The Las Cumbres Observatory Lectures

Event Date: 

Thursday, April 26, 2012 - 7:30pm

Event Location: 

  • Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History
  • Gladwin Planetarium

Event Contact: 


Professor John E. Carlstrom, University of Chicago

 Exploring the Universe from the South Pole

 The study of the origin, evolution and make-up of the universe has made dramatic and surprising advances over the last decades. Much of the progress has been driven by measurements of the cosmic microwave background radiation, the fossil light from the big bang, that provide a direct view of the Universe as it was 14 billion years ago. By studying tiny variations in the background, cosmologists have been able to critically test theories of the origin and evolution of the Universe, as well as determine that ordinary matter (the stuff that makes up stars and humans alike) accounts for a mere 5% of the density of the Universe, that the mysterious dark matter accounts for seven times that amount, and that a still-elusive and poorly understood "dark energy" is required to make up the remaining 70% of the Universe. After reviewing how we have arrived at such startling conclusions, this talk will focus on new measurements being carried out with the 10-m South Pole Telescope to test the inflation theory of the origin of the Universe and to investigate the nature of dark energy.


John E. Carlstrom is the Subramanyan Chandrasekhar Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago and the deputy director of the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics. He received his Ph.D. in physics from the University of California at Berkeley in 1988. Dr. Carlstrom is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences. He has received several awards including a MacArthur Fellowship. His research focuses on cosmology through new measurements of the cosmic microwave background radiation. He leads the South Pole Telescope project that uses a 10-meter precision telescope installed at the NSF Amundsen-Scott South Pole Research Station.