Presented on ZOOM 13th June at 7pm
ABOUT THE LECTURE:
In the past 175 years, more than 30 separate astronomers have suggested the existence of a giant planet beyond Neptune. They have always been wrong. In 2016, Konstantin Batygin and I joined the list, suggesting that Planet Nine, at a distance perhaps 20 times greater than that of Neptune, is the only plausible explanation for a wide range of phenomena in the distant solar system. I’ll talk about why we think Planet Nine is real, how we’re continuing to develop our hypothesis, and what we are doing to track down this elusive planet and when we might find it.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER:
Dr. Michael E. Brown
Mike Brown scans the skies searching for and intensely studying distant bodies in our solar system in the hope of gaining insight into how our planet and the planets around it came to be. In this quest, he has discovered dozens of dwarf planets (and demoted one object from planet to dwarf planet) and is currently hot on the trail of Planet Nine — a hypothesized body that is possibly the fifth largest planet of our solar system. He is the Richard and Barbara Rosenberg Professor of Planetary Astronomy at the California Institute of Technology and has been on the faculty there since 1996. He has won many awards and honors for his scholarship, including the Urey Prize for best young planetary scientist from the American Astronomical Society’s Division of Planetary Sciences; a Presidential Early Career Award; a Sloan Fellowship; the 2012 Kavli Prize in Astrophysics, and, of course, the one that started his career, an honorable mention in his fifth-grade science fair. He was inducted into the National Academy of Science in 2014. He was also named one of Wired Online’s Top Ten Sexiest Geeks in 2006, the mention of which never ceases to make his wife laugh.
Feature articles about Brown and his work have appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and Discover, and his discoveries have been covered on front pages of countless newspapers worldwide. In 2006 he was named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People as well as one of Los Angeles magazine’s Most Powerful Angelinos. He has authored over 150 scientific papers. He is a frequent invited lecturer at astronomical meetings as well as at science museums, planetariums, and college campuses. At Caltech he teaches undergraduate and graduate students, in classes ranging from introductory geology to the formation and evolution of the solar system. He was especially pleased to be awarded the Richard P. Feynman Award for Outstanding Teaching at Caltech.
Brown received his AB from Princeton in 1987, and then his MA and PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1990 and 1994, respectively.
Brown is the author of “How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming”, an award winning best selling memoir of the discoveries leading to the demotion of Pluto. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, Astronomy magazine, and elsewhere.