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Planck's view of the origin of the universe
The Geological Society
Burlington House
Start Time: 14 Oct 2014 - 13:00
End Time: 14 Oct 2014 - 14:00



Planck's view of the origin of the universe

Dr Hiranya Peiris (UCL)


The observed properties of the primordial fluctuations in the cosmic microwave background (CMB) can provide constraints on physical theories in regimes otherwise inaccessible to experiment. Given the extreme conditions in the early universe, the CMB is our best hope of uncovering fingerprints of the physics operating at very high energy scales, inaccessible to Earth-bound particle accelerators. But what created these primordial inhomogeneities? The Planck satellite has recently dramatically sharpened our view of the early universe and provided a window into the origin of cosmic structure. I will describe how the Planck data promote our understanding of the extreme physics of the very early universe, and what we have yet to learn.


Hiranya Peiris obtained her undergraduate degree in physics from the University of Cambridge, and her Ph.D. in astrophysics from Princeton University. She is currently a Reader in Cosmology at UCL. Previously, she was a Halliday Fellow at the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Cambridge, having been a Hubble Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Chicago prior to that. Her main research interests are in cosmology, the study of the basic characteristics of the universe (its contents, history, evolution, and eventual fate), and she spends much of her time studying the properties of the oldest light we can see in the universe to understand why and how the Big Bang occurred. She is also interested in how galaxies form and evolve, and in determining the structure and properties of our Galaxy, the Milky Way.