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Physics in the Dark: Searching for the Universe’s Missing Matter

Wednesday, May 29, 2019
8:00 pm - 9:30 pm

If you believe the world’s leading physicists, the vast majority of matter in the universe is hiding in plain sight. For nearly a century, evidence has mounted that the gravitational pull necessary to keep clusters of galaxies intact, as well as stars within galaxies from flying apart, requires far more matter than we can see—matter, according to the experts, that has eluded our telescopes, because it does not give off light. Problem is, such “dark matter” has also eluded one specially designed detector after another that researchers have deployed to catch it. Which raises the big question: What if we have failed to find dark matter because it isn’t there? Join leading physicists on a scientific treasure hunt that has proved more challenging than anyone expected, and may ultimately require rethinking some of our most fundamental ideas about the universe.

The Big Ideas Series is supported in part by the John Templeton Foundation.


Brian Greene
Brian GreenePhysicist, Author

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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Mariangela LisantiPhysicist

Mariangela Lisanti is an associate professor of physics at Princeton University whose research focuses on the nature of dark matter. She has tested ideas about dark matter using data from a wide range of experimental and observational probes.

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Joseph SilkAstrophysicist

Joseph Silk is Homewood Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, a researcher at Institut d’Astrophysique de Paris, and a Senior Fellow at the Beecroft Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology at the University of Oxford.

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Erik VerlindePhysicist

Erik Verlinde is a professor of theoretical physics at the University of Amsterdam. He is known for the Verlinde formula, which has a wide range of applications in physics and mathematics. In 2010, he attracted international attention with a paper in which he argued that gravity is emergent, and results from changes in the entropy associated with microscopic information.

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Risa WechslerAstrophysicist

Risa Wechsler is the Director of the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology and an associate professor of Physics at Stanford and the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. Her work combines numerical simulations and modeling with data from the largest existing and future galaxy surveys to model and map out the evolution and contents of the Universe from its earliest moments to the present day.

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