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Early Interactions with Vera Rubin

Note from Joel E. Tohline:  Whether she knew it or not, Dr. Vera Rubin was a significant influence on my early astronomy career. What follows are some highlights of my early professional interactions with her.

Whitworth's (1981) Isothermal Free-Energy Surface
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Neighborhood Meeting at Yale University (1979)

Yale Neighborhood Meeting (1979)
For two years, beginning in the summer of 1978, I held a J. Willard Gibbs instructorship in the astronomy department at Yale University. In my first year, I was encouraged — along with another young astronomer, Dr. Carol A. Christian — to organize a so-called Neighborhood Meeting at Yale. The idea was to focus on a topic that would bring together faculty and graduate students from universities and research centers that were "within driving distance" of the Yale campus; this, and limiting the gathering to 1.5 days (just one overnight stay) would keep travel expenses to a minimum. We accepted the challenge. Given that the astrophysics community, worldwide, was presently making significant progress on a number of issues — both observationally and theoretically — related to galaxies, the topic we picked was …
Rotation: The Dynamical Structure of Galaxies
(A Neighborhood Meeting at Yale University)
Dates: 23 - 24 March 1979

Dr. Vera Rubin was the opening speaker. It was an opportunity for the (> 90) attendees to hear and see — first hand from the expert — how significant the evidence was for flat rotation curves. Five speakers followed: Dr. Jerry Ostriker (Princeton), Dr. Alar Toomre (MIT), Dr. Kevin Prendergast (Columbia University), Dr. Paul Schechter (Harvard-Smithsonian CfA), and Dr. Richard Miller (Chicago).

Tohline Visits CIW:DTM (1980)

In early February, 1980, I visited the Carnegie Institution of Washington's Department of Terrestrial Magnetism (CIW:DTM) in Washington, DC to meet and interact with Vera Rubin and her research group. During that visit, I had the opportunity to present an informal talk in which I pitched the idea that flat rotation curves in galaxies might be explained by modifying Newton's law of gravity at large distances. This is the idea that I first presented in a formal manner at the IAU Symposium No. 100 in a paper titled, Stabilizing a Cold Disk with a 1/r Force Law.

IAU Symposium No. 100 (1982)

Rubin's Scientific American Article (1983)

See Also

Whitworth's (1981) Isothermal Free-Energy Surface

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Recommended citation:   Tohline, Joel E. (2021), The Structure, Stability, & Dynamics of Self-Gravitating Fluids, a (MediaWiki-based) publication,

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