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PV: Popular Scientific Lectures in Dutch attract wide Interest

Submitter: Juergen Morawietz, Ger van Diepen
Description: Tuesday evening April 4th the PV organised an evening with two lectures for non-technical people.

Andre Gunst talked about "How do they do it: the radio telescope seen as a factory". Inspired by the Discovery program "How do they do it" he explained in a simple way how the LOFAR telescope works by seeing it as a factory. A factory where at one side the noisy radiation coming from the sky is fed in as raw material and where at the other side astronomical images are delivered as end product. With the help of two volunteers acting as antennae, he showed very vividly how signals are delayed to synchronize them. Besides LOFAR, he briefly discussed other factories being built, such as Apertif and SKA.

Joeri van Leeuwen talked about "The mysterious fast radio bursts". In 2007 astronomers found an extremely short and bright flash with the Parkes radio telescope. It appeared it had to come from about 4 billion lightyears away, thus very far and very long ago. Joeri discussed phenomena such as supernovae, pulsars, neutron stars, black holes, etc. People could 'hear' the Crab Nebula pulsar by letting the computer translate its pulses into sound. It is unknown what causes the extremely energy rich fast radio bursts of which 20 have been found so far. With the wide field of view of the new Westerbork Apertif receivers, astronomers hope to find many more such bursts and to determine their exact location.

Prior to the lectures people could enjoy a Chinese buffet and drinks.
About 65 people attended the lectures, of which 10 retired ASTRON employees and about 30 relatives (spouses, children, parents) of ASTRON employees. The people were very enthusiastic about the talks, so it is clearly an event to be repeated.

The slides of the talks can be seen on the PV web page (www.astron.nl/pv) and one can contact Andre or Joeri for more details.

Copyright: G. van Diepen, J. Morawietz (not to be spread via Social Media!)
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