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Science experiences

Arif Babul - Physics and Astronomy

UVic astrophysicist Arif Babul uses powerful supercomputers to replicate the 14-billion-year history of the universe in complex simulations that produce 3D models of galaxies and galaxy systems. The simulations, which can be observed as they change over time, are helping unravel the intricate relationships between gas, stars and dark matter.

Babul remembers the exact moment when his lifelong passion for outer space began. It was July 20, 1969, and he was one of millions around the world who were glued to their televisions as Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong stepped down onto the moon and into history.

“I was completely captivated by the whole idea of space and trying to understand the universe,” says Babul, who was six years old at the time. That moment launched him on an intellectual path that, years later, has led to his title as a University of Victoria Distinguished Professor. The title is the highest academic honour that the university can bestow on a faculty member. It is awarded to individuals who have achieved great distinction in teaching and research, and who have made a substantial contribution to the university and the wider community.

Babul is a specialist in theoretical cosmology who studies the origins of structure in the universe and the evolution of galaxies. He develops theories of how the universe evolved, and tests them with computer-based numerical simulations.

His quest is to understand how the universe evolved from an extremely smooth state at the time of the “Big Bang” 13.7 billion years ago, into the rich tapestry of dark matter and galaxies that we see today.

“Since the beginning of human civilization we have been wondering how the universe came into being, how life evolved, how it all came together,” he says. “It’s a fascinating riddle.”

Read about Dr. Babul's research.

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Science Matters

Fall 2014


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