Mitchell Institute for Fundamental Physics & Astronomy
College Station, Texas 77843
Exquisitely detailed measurements of nearby collections of stars contain unique information about the Universe's expansion rate, the initial spectrum of cosmological density fluctuations, galaxy formation, and dark matter physics. In this talk, I will examine the role of globular star clusters as near-field windows into the physics of the Universe on much larger scales. It is now possible to perform simulations of globular cluster formation in full cosmological context, and emerging results challenge many long-standing ideas about the origins of these systems. At the same time, improved distance estimates, coupled with the increasingly significant discrepancy in Hubble constant measurements, are leading to renewed interest in constraints on the age of the Universe from globular clusters. I will describe some of the intriguing prospects for making significant progress in the next few years on long-standing questions surrounding the origin and nature of globular clusters and resulting implications for stellar physics, galaxy formation, and cosmology.