Most of the Universe is dark, held together by dark matter and blown apart by dark energy, which together appear to make up 95% of the constituents of the Universe. If this ‘standard model’ of cosmology is right, dark energy is winning, and the expansion of the Universe is accelerating, heralding a very cold and empty future. The unexpected accelerating Universe may have another explanation, in the form of modifications to Einstein’s original gravity law. The General Theory of Relativity has its famous cosmological constant which also drives acceleration, but other possibilities arise if, for example, the Universe inhabits extra dimensions of space. How would we tell? Small distortions in the images of distant galaxies may hold the clue.
Prof. Alan Heavens is the Director of the Imperial Centre for Inference and Cosmology (ICIC), founded in 2012 in the Physics and Mathematics departments at Imperial College London. After graduating from Cambridge, he moved to the University of Edinburgh, becoming Professor of Theoretical Astrophysics. He has developed novel analysis methods for cosmology, with the aim of extracting as much information as possible. He introduced principled statistical analysis to the study of the distribution of galaxies, initiated the field of optimized methods for studying 3-point statistics of the light from the early universe, and pioneered 3D analysis of the bending of light as it passes through the universe. His optimized statistical analysis methods led to the formation of Blackford Analysis, a spin-out company which specializes in fast and accurate analysis of 3D medical images.
7:00 PM @ Looking glass cocktail club
* Entrance over 18