Astrophysicist to present 8th annual Maurice Galante lecture at UCSF

Saul Perlmutter, PhD, senior scientist at the E.O. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Center for Particle Astrophysics at UC Berkeley, will present the 8th Annual Galante Lecture at 3 pm on Thursday, January 24 at UCSF in Cole Hall, 513 Parnassus Avenue. 
Perlmutter will speak on the subject “Supernovas, Dark Energy and the Accelerating Universe——What Next?”  The lecture is free and open to the public.

“Will the universe last forever, or will it come to an end some day?” was one of the questions Perlmutter asked himself when he left work in physics and moved to the study of astrophysics.  “I just wanted to find out the mass density and the fate of the universe,” he said.  “It’s one of the most fundamental questions I could imagine asking.” 

Perlmutter and his colleagues at the Supernova Cosmology Project (an international collaboration of research teams from seven countries) have been working on answering these questions empirically.

The development of a variety of new measurement techniques have led to striking discoveries.  This is the first decade in which some of these cosmological questions can be answered because of advanced telescopes (including the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope), ultrasensitive light detectors, specially developed software and the Internet as a high-speed information conduit.

According to experts, light from the cataclysmic explosions of distant stars (supernovae) provide natural mile trackers across the vast expanses of space.  These markers can be used to track the past expansion of the universe and extrapolate its fate.  Researchers have found that recent observations appear to conclude that the universe will last forever, and that it will expand at an accelerated but yet undetermined speed.  If so, it is thought that some fundamental concepts in the field of physics may need to be revised, and some mysterious “dark energy”—-perhaps Einstein’s cosmological constant”—- may pervade the universe.

Perlmutter received his PhD in physics from UC Berkeley in 1986 and his AB from Harvard in 1981.  He has been honored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science and received Science Magazine’s “1998 Breakthrough of the Year ” Award for measurements indicating an accelerating universe.  He is the author of more than 70 papers in the fields of physics, astrophysics and cosmology and has addressed topics such as the cosmological constant, dark energy, supernovae, pulsars, gravitational lenses, massive compact halo objects and advanced detector systems for astrophysics.  Perlmutter has also received the Henri Chretien Award from the American Astronomical Society and distinguished achievement awards from the E.O. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California Institutes.

The 8th Annual Maurice Galante Lecture is held in honor of UCSF surgeon Maurice Galante, MD.  Galante received his medical degree from Ohio State University in 1944.  He moved to San Francisco to begin his residency in general surgery and completed his training in 1952 after military service. 

Galante has been described as “one of the last generation of real ‘general’ surgeons”—-those surgeons who bring the same superb technical expertise to a wide variety of surgical procedures. Galante also brought a rare humanism to his 50 years as a surgeon at UCSF and trained scores of residents.  His many patients expressed their gratitude through donations to support programs in the UCSF department of surgery and this annual lecture as well as the Maurice Galante Distinguished Professorship, now held by School of Medicine Dean Haile T. Debas, MD.  For more information about the 8th Annual Maurice Galante Lecture, contact Joyce McKinney (415) 502-7366 or