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Special Seminar: Exploring Fundamental Physics through Measurements of the Cosmic Microwave Background

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Bradford Benson, University of Chicago
When
31 January 2014 from 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Where
320 Whitmore Laboratory
Contact Name
Contact Phone
814-863-9595
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The cosmic microwave background (CMB) provides a unique window into the early universe and cosmology.  The CMB is generated by well-understood dynamics, only ~400,000 years after the Big Bang, that enables precise calculation of its observable features and which directly connects new measurements to fundamental physics.  I will discuss the latest measurements of the CMB by the South Pole Telescope (SPT), including the first detection of a curl-only component (B-modes) in the polarization of the CMB by SPTpol. I will describe the instrumentation and detector technology in development for next-generation experiments, including SPT's next camera, SPT-3G, and a future ground-based CMB experiment, CMB-S4.  The science goals of these experiments aim to answer some of the most exciting questions in cosmology: to differentiate between dark energy and modified gravity to explain the origin of cosmic acceleration, to test and constrain physics at grand-unified theory energy scales (~1e16 GeV), to measure the sum of the neutrino masses at a sensitivity below the minimum mass expected from neutrino oscillations (<0.06 eV), and to precisely constrain the relativistic energy density of the universe and any "dark radiation" component.

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