The solar system formed from a cloud of interstellar gas and dust cloud about 4.6 billion years ago. Life began on earth about 3.5 billion years ago following a period of intense bombardment by asteroid fragments and comets, intense volcanism and finally development of a stable crust and a hospitable atmosphere. Thanks to ever more powerful telescopes and other state-of-the-art observational methods we are now able to directly see "stellar nurseries" and young stars at various stages of formation. In this talk we will learn about what triggers star formation in clouds, circumstellar disks and planet formation within the disks. Finally, we will discuss early life on earth.

Student Lecture Notes

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Speaker Bios

Dr. John Bradley

Dr. John Bradley was born in New Zealand. He came to the US in 1978 and obtained a PhD from Arizona State University in 1982. Prior to joining LLNL as Director of the Institute of geophysics and Planetary Physics he was an Adjunct Professor in the School of materials Science and Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology and partner in a scientific consulting firm in Atlanta. Dr Bradley has spent much of the past 20 years engaged in research funded by NASA on extraterrestrial materials like meteorites and interplanetary particles. He was a scientific advisor to NASA on the Stardust mission that returned to earth in January 2006 carrying the first sample collected from the tail of a comet, and he is currently a member of the science team planning a mission to actually land on a comet, scoop up several hundred grams of ice and dust and return them to earth ~10 years later. The origin of life will be a major focus of this second mission to a comet. John is a Fellow of the Meteoritical Society and a member of the Materials Research Society, American Physical Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Dan Burns

Earth and Space Science and AP Physics Teacher
Los Gatos High School

Dan Burns has been teaching Earth and Space Science and AP Physics at Los Gatos High School since 1992. He is the LGHS science department chair and past president of the Northern California/Nevada American Association of Physics Teachers. He has worked on curriculum development and teacher workshops for the SETI Institute, the USGS, NASA, AAPT, and San Jose State University. He has a BS in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Illinois. Prior to becoming a teacher Dan was a senior research specialist for the Lockheed Missiles and Space Company. Dan is an avid amateur astronomer and astrophotographer and has had several pictures published in astronomy magazines.