Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory

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Oppenheimer Memorial Lecture - Inflationary Cosmology: Is Our Universe Part of a Multiverse?

Jul 27, 2015 7:30 PM - 9:00 PM
Duane Smith Auditorium, Los Alamos High School
Alan Guth, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Event Description

Guth will deliver the 45th J. Robert Oppenheimer Memorial Lecture.

The J. Robert Oppenheimer Memorial Committee sponsors the annual lecture. A reception follows the talk in Fuller Lodge on Central Avenue is Los Alamos.

According to Guth, inflationary cosmology gives a plausible explanation for many observed features of the universe, including its uniformity, its mass density and the patterns of the ripples that are observed in the cosmic microwave background. Beyond what we can observe, most versions of inflation imply that our universe is not unique, but is part of a possibly infinite multiverse. In the lecture, Guth will describe the workings of inflation, the evidence for inflation and why he believes that the possibility of a multiverse should be taken seriously.

About the speaker

Guth is the Victor F. Weisskopf Professor of Physics and a Margaret MacVicar Faculty Fellow at MIT. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and has been awarded the MIT School of Science Prize for Undergraduate Teaching (1999), the Franklin Medal for Physics of the Franklin Institute (2001), the Dirac Prize of the International Center for Theoretical Physics in Trieste (2002), and was a co-recipient of the Kavli Prize in astrophysics awarded by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters (2012).

Most of his research has centered on the application of theoretical particle physics to the early universe: What can particle physics tell us about the history of the universe, and what can cosmology tell us about the fundamental laws of nature? In 1981, Guth proposed that many features of our universe, including how it came to be so uniform and why it began so close to the critical density, can be explained by a new cosmological model which he called "inflation."

Inflation is a modification of the conventional big bang theory, proposing that the expansion of the universe was propelled by a repulsive gravitational force generated by an exotic form of matter.