Brian Keating: Probing the Early Universe and Communicating about Science
I have appeared on Brian's podcast and now return the favor. We talk about his work probing the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation, as well as his efforts to communicate about science.
Brian Keating is an observational cosmology whose work has focused on measuring a possible imprint on the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMBR) that could have come from the earliest moments of the Big Bang, and could even give possible indirect evidence for a multiverse. Indeed, an experiment he worked, called BICEP 2, in 2014 announced a possible result which electrified the science community, and clearly would have resulted in at least one Nobel Prize, had it been verified by other experiments. Unfortunately it turned out that the observed signal was due to an unanticipated dust background in our Galaxy. Brian has written about this experience in a book.
Brian has not given up the search however, and is spearheading a new major observatory, supported by the Simons Foundation, to push observations of the CMBR to continue to probe for primordial signatures of Inflation.
In addition to his scientific work, Brian is engaged in a host of projects aimed at improving the public’s understanding of science, including his own podcast, and also work he has done in San Diego to help excite kids about mathematics—running programs that I have been fortunate enough to be involved in.
We discuss all of these activities as well as his own rather unique background in a refreshing discussion about the ups and downs of science, the importance of public understanding, and also the exciting possibilities for the future of cosmology. And we have the kind of give and take discussion between a theorist and experimentalist that may be useful for non-scientists to listen to.
As always, an ad-free video version of this podcast is also available to paid Critical Mass subscribers. Your subscriptions support the non-profit Origins Project Foundation, which produces the podcast. The audio version is available free on the Critical Mass site and on all podcast sites, and the video version will also be available on the Origins Project Youtube channel as well.