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Announcing the 2016 Whidden LecturesAmber Miller Poster

UPDATE: The Whidden Committee regrets to announce that, owing to travel problems, the public lecture by Dr. Amber Miller on ‘Nature’s Ultimate Time Machine: Photographing the Infant Universe’ has had to be postponed from today to tomorrow, Friday 26th February, at 1.30 p.m. in Convocation Hall.  
The timing of her scientific lecture later that day, at 3.30 p.m. in Convocation Hall, is unchanged.


The university is pleased to announce the 2016 Whidden Lectures.  This year’s Whidden Lecturer is Dr. Amber Miller, Professor of Physics and Dean of Science at Columbia University.

She will give a public lecture at 4 p.m. on Thursday February 25th in Convocation Hall; this will be followed a reception in the Great Hall of the University Club.

“Nature’s Ultimate Time Machine: Photographing the Infant Universe”

Historians and archaeologists can only dream of taking photographs of ancient civilizations, of observing their daily activities, of watching the construction of cities and the evolution of conflicts. Incredibly, with modern tools and technologies, cosmologists have at their fingertips the astrophysical equivalent: the capability to photograph the formation and evolution of our universe. I will describe the experimental and observational methods that make this possible, and review the highlights of what we have learned as we have made observations of the universe further and further back in time. Finally, I will discuss the current cosmological frontier: the challenge of observing the universe when it was much less than a second old. These observations hold the promise of revealing the nature of fundamental physics at the very moment at which our universe came into being.

She will give a specialist lecture at 3.30 p.m. on Friday February 26th in Convocation Hall; this will be followed by a reception.

“Cosmological Observations from the Stratosphere”

Abstract:  The Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) consists of  a bath of photons emitted when the universe was 380,000 years old. Imprinted in this light are tiny fluctuations in intensity and polarization that reveal the initial conditions for structure formation and provide clues as to the fundamental physics operating at energy scales inaccessible to particle accelerators. I will explain the physics behind the signatures that have been detected thus far, and those for which the search is currently underway. I will also discuss the status of and prospects for a balloon-borne experiment called the E and B EXperiment (EBEX), designed to measure these early universe signatures from the stratosphere as it circumnavigates the Antarctic continent.


Amber Miller leads the Columbia University Experimental Cosmology group dedicated to studying relic signatures from the Big Bang with the goal of understanding the origin and evolution of the universe. Specifically, the team studies the Cosmic Microwave Background and the Sunyaev-Zel’dovich Effect using sensitive centimeter and millimeter-wave instruments designed specifically for this work.  Prof. Miller has also long held an interest in issues on the interface between science and policy. She worked at Princeton University on issues related to satellite verification of nuclear non-proliferation agreements, organized a round table meeting at Columbia with the Union of Concerned Scientists, and has participated in several conferences on science and politics. She is currently a Term Member on the Council on Foreign Relations and has recently consulted for the NYPD as the Chief Science Advisor to the Counterterrorism Bureau. Professor Miller is currently serving as the Dean of Science for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

Graduate Student Poster Session

Graduate students are invited to present posters at a q & a session with Professor Miller in Celebration Hall on Friday 26th February, from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. (refreshments will be served).  To register, please go to: https://goo.gl/td8dyq