A Symposium on the Nature of Science

Fermilab's Wilson Hall
Saturday, March 18, 2000
8:15 AM to 4:00 PM

WHAT THE UNIVERSE IS MADE OF AND HOW WE KNOW IT

Michael S. Turner

We now have a pretty good idea about what the Universe is made of: 0.5% stars; 5% stuff made of the elements in the periodic table; 30% exotic dark matter; and 65% dark energy, for a grand total equalling the critical density. The exotic dark matter, which is what holds everything together in the Universe (galaxies, the great clusters of galaxies, and so on), is thought to be elementary particles left over from the earliest moments of creation. The dark energy is causing the Universe to speed up, rather than slow down, and we don't have a clue as to what it is! I will discuss the scientific evidence for this accounting as well as plans to figure out which particles comprise the exotic dark and what the dark energy is.

Michael S. Turner
Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics
University of Chicago

Michael S. Turner is the Bruce V. and Diana M. Rauner Distinguished Service Professor and Chair of the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics at The University of Chicago. He also holds appointments in the Department of Physics and Enrico Fermi Institute at Chicago and is member of the scientific staff at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. Turner received his B.S. in Physics from the California Institute of Technology (1971) and his Ph.D. in Physics from Stanford University (1978). His association with The University of Chicago began in 1978 as an Enrico Fermi Fellow and in 1980 he joined the faculty. Turner is a Fellow of the APS and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He has been honored with the Helen B. Warner Prize of the American Astronomical Society, the Julius Edgar Lilienfeld Prize of the American Physical Society, the Halley Lectureship at Oxford University, and the Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching at Chicago. Turner has served on or chaired many advisory committees for the NRC, DoE, NSF and NASA, and since 1984 he has been involved in the governance of the Aspen Center for Physics, serving as President from 1989 to 1993. He currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the Illinois Math and Science Academy. Turner's transparencies were featured in a one-man show at the CfPA Gallery.

Turner is a cosmologist whose research focuses on the earliest moments of the Universe. He has made important contributions to inflationary Universe theory, understanding of dark matter and the origin of structure. Turner and Edward Kolb helped to establish the Theoretical Astrophysics Group at Fermilab and wrote the monograph, The Early Universe. Eleven of Turner's former students and postdocs hold faculty positions at universities in Canada and the US.

 


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