Theoretical Astronomy

Geology before Pluto: Pre-encounter considerations

The cameras of New Horizons will provide robust data sets that should be imminently amenable to geological analysis of the Pluto system’s landscapes. I will give with a brief discussion of the planned observations by the New Horizons cameras that will bear most directly on geological interpretability.

The Higgs Boson and the Fate of the Universe

the collider detector at FermilabAbstract: The discovery of the Higgs boson at the CERN Large Hadron Collider poses new challenges to our understanding of basic quantum physics. Unless other new physics intervenes, we appear to live in a universe that is slightly unstable and will eventually decay catastrophically. Supersymmetry can stabilize the vacuum, but so far searches for superpartner particles at the LHC have come up empty.

Inflationary Cosmology with BICEPs

 BICEP South PoleHow did the universe begin ? This is one of the deepest mysteries in science. I will describe the BICEP program, a series of South Pole-based experiments aiming to answer this question by studying the polarization of cosmic microwave background radiation.

Are you living in a simulation?

virtual lake landscapeAbstract: Philosophers have long considered the possibility that we live in an artificial or simulated reality. Dr. Beane will give a short overview of some of the simulation arguments/scenarios that he personally finds most compelling.

Terrestrial planet atmospheres in the aftermath of giant impacts

planetoid impacting early EarthAbstract: The final assembly of terrestrial planets is now universally thought to have occurred through a series of giant impacts, such as Earth's own Moon-forming impact. In the aftermath of one of these collisions the surviving planet is hot, and can remain hot for millions of years. The presence of a dense post-impact atmosphere will affect both the cooling of the planet and our ability to detect it. Dr.

The Quantum Origin of The Universe

GalaxiesIf the whole universe obeys the laws of quantum mechanics then the universe has a quantum state — a wave function of the universe. This state specifies how the universe started at the big bang. It provides quantum probabilities for everything that happened since. A theory of this wave function is a necessary part of any "theory of everything".

The Evolution of the Laws of Physics

time reborn book cover

Prof. Lee Smolin of the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, Canada, author and theoretical physcist, will talk about the evolution of laws in our universe.


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