Michael Turner ponders the future of the Universe. (Jessica Clark/APS)
The Phase I report recognizes that in order to realize the extraordinary opportunities at hand, a new, cross-cutting approach is required that will draw on the techniques of both astronomy and physics, telescopes and accelerators, and ground-based and space-based instruments. Another potential obstacle is the fact that the science in question crosses not just disciplinary boundaries, but those of three separate US funding agencies: the DOE, the NSF, and NASA.
According to Turner, the CPU committee has moved on to Phase II. That report will put forth a strategy to enable each funding agency to look beyond the traditional boundaries of physics and astronomy, and hopefully take a broader view both of its own mission and of the traditional boundaries between it and the other agencies. In addition, the strategy will include a prioritized list of science initiatives, as well as suggested concrete mechanisms for coordination and cooperation within and between the DOE, NSF, and NASA.
The full text of the Phase I report from the CPU study can be found online at http://www.nationalacademies.org/bpa/projects/cpu/.
The Top 11 Questions at the Physics/Astronomy Interface
- What is the dark matter?
- What are the masses of the neutrinos, and how have they shaped the evolution of the universe?
- Are there additional space-time dimensions?
- What is the nature of the dark energy?
- Are protons unstable?
- How did the universe begin?
- Did Einstein have the last word on gravity?
- How do cosmic accelerators work, and what are they accelerating?
- Are there new states of matter at exceedingly high density and temperature?
- Is a new theory of matter and light needed at the highest energies?
- How were the elements from iron to uranium made?
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