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Elon Musk on Apr. 22, 2019 (Photo by Steve Jurvetson | CC BY 2.0).

The Center for Particle Cosmology and the Department of Physics and Astronomy co-hosted the sixth Elon Musk Public Lecture focusing on "cosmic inflation theory."

The event, “Cosmic Inflation: My Journey to the Edge of Science,” was held on Sept. 8 at 6 p.m. in the Bodek Lounge of Houston Hall and featured 1983 PhD graduate Andreas Albrecht, now a physics professor at the University of California at Davis.

Albrecht said he planned to talk about his “wonderful adventure, one that keeps unfolding as my ongoing curiosity about the foundations, successes, and open questions of this theory have taken me on an exhilarating journey of discovery.”

Albrecht’s lecture was the sixth in the Musk lecture series. The first lecture, presented on cht and his advisor Paul Steinhardt had invented the “cosmic inflation theory" at Penn in 1982, which describes the “very beginning of the universe.” At the lecture, Albrecht presented his own assessment of the open questions on the cosmic inflation theory and how it connects with the field of quantum physics.

The Elon Musk Public Lecture series brings together scientists with expertise in particle physics and cosmology to speak to the Penn community. The Musk lectures kicked off in 2009 following an endowment by 1997 College and Wharton graduate Elon Musk — an alumnus of Penn’s Physics and Astronomy Department — to the Center of Particle Cosmology. 

Albrecht’s lecture was the sixth in the Musk lecture series. The first lecture, presented on Jan. 28, 2009, featured Steinhardt discussing “The Big Bang and Beyond.” Since then, four more lectures were held between 2011 and 2018. It has been four years since the most recent lecture by theoretical physicist Sylvester James Gates, Jr. in January 2018.

The event followed the University’s current COVID-19 guidelines — masking is strongly encouraged, but not required. Community members signed up for the event through Penn Alumni's registration page.