This series consists of talks in the areas of Cosmology, Gravitation and Particle Physics.
The existence of concentric low variance circles in the CMB sky, generated by black-hole encounters in an aeon preceding our big bang, is a prediction of the Conformal Cyclic Cosmology. Detection of three families of such circles in WMAP data was recently reported by Gurzadyan & Penrose (2010). We reassess the statistical significance of those circles by comparing with Monte Carlo simulations of the CMB sky with realistic modeling of the anisotropic noise in WMAP data.
We show that, in a model of modified gravity based on the spectral action functional, there is a nontrivial coupling between cosmic topology and inflation, in the sense that the shape of the possible slow-roll inflation potentials obtained in the model from the nonperturbative form of the spectral action are sensitive not only to the geometry (flat or positively curved) of the universe, but also to the different possible non-simply connected topologies.
For nearly the past century, the nature of dark matter in the Universe has puzzled astronomers and physicists. During the next decade, experiments will determine if a substantial amount of the dark matter is in the form of non-baryonic, Weakly-Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPs). In this talk I will discuss and interpret modern limits on WIMP dark matter from a variety of complementary methods. I will show that we are just now obtaining sensitivity to probe the parameter space of cosmologically-predicted WIMPs created during the earliest epoch in the Universe.
The availability of high precision observational data in cosmology means that it is possible to go beyond simple descriptions of cosmic inflation in which the expansion is driven by a single scalar field. One set of models of particular interest involve the Dirac-Born-Infeld (DBI) action, arising in string cosmology, in which the dynamics of the field are affected by a speed limit in a manner akin to special relativity. In this talk, I will introduce a scalar-tensor theory in which the matter component is a field with a DBI action.
While understanding the evolution of galaxies is one of the major themes of
contemporary astronomy, most empirical studies focus only on the evolution
of distribution functions (e.g., the luminosity function), effectively
treating galaxies in isolation. The new generation of large imaging and
I will discuss a powerful way to examine the nature of dark energy using a measurement of the growth of galaxy clusters over cosmic time. A novel technique that uses the Cosmic Microwave Background as a backlight allows the detection of galaxy clusters out to the time of their first formation. Using this technique, I will present the first constraints on cosmological parameters obtained with the Atacama Cosmology Telescope, as well as exciting prospects for the future.
Black holes are associated with a variety of the most extreme and counter-intuitive phenomena in astronomy and physics. However, despite the passage of nearly 40 years since the discovery of the first strong black hole candidate, we have scant evidence that general relativity provides an accurate description of gravity in the immediate vicinity of astrophysical black holes. Over the next few years this will change dramatically.
In the picture of eternal inflation, our observable universe resides inside a single bubble nucleated from an inflating false vacuum. Some of the theories giving rise to eternal inflation predict that we have causal access to collisions with other bubble universes, providing an opportunity to confront these theories with observation. In this talk, I will outline progress on the theoretical description of eternal inflation and bubble collisions, and present results from the first search for the effects of bubble collisions in the WMAP 7-year data.
Theories with extra dimensions naturally give rise to a large landscape of vacua stabilized by flux. I will show that the fastest decay is a giant leap to a wildly distant minimum, in which many different fluxes discharge at once. Indeed, the fastest decay is frequently the giantest leap of all, where all the fluxes discharge at once, which destabilizes the extra dimensions and begets a bubble of nothing. Finally, I will discuss how these giant leaps are mediated by the nucleation of "monkey branes" that wrap the extra dimensions.
Five decades ago, Aharonov and Bohm illustrated the indispensable role of the vector potential in quantum dynamics by showing (theoretically) that scattering electrons around a solenoid, no matter how thin, would give rise to a non-trivial cross section that had a periodic dependence on the product of charge and total magnetic flux. (This periodic dependence is due to the topological nature of the