Contributors to The Great Debate
Elise Jennings is a PhD student at the Institute of Computational
Cosmology (ICC) and the Institute for Particle Physics Phenomology (IPPP)
at Durham University. As a Marie Curie fellow, Elise's PhD research
examines the growth of large scale structure in the Universe, such as
galaxies and clusters of galaxies. Studing the cosmic growth in the
Universe is an extremely important tool which can be used to probe
A scholar of Trinity College Dublin, Elise obtained her degree
in theoretical physics there, followed by a research masters in high energy
physics studying the internal structure and spin of the proton.
As part of Durham University's active outreach programe, Elise takes part
in promoting and fostering an interest in astronomy and particle physics.
Most recently she led the team of postgraduate students taking part in the
ICC’s presentation at The Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition in 2009
and 2010 in London.
Elise Jennings is on the panel of
The Borders of Reality
as part of The Green Phoenix debate programme
in August 2010.
Elise's research uses cosmological N-body simulations to build model
universes using supercomputers. These computer simulations follow the
gravitational interaction between masses and can be used to test the known
laws of physics. For example, in 1998, two teams studying distant
supernovae, presented evidence that,
rather than slowing down, the expansion of the Universe is speeding up.
This remarkable finding suggests that something is fundamentally wrong
our ideas about cosmology. One solution is that the Universe is filled with
a mysterious substance dubbed "dark energy", a kind of antigravity pushing
the Universe apart. Alternatively, Einstein's theory of gravity may be
wrong. N-body simulations are able to accurately investigate
these models, for example if we change the force of
gravity, or change the speed at which the Universe is expanding, how does
this affect the structures inside the Universe? As astronomers are
planning to make huge maps of the Universe in future galaxy surveys, the
predictions from N-body simulations can be used to extract all the
information available from these maps and eliminate competing models for
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