In the fifty years since its discovery, the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) has yielded precise information about the form, content and dynamics of the early universe. Recent satellite CMB data cap off a gorgeous series of ground-based and balloon-borne experiments. In fact, those data confirm a surprisingly simple picture of the universe’s basic background cosmology. High angular resolution maps and polarization data are the focus of current and next-generation instruments. I describe what we already know about the universe from the CMB, and lay the ground for future revelations from the CMB, with special emphasis on the Atacama Cosmology Telescope, and its recent data.
Suzanne Staggs received her B.A. in physics from Rice University in 1987 and her Ph.D in physics from Princeton University in 1993. After two years as a Hubble Fellow at the University of Chicago, she joined the faculty at Princeton, where she is currently the Henry deWolf Smyth Professor of Physics. Her research focus is the experimental study of the cosmic microwave background, including precise measurements of its electromagnetic spectrum and thus its blackbody temperature. She is currently the PI of the Atacama Cosmology Telescope (ACT) project, a fellow at the APS, and a member of the joint NSF and DOE Concept Definition Team for the CMB Stage IV project. Her present work focuses on searching for the signature in the CMB polarization of gravity waves from an inflationary epoch in the primordial universe, and in using the CMB to probe the growth of gravitationally-bound structures in the last thirteen billion years. This growth depends on such fundamental quantities as the nature of dark energy and the mass of the neutrino.
Cookies and Coffee at 4:00