Eyewitness the Golden Age of Cosmology

Saturday, February 7, 2004
1 p.m., 2.302 ACES


Dr. Paul Shapiro
Professor of Astronomy
The University of Texas at Austin


We are today witnessing a scientific revolution in our understanding of the Universe at large -- its structure, history, and fate --- fueled by a recent explosion of astronomical discoveries that bear out predictions of theoretical cosmology considered pure speculation only a few years ago. The Big Bang model of the cosmos has been confirmed in detail. Astronomers have mapped the cosmic microwave radiation background, measured an unidentified, relic "dark matter" whose gravitational pull dominated the formation of galaxies and large-scale structure, and determined that an unidentified "dark energy" has caused the expansion of the Universe to accelerate in the last billion years. Astronomers have directly detected the primordial quantum fluctuations that arose within the first 10^(-38) seconds and have observed the galaxies and large-scale structure which emerged billions of years later from those original perturbations. These discoveries have pushed beyond our current understanding of elementary particle physics and the fundamental forces of nature.

Professor Shapiro received an A.B., Summa Cum Laude, in 1974 and a Ph.D. in 1979 from Harvard University, before joining the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton as a postdoctoral fellow. He became a faculty member at The University of Texas at Austin in 1981, where he received the prestigious Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship in Physics, awarded to young physicists under 35 for exceptional promise and ability (1984-1988). In 1988, he was awarded the McDonald Observatory Board of Visitors Astronomy Teaching Excellence Award. Among his many widely recognized contributions are the Galactic Fountain model for the gaseous halos of galaxies like the Milky Way, and pioneering calculations of the theory of cosmological reionization.

The Great Lectures in Astronomy series features distinguished speakers presenting a topic in modern astronomy for interested non-astronomers. The lectures are sponsored by the McDonald Observatory and Department of Astronomy Board of Visitors.

4 February 2004
Astronomy Program · The University of Texas at Austin · Austin, Texas 78712
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