What we call the Milky Way, our Galaxy, has been the focus of myth, story and study in every society with a recorded history for millennia. Understanding its structure defeated Isaac Newton. One hundred years ago it was realized that the Milky Way is just one amongst a Universe of galaxies. With electronics, digital systems, and spacecraft we have learned how to measure the structure and assembly history of the Milky Way Galaxy over its 13 billion year history, even identifying ancient stars from the earliest proto-structures to form. We quantify the formation of the chemical elements over time and their distribution in space. We use dynamics to weigh the unseen. We can calculate the future of the Milky Way until it ends its existence as an isolated Galaxy, merging with Andromeda some 5 billion years from now, and the death of the Sun a few billion years after that. This lecture will tell that story.
Professor Gerard Gilmore is Professor of Experimental Philosophy, in the Institute of Astronomy, at the University of Cambridge. His research has centred on studying stars in the Galaxy to understand its structure and evolutionary history.
Sir Joseph Larmor (1857-1942) was Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge from 1903-32. He is particularly known for his work on development of electromagnetic theory. He was a Fellow of the Cambridge Philosophical Society from 1883, Secretary from 1886-1895, President from 1898-1900, and won the Hopkins Prize in 1897.In his will he bequeathed “£250 to the Cambridge Philosophical Society the income thereof to be used to promote the interest of undergraduate members of the University in the aims of the Society”. He also bequeathed part of his library to CPS.The first Larmor Lecture was delivered in 1956 by FC Powell (in conjunction with the Physics Society).
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