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Public Lecture—The Dark Universe Through Einstein's Lens

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Published on Jul 29, 2013

Lecture Date: Tuesday, July 23rd. Debbie Bard, a staff scientist at SLAC and a member of the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology, delivered the July 23 SLAC Public Lecture, "The Dark Universe Through Einstein's Lens."

Bard's talk explains the phenomenon known as gravitational lensing and how astrophysicists use it to explore the 95 percent of the universe that remains unseen: dark matter and dark energy.

One of the most surprising predictions made by Einstein's theory of relativity is that light doesn't travel through the universe in a straight line. The gravitational field of massive objects will deflect the path of light traveling past, giving some very dramatic effects. We see multiple images of quasars, galaxies smeared into arcs and circles and magnified images of the most distant objects in the universe. This explains how gravitational lensing was first observed and discusses how scientists use this phenomenon to study everything from exoplanets to dark matter to the structure of the universe and the mysterious dark energy.

Bard began her career at SLAC as a particle physicist and has since graduated to studying galaxy clusters -- moving from exploring the most minuscule bits of matter in the universe to the largest structures known. Currently she's developing new ways to mine data from the future Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) for information. Discovering how to push gravitational lensing to its limits is one promising focus of her research. Lecturer: Debbie Bard, SLAC/Kavli

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