Astronomy Lecture: The Modern Origins Story
How the Universe Went from Smooth to Lumpy
October 02, 2013
7 p.m.

Eliot Quataert, Ph.D.,

As part of the 14th annual Silicon Valley Astronomy Lecture Series,  astrophysical theorist Eliot Quataert, Ph.D., of the University of California, Berkeley, will discuss How the Universe Went from Smooth to Lumpy: The Modern Origins Story, an illustrated, non-technical lecture, Wednesday, Oct. 2, at 7 p.m. in the Smithwick Theatre at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills. Admission is free and the public is invited. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Arrive early to locate parking.

Dr. Quataert’s talk will provide an overview of the modern understanding of our origins in astrophysics. The story begins in the infant universe, which we now know was remarkably smooth compared to what we see around us today, with only tiny differences in its properties from one part to another. By contrast, in the present universe there are enormous differences in the properties of matter in different locations:  some regions host planets, stars and galaxies (and even humans!) while others are cold and mostly empty. He will describe how the universe has evolved to its current state, emphasizing how gravity reigns supreme and builds up the planets, stars and galaxies required for biological evolution to proceed.  Finally, he will show how, in addition to their scientific importance, these ideas also have far-reaching philosophical and religious implications.

Quataert is a professor of astronomy and physics at UC Berkeley and holds the Thomas & Alison Schneider Chair in Physics. He is also the director of Berkeley’s Theoretical Astrophysics Center. Quataert works on a wide range of problems, from the astrophysics of stars and black holes to how different types of galaxies form. He has received a number of national awards for his research and is a highly regarded teacher and public lecturer.

The free lecture series is sponsored by the Foothill College Astronomy Program, NASA Ames Research Center, SETI Institute Astronomical Society of the Pacific. Past lectures from the series are available online at A number of past Silicon Valley Astronomy Lectures are now available free on YouTube on the series' own channel at

Parking lots 1, 7 and 8 provide stair and no-stair access to the theatre. Visitors must purchase a parking permit for $3 from dispensers in any student parking lot. Dispensers accept one-dollar bills and quarters; bring exact change. Foothill College is located off I-280 on El Monte Road in Los Altos Hills. For more information, access or call (650) 949-7888.

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Special Notice: Admission is free; parking is $3. Purchase required parking permit for $3 from dispensers in any student lot.