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For all we understand about the universe, 96% of what’s out there still has scientists in the dark. Astronomical observations have established that familiar matter—atoms—accounts for only 4% of the weight of the cosmos. The rest—dark matter and dark energy—is invisible to our telescopes. But what really is this dark stuff? How do we know it’s there? And what does it do? From the formation of galaxies to the farthest reaches of space, it appears that darkness rules. Without dark matter and dark energy, the universe today and in the far future would be a completely different place. We were joined by leading researchers who smash together particles, dive into underground mines, and explore the edges of the known universe in search of clues to nature’s dark side.

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Moderator

John HockenberryJournalist

Three-time Peabody Award winner, four-time Emmy Award winner, and Dateline NBC correspondent John Hockenberry has broad experience as a journalist and commentator for more than two decades. Hockenberry is the anchor of the public radio show The Takeaway on WNYC and PRI.

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Participants

MOMIXModern Dance Company

Known internationally for presenting work of exceptional inventiveness and physical beauty, MOMIX is a company of dancer-illusionists under the direction of Moses Pendleton. In addition to stage performances world-wide, MOMIX has worked in film and television, recently appearing in a national commercial for Hanes underwear and a Target ad that premiered during the airing of the 67th Annual Golden Globe Awards.

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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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Saul PerlmutterAstrophysicist

Saul Perlmutter is a professor in Berkeley’s Department of Physics and a senior scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He is the leader of the Supernova Cosmology Project, an international collaboration of research teams from seven countries measuring the expansion history of the universe.

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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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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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Michael TurnerTheoretical Astrophysicist, Cosmologist

Theoretical astrophysicist Michael S. Turner is a recognized figure in pioneering the interdisciplinary field of particle astrophysics and cosmology, for which he shared the 2010 Dannie Heineman Prize. In collaboration with Edward Kolb, he initiated the Fermilab astrophysics program.

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Brian Greene
Brian GreenePhysicist

Brian Greene is a professor of physics and mathematics at Columbia University, and is recognized for a number of groundbreaking discoveries in his field of superstring theory. His books, The Elegant Universe, The Fabric of the Cosmos, and The Hidden Reality, have collectively spent 65 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list.

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