Deep connections between the very large -- the cosmos -- and the very small -- quarks -- have shaped the Universe we see today and entangled the agendas of particle physics and cosmology. I discuss the present state of cosmology and the big mysteries that point to new physics -- dark matter, dark energy, inflation and the baryon asymmetry of the Universe -- and the prospects for progress.
Michael S. Turner is a theoretical astrophysicist and the Bruce V. and Diana M. Rauner Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago. He is also Director of the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics at Chicago, which he helped to establish. Turner is President-elect of the American Physical and will serve as its President in 2013.
Turner was born in Los Angeles, CA, and attended public schools there; he received his B.S. from Caltech (1971), his M.S. (1973) and Ph.D. (1978) from Stanford (all in physics) and an honorary D.Sc. (2005) from Michigan State University. Turner helped to pioneer the interdisciplinary field of particle astrophysics and cosmology, and with Edward Kolb initiated the Fermilab astrophysics program which today accounts for about 10% of the lab’s activities. He led the National Academy study Quarks to the Cosmos that laid out the strategic vision for the field. Turner’s scholarly contributions include predicting cosmic acceleration and coining the term dark energy, showing how quantum fluctuations evolved into the seed perturbations for galaxies during cosmic inflation, and several key ideas that led to the cold dark matter theory of structure formation. His honors include Warner Prize of the American Astronomical Society, the Lilienfeld Prize of the American Physical Society (APS), the Klopsted Award of the American Association of Physics Teachers, the Heineman Prize (with Kolb) of the AAS and American Institute of Physics and the 2011 Darwin Lecture of the Royal Astronomical Society. Turner’s twenty-plus former Ph.D. students hold faculty positions at leading universities around the country (e.g., Chicago, Caltech and University of Michigan), at national laboratories (Fermilab, JPL, and Argonne) and on Wall Street. He has served as Chief Scientist at Argonne National Laboratory (2006 to 2008), Assistant Director for the Mathematical and Physical Sciences at the National Science Foundation (2003 to 2006), Chair of the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics (1997 to 2003) and President of the Aspen Center for Physics (1989 to 1994). Turner’s current national service includes membership on the NRC’s Board on Physics and Astronomy; the NASA Advisory Committee (NAC); the Senior Editorial Board of Science Magazine; and Chairman of the OECD Global Science Forum’s Astroparticle Physics International Forum. Turner is also Chairman of the Board of the Aspen Center for Physics, a Director of the Fermi Research Alliance, and a member of the Governing Board of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS Council).