Probing the Origin and Fate of the Universe
How old is the universe? How did it begin and how will it end? Dr. Gary Hinshaw, Canada Research Chair in Observational Cosmology, seeks to answer these and other profound questions as he studies the physical universe and our place in it.
We had only rough answers to those questions a few decades ago. Now, thanks to precise data from an array of high-technology instruments, we presently understand the age of the universe to be 13.75 billion years. We know its contents are dominated by dark matter and dark energy. To the best of our knowledge, the universe is infinite and will continue expanding forever at an ever-faster rate.
Hinshaw is now using radio telescopes to address two outstanding enigmas in cosmology: Did cosmic inflation really occur? And what is the nature of the dark energy that dominates the universe?
Cosmic inflation purports that an extremely rapid, exponential expansion of the universe took place in a tremendous burst of growth powered by vacuum energy. Although current evidence for inflation is only circumstantial, new observations could change that. Dark energy is arguably the biggest enigma in physics today, and the only way to measure it is to observe its effect on the cosmos as a whole, since its effects near Earth are nearly imperceptible.
Hinshaw’s research will shed new light on the origin and fate of our entire cosmos.