City Week

The Basis of Everything

"What's the Matter With Matter? How the Universe Lost Its Antimatter and Why It Became So Dark"

4 p.m., Wednesday, March 10

UA Physics and Atmospheric

Sciences Building

1118 E. Fourth St., Room 201


To physicist Elliott Cheu, the origin and composition of the universe are the ultimate unanswered questions.

Since joining the UA Department of Physics in 1996, Cheu has contributed to fundamental discoveries about the makeup of our universe.

"My career up to this point has been spent trying to understand matter in its various stages," said Cheu. "It all ties at some level into how we have come to be, and what is the composition of the universe."

Cheu conducts a lion's share of his research at the European Organization for Nuclear Research Large Hadron Collider, or LHC, the largest and most powerful particle accelerator ever built. The LHC produces beams of protons that travel around a 17-mile underground circuit at close to the speed of light. The two beams collide head-on, producing 600 million collisions per second. The aftermath of the collision simulates some of the conditions that occurred one-trillionth of a second after the big bang.

Cheu studies these collisions to document the existence and behavior of different types of matter. Antimatter, or oppositely charged matter, is also created during reactions like the big bang.

"The big bang was basically a big fluctuation of space and energy that produced everything in our universe," said Cheu. "It produced matter and antimatter equally, but we don't see antimatter in our universe today." Its disappearance remains one of physics' grestest unsolved mysteries.

Cheu said the benefits of studying the composition of the universe are two-fold.

"This is the pursuit of the ultimate understanding of what the universe is and how it came to be. The other aspect is that lots of research ends up developing new technologies at a reasonable price."

Admission to Cheu's talk is free. —W.F.

Worthy Wishes

Ken Olson Foundation Benefit

Noon to 3 p.m., Saturday, March 6

Reid Park Pavilions 18, 19, 20 and 22

22nd Street and Country Club Road


The Ken Olson Foundation is sort of like the Make-A-Wish Foundation, but on a smaller scale, and for adults—and you can help out this worthy organization this weekend.

The foundation grants wishes to adults battling life-threatening illnesses in Tucson. Ben and Bonnie Wichers started the foundation in memory of their son-in-law Ken Olson, who lost his battle with leukemia at the age of 34.

The first wish granted was a limo ride around Tucson. The foundation has also given a laptop, a class ring and money to help pay bills, which is what most patients ask for.

"I never realized people needed money—not just for the medical bills, but they need it for the day-to-day things like the rent or even groceries," Bonnie said.

Just before his diagnosis, Olson briefly met Rudy Ruettiger—the Notre Dame football player portrayed in the film Rudy—at an event for the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation. Toward the end of Olson's fight, Kevin Wichers, Olson's brother-in-law, asked the Ara Parseghian foundation if they would contact Ruettiger on Olson's behalf. Rudy called and talked with Ken, and also sent him an autographed jersey, helmet and special note.

"We were so overwhelmed by all the people who helped Ken that we wanted to do something to help others," Bonnie said.

Ardie Delforge, the patient relation specialist at Arizona Cancer Center, vouches for the Ken Olson Foundation. "Through the foundation's financial assistance, patients ... have been able to take a deep breath and focus on their treatment and healing, rather than on the stress of financial challenges."

The fundraiser includes a silent auction, pizza, live bands and raffles.

Admission to the event is free; all-you-can-eat pizza is $10. —T.D.

Buds and Beauty

"What's Blooming?" wildflower tours

10 a.m., Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, through April 29

Tohono Chul Park

7366 N. Paseo del Norte


To those of you cursing all of the recent rain: Tohono Chul Park is here to remind you about the benefits these storms have had on the desert—specifically, wildflowers.

The park, which will celebrate its 25th anniversary in April, just started its yearly wildflower tours. Jeanie Honn, who has been a docent at the park for eight years, said the tours last about an hour and are guided by docents who are happy to answer any questions.

"All this rain will help not only the annuals like the poppies, the Arizona lupine or the desert bluebell, but also the perennials," she said.

This year, the park added a new garden called Sonoran Seasons. "There are five gardens within it, one for each of the five seasons of the Sonoran Desert," Honn said.

Honn said that although the rain came a little later than they wanted, the spring garden is now in full bloom and ready for visitors.

Two common favorite flowers include the Penstemon parryi—a pink bell-shaped flower loved by hummingbirds—and the Calliandra eriophylla, more commonly called the native fairy duster, which also attracts hummingbirds as well as butterflies.

When planning your visit, keep in mind that it may be better to go sooner rather than later. "The neat thing about it is the wildflowers are only around for so long. But we also have beautiful cactus flowers, palo verdes, acacias and ironwoods, which all look especially lush because of the rain," said Honn.

The tour is free with admission to the park, which is $7 for adults; $5 for seniors; $3 for students and active military; $2 for children 5 to 12; and free for park members and children younger than 5. —T.D.

Love of Low Tones

Arizona Bass Players Festival

Seminars and workshops: Friday-Monday, March 5-8

Public concerts: Saturday and Sunday, March 6 and 7

Concerts at PCC Center for the Arts

2202 W. Anklam Road


After 40 years of playing bass, Patrick Neher is still progressing.

His musical journey has taken him from the Juilliard School of Music in New York City, where he graduated with honors in 1981, to Paris, where he studied under renowned French bassist François Rabbath. He currently has a solo repertory of more than 300 works and six solo recordings.

"I don't know; I guess I have a love for the low tones," he said.

Two decades ago, Neher started up the Arizona Double Bass Symposium while teaching at the UA. After a 10-year hiatus, he started up the Arizona Bass Players to include electric and string players.

"There seemed to be enough interest in the state to make an organization independent of the universities," he said. "The festival is just sort of our annual get-together and celebration of the bass."

Neher said he does not have a preference when it comes to electric or acoustic.

"I play all different kinds of music on both instruments. One is a little shorter, but that's really the only difference."

Neher will be hosting a seminar on bass improvisation and will lead an open jam Sunday night.

"The first thing I do when I am teaching people to improvise is to get them to listen to a particular key," he said. "Basically, I try to get everyone sensitive to what notes are in the key, and then let them explore around the key."

Guest artist David Murray will perform at 7 p.m., Saturday, March 6, and Alexander Jacobsen will perform classics at 4:30 p.m., Sunday, March 7

Admission to concerts is by donation. —W.F.