Applied Physics/Physics Colloquium

Effective Field Theory in Cosmology
Tuesday, January 19, 2016 - 4:30pm to 5:30pm
Hewlett 201
Leonardo Senatore (Stanford)
Abstract / Description: 

Observational cosmology has made tremendous progress in the last couple of decades, allowing us to explore the beginning of the universe with unprecedented precision. Such exquisite measurements have now made us sensitive to non-linear corrections to the evolution of the density perturbations. In order to continue to address the mysteries of our universe with similar success, we have to be able to control these non-linearities. In this context, the effective field theory paradigm, which has been widely used in the context of particle physics, represents the ideal setup to explore and systematically study the signatures that come from interactions, and additionally to directly map what we are learning from data into theory. I will describe two recent applications of this paradigm to Cosmology: the Effective Field Theory of Inflation and the Effective Field Theory of Cosmological Large Scale Structures (EFTofLSS). The first example represents the general parametrization of fluctuations around an inflationary background, the earliest phase of our universe, and it allows us to study its most general signatures. The second example is in the context of the gravitational clustering of matter. In our universe matter perturbations are large on short distances and small on long distances: strongly coupled in the UV and weakly coupled in the IR. We formulate an effective description based on an IR fluid-like system that allows us to develop a perturbative expansion to describe weak matter clustering. I will discuss the formalism, the main results and successes so far, and how this research program is crucial for next generation cosmological experiments.


Held Tuesdays at 4:30 pm in the William R. Hewlett Teaching Center, room 201.

Refreshments in the lobby of Varian Physics at 4:15 pm.


Winter 2015/2016, Committee: R. Blandford (Chair), T. Heinz, L. Hollberg, K. Irwin