'Our Dangerous Universe' lecture is today

Brian Thomas
Brian Thomas

Extra-terrestrial events and their consequences for planet Earth will be the focus on this year’s Ruckman Lecture at UNL. The public is welcome to this free event Oct. 5 to hear from astrobiophysicist Brian Thomas.

He will present "Our Dangerous Universe" at 7:30 p.m. in the Nebraska Union Auditorium.

Thomas is an associate professor of physics and astronomy at Washburn University in Topeka, Kan., where he leads an astrobiophysics research group. The group studies the effects on the Earth's atmosphere and biosphere by astrophysical sources of radiation. Thomas also is known for his ability to effectively communicate complex concepts.

Earth, in its long history, has seen many extinction events, many of them major, Thomas said. From asteroids to gamma-ray bursts, there are a variety of extra-terrestrial events that may have serious implications for life on Earth.

In his talk, he will address Earth's place in the universe. His discussion will examine several potentially devastating events, how they would affect the Earth and how frequently they might occur.

The lecture is made possible by an endowment from alumnus Jerry E. Ruckman, now retired from IBM. Each fall, the series brings to campus a nationally recognized figure in science education. UNL's Department of Physics and Astronomy plans the event to coincide with a dinner in which area physics and astronomy teachers are invited to campus to keep UNL faculty informed about physics education in high schools and to keep area teachers informed of the university and department resources and research opportunities available to them.

— Jean Ortiz Jones, University Communications