This colloquium will be given by Professor Eva Silverstein of the Stanford Institute for Theoretical Physics.
Abstract: Modern cosmological data enables extensive tests of the degrees of freedom and interactions operating nearly 14 billion years ago. We will show how a basic feature of quantum field theory -- enhancement of multipoint correlations -- enables a substantial improvement on our ability to constrain this early universe dynamics. The talk will start by reviewing the relevant early universe physics, focusing on inflationary cosmology. Then we will summarize in simple terms an ongoing development in quantum field theory concerning the size and structure of many-point correlations, noting a variety of applications. Returning to cosmology, we will derive a parametric improvement on the discovery potential and constraining power of primordial non-Gaussianity which is accessible using existing CMB data.