Michael S. Turner

The University of Chicago


Election Year: 1997
Primary Section: 13, Physics
Secondary Section: 12, Astronomy
Membership Type: Member

Research Interests

My research focuses on the application of modern ideas in elementary-particle theory to cosmology and astrophysics. I believe that this approach holds the key to answering the most pressing questions in cosmology. For example, there is reason to believe that the ubiquitous dark matter that holds the Universe together is elementary particles left over from the earliest moments, that the primeval inhomogeneity in the distribution of matter, which was revealed by COBE and which seeded all the structure in the Universe seen today, arose from quantum-mechanical fluctuations occurring during a very early burst of expansion called inflation, and that the existence of ordinary matter resulted from particle interactions in the early Universe that make the proton unstable and do not respect the symmetry between matter and antimatter. By testing these ideas with cosmological data, outer space becomes a window to the earliest moments of creation and to the unification of the forces and particles of Nature. Over the next decade, the search for particle dark matter, the mapping of the distribution of matter in the Universe a few hundred thousand years after the beginning through precision measurements of the cosmic microwave background radiation, and the mapping of structure in the present Universe by determining the positions of millions of galaxies should definitively test these bold ideas.

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