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Friedman Lecture on Parallel Universes Set for 6 April 2005

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A free presentation, titled "Parallel Universes," will be given at 8:00 p.m. on 6 April in 100 Thomas Building on the Penn State University Park campus by Max Tegmark, associate professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The lecture will be preceded by a reception with the speaker at 7:30 p.m. in the lobby outside 100 Thomas Building. This event is part of the 2005 Friedman Lecture Series in Astronomy.

Tegmark will present evidence for the existence of parallel universes based on his research in "precision cosmology," which relies on the use of theoretical physics and current astronomical measurements to sharply constrain models for our universe. In a 2003 article in Scientific American, Tegmark argued that in an infinite universe there must be an infinite number of Earths. The shocking implication is that there would also be an infinite number of copies of each one of us. "The key question is not whether parallel universes exist, but how many levels there are," says Tegmark.

"This presentation will answer many questions all of us wonder about," says Christopher Palma, outreach fellow in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at Penn State. "What is the shape and size of our universe? When and where did it all begin? How will it end?" Jane Charlton, professor of astronomy and astrophysics, says, "Pondering Tegmark's answers to these questions could dramatically change the views of the universe held by many of the people in the audience. For example, would each of the infinite copies of you have free will? Would every possible future path that you could take also exist somewhere else in a parallel universe?" She adds, "Tegmark's talk will blow your mind."

Tegmark's early research involved predicting the size of the earliest galaxies. He has developed techniques for analyzing the cosmic microwave background, which provides direct evidence about the beginning of the universe. He has studied maps of the galaxies in the universe to measure the fundamental parameters of the universe, such as the geometry of space and the relative amounts of ordinary matter and dark matter. He has considered how all of the galaxies that we observe grow from seeds of matter that emerged in the first split second after the Big Bang. Many of Tegmark's more than 100 scientific papers present ideas and data relevant to parallel universes. They include evidence for infinite space and a sudden rapid burst of expansion of the universe, known as cosmological inflation. He also has worked on the implications of having multiple dimensions of spacetime beyond those that we know and the idea that fundamental laws of physics can vary throughout a "multiverse."

Tegmark is a native of Sweden with baccalaureate degrees from both the Stockholm School of Economics and the Swedish Royal Institute of Technology. He studied theoretical cosmology at the University of California, Berkeley, and received his Ph.D. in physics in 1994. After two years as a research associate at the Max-Planck Institute for Physics in Munich, Germany, he spent more than three years doing post-doctoral research at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton before joining the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania in 1999. In 2004, he joined the physics faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

This presentation is hosted by the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics and is funded largely by the Ronald M. and Susan J. Friedman Outreach Fund in Astronomy. Friedman is a member of the department's Board of Visitors.

For more information or access assistance, call the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at 865-0418.

[ C P / L A K ]

Eric Feigelson, professor of astronomy and astrophysics, 865-0162 or 865-0418
Chris Palma, outreach fellow in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics,
865-6236 or 865-0418

Please Note:
If you would like to park at the Eisenhower Parking Deck during the lecture and do not have a Penn Stat parking permit, please tell the attendant that you will be attending the Friedman Lecture in Astronomy and you will receive a prepaid pass sponsored by the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics.

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