Ethan Siegel: Starts With A Bang 4/16/13

What Makes Up The Universe?

Website: Starts With A Bang

We normally think of the Universe as being made up of the same things our Solar System is made up of: proton, neutrons, electrons and light. But when we look out at the Universe on the largest scales, it tells us a different story. In this talk, I'll talk about three key observations in the study of the large-scale Universe -- distant supernovae, the Cosmic Microwave Background, and the clustering of galaxies -- to show how we arrived at a Universe where the normal matter that makes up everything we know is less that 5% of what's out there. Dark matter and dark energy also play a heavy role in our Universe, and a discussion of that will ensue.

Ethan was born in New York City as the son of a Jewish postal worker. He did his undergrad at Northwestern, taught public school in Houston, Texas and Los Angeles, California, before moving to Florida, where he got his PhD in theoretical astrophysics at the University of Florida. After that, he moved to Madison, Wisconsin, where he taught at the University of Wisconsin, ate too much cheese, and also met his life partner, Jamie. After working in astrophysics research at the University of Arizona and starting the world-renowned science blog, Starts With A Bang, he moved from the hellish desert to rain-soaked Portland in 2008. Since then, he's been a professor at the University of Portland and Lewis & Clark College, grown a nationally renowned beard and mustache, got invited to join a circus and probably drank more beer than a healthy person should. He currently works as the science and health editor at Trapit over at the Eastbank Commerce Center, and can't wait to tell you a little bit more about the Universe.

These are pictures of the fluctuations in the cosmic microwave background (observed), a picture of the large-scale galactic web in our Universe (simulated), and a picture of a portion of humanity's largest-scale galaxy survey ever, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.