December 1, 2005
Vol. 25 No. 6

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    Panelists to take cosmic adventures to public

    By Steve Koppes
    News Office

    The field pioneered by the late David Schramm—in which particle physics and cosmology are bridged by the big bang—is illustrated in this NASA image.

    The late David Schramm led the field of particle astrophysics as a Chicago professor.

    “New Views of the Universe: Extra Dimensions, Dark Energy and Cosmic Adventures,” is the title of a panel discussion that will begin at 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 12, at the Harris Theater in Chicago’s Millennium Park, 205 E. Randolph.

    The Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics and the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics at the University are jointly sponsoring the free, public event with the Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum, and the Illinois Humanities Council.

    Five scientists, who are participating in “New Views of the Universe,” the inaugural symposium of the Kavli Institute, will serve as panelists for the public discussion. Moderating the panel will be Ira Flatow, the host of National Public Radio’s “Talk of the Nation: Science Friday,” a weekly science, technology and environment news program.

    Recent discoveries in cosmology have revealed a universe in which ordinary matter, the stuff of which humans, stars and galaxies are made, accounts for less than 5 percent of the universe’s total mass and energy.

    The vast majority of the universe, meanwhile, is made of a mysterious component astronomers call “dark energy.” This vague name reflects the fact that scientists simply do not know what it is. They only know that it acts in opposition to gravity, accelerating the expansion of the universe. The 1998 discovery that the expansion of the universe is accelerating was a surprise, since astronomers had expected to find that its expansion, driven by the big bang, was slowing down under the force of gravity.

    Discussing these findings, and also speculating about what future discoveries might bring regarding cosmic destiny, the existence of extra dimensions and multiverses (multiple or parallel universes), will be Wendy Freedman, director of the Carnegie Observatories; cosmological theorist Rocky Kolb, Professor in Astronomy & Astrophysics and the College; Lawrence Krauss, a cosmologist at Case Western Reserve University; Lisa Randall, a particle theorist at Harvard University; and cosmologist and assistant director of the National Science Foundation Michael Turner, the Bruce V. and Diana M. Rauner Distinguished Service Professor in Astronomy & Astrophysics and the College.

    For more information about the Monday, Dec. 12, event, see http://newviews.uchicago.edu/public/, or call (773) 702-4338.