Meeting Information

The Physics of Star Formation

March 28, 2012
American Center for Physics
College Park, MD

Date: Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Speaker: Dr. Harold A. Williams, Montgomery College, Takoma Park

Topic: The Physics of Star Formation

Abstract: "The Physics of Star Formation" is based on a series of related non-linear partial differential equations first considered by Emanuel Kant who formulated the solar nebula hypothesis. We will see that Kant’s intuition on the character of the solution of star and planet formation was correct on broad outline, but many problems remain to be solved and that the underlying rich solution sets give us much of the beauty and complexity of the star and planet formation that we see around us. Much more computing will continue in this field for many generations to come. Numerical simulation of the hydrodynamics of star forming regions is probably more difficult than quantum gravity, but at least the equations can be written down with more certainty. The solution sets are more interesting and relevant to most people’s minds, if they are interesting at all in the larger universe.

Bio: Dr. Harold Alden Williams is the planetarium director and the physics and geology laboratory coordinator at the Montgomery College Takoma Park/Silver Spring campus. He is also an adjunct, contingent, part-time faculty member for Montgomery College. He has taught college classes in three departments: Physical Science (astronomy, geology, and physics), Mathematics (pre-algebra through algebra), and Biology (physical oceanography).

He received his BS in Physics in Physics and Mathematics from the Florida State University, his MS in Physics from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Sony Brook and his PhD in Physics from the Louisiana State University. His PhD dissertation, entitled "Star Formation Using 3-D Explicit Eulerian Hydrodynamics", was supervised by Joel Tohline. He spent two years as a post-doctoral fellow working with Alan Boss at the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism of the Carnegie Institution of Washington.