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76th Arthur H. Compton Lecture Series

Thomas Davison

Thomas Davison

Crater growth

Growth of a crater after an impact into a porous meteorite parent body

Oblique collisions

A 3-D oblique collision simulation

This website serves as a record of the 76th Arthur H. Compton Lecture Series, conducted by Thomas Davison at the Enrico Fermi Institute. The Lectures were intended for the general public, friends of the Enrico Fermi Institute, members of the University community, and interested citizens of the Chicago area. They were designed to provide a descriptive account of some of the frontiers of present-day science. No formal background in mathematics or science was required.

Constructing the Solar System: A Smashing Success!

The history of the Solar System is one of the oldest subjects studied by scientists – and one in which we still don’t have all the answers. We now have a reasonable understanding of how the Sun and the planets formed, but there are still some parts of the story that are unexplained. Recent advances in numerical modeling, experimental techniques and astronomical observations are leading to a more thorough understanding of our Solar System’s origins.

In these lectures, Dr. Davison discussed the current state of our understanding of the formation and evolution of the Solar System, with a particular emphasis on the fundamental role of high velocity impact processes. This is a diverse subject that encompasses elements of physics, chemistry, geology and astronomy. The discussions covered the formation of our Sun, the building of the planets, and the effects of impacts throughout the history of the Solar System.

See the flyer, the news article and the Enrico Fermi Institute website for more information.


Links to .pdf files of the lecture slides and handouts for each lecture are provided below. To open them, you will need a pdf viewer such as Adobe Reader.

10/06/2012 - Lecture 1

A Star is Born

10/13/2012 - Lecture 2

Making Planetesimals: the building blocks of planets

10/20/2012 - Guest Lecture

Guest Lecturer: Mac Cathles

10/27/2012 - Lecture 3

Asteroids and Meteorites: Our eyes in the early Solar System

11/03/2012 - Lecture 4

Building the Planets

11/10/2012 - Lecture 5

When Asteroids Collide

11/17/2012 - Lecture 6

Making Things Hot: The thermal effects of collisions

12/01/2012 - Lecture 7

Constructing the Moon

12/15/2012 - Lecture 8

Impact Earth: Chicxulub and other terrestrial impacts

Other resources

The web calculators that I showed in the final lecture can be found here:

Some general references which may be of use: