Interview with Joshua Frieman, head of the Particle Physics Division at Fermilab, and professor of astronomy and astrophysics at the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics at the University of Chicago. He recounts his childhood in Princeton as the son of a physicist and his decision to attend Stanford as an undergraduate, where his interests in cosmology developed. Frieman explains that his options for graduate research in cosmology were narrow and his reasons for going to the University of Washington to work with Jim Bardeen before moving to Chicago to be Michael Turner’s first graduate student. He discusses his interest in approaching cosmology from the perspective of particle theory and his thesis focus on curved space time within a cosmological context. Frieman describes his postdoctoral work at SLAC and his first position at Fermilab in the theory group that Dave Schramm had started. He discusses his work on the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and then the Dark Energy Survey. Frieman explains what might be needed to understand dark energy, he describes his appointment at Chicago, and he explains the origins of the Magellan Telescopes project. He discusses the value of the Aspen summer sessions and his involvement with P5, and explains the value of the 2010 Decadal Survey. At the end of the interview, Frieman surveys the current slate of project at Fermilab and emphasizes the value of incorporating cosmological perspectives to high-energy and particle physics.
Edwin Turner discusses his childhood experiences looking up at the stars; background of parents; encouragement and support of parents; early interest in science fiction and in history; childhood fascination with the scale of the universe; education at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); influence of Philip Morrison and Irwin Shapiro at MIT; preference for an open universe; dislike of missing mass that is invisible; scientific interests at MIT; graduate education at California Institute of Technology (Caltech); influence of Wallace Sargent; dislike of problem-set approach to education at Caltech; thesis work on dynamics of binary galaxies; influence of Ostriker-Peebles-Yahil work on dark matter and massive haloes in galaxies on Turner's observational thesis to measure masses of galaxies; interaction with Allan Sandage on philosophy of experimental science; Turner's surprise at finding dark matter in galaxies; community reaction to dark matter in 1975; continued belief in an open universe despite dark matter; history of N-body work on structure formation and correlation functions: influence of lecture by James Peebles, history of collaboration with Richard Gott and Sverre Aarseth; inability to measure omega by comparing N-body simulations with observations; reaction to inflationary universe model; reasons why the inflationary universe model has been so popular; Turner's reservations about the model; doing scientific projects because they can be done; introduction to and attitude toward the flatness problem; change in attitude after inflationary universe model; surprise at de Lapparent, Geller, and Huchra's results on large-scale inhomogeneities and its evidence for unknown processes: irrelevance of earlier work on correlation functions and lessening of Turner's expectations for what can be accomplished in cosmology; fear that cosmologists are heading in the wrong direction and underestimating the complexity of reality; use of imagery in science; interplay of theory and observation in cosmology and the divergence of the two; worry that we may have several untestable scenarios for the early universe; possible inability to reconstruct the history of the early universe; ideal design of the universe and desire for a rich and accessible universe; question of whether the universe has a point.
Interview covers Charles Misner's family background and childhood interest in science; influential chemistry teacher in high school; education at Notre Dame and mentorship with Arnold Ross; early interest in mathematics; encouragement of parents to go into science or to become a priest; graduate education at Princeton; work with John Wheeler on relativity and topology; introduction to cosmology by Jim Peebles in 1965; attitude toward the steady state model; Wheeler's preference for a closed universe; history of the flatness problem (the "Dicke paradox"); initial attitude toward the flatness problem; motivation for looking for mechanisms to isotropize the universe; the mixmaster model; history of the horizon problem; Misner's attempt to change the goals of cosmology from describing the universe to explaining it; Russian work on mixmaster type models; reaction of the community to the mixmaster model; change in Misner's view of the flatness problem after the inflationary universe model; attitude toward missing matter; problem of reconciling theory and observations with a flat universe; Misner's attitude toward the inflationary universe model; attitude of the community toward the inflationary universe model; attitude toward recent observations of large-scale structure; nature of the inhomogeneity of the universe; importance of Freeman Dyson's discussion of the fate of an open universe over very long time scales; role of visual pictures in science; relationship of theory and observation in cosmology; outstanding problems in cosmology; inflation, particle physics, quantum cosmology; ideal design of the universe; philosophy, science, and religion; necessity of the laws of physics; question of whether the universe has a point.
More discussion of the reasons why particle physicists began working on cosmology in the 1970s; importance of theoretical work by Kirzhnitz and Linde in 1972 on broken symmetries and phase transitions; current unreality of work on the very early universe; attitude toward the inflationary universe model; successes of the inflationary universe model; aesthetic attraction of a flat universe; acceptability of postulating that we live in a flat universe; introduction to and attitude toward the horizon problem; attitude toward the inflationary universe model; incidences of being worried about scientific problems that no one else is worried about; the anthropic principle and Dirac's large number hypothesis; reaction to de Lapparent, Geller, and Huchra's work on large-scale inhomogeneities; Weinberg worried that perhaps we have misinterpreted the cosmic background radiation; Weinberg's philosophy about strategy in science; the role of consensus in science and the importance of "standard" models; outstanding problems in cosmology: distance scale of the universe, value of the deceleration parameter, origin of structure; failure of theory to explain the observed large-scale structure; possible importance of WIMPs; prematurity of work on the early universe; ideal design of the universe; preference for universes in which initial conditions do not have to be specified; Weinberg's statement in The First Three Minutes about the lack of point to the universe.
Awareness in high school of the Sandage Program to observe the rate of expansion of the universe and awareness of the impending operation of the Mt. Palomar telescope; early reading in cosmology; prejudice toward the steady state model in graduate school because of its definite predictions; the reality of cosmology as a legitimate science; Weinberg's early interest in cosmology: influence of Herman Bondi's book; concern in the early 1960s over limited contact between theory and observations; early work in the 1960s on the neutrino version of Olber's Paradox and the possibility of a degenerate sea of neutrinos; preference for an oscillating universe as the next best thing after a steady state universe because you don't have to specify initial conditions; design of an experiment to search for degenerate neutrinos; Weinberg didn't take seriously his own work in cosmology in the 1960s; the importance of the discovery of the cosmic background radiation for making cosmology a legitimate science; the origin of Weinberg's book Gravitation and Cosmology; Weinberg's regret that he spent 1969-1971 working on a textbook when he should have been working on gauge theories in particle physics; history of the application of particle physics to cosmology.
Marc Davis discusses his childhood in Canton Ohio and family background; early reading; education at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and at Princeton University; thesis work with Jim Peebles and discussion of Peebles; early work on the correlation function of galaxies; creation of the Center for Astrophysics (CFA) redshift survey in 1978; attitude toward the horizon problem; attitude toward the inflationary universe model; biasing, cold dark matter, and models of the formation of large-scale structure; attitude toward the flatness problem; attitude toward the CFA redshift surveys by de Lapparent, Geller, and Huchra; the question of whether the universe is homogeneous; relationship of theory and observation; important outstanding problems in cosmology: the Great Attractor, biasing, dark matter, galaxy formation; the ideal design of the universe; the question of whether the universe has a point.