Public Lectures

Ever wonder what goes on at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory? The SLAC Public Lecture Series is your chance to find out! The evening lectures highlight the cutting-edge science happening at the laboratory. From the nanotechnology of diamonds to the latest Higgs Boson discoveries, SLAC public lectures provide non-scientists with a unique insight into the workings of our universe.

Scheduled Lecture

Discovering the Colors of Fossil Creatures

Live Q&A with Nick Edwards ,
Tuesday, June 02, 2020 7:30 pm

This Public Lecture includes a one hour video that will be available onYouTube  starting on Tuesday, May 26th, 2020.

Join us for a live Q&A onZoom on Tuesday, June 2nd at 7:30PM.

Until recently, the colors of ancient life forms existed only in our imaginations. In museums and on the big screen, we have seen fossil creatures portrayed in striking colors, but those reconstructions were based on very little scientific evidence. However, over the past decade or so, new fossil discoveries and new technologies have given us the chemical evidence needed to work out the actual pigmentation of long-dead organisms. X-ray imaging, which can detect minute traces of the original pigments, has played an important role in that story. This lecture will explore that new area of scientific study, including discoveries made with advanced X-ray imaging techniques at SLAC.

About the Speaker:
Live Q&A with Nick Edwards

Nick Edwards is a research associate at SLAC’s Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource. He obtained his PhD in paleontology from the University of Manchester in 2012, and afterward held a postdoctoral position there. During that time, he acquired an affection for synchrotrons. Their intense X-ray beams allow researchers to detect trace amounts of chemical elements still preserved in fossils after hundreds of millions of years, and even to map the patterns of these elements across a fossil. In 2016, Nick joined the X-ray imaging group at SSRL, where he supports work at the X-ray beam lines and helps carry out X-ray imaging of fossils, ancient manuscripts, paintings and other objects of cultural interest.



Public Lecture Highlights

Learn more about the work that we do by watching from our collection of popular recordings from our YouTube Playlist that highlights the breadth of our research.

Super-Human Operator poster

Super-Human Operator: Controlling Accelerators with Machine Learning

Particle accelerators are used every day in a wide range of scientific, medical and industrial applications.

Presenter: Auralee Edelen


Brown Dwarfs poster

Brown Dwarfs: Failed Stars or Overachieving Planets?

Giant planets can be up to 13 times the mass of Jupiter, while the least massive stars are about 80 times the mass of Jupiter.

Presenter: Eric Nielsen


Seeing is Exploding poster

Seeing is Exploding: Snapping Biological Images with X-ray Laser Blasts

SLAC's X-ray laser, the Linac Coherent Light Source, launched a new generation of light sources when it opened 10 years ago last month, with beams 10 billion times brighter than any before.

Presenter: Sebastien Boutet


Liquid Diamond poster

Liquid Diamonds: New Materials at Pressures of the Earth's Core

At the center of the Earth, matter is crushed under pressures millions of times higher than we experience here on the surface.

Presenter: Emma McBride


CRYO-EM poster

Cryo-EM: Amazing 3-D Views of Life's Molecular Machines

Cryogenic electron microscopy (cryo-EM) is a revolutionary technology for making 3D images of the inner workings of cells in much higher resolution than ever possible before.

Presenter: Wah Chiu


Batteries poster

Batteries for the Future: What's Possible?

Increased demand for energy storage in consumer electronics, electric vehicles and the power grid presents opportunities and challenges for rechargeable battery research and development.

Presenter: Yi Cui


Paint-on solar cells poster

Paint-on solar cells poster

Solar power is a clean and renewable source of energy, but it has struggled to compete with fossil fuels on cost.

Presenter: Kevin Stone


Gravitational Waves poster

Gravitational Waves: The Sound of Black Holes Colliding

On September 14, 2015, the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) made the first direct measurement of a gravitational wave coming from deep space.

Presenter: Brian Lantz


Dark Matter poster

Dark Matter: Detecting Gravity's Hidden Hand

Dark matter is one of the most mysterious components of the universe.

Presenter: Tom Shutt


Viewing the beginning of time poster

Viewing the Beginning of Time from the Most Remote Places on Earth

Shortly after the birth of the universe, space was filled by a plasma that was literally red-hot.

Presenter: Zeeshan Ahmed


Catalysis poster

Catalysis: the Hidden Path to Foods, Fuels and Our Future

The high standard of living we enjoy today is made possible by catalysts ­– behind-the-scenes agents that promote chemical reactions in the vast majority of industrial processes, including production of fertilizers, gasoline and other essential products.

Presenter: Simon Bare