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The Quantum and the Cosmos

Abstract

Long before the emergence of planets, stars, or galaxies, the universe consisted of an exploding quantum soup of “elementary” particles. Encoded in this formless, shapeless soup were seeds of cosmic structure, which over billions of years grew into the beautiful and complex universe we observe today. The lecture will explore the connection between the “inner space” of the quantum and the “outer space” of the cosmos. The inner space/outer space connection may hold the key to the nature of the dark matter holding together our galaxy and the mysterious dark energy pulling apart our universe. Edward W. Kolb (known to most as Rocky) is a founding head of the NASA/Fermilab Astrophysics Group at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and a Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at The University of Chicago. Presently he is the Director of the Particle Astrophysics Center at Fermilab. A native of New Orleans, he received his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Texas. Postdoctoral research was performed at the California Institute of Technology and Los Alamos National Laboratory where he was the J. Robert Oppenheimer Research Fellow. He has served on editorial boards of several international scientific journals as well as Astronomy magazine. In addition to over 200 scientific papers, he is a co-author of The Early Universe, the standard textbook on particle physics and cosmology. His book for the general event, Blind Watchers of the Sky, received the 1996 Emme Award of the American Aeronautical Society. Rocky teaches cosmology to non-science majors at the University of Chicago and is involved with pre-college education enrichment programs. He has traveled the world, if not yet the Universe, giving scientific and event lectures. He has appeared in several television productions, and can also be seen in the OMNIMAX/IMAX film The Cosmic Voyage. His distinctions include: Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Fellow of the American Physical Society, recipient of the 2003 Oersted Medal of the American Association of Physics Teachers, winner of the 1993 Quantrell Prize for teaching excellence at the University of Chicago, Harlow Shapley Visiting Lecturer and Centennial Lecturer with the American Astronomical Society. He has also presented event lectures at the Royal Society of London, and in Rio de Janeiro, Valencia, and Barcelona. cosmos, quantum, cosmology, universe, galaxies collide, Barnes, Hibbard, Newton, Einstein, relativity, space, time, origin of the universe, dark energy, expansion history, vacuum quantum, Vera Rubin, invisible universe, dark matter, quantum universe, Higgs potential, Big Bang Theory, Hubble, WIMPS, cosmic background radiation