The Aspen Center for Physics is holding its annual series of winter workshops, with the final, double sized workshop being on the astrophysical topic of Black Holes.


i-ca0e58c11fe1f56d202eb8e7b8c2b30f-acp2.jpg
Aspen Center for Physics

Yes, I am there, organizering, Daniel Holz from CV is also here, along with 100+ other luminaries, and, yes, he’s also been too busy to blog.

The discussion has been lively and broad, covering everything from formation and accretion of low mass stellar black holes, through to mergers of supermassive black holes, via the puzzle of intermediate mass black holes.

Wednesday evening, Prof. Andrea Ghez gave and extremely well attended Maggie and Nick DeWolf Public Lecture at the Wheeler Opera House in downtown Aspen, preceded by an also very well attended physics Science Cafe, and followed by long and exceptionally perceptive questioning by the audience, fielded superbly by Andrea.

We can rest assured that the Supermassive Black Hole at the center of the Milky Way will not swallow the Earth any time soon, though Andrea’s summary of what would happen if it did, undoubtedly kept some of the younger audience members awake into the evening…

Before the lecture, after the cafe, there was a short video on Aspen Center for Physics – 25th Winter Anniversary: ‘When Physics Centers Was a Heading in the Yellow Pages, a fascinating video on the history of the Aspen Center for Physics, its affiliation with the Aspen Institute and the original Aspen Ideal, and how the Winter Workshops came to be and their history.

Both the ACP history video, and Andrea’s Lecture (and indeed the other Aspen Workshop public lectures) are available through grassrootstv.org
listing and direct links to individual videos here

As a workshop activity, a subset of the physicists at the workshop, or “Fizzies” as we are known locally, did a “First Track” run thursday morning.


i-10fd7eb0a3d2a3ad9e7887b6b832332b-photo-3.jpg
Assorted Fizzies in the “swoosh on the groomed runs” subset, near the top of the mountain
click to embiggen

In First Tracks, a group of about 30 of us went up before the early morning session started, before the lifts opened to the public, for a run on the untouched and near empty mountain.
We had a dusting of snow overnight, and at the top of the mountain split into three ski groups based on ability and interest in different conditions, plus a ‘boarder group.
Each group had a ski patrol guide leading it, as mountain operations were underway, so we were restricted to certain trails down the center of the mountain.

Conditions were near perfect and an excellent time was had by most all of the participants. Some of us managed to squeeze in two runs before morning session began.
The First Tracks were provided courtesy of the Aspen Ski Company, and we are very grateful to them for a pleasant and unique opportunity.