Our early Universe, the Big Bang and mysterious ‘dark energy’ was the focus of attention as well over 100 people enjoyed a public lecture recently held at Trinity College Dublin. Those with an interest in cosmology and the origin of everything around us heard how it was that our Universe expanded by 100 trillion, trillion times in the mere blink of an eye.
There have been exciting new insights into the early Universe recently, thanks to two ongoing experiments (BICEP2 and PLANCK) that focus on observing electromagnetic radiation that was emitted soon after the Big Bang occurred.
Studying this radiation, which is the same as light but with longer wavelengths, helps scientists better understand what happened before and during the most significant moment in the history of the Universe. Dr Créidhe O’Sullivan of NUI Maynooth gave the talk, in which she touched on the most important recent cosmological insights.
By looking at different parts of the sky to study the non-uniformity of the radiation, we can learn much about the origin of the universe (for example, we know that 13.8 billion years have passed since the Big Bang).
Related work has also confirmed that a mysterious ‘dark matter’ and an even more mysterious ‘dark energy’ seemed to account for the biggest component of our Universe. These two entities are quite unlike the kind of matter that people, planets and stars are all built from.
Assistant Professor in Pure & Applied Mathematics at Trinity, Dr Tristan McLoughlin, helped to organise the event. He said: “Dr. O’Sullivan’s talk was a real success. She did a terrific job in explaining the background material so that everyone could understand it, and she also gave insights into the most cutting edge developments.”
He added: “It was great to see so many people turn up and really engage with the speaker by asking some excellent questions. It just shows how much interest there is in fundamental science in Ireland.”
The lecture kick-started the Irish Quantum Foundations Conference, also held at Trinity, which featured talks that ranged in focus from the Higgs Boson to string theory and the origins of dark matter.