Workshop for Science Writers, Astrophysics and Cosmology

May 27-29 2013, NORDITA, Stockholm, Sweden


Writing about science for the public is challenging. With deadlines looming, it's hard to carve out time to recharge your intellectual batteries, find distinctive stories, and get a broad overview of where researchers are headed. We've designed this workshop to give you the background material you need to cover astrophysics and cosmology, packing as much as possible into as short a time as possible for the busy working journalist.

Researchers will offer lectures on currently relevant topics with extensive question-and-answer sessions -- like a seminar class, minus homework and grades. They'll focus on topics that are either relevant for presently running experiments or are likely to increase in relevance in the near future when experiments will deliver data. We hope that this meeting will be conductive to improve the flow of information about recent research in astrophysics and cosmology. We also hope, of course, that it will be fun.

Topics that will be covered are:
  • Dark Matter: What is this invisible stuff that fills the universe? We'll cover the evidence, theory, and experiments. Dark Energy: Why is the expansion of the universe accelerating and why does that trouble physicists so profoundly? We'll get into both theory and observation.
  • The Cosmic Microwave Background: How might the afterglow of the big bang reveal the deep structure of space and time? We'll cover novel effects such as tensor modes and non-Gaussianity and their relevance for testing quantum gravitational effects and the inflation scenarios in the early universe.
  • Gravitational waves: What's coming up with observations of ripples in the fabric of spacetime? We'll discuss theory, experiments, and implications.
  • Gamma Ray Bursts and Supernovae: How do the biggest explosions in the universe boggle the brain? We'll learn about observations, simulations, and the meaning of it all.
  • Solar Physics: How does our own star tick and why does it still perplex astrophysicists? We'll discuss theory, simulation, observation, and the relevance of understanding the physics of our sun and that of other stars.
  • Exoplanets: What are new prospects for finding planets outside our solar system? What varieties of geologies might an Earth-mass world have? How might we gather clues about their atmospheric composition and, ultimately, their potential for life?