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Boad on physics and Astronomy

  1. Feb 18, 2004 #1


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    The Board on Physics and Astronomy proposes an assessment of an area of science at the intersection of physics and astronomy. The study will provide a broad vision that goes beyond traditional categories of space missions, laboratory studies, telescope observations, and accelerator experiments. It will focus on opportunities for breakthroughs in understanding the birth, evolution and destiny of the Universe, the laws that govern it, and even the nature of space and time. The assessment would encompass astrophysical and cosmological phenomena that give insight into fundamental physics and fundamental physics that is relevant to understanding the universe and the diversity objects within it. It will address opportunities to explore new science through (1) new techniques for observing phenomena in extreme environments and new regimes, (2) new applications of fundamental physics to modeling and simulating the origin, evolution, and fate of the universe, and (3) understanding fundamental physics by using space and the cosmos as a laboratory full of experiments that could never be implemented on the Earth.

    The CMBR story does not end with MAP and Planck. The radiation, in addition to being anisotropic in its intensity, must also have variations (as yet unobserved) in its polarization. Encoded in the polarization is information about gravitational waves that were also produced by inflation. If this key prediction can be confirmed, not only will it strengthen the case for inflation, but also it will reveal the energy scale associated with inflation as well as the details underlie inflation. This knowledge, in turn, could prove to be a key to understanding how inflation fits into the bigger picture and perhaps even a link to superstring theory and the unification of gravity with the other forces. Needless to say, the information found in the anisotropy and polarization of the CMBR could surprise us by falsifying inflation or some of the fine details, sending early Universe theoreticians back to their drawing boards.
    so what is the latest news from the board?
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2004
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  3. Feb 18, 2004 #2


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    the board on physics and astronomy
    (of the US National Academy of Science)
    is very powerful. it is the elite of big science and it has the ear of congress.
    it recently published a report called "Connecting Quarks to Cosmos; Eleven Questions for the New Millennium"
    this says in grammar school language suitable for a busy Senator who wants to know how to vote what are eleven basic questions
    and it makes some general funding recommendations.
    here are the board members

    Wendy L. Freedman, Co-Chair, Observatories of the Carnegie Institution, Pasadena, CA
    Roger D. Blandford, Co-Chair, California Institute of Technology
    Charles Alcock, University of Pennsylvania
    Lars Bildsten, University of California at Santa Barbara
    John E. Carlstrom, Enrico Fermi Institute, and the College at the University of Chicago
    Richard S. Ellis, California Institute of Technology
    Andrea Ghez, University of California at Los Angeles
    David J. Hollenbach, NASA-Ames Research Center
    Chryssa Kouveliotou, National Space Science and Technology Center
    Eve Ostriker, University of Maryland
    Frazer N. Owen, National Radio Astronomy Observatory, Socorro, NM
    Mark Reid, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
    Charles E. Woodward, University of Minnesota

    I believe that an "assessment" is a type of committee report which measures the potential in some field of science and judges the effectiveness of current programs of federal support and agency policy and may make recommendations about reorganization, research priorities, dividing the pie and other serious questions of big science.

    If the board proposes to have an "assessment" of the field of say astroparticle physics that, in effect, CREATES a new field of science, namely astroparticlephysics. or whatever. It makes it official that the field exists and gets consideration for funding and can have leaders who speak for it and so on.

    Wendy Freedman was in charge of the Hubble Space Telescope "Key" project that determined the present value we have of the hubble constant namely 71 something per something.

    Ultimately that committee will influence things even like who gets how much time on what machines. in my opinion.
    it would be interesting to be a fly on the wall at NAS headquarters in DC when that board is meeting
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2004
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