Discovering Alien Worlds

CHICAGO–Rocky Kolb and Jacob Bean “ Discovering Alien Worlds”  at the Science of the Second City

Cosmologist Rocky Kolb is a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at the University of Chicago, and former director of the particle astrophysics center at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. Though he has joked that the quickest way to a peaceful plane ride is to let a seatmate know what he does for a living, Dr. Kolb likes to bring understanding of science and the Cosmos to the public through outreach and education.

“The Universe doesn’t belong to my 100 colleagues who call themselves cosmologists. It belongs to everyone, and it is their right to understand it.”

Kolb’s interest in science began in childhood, and his fascination with particle physics grew, to include everything from atoms and sub-nuclei to the farthest reaches of the cosmos.

With the University of Chicago, Kolb is leading the Chicago effort on the Giant Magellan Telescope in Chile, which will be able to produce images of objects 100 times fainter than the Hubble Space Telescope can detect. The Giant Magellan Telescope, expected to be completed by 2020, will allow scientists to explore the secrets of dark energy and dark matter, and will be capable of searching for planets around stars other than the Sun.

“It will be the biggest look back in time, and let us see the first stars in the Universe,”  Kolb said.

Dr. Kolb will be bringing his trademark wit and vast knowledge of the cosmos to Chicago Council on Science and Technology’s (C2ST) Science in the Second City, an annual fundraising gala held June 14 at the Adler Planetarium.

Kolb will be joined by fellow University of Chicago professor Jacob Bean, and the two will discuss exoplanets, or planets outside of the solar system. Some exoplanets appear to be Earth-like, capable of supporting life.

Kolb, an ardent supporter of C2ST, hopes to see science stay in the public’s mind, and on the national agenda. He has served on advisory committees and task forces for agencies including NASA, the National Science Foundation and Department of Energy.

“We should pay some attention to keeping up with the rest of the World in science—not just keeping up with the Kardashians,”  Kolb said.

Please join Chicago Council on Science and Technology at Science in the Second City on Thursday, June 14 at the Adler Planetarium and Astrology Museum; from 6:30 to 10 p.m. Tickets for the event start at $250. For more information visit

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