Compton Lecture series on ‘Constructing the Solar System’ to begin Oct. 6

A series of nine free lectures at the University of Chicago will focus on the history of the solar system — an ancient subject of scientific study, but one that still includes important open questions.

“Constructing the Solar System: A Smashing Success,” is the title of this autumn’s series of Arthur Holly Compton Lectures, sponsored biannually by the University’s Enrico Fermi Institute.

The 76th series of these free public lectures will begin Saturday, Oct. 6 and will be held each Saturday through Dec. 15 (no lectures on Nov. 24, Thanksgiving weekend or Dec. 8). The lectures will be given from 11 a.m. to noon in Room 106 of the Kersten Physics Teaching Center, 5720 S. Ellis Ave.

Compton Lectures are intended to make science accessible to a general audience and to convey the excitement of new discoveries in the physical sciences. Delivering the lectures this autumn will be Thomas Davison, a postdoctoral scholar in geophysical sciences at UChicago. Davison received his doctorate in planetary sciences in 2010, and his master’s degree, with honors, in 2006, both from Imperial College London.

In his Compton Lectures, Davison will discuss the current state of understanding of the formation and evolution of the solar system, with a particular emphasis on the fundamental role of high-velocity impact processes. This diverse subject encompasses elements of physics, chemistry, geology and astronomy. Davison’s discussions will cover the formation of the sun, the building of the planets and the effects of impacts throughout the history of the solar system.

The Compton Lectures are named for Arthur Holly Compton, a former physicist at UChicago who is best known for demonstrating that light has the characteristics of both a wave and a particle. Compton also organized the effort to produce plutonium for the atomic bomb and directed the Metallurgical Laboratory at Chicago, where Fermi and his colleagues produced the first controlled nuclear chain reaction in 1942.

For more information about the lecture series, call (773) 702-7823 or visit