Condensed Matter Astrophysics: The Rise of Complexity

January 2012

This exploratory seminar will convene a group of scholars from a wide range of disciplines (astrophysics, condensed matter physics, atomic physics, chemistry, geophysics, and mineralogy; theory and experiment) at Harvard, at national laboratories (Brookhaven and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories), and international collaborations (Asia and Europe) to address fundamental questions relating to the structure and formation of condensed matter, and the relevant physics of matter transitions from the most extreme astrophysical environments to the “less energetic” terrestrial ones.

The wide range of expertise, experimental and theoretical, will enable new and necessary collaborations to realize a new subfield within astrophysics, whereby X-rays from energetic astrophysical systems (e.g., black holes) will be used to determine the quantity and composition of astrophysical dust to address fundamental questions that led to the rise of complexity, with simple beginnings in the atom.