BICEP2: A cold telescope's view of the infant Universe
The BICEP2 and Keck array are telescopes designed to probe the first moments in time after the Big Bang. In this talk, I will outline the theory of Inflation, which many scientists believe explains the current and past expansion history of the Universe. If the theory of inflation is true, it explains expansion, and also where all of the matter and structure in our Universe comes from. It also predicts a cosmological gravitational wave signature that should be observable. I will describe how we built a set of unique telescopes to go after this smoking gun signature. These telescopes were largely assembled in southern California at Caltech and JPL. I will highlight novel technology developments that were required to detect such a faint signature. I will also explain how and why we build these these telescopes in the inhospitable geographic South Pole.
I received my undergraduate degrees in physics and astronomy at University of Wisconsin, Madison. My PhD from Case Western Reserve University. I did my PhD on the South Pole Telescope, and I spent the 10 month winter season at the South Pole running that telescope. My thesis project resulted in the first ever discovery of distant galaxy clusters using predicted distortions in the Cosmic Microwave Background. For the last 5 years I have been a postdoc at Caltech studying inflation and the Cosmic Microwave Background.
"What's Up?" in this month will be presented by Steve Condrey