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Of Cosmology and MP3

Does quantum mechanics determine what we see in the large-scale structure of the universe today? Centauri Dreams admits to finding the notion nonsensical until reading Brian Greene’s fine Fabric of the Cosmos (New York: Knopf, 2004), which explained the connection between the very small and what may exist on the macroscopic scale through the mechanism of cosmic inflation. In any case, it’s a fascinating thought that we may one day understand the earliest moments of the universe by applying quantum principles that might be observable in the large scale structures of the cosmos.

Physicist Raja Guhathakurta (University of California) has a go at issues like these in a presentation called “The Milky Way, Schrodinger’s Cat and You,” which was delivered as the September Keck Astronomy lecture. It’s a sign of the riches available through the digital world that we can now download Dr. Guhathakurta’s lecture through the kind offices of W. M. Keck Observatory in Mauna Kea (HI). Click here for the download, and ponder not only how helpful Keck’s outreach is but how much a note to the Observatory would encourage further efforts along these lines. Well done, Keck!

In addition to the Keck lecture, the latest listening in these parts has been the Feynman Lectures on Physics, available through Audible.com and consisting of audio recorded early in the 1960’s at the California Institute of Technology. For that matter, Centauri Dreams got acquainted with Greene’s Fabric of the Cosmos on audio from the same source, a reminder that the resources available for self-education have never been more numerous. We need to encourage other institutions to distribute class lectures, conference proceedings and other quality material in easily downloadable format.

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  • ljk December 11, 2007, 11:23

    The Future of Cosmology

    Authors: George Efstathiou

    (Submitted on 10 Dec 2007)

    Abstract: This article is the written version of the closing talk presented at the conference `A Century of Cosmology’ held at San Servolo, Italy, in August 2007. I focus on the prospects of constraining fundamental physics from cosmological observations, using the search for gravitational waves from inflation and constraints on the equation of state of dark energy as topical examples. I argue that it is important to strike a balance between the importance of a scientific discovery against the likelihood of making the discovery in the first place. Astronomers should be wary of embarking on large observational projects with narrow and speculative scientific goals. We should maintain a diverse range of research programmes as we move into a second century of cosmology. If we do so, discoveries that will reshape fundamental physics will surely come.

    Comments: To appear in the proceedings of `A Century of Cosmology’, S. Servolo, August 2007, to be published in Il Nuovo Cimento,

    Subjects: Astrophysics (astro-ph)

    Cite as: arXiv:0712.1513v1 [astro-ph]

    Submission history

    From: George Efstathiou P [view email]

    [v1] Mon, 10 Dec 2007 15:44:21 GMT (65kb)