News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Science talk to explore dark matter

“Dark Matter and Its Silver Lining: Life, the Universe, and Everything” will be the topic when Dr. Larry Price speaks at The Belfry on Tuesday, February 25 for the second winter lecture in the 2019-2020 Frontiers in Science series.

The presence of dark matter in the universe has intrigued astronomers for well over 100 years, prompting speculation about a substance that emits little or no light but appears to be essential to the structure of the universe. Created in the Big Bang 14 billion years ago, unseen dark matter seems to account for the great majority of the matter in the cosmos.

In 1884, Lord Kelvin, who also contributed greatly to the theory of heat, found that velocities of stars in the Milky Way Galaxy could not be explained by visible matter alone. In the early 20th century, Henri Poincaré commented on Kelvin’s work and described the unseen matter as “matière obscure” or “dark matter.”

Since then, the study of dark matter has been a conundrum for astrophysicists and elementary particle physicists.

Although much has been learned about the gravitational nature of dark matter and its central role in shaping stars, galaxies, clusters of galaxies and even larger structures in the universe, little has been learned about the properties of dark matter particles.

“We don’t even know for sure if dark matter is made of particles like every other physical thing we know of,” says Dr. Price. “In this talk, I will describe what we do know and don’t know about this crucial component of the universe, and I’ll explain how fiercely scientists are working to find out just what dark matter is made of.”

A physicist specializing in elementary particles, Dr. Price holds degrees in physics from Pomona College (BA) and Harvard University (MA and PhD). He is retired from a career at Argonne National Laboratory, where he held the rank of senior physicist and was director of the High Energy Physics Division. He has served on multiple national and international committees for particle physics and related fields, including the High Energy Physics Advisory Panel and the U.S. federal advisory committee for elementary particle physics.

In previous talks for Frontiers in Science, Dr. Price has demonstrated a knack for discussing complex scientific topics in terms that are understandable to interested non-scientists, and even to those who are scientists.

Introducing Dr. Price will be Dr. Jim Hammond, a retired physicist, lifelong amateur astronomer, leader of the Deschutes Land Trust’s star parties, and a founding member of the Sisters Astronomy Club.

The evening lecture, sponsored by the Sisters Science Club, starts at 7 p.m. at The Belfry.

Social hour begins at 6 with light fare, beer, and wine available. Admission is $5; teachers and students are admitted free. The Belfry is located at 302 E. Main Ave., Sisters.

For more information on this topic and on the Sisters Science Club: Sisters Science Club.

 

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