Wonderfest (Big Ideas about Big Animals), Cosmic Gold: Neutron Star Mergers, Gravitational Waves, and the Origin of the Heavy Elements

Wonderfest (Big Ideas about Big Animals)

For 150 million years, all over planet Earth, mammals were successful ... but tiny. The death of the dinosaurs signaled a major change as mammals shot up to the size of dogs ... and elephants ... and beyond. How did we get so big? And how did such changes usher in the Age of Mammals? More recently, as human populations have been spreading during the past 50 thousand years, over half of those large animals have become extinct, and at an accelerating rate. What's happening? And what does it mean for saving the last big animals left today?

Speaker Ash Poust is a UC Berkeley paleobiologist studying the links between major events in evolution and animal life history. Speaker Nick Spano is a UC Berkeley paleoecologist studying large-scale consequences (and modern-day implications) of ice-age extinctions.

Cosmic Gold: Neutron Star Mergers, Gravitational Waves, and the Origin of the Heavy Elements

Scientists have recently developed a new way to “see” the universe: using gravitational waves predicted by Einstein nearly a century ago. These waves can teach us about some of the most exotic objects known, including black holes and neutron stars. Remarkably, they have also helped solve a longstanding puzzle about where in the universe some of the elements we know and love here on Earth are produced, including gold, platinum, uranium, and even Californium! UC Berkeley astronomer Eliot Quataert will describe the exciting and remarkable new results coming out of our first steps into the gravitational wave era.

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