Ambitious project to map the Big Bang’s afterglow earns NSF funding

September 26, 2019
Louise Lerner, UChicago News

The National Science Foundation has awarded $4 million to the University of Chicago to host the development of an ambitious multi-institutional program to map the leftover light from the Big Bang in greater detail than ever before.

Called CMB-S4, the groundbreaking project will allow us to see back in time to the earliest epoch of the universe.  Remnant light from this period, called the cosmic microwave background, is still visible in the skies and holds clues to many of the most pressing mysteries about the universe—from its earliest moments to how it evolved to produce the wondrous structure of galaxies, stars and planets that we see today.

“The history of the universe—and the physics that govern its evolution—are encoded in the cosmic microwave background, and rigorous, precise measurements will allows us to unlock this information and will likely lead to new discoveries,” said renowned UChicago cosmologist John Carlstrom, principal investigator for this initial phase of the project and co-spokesperson of the CMB-S4 collaboration, who also holds a joint appointment at Argonne National Laboratory. “These are big, big topics in physics, many of which we don’t know how to get at any other way.”

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