Studying the Beginning of the Universe from the Bottom of the World

Clem Pryke
University of Minnesota
Thursday, May 18, 2017
3:30 pm
RH 101


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.

Kevork Abazajian