Saturday, May 21, 2022
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Clusters of Galaxies: Physics Colloquium Explores the Cosmos

The topic of galaxy clusters might not seem that entertaining to the average UMKC student, but those who attended UMKC’s Physics Colloquium Friday afternoon were treated to a captivating presentation.

Dr. Hy Trac, a professor of Physics at Carnegie Mellon University, presented challenging material in a way that the audience, regardless of their expertise in physics, could appreciate and understand. Hy Trac used a combination of simple statements and intricate analyses to explore galaxy clusters.

“If we could see everything, things would be a lot simpler,” said Trac, near the beginning of his lecture. While the comment was in reference to dark matter, a mysterious phenomenon physicists are still just beginning to understand, it lends itself to any scientific endeavor.

Although the topic of galaxy clusters is complex and incredibly technical, particularly for those unfamiliar with the concepts, Trac did superb job of explaining the concepts in way that was accessible and educational.

“I’m not very well versed in that particular area of research,” said Professor Paul Rulis. “So it was a great opportunity for me to learn something new.”

In the question and answer session, Professor Trac gave another relatively simple statement about some of the material he was covering.

“Yes, dark matter is all around us,” said Trac highlighting the simplicity that can be found in the complex material.

While the lecture served as an introduction to the study of galaxy clusters for many in attendance, Graduate student Bandon Decker found Trac’s research compelling and inspiring.

“The use of machine learning in particular was very interesting,” said Decker. “It’s something I might end up applying to my work in the future.”

Students who find themselves gazing at the stars and asking, “What’s up there?” are encouraged to attend the next colloquium, which is currently scheduled to take place on Friday, Feb. 10.

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