Annual Report of the Cosmology Section of the
Astronomical Society of Southern Africa: 2013
By Frikkie de Bruyn
The purposes of the Cosmology Section of the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa are:
2 To disseminate news of importance in the field of cosmology to members;
3 To circulate scientific papers in the field of cosmology to members; and
4 To do research and promote the study of cosmology as a science.
Since the Cosmology Section was established in 2008 with a membership of 28, membership has grown to 53.
The number of submissions/discussions has grown to a total of 896 during 2013. The discovery of the Higgs boson at the LHC at CERN was the highlight of the year. In fact the Higgs is essentially a field, through its interaction with other particles giving mass to all matter in the universe. Its existence was hypothetically predicted by Dr. Peter Higgs.
The discovery of the Higgs boson again created a debate about physics beyond the Standard Model which is of great importance for cosmology and particle physics. The origin of the universe from a singularity was disputed by new studies which mainly had its origin in the string theory. The result of these studies showed that the Big Bang may not be necessary. Critics of the string theory argued convincingly that the theory cannot be proved through observation and experiment.
A subtle distortion of the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation has been detected by the South Pole Telescope. This may shed more light on the earliest moments of the universe. The most distant quasar and galaxy have been observed. Reports of an interesting study of magnetic fields at the heart of gamma rays have been circulated among members. There is still one aspect of Einstein’s General Relativity Theory which has not yet been proved; gravity waves. In this regard the European Space Agency is going to launch an X-ray telescope in an attempt to detect gravity waves.
Mr. Soltynski introduced members of ASSA’s Cosmology Section to access, via the internet, and to download lectures on physics and quantum physics and an online course (Massive Open Online Course) in “The Greatest Mysteries of the Universe”. A textbook could also be downloaded free of charge. In the latter case a certificate is also awarded. A big thank you goes to Mr. Soltynski for introducing members to these courses.
The Director was interviewed by the local newspaper which resulted in an in-depth report on ASSA’s Cosmology Section and enquiries received from members of the public and learners from various schools.
Frikkie de Bruyn
Director: Cosmology Section of the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa