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Noted cosmologist Michael Turner to speak on origin of universe

Michael Turner, chairman of the astronomy and astrophysics department at the University of Chicago, will discuss the latest advances in scientists' understanding of the origin and evolution of the universe in a public lecture Thursday, April 25, at New Mexico State University.

Michael Turner will deliver the 2002 Gardiner Memorial Lecture at New Mexico State University April 25.

Turner's presentation -- "How Did the Universe Begin?" -- is scheduled for 6 p.m. in the Physical Science Laboratory's main auditorium. The PSL building is located on Stewart Street, between Espina Street and Sweet Avenue on the main campus in Las Cruces.

Spurred by technological advances, surprising discoveries and bold ideas, the science of cosmology is experiencing what Turner and many others in the field consider a Golden Age. Scientists can now trace the universe from a fraction of a second after the "big bang," when it was a soup of quarks and other particles, through its expansion and the evolution of large-scale structures such as galaxy clusters.

"Still, cosmologists are not satisfied," Turner wrote in a recent essay. "We want to understand more. We aspire to trace our universe back to the subatomic quantum fluctuations that seeded the galaxies, clusters of galaxies and even larger structures. We want to understand the nature of the mysterious dark matter that holds the universe together and the dark energy that is making it speed up."

Sponsored by the departments of physics and astronomy, the presentation is the university's 2002 Gardiner Memorial Lecture. The lecture series is named for George W. Gardiner, who developed the university's physics department and who founded the Physical Science Laboratory in 1946.

The event is open to the public at no charge. Turner's presentation will be appropriate for a general audience, including high school students and even younger students with a strong interest in science.

Following the presentation, audience members are invited to share refreshments with the speaker.

Turner's research focuses on the application of modern ideas in elementary particle theory to cosmology and astrophysics. He believes the approach holds the key to answering the most pressing questions in cosmology, including the nature of dark matter and dark energy and the lack of symmetry between matter and antimatter.

He is one of the leading scientists working on the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, which is using a unique telescope at Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico to create a detailed map of much of the universe. New Mexico State University's astronomy department also participates in the Sloan project, and operates the observatory.

Photo is available at http://ucommphoto.nmsu.edu/newsphoto/turner_michael.jpg.
CUTLINE: Michael Turner will deliver the 2002 Gardiner Memorial Lecture at New Mexico State University April 25.

Karl Hill
April 8, 2002