Salam Distinguished Lectures 2021 by Prof. David Spergel: Lecture 3: "Determining the Universe’s Initial Conditions”
Starts 29 Jan 2021 16:00
Ends 29 Jan 2021 18:00
Central European Time
David Spergel is the director of the Center for Computational Astrophysics. His research interests range from the search for planets around nearby stars to the shape of the universe.
Since completing his Ph.D. work, he has been interested in using laboratory experiments and astronomical observations to probe the nature of dark matter and look for new physics. Using microwave background observations from the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) and the Atacama Cosmology Telescope, he has measured the age, shape and composition of the universe. His observations have played a significant role in establishing the standard model of cosmology. Spergel is one of the leaders of the Simons Observatory, which will include a planned millimeter-wave telescope that will allow us to take the next step in studying the microwave sky and probing the history of the universe.
Spergel is co-chair of the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope (formerly known as WFIRST) science team. The Roman Telescope will study the nature of dark energy, complete the demographic survey of extrasolar planets, characterize the atmospheres of nearby planets and survey the universe with more than 100 times the field of view of the Hubble Space Telescope.
After 30 years at Princeton, Spergel is now retired and full-time at the Simons Foundation, and Charles Young Professor of Astronomy Emeritus on the Class of 1897 Foundation at Princeton University where he was department chair for nearly a decade. He is associate faculty member in both the department of physics and the department of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Princeton. He has been the mentor of 32 graduate students, 35 postdoctoral fellows and 60 undergraduates, and continues to advise and mentor graduate students at Princeton. Spergel is a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 2007, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2012 and was elected a Legacy Fellow of the American Astronomical Society in 2020. His work has been recognized with the Warner Prize and the Heinemann Prize, the MacArthur Fellowship, Shaw Prize, Gruber Prize, and the Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics.
Abstract for the seminar talk:
Can we go beyond measuring the power spectrum of the cosmic microwave background and recover the universe’s initial conditions? I will begin by describing some of teh observational programs that will give us a more complete picture of the large-scale structure of the universe: the Rubin Observatory, the Euclid Telescope, DESI, the Roman Space Telescope and the Simons Observatory. I will then ask whether we can forward model the universe from initial conditions to match these data sets. This challenging problem will require the use of machine learning techniques to enable rapid forward modeling of the universe. I will describe recent efforts by our group at Flatiron in this area.