Nobel Laureate Adam Riess to discuss mystery of dark energy

ATTENTION: Reporters covering science

WHAT: Nobel Laureate and former University of California, Berkeley, post-doc Adam G. Riess will give a free public talk at UC Berkeley about groundbreaking research on the expansion of the universe and its implications for dark energy.

Riess shared the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics with Saul Perlmutter of UC Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Brian Schmidt of Australian National University, for the discovery that the expansion of the universe is speeding up.

The lecture, “Supernovae Reveal an Accelerating Universe,” is the Raymond & Beverly Sackler Distinguished Lecture in Astronomy.

WHO: Adam G. Riess, professor of physics and astronomy at The Johns Hopkins University and senior staff member at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Md.

WHEN: 5:00 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 3

WHERE: Sibley Auditorium, Bechtel Engineering Center, UC Berkeley (see map)

DETAILS: As the 2012 Nobel Prize season approaches – the announcements begin Oct. 8 – one of last year’s winners of the physics prize will return to his alma mater to discuss his ongoing research on why the expansion of the universe is accelerating. In 1998, while a post-doctoral fellow with UC Berkeley astronomer Alex Filippenko, Riess was a member of the High-z Supernova Team and led an analysis of light from distant supernovae to measure the expansion of the universe.

Riess and the High-z team, which was directed by Schmidt and included Filippenko, nearly simultaneously announced with Perlmutter’s Supernova Cosmology Project the surprising result that the expansion is speeding up. Instead of slowing to a halt and collapsing, the universe apparently will expand until it is cold and dark, fueled by a mysterious “dark energy.”

Subsequently, Riess led the Hubble Higher-z Team to use the Hubble Space Telescope to find even more distant supernovae. This team detected an earlier epoch when the universe was slowing down, before dark energy began to dominate and made the expansion speed up.

Riess will describe this Nobel Prize-winning research and why understanding the nature of dark energy presents one of the greatest remaining challenges in astrophysics and cosmology.