In a Universe filled with the light from our sun and distant stars, it is difficult to conceive of it as mostly dark. When we look around our world and into space, we see enormous variety—trees, birds, planets, asteroids and stars. This visible matter accounts for about 15 percent of all the matter in the Universe. The rest is called dark matter. Although it doesn’t interact with light and may interact weakly with normal matter, scientists believe it exists because of its gravitational effects in the Universe. Think of dark matter as an enormous iceberg floating in the ocean—what you see is a mere fraction of what lies beneath the water.
Since the late 1800s, scientists have postulated that there’s more to the Universe than what is visible—even using the most powerful tools of the day. For the past 100 years, there has been a growing body of evidence to indicate our universe and most of the matter in it is, indeed, dark. So, what is that evidence?
To find out, join the “Ask me anything” virtual event on Monday, Nov. 1, at 19:00 GMT where you can learn more about how scientists are trying to detect the invisible in one of three ways: “make it, shake it, or break it!” The event takes place in conjunction with the Interactions Collaboration Dark Matter Day, a series of events taking place around the world between Oct. 25 and Nov. 4. A panel of four dark matter experts will be standing by to answer your questions about this mysterious material that makes up a huge portion of the Universe.
Featured speakers for “Ask me anything” include:
Catherine Heymans, Astronomer Royal for Scotland, Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Edinburgh and Director of the GCCL Institute in Bochum Germany. Heymans specializes in observing the dark side of our Universe, using deep sky observations to test whether we need to go beyond Einstein with our current theory of gravity. She has received the 2017 Royal Astronomical Society Darwin Lectureship and the 2018 Max-Planck Humboldt Research Award.
Alex Murphy, professor of nuclear and particle astrophysicist at the University of Edinburgh. Murphy’s interest lies in the origin and nature of matter in the Universe. Ongoing projects include experimental and computational determination of the most important nuclear reactions involved in stellar nucleosynthesis, and the direct search for dark matter in deep underground laboratories. He has a keen interest in public engagement, where he was once identified as Professor of Impossible Physics.
Tracy Slatyer, theoretical physicist at MIT. Slatyer works in particle physics, cosmology and astrophysics. She was born in the Solomon Islands and grew up in Australia and Fiji. She completed her undergraduate degree in Australia. Since then, she has been studying the astrophysical and cosmological signals of dark matter and other new physics at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton (2010-2013) and as a professor at MIT (2013-present). She won the 2021 New Horizons Prize from the Breakthrough Foundation.
Nigel Smith, director of TRIUMF. Smith has undertaken astroparticle physics research in extreme locations, including studying astronomical sources of ultra-high energy gamma rays at the South Pole, searching for Galactic dark 1.1 km underground at the Boulby Underground Laboratory, and overseeing dark matter and neutrinos studies 2 km underground at the SNOLAB facility. He now leads TRIUMF, Canada’s particle accelerator centre.
How to participate in “Ask me anything”
Sign up for the Zoom webinar at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/dark-matter-ask-me-anything-tickets-192983868947.
Go to the Interactions Collaboration Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Interactions.ParticlePeople
To learn more about Dark Matter Day, go to https://www.darkmatterday.com/.
“Ask me anything” will also be recorded. To view it later, please register for the webinar then click the “I would like to receive a recording” box. Send your questions to email@example.com before or after the event and we will do our best to answer!
The event is hosted in partnership with Scio. To learn more go to https://scio-org.github.io