This was a fun interview I did with the UC San Diego Extension school, which is located on the west side of UCSD’s sprawling campus. I’ve given a few classes at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and I always have a great time. I’ll be speaking there again next month.
This interviewer asked me to think about the “big picture” future of my field of research. In particular, I was asked to think about what cosmology might look like in 50 years. I thought about this for a while and concluded we can’t really know! It’s been just over 50 years since the Cosmic Microwave Background — my field of study — was discovered by Penzias and Wilson. I think if Penzias and Wilson were asked what the field of cosmology would look like in 2016 they would have completely underestimated how fast technological progress would take us. My colleague at UC Berkeley, Professor Adrian Lee, has pointed out that if you extrapolate backwards from 2016 using “inverse Moore’s Law” shrinkage (as opposed to growth) you’d be able to predict the discovery of the Cosmic Microwave Background in 1965. That’s pretty amazing since we are now measuring signals that are only a few parts-per-billion of the 3K Cosmic Microwave Background’s (already minuscule) temperature level!