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  Webfooted Astronomer

February 2002

By George Best

February Meeting

Tom Murphy
Postdoctoral Scholar
University of Washington
Wednesday, February 20
7:30 p.m.

Physics-Astronomy Building
Room A102
University of Washington

Come early at 7 p.m. for coffee and to visit with your fellow members. Bring your slides to show after the program.

THE speaker for our February 20 meeting is Tom Murphy, a postdoctoral scholar in Physics at the University of Washington. Tom will speak about his role in an exciting project to test some of Einstein’s theories about quantum gravity by bouncing laser beams off of the moon.

Tom’s interest in astronomy started when he was 16 and got a 4.5-inch reflector. He soon graduated to a 10 inch f/6 Newtonian. He is still a member of the Barnard Astronomical Society in Chattanooga. He did his undergraduate work at Georgia Tech, where he majored in physics. He got his doctorate at Caltech, where he built instrumentation for Palomar, and also worked with the Keck.

At the University of Washington, he switched gears somewhat to work on an exciting initiative to shoot lasers at the moon for performing a precision test of General Relativity. He works with Chris Stubbs and Eric Adelberger (of the Eöt-Wash Gravity Group) on the project, which is called APOLLO (Apache Point Observatory Lunar Laser-ranging Operation).

The project utilizes the 3.5-meter telescope at Apache Point in southern New Mexico to bounce a laser pulse off the retro-reflector arrays left on the lunar surface by the Apollo astronauts.

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