Daniel Kasen is a professor in the departments of physics and astronomy at UC Berkeley, and a faculty scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He uses theory and supercomputing to study energetic astrophysical phenomena such as supernovae and compact object mergers and their applicability as probes of physics and cosmology.
While the night sky may appear calm and eternal, the quiet masks a violent dynamism, where stars collide, collapse to black holes, or explode entirely as supernovae. It is only recently that astronomers have begun to deeply explore this transient side of the universe. Such stellar cataclysms stir up spacetime, crush matter to extreme density, and are furnaces within which the heavy elements are forged. We will tell a story of cosmic origins, of how the volatile life and death of stars have lit the sky with massive fireworks, and how the stuff we find on earth (and in ourselves) was born of the ashes.