By Nico Orce, Professor of Physics at UWC

The University of the Western Cape (UWC) set the scene for the start of a series of outreach public lectures as part of the Nobel in Africa Symposia Series.  Professor Yin-Zhe Ma – a Cambridge PhD, member of the Academy of Science of South Africa and full professor in Astrophysics at the University of KwaZulu-Natal – presented an exciting lecture titled ‘Cosmology: A Golden Era.’

A full auditorium at the Life Sciences building at UWC listened to Ma presenting on the current status of the cosmic microwave background radiation and the relics of the primordial elements.  Ma also took the audience through the nucleosynthesis of elements and the evolution of the universe step by step.

“When listed, the entire evolution of the universe can be separated into different stages down to the Dark Energy Dominated Era,” said Ma, who also provided updated measurements of the Hubble constant and the age of the universe. When my mother asked me, “What do you do?” I said: ” I measure the age of the Universe,” which is 13.799+-0.038 billion years!

“The correct picture is some sort of evolutionary narrowing … where we see the entire universe originated from a very hot, very dense beginning. If you think of the current observable universe traced back to the beginning, it could be as small as an atom,” he added.

Indeed, Ma’s deep and broad knowledge in cosmology and other fields of physics was an inspiration to scholars and students alike, who kept asking questions after his talk and interacting with the speaker until late in the evening. The excitement arising from this event certainly calls for more public talks given by top scholars.

This hybrid event was organised by UWC, NITheCS and STIAS.