When science and philosophy meet.

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The conference Philosophy of Cosmology, which will take place from 13th to 16 September in the Abama Resort Hotel, Guía de Isora, in Tenerife, will bring together some sixty experts, mainly from European and North American universitite. The organizers, from the universities of Cambridge, Oxford, Rutgers, and Columbia, are collaborating in an internationa programme on the Philolophy of Cosmology, funded by the John Templeton Foundation. On Sunday afternoon the participants will visit the Teide Observatory in Tenerife.

Questions for Science

Is science enough to explain the origin of the Universe? In the golden age of cosmological research, when for the first time in history our telescopes are giving us information on what occurred just after the Big Bang, the data coexist with theories which even now are impossible to test, and which predict, for example the existence of many dimensions, or even of an infinite number of universes. Can there be science beyond the reach of data? And what can we make of the fact that 95% of everything in the Universe is made of either dark matter of dark energy, of which we know almost nothing? If our perception of the Universe is so incomplete, what is reality? The organizers of the conference "Philoophy of Cosmology" think that when it comes to really understanding the Universe, the cosmologists need teh philosophers.

Among the organizers are academics with prestige, such as the cosmologists Joe Silk (Oxford University) and John Barrow (Cambridge University) who are both authors of books to popularize cosmology. As Silk explained in a recent article "modern cosmology has been spectacularly successful in explaining how the universe is now, ...but this success has led to the situation where attempts to explain its origin pose questions which begin to leave the realm of physics and enter into philosophy.

In the opening lecture, tomorrow (Saturday) morning at 09.00 Rafael Rebolo, the director of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) will explain the status of the Quijote project, designed to detect the polarization in the microwave background radiation, a signal caused by gravitational waves in the Big Bang.

After the announcement in March of the detection of this signal by the BICEP2 telescope in Antartica, and because there is a possiblity that the measured effect may be due to another cause, this area is on e of the most active in present day Cosmology. With a telescope now working at the Teide Observatory, Quijote is competing right now with a number of similar projects at other observatories around the world.

Also participating in the Philosophy of Cosmology conference will be, among others, Carlo Rovelli, the, co-author of the string theory of quantum gravity, Ofer Lahave, codirector of the internation DES project which is studying dark enegy, and Goerge Ellis, a distinguished Soth Aftrican cosmologist who will talk about the limits of science.

The conference includes session about the formation of galaxies and large-scale structure in the universe, about dark matter and dark energy, black holes, multiple universes, the arrow of time, and the fundamental physical constants, among other topics.

Organizers: Joe Silk, Simon Saunders, Khalil Chamcham (Oxford), John Barrow (Cambridge), Barry Loewer (Rutgers), David Albert (Columbia).


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