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Ripples from the Big Bang: the beginning of time

Ripples from the Big Bang: understanding the beginning of time

The University of Auckland is live-streaming an event from the World Science Festival in New York where leading cosmologists are gathering to discuss the latest development in the quest to understand how the universe was formed.

The University of Auckland is live-streaming an event from the World Science Festival in New York where leading cosmologists are gathering to discuss the latest development in the quest to understand how the universe was formed.

Professor Richard Easther, Head of the Department of Physics, will host the live-stream Auckland event where Harvard University’s Professor John Kovac will discuss recent claims of a breakthrough discovery of gravitational waves generated just after the Big Bang.

Following the discussion in New York, Professor Easther will hold a question and answer session.

Along with Associate Professor Kovac, other leading scientists on the panel include Brian Greene and Amber Miller from Columbia University, Alan Guth from MIT, Andrei Linde from Stanford University and Paul Steinhardt from Princeton.

Professor Kovac is one of the leaders of team of scientists that built BICEP2, a dedicated telescope at the South Pole which scans the sky in microwave frequencies, studying the “afterglow” of the Big Bang. Recently, the BICEP2 team announced it had found evidence that the universe was bathed in gravitational waves, ripples im space itself, generated moments after the Big Bang. This claim is proving to be controversional but, if true, it would prove the Big Bang was followed by a phase of ultra-rapid growth known as inflation.

“It’s hard to over-state how big the stakes are for Kovac and his team – they are really asking how the universe began” Professor Easther says.

“If theories of inflation are proved, then this has huge implications for our understanding of both the origin of the universe and fundamental particle physics.”

The World Science Festival produces some of the world’s most exciting programmes that connect the general public with science, says Professor Easther, so it is very exciting for the University of Auckland to be able to partner with them to live-stream this event direct from the Festival.

This Auckland event is open to the public and will be held at the University of Auckland’s Fisher and Paykel Auditorium at the Owen G Glenn Business School at 5 Grafton Rd from 12 midday. Refreshments are available from the Business School’s Excel café both before and after the event.

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