Challenges to the Standard Paradigm: Fundamental Physics and Cosmology
Organized by Marc Davis and Paul Steinhardt
November 1-3, 2002
The purpose of the Colloquium is to focus on the challenges to the standard paradigms of cosmology and fundamental physics as regards the origin, evolution, composition and interactions in the universe. A combination of developments in theory and experiment are forcing us to reconsider these paradigms. The discovery of cosmic acceleration and dark energy has a revolutionary impact on our understanding of the composition of the universe and its future history. Improved observations of structure formation have brought into question the standard assumption that dark matter consists of weakly interacting particles. String theory and M-theory have suggested a new structure to space-time that may have profound implications for the origin and evolution of the universe. In cosmology, especially, critical observational results are anticipated by Spring 2002 that may provide compelling evidence for one or more of the proposed ideas or perhaps may point to radical ideas not yet anticipated. These experiments include CMBR anisotropy studies, results from ongoing redshift surveys of the nearby and distant universe, continued work on distant supernovae, and progress in weak lensing constraints. In fundamental physics, recent advances in superstring theory have stimulated speculations about extra-dimensions, the structure of space-time, and the nature of matter that must necessarily connect to our understanding of the evolution of the Universe.