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Physics Department Colloquia

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Events on Friday, March 31st, 2017

The Dark Matter in the Universe
Time: 3:30 pm
Place: 2241 Chamberlin Hall
Speaker: Katherine Freese, University of Michigan
Abstract: "What is the Universe made of?” This question is the longest outstanding problem in all of modern physics, and it is one of the most important research topics in cosmology and particle physics today. The bulk of the mass in the Universe consists of a new kind of dark matter particle, and the hunt for its discovery in on. I'll start by discussing the evidence for the existence of dark matter in galaxies, and then show how it fits into a big picture of the Universe containing 5% atoms, 25% dark matter, and 70% dark energy. Leading candidates for the dark matter are Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPs), a generic class of particles that are electrically neutral and do not participate in strong interactions, yet have weak-scale interactions with ordinary matter. There are three approaches to experimental searches for WIMPS: at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva; in underground laboratory experiments; and with astrophysical searches for dark matter annihilation products such as with the IceCube detector at the South Pole. Currently there are claimed detections in multiple experiments --- but they cannot possibly all be right. The results are puzzling and the hints of detection will be tested soon. At the end of the talk I'll turn to dark energy and its effect on the fate of the Universe.
Host: Susan Coppersmith
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