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DEPARTMENT COLLOQUIUM | The Dark Universe Challenge: Is Theory up to the Task?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010
4:00 AM
340 West Hall

Speaker: Salman Habib (Los Alamos National Lab)

Driven by the twin mysteries of dark energy and dark matter, cosmological measurements are continuing to improve at impressive rates. Next-generation cosmological surveys aim to exploit structure formation probes of the dynamics of the Universe to reveal the physics of its dominant, yet poorly understood, "dark sector". The associated measurements are threatening to attain accuracies of a percent (or better) on many observable quantities. These advances pose a very difficult challenge for theorists: It is rarely possible to isolate individual processes in cosmology, and, quite aside from fundamental theoretical difficulties, describing many observations requires overcoming serious obstacles posed by multi-scale and multi-physics modeling challenges. Dr. Habib will list some of these hurdles and discuss how they might be overcome. In particular, he will describe our experience in meeting certain challenges for next-generation cosmological surveys, including interesting statistical forays and new simulations on the fastest computers that aim to improve the state of the art by up to three orders of magnitude.