University of Minnesota
School of Physics & Astronomy

Physics and Astronomy Colloquium

Thursday, October 12th 2017
3:35 pm:
Speaker: Clem Pryke, University of Minnesota
Subject: Studying the Beginning of the Universe from the Bottom of the World

The theory of Cosmic Inflation postulates that our entire observable universe
was spawned from a quantum fluctuation in an incredibly brief burst of hyper
expansion. Some believe that the evidence for Inflation is already
overwhelming (especially now that the results from the Planck space mission
are in). However, there are determined skeptics, and such extraordinary claims
require extraordinary evidence. Fortunately there is a chance that we can
obtain this! During the exponential inflationary expansion perturbations of
all kinds will have been injected into the fabric of spacetime, including a
background of gravitational waves. It turns out that our best hope to detect
these is to look for their imprint in the polarization pattern of the cosmic
microwave background (CMB). The BICEP/Keck telescopes, located at the South
Pole in Antarctica are currently the world leaders in this endeavor. In this
talk, I will describe the instruments, the results, and the continuing hunt
for inflationary gravitational waves.

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