November 10, 2000
What's "hot" in astronomy today? Take your pick: extra-solar system planets by the dozen; an accelerating universe; gamma ray bursters associated with supernovae; solar-terrestrial relations; water in surprising places. But it may come as a surprise that all of these, and most of the rest of current research on the universe and its contents, can be put into a context of ideas and trends that can be traced back many centuries. These include loss of centrality, expanding horizons, acceptance of the mutability and imperfections of the heavens, and the recognition that cosmic physics is terrestrial physics working extra hard. The talk will attempt to trace some of these connects.
Professor Virginia Trimble received her B.A. in Astronomy and Physics from UCLA in 1964, her M.S. in the same discipline from the California Institute of Technology in 1965 and her Ph.D. in Astronomy from the same institution in 1968. She taught at Smith College for a year and spent two postdoctoral fellowship years at Cambridge U. receiving an honorary MA in 1969. Professor Trimble joined the University of California at Irvine in 1971 where she is currently a Professor of Physics and is concurrently a Visiting Professor of Physics at the University of Maryland, College Park. Her early research focused on advanced stages of the evolution of stars, including white dwarfs, supernovae and pulsars. More recently she has investigated the statistical distribution of properties of binary stars and a number of topics in the history of sociology of physics and astronomy. Professor Trimble has published more than 450 papers, reviews and book chapters and received innumerable honors and awards. She was a Sloan Fellow (1972-74), Maryland Academy of Sciences Outstanding Young Scientist (1976) and recipient of the National Academy of Sciences T. Murray Luck Award (1986). She was White Lecturer (Otterbein College, 1995), Dean Lecturer (California Academy of Science, 1996) and John Schop Memorial Lecturer (San Diego State U., 1999). Professor Trimble is a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society (1971), American Associate for the Advancement of Science (1982) and the American Physical Society (1988). She has served on the editorial boards of many professional journals and has held a number of leadership positions within scientific organizations that currently include: President, Division VIII (Galaxies & the Universe), International Astronomical Union (2000-03); Chair, Historical Astronomy Division, American Astronomical Society (1999-2001); Councilor and member of executive board, APS (1998-2000) and Chair, Division of Astrophysics, APS (2000-01).