Viewing the Birth of the Universe from the Bottom of the World
University of Minnesota
Thursday, October 30, 2014
Bell Museum Auditorium
At one time the origin and fate of the Universe in which we find ourselves was the subject of speculation by mystics and philosophers. Now it is a hard, data-driven science—although some mysteries remain!
Professor Clem Pryke will guide you through the current state of knowledge, from the discovery of cosmic expansion to dark matter and dark energy. Then journey back in cosmic time to the first instant of the Big Bang and learn about the recent evidence for gravitational waves coming from the BICEP2 radio telescope located at the South Pole.
About the Speaker
Clem Pryke is an experimental cosmologist and educator. His research currently centers on the cosmic microwave background (CMB)—the after glow from early times when the Universe was a smooth hot plasma. By studying the CMB we can learn much about the origin, contents, and ultimate fate of the Universe — CMB studies are at the center of the current "golden age" of cosmology.
Pryke has played a leading role in the construction and operation of a series of CMB telescopes at the South Pole in Antarctica, and in the analysis of the data they produced. He was a key member of the DASI team which produced the first detection of the polarization of the CMB. More recently, he co-led the QUaD experiment — another ground breaking CMB polarimeter. Currently he is co-leading the BICEP2 and Keck-Array experiments, which take sensitivity to the next level in the quest to detect gravity waves spawned by inflation in the first instant after the Big Bang. Pryke is also a member of the SZA and SPT collaborations which are using the CMB as a "backlight" to study the evolution of massive clusters of galaxies and learn about the mysterious dark energy which appears to pervade empty space.