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Prof. dr. R. van de Weygaert, Kapteyn Institute, Univ. of Groningen, the Netherlands: Nobelprize 2011


17 November 2011 FWN-Building 5111.0080, Nijenborgh 4, 9747 AG, Groningen
Speaker: Prof. dr. Rien van de Weygaert
Affiliation: Kapteyn Institute, Univ. of Groningen, the Netherlands
Title: The Nobel Prize in Physics 2011
Date: 17-11-2011
Start: 16.00 (Doors open and coffee available at 15.30)
Location: FWN-Building 5111.0080
Host: Ronnie Hoekstra


The Nobelprize of Physics 2011 has been awarded to the three researchers responsible for one of the most startling scientific discoveries of the past decades: the finding that the expansion of the Universe is accelerating and its energy content is dominated by a mysterious Dark Energy.

Saul Perlmutter, Brian Schmidt and Adam Riess led the two competing studies -the Supernova Cosmology Project (SCP) and the High-z Supernova Search Team (HZSNS) - which in 1998 arrived at this inescapable conclusion, on the basis of a challenging monitoring campaign involving around 50 Supernovae Ia. These rare and catastrophically exploding stars are violent thermonuclear deflagrations of white dwarf stars, and may reach a brightness comparable to that of an entire galaxy like our own Milky Way. The surprising discoverywas that the observed brightness of the supernovae was significantly less than expected according to the prevailing cosmological view. This could only be understood when the universe billions of years ago was expanding slower than nowadays.

The dynamics and fate of the Universe are dominated by a mysterious medium evoking a gravitational repulsion. Experiments since have established it represents no less than 73% of the energy budget of nature. The repercussions of this discovery are far reaching and represent a historic paradigm shift in our view of the world and the cosmos. It has dramatic ramifications for the ultimate - bleak - fate of the Universe. Moreover, it has possibly profound consequences for our understanding of gravity at energies prevailing at the very first moments of the Big Bang.

The seminar will sketch the background of the Nobelprize winning discovery. Subsequently, it will discuss the accumulating evidence for the reality of dark energy. Some of the exotic suggestions for the nature of dark energy will be mentioend, along with a short overview of large experiments that over the past few years have been define to investigate the nature of dark energy.

Last modified:12 September 2014 11.21 a.m.