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Turok to speak about universe's beginning

Thursday, Nov. 6, 2008, 8 p.m. Reynolds Auditorium, A02 McDonnell Hall

Former Princeton faculty member Neil Turok, a pioneer of theoretical cosmology, will speak on "What Banged?" at 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 6, in Reynolds Auditorium, A02 McDonnell Hall.

Turok was a professor of physics at Princeton from 1994 until 1997, when he assumed his current position as chair of mathematical sciences at the University of Cambridge and director of the Perimeter Institute of Theoretical Physics in Ontario, Canada.

He has made numerous contributions to the Big Bang inflationary picture and introduced a dramatic alternative known as the cyclic universe theory. A popular account is given in "The Endless Universe," a book he co-wrote with Paul Steinhardt, the Albert Einstein Professor of Physics at Princeton.

In his lecture, intended for a lay audience, Turok will address the questions of what caused the Big Bang and whether the event marked the beginning of time. He will discuss two possibilities: one in which the universe began at the Big Bang, and the other in which the Bang was a violent event in a pre-existing universe. The two pictures lead to radically different theories of the evolution of the universe and its future.

Originally from Johannesburg, South Africa, Turok graduated from Churchill College, Cambridge, and obtained his doctorate from Imperial College under the supervision of David Olive, one of the inventors of superstring theory. After postdoctoral studies at the University of California-Santa Barbara, he worked as an associate scientist at Fermilab in Illinois.

Turok was awarded the 2008 TED (Technology, Education, Design) Prize for his work in mathematical physics and in establishing the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences in Muizenberg near Cape Town, South Africa. This postgraduate educational center supports the development of mathematics and science across the African continent. Turok also received a "Most Innovative People Award" for social innovation at the World Summit on Innovation and Entrepreneurship earlier this year.

His talk is the second 2008 Evnin Lecture. It sponsored by the Council on Science and Technology and the Princeton Center for Theoretical Science.

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