Astrophysicist Michael Turner speaks April 16 on what came 'Before the Big Bang'

UCSC's 12th Annual Halliday Lecture in Astronomy will explore questions about how the universe came to be

michael turner
Michael Turner

Eminent cosmologist Michael Turner will discuss the origins of the universe in a free public lecture on Monday, April 16, at 7 p.m. Turner's talk, "Before the Big Bang," will take place at the Rio Theater, 1205 Soquel Avenue, in Santa Cruz. The event is free and open to the public, but online registration is advised to reserve seats.

The big bang theory is a highly successful cosmological model that has enabled scientists to trace the history of the universe back to within a fraction of a second of the big bang itself. What gave rise to the big bang is a question that, only a few years ago, was beyond the realm of science. Today, however, there are several scientific theories about the events that preceded the big bang. In his talk, Turner will discuss three of these theories, which illustrate the richness of the question and the current state of scientific understanding of the universe.

Turner is a theoretical astrophysicist and the Bruce V. and Diana M. Rauner Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago. He is also director of the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics at Chicago, which he helped to establish. Turner was elected to the presidential line of the American Physical Society in 2010 and will serve as its president in 2013.

Turner helped to pioneer the interdisciplinary field of particle astrophysics and cosmology. He led a National Academy of Sciences study called "Quarks to the Cosmos," which laid out the strategic vision for the field. His scholarly contributions include predicting cosmic acceleration and coining the term dark energy, showing how quantum fluctuations evolved into the seed perturbations for galaxies during cosmic inflation, and several key ideas that led to the cold dark matter theory of structure formation.

Turner's honors include the Warner Prize of the American Astronomical Society, the Lilienfeld Prize of the American Physical Society, the Klopsted Award of the American Association of Physics Teachers, the Heineman Prize (with Edward Kolb) of the AAS and American Institute of Physics, and the 2011 Darwin Lecture of the Royal Astronomical Society.

This lecture is presented as a part of the Halliday Lecture Series, which promotes public awareness and appreciation for astronomy. This year's lecture has been generously sponsored by Steve Mandel and Carol Foote.

Guests who register for this event will be given priority in line. Walk-in seats will be available until the theater is full. For more information or for disability-related needs, please call (831) 459-3581.