Stephen Wilkins is currently a senior lecturer and public engagement fellow at the University of Sussex. Prior to Sussex Stephen was a researcher at the University of Oxford and before that completed his PhD at the University of Cambridge. His research focusses on understanding the formation of the first stars and galaxies to form in the Universe. To do so he uses a combination of observations from the Hubble Space Telescope combined with super-computer simulations. Stephen is also actively involved in public engagement activities focused both on his research, and in particular the upcoming Webb Telescope, and STEM more generally.
Talk: The Origin of the Periodic Table
In this talk, coinciding with the UNESCO International Year of the Periodic Table, Steven will discuss the origin of the elements making up the periodic table. Almost all the known elements have an astrophysical origin ranging from the big bang, exploding white dwarfs, the collapse of massive stars, and the merger of ultra-compact objects, neutron stars. This latter mechanism is responsible for many of the heaviest and rarest elements including gold, silver, and uranium, and was only recently observationally confirmed through observations of a merger event first identified from gravitational waves.