The University of the Western Cape 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) who is a full professor in astrophysics at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, presented an exciting lecture entitled “Cosmology: A Golden Era”.
Heads of faculties, lecturers and students attended the lecture in person at a full Life Sciences Auditorium to listen to Ma present on, amongst other things, the measurement of cosmic microwave background radiation and the relics of the primordial elements.
Ma also led a discussion on the observational frontiers for the future of cosmology.
He said: “People always ask me where it began? And often they are looking at the wrong picture.”
“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.
Ma also took the audience through the nucleosynthesis of the 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 provided updated cosmological measurements such as the age of the universe, which is 13.799 billion years.
After the lecture students had the rare opportunity to engage with Ma and interrogate not only the work he presented but also his future academic endeavours.
Dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences, Professor Burtram Fielding, said it was an honour for UWC to host the start of this prestigious symposia: “It's the first time since 1965 that the series of seminars are being hosted outside of Sweden and it comes to Africa, and low and behold, it comes to UWC.”
Indeed, Ma’s deep and broad knowledge in cosmology and other fields is an inspiration to scholars and students alike. The excitement arising from this talk calls for more public talks at UWC.
NOTE: Nobel in Africa is a STIAS Initiative in partnership with Stellenbosch University, under the auspices of the Nobel Foundation and the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences with funding from the Knut & Alice Wallenberg Foundation. Images by Tak Yu.