Three Talks And A Lab Tour: Artificial Intelligence In Science; Roman Warships In Experiment–Reconstruction And Sailing Tests; The Future Of X-ray Polarimetry In Astronomy; Tour Of The X-ray Polarimetry Laboratory

Tuesday January 29, 2019 1:00 pm

Artificial Intelligence in Science

Dr. Victor Pankratius, 1:00-1:30pm in 37-252

How can Artificial Intelligence help advance science? This presentation will outline new avenues for Computer-Aided Discovery in astronomy and geoscience.

Roman warships in Experiment: Reconstruction and Sailing Tests

Dr. Moritz Gunther, 1:30 – 2:30pm in 37-252

Warning: This talk is non-astronomical and contains actual videos and possibly sound. After the climax of its power internal struggle weakened the military position of the Roman Empire. A series of attacks in the 2nd and 3rd century AD forced an adjustment of the military strategy in central Europe. Instead of further expansion, the borders of the empire were increasingly fortified. In Germany this lead to the construction of an impressive naval fleet on the rivers Rhine and Danube. Several of the boats have been excavated. Our team has attempted a reconstruction of two types of vessel, the “navis lusoria” and the “Oberstimm” with a level of detail down to the hand-smithened nails with the correct metallurgy. A series of three working boats have been built in original size. I will show pictures of the reconstruction phase, but concentrate on the on-the-water tests we have performed with different teams to access the speed, maneuverability and sailing performance of these boats. Particularly in sailing the possibilities far exceeded the expectations. This result indicates a much larger operating radius of these vessels than previously estimated and thus a much higher flexibility of the river defense scheme which the empire relied on to keep the barbarians at bay. See, e.g.: this movie

No enrollment limit for talk, no advance sign-up required.


The Future of X-ray Polarimetry in Astronomy

Dr. Herman Marshall,  2:30-3:30pm in 37-252

I will present several projects to measure the X-ray polarizations of astronomical sources over the next 5-10 years. Previous observations were obtained in the 1970s for bright Galactic sources such as X-ray binaries and the Crab Nebula using a Bragg reflection from graphite crystals, limiting the measurements to 2.6 and 5.2 keV. Recently, a few detections have been reported using Compton scattering at hard X-rays. A newly approved NASA mission is the Imaging X-ray Polarization Explorer (IXPE). It would operate in the 2-8 keV range and is expected to launch in late 2020. It has an imaging capability, with a resolution of about a half arc-minute, and should detect X-ray polarizations as low as 1-5 percent for a dozen or more active galaxies, supernova remnants, neutron stars, and X-ray binaries during a mission lifetime of a few years. I will describe the instrument and a few of the science goals. I will also describe a design for a sounding rocket based polarimeter to work in the 0.2-0.6 keV band. The method uses gratings developed at MIT and multilayer coated mirrors. Potential targets include active galaxies, isolated neutron stars, and nearby black hole binaries in outburst. The configuration is extensible to orbital use, possibly to be combined with other instruments to provide a bandpass from 0.2 to 50 keV.


Tour of the X-ray Polarimetry Lab — please note tour limit and prerequisite below

Dr. Alan Garner, 3:45 – 4:45pm departing from 37-252

Tour of MIT’s X-ray Polarimetry Lab, where new X-ray instrumentation is currently being developed.

Please Note:
20 people max for tour. Advance sign-up required starting at 2:25pm in 37-252 immediately before Dr. Marshall’s talk. Attendance of talk is required for tour of the Lab. Tour will leave from 37-252 at 3:30pm. Tour attendees will walk as a group to NE83.