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Events on Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Chaos & Complex Systems Seminar
"Emotional Communication in Primates: Music to Their Ears?"
Time: 12:05 pm
Place: 4274 Chamberlin Hall
Speaker: Chuck Snowdon, UW-Madison, Dept. of Psychology
Abstract: Vocal communication in nonhuman animals is thought to communicate the emotional state of the caller and provide information about the caller's behavior. An alternative view is that animal signals induce emotional states in listeners. In support of this alternative are the prosodic features of speech that humans use to communicate with infants ("parentese") or their animals ("doggeral"). Building on this idea, my collaborator, David Teie, a musician and composer and I have hypothesized that music evolved from emotional communication and is a powerful means to communicate emotions. We have hypothesized several acoustic features that are emotional universals and have tested these using music-naive cotton-top tamarins. Since tamarins communicate with higher pitch and faster tempo than humans, we also hypothesized that they would be indifferent to human based music, but would instead respond emotionally to music composed at their frequency range and tempo. Tamarins did show appropriate emotional responses to music composed for them by David Teie and were generally unresponsive to human music. The results have several implications: emotional aspects of music may have a long evolutionary history, animal vocalizations may serve to induce emotional contagion in listeners and, although musical aspects of emotions follow universal principles they actual music tested must be appropriate to the vocal range and tempo of the species tested.

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Astronomy Colloquium
Whitford Lecture
Bringing our Galaxy's Supermassive Black Hole and Environs into Focus with Laser Guide Star Adaptive Optics
Time: 3:30 pm
Place: 3425 Sterling Hall
Speaker: Andrea Ghez, UCLA
Abstract: The proximity of our Galaxy's center presents a unique opportunity to study a galactic nucleus with orders of magnitude higher spatial resolution than can be brought to bear on any other galaxy. After more than a decade of astrometry from diffraction-limited speckle imaging on large ground-based telescopes, the case for a supermassive black hole at the Galactic center has gone from a possibility to a certainty, thanks to measurements of individual stellar orbits. The advent of adaptive optics technology has significantly expanded the scientific reach of our high-spatial-resolution infrared studies of the Galactic center. In this talk, I will present the results of several new adaptive optics studies on (1) our current understanding of the galaxy's central gravitational potential, (2) the puzzling problem of how young stars form in the immediate vicinity of the central black hole, (3) the surprising, apparent absence of the predicted central stellar cusp around the central supermassive black hole (an essential input into models for the growth of nuclear black holes), and (4) how future large ground-based telescope may allow these studies to test general relativity and cosmological models.
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