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Journey to the centre of the earth

MEDIA ADVISORY 29 October 2003

Journey to the centre of the earth

A public lecture from expatriate planetary scientist David Stevenson will take the idea of burrowing to the earth's core from the realms of fantasy to reality.

The public are invited to the lecture, "Probing Earth's Core" on Tuesday 4th November, Hunter Council Chamber, Victoria University at 6pm. The lecture will be informal and geared towards a lay audience interested in science.

Following is an abstract from Professor Stevenson's lecture:

Earth's core is believed to be mostly iron, mostly liquid, and the source of Earth's magnetic field. Our main source of information is seismology, but augmented in important ways by magnetic studies, geochemistry, and the physics of materials at high pressure. I will explain how a better understanding of the core is essential for determining the formation and history of Earth, and many aspects of how Earth works. Our experience in planetary exploration suggests that there is no substitute for going there, and I will describe an outrageous but not completely ridiculous concept for how one might send a probe to the core. Independent of its practicality, this core probe idea illuminates many interesting and quite well established physical ideas.

Professor Stevenson (www.gps.caltech.edu/faculty/stevenson/) grew up in Miramar, Wellington, and after attending Rongotai College went on to become a triple graduate of Victoria University - he gained a BSc in 1969, 1st Class Honours in Physics in 1970, and MSc with Distinction in Physics in 1972.

Professor Stevenson’s career in planetary physics, including the physics of the Earth’s interior, commenced in 1976 with his PhD dissertation at Cornell University on the interior structure of Jupiter. After time spent at the Australian National University and UCLA, Professor Stevenson obtained a Professorship at California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in 1980, where since 1995 he has held the position of George Van Osdol Professor of Planetary Science.

He is one of the foremost planetary physicists in the world and became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1993 – one of only 36 New Zealanders to have received the honour. He has made great advances in the understanding of planetary development and the evolution of the solar system. Professor Stevenson is active in the administration of science through numerous professional associations and is an internationally sought-after speaker on planetary science and the evolution of the solar system.

Members of the public should register attendance with info-desk@vuw.ac.nz or ph: 04 463 5283.

"Probing Earth's Core"
Tuesday 4th November, 6pm
Hunter Council Chamber, Kelburn
Victoria University

ENDS

Issued by Victoria University of Wellington Public Affairs

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