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The Dark Side of the Universe

Date & Time

Thursday, June 2, 2011
8:00 PM - 9:30 PM
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NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts

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.

Related WSF Salon: The Mystery of Dark Matter

This program was part of The Big Ideas Series, made possible with the support of the John Templeton Foundation.


  • John Hockenberry

    John Hockenberry is an award-winning journalist with twenty-five years experience in radio, broadcast television and print. He is the host of WNYC and PRI’s The Takeaway, a correspondent for PBS Frontline, and a noted presenter and moderator at conferences such as TED, Aspen Ideas, and the World Science Festival. More »


  • Brian Greene

    Physicist Brian Greene is a professor of physics and mathematics at Columbia University, and is widely recognized for a number of groundbreaking discoveries in superstring theory, including the co-discoveries of mirror symmetry and topology change. His first book for general audiences, The Elegant Universe was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and has sold more than a million copies worldwide. 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 »
  • 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 »
  • Michael Turner

    Theoretical Astrophysicist and Cosmologist Michael Turner is the Bruce V. and Diana M. Rauner Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago. He is a theoretical cosmologist who coined the term, “dark energy.” He has made seminal contributions to the understanding of inflationary cosmology, particle dark matter, and the theory of the Big Bang. More »
  • Saul Perlmutter

    Astrophysicist 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. He received his AB from Harvard in 1981 and his PhD in physics from UC Berkeley in 1986. 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 »

    Modern 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. More »