Perimeter Institute brings great thinkers from around the world to Canada to share their ideas on a wide variety of interesting and topical subjects. These lectures and debates are aimed at non-specialists. No mathematical or scientific knowledge is necessary or assumed. Each event is explicitly tailored for the general public and everyone is welcome to attend.
There is now a great deal of evidence confirming the existence of a very hot and dense early stage of the universe. Much of this data comes from a detailed study of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) - radiation from the early universe that was most recently measured by NASA\'s WMAP satellite. But the information presents new puzzles for scientists. One of the most blatant examples is an apparent paradox related to the second law of thermodynamics. Although some have argued that the hypothesis of inflationary cosmology solves some of the puzzles, profound issues remain.
At the beginning of the 20th century Einstein published three revolutionary ideas that changed forever how we view Nature. At the beginning of the 21st century Einstein\'s thinking is shaping one of the key scientific and technological wonders of contemporary life: atomic clocks, the best timekeepers ever made. Such super-accurate clocks are essential to industry, commerce, and science; they are the heart of the Global Positioning System (GPS), which guides cars, airplanes, and hikers to their destinations.
The evidence that the universe emerged 14 billion years ago from an event called \'the big bang\' is overwhelming. Yet the cause of this event remains deeply mysterious. In the conventional picture, the \'initial singularity\' is unexplained. It is simply assumed that the universe somehow sprang into existence full of \'inflationary\' energy, blowing up the universe into the large, smooth state we observe today. While this picture is in excellent agreement with current observations, it is both contrived and incomplete, leading us to suspect that it is not the final word.
In the \'second space age\', human spaceflight is no longer the domain of governments. Dream-chasing entrepreneurs and clever engineers are aggressively blazing new trails into the heavens and preparing the world for an era of space tourism, ultra fast point-to-point earth travel and even orbiting hotels.
Do ideas about information and reality inspire fruitful new approaches to the hardest problems of modern physics? What can we learn about the paradoxes of quantum mechanics, the beginning of the universe and our understanding of black holes by thinking about the very essence of information? The answers to these questions are surprising and enlightening, but also controversial. The topic of information within physics has involved some of the 20th century\'s greatest scientists in long-running intellectual battles that continue to the present day.
Many experts are convinced that large scale, practical implementations of quantum information systems hold great promise for society, much as the laser and the transistor have already revolutionized the world. This stems from a long history of research that included an intense, raging battle of epic proportions between scientific giants. In tracing these steps, you will learn why Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr argued over the nature of entangled states where pairs of sub-atomic particles are strangely correlated from 1935 until their very deaths.
Sixty-five million years ago dinosaurs ruled the warm Cretaceous Earth. Without warning, this world was swept away forever by the impact of an asteroid about 15 km in diameter, leaving a huge scar now called the Chicxulub crater in Yucatan, Mexico. This catastrophe set the stage for the ascendance of our own biological group, the mammals. Although the fact of this impact is now established beyond doubt, the precise means by which an impact could wipe out such a large fraction of the Earth\'s inhabitants is not fully understood.