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Evidence from the Big Bang: Stanford Physics Professor & NTU Alumnus Chao-Lin Kuo gives lecture at NTU

National Taiwan University Alumnus and Stanford Department of Physics Professor Chao-Lin Kuo (郭兆林) gave a lecture on his team’s latest findings on Cosmic Inflation on April 24, 2014. The “BICEP2 Results, Implications, and Future” lecture, which took place at the Department of Physics, was also live streamed on the internet to serve a greater audience, and was followed by a press conference on the same afternoon.

Professor Kuo received his BA and MA degrees from NTU’s Department of Physics in 1994 and 1996 respectively, and obtained his PhD from UC Berkeley in 2003.

Kuo began his residency at Stanford’s Department of Physics and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in 2008. He has also sustained a long working relationship with NTU’s Professor Jiun-Huei Proty Wu (吳俊輝) in the field of cosmology, and has returned to NTU under Professor Wu’s invitation during April and June this year.

On March 17, 2014, Professor Kuo and his research team, BICEP2 (Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarization), announced that it has found direct evidence for the cosmic inflation theory of how the universe began. The team reported that it had captured images of gravitational waves that are believed to be from the universe’s inflation, and the waves were referred to as the "first tremors of the Big Bang."

The Inflationary Theory, which explains the “‘bang’ of the Big Bang Theory,” is believed to have been coined by physicists Alan Guth and Andrei Linde as early as the late 1970s. The BICEP2 research team set up a telescope to detect gravitational waves in the cosmic microwave background (CMB) in the South Pole so as to further investigate on the theory. Professor Kuo, who designed the polarization detectors for the telescope, was instrumental to the study as his detectors were one of the keys to the detection of the B-mode polarisation signal, the major evidence which occurred multiple millions of a second after the Big Bang.

BICEP2 is co-led by Jamie Bock (Caltech), John Kovac (Harvard), Clem Pryke (UMN), and Professor Chao-Lin Kuo (Stanford), who is also the only Taiwanese member among the team. The breakthrough is considered significant evidence for the interrelation between quantum mechanics and general relativity, which are currently the two major disciplines within modern physics.

Despite the number of projects dedicated to similar research, Professor Kuo and his team’s latest discovery has helped mankind move even closer to unveiling the mysteries of the universe.

Missed the lecture? Visit NTU Speech for a recap of the full English version of Professor Chao-Lin Kuo’s lecture HERE.

Chinese version