Ryan Cooke (UC Santa Cruz)

The primordial deuterium abundance and the search for new physics

We are currently in an exciting era of precision cosmology. With the release of the cosmic microwave background data recorded by the Planck satellite, we are now in a position to accurately test the standard model of cosmology and particle physics. In this talk, I will present several precise measurements of the primordial abundance of deuterium - the most accurate measurements to date - derived from redshift ~3 metal-poor damped Lyman-alpha systems. These data have offered a new insight into the physical laws of the Universe just minutes after the Big Bang. Such precise measures, when analyzed in conjunction with the Planck data, now place strong bounds on both the total amount of visible matter in the Universe and the effective number of neutrino species. These data further provide new limits on physics beyond the standard model. I will discuss our ongoing survey to obtain new precision measures of the primordial nuclei in the era of the 30m class telescopes.