Fermilab AAAS/AAPT

AAPT Session: Frontiers in Space Science and Astronomy

Saturday, Feb.14, 10:00AM - 12:00PM


The Cosmic Microwave Background: Cosmic Rosetta Stone

Speaker:Michael Turner, Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics and University of Chicago


The Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) provides a very clear view of the universe at a simpler time, the time before stars, galaxies and other structures. By studying the tiny variations (parts in a million) in the CMB intensity across the sky which were discovered by NASA's COBE satellite, we can learn about how the universe began, what it is made of, its vital statistics (age, shape, speed of expansion, etc.) and even clues about its destiny. I will review what WMAP and ground-based CMB experiments have already revealed about the universe, as well as discussing the exciting future ahead with ESA's Planck mission and plans for even bolder experiments in the future.

PLANCK: Looking Back Toward the Dawn of Time

Speaker:George Smoot, University of California, Berkeley


Planck, the third-generation satellite after COBE and WMAP to measure the 2.726-Kelvin Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), is scheduled to launch in early 2009. Placed in orbit around the Sun-Earth L2 point at a distance of 1.5 million km from Earth, Planck will measure the fluctuations of the CMB, as well as its polarization, with unprecedented sensitivity, angular resolution, and frequency coverage. This will lead to a dramatic reduction in the uncertainties of fundamental cosmological parameters, such as the total mass-energy content of the Universe, baryonic and dark matter densities, and distance to the surface of last scattering, and set constraints on fundamental physics at energies greater than 10^15 GeV. Planck will also produce a wealth of information on the properties of extragalactic sources, as well as dust and gas in our own galaxy. In this talk we will describe the instrumentation, orbit, expected outcomes and progress of Planck.

Current Status of the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope

Speaker:Daniel Suson, Purdue University Calumet


The Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope (formerly GLAST) was launched on June 11, 2008. After a very successful instrument check-out period, the telescope entered its science observation mode. This talk will provide an overview of the LAT and discuss the status and latest results from the telescope.

Our Miserable Future

Speaker:Lawrence Krauss, Arizona State University


In this talk, I will ruminate on the future of the universe itself, and also on the future of life within it, using as my starting point recent observations in cosmology. I will first discuss why the universe we appear to inhabit is the worst of all possible universes, as far as considerations of the quality and quantity of life is concerned. I will then address several fascinating questions that have arisen as a result of our discovery that the dominant energy of the universe resides in empty space.


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