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Lectures, Seminars & Colloquia

An overview of forthcoming lectures, seminars and colloquia.

Monday 26 January 2015 - 16:00 - 17:00 Lecture Theatre 1 PD Hahn building (UCT upper campus)

Astronomy Department Guest Lecture:
Dr Ton Engbersen (IBM Zurich Research Laboratory) - In which cloud does Big Data live anyway?
Big Data is currently a much used term, it is high on the latest Gartner hype-curve, albeit in the through of disillusionment. Why? Is it a fad which will just go away? Many people confuse Big Data with "lots of data" - which causes disillusionment. So what is Big Data now really? How does this play into our every-day lives, in our IT Infrastructure(s)? Pretty much in parallel with Big Data the concept of Cloud (also in the through) has been gaining rapid acceptance and there is no technical conference where the word Cloud is not mentioned. By the way, we are already using it in our daily lives - but is it really such a good idea? How do Mobile, Cloud, Big Data and Analytics (yet another one in the through) play together? In this lecture I will try to give meaning to these terms, how they play together, that partly there is nothing new, and that there are serious pitfalls to be considered.

Wednesday 28 January 2015 - 16:00 - 17:00 ACGC Seminar Room (UCT upper campus)

Astronomy Department Colloquium:
Prof Richard de Grijs (Kavli Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Peking University) - Not-so-simple stellar populations in Local Group star clusters
Until about a decade ago, star clusters were considered “simple” stellar populations: all stars in a cluster were thought to have similar ages and the same metallicity. Only the individual stellar masses were thought to vary, in essence conforming to a "universal" initial mass function. Over the past decade, this situation has changed dramatically. Yet, at the same time, star clusters are among the brightest stellar population components and, as such, they are visible out to much greater distances than individual stars, even the brightest, so that understanding the intricacies of star cluster composition and their evolution is imperative for understanding stellar populations and the evolution of galaxies as a whole. I will discuss my group's recent progress in this context, with particular emphasis on the properties and importance of binary systems, the effects of rapid stellar rotation, and the presence of multiple populations in Local Group star clusters across the full age range. Our very recent results imply a reverse paradigm shift, back to the old simple stellar population picture for at least some intermediate-age (~2 Gyr-old) star clusters, which opens up exciting avenues for future research directions.