On Friday 19th October 2012 YAS was treated to an excellent talk about the most recent developments from the world of theoretical astrophysics.
Prof Richard Bowers, who is a lecturer and researcher in observational and computational cosmology at Durham University, explained how the universe once was very evenly distributed but over time has become clumped into clusters of galaxies. Many of the theories have been simulated in spectacular supercomputer visualisations some of which the Prof demonstrated and explained the processes involved. These simulations were carried out on Durham’s DIRAC II supercomputer. These and other simulations have provided clues as to the make-up of some of the more misunderstood elements of the universe, such as dark-matter and dark-energy, a theory with has an increasing amount of observational back-up, but was entirely discovered in mathematical models such as those developed at Durham.
There was a flurry of questions following the talk that prompted some excellent discussions about the make up of the universe and the future of the earth and local solar system in the long run. The Prof later commented on the high level of understanding of many of the members and was very pleased to see that so many people have such a fascinating interest in cosmology. He finished the evening by showing an iPhone app that shows galaxy clusters when held up to the sky, much like a planetarium app does and can be freely downloaded from the apple appstore.
Durham University http://star-www.dur.ac.uk/cosmology/
iPhone Appstore – Cosmic Universe http://icc.dur.ac.uk/index.php?content=Outreach/CosmicApps/CosmicUniverse