HMC Physics Colloquium

Tuesdays at 16:30 in Shanahan Center for Teaching and Learning, Room B460

Jodi Christiansen (’85)

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

What Every Physicist Should Know About Observational Cosmology

Sept. 24, 2013

Over the past 20 years cosmology has been transformed from a largely theoretical pursuit to a high-precision science with ~1% uncertainties.  The theoretical developments of the last century and the observations that led to the discovery of 95% of the “stuff” of our universe weave a fascinating tale that finally answers the fundamental question of how it all came to be the way it is from about a picosecond after the Big Bang until today.  We now find ourselves at a point where the general features of the universe can be explained with physics principles familiar to undergraduates, including conservation of energy and thermodynamics.  In this talk I will present the physics model of the expanding universe and explain how it connects to important cosmological observations of Type Ia Supernovae, the Cosmic Microwave Background and Baryon Acoustic Oscillations.