NASHVILLE, Tenn. ñ In the 1990’s some pundits were saying that all the important scientific discoveries have been made. Since then, however, astronomers have discovered that more than 95 percent of the universe is filled with stuff about which we know next to nothing.
In a free public lecture titled "The Dark Side of the Universe: Beyond stars and the starstuff we are made of," the eminent cosmologist Michael S. Turner will bring the audience up to date on what scientists do know about the mysterious force that has been dubbed "dark energy," which appears to make up more than 70 percent of the universe. Dark energy is a kind of negative gravity that appears to be pushing the universe apart at an ever faster rate, leading to an ultimate fate that has been dubbed "The Big Chill."
Turner is this year’s guest speaker in the Slack lecture series sponsored by the Department of Physics and Astronomy. The public lecture is scheduled on Thursday, Sept. 25, at 4 p.m. on the Vanderbilt campus in Stevenson Center, Room 4327. On Friday, Sept. 26, Turner will also give a physics colloquium from 10:10 a.m. to 11 a.m. titled "Dark Energy and the Accelerating Universe: New Physics or the New Aether" to be held in Featheringhill Hall, Room 138.
Turner is a cosmologist whose research focuses on the earliest moments of the universe. He has made important contributions to inflationary universe theory and the understanding of dark matter, which is the other mysterious material in addition to dark energy that makes up much of the cosmos. He is a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at the University of Chicago and senior scientist at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. He has won a number of awards for his research and teaching and has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Most recently, Turner chaired the National Research Council committee that produced a comprehensive report, "Connecting Quarks with the Cosmos: Eleven Science Questions for the New Century," which contributed to the Bush Administration’s science agenda.
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