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Pluto-killing' astronomer to speak at the U of M April 12

April 3, 2012

The solar system most of us knew growing up included nine planets, with Mercury closest to the sun and Pluto at the outer edge. Then, astronomer Mike Brown made the discovery of a lifetime—a 10th planet, Eris, slightly bigger than Pluto that eventually led to the demotion of Pluto as a real planet.

Brown will share his story about his discovery and how it ignited a firestorm of controversy in “How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming,” a public lecture at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, April 12, University of Minnesota Tate Laboratory of Physics, Room 150, 116 Church St. SE, Minneapolis.
In this engaging and entertaining lecture, hosted by the University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering’s Institute for Astrophysics, Brown will use humor and drama to give an engaging first-person account of the most tumultuous year in modern astronomy that he inadvertently caused. Brown will talk about how the controversy led to hate mail from schoolchildren and how he was bombarded by TV reporters—all because of the discovery he had spent years searching for and a lifetime dreaming about. Brown will also share important scientific concepts and inspire us to think more deeply about our place in the cosmos.

Brown is a professor of planetary astronomy at the California Institute of Technology and author of the book How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming. Brown has been featured in many publications, including the New York Times and Discover magazine. In 2006 he was named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People.

This lecture is part of the Kaufmanis Lecture Series presented by the Minnesota Institute for Astrophysics in memory of the late University of Minnesota astronomy professor Karlis Kaufmanis. The Kaufmanis Lecture Series brings distinguished scientists to the campus to provide public lectures on the latest hot topics in research.

The Minnesota Institute for Astrophysics replaces the University of Minnesota’s former Department of Astronomy. The new institute brings together 24 faculty members of the School of Physics and Astronomy conducting research in astronomy, astrophysics, cosmology, planetary science, and space science under a unified association of scientists.

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Mike Brown will share how he "killed Pluto" during the April 12 Kaufmanis Lecture

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