Bristol Festival of Ideas - Jo Dunkley - Our Universe

Jo Dunkley, leading astrophysicist and award-winning champion of women in STEM, reveals the remarkable history of our universe and its discovery, from the first star catalogues etched into ancient Mesopotamian clay tablets, to the metres-wide telescopes constructed in Chile’s Atacama Desert today.

She tells the remarkable, previously-overlooked stories of pioneering astronomers, such as Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, who proposed a ground-breaking thesis for the composition of stars, Vera Rubin, who found that galaxies were clusteredtogether in space rather than being scattered randomly, and Annie Jump Cannon who classified about 250,000 stars during her lifetime and developed the system of stellar classification still used today.

But extraordinary advances in our understanding of the wider universe have led us to even greater mysteries. What happened in the first moments after the Big Bang? What are the mysterious ‘dark’ parts of the universe? And what happens in those parts of space where conditions are so intense that our laws of physics break down? Dunkley guides us through the history of our universe as we know it, taking us to the heart of these many unsolved questions.

Biography: An internationally renowned academic, Jo Dunkley is a professor of Physics and Astrophyscial Sciences at Princeton University. She was part of the science team for NASA’s WMAP space satellite and now works on the Atacama Cosmology Telescope, the Simons Observatory and the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope. She has been the recipient of many awards, including the Maxwell Medal, the Fowler Prize for Astronomy and the Philip Leverhulme Prize. In 2016 she won the Royal Society’s Rosalind Franklin award for her research in the cosmic microwave background and her innovative project to support and encourage girls studying physics. She is the author of Our Universe. Follow her on Twitter @j_dunkley

Image credit: Suki Dhanda


1 Feb

How Much

£8/ £6 concession


6.30 - 7.30pm

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