UC Davis science, engineering and technology newstips -- March

xt year's research season at the Rocky Mountains Research Laboratory, Colorado.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Color photographs of hummingbirds, Ipomopsis flowers and bumblebees are available. Contact Andy Fell for details.

Media contacts: Rebecca Irwin, Center for Population Biology, (530) 752-8416, reirwin@ucdavis.edu; Andy Fell, News Service, (530) 752-4533, ahfell@ucdavis.edu.


Wrinkles in the early universe will be studied under a NASA grant to cosmologist Lloyd Knox at the University of California, Davis. The grant of $500,000 is part of NASA's Long-Term Space Astrophysics program.

Knox's team will use data from the Microwave Anisotropy Probe (MAP), together with data from other satellites and high-altitude balloons, to study minute temperature variations in the microwave radiation that fills the universe.

The microwave background represents the universe when it was only a few hundred thousand years old, said Knox. Around that time, the hot plasma from the Big Bang cooled and settled into atoms. The universe became transparent, as light could pass through for the first time.

Variations, or anisotropies, in the microwave background of less than 1 part in 100,000 show irregularities in the early universe where the plasma was slightly denser, said Knox. Scientists think that as the universe cooled, gravity attracted more matter to these irregularities, so there was more matter in some places and empty space in between. The denser regions became brighter. Eventually, these irregularities became the source of all the structure we see today, said Knox.

"It's a really interesting probe of the early universe," said Knox. Because the universe was simpler back then, scientists can make predictions of what it should look like and test them, he said.

Studying the early stages in the unive

Contact: Andy Fell
University of California - Davis

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