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Colloquium: Quantum Gravity in the Sky? Inflation and String Theory after BICEP2

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Liam McAllister, Cornell University
When
01 May 2014 from 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM
Where
117 Osmond Laboratory
Contact Name
Contact Phone
814-863-9595
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The BICEP2 collaboration has recently reported a detection
of primordial B-mode polarization in the CMB.  If this result is
confirmed, it is a discovery of extraordinary significance: the most straightforward interpretation is that the B-modes are the imprint of
quantum fluctuations of the gravitational field during a period of
inflation at energy densities of order the GUT scale.  I will explain
the implications of this finding for inflationary cosmology,
emphasizing that the BICEP2 detection makes a theory of quantum
gravity compulsory for the study of the very early universe.  I will
then describe the uses of string theory in the interpretation of cosmological
observations.

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