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Mysteries Of The Universe – With Guest Dr. Katherine Freese (Part 2)

February 6, 2014
Mysteries Of The Universe Podcast
Microphone Image Credit: Dr. Cloud / Shutterstock

John P. Millis, PhD for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online

The scientific community is in general agreement that the Universe as we know it experienced an event, some 14.5 billion years ago, that we call the Big Bang. However, there are some consequences of this theory that reveal more questions than answers.

What are dark matter and dark energy? Why is the Universe so smooth? And, for that matter, how do we even know we are on the right track? To explore these questions, and their possible solutions, I am joined once again by Dr. Katherine Freese, Professor of Theoretical Physics at the University of Michigan.

And be sure to tune in next time for the conclusion of this series, where Dr. Freese and I discuss the coming revolutions in cosmology, and what possible discoveries are on the horizon.

Biography

Dr. Freese is the George E. Uhlenbeck Professor of Physics at the University of Michigan, and the Associate Director of the Michigan Center for Theoretical Physics. She works on a wide range of topics in theoretical cosmology and astroparticle physics. She has been working to identify the dark matter and dark energy that permeate the universe as well as to build a successful model for the early universe immediately after the Big Bang. She has shown that most of the mass in galaxies does not consist of ordinary stellar material, and has proposed ways to look for alternatives such as supersymmetric particles. Currently there is a great deal of excitement about possible detections of these particles. Recently she has proposed Dark Stars as the first stars to form in the Universe.

Professor Freese has also been working on inflation, an early expansion phase which led to our inhabitable universe. Her Natural Inflation model is the theoretically best-motivated variant of inflation; it uses axionic particles to provide the required flat potentials to drive the expansion. In 2013, observations made by the European Space Agency’s Planck Satellite show that the framework of natural inflation matches the data. Freese also studies cosmology of extra



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