October Slugs & Steins

From the Emergence of Planets to the Destiny of Black Holes
Professor Douglas N.C Lin
Monday, October 12, 2020
6:30-8:00 p.m. 
Three most frequently asked big-picture questions by the general public are: 1) are we alone?, 2) what is going on inside black holes?, and 3) what happened before the big bang?  While there is no shortage of philosophical speculation, scientifically-proven insights of these age-old profound and fundamental conundrums remain elusive.  Nevertheless, they have stimulated rapid advancements in some subsidiary areas of astronomy over the past few decades.  In this talk Professor Lin will highlight two frontiers of discovery in planetary and gravitational-wave astrophysics. After a brief overview on milestone observational findings in the search for extra-solar planets, remote sensing of their cradles, and solar system exploration, he will accentuate some paradigm changes in our theoretical understanding of how planets formed.  He will also discuss how these new concepts may be applied to decipher clues and to extrapolate implications on the evolution of black holes from the recent detection of gravitational waves. 


Douglas Lin joined the University of California Santa Cruz Astronomy and Astrophysics Department in 1979 and has played a major role in establishing UCSC’s strong international standing in the field. He’s authored 262 refereed journal articles that have generated over 22,000 citations, and he’s taught at universities in seven countries, from Switzerland to China. In China he went a step further, serving as Founding Director of the Kavli Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics at Peking University. Other managerial roles have been for UCSC as Department Chair and Director of the Institute for Nonlinear Dynamics, as well as serving the California Space Institute’s Center for Origins Studies and the Center for Star Formation Studies. His research has spanned planet formation evolution; solar system dynamics; interstellar asteroids, star formation and interstellar medium; astrophysical hydrodynamics and stellar dynamics; theory of accretion disks; interacting binary stars; magnetosphere-accretion disk interaction, formation and dynamical evolution of stellar clusters; interacting galaxies; active galactic nuclei and black holes; intergalactic medium; and gravitational waves. Professor Lin’s long list of honors include fellowships and awards granted him from institutions in four countries, including from the American Astronomical Society, the Soviet Academy of Sciences, and the Royal Astronomical Society. Closer to home he earned the “Outstanding Science Faculty” award at UCSC. Much farther away from home he can claim a namesake asteroid: #25133 Douglin. 

This image from a computer simulation shows the rapid formation of an accretion disk during the disruption of a star by a supermassive black hole. (Image credit: Jamie Law-Smith and Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz)