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.

 

Friday Dec 04, 2009
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The basic structure of quantum mechanics was delineated in the early days of the theory and has not been modified since. Still it is interesting to ask whether that basic structure can be altered or generalized. In the last decade Bender et al have shown that one of the fundamental assumptions of quantum mechanics, that operators are represented by Hermitian matrices, can to an extent be relaxed. In this theory, the parity (P) and time-reversal (T) operators play a role analogous to the Hermitian conjugate.

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Wednesday Dec 02, 2009
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It is a prime interest to understand gravitational physics and to develop cosmological applications exploiting the next generation of surveys, scheduled to be launched in the near future, such as SDSS3, DES, XCS, JDEM or EUCLID. The future precision surveys are promising to resolve outstanding problems in modern physics. With the level of precision available in future surveys, we can use the high resolution maps expected to be gained from next-generation surveys to test the foundations of gravity and particle physics.

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Tuesday Dec 01, 2009
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Although the observational evidence for cosmological inflation is growing, the physical mechanism behind it is still unknown. In part this is because inflation probably occurred at energy scales many orders of magnitude higher than that at man-made or astrophysical particle accelerators. So how can we learn about inflation? How does it constrain microphysical theory? One approach to answering these questions is primarily theoretical: attempting to embed inflation in fundamental theories of quantum gravity, such as string theory.

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Tuesday Dec 01, 2009
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The problem of the quantum backreaction in expanding spaces is an old, as yet unresolved, question. In this talk I will consider the one-loop backreaction of a massless scalar which couples to the Ricci scalar in an expanding space with constant deceleration. I will show that the infrared divergences, which generically plague the one loop stress energy, can be removed by matching onto an earlier radiation era. An insignificant backreaction occurs, unless the coupling to the Ricci scalar is negative. Similar results hold for the graviton backreaction.

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Friday Nov 27, 2009
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I will discuss the qualitative differences between the single-field and multifield cyclic universes, in particular the resulting global "phoenix" structure and its relation to dark energy. The multifield cyclic universe arises naturally from embedding the cyclic universe in supergravity and leads to distinct observational predictions regarding non-gaussian signatures in the CMB. I will present a simplified derivation of these predictions.

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Tuesday Nov 24, 2009
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Thanks to the ongoing Planck mission, a new window will be opened on the
properties of the primordial density field, the cosmological parameters,
and the physics of reionization. Much of Planck's new leverage on these
quantities will come from temperature measurements at small angular
scales and from polarization measurements. These both depend on the
details of cosmological hydrogen recombination; use of the CMB as a
probe of energies greater than 10^16 GeV compels us to get the ~eV scale
atomic physics right.

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Tuesday Nov 17, 2009
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Two possible explanations for the type SNe Ia supernovae observations are a nonlinear, underdense void embedded in a matter dominated Einstein-de Sitter spacetime or dark energy in the ?CDM model. Both of these alternatives are faced with Copernican fine-tuning problems. A case is made for the void scenario that avoids introducing undetected dark energy.

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Tuesday Nov 03, 2009
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Underlying the standard cosmological model is the assumption that it is possible to coarse-grain the energy density of the Universe, and that the dynamical and optical properies of space-time should be well modelled by the result. However, even if the average coarse-grained geometry does have the same dynamical properties as the fine-grained system it is intended to imitate, there are good reasons to suspect that the optical properties may be different.

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Tuesday Oct 27, 2009
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Weak gravitational lensing is a powerful probe of modifications of General Relativity on cosmological scales, since such modifications can affect both how matter produces gravitational potential wells and how photons move within these wells. I will discuss alternative theories of gravitation and how we may constrain such theories using weak lensing observables, including those that could be obtained with the balloon-borne High Altitude Lensing Observatory (HALO).

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