Pregame Showcase Looks at Star Dust and Atom Smashers

Before watching the Vols vs. Western Kentucky football game on Saturday, September 7, gridiron fans can enjoy a little intellectual scrimmage at UT’s Pregame Showcase.

Kate Jones, associate professor of physics and astronomy, will talk about Star Dust and Atom Smashers.” She will explain how the atomic nucleus—despite being less than a thousandth of the size of an atom—leaves its fingerprints on the chemical composition of the solar system.

Now in its twenty-fourth season, the Pregame Showcase—presented by the College of Arts and Sciences—gives fans the chance to hear from esteemed UT faculty prior to each gridiron matchup. This week’s showcase will begin at 10:21 a.m. in the Carolyn P. Brown University Center Ballroom (Room 213).

Free and open to the public, the thirty-minute presentation will be followed by a fifteen-minute question-and-answer session and a brief reception. Door prizes will be awarded.

“The nuclear and the astronomical worlds are vastly different, yet their interactions govern how stars burn and finally die,” Jones said. “Nuclear fusion powers stars and keeps them from imploding under the gravitational forces of their colossal mass. When this fusion process ends, the star dies in a cataclysmic explosion.”

Concerned about the gap between a 1988 text and current research in the field, Jones revised her introductory nuclear physics course so her students could supplement the text by investigating and sharing current ideas and research in the field of nuclear physics. Jones has published more than seventy refereed articles and holds a doctorate in experimental nuclear physics from the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom.

Here’s the lineup for the rest of the season:

September 28—”Anthropology as a Tool for Improving the Human Condition.” Tricia Redeker Hepner, associate professor of anthropology and co-director of the college’s new Disasters, Displacement, and Human Rights Program, will explain how faculty and students are exploring the causes, contexts, and consequences of contemporary crises, from oil spills and refugee flows to mass grave excavations and postwar reconstruction.

October 5—”Tick Tock: Sleep Across the Lifespan and the Role of the Internal Clock.” Theresa Lee, psychology professor and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, a biopsychologist who has researched the importance of sleep and the internal clock, will talk about research that explains how sleep patterns vary across a lifetime and what is “normal.”

October 19—”Haunted Bangkok: Angry Spirits, Buddhist Power, and Popular Media in Thailand.” Rachelle Scott, associate professor of religious studies, will talk about the role of ghosts and other supernatural beings in Theravada Buddhism and how these stories continue to impart ethical lessons to Buddhists across Asia and around the world.

November 9—”Making the Cuts: Austerity Policies and Their Social Implications.” Jon Shefner, head of the Department of Sociology, will look at the effects of spending cuts, tax hikes, and other measures governments use to reduce their budget deficits during adverse economic conditions.

November 23—”Simulations for Solutions: Solving Problems Through Scientific Computing.” Steven Wise, associate professor of mathematics, will discuss the evolution of scientific computing and look at the challenges that lie ahead, including how we might—and might not—be able to solve some of our biggest problems with the help of computers.

C O N T A C T :

Lynn Champion (865-974-2992, champion@utk.edu)

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034, ablakely@utk.edu)

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