Talk abstract details

Seeing the Universe: On the Cusp of Technology
Chris Impey


The ongoing quest to understand our place in the universe has accelerated in the past few decades, driven by technological innovation. Cosmology is 2500 years old, not much younger than civilization itself, but for most of the that time we've had an incomplete view of the contents of the universe and very little understanding of its evolution. This talk will present the full sweep of history in cosmology and connect it to the conceptual revolution enabled by large telescopes, the ability to work across the full expanse of the electromagnetic spectrum, the anticipated detection of gravity waves, the use of the universe itself as a telescope, and the awareness that we probably live in a biological universe. The history of ideas will be coupled to advances in technology, and special attention will be given to the transformative projects of the recent past and the near future: the Great Observatories, the Auger array, GMT and OWL, LSST, LIGO, and Darwin and TPF. The ways in which cosmological awareness feeds back into and manifests in the popular culture will also be addressed.