Colloquium: Unmasking the ultra-high energy universe

Date and Time: Friday, October 27 1:00-2:00pm
Place: Rome 204

Speaker:  Peter Gorham, Physics Department, University of Hawaii

Title: Unmasking the ultra-high energy universe

Abstract: Unknown cosmic accelerators are constantly beaming charged particles at Earth with energies seven or more orders of magnitude higher than the highest energy CERN's Large Hadron Collider can produce, yet we still know little or nothing about these sources or their acceleration mechanisms. We now know that the most energetic of these particles are heavily scattered and absorbed in intergalactic space before they reach us, and a flux of ultra-high energy neutrinos is an almost certain result of this process. These neutrinos, unabsorbed as they transit the universe, are probably the best hope of unraveling the mystery of these particles and their sources. I will discuss the context of the search for these cosmogenic neutrinos, and the novel techniques that have been developed to find them, along with results from the Antarctic Impulsive Transient Antenna (ANITA) long-duration balloon payload, which has been searching for signs of their interactions in the ice sheets of Antarctica for a decade now.

Short Bio:
Peter Gorham is a professor of physics in the dept. of physics and astronomy at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in Honolulu. He is the lead investigator for NASA's ANITA project, having spent seven seasons in Antarctica searching for neutrino signals, both at McMurdo Station, and Amundsen-Scott Station at the South Pole. His research was featured in Werner Herzog's Oscar-nominated documentary about science in Antarctica, Encounters at the End of the World. He shared in the 2016 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental physics as part of the KamLAND collaboration that helped to discover neutrino oscillations. He is an avid sailor and surfer, living with his wife and two children on the east end of Oahu in Hawaii.