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World Science Festival Salon: The Mystery of Dark Matter

Friday, June 3, 2011
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Leading researchers have called this the ‘Decade of Dark Matter,’—the era in which data finally establish the identity of the universe’s unseen matter. As results are released, what will they tell us about our current theoretical models, and the properties of dark matter? What are the plans for new detection experiments? And if no dark matter is found, what then? Are there plans for more refined experiments? Will attention turn to maverick theories that seek to explain observations without invoking dark matter?

Some of the advanced topics to be explored may include: Annual modulation signals for dark matter; reconciling the CoGeNT, DAMA, CDMS and XENON experiments; the ICECUBE and DEEPCORE experiments; possible connections between dark matter and dark energy; modified gravity approaches.

This program is part of the Big Ideas Series, made possible with support from the John Templeton Foundation.


David KestenbaumNPR Correspondent

David Kestenbaum is a correspondent for NPR, covering science, energy issues and, most recently, the global economy for NPR’s multimedia project Planet Money. David has been a science correspondent for NPR since 1999. He came to journalism the usual way—by getting a Ph.D. in physics first.

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Elena AprileExperimental Astrophysicist

Elena Aprile is a professor of physics at Columbia University and is internationally recognized for her experimental work with noble liquid detectors for research in gamma-ray astrophysics and particle astrophysics. She is the founder and spokesperson of the XENON Dark Matter experiment.

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Glennys FarrarTheoretical Particle Physicist

Glennys Farrar is a collegiate professor of physics at New York University. She has made seminal contributions to theoretical particle physics, including demonstrating that quarks are not just mathematical constructs but are actually physically present in matter and pioneering the search for supersymmetry.

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Enectali Figueroa-FelicianoExperimental Astroparticle Physicist

MIT physicist Enectali Figueroa-Feliciano works at the intersection of cosmology, particle physics, astronomy, and engineering.

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Katherine FreeseCosmologist

Katherine Freese is the George E. Uhlenbeck Professor of Physics at the University of Michigan and Visiting Professor of Physics at Stockholm University. She works on a wide range of topics in theoretical cosmology and astroparticle physics. She has been working to identify the dark matter and dark energy that permeate the universe, as well as to build a successful model for the early universe immediately after the Big Bang.

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Jocelyn MonroeParticle Physicist

Jocelyn Monroe is an assistant professor of physics in MIT’s Laboratory for Nuclear Science who works on experimental searches for new particles. Her current research focus is on directly detecting dark matter particle interactions with the MiniCLEAN and DMTPC experiments.

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Priyamvada NatarajanAstrophysicist, Author

Priyamvada Natarajan is a professor at the Department of Astronomy and Physics at Yale. She is a theoretical astrophysicist interested in cosmology, gravitational lensing, and black hole physics.

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