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UCL-French Embassy Lectures 2011-12 Series Two: Research Frontiers - The Origin of the Universe

UCL Grand Challenges

Thursday, June 23, 2011 from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM (BST)

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Event Details

Professor Jean-Loup Puget (Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale - Orsay)

Professor Ofer Lahav (UCL Physics and Astronomy)

 Venue: A V Hill Lecture Theatre, UCL (MAP)

17.00, Thursday 23 June 2011


This is the first in a second series of UCL-French Embassy events proposed by Dr Serge Plattard, Counsellor for Science and Technology of the French Embassy in London, and UCL’s Pro-Provost (Europe), Professor Mike Wilson. The four events in Series One were linked to UCL’s society-focused Grand Challenges programme. In Series Two the orientation is UCL’s new Research Frontiers programme, with an emphasis on ‘origins’. Distinguished figures from research-intensive universities and institutes in France and from UCL will speak from different, complementary, and sometimes conflicting perspectives on four research frontier topics. We start the second series with the biggest question of them all: how it all began – the Origin of the Universe.

The UCL-French Embassy Lecture series 2011-12 is sponsored by the French Embassy, by the UCL Pro-Provost Europe, and by the UCL Grand Challenges programme of the Office of the UCL Vice-Provost (Research).


Finding the evidence for the origin of everything

The UCL-French Embassy ‘Origin of the Universe’ event provides a unique opportunity to hear and question the research and perspectives of two major figures in international cosmological collaborations -  Jean-Loup Puget of the Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale in Orsay, and Ofer Lahav of UCL Physics and Astronomy. Professor Puget is lead designer and principal scientist in the Planck High Frequency Instrument Consortium. The main goal of European Space Agency's Planck mission is to map the Cosmic Microwave Background, the relic radiation of the Big Bang which pervades the entire Universe, and to pinpoint its tiny fluctuations with unprecedented accuracy. Ofer Lahav is Chair of the International Science Committee of the Dark Energy Survey, which is considering one of the greatest mysteries in the whole of science – the prospect that 75% of the Universe is made from a mysterious substance known as 'Dark Energy', which causes an acceleration of the cosmic expansion.  The work of both speakers attests to one of the great success stories of intercultural interaction (the subject of UCL’s third Grand Challenge) – that of massive (‘big science’) projects that require the widest possible international collaboration for their success.



17.00 Introduction – David Price / Mike Wilson

17.05 1st talk: Origin of the universe: How science is dealing with this problem? How can we observe the very early universe? – Jean-Loup Puget (chairman: Serge Plattard)

17.45 2nd talk: The mystery of the accelerating Universe: Is it dark energy or something else? – Ofer Lahav (chairman: Serge Plattard)

18.25 Questions and Answers session (chairman: Serge Plattard)

19.05 Reception in the Wilkins Old Refectory


Speaker biographies


Jean-Loup Puget

Jean-Loup Puget graduated in Physics (1968) and Theoretical Physics (1969) from Orsay University in Paris. Supervised by Evry Schatzman he obtained his PhD in Cosmology from the University of Paris in 1973. After postdoctoral studies at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, he returned to Paris to take up the Deputy-Directorship of the Institut d'Astrophysique de Paris. Between 1982 and 1989 he was based in the Physics Department of the Ecole Normal Superieur in Paris, moving to his current research base, the Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale in Orsay in 1989, where he was Director from 1998 to 2006. He has been Principal Investigator, Planck High Frequency Instrument, since 1995.


Ofer Lahav

Ofer Lahav graduated in Physics (BSc 1980 Tel Aviv University; MSc 1985 Ben-Gurion University). Supervised by George Efstathiou and Donald Lynden-Bell, he obtained his Cambridge PhD in Astronomy in 1985. He has held research positions at Cambridge, Princeton and at the Hebrew University. He moved from Cambridge to UCL in 2004, where he established a Cosmology group,  which is heavily involved in new large galaxy surveys for studying Dark Matter and Dark Energy. He leads the international Dark Energy Survey science programme and he chairs the UK consortium for this survey. He is currently a Vice-President of the Royal Astronomical Society and a holder of a Wolfson Royal Society Research Merit Award.  He was recently appointed UCL Vice-Dean (Research) at the Faculty of Mathematical and Physical Sciences. 

Have questions about UCL-French Embassy Lectures 2011-12 Series Two: Research Frontiers - The Origin of the Universe ? Contact UCL Grand Challenges

When & Where

A V Hill Lecture Theatre
Medical Sciences Building
Gower Street
WC1E 6BT London
United Kingdom

Thursday, June 23, 2011 from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM (BST)

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