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Beth Sorensen
Office of Communications


Alex Filippenko, professor of astronomy at the University of California–Berkeley, will be speaking at Reed College on Wednesday, February 12, at 7:30 p.m. in Vollum lecture hall on "The Runaway Universe." He will also be giving a technical seminar at 4 p.m. in the psychology auditorium on the Katzman Automatic Imaging Telescope and the search for supernovas. The lecture and seminar, which are sponsored by Reed's physics department, are free and open to the public. For more information visit or call the Reed events hotline at 503/777-7755.

Recent observations of very distant exploding stars have provided evidence that the expansion of the universe is speeding up, or "running away," with time, rather than slowing down as expected. This discovery resurrects the idea of a long-range "antigravity" effect in the universe, first proposed by Albert Einstein and later renounced as his "biggest blunder." The vacuum may be filled with a "dark energy" whose overall effect is repulsive. The discovery of the possibly accelerating universe was voted the top "Science Breakthrough of 1998" by Science magazine and was the cover story in the June 25, 2001, issue of Time.

Alex Filippenko received his B.A. in physics (1979) from the University of California–Santa Barbara and his Ph.D. in astronomy (1984) from the California Institute of Technology. He joined the UC-Berkeley faculty in 1986. An observational astronomer who makes frequent use of the Hubble Space Telescope and the Keck 10-meter telescopes, his primary areas of research are exploding stars, active galaxies, black holes, and the expansion of the universe. His research accomplishments, documented in over 380 published articles, have been recognized by several major awards, including the American Astronomical Society Pierce Prize, the Canadian Astronomical Society Petrie Prize, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He has appeared in several TV documentaries, such as Mysteries of Deep Space, Stephen Hawking's Universe, and Runaway Universe. In 1998 he produced a 40-lecture video course on introductory astronomy with the Teaching Company.

Reed College, in Portland, Oregon, is an undergraduate institution of the liberal arts and sciences dedicated to sustaining the highest intellectual standards in the country. With an enrollment of about 1,360 students, Reed ranks third in the undergraduate origins of Ph.D.s in the United States and second in the number of Rhodes scholars from a liberal arts college (31 since 1915).

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