With a hot topic of artificial intelligence for starters, Middle Tennessee State University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy ushers in its spring 2024 Star Party series this week with the first of four events being held this semester on campus.
Professor John Wallin will be presenting “Artificial Intelligence in Astronomy” starting at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 2, in Wiser-Patten Science Hall Room 102. Free parking can be found behind Wiser-Patten and other nearby lots.
All Star Parties are free and open to the public. The format is a 30- to 45-minute lecture followed by a telescope viewing at the nearby MTSU Observatory, weather permitting.
Typically held on the first Friday of the month during the semester, the Physics and Astronomy Friday Star Parties feature an assortment of interesting astronomy and physics topics from veteran faculty members.
“I will not only discuss the transformative impact of artificial intelligence, or AI, in deciphering the night sky, but also provide an introductory overview of how AI functions and its current capabilities,” Wallin said.
“We will explore how AI, through its sophisticated algorithms and learning capabilities, is revolutionizing the field of astronomy,” Wallin added. “From the classification of galaxies to the detection of anomalies in massive data sets, AI has become an essential element in astronomy.
“With the recent advancements in large language models, we are on the cusp of witnessing AI not only analyze but also connect this data with existing astronomical literature to formulate novel hypotheses. This could lead to a paradigm shift in our study of the universe.”
A language model is a machine learning model that aims to predict and generate plausible language.
The remaining Friday Star Party schedule:
• March 1 — The 2024 Total Solar Eclipse, presented by professor Chuck Higgins.
• April 5 — Shoot the Moon (with a laser), presented by lecturer Greggory McPherson.
• May 3 — Topic to be announced, presented by instructor Irina Perevalova.
— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)