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RCA General Meeting: Dr. Jes Ford, So Many Gravitational Lenses

  • OMSI 1945 SE Water Avenue Portland, OR, 97214 (map)
Einstein Ring LRG 3-757 (Credit ESA/NASA)

Einstein Ring LRG 3-757 (Credit ESA/NASA)

One Warped View of Cosmology, Outreach and Scientific Reproducibility

Lenses warp our perception of the world, creating illusions that we must navigate to make sense of the world. Gravitational lensing is the name given to the fact that mass itself alters the trajectory of light, leading to distortions of distant objects like galaxies. Measuring this effect allows us to map out the matter distribution of the universe, and learn about dark matter in the most massive objects of all - galaxy clusters. I will present an overview of gravitational lensing and some exciting results using this technique. Then I will show some fun and educational activities my colleagues and I developed for turning these concepts into hands-on classroom lessons. Finally, I’ll give my perspective on the reproducibility crisis in science, and discuss some progress being made toward a more open and efficient way of learning about our world.

Jes Ford is a Data Science Postdoctoral Fellow in the eScience Institute at the University of Washington. She completed a PhD in Physics at the University of British Columbia, studying the largest structures in the universe - clusters of galaxies. These days her research focuses on bringing data science techniques like machine learning to astronomy, and educating and encouraging scientists to adopt more reproducible workflows, including making code and data open and accessible for other researchers to build upon. In her past life she was a competitive snowboarder, and the mountains remain integral to her work-life-balance.

Slides from August Meeting

Earlier Event: August 15
New Member Orientation
Later Event: August 18
Full Moon