Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Dark matter explored at NYUAD

Dark matter is a physics concept that's as complicated as it is fascinating. Fortunately, NYU Abu Dhabi brought it NYU cosmology/astrophysics researcher, Professor Glennys Farrar, to explain it to us, with the added bonus of her infectious enthusiasm. In the course of the public talk, she expounded the background physics and presented the astrophysicist's case for dark matter's existence, as well as what she considers an "equally exciting" alternative: that current theories of physics are themselves in need of modification.

Piquing interest with a really cool video of dark matter in cosmic collisions way out in the Bullet Cluster (almost like a ballistics video, except over billions of years instead of fractions of seconds), she spoke about the challenges in detecting, as well as theoretically describing and modeling dark matter; she mentioned the Large Hadron Collider in this regard. She also spoke about contemporary hypotheses for explaining dark matter, such as the WIMPs and the H-dibaryon, and touched upon both dark energy and baryon asymmetry (topics deserving separate talks, it would seem).

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