Cosmic Microwave Background: Observational Tests of Theories of the Early Universe

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About Mathematics and Physical Sciences

Mathematics and Physical Sciences lectures are open to the public and are held at the Gerald D. Fischbach Auditorium at the Simons Foundation headquarters in New York City. Tea is served prior to each lecture.

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We live in a remarkable era. We can directly see what our universe was like 13.8 billion years ago. We use observations to test some of our wildest imaginings about how our universe began. Eiichiro Komatsu will summarize the current observational results and the state of affairs on theories of the early universe.

In this lecture, Komatsu will describe the ‘cosmic microwave background,’ the light remnants of the Big Bang. With this light, we can directly see the physical state of the universe when it was very young. Detailed analyses of this light show a remarkable fact: All the cosmic structures, including galaxies, stars, planets and ourselves, originate from small quantum mechanical fluctuations present in the early universe. Such extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and Komatsu and his group believe they have such evidence. He will describe the physics of the cosmic microwave background, discuss observational results and explain what they mean for our understanding of how the universe began.

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About the Speaker

Eiichiro Komatsu uses theoretical physics and experimental data to study the origin, evolution and constituents of our universe. He received his Ph.D. from Tohoku University in Japan in 2001. After being a postdoctoral researcher at Princeton University and spending nine years at the University of Texas as faculty, he moved to the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Germany in 2012 to serve as a director. He has received numerous awards, including the American Astronomical Society’s Lancelot Berkeley Prize in 2013.

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