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Events in Physics
Title: An Observationalist Take On Dark Energy: The Return Of The Optimists    (Colloquia)
Start Date: 04/30/2007
Time: 4:30 pm
Location: 1 LeConte
Speaker: Saul Perlmutter
Affiliation: UC Berkeley
Contact Person: Nathan Proctor   (510) 642-3034

I present a springtime antidote to recent doom-and-gloom theoretical prognoses for the fate of life and doubts of future scientific understanding in an accelerating universe.   From the observationalists’ perspective, the exciting new challenge of studying dark energy -- or its alternatives -- has sparked the development of new measurement techniques and analyses, some that are now beginning to give results, and some just now beginning to be attempted.   The expected flood of new, precise cosmological data is precisely what might be expected to trigger a new generation of theoretical ideas and advances.   So, while these are clearly multi-year (some decade-long) efforts, the reports of the “death of science” appear exaggerated.  I will describe recent results and the steps forward for the existing supernova technique (both on the ground and in space with HST and then SNAP), and their combination with the new non-supernova methods, weak lensing and baryon oscillations, that together can make this springtime optimism realistic.