By Heather Rock Woods
The Texas at Stanford symposium kicks off on December
13—not with 10-gallon hats and cowboy boots, but with black holes, string
theory, the early universe and high energy particles.
The 22nd Texas Symposium on Relativistic Astrophysics,
first held in Dallas in 1963, comes to Stanford this year after traveling
to cities around the world.
"The conference serves as an international summary and
forum on recent developments in particle astrophysics, cosmology,
astrophysics and gravity. In terms of the interface between these fields,
it is the meeting in the world," said local organizing co-chair Elliott
One measure of the Texas Symposia’s success is a textbook
on cosmology that traces the history of recent ideas on dark matter and
the formation of large-scale structure in the universe through the
progression of symposia, according to Bloom.
A major reason to hold the meeting at Stanford this time
is the recent establishment of the joint SLAC/Stanford Kavli Institute for
Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (KIPAC). The event is also sponsored
by DOE, NASA, NSF, Sun, Lockheed Martin and the International Union of
Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP).
"KIPAC promises to be an important contributor to the
theoretical and observational issues that are the focus of this
conference," said KIPAC Director Roger Blandford.
SLAC conference planner Maura Chatwell (COM) expects more
than 500 attendees. "This is a cooperative effort between the Stanford
University Department of Physics and SLAC and KIPAC," she said.
The meeting takes place on the Stanford campus, with a
reception and tour at SLAC on December 14. Andrei Linde (Stanford) will
give a public lecture at Stanford on December 15 (see Symposium Public
Lecture, page 1).
The symposium has proven to be a fruitful means of
interaction between scientists in increasingly overlapping fields, as well
as an attractive forum for younger and international researchers.
Relativistic astrophysicists study strong gravity,
exhibited in black holes and neutron stars, which needs to be treated with
general relativity rather than Newtonian physics. They also investigate
relativistic particles, which are fast moving high-energy particles.
The scope of the conference has continued to expand over
the years as experimental data and experiments bring to light new insights
and questions about the universe. The plenary talks cover topics such as
the ‘early’ universe, the ‘local’ universe and high-energy particles, with
a focus on results from various land- and space-based experiments.
Popular author and physicist Brian Greene (Columbia) will
talk about string theory, which offers "a leading hope for understanding
the true physical details of what happened at the origin of the universe
and soon after," Bloom said.
Helen Quinn (THP) will speak on CP violation, a theory
which partly explains the discrepancy between matter and antimatter in our
With the amount of mind-boggling information circulating,
big hats may well be needed.
For more information see: