Lecture / Reading

What Do We Know About The Big Bang?

Sponsored by Stanford Institute for Theoretical Physics


Friday, March 3, 2017
7:30 pm – 9:00 pm
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Hewlett 200

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John Carlstrom will give the plenary lecture at the New Horizons in Inflationary Cosmology Templeton Conference organized by the Stanford Institute for Theoretical Physics.


Our understanding of the origin, evolution and make-up of the Universe has undergone dramatic and surprising advances over the last decades.  Much of the progress has been driven by measurements of the fossil light from the big bang, called the cosmic microwave background radiation, which provides us with a glimpse of the Universe as it was 14 billion years ago.  This talk will discuss what we know about the Big Bang and how we learned it.  We will also talk about the new questions we are asking about the origin of the Universe and the experiments being pursued to answer them, peering back to the beginning of time.

John Carlstrom

Professor Carlstrom is the Subramanyan Chandrasekhar Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago, and the director of the South Pole Telescope.  He has worked extensively in the study of the cosmic microwave background, including leading the Degree Angular Scale Interferometer at the South Pole.  The SPT has made precise measurements of the CMB that led to the discovery of hundreds of clusters of galaxies going back to when the universe was about one-third its present age.  The SPT measurements provide independent verification that the universe consists of approximately 25 percent dark matter, 70 percent dark energy, and 5 percent atoms; and strong evidence that the structure in the CMB is a remnant of quantum fluctuations.

He received a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship in 1998, the Magellanic Premium Medal of the American Philosophical Society in 2005, and the Beatrice M. Tinsley Prize of the American Astronomical Society in 2006, among many other honors.  He has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 2000, a member of the National Academy of Sciences since 2002.