Rob Knop's Talk Slides

Below are slides that I've used in public outreach talks, local "journal club" talks, in occasional classes (usually where I'm a guest for a day), and elsewhere. You can also find a list of a lot of public outreach astronomy talks I've given at the MICA Popular Talks page.

Some talks are more technical than others. The .odp files are OpenDocument presentations, used by (at least) They mostly use the Deja Vu fonts (although older presentations use Bitstream Vera fonts) in addition to the OpenSymbol font which (I believe) comes with I've also got one or two PDF exports for each slide set (which should have all fonts properly embedded, and be trivial to use). The "handout" PDF exports sometimes aren't great; some of the graphics get munged up with the B&W export.

Of course, all of these slides come without the companionship of my scintillating oratory.... As such, some of them may not make a lot of sense. Also, some of them use movies. Many of these movies I get from sources like the Hubble or Chandra space telescope archives, but some others I made myself and can be found here.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License.

Anything in these presentations that is mine – that is, the drawings and text that I've done – are free for you to use in your presentations, and in any other noncommercial manner you think of. The images and plots that I've included from other sources should all be attributed, and generally have their own use requirements. Dig for them before using any of them. (If I haven't included an attribution, then I'm naughty; don't assume you can redistribute the image.)

Cosmology Talks

The Discovery of the Accelerating Universe
This talk is based on the next talk in the list, but is slightly rearranged. You will find that many of the slides appear in both talks. I've given this talk a few different times. I first gave it at the main office of Linden Lab a couple of weeks after I started working with that company. Later, I gave it as the keynote talk at the North Carolina section meeting of the American Association of Physics Teachers in October, 2007, and again (in slightly modified form) a couple of days later as a public-outreach talk at High Point University. The version that appears here is form that last talk.

A Modern Picture of the Expanding Universe
An attempt to convey an accurate description of the expanding universe as the modern mathematics describes it at the popular level. This talk was most recently given at Hypericon II.

The Three Legs of the Cosmos
A longer and more technical version of the previous talk. The previous talk was an outreach-level talk, whereas this version was given to the Astronomy 205 class at Vanderbilt, and has a bit more mathematics in it, as well as some other more technical information.

The Continuing Copernican Revolution
Originally given as the lecture in David Weintraub's Astronomy 203 class, "Theories of the Universe." The topic that day was Copernicus, but I went nuts and talked about how ever since Copernicus, the theme of our increasing understanding of the Universe has been moving us away from the center.

High Hopes for Gamma Ray Burster Cosmology
This was a short (20-minute) talk given at the awards dinner for the 2006 Vanderbilt Prize for Research in Physics and Astronomy. The winner was Josh Haislip, an undergraduate from UNC who worked on high-redshift gamma ray bursters. I gave a talk which was relevant to his work.

WMAP 3-year data
These are the slides from a Journal Club talk I gave about the 3-year WMAP results as presented in the paper Spergel et. al., 2006, astro-ph/0603449, submitted to ApJ. The picture on the front was supposed to be a joke, a riff on the news articles that referred to these results as, alternatively, "Inflation's Smoking Gun" or the "Big Bang's Smoking Gun". The former I consider an overstatement, whereas with regardes to the latter, I think the Big Bang's gun has been smoking for years. All of these were misreprenstations of a quote from Michael Turner (whose picture I just found on the web) that could be inferred to mean that these results were inflation's smoking gun. I certainly hope that if he sees it, Michael Turner isn't too offended by it.... This was a talk primarily for grad students and other prof types, so it's reasonably technical. Note: the images in this presentation that aren't mine are either from the Spergel paper, or from the WMAP website.

Why the new "Bullet Cluster" / Dark Matter results are important
In Auygust 2006, a paper was published showing that most of the mass of a merging pair of clusters was offset from the location of most of the luminous mass. In short, dark matter exists. This talk was given to the astronomy journal club at Vanderbilt on August 31, giving some historical context on why we believed in dark matter, and why these results are so significant in light of the fact that most of us have had no doubts about dark matter for a decade or two.

Interacting/Starburst/Active Galaxy Talks

Galaxies In Collision
Colliding galaxies, and how it relates to the formation of elements heavier than Hydrogen and Helium. There's much more to this subject, of course; I don't even touch on AGN in this talk, for example!

Miscellaneous Physics/Astrophysics/Astronomy Talks

Why "Was Einstein Wrong?" is the Wrong Question
During 2005, the "World Year of Physics", there were many news articles about Einstein, the icon of 20th Century Physics. Some of these focused on current limitations of and challenges to the absolute truth of Einstein's Special and General Theories of Relativity. Too often, though, the public sees science as black and white: something is "right" or it is "wrong." In this talk, I try to clarify why, even though we are almost certain that Einstein's General Relativity cannot be completely right, it is not really correct to say that it is wrong. This talk was most recently given at High Point University at the North Carolina section meeting of the American Association of Physics Teachers, in October 2007.
Newton's Laws in Science Fiction Movies and TV: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
This talk was given at Hypericon III in June, 2007. When I gave the talk, I included a number of movie excerpts from 2001, Star Trek, Star Wars, Babylon 5, Batman, and Spiderman III, none of which are (alas) included with the slides here.

Black Holes: Misconceptions, and the Even More Startling Truth
First given at Hypericon II.

The Scientific Method ; What is a Theory ; Slides on Science & Religion