kinematics and often have Mg enhanced disks. In general the slow rotators are more massive and have older populations Only half of the elliptical galaxies exhibit slow rotation, the remainder have stellar disks showing that the historic division by morphological class is physically misleading. We suggest that the contrasting physical properties of fast and slow rotators arise through distinct assembly histories with slow rotators forming in gas free, dry mergers and fast rotators retaining a disk component through a dissipative merger.

Thursday March 26, 2009
Dr. Michael Atiyah
University of Edinburgh, UK


Thursday March 26, 2009
Prof. Sebastiá Xambó
Universidad Politécnica de Cataluña, Spain


En una parte preliminar se recordarán unos pocos hechos experimentales obtenidos durante las últimas décadas, con énfasis en fenómenos puramente cuánticos como el entrelazamiento y el teletransporte, y también algunos hechos matemáticos elementales, con énfasis en las matrices hermíticas y unitarias. En una segunda parte se presentará un modelo matemático de la noción de q-ordenador y de conceptos subordinados como puertas q-lógicas, q-computación y q-algoritmos programas, con énfasis en los ejemplos, incluyendo la q-transformada de Fourier y el q-algoritmo de Shor de factorización en tiempo polinómico de números enteros positivos. A continuación se sumarizará un enfoque axiomático de la mecánica cuántica y se usará para relacionar las q-nociones anteriores con sus posibles realizaciones físicas, con énfasis en algunos problemas abiertos y en posibles líneas de trabajo futuro. La base de este material es la tesis de máster de Juanjo Rué,  "Un modelo matemático para la computación cuántica: fundamentos, algoritmos y aplicaciones" (julio de 2007), dirigida por Lluís Torner y el conferenciante.

Thursday March 12, 2009
Dr. Nick Scoville
California Institute of Technology, USA


The COSMOS survey is the largest high redshift galaxy evolution survey ever done -- imaging 2 square degrees with all major space-based and ground based observatories. I will describe the key data in the survey and then present recent results on large-scale structures, the dark matter distributions and galaxy evolution.

Thursday February 19, 2009
Prof. Carlos Frenk
Institute for Computational Cosmology, Physics Dept, Durham University


The standard model of cosmology -- the ``Lambda cold dark matter'' model -- is based on the idea that the dark matter is a collisionless elementary particle, probably a supersymmetric particle. This model (which mostly dates back to an early workshop in Santa Barbara in the 1980s) has been famously verified by observations of the cosmic microwave background radiation and the large-scale distribution of galaxies. However, the model has yet to be tested conclusively on the small scales appropriate to most astronomical objects, such as galaxies and clusters. I will review our current understanding of the distribution of dark matter on small scales which derives largely from large cosmological N-body simulations and I will discuss prospects for detecting dark matter, either through its gravitational effect on galaxies and clusters or, more directly, through gamma-ray annihilation radiation.

Sunday January 18, 2009
Prof. Juan Torres López
University of Sevilla, Spain


Aunque en otras ocasiones se habían producido episodios financieros muy críticos, en los últimos meses se viene sufriendo una perturbación de las finanzas internacionales muy singular por su extraordinaria magnitud y por los efectos que está produciendo sobre el resto de la economía. Se puede conocer ya con suficiente rigor sus causas pero los gobiernos y los organismos internacionales no aciertan a la hora de ponerle remedios. En la conferencia se pondrán de relieve sus orígenes y las opciones políticas disponibles para afrontarla.

Saturday December 20, 2008
Prof. Julio Navarro
University of Victoria, Canada


I will review the status of our understanding of galaxy formation in the prevailing cold dark matter paradigm. After reviewing the successes and failures of the most natural predictions of this scenario I will focus on the consequences of two of its main predictions: the presence of large numbers of low-mass dark matter halos and the prevalence of accretion events during the formation of normal galaxies. In particular, I will discuss the interpretation of the recent discovery of a population of ultra-faint galaxies in the Local Group, and its relation to the profuse cold dark matter substructure expected in the Galactic halo. I will also discuss the importance that accretion events might have had in shaping not only the stellar halo but also the disk component(s) of the Milky Way.

Thursday November 13, 2008
Prof. Simon White
Max-Planck Institut für Astrophysik, Garching, Germany


In our now-standard picture for the growth of structure, dark matter halos are the basic unit of nonlinear structure in the present Universe. I will report results from simulations of galaxy-scale dark halos with more than an order of magnitude better mass resolution than any previously published work. Tests demonstrate detailed convergence for (sub)structures well below a millionth the mass of the final system. Even with such resolution the fraction of halo mass in bound subhalos does not rise above a few percent within the half-mass radius. I will also present a new simulation technique which allows structure in the dark matter distribution to be studied on very much smaller scales. This is required for accurate forecasts of the expected signal both in earth-bound experiments designed to detect dark matter directly, and in indirect detection experiments like GLAST which attempt to image dark matter annihilation radiation at gamma-ray wavelengths.

Thursday October 30, 2008
Prof. Edward Guinan
Villanova University, USA


Red Dwarf (dM) stars are the most numerous stars in our Galaxy. These faint, cool, long-lived, and low mass stars make up > 80% of all stars in the Universe. Determining the number of red dwarfs with planets and assessing planetary habitability (a planet’s potential to develop and sustain life) are critically important because such studies would indicate how common life is in the universe. Our program - "Living with a Red Dwarf" addresses these questions by investigating the long-term nuclear evolution and magnetic-dynamo coronal and chromospheric X-ray to Ultraviolet properties of red dwarf stars with widely different ages. The major focus of the program is to study the magnetic-dynamo generated X-ray-Ultraviolet emissions and flare properties of red dwarf stars from youth to old age. Emphasized are how the stellar X-UV emissions, flares & winds affect hosted planets and impact their habitability. We have developed age-rotation-activity relations and also are constructing irradiance tables (X-UV fluxes) that can be used to model the effects of X-UV radiation on planetary atmospheres and on possible life on nearby hosted planets. Despite the earlier pessimistic view that red dwarfs stars are not suitable for habitable planets - mainly because their low luminosities require a hosted planet to orbit quite close (r <0.3 AU) to be sufficiently warm to support life. Our initial results indicate that red dwarf stars (in particular the warmer dM stars) can indeed be suitable hosts for habitable planets capable of sustaining life for hundreds of billion years. Some examples of red dwarf stars currently known to host planets are discussed.

Tuesday September 9, 2008
Prof. Ginés Morata
Centro de Biología Molecular, CSIC-UAM, Spain


Durante la segunda mitad del siglo XX la biología ha emergido de forma explosiva como una disciplina con enorme proyección de futuro con toda clase de implicaciones sociales. El origen de esta revolución fue el desciframiento en 1953 de la naturaleza de la información biológica, el ADN. La propia estructura de esta molécula explica la forma en que la información biológica está impresa y lleva implícita además el mecanismo de replicación, de forma que esta información se transmite de forma fidedigna de una generación a otra a lo largo de miles de millones de años de evolución. El estudio de la estructura, función y propiedades del ADN ha sido uno de los focos principales de atención de la Biología en los últimos 30 años, ha dado lugar a tecnologías muy poderosas de manipulación genética en diversos organismos y ha permitido desarrollar proyectos de gran calado, como el Proyecto Genoma Humano. El desarrollo de estas tecnologías es muy rápido y abre la posibilidad en un futuro no muy lejano de la modificación genética dirigida de la propia especie humana. Durante el coloquio se presentarán los hitos del conocimiento biológico que han conducido a la situación actual y se discutirán las promesas, perspectivas y problemas potenciales que ofrecerá la biología del siglo XXI.

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