University of Nottingham: Scientists to explore unknown parts of the Universe with new funding


Scientists from the University of Nottingham have been awarded £800,000 to research the nature of the early and late Universe.

The funding is part of £20 million awarded to the UK theoretical physics community by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) to expand and test theories of how the Universe works.

UK theoretical particle physicists have a long history of global leadership, including Nobel Prize winners, and continue to lead the world in areas such as dark matter theory.

Grants have been awarded to 25 institutions covering key theme areas in theoretical physics and the University of Nottingham will investigate the Cosmology theme. This is the theory we use to try to describe the earliest moments of the Universe and how the Universe evolved.

The funding will bring together researchers from the School’s of Physics and Astronomy and Mathematical Sciences. One of the areas they will work on is understanding how primordial black holes and axions formed in the early universe could provide the dark matter. They will investigate the nature of Inflation and where it fits into fundamental theories like string theory. Inflation is a period of rapid expansion in the early Universe which produced the small density fluctuations from which all the observed matter in the Universe developed.

We are very fortunate to receive funding from STFC to investigate some of the most pressing problems facing cosmology and gravity: how did the universe begin, what is the nature of dark matter and dark energy, and was Einstein right or are there modifications to his General Theory of Relativity, in a similar spirit to how Einstein’s theory modifies Newton’s Laws of Gravity.
Professor Ed Copeland, research lead at the University of Nottingham
Head of Particle Physics Programme in STFC, Karen Clifford, said: “Theorists are crucial to the UK’s entire science base, not just to our understanding of the Universe. They play a vital role in the promotion of science, helping to inspire the next generation of researchers.

“Theoretical physicist also play a crucial role in teaching in maths and physics departments with their breadth of knowledge and ability to clearly explain complex subjects.

“With this funding, we hope to continue the UK’s global leadership in this area.”