[ASC-list] WA National Science Week Event: The hunt for dark matter

Kirsten Gottschalk kirsten.gottschalk at uwa.edu.au
Tue Aug 19 00:50:42 UTC 2014

Hi Everyone,

UWA Physics are putting on a free public lecture for National Science Week this Friday which might be of interest.
Friday 22nd of August 2014, 6:00pm
Ross Lecture Theatre, Ground Floor, Physics Building, The University of Western Australia.
Cost: Free. No need to RSVP.
The Hunt for Dark Matter

Professor Juan Collar from the University of Chicago.

It is almost eighty years now since the original realization that a majority of our universe consists of a type of matter that neither emits nor absorbs light. For this reason, we refer to it as "dark matter". Numerous astronomical observations have confirmed its existence, based on the gravitational pull that it exerts on luminous bodies (stars, galaxies, clusters of galaxies...). And yet we remain ignorant about the exact nature of this mysterious source of mass.

Over the last thirty years our interest has concentrated on looking for new types of "dark" fundamental particles. These are hoped to interact every so often with dedicated detectors, but not too often, or their existence would have already been revealed in the laboratory.

In a world-wide effort, numerous teams of researchers are looking for these particles, using highly sophisticated detectors. Most of these experiments take place deep underground, in mines or tunnels that provide a quiet environment able to reduce interference from known particles.

We will discuss the many challenges faced by these dark matter hunters, and the progress made over the past few decades. Infused by a good dose of optimism, it can be claimed that the discovery of these new particles may be near.

Professor Collar’s visit to Australia is sponsored by the Australian Institute for High Energy Physics (AUSHEP).


Juan Collar’s work focuses on developing innovative methods for detecting Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPs) and other hypothetical subatomic particles that could account for dark matter. His research group has developed the Chicagoland Observatory for Underground Particle Physics (COUPP) in its quest to detect dark matter. This unknown form of matter accounts for more than 90 percent of all matter in the universe. Although invisible to telescopes, scientists can observe the gravitational influence it exerts on galaxies. COUPP is part of SNOLAB, located in a Canadian mine more than a mile underground. Collar also is a member of the Coherent Germanium Neutrino Technology (CoGeNT) collaboration, which operates a detector that sits nearly half a mile deep at the Soudan Underground Mine State Park in Minnesota. In related work, Collar is a collaborator on the CERN Axion Solar Telescope of the European particle physics laboratory. He also is developing new methods of neutrino detection.

Friday 22nd of August 2014, 6:00pm
Ross Lecture Theatre, Ground Floor, Physics Building, The University of Western Australia.
Cost: Free. No need to RSVP.

Kirsten Gottschalk
Outreach and Education Officer

Ph: +61 8 6488 7771
Mobile: +61 438 361 876
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