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CfCP Course for Planetarium Staff:

Origin of Structure in the Universe
September 26–28, 2003  &  October 22, 2003
Chicago, IL


An N-body/hydro simulation of galaxy formation at high redshift

This three-day intensive short course explored our current understanding of the cosmos from the perspective of those who are at the forefront of investigating it, and it provided participants with the tools they need to bring the excitement of discovery back to their home institutions.

WMAP image of CMBIn 14 billion years, the universe evolved from a featureless soup to the exquisite complexity that we now observe: galaxies, clusters of galaxies, great walls, voids, and sheets. Only recently have powerful theories, stunning experimental observations, and connections between the smallest and largest scales (quarks to the cosmos) created a framework for understating the evolution of this beautiful universe. This historic time offers compelling reasons to make cosmology part of planetarium programming. 2D slice of the SDSS 3D map of universePublic interest is high and the science is timely, profound, and in the news. Cosmological research also produces tantalizing visualizations, real data sets that can be explored, and dramatic images of complex experimental facilities in exotic locations. All of these images can be used to engage the public. Pedagogically, cosmology encourages inquiry-based learning. This course intends to help introduce cosmology to the planetarium setting by bringing together the researchers making the discoveries with planetarium staff, who interact directly with the public.

One of 1600 future detectors for Auger ObservatoryOur knowledge and understanding of the universe is rapidly advancing. Researchers are making detailed measurements of the cosmic microwave background (CMB), fossilized light from the edge of time. Sky surveys are mapping the observable universe, cataloging hundreds of millions of objects that form the galaxy clusters, superclusters, voids and walls of the universe's large scale structure. Theoretical calculations are extracting the vital statistics of the universe from this data: age, geometry, and composition. They are also able to predict how the universe may have evolved from a uniform quark soup to exquisite structures that we see today. While our understanding is growing at an astounding rate, John Carlstrom, Bruce Winstein DASI map of the detection of the CMB polarization so are the chance for discovery and the need for new physics. Dramatic plot twists and mysteries have been discovered. For example, the majority of the universe is comprised of things that we do not understand (24% exotic dark matter and 72% dark energy), and the universe itself, contrary to expectations, is expanding at an accelerated rate.

Hands-on lab to measure the CMB"Origin of Structure in the Universe" provided participants with a solid background in the fundamentals of current cosmological knowledge. It explored the Hot Big Bang Model and the shape and structure of the universe as we now understand it. Our intent was for participants to come away with a clear sense of what we know about the universe and how we know it, as well as the profound questions we are asking today and the rapid progress being made in answering them.

The course was taught by some of the world's leading experts who have made many of the discoveries that the course explored. Yet the course remained focused on bringing cosmology to the public in a planetarium setting. It consisted of lectures, hands-on laboratory sessions, tours of research facilities, computer laboratory sessions, workshop sessions, and a visit to the Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum.

For: planetarium staff.   Prerequisites: none