Australian Institute of Physics

South Australian Branch

Joint meeting
Joint meeting with the Astronomical Society of SA
Wednesday, September 6th, 2006, at 8:00pm
in the Kerr Grant lecture theatre,
Physics building, University of Adelaide

by Prof Fred Watson

Anglo Australian Observatory

" What's happening to gravity? "

We all take gravity very much for granted as the mysterious force that sticks us onto the Earth and stops us flying off into space. In fact, we owe gravity much more than that, for we now know that it has been the single most important force in shaping the Universe. Historically, our understanding of gravity has gone through two gigantic leaps, with Newton's Principia in 1687, and Einstein's General Theory of Relativity in 1915. But today there is another revolution taking place. Physicists all over the world are probing gravity at the quantum level, while astronomers are recognising that there is something more than just irresistible attraction going on out there in the Universe. Join Fred Watson as he explores these themes and more in this entertaining and fully-illustrated talk.

Fred Watson says he has spent so many years working in large telescope domes that he has started to look like one. His main scientific interest is in gathering information on very large numbers of stars and galaxies for statistical analysis. Fred is Astronomer in Charge of the Anglo-Australian Observatory at Coonabarabran in north-western NSW, and is also an adjunct professor in the Queensland University of Technology and the University of Southern Queensland. He is well-known to ABC listeners in NSW for his regular astronomy segments, and is the author of "Stargazer - the life and times of the telescope". Fred has an asteroid named after him (5691 Fredwatson), but says that if it hits the Earth it won't be his fault...