Carl Pennypacker started Hands-On Universe in the 1990s. Prior to that, Carl was a supernova researcher. He has continued supernova research, both in HOU and professional astronomy.
HOU founder Carl Pennypacker is a colleague of 2011 Physics Nobel prize-winner Saul Perlmutter. In December 2011, Carl and his wife accompanied the Perlmutters to Stockholm, Sweden, for the Nobel Prize ceremony and festivities. Click here to view pictures and read thoughts shared by Carl about his experiences.
One of Carl’s colleagues, Saul Perlmutter, was one of three winners of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics for their work studying the expansion of the Universe. Read a news release about the prize win: http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/2011/10/04/saul-perlmutter-awarded-2011-nobel-prize-in-physics/
Two press releases about this award, and the science behind it, from:
The San Francisco Chronicle: “Cal’s Saul Perlmutter wins Nobel Prize in physics”
NY Times: “Studies of Universe’s Expansion Win Physics Nobel”
Below are messages from Carl and HOU TRAs about this exciting honor.
Hello Good HOU Teachers,
Today has been continuous celebrations at our lab per Saul’s Nobel prize. Many of you have followed this work, and know I helped start the project, and co-advised Saul during his thesis. Here is the UC Berkeley story on the event (I am mentioned on the “Team Effort: section…):
Saul has been very, very generous with me.
I hope your students can feel a part of this, and some of the excitement that comes from being on a new, kind of daring, cutting edge project.
Onwards and Thanks for Your Collaboration,
From HOU TRA Jan Engstedt:
also you deserve recognition for all your efforts and inspirations you have spread around you. So from that perspective you will virtually be honored for part of the discovery.
No doubt about that the supernova search project have had an impact for the discovery of the accelerating expanding Universe. As I can understand most astronomers believe that the dark energy is the key of understanding the accelerating mechanism. I have searched among the models of the Big Bang if there has been any estimation of the entire energy of the Big bang and the entire mass of the Universe today. Maybe the difference can explain the dark energy using Einstein’s formula E=mc2.
Always upwards. A big hug and love from both of us.
Jan and Lena
From HOU TRA Tim Spuck:
I wanted to follow up on Carl’s comments about Saul Perlmutter and his work with the Supernovae Cosmology Project (SCP) which lead to Saul being awarded the Nobel Prize.
Congratulations to Saul and the team, and congratulations to Carl for his efforts that helped the team make this incredible discovery…
But there is a bit more to this story that should make many HOU students and teachers and leaders feel connected to this Nobel Prize. You just never know when you are doing science how you might contribute or be connected to discoveries years down the road.
During my 8-week Department of Energy TRA experience working with Carl Pennypacker at Lawrence Berkeley National Labs, Carl and I sat down with Saul Perlmutter to discuss the possibility of sharing the Supernova Cosmology Project’s data with HOU for the purpose of developing an asteroid search for high school students. The SCP was looking for objects that changed in brightness (supernovae), and they looked at the moving objects as being “pesky” little distracters to their research. Saul and the team were very receptive to the idea and the first HOU Asteroid Search was born. Between 1996 – 1998, Hughes Pack, Jodi Asbell-Clarke, and I co-lead an effort to develop the HOU Asteroid Search using the SCP data set. The project even lead to my selection as the 1998 Pennsylvania Christa McAuliff Teacher Fellow (Tim Spuck wins McAuliff Award) … So I even owe HOU and Saul Perlmutter a great big thank you for making that award possible.
But the HOU Asteroid Search could not have been accomplished without the support of the entire HOU team including HOU leaders, teachers, students, and the Supernova Cosmology Project.
Many schools and many teachers scanned these images for asteroids and many new discoveries were made. And in 1998 we hit the mother load with Hughes Pack’s students and the discovery of 1998 FS144 (please see links below)
Link to Research Paper prepared by Hughes Pack about the discovery of 1998 FS144 – http://adsabs.harvard.edu/full/2000ASPC..220..303P
Link to NSF article – http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=102947
This is one of the earliest Trans-Neptunian Objects to be discovered, and it was from the very same data set that Saul Perlmutter and the Supernova Cosmology Project made their discovery leading to the Nobel Prize.
Today the entire HOU family (past and present) should feel a unique connection to this Nobel Prize that few others can claim. Our teachers and students were partners with a team of scientists that have just been awarded the Nobel Prize. Because of scientists and educators with vision and a willingness to share, discoveries were made that have significantly enhanced both education and scientific knowledge.
This is what I love about this group of special people, and it’s what I love about science. What we do today we do because of a passion … a tireless quest for new knowledge and deeper understanding. And where this journey takes us, we may not know for years to come or we may never know during our short time on this planet.
Wishing you all the very best … Tim Spuck
2011 November 19
I helped organize and was fortunate to speak at Luie Alvarez’s 100th Birthday Symposium.
Through the good works of Phil Dauber — retired HOU teacher and filmmaker, and another of Luie’s mentees — the symposium talks were captured in high quality on YouTube.
I am not sure how these might fit into your classes, but I find them very interesting. There is clearly a kind of sub-text and nostalgia about “the greatest physics generation” here. Making major discoveries has arguably gotten a bit harder since when Luie first started, although towards the end of his particle physics work (not the end of his career by any means) he did start one of the largest teams of High Energy Physics for his Nobel Prize winning Bubble Chamber work.
A nice place to start might be the overview found in Stan Wojcicki’s talk.
Luis and the environment he created led to his Nobel Prize, and with the support of Rich Muller — George Smoot’s, and Saul Perlmutter’s Nobel Prizes. So, within a 50 meter radius, three Nobel prizes were born. (fertile grounds!). Luie must have had some substantial skills about how to do big and good things. Hands-On Universe/HOU was born in this environment of innovation, of course.
A lot of the symposium talks appear linked on Youtube, including mine about our supernova work
Saul and George also talk here too!
Saul – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XG7tIs5HYiE&feature=relmfu
George – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npBb2sD_oJ0&feature=relmfu
One of the goals of this symposium was to capture how Luie did things, so we could share them with your students.
The dinosaur talk of Walt’s is fabulous, too, btw!!
In one experiment, you can link astrophysics with geology with palentology with biology with nuclear physics, simultaneously.
Complete list of speakers/recordings:
Carl Pennypacker is 2010 winner of the Prix Jules Janssen award, the highest award of the Société Astronomique de France (French Astronomical Society.
Chancellor Birgeneau of UC Berkeley introduces the Singers—an ensemble from the Oakland Symphony Chorus—to the gathering and Professor Hawking.