UBC Faculty Research and Publications

WMAP : Measuring how the universe began Halpern, Mark


The universe is filled with a thermal glow called the cosmic microwave background that comes from the hot plasma which filled it early on. Measurements of this background made by the NASA satellite WMAP have determined the age, geometry and composition of the universe with new precision, determining that the universe today is dominated by a dark energy that is causing it to expand ever more rapidly. The mission has also determined that baryonic matter--the atoms and molecules we see around us--only form a few percent of the total energy density of the universe today, and has determined the epoch at which the first stars formed. Recent results give a tantalizing picture of the first very small fraction of a second in the "big bang". Six years after its launch WMAP remains healthy and the data continue to pour in. This talk will explain to a general audience what this experiment tells us about how the universe began and what it is made out of.

Item Citations and Data


All rights reserved