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Monday, 26 April 2021, 1:00PM - 2:00PM
Online Lecture

Space Sounds: The Music of the Cosmos

Professor Roberto Trotta

“In space, no one can hear you scream”. The chillingly accurate tagline of Ridley Scott’s 1979 space horror classic, Alien, is often belied in science fiction movies, forgetting that in space there is no air, and hence no sound. Space today is terrifyingly silent. But it wasn’t always thus: the early universe was filled with hot plasma in which sound waves could travel. The cosmos was quivering with the aftershocks of the Big Bang. It is one of the greatest achievements of modern physics that we are able to pick up the cosmic harmony of the baby universe. These sounds were not meant to be heard by human ears: the base note has a wavelength of 450 million light years. 

Nevertheless, this triumph of science (and music) rivals in beauty anything written by Bach. 

This lecture will investigate the many, surprising ways in which sound waves of various kinds are found in the cosmos: from the relic radiation form the Big Bang, to the distribution of galaxies in the sky; from the trembling of stars to gravitational waves, the universe is filled with what the ancients called “The Music of the Spheres”.

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Roberto Trotta is Visiting Gresham Professor of Cosmology and Professor of Astrostatistics at Imperial College London, currently on leave of absence to the International School of Advanced Studies in Trieste, Italy, where he is part of the senior leadership team establishing a new Data Science Institute.

His research focuses on cosmology, machine learning and data science. An award-winning author and science communicator, he is the recipient of the Annie Maunder Medal 2020 of the Royal Astronomical Society for his public engagement work. For more information about him, please visit his website: http://robertotrotta.com/

Roberto Trotta's lecture series are as follows:

2021/22 The Frontiers of Knowledge

2020/21 The Unexpected Universe

2019/20 The Nature of Reality

All lectures by the Visiting Professor of Cosmology can be accessed here.

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