Astrophysical tests of fundamental physics
Carlos J. A. P. Martins
The dramatic confrontation between new observations and theories of the early and recent universe makes cosmology one of the most rapidly advancing fields in the physical sciences. The universe is a unique laboratory in which to probe fundamental physics, the rationale being to start from fundamental physics inspired models and explore their consequences in sufficient quantitative detail to be able to identify key astrophysical and cosmological tests of the underlying theory (or developing new tests when appropriate). An unprecedented number of such tests will be possible in the coming years, by exploiting the ever improving observational data.
This course will present some recent developments in this field, highlight the current hot topics and open issues, and suggest future research directions - in particular, those that the group may fruitfully exploit. An outline schedule is as follows
A reading list will be provided in October. Most of the course should be accessible to masters students and to high-level undergraduates.
Session 1: Introduction - The Standard Model
4 November 2009
In the first lecture I will highlight the key fundamental physics paradigms that will be probed in the coming years.
Session 2: Phenomenology
11 November 2009
The second lecture will focus on phenomenological models, which aim to capture the broad fundamental aspects of fundamental theories while being specific enough to be tested observationally.
Session 3: The Astrophysical Controversy
18 November 2009
In this lecture I will review the current status of experimental and observational searches for varying fundamental constants.
Session 4: Cosmological Implications
25 November 2009
In the final lecture I will highlight some cosmological implication of varying fundamental constants measurements, focusing on their relation to dynamical dark energy. I will also discuss tests of the global dynamics of the universe, particularly the Sandage-Loeb test. Finally, I will describe prospects for future improvements in this context, focusing on ESPRESSO and CODEX.