Instant Reaction: The Dark Side of the Universe

In a creative panel format, Team Dark Matter (Katherine Freese, Elena Aprile, and Glennys Farrar) squared off against Team Dark Energy (Michael Turner, Saul Perlmutter, and Brian Greene) in an attempt to shine a flashlight on the nether regions of our universe. Oh and the inventive dance troupe MOMIX pretty much exploded everyone’s minds with glow sticks.


“It was like throwing an apple up in the air, and instead of it falling back down, it just goes up faster and faster.” – Saul Perlmutter, on the early evidence suggesting dark energy

“So what he’s trying to tell us is that Jimmy Buffet has confirmed the existence of dark matter—this from a Columbia University professor.” – John Hockenberry, referring to Brian Greene’s opening

“Dark matter is attractive, and dark energy is repulsive.” – Katherine Freese, on the difference between the two phenomena (or was it the two sides of the panel?)

“I like to capture WIMPS…but so rarely do they want anything to do with you.” – Elena Aprile, on the elusive nature of detecting dark matter, specifically Weakly Interacting Massive Particles

“So basically you’re going to get a Nobel for detecting the universe’s stretch marks?” – John Hockenberry, to Saul Perlmutter on successfully determining the rate of the expansion of the universe

“If this proves that string theory is wrong, I’d be thrilled. I’m not invested in any one theory. I just want to be on the path to the truth.” – Brian Greene

“Maybe resolving dark energy is such a profound problem that it doesn’t take 10, 20 years to figure out, but instead it takes 150-200 years.” – Michael Turner

“I think we’ll figure it out by next year’s World Science Festival.” – Brian Greene, smiling


“Team Dark Matter vs. Team Dark Energy—I hope it’s going to an eating contest.” – Philip Yam, Managing Editor of ScientificAmerican.com

“The rockstar physicists brought it tonight!” – Man leaving theater

“Kid tells Brian Greene: ‘You’re my idol! I read your articles!’ outside #WSF11 now” – @ritajking, via Twitter

Dark Side of the Universe took place on Thursday, June 2, 2011. Check out other Instant Reactions or view the full Festival schedule to learn more about the many other 2011 Festival programs.

Photos by leslieimage.com


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