Cosmology & Gravitation

This series consists of talks in the areas of Cosmology, Gravitation and Particle Physics.

Seminar Series Events/Videos

Currently there are no upcoming talks in this series.

 

Tuesday Mar 01, 2011
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I will present analytic solutions to a class of cosmological models described by a canonical scalar field minimally coupled to gravity and experiencing self interactions through a hyperbolic potential. Using models and methods of solution inspired by 2T-physics, I will show how analytic solutions can be obtained including radiation and spacial curvature. Among the analytic solutions, there are many interesting geodesically complete cyclic solutions, both singular and non-singular ones.

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Friday Feb 25, 2011
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Reducing a higher dimensional theory to a 4-dimensional effective theory results in a number of scalar fields describing, for instance, fluctuations of higher dimensional scalar fields (dilaton) or the volume of the compact space (volume modulus). But the fields in the effective theory must be constructed with care: artifacts from the higher dimensions, such as higher dimensional diffeomorphisms and constraint equations, can affect the identification of the degrees of freedom. The effective theory including these effects resembles in many ways cosmological perturbation theory.

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Thursday Feb 24, 2011
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The existence of concentric low variance circles in the CMB sky, generated by black-hole encounters in an aeon preceding our big bang, is a prediction of the Conformal Cyclic Cosmology. Detection of three families of such circles in WMAP data was recently reported by Gurzadyan & Penrose (2010). We reassess the statistical significance of those circles by comparing with Monte Carlo simulations of the CMB sky with realistic modeling of the anisotropic noise in WMAP data.

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Tuesday Feb 22, 2011
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We show that, in a model of modified gravity based on the spectral action functional, there is a nontrivial coupling between cosmic topology and inflation, in the sense that the shape of the possible slow-roll inflation potentials obtained in the model from the nonperturbative form of the spectral action are sensitive not only to the geometry (flat or positively curved) of the universe, but also to the different possible non-simply connected topologies.

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Thursday Feb 17, 2011
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For nearly the past century, the nature of dark matter in the Universe has puzzled astronomers and physicists. During the next decade, experiments will determine if a substantial amount of the dark matter is in the form of non-baryonic, Weakly-Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPs). In this talk I will discuss and interpret modern limits on WIMP dark matter from a variety of complementary methods. I will show that we are just now obtaining sensitivity to probe the parameter space of cosmologically-predicted WIMPs created during the earliest epoch in the Universe.

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Wednesday Feb 16, 2011

The availability of high precision observational data in cosmology means that it is possible to go beyond simple descriptions of cosmic inflation in which the expansion is driven by a single scalar field. One set of models of particular interest involve the Dirac-Born-Infeld (DBI) action, arising in string cosmology, in which the dynamics of the field are affected by a speed limit in a manner akin to special relativity. In this talk, I will introduce a scalar-tensor theory in which the matter component is a field with a DBI action.

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Thursday Feb 03, 2011
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While understanding the evolution of galaxies is one of the major themes of
contemporary astronomy, most empirical studies focus only on the evolution
of distribution functions (e.g., the luminosity function), effectively
treating galaxies in isolation. The new generation of large imaging and

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Tuesday Feb 01, 2011
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I will discuss a powerful way to examine the nature of dark energy using a measurement of the growth of galaxy clusters over cosmic time. A novel technique that uses the Cosmic Microwave Background as a backlight allows the detection of galaxy clusters out to the time of their first formation. Using this technique, I will present the first constraints on cosmological parameters obtained with the Atacama Cosmology Telescope, as well as exciting prospects for the future.

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Monday Jan 31, 2011
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Black holes are associated with a variety of the most extreme and counter-intuitive phenomena in astronomy and physics. However, despite the passage of nearly 40 years since the discovery of the first strong black hole candidate, we have scant evidence that general relativity provides an accurate description of gravity in the immediate vicinity of astrophysical black holes. Over the next few years this will change dramatically.

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Tuesday Jan 25, 2011
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In the picture of eternal inflation, our observable universe resides inside a single bubble nucleated from an inflating false vacuum. Some of the theories giving rise to eternal inflation predict that we have causal access to collisions with other bubble universes, providing an opportunity to confront these theories with observation. In this talk, I will outline progress on the theoretical description of eternal inflation and bubble collisions, and present results from the first search for the effects of bubble collisions in the WMAP 7-year data.

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