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A PARTICLE PHYSICIST’S STROLL THROUGH THE EARLY UNIVERSE

Professor Heribert Weigert, Department of Physics, University of Cape Town

Modern physics has made many discoveries far outside the realm of everyday experience. Aided by mathematics we have formulated new concepts to understand and test their implications, and probed the sub-microscopic world of atoms, nuclei and eventually sub-atomic elementary particles to establish the Standard Model of Elementary Particle Physics. In parallel we learned about the macroscopic structure of our Universe, its large scale features, its expansion throughout its cosmological history and its tentative origin in the Big Bang, where elementary particle physics and cosmology meet. The early Universe is not accessible by astronomical means, but its features can be tested in collider experiments such as the LHC at CERN. Yet, deep puzzles remain: cosmological evidence for dark energy and dark matter appears irrefutable but their nature remains unexplained by our most profound theories. This course will discuss how current scientific efforts contest, confirm and refine these ideas.

 

LECTURE TITLES

  1. Beginning to understand the Universe: sub-microscopic and macroscopic structures
  2. Current scientific discoveries and ideas about the Universe

 

Recommended reading

Steven Weinberg. 1977. The first three minutes:  a modern view of the origin of the universe. Bantam Books (Several edition by          various publishers)

Brian Greene. 2007.The fabric of the cosmos: space time and the texture of reality. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

 

 

Date: Thursday 16–Friday 17 January
Time: 1.00 pm
COURSE FEES: Full R236 Staff & Students R118
Venue: LT2 Kramer Law Building, UCT