We live in an increasing incomprehensible universe. Our best estimates are that we can only account for about 4% of the mass-energy from ordinary matter (things on the periodic table) with the rest being Dark Matter (which at behaves gravitationally like matter - ie it is attractive) and the largest portion being Dark Energy which behaves as a repulsive force. We do not know what accounts for this 96% of the universe and neither do we have any reasonable theories to explain it. The dominant radiation in universe is in the region from 0.01 to 10 THz. In this region is encoded much of the information about the origins, evolution and ultimate fate of our universe. By studying the universe in the THz regime from the ground, aircraft and balloons and finally from space we can hope to unravel some of these mysteries. With the recent launch of the NASA/ ESA Planck satellite covering 0.03 to 1 THz in 2009 and completion of the initial surveys as of Jan 15, 2012 we are about to witness an outpouring of data related to our origins, our formative years of growth , our latter years and the possible ultimate extinction of all life. I will discuss the fundamental science issues involved as well as the fundamental limitations of observing in this region.
Philip Lubin is a professor of Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He received a BA in Mathematics and a BA in Physics from UC Berkeley in 1975. His graduate work was at both Harvard and at UC Berkeley. He received his PhD in 1980 in Physics from UC Berkeley on studies of the early universe through measurements of the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMB) in the mm wave bands. His group made the first detections of horizon scale structure in the CMB in 1990-93 from the South Pole as well as from a high altitude balloon platform. His primary areas of interest are in early universe studies and related astrophysical backgrounds. He has been involved in two major satellite programs to study the mm and THz sky, the COBE satellite launched in 1989 and the Planck satellite launched in 2009. The COBE satellite surveyed the sky from 0.03 to 300 THz. The COBE satellite detected the super horizon scale structure of the CMB in 1992 as well as detected the Cosmic Far IR Background and measured the CMB spectrum with mK precision. The Planck mission is ongoing and covers from 0.04 to 1 THz and uses photon (BLIP) limited detectors in most of the bands. His group has deployed more than 20 ground based and balloon borne missions in the mm and THz bands and has produced more than 20 PhD’s. He is co-recipient of the 2006 Gruber Cosmology Prize.