Cosmology Short Course for Planetarium Staff:
Big Bang & Beyond, 21st Century Cosmology
September 23 - 25, 2005
at the University of Chicago & the Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum
Follow-Up Session: October 19 - 22, 2005
at the GLPA Meeting, Grand Rapids, MI
Who Should Attend: Planetarium and museum professionals who develop public programming and exhibits.
Application Deadline: July 1, 2005 (note: rolling admissions policy).
* Course Directors
This three day course will take participants to the frontiers of current cosmological research and provide them with the necessary tools to
bring the excitement of discovery back to their home institutions. By bringing together the researchers
making the discoveries with
planetarium/museum/science center staff, who interact daily with the public, this course will help energize the presentation of cosmology in
informal educational settings. (see Impact)
This intensive course will establish the framework of standard Big-Bang cosmology and provide insights into recent discoveries into its
inner workings. We will follow the evolution of the universe from its earliest moments, about 14 billion years ago when it was a soup of
elementary particles, until the present day when it is a tangled web of filaments consisting of galaxies and clusters of galaxies. The
observational foundations of our understanding of the universe include measurements of the temperature anisotropy in the cosmic
microwave background, the spatial distribution of galaxies and clusters of galaxies, and the expansion history of the universe. On the
theoretical side, we will focus on cosmic acceleration at the two ends of time. We will review the predictions of cosmic inflation,
acceleration during the short moment of time after the Big Bang, and see how to test them with current and future observations.
Recent dramatic but unambiguous evidence suggests that expansion of the universe is currently undergoing acceleration. This acceleration is
driven by the mysterious dark energy that comprises about 70% of the universe. The remaining 30% is, composed mainly of the only
slightly less mysterious dark matter. We will discuss ongoing and upcoming experiments that intend to probe the nature of this mysterious
dark matter and energy.
The time is ripe for making cosmology part of planetarium programming. In the past decade, observations have revolutionized our
understanding of the universe. Public interest is high, and cosmological discoveries are regularly discussed in media.
The course will be taught by some of world's leading cosmologists who have themselves made
contributions to the field. These include:
unprecedented full-sky maps of the cosmic microwave background temperature anisotropy, the elucidation of the physical processes
underlying the temperature anisotropy, the discovery of the cosmic microwave background polarization, the largest galaxy survey to date,
and sophisticated computer simulations of the evolution of structure in the universe. An important component of the course will be to show
visualizations of many of the facets of cosmology discussed and provide these and other tools to the participants for use at their home
The course aims to provide participants with a solid background in the basics of modern cosmology and the latest discoveries, but will
remain focused on helping the participants to bring cosmology to the public. In addition to the lectures, there will be ample time for
discussion and questions. This course will also include a session in which participants from
previous KICP cosmology courses share their
experiences in adopting cosmology into their planetarium programming.