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Public Outreach

Cosmic Furnaces and the Origin of the Elements


Professor Christian Iliadis

Department of Physics and Astronomy
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


Humans consist mainly of oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and calcium. But where exactly were these elements created? And where did all the other elements come from? The story of element synthesis involves the work of 12 Nobel laureates and will take us from astronomical objects (stars) to unimaginably small particles (atomic nuclei), from nuclear fusion to neutrinos to the weird world of quantum mechanics. During the presentation I will hand out a prize to the person in the audience who can tell me what physics effect is crucial for all three phenomena shown below.


Christian Iliadis is a Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA, and a nuclear astrophysicist at the Triangle Universities Nuclear Laboratory, USA. He was born in Germany and received his diploma in physics from the University of Muenster. He then moved to the United States, where he worked on his PhD thesis at the University of Notre Dame. After a 3-year postdoctoral fellowship at TRIUMF in Vancouver, Canada's largest nuclear physics facility, he accepted a faculty position at the University of North Carolina. He is a full professor since 2006 and the author of the textbook "Nuclear Physics of Stars".