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  7:30 pm, Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Fairmont Lounge, St. John's College

Taking the Measure of the Universe

Gary Hinshaw

University of British Columbia

The cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation is the oldest light in the universe - it is literally the remnant heat left over from the Big Bang. This fossil relic has survived largely intact and it provides us with a unique probe of conditions in the early universe, long before any stars or galaxies had formed. NASA has now flown two satellites devoted to studying the CMB: "COBE" and "WMAP". In this lecture I will describe what we have learned from these missions including: evidence for the Big Bang itself; new measurements of the age, shape, and content of the universe; and new evidence that all structure in the universe emerged from microscopic quantum fluctuations in the primordial soup.

Additional resources for this talk: slides, video.

Movies from the talk: Homogeneous Expansion, A journey: Out in Space, Back in Time, Gravitational Growth of Structure, Fingerprint of the Universe, Geometry of the Universe.