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from Science News
Dmitry Khavinson and Genevra Neumann didn't know anything about astrophysics. They were just doing mathematics, like they always do, following their curiosity. In 2004, they posted a new result, an extension of the fundamental theorem of algebra, on MathSciNet, a preprint server.
Five days later, they received an e-mail. Congratulations, it said. You just proved Sun Hong Rhie's conjecture on gravitational lensing.
Gravitational what? Khavinson, of the University of South Florida in Tampa, and Neumann, of the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, had never heard of it. So they started a crash course in gravitational lensing.
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Using the Atacama Cosmology Telescope (ATC), a 6.5-meter microwave collector in Chile, cosmologists are piecing together the early history of the known universe. In an exclusive American Scientist interview, Arthur Kosowsky—a member of the ATC team and a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Pittsburgh—discusses how he is using ATC to reach back in time billions of years to search for gravitational waves that could verify inflation and reveal unprecedented details about how the cosmos was born.
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