Episode 49: Enduring Mysteries of the Early Universe, with Mark Halpern

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Feature Guest: Mark Halpern


The early universe is a place of mystery and paradox. But the one thing we are sure of is that to understand our far future we must look to our ancient origins. To help us make some progress today Mark Halpern joins Justin Trottier at The Star Spot.

The two focuse on the 2012 Gruber Cosmology Prize which was awarded to Halpern’s team for work with the NASA Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe which used sound ripples from the earliest moments of creation to come up with key findings:

– determining the universe’s age with better precision than ever before, at 13.8 billion years (while still unresolved is the paradox that quantum mechanics and gravity suggest the universe should live no longer than a single second).

– assigning ratios to the constituents of the universe: ordinary matter, dark matter and dark energy

– studying the overall shape and geometry of the univers

– finding evidence of inflation, a theory that explains additional paradoxes of the early universe

The two then discuss CHIME, a new Canadian mission studying left over ripples from the big bang and evidence of the recent expanstion history of the universe


Current in Space

We’re all worried about meteor collision induced apocalypse scenarios, but now Benjamin reminds us that magnetic storms, coronal mass ejections, and other severe solar activity could also prove catastrophic. And does Saturn’s moon Titan habour the most eerily calm lakes – and lamest surfing conditions – in the solar system? Then Anuj follows up with more on the sun and the special qualities of our star’s much bigger cousins, the yellow hypergiants

About our Guest

Mark Halpern is Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of British Columbia. His focus is experimental cosmology of the early universe, specifically the cosmic microwave background and the history of early galaxy and star formation. He is involved in high redshift research with the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope and BLAST, a submillimeter telescope that  hangs from a high altitude balloon.


University of British Columbia faculty page

Balloon Borne Large Aperture Submillimeter Telescope (BLAST)

Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME)

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One comment on “Episode 49: Enduring Mysteries of the Early Universe, with Mark Halpern

  1. Pingback: Link roundup – BICEP2, the Big Bang, and the Inflation Theory | Science, I Choose You!

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