The Twisted Universe: the cosmic quest to reveal which end is up


Wednesday, April 20 2016 - 2:00 pm, PDT
Brian Keating
UC San Diego

The cosmic microwave background (CMB) has spectacularly advanced our understanding of the origin, composition, and evolution of our universe. Yet there is still much to glean from this, the oldest light in the universe. Powerful telescopes are plying the skies in a quest to discover new physics. This talk concentrates on measurements by cutting-edge CMB telescopes which offer a glimpse into an exhilarating, and largely unexplored branch of astrophysics: the search for unique signatures in the polarization of the CMB. Professor Keating will explain how the CMB can constrain phenomena such as primordial magnetism, elementary particle masses, and even the origin of the universe itself. Further phenomena, such as tantalizing bounds on parity-violating effects such as cosmic birefringence — the rotation of the polarization plane of cosmic photons — will be discussed. He will describe early attempts to measure cosmic parity violation using distant galaxies as well as state-of the-art measurements made by the POLARBEAR telescope, which he co-leads. He will close by previewing the upcoming Simons Array, an advanced array of three millimeter-wave CMB telescopes in the Atacama Desert of Northern Chile.


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