Stag Public Lecture 2022 | The Universe: A Detective Story


Presented by the Southampton Theory Astrophysics and Gravity Research Centre, University of Southampton

Modern fundamental physics contains ideas just as revolutionary as those of Copernicus or Newton; ideas that may radically change our understanding of the world; ideas such as extra dimensions of space, or the possible existence of other Universes. Testing these concepts requires enormous energies, far higher than what is achievable by the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, and in fact, beyond any conceivable Earth-bound experiments. However, at the Big Bang, the Universe itself performed the ultimate experiment and left clues and evidence about what was behind the origin of the cosmos as we know it, and how it is evolving. And the biggest clue is the afterglow of the Big Bang itself. In the past decade we have been able to answer age-old questions accurately, such as how old the Universe is, what it contains, and its destiny. Along with these answers have also come many exciting new questions. I will unravel the detective story, explaining what we have uncovered, and how we know what we know.

The speaker:
Hiranya Peiris is Professor of Astrophysics at University College London (UCL) and Director of the UCL Cosmoparticle Initiative. She is also currently serving as Director of the Oskar Klein Centre, Stockholm.

After obtaining her undergraduate degree at Cambridge, Professor Peiris completed her PhD at Princeton. She was a Hubble Fellow at Chicago before returning to Cambridge as a Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Halliday Fellow. She was then appointed to a lectureship (2009) and Professorship (2015) at UCL.

Professor Peiris conducts interdisciplinary research based on extracting fundamental physics from cosmological data. She has led analyses of cosmological survey data from multiple major international facilities, as well as making major contributions to theoretical cosmology and statistical astronomy. She is a Fellow of the American Physical Society (2016); her work has been recognised by awards such as the IOP Fred Hoyle Medal and Prize (2018) and the Philip Leverhulme Prize (2009), as well as shares in the Gruber Cosmology Prize (2012) and the Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics (2018). She served as a Vice-President of the Royal Astronomical Society (2016-2018).

The STAG Research Centre brings together world- leading academics from three research groups – Particle Physics, Astrophysics and Gravitation – to explore issues of fundamental physics and astronomy.

Download the event poster

For more information regarding this event, please email STAG-Centre@soton.ac.uk