Astronomy and Cosmology Workshop

Location: Jordan Hall of Science

University of Notre Dame ISLA-Mellon Workshop

For additional information and the rest of the schedule see:

What role does evidence and reasoning play in astronomy and cosmology? What are some of the philosophical implications of evidential reasoning applied to the largest scales of time and space? This interdisciplinary three-day workshop at the University of Notre Dame will bring together historians of astronomy, philosophers of science, and working astronomers and cosmologists to dialogue on how evidence and reasoning shape our theories of the universe.


Saturday, February 23rd, 2013

9:00 – 11:30 Session I: Evidence and Reasoning in the History of Astronomy
322 Jordan Hall of Science

Evidential Reasoning on the Nature of the Heavens in Early Astronomy
Stephen Case, University of Notre Dame

What’s Wrong with My Telescope? Optics, Atmosphere, and Confusion
Chris Graney, Jefferson Community & Technical College

Analogy, the “Copernican Principle,” and the Extraterrestrial Life Debate
Michael Crowe, University of Notre Dame

Evidence and Reasoning in Victorian Astronomy
Marv Bolt, Webster Institute for the History of Astronomy, Adler Planetarium

11:30 – 2:00 Lunch break

2:00 – 4:30 Session II: Evidence and Reasoning in Contemporary Astronomy & Cosmology 322 Jordan Hall of Science

Newton’s Methodology in Cosmology Today
William Harper, University of Western Ontario

Post-Principia Evidence in Orbital Astronomy
George Smith, Tufts University

From Candles to Cosmology: The Case for Dark Energy
Peter Garnavich, University of Notre Dame

A New Equation of State for Core Collapse Supernova & Neutron Stars
Matt Meixner, University of Notre Dame

The Role of Evidence in the Discovery of Exoplanets
Colin Littlefield, University of Notre Dame

4:30 – 7:00 Dinner break

7:00 – 8:00 Public Lecture: Philip Sakimoto, Everything I Know About Pluto, or Public Responses to Science: From Tombaugh to Gore
101 (Auditorium) Jordan Hall of Science
The public—the ubiquitous “they”—has adopted a rather schizophrenic attitude towards science.  On the one hand, scientific proof is seen as the societal norm for deciding truth values.  On the other hand, if the conclusions from science disagree with personally held norms, then the science is rejected.  I postulate that this love-hate relationship with science is a result of living in a society in which relative values are the norm and absolute truths are abhorred.  An alternative posture, in which the existence of absolute truths is assumed, might lead to greater harmony.

Dr. Philip Sakimoto is a scientific dilettante.  He earned a Ph.D. in astronomy at UCLA while playing in the planetarium at the Griffith Observatory, on Mars with the Viking Project at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and with a volleyball on Santa Monica beach.  He went on to a career with NASA, primarily at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC. managing a wide variety of education, diversity, and public outreach programs.  At Notre Dame, he teaches learning strategies to first-year students while continuing to dabble in the interfaces of science with societal, religious, and cultural issues.