Newswise — As Douglas Adams correctly wrote in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, “Space is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the drug store, but that’s just peanuts to space.”

Few people understand the vastness of space as well as Will Percival. Percival is a cosmologist working primarily on galaxy surveys, using the positions of galaxies to measure the cosmological expansion rate and growth of cosmological structure. He is the Survey Scientist for the extended Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (eBOSS), which created and publicly released the largest three-dimensional map of the universe ever made using the positions of millions of galaxies and quasars dating back roughly 11 billion years.

In his April 7 Perimeter Public Lecture webcast, Percival will aim to help the audience grasp the enormity of space using the latest results from eBOSS. He will outline how the survey was constructed and how it fits within other cosmological experiments. The talk will be webcast on and via partner organizations on Wednesday, April 7 at 7 pm ET; it will be available for on-demand playback shortly thereafter.

The scientific results of the survey offer profound insights into the physics of the universe in which we live, and Percival will show how they reinforce the current standard model of a universe expanding according to Einstein’s theory of general relativity following a hot big bang. He will also present anomalies between that model and current data, and delve into the associated case for new physics.

In addition to his role in eBOSS, Percival is Director of the Waterloo Centre for Astrophysics, holds the Mike and Ophelia Lazaridis Distinguished Chair in Astrophysics at the University of Waterloo, and is an Associate Faculty member at Perimeter Institute.

Percival also holds senior scientific management positions within the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument and Euclid experiments, both of which will produce galaxy redshift surveys that will transform our knowledge of dark energy, the physical mechanism accelerating the present-day cosmological expansion rate.

Among his many honours, Percival has received the 2008 Fowler Award of the Royal Astronomical Society and a Distinguished Scientist Fellowship from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2016.

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Perimeter Institute is the world’s largest research hub devoted to theoretical physics. The independent Institute was founded in 1999 to foster breakthroughs in the fundamental understanding of our universe, from the smallest particles to the entire cosmos. Research at Perimeter is motivated by the understanding that fundamental science advances human knowledge and catalyzes innovation, and that today’s theoretical physics is tomorrow’s technology. Located in the Region of Waterloo, the not-for-profit Institute is a unique public-private endeavour, including the Governments of Ontario and Canada, that enables cutting-edge research, trains the next generation of scientific pioneers, and shares the power of physics through award-winning educational outreach and public engagement.


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