PUBLIC EVENT Beyond Beauty: A Panel Discussion on the Nature and Meaning of Images in Astrophysics
June 13, 2010 at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC)
Location: SAIC Ballroom, 112 S Michigan
Time: 7:00 p.m. - 8 p.m.

  COSMIC IMAGES: BEYOND BEAUTY A panel presentation on the nature and meaning of cosmic images, led by moderator Josh Frieman and featuring Christy Tremonti, Tom Crawford, and Mike Gladders. Spectacular images from instruments such as Hubble Space Telescope have permeated our culture and reshaped the public perception of what space "looks like". While their power and beauty is widely appreciated, the information content and scientific significance of cosmic images is less widely understood. Images used in astrophysics and cosmology differ significantly from forms of photographic imaging that we encounter in other contexts. They are a lot more than just "pictures of space". The technology and image-making practice is designed not to mimic human vision, but to maximize the information content of the final image. And, the creation of such an image is far from being the final step in the scientific process. Interpreting or "reading" cosmic images, using mathematics and physics, is how we go from a beautiful (or sometimes horribly "ugly") image to a deeper understanding about our universe. Our panelists will each choose an image from their own research, and describe how the image-making and image-interpretation process works in the context of cutting-edge cosmological research.