Niels Bohr Lecture by Roger Penrose

Can we see through the Big Bang, into another World?

The proposal of Conformal Cyclic Cosmology (abbreviated CCC) asserts that what we presently regard as the entire history of our universe, from its Big-Bang origin to its indefinitely expanding future, is but one aeon in an unending succession of similar such aeons, where the infinite future of each matches to the big bang of the next via an infinite change of scale. CCC predicts that supermassive black-hole encounters in the aeon prior to ours would be observable to us as families of concentric rings of unusual temperature structure in the cosmic microwave background. Recent analysis of data from the WMAP satellite has been argued to provide possible confirmation of this signal, allowing us to "see through" our Big Bang to such events occurring in the aeon prior to ours. The status of this controversial proposal will be discussed.

About the speaker: Sir Roger Penrose is a mathematical physicist and Emeritus Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at the Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford and Emeritus Fellow of Wadham College.

Sir Roger Penrose

Sir Roger Penrose

He has received a number of prizes and awards, including the 1988 Wolf Prize for physics which he shared with Stephen Hawking for their contribution to our understanding of the universe. In 1989 he received theDirac Medal, and in 2005, Penrose was awarded the Royal Society's Copley medal, the world's oldest prize for scientific achievement, for his exceptional contributions to geometry, mathematical physics, general relativity theory and cosmology, most notably for his work on black holes and the Big Bang.

Penrose has written a number of controversial books on the connection between fundamental physics and human consciousness. In The Emperor's New Mind (1989), he argues that the known laws of physics are inadequate to explain the phenomenon of consciousness, and this argument is further updated and expanded in Shadows of the Mind (1994), and inThe Large, the Small and the Human Mind (1997).In 2004 Penrose released The Road to Reality: A Complete Guide to the Laws of the Universe, aimed at giving a comprehensive guide to the laws of physics.