Gravity's role in the story of our universe by Dr Katy Clough

29 Sep 2020 - 6:45pm to 8:00pm
Online public lecture
Zoom webinar
General public (Age 14+)

The IOP and Oxford University are pleased to present Gravity's Role in the Story of our Universe by Dr Katy Clough.

The event will be an online webinar held via the Zoom platform. Please register here and the joining link will be sent shortly before the talk.

Einstein's strange and beautiful theory of general relativity has provided many a plot line in science fiction with its time-warping effects around black holes. But gravity also plays a major role in the story of our universe as a whole, not least in the question of how the universe “began”. Gravity tells us how to rewind the universe to its beginning, but when we do, we seem to find more questions than we answer. Can gravity really tell us where we came from, and might this give us a clue as to where we are going?

In this talk I will start by introducing you to Einstein’s theory of general relativity, and explain why it is fundamental to understanding how our universe changes over time. I will then discuss the problems we find when we naively follow this theory to its logical conclusion (or rather, since we travel back in time, to its logical beginning). This will lead us to our goal - a discussion of recent developments in using computational simulations of gravity to inform our search for answers in early universe cosmology.

Spoiler alert! This is a story with no satisfactory ending – yet! But I hope nevertheless to provide a compelling narrative on the ways in which scientists are attempting to push back the boundaries of what is known using gravity.

image credit:NASA/Planck collaboration

About the speaker

Katy is a Postdoctoral Research Assistant in Theoretical Cosmology and Gravitational Physics in the Beecroft Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology at University of Oxford. Her work involves computational simulations of strong gravity environments in the early Universe and around black holes, as a way of understanding the origins of the universe and the nature of dark matter.

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