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World Science Festival Salon: The Mystery of Dark Matter

Date & Time

Friday, June 3, 2011
2:00 PM - 3:00 PM
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Rosenthal Pavilion

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.

World Science Festival Salons are an opportunity for in-depth conversations with world-leading scientists, extending the discussion of the Festival’s flagship public programs at a level appropriate for graduate students, postdocs, faculty and particularly well-informed members of the general public.

Related flagship program: The Dark Side of the Universe
Learn more about all the WSF Salons


  • David Kestenbaum

    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 PhD in physics first. More »


  • Elena Aprile

    Experimental 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, currently the most sensitive among direct searches for dark matter worldwide, and the one with the highest discovery potential. More »
  • Glennys Farrar

    Theoretical Particle Physicist Glennys Farrar is a collegiate professsor 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 (which provides the most popular candidate for dark matter and is a prime objective of the Large Hadron Collider). More »
  • Enectali Figueroa-Feliciano

    Experimental Astroparticle Physicist MIT physicist Enectali Figueroa-Feliciano works at the intersection of cosmology, particle physics, astronomy, and engineering. His research looks for insight into the building blocks of the universe, from the fundamental particles that make up dark matter to the raw elements that combine to form stars, planets, and people. More »
  • Katherine Freese

    Theoretical Astrophysicist Physicist Katherine Freese works on a wide range of topics in theoretical cosmology and astroparticle physics. A focus of her research has been the attempt to resolve the mystery of the dark matter and dark energy that permeates our universe. She is also working to build a successful model of the early universe immediately after the big bang. More »
  • Jocelyn Monroe

    Particle 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. More »
  • Priyamvada Natarajan

    Cosmologist, Theoretical Astrophysicist Priyamvada Natarajan's research is focused on exotica in the Universe—dark matter, dark energy and black holes. She is noted for her key contributions to two of the most challenging problems in cosmology: mapping the distribution of dark matter and tracing the growth history of black holes. More »