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The Cosmology of Now and Then Through the First Light

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This partly historical, partly current talk of the CMBolic path will be of then, then of now, and then of future then. Then was big bang nucleosynthesis, before and after the cosmic microwave background discovery. Then is the emergence of what is now the standard model of cosmology, in theory, and in experiment out of an era of: large scale structure surveys and CMB upper limits; the nearly perfect black body of COBE and UBC ’s COBRA ; the COBE /FIRS/SP91 etal first detections of anisotropy; the heterogeneous glimpse of a degree-scale up followed by a down beyond in a host of mid-nineties experiments, hinting at the long-sought acoustic mountain range in the CMB structure. All the while the beautifully intimate coupling of theory and experiment was guiding us to a nineties concordance of the eighties inflation-motivated xCDM paradigm, of cold dark matter and x-energy; and the constriction of the possible x into the x of dark energy.

In the nearby now is the CMB precision era, combining Boomerang, the Cosmic Background Imager, ACBAR , and many more high resolution experiments, with the low resolution COBE , revealing in full glory the damped acoustic peak structure and emerging CMB polarization. And WMA P1yr,3yr,5yr confirming and refining the weighty conclusions of dark energy dominating dark matter dominating ordinary matter. In the nearby then is a host of other CMB experiments, including ACT , SPT, Planck, and Spider, to fuel our cosmic parameter game with data to go beyond mass-energy contents and broad-brush inflation/acceleration histories, to the subdominant mysteries that lie in the trajectories of fields then – in the early universe – and now – the nearly present epoch.

This talk is part of the Institute of Astronomy Colloquia series.

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