Prof. Martin Rees - Real and Counterfactual Universes
23 May 2016
In his recent UCL Maths and Physical Sciences Colloquium, Prof. Martin Rees (Lord Rees of Ludlow) delivered a commanding history of our universe. In keeping with the title of his talk - Real and Counterfactual Universes - Prof. Rees described the hierarchal structure of our own universe.
Starting with our own solar system, he built outwards to the structure of galaxies, and their clustering into groups. He illuminated his exposition with captivating images drawn from the latest astronomical observations. The central message, however, was one of hard science: how modern cosmology provides a unified understanding of the evolution of the universe's structure (over immense distances) throughout its history, from a fraction of a second after the big bang, to the present day. He emphasised not only the progress, but also the significant challenges that remain, not least of which is to discover what the universe is actually made of, as the nature of dark matter and dark energy have yet to be revealed.
Indeed, he set this as the great central challenge to the young researchers in the audience. Prof. Rees rounded off his talk with what he cautioned was a more speculative discourse on the notion that our universe - the structure of which relies on the tuning of the values of less than a handful of fundamental physical constants - may be just one of an infinite number of such system forming a multiverse. If true, Prof. Rees argued that we may be standing at the dawn of the fourth Copernican revolution.
- Prof Des McMorrow