From the Program Chair

John Church, Program Chair

Our January 11th regular meeting was unfortunately snowed out.  Dr. Ken Kremer’s talk on “What’s Beyond For NASA,” which was to have taken place at that meeting, is now scheduled for our May 10th meeting.  We shall just have to wait a few months for what is sure to be a fine presentation from Ken.

Froney Crawford

Froney Crawford

Hoping this time for better weather, we will be having Dr. Fronefield (Froney) Crawford speaking to us on February 8th at 8:00 pm. His subject will be “New Searches for Old Pulsars.”  Dr. Crawford is an assistant professor at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, PA, where he teaches astronomy and physics and conducts research with students on a variety of radio pulsar projects. Prior to coming to F&M, he taught at Haverford College and worked at Lockheed Martin Corporation. He received his B.A. from Williams College and his Ph.D. from MIT.  He and his wife, two children and pet chickens live in Chester County, PA.

Dr. Crawford’s subject will be radio pulsars, which have long been established as excellent laboratories for the exploration and study of a wide range of fundamental questions in physics.  Of particular interest is the class of very old “millisecond pulsars” (MSPs): pulsars that have spun down over time through magnetic braking but which have subsequently been spun up through mass accretion from a binary companion to very fast (millisecond) spin periods. These objects can then be observed in some cases after the accretion phase as highly stable, pulsed radio sources.  Although MSPs are important to study, they have traditionally been difficult to find in large-scale pulsar surveys owing to several important selection effects which hinder their detection. Advances in both observing and computational technology reduce these selection effects and are major drivers for surveys for new pulsars, millisecond or otherwise. He will discuss some of his recent efforts to find and study new radio pulsars (including old MSPs), some results from these searches, and some of the goals and challenges that he and his students will face with future surveys.

There will be a “Meet the Speaker” dinner at 6:00 pm before the meeting. Please email j.church@mindspring.com by noon on Tuesday, Feb. 8th for a reservation.  I will respond with the dinner location, which has yet to be determined; it will be at either the Sports Bar (old Sotto) or the Triumph Brewing Company, close to one another on Nassau Street in Princeton.  To insure a place or places at the table, it will be very important to make all reservations by noon on the 8th.

Concerning future programs, on March 8th we will be having Tim Brandt, a graduate student in Princeton’s Department of Astrophysics, to speak on Type Ia supernovae and the search for their progenitors.  Tim has recently been using the 8.2-meter Subaru telescope on Mauna Kea in Hawaii.  On April 12th we will have Michael Molnar speaking on “The Star of Bethlehem,” a topic he has extensively researched.  Michael will be signing copies of his book on this subject during the intermission.  As mentioned above, we will be hearing Ken Kremer’s talk on May 10th.  To round out our current session, on June 14th we will be treated to another presentation by Bill Murray in the New Jersey State Museum Planetarium in Trenton.

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