Robert P. Kirshner

Robert P. Kirshner

Clowes Professor of Science, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Harvard University, Cambridge, USA

BREAKING THE WALL OF COSMIC ACCELERATION. How Supernova Explosions Trace the History of the Universe

The universe is stranger than we imagined: it is 1/4 dark matter that we do not understand and 2/3 dark energy about which we know even less. Robert Kirshner, a world-leading astronomer mentored a generation of successful cosmologists of the Nobel-winning “High-Z Supernova Search Team” that helped revolutionize our knowledge about the expansion of the universe. By observing exploding supernovae halfway across the universe and up to 9 billion years back in time, Kirshner and his team showed that the universe is accelerating as it expands. Cosmologists attribute this to a pervasive “dark energy” – possibly the same thing as Einstein's Cosmological Constant from 1917, which he later regarded as a great blunder. Robert Kirshner, the author of “The Extravagant Universe—Exploding Stars, Dark Energy, and the Accelerating Cosmos,” will show the evidence for cosmic acceleration, outline what we know and don’t know about dark energy, and suggest some ways to find out more about this deep cosmic mystery. Kirshner is positive about this goal: “We’re not smarter than Einstein or Hubble, but we have much better data!”