Virginia L. Trimble

Professor, Physics & Astronomy
School of Physical Sciences

PH.D., California Institute of Technology, 1968

M.S., California Institute of Technology, 1965

B.A., UCLA, 1964

M.A., University of Cambridge, UK, 1969

Phone: (949) 824-6948
Fax: (949) 824-2174

University of California, Irvine
4156 Frederick Reines Hall
Mail Code: 4575
Irvine, CA 92697

picture of Virginia L. Trimble

Studies of the historical development of our understanding of the early universe, stellar structure, and other topics
Science arguably has three themes what do we know about the universe, how do we know it, and why are things the way they are. Conventional research generally addresses the first (for instance thee discovery that white dwarfs do not support X-ray emitting coronae in quite the way expected). History of science addresses the second. Projects recently completed about which there is more to be learned or currently underway include (1) discovery of the famous cosmic microwave background many times before the official discovery, and the earliest recognition of backgrounds at other wavelengths, (2) the extent to which major astronomical discoveries have always been made with the largest telescopes then in existence, though they may seem small to us, (3) to what extent can the contributions of one scientist (not in the world-famous class of Einstein or Newton) affect the development of a whole community, and (4) what was known about the origins and abundances of the chemical elements before the iconic papers of 1957, whose anniversary is being celebrated at several meetings this year.

Why things are the way they are includes both fundamental theories, and the study of how scientists interact with each other and with the facilities available to them. Careful consideration of these points can help to guide more fruitful use of available, and always limited, funding. A project currently in progress in collaboration with several students investigates how much each of several hundred astronomical telescopes currently contributes to the published research literature and how much influence those publications have on later work. The patterns are interestingly different in round based optical, radio, and space astronomy.
Publications Productivity and Impact of Astronomical Facilities: A Statistical Study of Publications and Citations, V. Trimble & J.A. Ceja, Astronomische Nachrichten (in press 2007).
  Astrophysics in 2006, V. Trimble, M. Aschwanden, & C. Hansen, Space Science Reviews (in press, 2007).
  Applied Binarology: Theoretical Aspects, V. Trimble, in IAU Symp. 250, Ed. W. Hartkopf et al., Cambridge Univ. Press, 472-478, 2007.
  Early Photons from the Early Universe, V. Trimble, in A. Cooray & M. Kaplinghat eds. New Astronomy Reviews 50, 844-849, 2007,
  A Chandra Search for Coronal X-Rays From The Cool White Dwarf GD 356, V. Trimble, Astrophysical Journal 657: 1026-1033, March 2007.
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Last updated 10/16/2007