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Modern cosmology - the theory of the evolution of the universe - was launched by Einstein's General Theory of Relativity (1916) and Hubble's discovery of the expansion of the universe (1929) - but progress was slow until the late 1990s. Then, in a series of breathtaking leaps our knowledge increased by orders of magnitude to reveal a truly remarkable universe consisting of ordinary matter, dark matter, and dark energy. We now know to high precision the fractions of these different constituents in the universe, but we have yet to detect dark matter directly, and dark energy poses an even greater challenge to physics since it may well be a property of space itself. A recent experiment - BICEP2 - could throw light on the very origin of the universe. The development of this field and the current renaissance in low frequency radio astronomy will be described. This renaissance is enabling small groups of radio astronomers to study the last frontiers of cosmology with relatively inexpensive instruments (~$10M). In view of its geographic location, climate, and low population density, Saudi Arabia is optimally placed to be a major player in this exciting new field.
Anthony Readhead, the Robinson Professor of Astronomy at the California Institute of Technology, was born in South Africa and took his BSc and BSc (Hons) degrees at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg before going to the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge in 1968, where he took his PhD under Antony Hewish in Sir Martin Ryle s radio astronomy group. He then spent five years as a Royal Society Weir Research Fellow at the Cavendish Laboratory, including fifteen months as a post-doctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology. He returned to the California Institute of Technology in 1977 and was appointed to the professorial faculty there in 1981. He has held a number of positions at the California Institute of Technology including Director of the Owens Valley Radio Observatory (1981- 1986, 2007 present); Executive Officer of Astronomy (1990-1992; 20121-2013) and Director of the Chajnantor Observatory in Chile (2006- 2009). His scientific interests have been focused on cosmology and active galaxies and on techniques of high-resolution astronomy and imaging. He was elected to the United States National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1995.